Laura Petrolino

Motherly Advice That Will Improve Your Career in Communications

By: Laura Petrolino | May 6, 2019 | 
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Motherly Advice That Will Improve Your Career in CommunicationsMotherly advice.

Even when it annoys us, it is almost always useful (and that makes it more annoying).

So with Mother’s Day the end of this week, we figured what better time to hear about the motherly advice that has helped all of you excel in your careers.

Plus we love writing about moms this time of year.

Gini wrote a post a few years ago about her mom.

I wrote one about mine.

Because what’s the point of even having a blog if you can’t brag about your mom in it?

So this year we thought it only made sense to turn it over to our community and let you all tell us about your awesome moms.

Here is the best professional advice the talented communications pros of the Spin Sucks community received from their mothers.

Motherly Motivation

When Meredith Lejeune, owner of Thought Bubble Communications, started her career she received just the motivation she needed from her mom:

She told me to go after what I wanted.

I started my career in PR in 2005 as a college grad. I was the only PR person in the marketing department. I needed guidance, but no one had the skills to really help me. I channeled that advice my mom gave me and made requests that hadn’t been made before. I wanted to join PRSA, I wanted to go to conferences, participate in workshops…all things my company granted me simply because I asked.

Not only were these great educational and professional development tools, but they helped me with my long term goals. I knew I wanted to step out on my own, but there were certain skills I needed to fine tune. Keeping my mom’s advice in my ear, I kept asking for things that would better position me for my future. Fast forward 14 years and here I am, owner of my own boutique PR agency. Because I asked for what I wanted, I positioned myself for success!

Thanks, mom!

“It’s Not About YOU”

In the category of “classic mom advice we roll our eyes at, but ends up being true,” Jameela Ghann’s mom is a pro. And because of that, they built a successful business together.

Jameela Ghann, Owner of Alora Boutique:

My mom and I run a jewelry business together: Alora Boutique. Sometimes we would look at trend forecasts and I would be like, “Omg that colour is hideous. I would never wear yellow!” Then my mom would retort, “it’s not about you, Jameela.”  She basically told me that it is about our customers and the market, not my personal tastes. That advice has helped us have a great product-market fit!

Women Can Gain Respect with this One Awesome Mom Tip

Heather Feimster’s mom nailed this advice like whoa. It’s advice Gini gave me, and advice I now give to many other women.

Heck, it’s even advice that was recently discussed in this article.

If you are a female, take this advice to heart and practice every day:

My mom also suggested I lower my vocal register when speaking on the phone. She said it sounded more professional and not like “an airhead”. Lol. My mom is pretty blunt.

Speaking of Advice to Women…

Before you all get offended, read to the end.

While we might roll our eyes at some of the advice our moms (or others provide), and claim it’s “antiquated,” most of that advice still has some good nuggets to share.

Such is the case with the advice Sandy Malloy’s mom provided her:

Learn to type so you always have something to fall back on. Old fashioned advice, but I sure am glad that, with a lifetime of keyboarding, I never had to hunt and peck. And I did rely on being able to get office jobs when I needed them.

Underlying message: Develop practical skills.

A Motherly Reminder About Work/Life Balance

Colleen Brady’s mom taught her an important lesson about both work/life balance and various team priorities at her first job:

I remember complaining to my Mom that some individuals in the office left promptly at 5:00 PM. I didn’t understand it, especially when there was work to be done and pressing deadlines. While I didn’t fully get it at the time as it was my first job out of college, she told me that jobs and careers weren’t everyone’s first priority. It was also an early lesson in work-life balance. With time, I  did learn at that particular job that the leaders’ did not manage time well. They squandered business hours’ time and only focused on nights and weekends. Those that stayed for any length of time at the organization showed up during business hours and did the work, leaving at a reasonable hour. Others burned out, resulting in high turnover.

Work First…Then Play

Robert Johnson, president of Washington Media Group (p.s. Robert and I will be talking about motherly advice for communications pros on the Flack Pack podcast this Friday), had this to say:

I think her best advice, although it really was an order when I was a child, was “get your work done before you go out to play.” I did that as a kid, and for the most part, I still do that today. I thrive under deadline pressure, but my training, thanks to my mom, is constantly pushing me to get my work done as soon as I know about it.

This Mama Didn’t Raise No Average Kid

Lukas Treu of Akhia was raised by a mom who refused to let him settle for less than his full potential:

My mom was always a big fan of “never settle for being average. The world is full of ordinary people, and you don’t need to be one of them.”

They Don’t All Have to Like You

Schoolyard wisdom from Ashton Meisner’s mom:

I’m so thankful to my mom who encouraged me to have a thick skin and know my worth in all aspects of life. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay! All you can do is know you gave it your best effort and keep moving forward.

My Dad always used to say, “do you want to be liked or respected?”

I want to be both liked and respected, so that’s not helpful.

Motherly Perspective FTW

Rob Cottingham’s mom came in clutch with the perspective meter.

As I told Rob, this is something I remind myself of daily when I catch myself getting worked up over something inconsequential:

When I was freaking out over something, my mom once asked me,“ten years from now, will this really matter?” It helped me catch my breath when I desperately needed to—and still often does, decades later.

Decisions, Decisions…Motherly Advice About Decisions

We all love decisions, right?  

Well, we think we do, but most research says that too many decisions are actually not necessarily a good thing. 

This community member’s mom taught her an important lesson in how to provide decisions:

Never give your clients open-ended options—just like toddlers—you don’t ask a toddler what shirt they want you ask, “do you want the red shirt or the blue shirt?'” If you ask an open-ended question, they invariably ask for that which you cannot give them.

(And please don’t publicly attribute to my name because I really do this with clients—do you want this or this? But never an opened ended question.)

Treat Yo’ Self

Jennifer Norene’s mom taught her an early lesson in self-care:

Schedule one one-hour meeting with yourself each week. Nails, relaxation, read, etc.

Motherly Advice From The Spin Sucks Team Moms

Our Spin Sucks team moms are pretty awesome.

So obviously we needed to include them here too!

Gini Dietrich:

Remember who you are and what you stand for, which works really well when you do reputation management for a living.

Whitney Danhauer:

My mom always encouraged me in WHATEVER I tried. Even if I was terrible, she was my biggest cheerleader. The thing she encouraged me the most in was my writing. Even when people would kind of roll their eyes when I told them I wanted to be a writer, she was always there telling everyone she knew how great my stories were. Since then, she’s read every single thing I’ve written and told me to ignore what anyone else said. I’ve used that to help me get over my fear of publishing over the years. (Obviously, I’m over it now, duh.) But her voice in the back of my mind telling me I could do it, has always been a huge help in getting over that moment when I almost don’t hit the publish button.

Dawn Buford:

My mom’s advice was work hard and don’t take any sh*t from anyone. (Actually, I’ve heard that from all the women in my family and from my former female bosses!)

Paulina Michael:

My mom tells me to always be responsible, dependable, and true to my word.

For me….while my mom taught me so many things, probably the one piece of advice that most influenced my career is she told me (through words and her own action) to always prioritize people over everything else.

Motherly Advice Randoms

This motherly advice fits no category, but stands alone as awesome.

Chris S. Penn’s mom told him to “be patient”. I’m guessing his Trust Insights co-founder Katie Robbert probably tells him that too.

Superdog Chris Williams’ (check out their Planet Magpie’s team page to see why you should refer to him by his dog alter ego moving forward), mom had a unique motivation strategy:

My mother would cackle at us like the Wicked Witch of the West to scare us into doing homework. (She played the role in college theater.) I guess you’d consider that motivation to finish your work?

What Motherly Advice Has Influenced Your Career?

Now it’s your turn!

What piece or pieces of motherly advice has most influenced your career?

Photos credit: Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay (and chosen in honor of my favorite niece)

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.