Elizabeth Babinec: Mom Behind the Entrepreneur

My Mom passed away in March at age 90 so this is my first Mother’s Day without her.

To say I miss her doesn’t capture the emotion that flows through my mind and heart.

Opening up on my personal side isn’t easy for me. But keeping with my blog themes of entrepreneurship and leadership, there are a few thoughts to share about my Mom’s influence on my development.

As a bit of context, my Mom was an elementary school teacher when she married my Dad in 1949. But once my oldest sister was born two years later, she shifted to a substitute teacher role and concentrated her energies on raising a family that grew to seven children.

My Dad was a factory worker who helped make ends meet with some part time entrepreneurial ventures that included electrical contracting and buying/managing a few rental properties.

Both parents were frugal in their ways, spending little on themselves while making sure we kids got the essential things we needed.

As a young boy I was encouraged to be enterprising to raise my own funds. My first entrepreneurial venture began at age 10 with my Mom making huge amounts of popcorn for me to bag and sell at the summer band concert each week in the park up the street.

She also helped me secure a paper route and guide me towards finding homes to shovel snow and help with lawn work. When I advanced to working part time jobs, she helped me juggle the school and activities commitments by supporting me with transportation.

At the time, generating my own income seemed quite natural because we couldn’t afford much.

In retrospect, I realize that throughout my growing up, my parents were on a disciplined savings plan with the goal putting their children through college, which they indeed accomplished – no small feat given the double whammy of limited income and large family.

Having seven kids also presented a major leadership challenge.

You can imagine there was drama going on inside each kid’s life, sometimes all at the same time. More often than not, the pace was frenetic. Yet through it all, my Mom:
– Didn’t raise her voice to get our attention or compliance
– Treated everyone equally
– Made time for individual one-on-ones, giving all of her attention to the child she was speaking with
– Never had a disagreement with my Dad in front of us kids
– Always put everyone else ahead of herself
– Always delivered on whatever expectation she set with us

Since this is what I knew in my family, it wasn’t till after getting out into the working world that I came to realize others in leadership roles did not always embrace these same qualities.

Elizabeth Babinec was the Mom behind my being an entrepreneur – encouraging and supporting my self reliance, and more importantly, proving to be the beacon of leadership that I unconsciously modeled my own management style around.

With her passing she has rejoined my Dad, the love of her life, as they continue their journey together for all eternity.

Through me and my siblings, she lives on. While it hurts to not have her here now, my appreciation has never been greater for all that she did in setting the standard I aspire to.


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