Four Business Lessons from Mom

Lisa Thal

This week my Mom will celebrate her 90th Birthday! I think about all the groundbreaking inventions over the last 90 years that she has experienced and have changed how we do business—the things we use today and the evolution of the products to help save us Time and be more productive.

Think about the things we use every day in our offices.
The coffee maker. It was 1908 when the first drip coffee maker was invented and then improved by Mr. Coffee in 1970. We went from black coffee to flavor coffees, tea, hot chocolate, all by the press of a button.

Another workplace item is the microwave – it used to take over an hour and a half to re-heat a meal. Today it seconds or minutes until we say Bon Appetit. The invention of vending machines, a game changer to quickly grabbing a snack or your favorite beverage. And the food delivery industry, where you don’t have to leave your office for lunch. It comes to you.

What about the technology of fax machines and printers? I can remember standing by the fax machine in 1987, waiting for customers’ orders to come over from a client wanting to advertise. I thought, wow, this is amazing. Today, we have the orders emailed to us in seconds. Printers have come a long way from black and white to color to 3D printers. We have come a long way.

I was thinking about all the business lessons I have learned through my Mom. That could be hours of content for the podcast. Laughing! I was thinking about several I apply today in my business.

One would be – Always be Prepared!

She taught me to have my clothes ready the night before, anticipating me waking up late ( which, if you know me, that would never happen- 4 am club). Have your lunch packed the night before, and always leave earlier if you experience heavy traffic. If you’re not early, you’re late.

We were talking about my first job interview. My Mom was with me on my first interview at a radio station in Wilmington, Ohio, WSWO, and WKFI; We Keep Farmers Informed. Yep, that’s where it all started 34 years ago. See, the station was about 50 minutes away from where I was living. We role-played in the car about the questions I may get asked so I would be prepared to answer them. I went in for the interview, and when I returned to the car, she laughed and said Soy Beans are at a great price. I was happy to share that the interview went well, and I went on to get the job-She was preparing me for my first job post-college! Still, today, is your hair pulled back, lipstick on? She asks which clients are you meeting with and am I prepared for the call? My response, of course, Mom!

Another Lesson – Show Up!

Today we talk every morning before work. My Mom would say, don’t call me during work hours unless your hurt. The company is paying you to do a job, and it doesn’t include talking with your Mother.
She would also say give the company more than they expect. Showing up is the first step. Step two is to add more value than they expect or hired you to do.

Another Lesson – The Power of Communication!

What I have come to appreciate about my Mom is her ability to communicate. She expresses how she feels – a straight-to-point storyteller. I believe working full Time and raising six kids can create a more direct communication path. Perhaps, that comes from her years as a telephone switchboard operator and then working for Air Care – The Helicopter dispatcher at University Hospital. She had to get straight to the point and be transparent with her communication as lives depended on her.

In business, think about how you communicate. Are we listening to those you lead or your customers? Technology has provided us with many paths to communicate or miscommunicate our message. Smartphones are one form of communication. For many of us, we used to have to make calls from a Phone Booth; then pagers were invented, someone would page you when they needed to get a hold of you, then you had to find a phone booth, then the invention of the bag phone you could have in your car was groundbreaking to now the smartphone that we never leave home without that fits in the palm of our hands. The old pager now is texting messages to our phones.
Outlook calendars, CRM’s, email, Zoom calls, Micro-soft Team, google documents. All inventions to improve our production and performance.

Strive for the face-to-face meeting with your team and your clients. Then resort to the tools available to stay connected and continue to educate and communicate how you can help.

She reiterated the power of a handwritten Thank you note. It is so easy to send a thank you text or email. If you want to stand out-, make the Time and send a thoughtful handwritten thank you note- it will make a different impression.

I talked with Mom about her 90th Birthday and all the people, products, and innovation she has experienced the last nine decades!

And one stood out more than others – Time!

As my Mom shares with me, Time is the most incredible resource you have in life and business. How you spend that Time will determine your success and contributions. The Time you invest in learning new and better ways—the Time invest in building your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and customers matters! Even at 90 years old, she said time flies. She went on to share that Time is limited; make sure you’re spending it wisely!

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