Business Advice from Fiction and Mom

Homespun HarvestMy mom has always loved to read. She’s 82 now and is still buying books and reading every day. When my sons were younger, they used to laugh because it would be 90 degrees outside and they would say, “There’s Gramma, still in the hot house, sitting in the hot kitchen, drinking hot tea, and reading!”

There was a period of time when I took her to the library every month to get her stack of books, usually 10 or 12, all fiction. She followed authors and dragged the 3 inch binder with us to the library with the alphabetized list of authors and the books they wrote by title and year.

Now she pretty much buys the books she wants or gets them from friends. When she finds one that she particularly  likes, she will pass it on to me.

She’s also always kept her eye on my business. Not on the computer side or the resume writing side so much as who is my competition or how am I getting the word out. Mom also always wanted to write so I think seeing me spend so much of my time writing probably makes her happy.

For Christmas, she gave me Homespun Harvest by Robert Elmer. She said she accidentally ordered two of them from Guideposts and I could have the extra one. I love to read but lately all my reading has been non-fiction. I was planning (and still will) to do some book reviews here on my blog because I like to share what I like, however, I thought the books I would be reviewing would be Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith or Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. I might review those in the future. Both of them are great books and I highly recommend them.

But it’s Christmas and so I grabbed Mom’s present and started reading. I expected to just be reading a novel about a family. But I found myself seeing it through different eyes. Charlotte and her husband Bob are raising their three grandchildren from San Diego after their mother died tragically. Charlotte and Bob have a farm in Nebraska. Culture shock for the three children, Sam, 16, Emily, 14, and Christopher, 10 who all have different reasons for not adjusting well to their new surroundings.

Through attending a cooking show, Charlotte gets talked into turning her homemade pies (Apple-Caramel, Pumpkin Streusel, and Cherry-Berry) that have always had a high level of popularity at potlucks and family gatherings into a business supplying her friend’s restaurant, Mel’s Place.

Teach them a sense of responsibility

She sees it as an opportunity to involve the grandchildren and teach them a sense of responsibility. This probably resonated with me since  my career marketing and resume writing business has grown up with my sons and their friends.

There are many twists and turns to the book but I watch as Charlotte first puts her business plan into place, checking with the health department and configuring a second kitchen to be exclusive for the pie business. I follow her as she figures out where to source the ingredients, all the way through production and assembly to meet scheduled deadlines.

My Mom probably didn’t plan it that way, or did she?

I feel for her exhaustion as orders keep multiplying and she is literally baking pies around the clock. I see the children helping with production, marketing, and delivery. And I realize that I am getting a complete view of the challenges and triumphs of building a home business.  My Mom probably didn’t plan it that way, or did she?

Without giving the whole book away, the children also learn many lessons and that surprises Charlotte who is convinced she has failed in the whole process.

Many people never really look for the lessons in life. You get comfortable in just doing your job without much introspective thinking or wondering if you did things differently if you would get different results. They blame the circumstances, the economy, the weather, or whatever but they don’t really think through what they are doing.

In 2010, I’m going to be evaluating how I do things. I’m going to look at things differently. If you are a job seeker, are you doing things the same way and expecting different results? (yes, I know that saying…) Perhaps in 2010, you will want to take some time to think through how you are doing things and try a different approach.

Tell me how you plan to do that. As always, talk to me. I talk back! 🙂


  1. Cindy Kraft on December 31, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Wonderful post, Julie. And another book to add to my reading list. Happy New Year!

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