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Motherly Advice For Mompreneurs

May 9, 2008

Mother’s Day is on Sunday. In honor of the day, I sent out a query mompreneurs asking for their insight on how being a mother makes them better in business, and how running a business makes them a better mother. I had more than 200 responses in less than 24 hours. Seems that we, the working mothers of the world, have a lot to say on the matter.

I really wish that I could include all of them in this post – it’s the mom in me maybe, I just want to make sure that everyone is included. But, to do that would make this a book, not a blog post. (And yes, I’ve already contacted my agent and am writing a proposal….)

There is one way that I can include absolutely everyone, because there is one thing that almost 100% of the respondents said. When asked, “How does being a mom help you at work?” pretty much every Mompreneur said, “it’s taught me to multi task and be patient with people who are being unreasonable.”

Amen.

And now, some motherly advice:

What’s the best advice your mom ever gave you that you now use in your professional life?

Linda Naerheim: No matter what is going on in your life, if you keep looking toward the future, you can accomplish anything.

Danielle Batchelor: You catch more flies with honey

Kimberly Oster Holstein: Be a good person. Have integrity. Be gracious and take the high road.

Mary Christensen: No mother, ever, after her children left home, wished they had spent less time with them when they were growing up.

Nina Vultaggio: Act like the person in the position you want, not like the person in the
position you have.

Morgan McKean: First, do what you love, because there are days that you probably won’t want to do it, so at least on those occasions, you’ll be able to tolerate it. Next, know your worth, do not let others determine it for you, because people will never place a value on your talent or skills, higher than the one you place on them yourself.

Andrea Fitting: It pays to be different.

Name a situation at work that you think you handled like a mother – good or bad.

Gabrielle DeSantis-Cummings: I think every day in every situation the mother part of me is what makes me be able to do what I do. I have to rise to every occasion, to every challenge, and just like in being a successful mother, when some one or something needs you, you do not get to “quit” or take your “15 minute break”, no matter how tired, you just do whatever it is that needs to be done.

Angela Ichwan: Managing employees is parallel to raising children. You want them to grow, learn and always do well, but you also want to allow them to make mistakes, so they can learn from their mistakes. All you can do is provide them with the tools, encouragement and motivation to do their best.

Laurie J. Storey-Manseau: I often mentor my staffers on keeping their personal lives ahead of their professional lives. That is, I’m often telling them to set their priorities around their families, not their work. You can always get a job, but if you screw up your kids or your marriage, that’s damage that lasts forever…and ever.

How does being a mom help you at work?

Linda Naerheim: It gives me patience with rude or unprofessional people that I didn’t have before.

Kimberly Oster Holstein: Being a mom is incredible training for the office and building a team.

Marianne Cursetjee: Time management!!! The never ending barrage of things to do (piano lessons, soccer, school, Meals On Wheels driving) has really made it imperative that I manage my time and decide which items to take care of and which items are going to fall off my plate.

Beth Feldman: You don’t take everything so seriously. If no one is crying or bleeding, it can’t be that bad.

Tammy Apana: Being a working mom has enabled me to become more patient. Motherhood has taught me that at any given moment, your plans can change.

How does working help you as a mom?

Gabrielle DeSantis-Cummings: I get to show my kids that by working hard and working smart you can build any dream you want to dream.

Julie Languille: It lets me see parenting as problem solving and helping my children build their competence and confidence rather than doing things for them. Sometimes they need to struggle to grow and that is an important part of the process of growing up.

And special attention to this lovely chart by Joyce Bone that makes very clear the obvious parallels between motherhood and running a business

Getting kids to school on time = Meeting deadlines
Breaking up sibling fights = Managing employees
Setting up playdates = Working with outside companies
Teaching Household Chores = Delegating
Paying allowances for chores = Accounts payable

As for me, the gifts from my own mother and daughter are too many to count. They all center around knowing that if you keep trying, eventually it works. (And the lovely metaphor of that bad “mommy moment” when I put her at the top of a ski hill, told her I’d meet her at the bottom and sped up on my way down so as not to hear her yelling at me. But she’s a great skier now.) And that I don’t ever want to miss a ballet recital, no matter what.

But more than that, being a mother gives me a direct connection to the future. That everything I do creates the world my daughter will live in. Whether it’s creating a company that serves the greater good, or raising a child to grow into an adult who understands the power and potential in life – it gives me perspective on what matters. And that makes me want to try even harder.

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