Make Mom Proud
Sometimes, I create and popularize memes…in my own head. Let me explain.
My first day at Box, I went through orientation like any other new hire. At some point during the day, the company values (including Make Mom Proud) were unveiled. Make Mom Proud was explained as “imagine your mom was here with you at the office - behave as if she’s watching over your shoulder - think about what she would say".”
And that’s when it happened.
I imagined my mom was there with me at the office, watching over my shoulder - and I didn’t even need to think about what she would say. My mom basically says the same handful of catchphrases all the time. Her sayings have become key tenets of how I function as a professional.
“the first impression is the last Impression”
Yes, my mom was ahead of the curve on unconscious biases. The pre-conceived notions people have about you affect everything from your professional network to your career prospects. And if you can get a quick win in a new role, you get a reputation for success that is hard to shake (in a good way).
“nothing personal, just business”
My mom loves to quote old Bollywood movies, which tend to pay homage to old Hollywood movies. So what can you learn from The Godfather? Trade-offs will come up at work, but if you keep the overall business in mind vs your own ambition, you’ll make the right call.
Ever sit in bed typing and re-typing an email response? It’s the end of a long day and you can’t string together the words to get your point across. Just go to sleep. Inbox Zero is way more achievable when you’re well rested and thinking clearly.
“when are you coming to visit?”
You have customers and partners outside your enterprise - it’s imperative that you nurture those relationships all the time. It’s just tacky to call and check in only when you really need a favor.
“take your brother with you!”
You will only get so far in individual hero mode. You need to lead a team to scale your output, and you need to align cross-functionally to achieve meaningful outcomes.
“here’s $1, and a list of things to get from the store…”
Ambition always outweighs resources (people, money, time). Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. Yes, my mom foreshadowed an Amazon leadership principle.
It’s been a few years since my onboarding, but the mom meme is still strong (and serving me well). I’d love to hear from readers who’ve also gotten (unintentionally prescient) professional advice from their moms - please chime in via comments👇🏽. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
the peak-end rule explains why a good first 90 days gives you more latitude to fail
the cult of superherodom in the workplace goes back a coupe of centuries
using Fibonacci numbers in planning allows for relative weighting of estimates
childish drawing / interpretation