Becoming Our Parents

October 2, 2018

When I was younger I used to think it was so lame how my mom would want to sit on the side of a table at the restaurant that faced the other tables so she could scope out who was there, who they were with, and what their stories were. She would be fascinated by their clothes, what they order, and how they interact with each other. She is a master people-watcher in all settings, not just restaurants. I used to think all of these things were trivial. “Mom … who cares? They are strangers.”

It wasn’t until recently that I had an epiphany: I have the same passion she does, only it’s manifested in a slightly different way. And it’s my job.

She sits on those sides of the table to get a sense of the type of people that go to that restaurant. She loves to try to discern their relationship. If they are on a date, out as a family, two sisters on holiday. She notices what they are wearing and what that may say about them. She loves seeing what other people order so she can add it to her collection of data about her surroundings.

I now realize that the only difference between her curiosity and mine is that I am tying these observations and insights to a brand or a business. I am using those same skills and sense of empathy to tell clients about their customers and the culture we live in.

Throughout this process I’ve realized that it’s anything but lame to become my mother. Thanks for instilling my passion and curiosity for people, Mom.

What traits have you gotten from your parents that help inform what your professional life looks like?