Strive for Better No Matter the Circumstance

Are you working toward something better despite the circumstance you’re in?


Kat Cole, North America COO and president at FOCUS Brands, discusses the leadership lessons she learned from her mom.

One such lesson was to always work to make things better: “Just because things could be worse does not mean you don't have the right or the responsibility to make them better,” says Kat, remembering what her mom told her.

Watch the video to learn why leaders should always strive to be better no matter what circumstance they’re in.

My mom got her strength from her mom. My mother was raised by a single parent. Her father died when she was young. She's the youngest of seven children and grew up with very little, just had to figure it out. Generally, she's just an amazing human. So she is a strong person in and of herself, but she grew up in tough circumstances and that certainly chiseled a responsibility muscle that is unique in the world, I think, today and formed a lot of common sense and a lot of hustle. She's just a lover of a human. So when you're that way, when you show up that way, I really believe that the universe rewards you. So she's a hard worker and total lover and just a do what needs to get done, to get things done kind of a person. She looks only to herself to get things done, not to anyone else. I think that came because she kind of only had herself.

One of the things my mom always says is, "Don't forget where you came from, but don't you dare ever let it solely define you." That is incredibly powerful. I use it for me as a person. I use it for my companies, for my team members, even for entire business models.

That really speaks to respect your roots. I love the saying, "The fruits are in the roots." Respect the roots. There's something that was special about where you started or where you came from that makes you or a business or brand unique, but the "don't let it solely define you" is about constant evolution, constant transformation, the ability to choose your future every day. My mom did that. She wasn't defined by where she came from and she didn't let it solely define her. So that phrase was really powerful for me my whole life. She still writes it on birthday cards.

I think the other is just because things could be worse does not mean you don't have the right or the responsibility to make them better. That really speaks to just because things could be worse, a lot of times, you want to simply live in a place of gratitude. "Wow, things could be so much worse, therefore, I should be grateful for where I am," which is true. But there is a version of that that can become almost paralyzing, where if you just think, "Things can be worse," why would you attempt to make them better?

Things could have been a lot worse for me and my sisters and myself. They were bad. They could have been worse. But she felt she still had the responsibility to make them better, which meant a lot of sacrifice and raising us on her own. I look at every business opportunity, my personal life, my health, my investments, my business relationships with that phrase in mind pretty consistently.

Kat Cole

Kat Cole’s twitter handle reads “Connected-Creative-Conscious-Community building Capitalist, Biz Advisor, MBA, Coffee-loving Chronic Learner” – this not only describes her as a person, it describes the philosophies she applies to busi...

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