5 Lessons My Mother Taught me about BUSINESS Relationships

Life is precious. Our time is precious and relationships play a massive role in our success.  Who has influenced you, your relationships and your business?

Recently, I attended two funerals of women aged in their 90’s.  Mothers of two friends of mine, …one friend , I went to school with more than 40 years ago and the other a friend for the past 27 years , whom  I met at Mothers group when our son's were three.

As you do on these occasions, I stood around  chatting and sharing stories with others who have been part of my network throughout the course of my life and at times have  played significant roles.  We discussed how our  local networks supported us during  our formative years and how we knw everyone in the local area and that many of these  relationships have been sustained over decades.  We compared how different it was now. Often with  neighbours barely knowing  each other and  rarely crossing  paths as their garage doors swallow them up at the end of each day. 

During the two services, eulogies were shared with stories depicting  how these women had grown upand contributed to their  communities and relished the time spent with their friends and families.  Their family and friends had been central to their lives.

I was drawn back to to  my own mothers service and revisited and  reflected once more  on how she too had  influenced my life and who I am today.  

As Steve Jobs once said, “you can only connect the dots when you look back”.  Certainly when I connect the dots of  my life, and the life of my mother, I see a strong link between us of love of people, organisation, solving problems and achieving individual outcomes.  I am probably more like her than I like to admit on occasions!

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My Mum was a much loved mother, mother-in-law, nana and great nana. But she was also much more than that….She was a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a colleague, and a good friend …… and a remarkable woman who led a very productive life.

When I think about my mother, without even knowing it , she taught valuable lessons that have impacted on my life.

Be prepared to Step out of your comfort zone

In  the ‘70’s, it was fairly uncommon to divorce, but my parents did. My mum  had to find a way to support us.  It was her drive, resilience and determination to be independent and build a new life , that only now I fully appreciate. She had been willing to take risks and confident enough to push forward out of her comfort zone. No doubt losing her mother at an early age, being shipped off to boarding school and having to forge her own path had developed her resilience.

Doors opened many times for mum throughout her life and she was not afraid to step through.

She was the first woman , to venture into the male arena and sell Holden motor cars, went on to sell Fords, worked at the Herald –Sun, selling advertising space for the Listener-In TV and then went into Public Relations at Le Pine Funerals.

 When she was Interviewed by Jeremy Oliver in 1993 ( she was 71), she told him

“Most of my friends think I am a complete fool and idiot for doing so much.  They ask how can I work all the time, but I find my life very fulfilling. If a door opens, I’ll work through it”.

Have a diverse  network

Mum was a gatherer of people.  Her years of selling cars and advertising , her management job at  Mitchell Cotts, her involvement on the Peter MacCallum Ethics board,  membership to the Liberal Party, and Box Hill Palliative Care Committee,  and her years at Le Pines Funerals working in Community Relations, and her dedication to Melbourne Rotary provided opportunity for her to have a broad network and many friendships were forged. She knew so many people.  It felt like every time we went somewhere, she knew someone!

Share knowledge and experience

She started work at Le Pines in 1988 and  provided community education on personal issues such as Powers of Attorney, Planning ahead, and selling pre-paid funerals to various organisations including bowling clubs, Probus, metropolitan hospitals, Palliative and Pastoral care workers, TAFE colleges,  Ambulance, retirement villages, the RSL, the Police Academy and the CFA .

Build  relationships with men and women

Mum joined the Rotary Club of Melbourne as one of the first three  women in Rotary in Australia. Over time, she was involved  on the Board of the Rotary Club of Melbourne,  held the position of Sergeant at Arms, was  a member on the reception committee for an International Convention. She  enjoyed the dinners with the various sub-committee groups  over the years and always enjoyed greeting new arrivals at the door at the weekly meetings. She was comfortable in thecompany of men and woman alike.   It was a significant moment  when  she was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Melbourne in 2009 which she  no doubt deserved for her commitment and we, the family were with her to celebrate her achievement.

I think my desire to bring men and women  together at networking events was  influenced by my mother.  It never concerned her to work in a male dominated environment, infact I think she enjoyed the interaction  with men. 

 I do believe that if women want to have opportunities , it is important to work, engage and  connect,  share conversations, experiences and knowledge, with men and women , after all if  we restrict who we connect with  we may miss out on our best opportunities.

Stand up and stand out

Like all mothers, she was unique. 

She was strong minded and often outspoken. She taught us lessons in etiquette, politeness, gratitude, resilience, friendship, commitment, forgiveness, independence and exhibited strong family values.  She encouraged  us to stand up and be counted and to value relationships .

In conclusion

So sitting  listening to the eulogies, I realised what a great role model my own mother had been and how she had shown me how important relationships are   for both our  personal and professional development.

 I have gained a lot by running business networking events.   I hope when someone reads my eulogy, they will be able to say that I  made a difference to others by  helping them step out of their comfort zone, develop  connections, find  opportunities and  particularly if they are female, are now not  afraid to network with men.   Invest in relationships because your time matters,  learn, grow and achieve.



Kerryn Powell