Parenting and business collide at Chicago’s Disney Social Media Moms event

This week I was fortunate to attend a Disney Social Media Moms On the Road event in Chicago. The event features speakers and interactive sessions designed to support the goals and lifestyle challenges faced by mom business owners.

The speakers offered advice about everything from creating written content to marketing to overall business philosophy.

It was an amazing day, for a variety of reasons, including a visit from Mickey. But what really struck me throughout the event was that most good business advice is also real solid parenting advice.

Have a clear, succinct message, deliver it & stop talking.

Michelle Stepney, PR Content Director, shared her wisdom with attendees on the topic of media preparedness. Her advice about having a short and easy to understand message applies to all platforms and media, and it also applies to parenting.

This rang particularly true with me because it is advice I can use. I’m a talker. Yesterday I was trying to explain to my tween why she needed to do one of her chores now, and I saw her eyes start to glaze over. I realized about 30 seconds too late that I was talking too much. I only needed to state my message – which was please complete your chores now, say it firmly and then stop. Stop talking.

If I had a nickel for every moment I spent trying to rationalize with a toddler or explain something to my child in far greater detail than was required, I’d be a rich woman.

Often, when it comes to making your point, be it with a news anchor or a child, less is more.

Share pieces that reflect your values.

Jenn Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager for @waltdisneyworld, @disneyparks & http://DisneyParksBlog.com, shared that advice, referring to content released by businesses, but that’s certainly true of parents.

Kids often love hearing stories about their parents. Even older ones may roll their eyes, but keep sharing stories about your past, lessons you’ve learned and what you’ve found to be most important in this world.

If you don’t want to share your own stories, there are plenty of books with stories and fables that reflect values. Pick some that resonate with you and share them with your kids.

No comments are off the record.

You shouldn’t say anything in front of media that you don’t mind being publicized, Stepney advised. Many, many a parent has learned the hard way that the same rule applies when parenting.

Little ears are often tuned in when parents think they are not. In my case, that meant an expletive coming out of my toddler’s mouth in the middle of a traffic jam. I had thought she was asleep. I was wrong.

The media and kids can also be pretty similar in that when you tell them not to share something, that ups the likelihood that they will, in fact, do the exact opposite and tell the world.

Choose your words carefully in case you need to eat them.

Ramon DeLeon offered up that nugget, which especially resonated in a room full of bloggers. The same advice absolutely applies to parents. Kids have a knack for using parents’ past words against them at unexpected times, often reminding them of what they said years prior.

Speak carefully. And even if you do that, it’s likely that at some point you, as a parent, will end up eating your words about something. Take advantage of the opportunity to do so with a modicum of grace, a model that will serve your child well down the road.

Building relationships makes a difference, but to do that you have to manage the micro-interactions.

DeLeon also offered up this important insight regarding customers.

Parenting has big moments – graduations, birthdays, holidays. But parents and children alike often find that some of the sweetest times and most cherished memories come out of little moments, the ordinary, the micro-interactions.

With a child, it often doesn’t take more than a moment of eye contact, a hug and a “I’m glad you’re mine” to make that child feel special. That brief moment can have big magnitude for your both, in the short term and well into the future.

Sometimes good advice is good advice, and you can often identify it as such when it is given in one context but applies across the board. That morning of speakers included a bit of Disney magic that will change not only my approach to my job, but also my parenting.

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