Let’s start by saying that this is not my dad…
My mother loved to flirt. She never really did it intentionally or should I say in a romantic way. She just loved to talk with people. She loved making sure everyone was having fun at one of her parties and everyone felt as if they had a hand in one of her many volunteer projects.
Caprio parties were her practice ground. Guests had plenty to eat, lots to drink and the unawares were suddenly singing or playing some kind of instrument (usually a Kazoo, a Tambourine or some sort of chime). Shirley made them feel right at home and a little smile or innocent flirtation could make the shyest guest sing like Sinatra.
They’d leave feeling as if their mere attendance made the party great and she’d get calls from them for months after, telling her how much fun they had. All because she made them feel important and welcome.
It wasn’t just parties that brought my mom to life (or others). She loved to volunteer for the PTA or help a teacher out at school. She’d organize a group of moms and arrange for them to cook their specialties for the end-of-year picnic or some sort of benefit. She wouldn’t just ask, she’d compliment them on a particular dish and say, “June, your apple pie is so delicious. Everyone just loves it and our dessert table wouldn’t be complete without it.” Hard to refuse knowing your dish will, well kinda MAKE the picnic.
She’d make all the center pieces for the annual swim team banquet, chaperone one of the many field trips or decorate for one of the big school dances. She’d do most of the work and only called on others when she needed them. She was organized, efficient and most of all, she charmed her volunteers making them feel needed (and they were!) so they were always happy to help her.
My dad was a born salesman and I learned a lot from him but I think I learned how to run MAJAMAS from my mom. Like most moms from years past, she retired from her Nursing career before marrying my dad but she never lost her drive to excel. She figured out how to multi-task while never letting anyone feel left out (even me, the youngest of five).
The responsibilities of being a business owner can be pretty overwhelming and I find myself wondering how my mom got it all done.
What she did is a lot like what I do on a daily basis. I have days when I MUST speak with a difficult client or those where my to-do list seems impossible. On these days, finding enough enthusiasm to motivate myself AND my staff can be tough.
So, I do what every business owner must do to keep the energy positive and like my mom, I kind of “flirt”. I do my best to compliment that tough customer and soften their mood and on days when my staff and I have a load of work, I crank up the 70s music. I shout out the lyrics to Redbone’s Come & Get Your Love or crank out some Earth, Wind & Fire to raise the energy level up a notch or two. (Try it! We all perk up and become much more productive fast!)
It’s funny what we pick up from our parents. Sometimes we find ourselves saying something they would say or yeah, doing stuff we swore we’d never do but not all of these subtle traits are bad to inherit.
I’d like to think that inheriting my mom’s approach to people is what’s made MAJAMAS successful. Maybe I’m not handing a Kazoo out to that quiet client at a MAJAMAS open house but I’ve learned that making people feel connected and important is half the battle to being a good leader.
I look at “flirting” as a sign of good leadership. With all the technology getting in the way of human contact and communication, I feel it’s a basic skill we should all reconnect with. So the next time you need to get a big project done and you are searching for a way to motivate your team, take a ten minute dance break and literally get them to move around. Smiles will abound and the energy will increase one hundred fold. Not only will the music connect them but the atmosphere will change and you’ll work like a well-oiled machine to get things done. Dance party inappropriate? (Ahem…) Then make sure people know how important they are to you. Tell them FACE TO FACE how well they’re doing and show them with a friendly nod or warm smile (cell phone emojis are NOT permitted!).
Thanks Mom! Not a day has passed that I don’t miss you and I’m grateful for your teaching me the power of the “flirt”. Happy Mother’s Day!
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer