Category Archives: mothers

Mom had other plans


My last email newsletter and Blog post on December 15th were recommendations to enjoy the holidays.

Unfortunately my Mom had other plans. After a difficult few months at age 97 she was in palliative care and passed away quietly on Christmas Eve. She left us comforted by her three children and with the love and fond memories of her extended family and many friends.

Her last few moments, however, were a small Christmas miracle. I was playing a last game of crib with her and she was winning as usual, even though I was playing both hands, when there was a knock at the door and there was Santa! It was her grandson in his annual tradition of playing Santa and visiting her on Christmas Eve. He came in to say goodbye and a few minutes after he left, Mom gently passed away.

She was a sweet and gentle soul. She left us all with her good advice and memories of her humour, strength and good character every day. She was a self-employed piano teacher for over fifty years, so she was an entrepreneur too. I have shared with you in previous posts some of her influences on me.

In a tribute to Mom and as a reminder to appreciate your own mother, here are two favourites:



Don’t wait until Mother’s Day.

Take the time regularly to turn off the loud and persistent rhetoric of the gurus and thought leaders pushing you to take their advice. Just think about what Mom used to say.

And continue to try to make her proud.

Your Uncle Ralph,

Del Chatterson

Mothers and business seems to be my current theme. Perhaps it's the subliminal (or blatant) advertising for Mother's Day this weekend.

My Uncle Ralph persona is partly inspired by my father and his well-recognized character and manner of dispensing wise advice. But my mother also had a strong influence on my personality and management style (other than the genetic connection), but it was more subtle and less frequently stated than demonstrated. Quiet, hard working, good humoured, and responsible are the characteristics that immediately come to mind. Things we all learned from her example, simply by being around her. Of course, she was also good at reminding us when we forgot those important principles or our behaviour was not up to her standards. And it's still a pleasure to make her proud.

That's why I recommend you use the test "What would Mom think?" before your actions and decisions in business too.

Thanks Mom. And Happy Mother's Day.

An earlier post suggested that we might have better decision making if managers asked themselves what their mother would think of their actions. But what about those employees that expect you to act like their mother?

What is the right level of caring and compassion before it becomes more personal than a working relationship should be? Is there a reasonable limit? Is it appropriate to get involved with issues that are strictly personal? Do employees become part of your extended family with all the additional obligations that implies?

Some recent exposure to business owners dealing with their employees' personal issues has caused me to be more cautious about getting involved. Once they start lending a sympathic ear, then a shoulder to cry on, it soon becomes more time consuming on and off the job and creates a relationship that is difficult to steer back to business only. It also becomes a distraction for other employees and creates new concerns about favouritism.

My guideline for these situations would be to decide whether you would do what's being requested for every employee in the same situation. Personal advice? Time off? Cash advances? If not, then say no to the first request. Don't start a precedent that you're not prepared to write into the policy manual.

And don't be afraid to clarify the relationship, "I'm your boss, not your mother".

As my mother once said "Don't do anything you wouldn't do if I was there."

Now that was a great way to keep me on the straight and narrow while I was looking for trouble as a teenager.

I've often thought of repeating the question as I encounter bad drivers flying by on the highway. "Does your mother know you drive like an idiot?"

Mothers are also an important influence to guide our ethical conduct in business. That was apparently understand by the jeweller in Cranbrook BC who had a conspicuous sign posted by the cash stating "We give instant credit to all our customers ... if they are over 90 and accompanied by their mother." Good credit guideline!

Most entrepreneurs and executives probably don't often think of their mothers on the job, unless she's the boss like Ma Boyle (pictured) at Columbia Sportswear. Maybe they should. We would probably have fewer issues of corporate misconduct if their mothers knew what was going on.

Perhaps instead of all those current management courses on ethics and corporate responsibility we only need to remind decision makers to ask themselves "Would my mother be proud of me, if she knew what I was doing?"

Sometimes mother knows best.