In addition to being a CEO of the nationally recognized ad agency Partners + Napier in Rochester, NY, our mom, Sharon Napier, also coached our grade-school basketball team. With her signature wild curls, foot-stomping and clipboard-throwing ways, she was a more lovable, modern-day Bobby Knight in heels. She was completely and totally crazy, but good! Our team maybe lost all of two games in four years.
We gained a lot from her as our coach, but we picked up many more benefits from being raised by a working mom. Some of the most important lessons came from watching her grow her business while raising us to be the confident working women we are today. And we’re confident your children are learning these from you.
1. Family comes first. For Mom that included being at practically every basketball game we ever played, and making sure we had quality family time each day. Even when she had a work conflict and couldn’t be home for dinner, we would have tea before bed and catch up on the day. It was important that we stayed grounded and connected to each other.
2. Being busy makes you work harder. She often says the busier you are, the more you will get done. She always told us work is not supposed to be easy. Learn as much as you can, especially early on, as it will shape your career. No one can question a strong work ethic.
3. No one is successful on their own. To be part of a thriving team or business, you can’t do it alone. Everyone needs to be motivated.
4. It’s okay to demand more from your teammates, especially when you know they can do better. But for every tough piece of criticism you give them, you need to give them that much more praise for when they do it right. To lead, you need to be respected.
5. Caring for yourself is important. As she juggled work commitments before and after hours, she always said that the ad business takes stamina. That’s why she puts a strong emphasis on fitness and eating well. Being in good shape will give you more confidence, energy and focus. So, like her, we now make time to work out every day. It’s scheduled just like a meeting. And who wants to miss the most important meeting of the day to take care of you?
6. Avoiding comfort zones leads to greatness. Growing up, we saw her start her business at 36 and get her Master’s at 44. And network like crazy! We know this wasn’t easy, but she had a vision of turning a small Upstate New York agency into a larger national player and went for it.
7. You must love what you do. We’ve watched our mom work as hard, or harder, than anyone, and think it’s a lot more fulfilling because of the satisfaction it brings. Through her example, we know if we work in a career that brings us purpose and joy, we will be better for it.
8. It’s okay not to know everything. Our mom doesn’t always know the answer and she’s comfortable with that. She can lean on others, and not be ashamed that someone in the room knows something she doesn’t.
9. It’s good to be ballsy. To be one of the few female CEOs in a still male-dominated industry is an astoundingly positive achievement. We possess that same quality because of her, and inwardly thank her for it every day.