Mother knows best. It is a simple fact.
Whether it’s general advice such as “don’t leave the house without your jacket” or the more meaningful words “if you have done your best then that’s all that matters”, these pieces of wisdom ring true, and for the most part are usually right.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner we thought we should honour the beautiful women that brought us into the world by sharing their wise words.
Business Insider spoke to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs to find out the motherly advice they received as children and continue to use in their business life today.
We were told about the encouraging words of self-belief to the importance of the pursuit of happiness — it looks like mums everywhere know just what to say!
It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
– Gen George, Founder of OneShift.
It might seem unusual for a parent to tell her child this, but my mum always said, ‘It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.’ She was trying to teach me that you’re always going to meet people who find it easier to say no and who want you to play it safe. She wanted me to take risks and push the boundaries, and I have no doubt that having that kind of encouragement gave me the drive to launch my own business when I was 21 and the confidence to keep thinking big.
Treat people as you wished to be treated.
– Dean Ramler, CEO and cofounder of Milan Direct.
My mum, and grandma for that matter, would always tell me to ‘treat people as you wished to be treated’. This was always in a general sense, but I have taken this motto into the way I run Milan Direct. For instance I would never ask any of the Milan Direct team to do something that I would not do. Great advice from my mum and grandma, and the team responds well to it.
You have an imagination, two eyes, a brain and the use of your hands and body, create your own entertainment.
– Karen Lawson, CEO of CareerOne.
Mum’s absolute intolerance of the words or mental state of ‘I am bored..’ (is a saying that has shaped who I am today) It wasn’t a concept she found acceptable. ‘You have an imagination, two eyes, a brain and the use of your hands and body, create your own entertainment…’
It instilled an amazing quality of self reliance in me, as a very young child. I knew that I had to rely on me, so with a few paper toilet rolls, sticky back plastic and a fairy washing up bottle I could create spaceships and castles galore. It also taught me gratitude, that I am very lucky to be healthy and be brought up with a roof over my head, have food on the table from our garden and a warm loving family.
Success is in the eye of the beholder.
– Tahir Baig, Founder of Rozibaby.com
My mum always encouraged me to learn from the wisdom and grace of my grandparents who were very simple people, but had great sincerity in their jobs, and in doing so held the respect of the people they served.
From their example, she explained, success can be defined in many ways — and it’s not necessarily about being rich and famous. Stories of success are all around us amongst the people we encounter in our daily lives.
Never do anything just for the money.
– Dr Gemma Munro, Managing Director of Inkling Women.
I remember my mother saying, with great conviction, ‘Never do anything just for the money’. She is a proponent of passion-based careers and always assured us that if you do something you love, the money will follow. And she was right – as always! But what I have learned from my mother goes well beyond the words she spoke. Mum has managed Multiple Sclerosis with grace and courage for over forty years now. Despite days of feeling dizzy, fatigued or worse, Mum is relentlessly optimistic, and also tremendously accepting of reality as it is. She finds the best in all situations. I wish I could say I am as brave as she is – I don’t know if that will ever be possible. What has rubbed off is a sense of faith that things happen for a reason – and that even adverse circumstances are most often blessings in disguise.
You talk a lot, Andre, maybe there’s something you can do with that.
– Andre Eikmeier, CEO and co-founder of Vinomofo
When I was eight, I remember mum sitting down with me and saying ‘You talk a lot, Andre, maybe there’s something you can do with that…’ and she’d circled an ad in the classifieds for a local acting school, she just thought I might enjoy. So I gave it a go, and that led to a bit of a hit and miss acting career, which led to an out of work actor working on the phones for a wine company, which led to my falling in love with the wine industry. There were a few twists and turns along the way, but I’ve always been comfortable communicating. It’s also very much part of the culture of the company – there’s a lot of collaboration, quite a few speeches and workshops together, everyone has a voice, and we communicate well with our customers. It’s part of our brand. And that all started, certainly, with Mum suggesting that I could take this instinct and develop it into something productive. Cheers Mum.
– Daniel Flynn, Founder of Thankyou Group
My mum always stressed ‘stay humble’ when I was growing up, and it’s something that’s definitely stuck with me. She has been so excited by every step forward that Thankyou Group has taken and she really believes in what we’re doing, but it’s so important for her that I not take anything for granted, whether that be in work or with my friends and family. She’s seen so many successful people fall apart over the years because they were too proud to take advice or consider someone else’s point of view.
Always have your own money.
– Kate Troup, Founder of the W8less 40 Day Challenge.
‘Always have your own money’ are words that are still with me today, some 30 odd years after I would have last heard them. My mother was a product of the Mad Men era when women had the family and men had the power. Raising a family of six was unpaid work, and despite not wanting for anything materially, I suspect she felt a lack of freedom because she was financially dependent on my father. Those words encouraged me to get my first job at 13 and today drive me to not only have my own money but create it through my own business.
Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
– Guy Polak, General Manager of Mumgo.com.au
The best advice my mum gave me? At an early age I remember her saying, ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’ so I always tried to shape my career choice around that motto. I’m really passionate about products so a career in retail made sense for me. I love exploring new product categories, working with suppliers and looking for different trends or opportunities. After 20 years in the industry, I still live and breath retail and genuinely enjoy coming to work every day. My mum’s advice has definitely influenced my decisions and has helped me get to where I am today, starting an exciting new role as the GM of Mumgo.
No matter what life throws at you, it’s not what happens to you that matters but rather how you handle what happens that sets you apart from the rest.
– Cyndi O’Meara, Founder of Changing Habits.
My mum had an uncanny way of showing rather than telling that ‘no matter what life throws at you, it’s not what happens to you that matters but rather how you handle what happens that sets you apart from the rest. ‘ This is the most important message anyone could have taught me to help me through every part of my life. She was a wise mum!
Always listen to yourself, and do what you already know is right.
– Chris Ryan, CEO of Strike Group Australia.
I remember two key times when mum guided me throughout my business career. Firstly, when I told her I wanted to drop out of uni and start my own business I was met with the ‘don’t you think it is best to have a degree to fall back on’. Naturally as a somewhat obnoxious teenager I did the opposite that mum told me to do. She knew I would do the opposite and was gently guiding me in her own way. Secondly, she told me to ‘always listen to yourself, and do what you already know is right’. Solid advice for anyone in any stage of a business career.
Nothing is impossible.
– Jonas Larsson, CEO & Founder of Touch Payments.”
Nothing is impossible. The impossible just takes longer. Work hard, live honest, make mistakes, learn from them and respect others. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy life.
Hard work pays off.
– Anton Babkov, CEO of Rex Software
My brother Alex and I have always felt, quite strongly, that family is important. The best advice mum ever gave us was, ‘hard work pays off.’
Mum’s complete belief in our ability to succeed made us totally fearless – confident that we can do anything, which is pretty important when your running a disruptive tech start up in a traditionally tech-resistant industry. Mum’s advice back then is still as crucial as her advice today and she works along side us as our sales department head.
You eat well, you stay well.
– Tom, Co-founder of Emma & Tom’s
These two comments reflect heavily on what we produce and sell. All Natural, minimal processing, nothing artificial, no added sugar, using the very best ingredients.
You can do anything you like in this world provided you’re willing to accept the consequences so make sure you consider the downside risks as well.
– Dr James Freeman, Founder, GP2U Telehealth.
Mum told my brother and I we would both learn more by listening than speaking with the classic: ‘God gave you two ears, and one mouth – so try to use them in about that ratio’.
But probably her best advice was her version of the biblical ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’. It goes like this: ‘You can do anything you like in this world provided you’re willing to accept the consequences so make sure you consider the downside risks as well’.
It took me quite a long time to put all these pieces together but the success we, as a company, are enjoying today depends on groundwork laid weeks, months and years ago. Our products are focused on what customers want because we take the time to listen, and in so doing not only get to build better products, but also nurture key relationships for the long term.
It is important to have independence and financial autonomy.
– Alexandra Tselios, Founder of The Big Smoke.
While my mother is the best lady, she will be the first person to tell you she has zero interest in business. Yet, as a child, she would consistently talk about the importance of independence and financial autonomy, which is at the core of being an entrepreneur. This advice has always served me well, especially as a female business owner.
She also taught me how essential it is to take time out for family and really ‘switching off’ every now and then. This is such an important lesson, as your loved ones should always be a priority – through the ups and downs of a running a company, it is your friends and family that will keep you sane.
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