Thoughts on Leadership: Mother’s Day Celebration

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in Omaha, Nebraska over the weekend for the 2022 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting. (Watch a recap of the experience here.) On Monday, I conducted my usual WIG calls from Northern California. On Tuesday, I spent the morning participating in Berkshire Hathaway Energy calls then traveled to San Antonio, Texas for the T3 Summit, an annual invite-only think tank for residential real estate industry CEOs and C-level executives. On Wednesday, I was interviewed on stage by Stefan Swanepoel, founder and executive chairman of the T3 Sixty family of companies, during the T3 Summit. Today, I’m traveling home and writing this post to you.

This Sunday marks a special time of year. It’s a day to celebrate our original mentors, cheerleaders, collaborators, and leaders. I’m speaking, of course, about our mothers, whose influence and impact on our lives is profound and perpetual. To commemorate all the mothers of the world, I asked leaders within our HomeServices of America organization to share what Mother’s Day means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

CANDACE ADAMS, President/CEO Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties/Westchester Properties/New York Properties/Hudson Valley Properties – As a leader and a mom, I am proud. I am proud to celebrate my own mom, who is 89 years old. She very sweetly never gave me advice, and very strongly encouraged me to follow my own dreams. I am proud to celebrate my children and grandchildren, who remind me that our strong, enduring values have shaped who we are today as a family, remembering to always do the right thing. And lastly, as a leader, I am proud of my team, who allow me to encourage them to follow their dreams and believe in our core values, knowing that we are here for each other.

SHAWNA ALT, CEO, First Weber – Mother’s Day is a day for me to recognize all the women that have positively impacted my children’s lives. This includes grandmothers, aunts, and my best girlfriends. The unconditional love that has been given to me and my boys is something to be celebrated.

KIM BAKEY, CEO, HomeServices of Iowa – Mother, a simple yet complex word. There is no single word to describe a mother. A mother is the doer of all things big and small, the calming force when all around is crazy, the defender of the young, the educator. A mother provides inspiration, love, and comfort, and provides unwavering support and guidance through those tough lessons that mold us into the adults we are today. That person we call “mom” is the CEO of the greatest company there is: the family.

MARY LEE BLAYLOCK, SVP, HomeServices of America, Inc. – As a leader I am proud to show my children how humility and kindness coupled with a relentless drive can accomplish great things.  But my most meaningful accomplishments come from those who call me Mom.

JENNI BONURA, President and CEO, Harry Norman, REALTORS® – The best moms and the best leaders put others first and bring out the best in those they love.

CHRISTY BUDNICK, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and HSF Affiliates LLC – As a leader, Mother’s Day is the day when I get to celebrate my “why.” Everything I do is for my daughter, Cate, to be a role model for her just as my mom has always been to me.

KAREN CAIN, Vice President, Program Management Office (PMO) HSF Affiliates LLC – For me, Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on and be grateful for all the time I sacrificed to take care of, nurture, support, and influence my daughter to make good choices for her life as she grew up.  At the same time, motherhood was a significant learning experience for me. I had to learn to be patient, open minded, understanding, compassionate, supportive, accountable for my own actions, and change my behaviors when they proved to be non-effective. The skills I learned as a mom help me as a leader to better manage myself first, the members of my team, support other teams, and be accountable to deliver on commitments that help drive success for the business. 

DEITRA CATALANO, Chief of Staff, HomeServices of America, Inc. –  As a daughter, Mother’s Day is a day to honor my mom. She led by example showing generosity, hope and love. As a mother, it’s a day to celebrate motherhood – the greatest gift and blessing in my life.

JOAN DOCKTOR, President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORSⓇ – As a mom I have always wanted to set a good example for my children. In fact, that drove many of my career decisions. Actions always speak louder than words and I was determined to set an example of giving back and helping others whenever I could. Fortunately, my position at Fox & Roach allowed my belief in servant leadership to thrive. My children along with others took notice. I am proud today that my children are not only successful but also have become very giving and caring individuals both in their professions and personally. And I couldn’t be prouder of the adults they have become.

DIANE GLASS, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago – Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the strong women in my life who served as my nurturers, teachers, role models and protectors, and who were brave enough to tell me when my “good” wasn’t good enough.

DEANN GOLDEN, SVP & Regional Manager, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties – For me personally, when I reflect on a “Leading with Trust” mindset, being a mom is the ultimate training grounds for being a trusted mentor who, with unconditional love, objectively sees the unique talents in each child and celebrates their differences and diversity.

RENEE GONZALES, CEO, Long Realty Company – I believe being a mother and being a leader is all about empowering and supporting those who want to accomplish their goals. It’s about paving the way for their success.

MARTHA MOSIER, President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties – For me, Mother’s Day is spent with my children, thanking them for making me a mom, and honoring my fearless mentors: my late mother and grandmother who provided me with unparalleled love, fortitude, and guidance.

TERESA PALACIOS SMITH, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, HomeServices of America, Inc. – Mother’s Day is such a special day for me because I recognize the beauty of motherhood and the gift that it is to be a mother. I reflect on the inspiration of the most important role model in my life, my mother, Mercedes, who raised me and died when I was 18 years old. Her positive disposition, passion for life and kind and loving spirit inspires me every day of my life and because of her influence, I am a better leader.  

DESRIE VAN PUTTEN, President, Guarantee Real Estate – The primary thing that comes to mind for me is the importance of being present. If there’s one thing I would do differently, if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, it would be to live each moment with my children as if that was the last moment and the last memory. As a leader, as a mom, it’s so important to begin with self-awareness, then recognize who we lead and the varied strengths each person brings to the team or the family.

GRETCHEN ROSENBERG, President/CEO, Kentwood Real Estate – My mother is an amazing woman who taught me resilience and determination, and that a woman’s place is in the boardroom if that’s where she wants to be. She studied to be a research scientist and when the men running those labs in the 1970s wouldn’t hire her because she has children, she became a successful entrepreneur. She opened a children’s bookstore that thrived and was known all over Southern California. One day when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to try out to be a cheerleader because I perceived those to be the cool girls who were having fun. My mother told me, “Don’t do it! Girls do not stand on the sidelines cheering for boys. They get in the game.” I ran for student government instead. Less fun probably, but I learned a lot about leadership.

ROSALIE WARNER, SVP, Network Services, HSF Affiliates LLC – Being a mother, for me, helped to pave the way to being a good leader.  As the girls were growing up, I led by example in all that I did. I learned early on to clearly state what I expected from them and then rewarded them when they earned it. I learned to redirect when the path needed correction and guide them through challenges and opportunities yet allow them the room to discover greatness on their own.

TERESA WILLIAMSON, President, Roberts Brothers, Inc. – Mother’s Day is indeed a special time as a leader and mother. The impact I hope to make on my children or team is very similar. If my guidance, discipline and motivation moves them to a place of self-reliance in life and business, I can find full satisfaction.

So, what’s the message? Let’s end with a word from my mother, Dori, the leader of my family and one of the most important people in my life. When I asked her what motherhood meant to her, she said: “I think of my mother and my grandmother and all the other mothers in the family, and I think of my children, and I love it when they’re with me and we’re all together. Those special, unforgettable moments filled with so much joy and happiness are what motherhood means to me.”

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