Hello All In community! Today’s wisdom comes to you from Wendy Sachs, Founder of The Philadelphia Nanny Network. As a 30+ year successful entrepreneur, Wendy has traveled a long and deep journey to understand the power and value of life-long learning. Her words of wisdom will get you to find the commitment, and reap the rewards. Thank you Wendy!
As I think about the future, I find myself looking back, way back to get a better perch. Currently I am making decisions on the direction of the business I founded 32 years ago, using the wisdom I have accrued, while baffled by how much I do not know. How can that be after 32 years? As Michel Legrand, French composer and musician said, “The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”
Learning is Key to a Successful Launch
I started a nanny placement firm at a time when the word nanny was used by very few. Women were being told their biological clocks were ticking and they better switch gears from climbing the career ladder to being barefoot and pregnant. “No” we said, you can continue to climb the ladder and have a family too, if you create the right support in your home. Hiring a nanny was the answer and I was there to help.
But what industry knowledge did I bring to the table? I was a woman and that’s the only juncture our venn diagram overlapped. How would I learn about launching a business in pre-internet times, in a world of parenting where I didn’t yet live? The library, books and microfiche of magazine articles were the tools. I’ll never forget reading a Times magazine article about a woman named Debra Davis. She was an educator and editor of the Nanny Newsletter. Thrilled there was a U.S. connection to the nanny world, I called her. She talked about her effort to recreate the Nursery Nurse Nanny education model of the UK in the U.S. “Come to California for a conference, and meet people like you who are trying to help families find nannies,” she urged.
Building a Network Grows Knowledge
I went, placed a check for $65 in the hat (literally a baseball cap being passed around), and we founded the International Nanny Association. What happened was magical, because not only was an association born, but it was the beginning of making connections with the people from whom I would learn throughout my entire career.
Over the years, I have gotten advice, ideas and unwavering support from this industry network. The rewards from this investment incentivized me to add local, personal networking to grow knowledge and opportunity. I attended the local Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learns and presentations. While I garnered thought provoking nuggets here and there, and the occasional new client, I have to admit that my industry colleagues remained a primary source of learning.
It’s Never Too Late to Continue Formal Education
On a regular day of sorting through my inbox, I discovered an email from Goldman Sachs. Curious, I opened it. It was about an educational program, 10,000 Small Businesses, offered by scholarship from Goldman Sachs. Having been searching for inspiration for growth, I took a deeper look into the program. Though hesitant about the time commitment, I applied and was accepted. It had been over 30 years since sitting on the interviewee side of the desk. It was intimidating. Walking into class was intimidating. I admit I had vestiges of the idea that I can’t learn from those outside of my industry. It haunted me in the first few sessions. But those remnants quickly dissipated as I soared in the experience of learning from others. What I discovered was that business is business. Staying closed means you can’t see a bigger picture. Seeing the big picture allows you to translate information about business from any industry to your own.
Find Time to Keep Up the Commitment
An outcome from the 10,000 Small Businesses program was a weekly “Mastermind” group with 3 other business owners from varying industries. We learn from each other in a supportive, genuine way. We have been influential on each other’s business decisions and growth. Through that group, I was introduced to ATHENA Powerlink, a powerful program offering a year-long journey of learning and growing. We meet monthly in an advisory board format. The goal is to get advice, be asked the hard questions, get constructive feedback and most importantly get guidance to reach goals. Each month there are assignments that support the process. All of us come from different industries, some are entrepreneurs and others in corporate careers. I have come a long way from thinking that I can only learn from colleagues who have nanny agencies. What amazing value!
When asked the question, “How do you stay in the same business for so many years?”, the only answer I can come up with is, “It isn’t the same business! Successful business is embracing and building upon change.” I have learned to embrace that I always have so much to learn!
By Wendy Sachs, Founder and CEO
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