According to my social media guru, The Small Biz Big Mouth, today is #RespectForParentsDay. I thought about writing a piece about one of my two children but then remembered that they’re teenagers. I don’t trust anything they have to say about me at this point because I’m basically “ruining” their lives with my rules and expectations. Now that I’m not a teenager any more, I can finally trust my own feelings about my parents, so I’ll just use this day to talk about my momma.

Me with my beautiful momma (1977)

Carol is CEO of Central Missouri Community Credit Union in Missouri. She’s been there for over 35 years and worked in several capacities during her tenure. My mom doesn’t have a college education; I knocked her out of contention for that when I was conceived. She started working immediately after I was born and continued to work after each of my two siblings were born. She worked her way up the proverbial “ladder” all the way to CEO! My momma is a hard worker who places a high value on integrity and character. My momma is one of a handful of people who shaped my professional values (she might’ve had a heavy hand in development of my personal values too). I tried thinking of the one take-away from her years of educating me in the ways of the business world but there are too many! So I’ll go with the funniest one and the one my kiddos like to poke fun at me for: my phone voice.

My beautiful momma receiving recognition for Business of the Year (2016)

My momma always answered the phone with her voice at an octave higher than her normal speaking voice and I always thought it was so weird (just like my kids do now). She never explained to me the reasoning for the voice change and she didn’t tell me that I should do the same. I learned by observing. I saw the success and fulfillment my mom seemed to achieve in her professional life and I knew I wanted to emulate that. So, I started small, by changing my voice on phone calls. I’ve used this “phone voice” from Day 1 as a receptionist to my current situation as ultimate boss lady. It’s the simplest thing to do and most of my clients probably don’t even recognize it but it happens every phone call. Even if I accept a call from someone I’m not thrilled to speak with or feel too rushed to take a call, I never let my voice reflect anything but appreciation for the person on the other end who took time out of their hectic day to call me.

My momma has built a career and life of which she should be proud and she’s instilled in me the importance of integrity and character. Throughout my 20-year professional career, I can’t count the number of times I’ve analyzed a situation and thought “what would Mom do?” There have been many phone calls and e-mails to my momma regarding professional dilemmas in which I was unsure of my decision-making capabilities. She was there to field every question, tirade and potential solution with me. We may not agree on everything but there’s no one I value above my momma when it comes to the challenges and successes of being a woman in business.

Thanks momma.

Me and my beautiful momma celebrating 40 & 60 together (2016)