Mother’s Day Special: How This Mom Raised 4 Boys To Be CEOs
“My mother was the most beautiful woman ever saw. I attribute all my success in my life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” — George Washington.
As we come upon Mother’s Day, George Washington’s quote rings true; there is no way that I would be the person that I am today without the sacrifice, motivation, and love from my mother. My mom has had a significant influence on the success that I — and my siblings — have been able to accomplish.
Let me introduce you to my mom, Suzanne Blake. Mom was raised by a single mother in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, her father was an alcoholic and was emotionally and physically abusive. My mother’s family was extremely poor and her mom spent her days and nights trying to make enough money to provide a safe shelter and food on the table. What that meant for my mom is that she had to raise herself. In addition to school, she worked from a young age, sewed many of her own clothes, and prepared her own meals. She had every excuse in life to not succeed, but she would not accept the fate of failure.
My mother decided that she could accomplish anything that she set her mind to. She ran for school office (and won), played on the school softball team, and made the cheerleading squad. She persevered and became the first person in her family to attend college, even though she didn’t have the financial means to do so. Because money was scarce, she had to work full-time all through college to pay for her tuition.
As you can imagine, my mother’s example taught my siblings and me the value of hard work, and the importance of the phrase “if it is to be it’s up to me.” Because of her background and experience, she really motivated us to think, “you can do this, you can be the best.” She set a very high bar in our lives in whatever it was.
After college, my mother and father were married, and had 7 children: 1 daughter (the oldest) and 6 boys (I’m the youngest). Let me introduce you to each of them:
- Darcy (stay-at-home mom) married Chris (Founder & President of Allegis Advisor Group)
- Brett (CEO at Origami Owl Family of Brands)
- Brady (Senior Customer Marketing Manager at EA Sports)
- Dave (Founder & CEO of ClientSuccess)
- Mark (Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property and Litigation at Broadcom Limited)
- Brock (Founder / CEO of Lendio)
As you can see, 4 of the 6 of us are either founders / CEOs / Presidents of companies (by the way, you don’t need to be a founder, CEO, or President to be a leader). The other 2 (Brady and Mark) may not have a CEO title, but are more capable than the 4 of us CEOs. I don’t mention this to be bragadocious, but to help you see the type of impact my mom has had on each of her children. To honor her, and moms everywhere, my siblings and I pulled together lessons she taught us that can serve as examples and life lessons for entrepreneurs everywhere.
Problem Solving and Bargain Hunting
Mark Blake, Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property and Litigation at Broadcom Limited
My mother has helped me in countless ways, but there are two lessons that stick out when I consider my mother’s influence on my own professional career. Growing up, we didn’t have smartphones, tablets, or in-car entertainment systems to occupy our time. Instead, anytime we were in the car for an extended period of time, my mom would give us math problems, games, riddles and brainteasers to practice problem solving. Why did I go into law? I saw it as problem solving. I see each case, issue and dispute as a problem to be solved using facts, the law, procedure and wit. That passion for problem solving stems from my mother.
She also loved to shop, but more accurately, she loved to get a deal. She would drag us boys to store after store in her mission to research and find the best deal. Most times, she would never buy anything, but was cataloging in her mind the prices of the products so that when a deal was presented, she could recognize it and take advantage. Professionally, evaluating and executing a good deal is crucial. I gained the tools to negotiate deals from my mother.
Hard Work and Value-Based Leadership
Dave Blake, Founder and CEO of ClientSuccess
My mom has had a huge impact on my life in too many ways to even describe. While I believe her biggest impact on my life was shaping my values around faith and family, she has also significantly influenced my professional life as well. My mom was a hard worker, working her entire married life as a schoolteacher while raising seven children. She instilled the value of hard work in each of us at a young age by ensuring we did chores every day after school and on Saturdays. This is no easy task, as most parents will attest, because it takes tremendous self-discipline from the parents themselves in order to ensure a consistent pattern. While it could have been easier to just let us go play rather than hear the daily whining and complaints, she knew that sticking to her principles would teach us the importance of hard work. From the time we were children, we learned to do hard things and to complete our assigned chores with a sense of accomplishment and pride. The value of hard work has always been a core of my professional life.