Office nightmares: when mum embarrasses you in front of a big-time CEO

Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all of your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]

Dear Insider,

My mum is my business partner and we went to an interview together with the CEO of a major corporation.

I introduced her as my business partner, but then she told them, “I’m her mother, and as her parents we’re just here to support our daughter in her dreams.”

It was so awkward! What could we have done differently so we don’t diminish my standing as CEO of my company?


Daughter Working With Mum


Dear Daughter:

What an embarrassing moment! I imagine you must have felt like a sheepish elementary school student instead of a CEO with your own company.

Having your mum as your business partner isn’t something to hide. There’s a reason the term “family business” tends to connote a reliable and trustworthy institution. When potential clients hear you’re working with mum, they’re probably going to think you are more dedicated to your company. It’s also a great conversation starter.

To avoid awkward situations in the future, however, it’s important for you and your mum to establish a script — and stick to it.

Your mum’s touchy-feely comments were over the line, making you and the client uncomfortable. Go over what you will say next time so no one is caught off guard.

And consider joining The National Association of Mothers & Daughters in Business, which is full of reports and resources on navigating this unique situation.


Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all of your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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