In 2015, Harvard Business School published a finding that working mothers raise more successful daughters. While a sample size of one is hardly enough to prove this assertion, it's clear to me that my highly accomplished working mother has been a major asset to me in my life.
My mother, Pamela Newman, has had an extraordinary career and reached the highest heights of her field, commercial insurance. Although she is old enough to be my mother (ha!), she still continues to excel and lead in the workplace every day.
Since I was young, my mother brought her career into our home, and brought me to her office. When I was just six years old, she put me in charge of taking notes at her meetings. As I got older, she involved me in client pitches, contracts and customer service.
And so by the time I actually made it into the workplace, I felt like I had 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.
Here's a flavor of those lessons:
1. 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?"
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 my mother 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Dress Up
My mom does not take getting dressed lightly -- for work, or 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.
8. 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.
9. 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!"
Recently, we asked my mom to contribute an article to my company's website about being a working mother. She wrote one called: "Let It Go: A Mantra for Working Moms."
And so you see, I am still learning from her every day.