leadership

Five business lessons my mother taught me

Kirsten Robb /

 

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Fred Schebesta, director and co-founder of finder.com.au shares the powerful teachings of his mother Dr Kerrie Meades, the first female ophthalmologist to perform laser vision correction in Australia and the founder of 12 Personal Eyes surgeries across NSW and ACT.

 

1.Carry on

 

“Mum recounts stories from the operating theatre, including the time she witnessed a hysterectomy almost gone wrong – the surgeon had cut through a major blood vessel – but rather than panic, the doctors did not bat an eyelid. They simply got on with the job. Mum says to me, ‘Put your backpack on and keep going’, and I’ve taken this thinking into my business. Even if something blows up, stay calm, focus and carry on. Don’t analyse every small detail and don’t get caught up in the moment, as it will pass.”

 

2. Relentless work ethic

 

“My earliest memories of my mother were of her working. Mum went back to work literally the day after giving birth to my youngest sister. In fact, she was induced one week early so it didn’t interfere with work – she’s always liked to be in control! That said, she’s always stressed the importance of having a separation between work and life. When she was with my two sisters and me, we were assured that we were her only focus. Mum still exercises nine times per week! Good health is very important in business, and I encourage a healthy lifestyle among our crew. We offer a free nutritious lunch every day. It makes you mentally fitter, too.”

 

 

3. Fierce self-reliance

 

“Mum has instilled in us a strong sense of independence and self-belief. She’s always said to me: ‘Trust yourself’. When you’re young and starting out in business it can be hard to remember in the face of critics, but she’s right. Give yourself credit where it’s due and trust in your decisions because most of the time only you know best. Also, don’t hide from your mistakes. ‘It’s not the mistakes you make, but how you deal with them,’ she says.”

 

4. Do it now

 

“Mum’s a big believer in acting quickly and confidently. ‘Don’t wait till tomorrow; do it now,’ she says. There’s no room for procrastination – like Mum, dithering makes me insecure and doesn’t necessarily help. Also, doing something straight away means you can tick it off mentally before it even makes your to-do list. There’s satisfaction in turning your idea into reality. I must say, this is very much a company ethos at finder.com.au. When someone has a great idea or timely contribution, we say ‘go live’. Go live as in, do it, now. Why wait?”

 

 

5. Use the best tools

 

“For Mum and I alike, quality wins every time. She’s always encouraged me to invest in the best tools for the job. ‘If you buy cheap, you buy twice. If you buy quality, you forget the cost,’ she says. When I was 20, I asked her for a new computer and she immediately drove me to the shop to buy the latest one on the market. I’d been using the family computer before that, but I had a growing interest in computers. At finder.com.au our chairs cost $1000 each, but are worth every cent. Using the best software is also a given in my line of work. But there’s plenty more to it. ‘Learn the business from the ground up so you’re impenetrable,’ Mum said when I was just starting finder.com.au. When you have a dream, that’s nice. But 99% of that dream is hard work.”

 

Fred Schebesta, is the director and co-founder of finder.com.au

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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