While many mothers who work outside of their homes may experience “working mom guilt” because of the time they spend away from their families, a Harvard Business School study finds that working mothers are more likely to raise successful daughters.
To gain some perspective on this finding, I sat down with our co-founder, Romy Newman. A working mother of two, Romy feels grateful that her own mother, Pamela Newman, brought her career into her home and often brought Romy into her office. In fact, Romy says that her “highly accomplished working mother” — who has built an extraordinarily successful career in commercial insurance and still works full-time today — “has been a major asset to me in my life.”
“When I was just six years old, she put me in charge of taking notes at her meetings,” Romy says. “As I got older, she involved me in client pitches, contracts and customer service.”
Romy explains that by the time she entered the workforce herself, she felt like she’d been at it for years. “Having a working mother helped me visualize my future as a person with a career, and learn fundamentals that helped prepare me for work and for life,” she says.
Romy credits her mother for teaching her a lot of life lessons — but here’s a sampling of some of those that have stuck with her most (in Romy’s own words):
1. Follow Up
My mother taught me that diligent follow-up is the only way that things get accomplished. Don't expect things to just take care of themselves. Always try to think two steps ahead.
2. How Can I Help?
One of my mother's constant refrains is that a person should look at any situation he or she lands in and ask, "how can I add value here?" If you can make a suggestion as to what you can contribute, that's always appreciated. But otherwise, everyone likes someone who just asks, "how can I help?"
3. Success Comes in Cans. And Comes from Hard Work
"Success comes in cans" was a billboard in Kalamazoo, MI, where my mom grew up. And of course, my mother taught me that attitude is a major driver of success.
But she also told me that the path to success is all about hard work. When I was young, my mother worked long hours. At one point she even worked two jobs — one during the day and another at night. (After work at her day job, she taught a night class at a nearby university.)
Seeing her work hard showed me first-hand the type of focus, drive and stamina that is necessary to be successful. She has always been available to her clients 24 hours a day, and her dedication to them has helped her differentiate herself in her industry.
4. Rolling Around in the Mud is Not the Very Best Way To Get Clean
This one probably speaks for itself, but in short: when things get tough, pick up and move on. Don't get stuck in the bad stuff. It's not good for anyone.
5. Put Yourself in the Other Person's Shoes
Another favorite of my mothers. Ever the consummate salesperson, my mom has had great success in her life because she is highly attuned to the needs and emotions of others.
Her jedi-like ability to read minds is something she has instilled in me from an early age. If you stay focused on the other person, you're bound to build bridges and lasting relationships. You can also solve others' problems successfully, which in many ways is the most essential definition of sales.
6. Take Care Of Your People
My mom's team is literally called "The Newman Team," and her team members have a tremendous allegiance to her. She asks a lot from them, but she rewards them with great opportunities to develop, grow, contribute and also enjoy work. (She also brings her Shih Tzu to work, and I think they like that too.)
She treats all wins as team accomplishments and makes sure to recognize the contributions of all her team members. The loyalty - and love for her - that they demonstrate is one of my greatest sources of admiration for my mother.
7. Don't Take It All So Seriously.
One of the very best things about my mom is the way that she can take a situation -- no matter how difficult or intense — and infuse it with humor. When a sales prospect once asked for her to be flexible in a meeting, she famously laid down on her back, kicked her feet in the air, and shouted, "WE'RE FLEXIBLE!"
8. Dress Up
My mom does not take getting dressed lightly — for work or for any occasion. When I was ten, I bought her her first pair of blue jeans. My mother believes strongly that the impression you create through your appearance is everything.
9. Go The Extra Mile
Other providers send food baskets for holiday gifts. Each year, my mother actually takes the time to write a book about lessons she has learned in her life, including from clients and colleagues. And so now, each holiday season, we all look forward to her latest book. Talk about standing out from the pack.
Recently, Romy’s mother contributed an article to us, offering insight based on her experiences as a working mother. Her piece was called "Let It Go: A Mantra for Working Moms."
“And so you see,” Romy says, “I am still learning from her every day.”
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