This past week I happened to see an article by Dawn Strobel of Go By Truck Global News. She does a good job lining out some of the issues that women continue to deal with in the business world. It reminded me about the discussion I heard in the Women in Produce session at the United Fresh produce convention in Chicago. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, this was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Each participant had a few moments to share their experiences about how the produce industry had given them many opportunities to flourish in their respective careers. They did touch on the issue of trying to be successful in a seemingly male dominated field, but all of them had clearly chosen the high road, ignoring the ‘glass ceiling’ distractions by focusing on utilizing their personal strengths and talents to be excellent in their jobs.
Raising children is also a typical part of a discussion about women trying to move forward with their careers while at the same time working diligently on keeping their family life well balanced. Personally, this has been the most challenging part of owning a company.
Here’s why I say this.
When dealing with a person who uses anything other than performance (and maybe attitude) to judge our fitness for a particular employment position, overcoming their objections becomes an issue of how hard one is willing to work. In the end, even if we are unable to gain that person’s respect, we can be confident that our work ethic and competence were not the reason that we failed, in their opinion. And often, diligent and skillful work does eventually convince a doubter that we are capable and valuable.
However, keeping our families together is not always about hard work only. Sometimes, making the right decision doesn’t always produce a result that feels good, especially to a mom. We have to make choices, non-stop, that have the possibility of lifelong consequences. Getting solid advice from people is difficult because families are all different, and what works for one may not be profitable for another.
But this is where I think the group at the convention did the best job of telling the truth about the realities of how their careers have affected their families. We heard about marriage challenges, mistakes and maybe some regret about not being more available. But most apparent was their determination in being great moms and that there are very real possibilities of being able to do a great job being excellent at work and home.
My biggest regret during the past 16 years of owning Pam Young & Company, Inc. is that I chose to do things on my own instead of reaching out to people who probably would have been very willing to help, especially with my company. I was very concerned that my business, with all its demands, would have a negative effect on my family to the extent that my children would ultimately be, well, rats. LOL. The good thing is that they are wonderful kids. But, I needed balance, and being afraid of dropping the ball on my children instead of asking for advice on how to keep my business head in the game was not a good decision.
The best thing about mistakes is that they help us learn and be better. My business is flourishing, despite my past shortcomings. Now, any time I meet someone, male or female, who is trying to achieve great things in all areas of their lives, I implore them to find the support they need to be successful at the things that are most important to them.
I believe that one of the best things we can give our kids is an example. Mothers and fathers, working in any industry, need to think about the ways we show our children how to value our work, the people for whom we work, and of course, themselves.
Hopefully you all are enjoying your summer! Most everybody in the produce business is very busy, including the great people who move it, so good luck to working in some great play time!