It seems like yesterday, but in actuality it was many, many years ago. The afternoon heat in the deep South drove us to the front porch where there was occasionally a breeze flickering through the leaves of the trees around us. My sister and I worked on the crocheting that our Mother was teaching us while she told us stories of her childhood. These were not life shattering stories but tales of everyday life about the the challenges and rewards of another era. Without realizing it, we were learning the history of our area and of our family, the rules of relationships, and the appreciation for those who had survived without the technology and benefits of our generation.
My own daughters occasionally asked questions about my childhood and I relayed tales of growing up in the 40’s and 50’s. But the time available to spend with this seemingly wasteful past time was much less than when I was a child. There were friends to enjoy, TV programs to consume, homework to be done and all the other benefits that their generation offered.
As iphones, mp3s, and all the other gadgets of today’s world that I am not even familiar with, consume more and more of our children’s time, I wonder how much time the children of today spend learning from previous generations. I suspect it is minuscule.
Does this have anything to do with the creative entrepreneurs of today or is it just the mind of an old lady regressing to memories of childhood? As this old lady remembers a quieter time in the protective cocoon of childhood, she also understands how much this relates to business owners of today.
Are you learning from those who have built businesses that have survived through the good and the bad, through economic downturns and periods of excess? But that is all has been– history–in the past, you may say. But history is what teaches us how to avoid mistakes and how to know which is the right turn in the road.
The history of my mother’s generation taught me how to live life while the history of those who were in business long before I arrived on the scene taught me how to succeed. The children of today don’t feel that they need to learn from the past while there are so many technological advancements to learn from today. Many business owners of today don’t feel they need to learn from those who have gone before them while there are new gurus on the scene that can teach them the very latest techniques of success.
I learned about life on the front porch of my Florida home. I learned about business from retired business men and women who volunteered their time to SCORE. I learned about my industry from the pioneers in the gift basket industry. I learned from those who had been in business long before I had ever followed my dream of owning my own business. I also learned from those who were struggling to create a business at the same time I was, as we shared our experiences.
My first business experience was almost 30 years ago and I owe that success to what I learned from those who had already been through the trenches and had succeeded. Building on that knowledge, I continue to learn today from those who went before me as well as from those who have struggled along the road beside me.
Sure, there is no question that new technology makes things so much easier. Cell phones eliminated the need for pagers which eliminated the need for always being in the office when the phone rings. Advancing computers and software eliminated the need for using wax and layout sheets when I created my first statewide publication for print. The publication a group of us old-timers have created for today’s world is being done with computer software and distributed through the internet.
Learning takes many forms and comes in many formats. The internet is teeming with self-proclaimed gurus who are anxious to teach us. Progress has made it even easier for anyone to be anything they want to be by just proclaiming it. Each of us can be anyone we want to pretend to me through the miracle of the internet.
Yes, this is an old lady remembering when times were simpler, when experts were easy to spot, and when learning was easier. As a child, I knew that Mom was the expert. As a fledgling small business owner, I knew how to recognize who had been successful at what I was striving for. It’s not as easy today. But, if you’re careful, you can still find those who have lived through the past and can help guide you through the present.