5 Things I Learned About Business from my Mom • New Tricks
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learned about businessMy daughter turned thirty last Friday, and to celebrate she came up from Orlando to Atlanta, where she would also be with me for Mother’s Day. I told my 81-year-old mother, Ann Knight, who lives in Pensacola, that Amanda was coming to town and that we had cooked up a Cuban party to celebrate; she was all over it!

After checking her calendar (you’ll see why she needed to do that), she said yes and packed her red Jetta and drove up for the weekend.

At 81, Mom is still spontaneous and full of energy, and that includes her use of technology. At Amanda’s tropical birthday party, Mom was busy taking pictures with her iPhone we gave her for Christmas, a few years ago.

After dinner, mom was sitting around a table with her 79 year-old brother. She was busily texting photos she took to several people that requested them while chiding my uncle for still having a flip phone.

That’s my mom, who passed on to me a mindset and energy about embracing new things that helped me start my business and inspire other people to get over their fears about technology doing business on-line.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve collected some of her wisdom to inspire you, especially if you struggle with fears about technology or taking risks in business. These tips are also helpful for making sure you are living full out into your 80’s.

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At Amanda’s party, my mom told everyone how glad she was that my dad helped her learn to use the computer before he died. “I really appreciate your dad, because if it wasn’t for him setting up the Internet, email and Word to help with the race, I never would be where I am with technology today.”

The race was the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon that she directed for 15 years. And helped create.

After raising us seven children as a stay-at-home mom, she started running when she was 50. She always had been a good swimmer, which you would expect from a Pensacola native. And then all it took was getting a bike in her mid-50s to turn her on to triathlons.

Pensacola’s beach is beautiful, the terrain flat and the road straight, so naturally Mom decided that would be a great place to hold a sprint triathlon (swim 1/3 of a mile, bike 18 miles and run 3 miles.) Then she made it happen.

So when she acknowledged my dad, a retired Navy pilot, for making sure she could use the computer, she was not a passive recipient of his thoughtfulness. Mom knew how to take something new and run with it. She is fierce, and not just with technology.

Her visit and Mother’s Day weekend made me think of these 5 Five Ways My Mom Taught Me to Embrace the New and Live a Great Life.

  1. Say yes to new experiences even—and especially—when you have to start as a beginner. In college, when I ran my first 10K, I shared my excitement with my mother. “I don’t know why anyone would want to run ten miles,” she said, which sort of sounds like an old person talking. But then she started running and you’d have thought she discovered it, that’s how excited she became. Cultivating a beginner’s mind builds character and opens up exciting new possibilities no matter what your age.
  2. If you see something important that needs doing, jump in. My mother was a Navy wife who really had never worked outside the home. But after she saw the potential of a having a great race, she didn’t hesitate to put one foot in front of the other. She became the head of a popular triathlon with more than 1,000 athletes, lots of sponsors, and tons of volunteers. By jumping in, she created and ultimately ran a big budget business that benefited the wider community.
  3.  If you don’t know how to do something that it critical to your business, you must get down and learn it. Until my dad was diagnosed with stage four melanoma and given a couple of years to live, he had helped her with the mailing lists, spreadsheets and everything else that was digital. She worked with him to bring her skills up to speed so she could manage on the computer without him.
  4. You will feel young longer if you have friends of all ages. Triathlons attract people of all ages, and over those 15 years of directing her race, my mom made great friends with people who trained, volunteered, sponsored and participated in the triathlon. My mom was 75 when she turned over her race to someone else, but retained these vibrant friendships that have kept her on her toes as much as her six daughters and son have.
  5. Don’t give up or give in. Six years ago, mom was hospitalized with what looked like pneumonia. A few tests showed her lungs were fibrotic and were closing down. This woman who recently had biked 50 miles was given four weeks to live, and she didn’t accept that.

She got a second opinion from a specialist who did a biopsy and diagnosed her with a special autoimmune lung condition that could be treated first by taking chemo and then with daily steroid pills. Mom looked so frail and feeble none of us really thought that even with this news, she would ever be able to live or breathe on her own again.

But she had her own ideas. She went back to her house and started slowly exercising and building up her strength until after a while her progress even shocked all of her doctors.

Today she swims a mile a couple of times a week and has no problem hopping in the car to make the six-hour drive from Pensacola to Atlanta to see her granddaughter turn 30. She stays so busy that it was lucky for us she didn’t have a schedule conflict!

I learned a lot from watching my Mom jump in and get things done. After learning WordPress for my real estate development business that I was transitioning out of, in my spare time, I would help people at the coffee shop with their businesses. People kept asking me to do their websites for them. I really enjoyed doing it but knew there would be a steep learning curve to do commercial web design and I was 55 at the time. Who starts a web design business at that age?

I am sure my Mom’s example helped me to put my hesitations on the shelf and jumped in, even though I probably made $3.00 an hour that first year.

Coincidentally, I got involved in the WordPress community organizing Meetup Groups and WordCamps which like my Mom’s triathlon race director position, gave me a whole new group of friends of all different ages who are close to me today.

So when my newly turned 30 daughter Amanda gave me a handwritten Mother’s Day card that said, “To the best mom ever, and I know because I am so much like you, that you have to be the best,” I had to give credit where credit was due.

The best mom honors have to go to my mom, because what I have been able to share with my daughter, and my son, I first got from my Mom. The way my mom embraced new experiences, got off the sidelines and refused to let anyone put her down, and did what she needed to do—well, I only hope I can keep following in her footsteps.

When I am 81, I want to be doing the equivalent of her taking and texting pics with a smartphone pictures, and having a great life. She keeps showing me how.

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Showing 10 comments
  • Laurie

    Wonderfully written! Thank you for sharing!

  • Lyn Deardorff

    Nice tribute, Judi. NO surprise that was your Mom. Also enjoy anything about aging well these days – her strides before anyone was talking about the how to’s for the Boomer gens is inspiring. And I just read another article this week in the NYTimes about starting something new, something challenging, when you are over 50. Go girl! And me too! Thanks!

    • Judi Knight

      Thanks Lyn, I need to check that article out. Nice hearing from you!

  • Sandra

    I was just saying yesterday how fortunate I am in my acting pursuits to be in the company of people of all ages, the majority of them younger.

    I started studying acting intensely at age 55. I am just now ready to get an agent.

    I’m convinced that people who have trouble ageing have that problem because they are not ageing well.

    We all need a passion, a purpose, and an outlet for our creative gifts, which, by the way, we all possess.

    And ,Judi, it’s because if your help and encouragement that I was able to post my story about my own inspiring mother on my WordPress site.

    • Judi Knight

      Your inspiring post about your mother was one of the things that inspired me to write about mine:-) And yes passion and purpose are everything.

  • Jacques Laurent

    Very refreshing perspective. Truly enjoyed this post. Keep inspiring us!

    • Judi Knight

      Glad you enjoyed it Jacques. How is your redesign coming along?

  • Dorothy Adams

    Wow! What a wonderful tribute. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for saying what is in all of our hearts.

  • Judi Knight

    My Mother, Ann replied, “Wow, you made me cry! Little did I know that you had such high esteem of me. I only always did what I could or try doing what I wanted to do. I think my mother inspired me too, but the opposite. She didn’t try to exert herself when the Drs. told her to exercise for her heart condition, She didn’t try new things.

    At one time I remember she wanted to go back to teaching after we were pretty much grown, but never acted on it. I have a book ” If I had my life to live over” What an inspiring book to NOT have regrets when one is old. I won’t have regrets when I am really old as there is nothing I feel I should have done earlier when I could physically do more than I can now.

    Thank you Judy , as I am very humbled by your message to to your clients. I hope your message will inspire others so when they are old sitting in their rocking chair, they won’t think of all the things they were GOING TO DO, but DIDN”T

    I have been blessed but you didn’t mention that my deep faith has been my main inspiration and help along my path. Uncle Warren use to say ” Jesus is my Man!”. He is my man too. I Thanks so much, I love you all.”

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