13 Australian executives share the motherly advice they were given as a child, and still use today

Shannon Thomas, founder of Desordre and her mum. Photo: supplied.

Mother’s Day is coming up.

If you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve got you sorted: 15 gifts your mom actually wants this Mother’s Day.

But if you’re more organised and are looking for some thoughtful words to put in your card, why not reflect on the motherly advice she has passed on to you as you grew up.

We asked 13 executives to share the advice they were given as a child, and still use today. It could spark your own memories.

Here’s what they had to say.

Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday, mums!

Ben Bucknell, CEO of OnMarket BookBuilds

My mum has always had a strong love of poetry. Perhaps like other families, a battered, torn and aged copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem 'If-' hung on our kitchen wall at home. Mum seemed to find a verse which she could readily apply to just about any of the vicissitudes that families face living in remote communities. It was written in 1895 about the leader of a failed Transvaal coup d’état. It’s a beautiful reminder that perseverance and being true to your principles are just as important when creating a new app and business like OnMarket BookBuilds as it is to a farming family business facing droughts or floods. And, it’s a reminder that how you manage success and failure can be of greater consequence than the result itself.

Justin Dry, cofounder and joint CEO at Vinomofo

'Be true to yourself'.

This becomes more profound as you get older but definitely had an impact early. Most people spend their lives trying to live up to someone else's expectations but in the end you are only truly happy when you live up to your own.

Fred Schebesta, director and co-founder of finder.com.au

'Back yourself'.

My mum fiercely backed herself in all her endeavours. She works tirelessly to come up with her own personal views and she backs herself all the way, even when faced with adversities.

She was the first woman in Australia to learn about eye surgery and to become an eye surgeon. She helped 30,000 people see without glasses. It was a risky move as it was a new thing to do back then, but she listened to her instincts and she made her own decision.

I really channelled this because I tend to take an unorthodox approach to certain things. As both my parents are in the medical profession, they were surprised that I wanted to start my own business. Although I listen to people’s feedback, at the end of the day, I always back myself and make my own decision. She taught me that you should know that you are worthy and you should always back your own opinion.

At finder.com.au, one of our core values is to be ‘straight up’, and this is where it comes from. We care about what people have to say and we encourage people to speak their minds because it is valued at finder. It’s the fibre of our culture.

John Winning, CEO of Winning Group

'It's the thought that counts'.

This piece of advice has stuck with me and that I use on a daily basis within my personal and professional life.

From a business perspective, our company mission is to provide the best shopping experience in the world and to ensure we achieve this we put the customer first at every point. We think about how we can provide them with a superior customer experience from the minute they go onto our website or walk into one of our showrooms, right up until they have received their appliance and after the sale.

A thought is more powerful than many people realise, but it also has to be backed up with an action.

Steven Shelley, co-founder and CEO of Deputy.

'Mother knows best'.

Mum constantly reminded me of three things in particular when I was growing up.

    1. To use time wisely as the older you get, the faster time goes by. She was right.

    2. Do the right thing, no matter where you go, there's almost always someone you know will be watching you. She was right.

    3. Mum would often say, 'You're Mother is always right'. She was right.

Martin Hosking, co-founder and CEO of Redbubble

'It is not what you say but what you do that is important'.

My mother raised three boys under the age of 5 after the tragic death of my father. Here we are. That is me on the left (refer to photo).

As a single parent in the 1960s she built a successful career. She showed us great love and support and showed us how to live. There will be tragedy and sadness in life. It never defined her and she taught me this more than anything. Even now, well into her 80s, she shows a positivity and zest for living that continues to inspire.

Taryn Williams, founder and CEO of Wink Models and The Right Fit

Good manners cost nothing.

It’s funny how often people take the approach that nothing is free in life but Mum taught me that isn’t true! Its something both my parents really valued highly - to treat people the way I wanted to be treated, to be grateful, to always say please and thank you. Being polite and courteous are key to the way I do business. I like to send hand written thank you notes and address people properly in emails.

As a team we always take time out to personally thank our talent for doing a great job and clients for their business. Treating people with respect and being generous in spirit is key to our success.

Nick Bell, founder and CEO of WME

'Appreciate the rewards of hard work but remember the value of what you already have.'

I grew up on a farm for all my childhood, and this influenced a lot of the advice I got growing up. The best advice my Mum gave me was to appreciate the rewards of hard work but remember the value of what I already had. This advice has stayed with me as an adult. Now that I’m running a successful company I remember not to get caught up in the luxury that can come with financial success or to take anything for granted. It is important never to lose sight of where you came from.

Lana Hopkins, founder of Mon Purse

'Never stop learning, travel the world, read great books and visit art galleries (often).'

I certainly try.

Shannon Thomas, founder of Desordre

'Stand up straight!'

I’ve always been tall, and mum always insisted that I stand up straight! Given I’ve ended up in fashion, where I’m sometimes required to strut in some high heels (When you stock SOPHIA WEBSTER in your business this is very relevant) I can always hear mum in my mind, keeping tall and poised really keeps you confident.

To always SMILE, and be friendly (don’t frown - you will get wrinkles). Mum has a beautiful smile, and is always so lovely to everyone. The ‘you get more bees with honey’ is DEFINITELY true. Its important to smile and be friendly to everyone, I am friendly in store with customers, couriers and even my fabulous garbage men! Owning a business, people are more inclined to help you, and go out of their way for you if you’re friendly and remember them.

Rebekah Campbell, founder and CEO of Hey You

'Take some time to think.'

When I had an important decision to make or was unsure what to do, my mum used to always encourage me to spend long periods of my time by myself to just think.

It's great advice which I still regularly use today. Each year I try to take a holiday by myself, even if it's just for a weekend, just to get out of the city and be by myself. I don't necessarily know when I'm going to get out of these trips, but I always come back with some really great outcomes and much clearer decisions.

Dustin Leonard, CEO of HERO Condoms

'Have a big heart.'

This advice has stuck with me throughout life and is very applicable in both my personal and business relationships.

If you are genuinely kind to others and provide help wherever possible, the world has a funny way of returning the favour.

My family places a large emphasis on charitable contributions, and this has greatly influenced my business values and motivation to become a socially responsible entrepreneur.

Jarryd Burns, co-founder and commercial director at Thankyou

'Your word is your bond.'

Mum always used to tell me that 'your word is your bond - if you tell someone you're going to do something, then you do it!'

This has come in to play time and time again in the Thankyou journey. We know that if we commit to something then we have to follow through on that commitment. This builds trust, which is so important in business. If you don't have your word, then what do you have?

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