I often think about how my mother raised me to become the person I am today. Not only was she a single parent, she was also an immigrant new to the country. Through her drive and dedication, my mother had the biggest impact on how I chose to spend my time. From a young age, she instilled the values that would help me become not only a determined business owner but also a caring mother.
Here is what she taught me and how I have put those lessons to work:
Take Care of Those Around You
My mother said that being rich, famous, healthy or smart is no fun if those who surround you do not share your luck. It is your duty to share your gifts with others. Give and you will receive even greater gifts in return.
My mother encouraged me to play the piano and violin every other weekend in nursing homes as well as in various churches. I volunteered at the hospital and gave out peanut butter sandwiches to the local homeless. Seeing the reactions of these people taught me the importance of giving back. Servant leadership made a difference in the lives of others and also enriched my own life. This set a pattern of how to live a rich life. If you want your children to understand this practice, starting young will set them up for a lifetime of generosity and philanthropy.
Following this pattern, at my company GiftStarter, we regularly give supplies to the homeless, spend time mentoring others and put 2 percent of what we earn toward supporting other startups and education in the region.
Hard Work and Perseverance Win Over Pure Talent
My mother used to say that most people do not work as hard as they can — so if you always give your best, you will beat out most people in whatever you want to do. Hard work means you will progress each time and accomplish something you are proud of. Without hard work, you will end up with regrets. Whatever you do — from work to friendships to marriage — give it your all.
Having been brought up to expect that all good things in life require hard work, I go into most situations expecting to have to put in energy to be able to reap any reward. If something does not come easy, then I have not worked hard enough — and start pushing harder. With the company, we do everything to get work done and move on. We believe in hustle, data and doing the right things to get the work done. Our core values to support this including “be a no-ego doer,” and simply “get it done and move on.”
How You Look on the Outside Matters
People are often quick to judge based on outward appearances.
It is not about how you look with clothes and makeup — it is about how you communicate with facial expressions, body language, and tone. While communication can be improved with training, there is a lot of intrinsic information communicated based on a person’s values and the state of their body and mind. For example, if a person has poor nutrition, has not slept well or is depressed, that is going to show no matter how well dressed they are.
The solution is to take care of your health. Eat good, healthy foods, exercise and drink plenty of water. Listen with your heart first, then with your brain to what people are saying. When you do all that, how you interact with others will improve.
For my company, our core values support: always choosing joy, focusing on self-improvement, making time to refresh and reflect and living smarter rather than harder. This helps employees not only feel better on the inside but convey positive information outwards.
Money Does Not Make You Rich
Family and health are what make a person rich. No amount of money, fame or power can replace a loving family and good health. If a rich person is ill and being fed through a tube, do you think that person feels rich?
Today, this impacts me as a daughter, wife, sister, and mother. I make sure my family has access to healthy foods and I do my best to spend quality time with them. Even when the world seems to be crashing down in my startup life, making sure I prioritize health and family is what keeps me sane and driving forward. I also know they are doing the same for me, showing their love by making sure I eat well, get regular hugs and sleep enough. It is a circle: take care of others and they will take care of you. When you have an environment like that you can focus your energy on tackling any challenge that comes your way.
This also applies to small companies. When you work many hours with a team of people, you also want to look out for your their health and well-being. Work is not just about code and deliverables, but also taking the time to build whole relationships with each other.
Be a Champion for Your Own Happiness
When it comes to accomplishing life’s goals, you have to look out for yourself to make them happen. It is similar to the saying that if you do not have dreams of your own, you will work on making someone else’s dreams come true. Have a vision for yourself and stay true to it. If you have a job you do not love, still work hard to do your best, but make small steps toward your goals through reading books, making progress on a project, training or planning.
Working as a startup, we want each of our members to be whole, healthy people. We want everyone to continually be getting better, so we support each other to do just that.
Along with starting my company, I recently had my first child, offering me a crash course in motherhood. The joyful yet turbulent ride has shown me the love and sacrifice all mothers make.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.