Sunday, 15 March 2015

MUM’S THE BOSS: Lady Robinson (and her daughter Kate) share the secrets on keeping it in the family

LA based novelist Therese (aka Lady Robinson) manages her husband’s speaking and writing career across the globe.

Her daughter Kate, a consultant to her parents’ business and an events producer, works closely with her on events for her dad (top TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson) and also promotes her mother’s books and blog. With Mother’s Day approaching, they both discuss tips on their working relationship.

Says Therese “ The mother daughter relationship is a complex one but like any other, when the chemistry is right, it can make for a great partnership. We might be divided by the Atlantic Ocean (I’m in LA and Kate is in London) but we have some clear rules of engagement that make for a powerful dynamic.”


1.     Dress for success.  At home I’ll be at the computer writing in my pyjamas, but I do my best to look pulled together when I’m at meetings. Kate always looks polished and professional. This helps set the tone for both of us when we’re in public mode.

2.     Work out your respective strengths and weaknesses. We’re lucky that we’re both good about deadlines and that’s a deal breaker for me. I’ve taught her that if you say you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability and deliver on time and she does. We also have very clearly designated areas of responsibility. Kate is in charge of specific aspects of a project. I really enjoy the creativity she brings to our planning sessions. While I have years of experience, she brings a fresh perspective and a youthful energy. She’s savvy about social media, and a great networker. We learn a lot from each other.

3.     Agree a cut-off point. We are both good at putting work to bed when we chat on the phone long distance over the weekends. Work happens in working hours unless it’s urgent. When I’m in London we enjoy having dinner and sharing a bottle of Sancerre but we have an embargo on discussing projects when it’s downtime.

4.      Agree the terms of engagement. Kate is paid a consultancy rate that is comparable with her other clients. This may be more difficult as you set out on a new venture, but in the spirit of things I think it’s important to agree the financial terms so that there are incentives and independence on both sides.

1.        Make it fun.  There's a lot of trust between us. We have conversations that are honest and know that we can throw out any ideas, no matter how ridiculous without judgment. We don't get self conscious about it.

2.        Try to keep the balance between work and other things. There are times especially at the start of a project when we run things by each other casually and have long 'work' chats, but what’s great is that we can leave things and move on, come back later when we’ve let thoughts and ideas develop organically.

3.        Use your gut instincts. I feel that I know what’s in my mum’s best interests and she allows me to make decisions on her behalf. She isn’t breathing over my shoulder. Sometimes I don’t bother mentioning to people that we’re related. It really isn’t relevant a lot of the time.

4.        Listening to each other is important. I value mum’s opinion even if I don’t always agree with it. We’re lucky that we’ve always had a great relationship and been very close (with a slight hiatus during my teenage years, but we won’t go there!)

Read more about Thérèse’s adventures at www.thereseblogs and pick up her latest novel ‘Letter from Paris’, published by The Story Plant and available from Amazon $11.71, as well as Kindle.

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