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June 26, 2018 | 01:44 AM
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09.05.20115 Time-Tested Management Tips from Mom

Many of my mother's personal aphorisms still ascribe to today and have helped me navigate not only life in general but also my career.


Forbes.com

My mother has had several careers over the course of her adult life, from French teacher (I know that Touche pas! means “Don’t touch!”) to magazine promotion director, from color consultant (I’m a “Spring”, evidently) to outplacement specialist (she’s diagnosed me as an ENTJ on the Myers-Briggs test), and, more recently, artist and published author. While her jobs may not have stayed constant, her sage advice has. My upbringing was peppered with her personal aphorisms, many of which I still ascribe to today and have helped me navigate not only life in general but also my career. (And some of which found its way into my book, Be Your Own Best Publicist.)

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In honor of Mother’s Day and the wonderful, intelligent and encouraging woman who raised me, I’d like to share some of her best wisdom:

1. When in doubt, don’t. Sounds simple and it is. If you have serious reservations about something or someone, there’s probably a reason. My mom’s advice was always to trust your gut — if you have doubts about a decision, whether it’s taking a new job, buying an expensive dress or dating someone, you shouldn’t rush into it. The job offer you pass up probably wasn’t right for you or you weren’t truly ready to leave your current gig. If you go back to the store and the dress you wanted is still there a week later, go for it. If too many things bother you about that guy or gal you’re seeing, break it off. In my love life, buying habits and career, I’ve learned to follow my instincts and, nearly every time, they have served me well. When I didn’t heed my doubts about whether to hire certain people over the years, I ended up having to let those folks go because they hadn’t been right in the first place. Had I followed my mom’s advice, I probably wouldn’t have had to go through the painful experience of firing employees.

2. The worst someone can say is “no.” I was offered a whopping $22,000 for my first job out of college and my mother said, “Ask for $25,000.” When I was reluctant to do so, not wanting to seem presumptuous or greedy, she said, “The worst they can say is ‘no.’” So I went for it and got $24,000, nearly 10 percent more than the original offer. While it was likely no big deal for my first employer to give me a $2,000 bump (looking back, I wonder how I afforded to live in Manhattan on that salary!), it made a difference to me. Mom also told me that if someone wants to hire you badly enough, there’s always room for negotiation. Lesson: If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

3. If you act like you know what you’re talking about, people will believe you. As I shared with you, my mom has done many different things in her professional life, but there’s one thing she did consistently: possessed self-confidence about whatever it was she was peddling at the time. For example, with no prior experience in fashion, she became a successful image consultant who was hired by major corporations to help their executives to look more polished. She parlayed a love and knowledge of quilting into modern, striking works of fiber art (ex. “Postcards”, shown here) which hang in galleries and juried art shows around the country, and now teaches her art techniques all over the world.

4. You can stand up to authority, just do it with respect. My mom was never one for rules or systems. While she loved teaching high school kids how to say Au revoir!, she wasn’t a fan of the politics and bureaucracy of the public school system. I am more of a hybrid of my rule-breaking, former beatnik mother and lifelong public servant father (who was a high school teacher for 40 years, then an auxiliary police officer and court bailiff), but I did learn that I don’t have to follow every rule. As long as you express yourself with respect for your superiors, you can stand up for what you believe in, even if isn’t in line with their opinions.

5. Life is not fair. This was a tough pill to swallow growing up. Who wants to hear such a negative maxim over and over again? Mommies are supposed to tell their kids that life is a series of rainbows and bunny rabbits, right? Well, the fact is, my mom was right. Life brings us all sorts of challenges and if we’re prepared to encounter some bumps along the road, we’ll be better prepared to face them. In my profession — public relations — I have to deal with negative (and often untrue) rumors, lazy reporters and crisis situations all the time. Understanding that we’re sometimes going to be thrown curveballs has helped me stay calm in the face of difficulties, whether at work or in my personal life.

My mother has recently gone through her own difficulties, proving that life isn’t fair. But despite what’s going on with her, she is unfailingly supportive of my goals. She’s a sounding board when I need someone to listen and offer advice. She’s the voice of reason when I let my emotions get the best of me. And, most importantly, she’s my mentor.



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