Everything I Needed To Know About Kindergarten…

22 Sep

I Learned in Business

When I became a parent, there seemed an endless list of things that surprised and confused me about the new baby in our home. Truth be told, being the parent of a newly hatched teenager is pretty flabbergasting too! The one thing that has surprised me most, however, is the thing I least expected: the skills I learned in my career prepared me best for motherhood.

Day in and day out, parents must navigate the sometimes choppy seas of communication with children in much the same way a savvy executive navigates his or her own shark-infested waters.

Just a few examples:

Get to the point.  

Decide what you want the outcome of the conversation to be before you open your mouth.   Be they a toddler or a CFO, no one wants to feel like you’re wasting their time.  Get to the point before you lose your audience.

No toddler cares about the fat content of a potato chip — just whether or not he can have one.  No CFO cares that your client liked your shoes — just whether or not you kept the account.   Figure it out.   Spit it out.   Move on.

A Little Ice Cream Goes a Long Way.   

When my kids do something that makes me proud (or not proud, for that matter), I’ll tell them.  But in those extra special moments when they do something extraordinary, I swell with pride so deep that there’s nothing left to do but head for the ice cream shop.   My kids absolutely love those days.

As a manager, it’s important to remember the “ice cream.”  Sure, everyone is paid to do his or her job and everyone is expected to do said job well.  But there are those special moments in business, too, say for example, when someone does something above and beyond and you know they gave it their all to help your cause.   Consider an email to their supervisor.  Or a personal note with a coffee gift card.

A small gesture can really go a long way.

Take a Deep Breath and Bite Your Tongue.   

A while back, I peeled my then three year old off the floor at Whole Foods Market, abandoned my cart and walked out.  I don’t even remember exactly what set him off but it happened quickly and there was no turning back and there was no reasoning with him.

Like children can be sometimes, there are also people in the business world who just.  won’t.   listen.   No matter how hard you try.  No matter how right you know you are.   And since you can’t send a stubborn colleague to her room, it’s really just best to take a deep breath and bite your tongue.

None of us were born perfect parents, and even on good days, there is always more to learn.  Like all things in life, we all need experience, guidance, and some time-tested advice to do the job the best that we can.

Do you see similarities between your own skills as a parent and your skills as a salesperson or manager? 

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