My mother always said that the older she got the smarter her parents became. Of course, in my early days, I didn’t believe her but as I got older she became much wiser. There was never any doubt that lessons my mom taught would provide a great moral base for my life. What I didn’t realize was how much they would impact my business. Here are just a few nuggets from Barbara Abrahams:
- Better never late. Yes, you read that correctly, NOT Better Late Than Never. Being on time was a pet peeve of hers. She would always tell me that being late was an incredible sign of arrogance and disrespect. By showing up late you were saying to the other person what I was doing was more important to me than being here with you. You are also telling them either directly or indirectly that your time is more valuable than theirs. As a result, I try and get places on time and respect the time of others.
- Always tell the truth. When it came to honesty my mother never had a shortage of sayings or reasons. When you tell the truth you never have to remember the lie you told. Being honest sometimes hurts but living with a lie is a far worse pain. Honesty is the best policy. If you tell a lie, someone will always find out. Over the last 55 years, I have come to realize how right she was. As a company, we try and live by this principle as we deal with our clients and our staff. In one of my first jobs in this business, I worked for a company booking music. Essentially, I was hired to take over for an agent that was leaving the company. As a result some of his accounts were turned over to me. One day, I was calling some of his past clients to discuss upcoming tours and acts we had in the area. I noticed in the files that one club owner had booked one of our acts a number of times over the years but not recently. When I called him up and mentioned the act he politely, but forcibly, let me know that act would never play his room again. When I asked why, he told me that the last time he booked the act we called and cancelled the show due to illness. On the same night the act had been scheduled, a friend of the club owner saw them, 800 miles away, open for an internationally know artist. What upset him the most wasn’t that we had cancelled but we had lied. Even though I wasn’t involved I felt badly. Lesson learned – Honesty IS the best policy.
- It’s just stuff. My mother was never attached to things (except for that toilet plunger but that is a story for another day) but to people. When things happened to stuff – cars, the house, clothes etc. – my mother never worried as long as we were okay. From the very beginning, she taught me that people more than material things matter. Over the years, I have worked for and with people who feel that employees, co-workers, vendors and clients are easily replaceable; I do not share that belief, people matter. We have been lucky over the years to have a number of people that work for FUN to have been there for 10, 15 or even 25 years. It is nice to work with a group of people that you get to see grow and have kids, have grandkids and on occasion have their kids come work for us. I hope this is because we have created a “people first” work environment.
- Somebody always has it worse than you do. My wife is a fundraiser and we will have conversations about donors or potential donors and on occasion she will say to me that philanthropically that person “isn’t there yet”. What she means by that is they have the financial wherewithal to make a donation but not the right mindset. Regardless of her financial situation, my mother has always given. One of the first indications of the onset of Alzheimer’s was going through her checkbook and noticing that she was writing more checks than usual to the charities that she supported. Every time they asked her for money she gave because she had forgotten that she had already given. As a company, and as an individual, I have adopted that same philosophy. If you ask our accountant, we may be a shade too generous. It is important to give back, besides that leads me to another great Mom belief “money only matters if you have it.”
Yup, as I have gotten older I realize how smart my mom was. Like most kids, I haven’t acknowledged it as often as I should but I appreciate what she has taught me.