6 Business Tips from Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid, and I still think Mary offers a lot of wisdom to live by:

  1. Feed the Birds: share your wealth with others. Use your business as a vehicle for making contributions to your community, by training your staff to be visionary leaders, sponsoring local events and organizations, and donating generously to causes you believe in.
  2. Go Fly a Kite: all the success in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t enjoy it with loved ones. When I opened my first store, I worked around the clock and barely took care of myself. I adopted a dog from my local shelter, my buddy Scooby, which forced me to take time away from the business to take him for walks, play with him, and give him affection–all of which contributed a great deal to my health and well-being. I also make sure to take lots of time out for fun with my family and friends.
  3. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down: Poppins was talking about finding “an element of fun” in every job that must be done, which is fantastic advice for any entrepreneur dealing with piles of paperwork. Reward yourself regularly for accomplishing tasks. It’s also a great approach to pass on to your employees: help them have fun doing jobs that might seem menial, boring or unpleasant. Get creative, encourage friendly competitions, and maybe offer prizes and perks. The spoonful of sugar approach also works when you’re reprimanding an employee for something they’ve done wrong: make sure they know you’re disappointed with their behaviour, not them as a person, and that it’s because you know they’re capable of doing so much better–you believe in them.
  4. Love to Laugh: keep it light. There will be lots of moments as an entrepreneur where you’re feeling frustrated, tired, feeling down or dejected. It can be easy to shut down emotionally at these times, or to lash out at others. Make it a policy to look for the absurd in every situation–find something to laugh at. Most of all, learn to laugh at yourself.
  5. Love what you do – A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be… if you don’t love your work as much as Bert loves sweeping chimneys, you need to make some changes–either to the business itself, or to your role–hire staff to do the work you don’t enjoy.
  6. Know when to move on. Poppins rides in on the wind, goes where she’s most needed, and then floats away when her services are no longer required. It’s tempting to listen to our egos which like to believe we’re needed to run the businesses we’ve built. But if you built it well, you can always train great people to take over for you, and if you sell your business, you’re providing a wonderful opportunity for someone else to own a great business.


6 Responses to 6 Business Tips from Mary Poppins
  1. Yanni
    January 13, 2012 | 6:00 pm

    Ha ha–I love it.
    It’s like you’re tell me to be honest with who I am, what I do, and why I do it…at least, that’s what I think Mary Poppins is all about.
    (sadly, not all of us are as multi-minded as Bert.)

    One of your most entertaining and [personally to me] touching pieces. Thank you.

  2. admin
    January 16, 2012 | 5:54 pm

    Thank you Yanni! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And yes, I think that’s exactly what Mary Poppins is about… honesty, integrity, sincerity, generosity, and FUN :)

  3. Tamara Vukusic
    January 19, 2012 | 8:24 pm

    Oh Natalie… I just love this playful and oh-so-clever article. I’m going to print this & post it on my fridge (which I visit far too often in this home office). Thanks for sharing!

    • admin
      January 24, 2012 | 9:15 am

      Thank you Tamara! And I know what you mean about the fridge… working from home has it’s perks as well as dangers :)

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