By Erica Landerson and Nicole Wineland-Thomson.
As joint owners of AdventureWomen, we share with our mom, Judi Wineland, responsibility for the decisions, big and small, that we make about the destinations, itineraries and future vision for the company. For anyone who has been part of a family business, this might seem fairly straightforward, but you can imagine how family-run businesses can also be a bit tricky when it comes to balancing your professional and personal relationships. We do sometimes have our moments, believe me, but in the end, Nicole and I know that our decision making, both individually and collectively, is actually better, precisely because of our close relationship with our mom and because of all that we’ve learned from her over the years. We’ve watched her in action, balancing family and profession. She’s also challenged us, guided us, given us many learning opportunities and shared her insights. Here are just a few of the gifts that she’s given to us.
“Women Are Equal to Men and Should Be Treated Accordingly”
Despite the gains women have made in the workforce since the seventies when our mom was running her first company, we know there’s still a long way to go. We’ve had some great conversations about “what happened to feminism?” and discussions about the relevancy of this topic today. But regardless, Judi has always been a strong advocate that we, as women, must live by the belief that we are equal partners to men – in our personal relationships as well as in matters of business. While we know we won’t always be listened to, understood, accepted or taken seriously by men the way we should (seen Hidden Figures?), we should still always insist on being treated as equals by them. Judi also taught us an important lessons - that the way that your treat other people is everything. If we expect to be treated fairly and as equals, we need to treat all those we deal with in life and business with the same respect and non-judgmental point of view.
“Women Are Strong and Can Be Powerful Leaders”
Our mom is a powerhouse. She’s smart, hard-working, a multi-tasker and detail oriented. Actually, she’s a bit of a perfectionist to be really honest. But she’s shown us over and over again that women can be very effective and powerful leaders in business. She’s pointed us toward other women all over the world who are great role models. Women who are successful entrepreneurs. Women who are leading their countries. Women who have taken risks at personal peril to pursue their goals. Women athletes who have been disciplined and persistent in breaking records. Businesswomen who have broken through boundaries, old boy networks and glass ceilings and journalists who have broken important news stories. Judi has also taught us that along with being powerful comes listening, being adaptable to changing circumstances and working collaboratively with others. We’ve seen first-hand how the power of the team is often stronger than the power of one.
“Make Sure You Have A Strong Work Ethic”
When we bought AdventureWomen from Susan Eckert, we knew we were making a lifelong investment but also that a lot of hard work lay ahead. Susan echoed Judi’s words that running an adventure travel business is full of real work – researching new destinations, negotiating with vendors, pricing trips, getting trips merchandised and marketed, communicating with clients – well they were both right! But one reason we were so excited about moving forward was that Judi had always emphasized to us the importance of having a strong work ethic. She’s taught us to be fully accountable for our decisions, to think ahead and be proactive and not just be reactive, to make sure to always follow through all the way, to not be dissuaded by minor setbacks but to learn from them and move forward, to be tenacious, and to value the work we do and the work others do for us.
One of our favorite lessons from our mom is the simplest – “be brave”. I guess when you live in a world of adventure travel that seems kind of fitting but being brave is hard when you apply it to all aspects of your life. Being brave as a woman means sticking up for yourself in situations when it’s uncomfortable to do this. Being brave as a professional is taking risks where the potential for failure is real. Being brave as a mother means being willing to let go enough to let your children venture out on their own terms with only your words of wisdom protecting them. Judi always reminds us that being brave is easier if you are passionate about your goals, believe in yourself and trust your instincts and if you continue to always stay strong in the face of defeat. We’re trying!
“Remember to Occasionally Laugh at Yourself and Have Fun!”
We all know that sometimes life can get just a little too serious – especially if you instinctively want every “I” dotted and every “t” crossed. Luckily, humor runs in our family. We know how to laugh – a lot - and humor is probably the most universal language in the world bar none. Judi’s ability to step back and laugh at herself, take the 30,000 foot view about a problem and release the air out of a pressured situation has shown us the importance of using humor in positive ways as we pursue our lives. And as we have learned from our mom as well as observed from many other cultures around the world, you need to appreciate the smaller things in life, never take anything for granted and take pleasure in every day – good or bad.