The first entrepreneur I ever knew: My mom

My mom, Pat Stephens, was the first entrepreneur I ever knew.

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In 1978, before the computers were even a thing, she started her own at-home data entry computer business.

When she met my father in 1985, she tells me one of the things he admired most about her was that she was independent and earned her own living.

My mom is a cycle breaker: She wanted a better life than the one herself and previous generations had.

She wanted to provide for her family through owning her own business. 

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After I was born in 1986, she continued her at-home data entry business for the next three decades.

My earliest memories are of watching her type away on a keypunch (yes, a keypunch) and waiting for her to be done so we can either go out to eat or go out to the park.

Then, of course, at times I wanted in on the action.

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I remember my mom would almost always have a pencil behind her ear, to have it handy to make marks on paperwork.

My mom has told me I always would find a way to climb on her and grab the pencil. 

She worked from home for all of my childhood – she had her own office set up in what would be a dining room with her desk, Dell desktop computer and boxes of mailing list applications.

It worked out for me because I had always her around.

When I would be with my dad for half of the week, I always had him around as well since he was disabled due to a back injury.

This would be both a huge blessing and a huge hurdle for myself as I felt very lucky but also caught between two very different worlds.

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I remember weekend mornings would be my mom cleaning and playing music on the stereo, then we would go out for the day to either the park or the beach.

Every once in a while we would take a day trip or an overnight vacation. One of my fondest memories was a road trip to San Francisco. We also went to places like Vegas, Big Bear and San Diego.

My mom ran her successful data entry business out of her home and would help other women do the same.

She would recruit mothers who needed to make extra money to help her with big jobs.

I remember women and their kids coming over, we would play as our moms would talk business.

Let’s just say, my mom would be the savviest person in the room.

I loved hearing her talk and felt like I had a unique experience witnessing an example of self sufficiency, an experience I feel was unlike any of my other friends’ at the time.

She helped a few of my friends’ moms earn money as well.

When the internet started to take over the mailing industry, business started to decline.

While she still at her business – she took on odd end jobs doing delivery for pizza, then at some point grocery delivery.

There was a time she would place credit card applications in storefronts. She would take me and my friend on ride alongs when she was on the clock.

At one point, she bought her own boat from a classified ad and took us out on it almost every weekend.

There was a point I was doing background extra work for movies and TV, she would drive me to jobs – from Orange County to all around LA.

Needless to say, she kept very busy. I don’t know how she did it.  I feel very grateful she did all of it though.

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After I graduated high school, she worked in offices for a little while.

The entrepreneur in her was still stirring- so she continued with her at-home business and built email marketing lists for real estate – which she continues to do.

Just like myself, my mother is a bit of a maverick – she doesn’t fall in line with society’s expectations and she is her own person.

My mom was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Her American-born father, my grandfather, had been working in Tocapilla, Chile on a construction project where he met her mother (my grandmother) who lived in the mining town all of her life.

My grandfather wanted to whisk my grandmother from Chile and to the United States for a better life.

Together, they took a “goodbye” tour of Latin America before coming here. They traveled to Brazil, Panama and Bolivia – the last stop was where my mom was born. 

After arriving here, my uncle was born and they traveled all along the West Coast for my grandfather’s work before settling into Fontana, California. 

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My grandmother, my mom, my grandfather and my uncle

Her mother passed away before I was born from liver cirrhosis.

My mom describes her dad as a “wheeler and dealer” –  his parents came to California from the Azores Islands of Portugal during the Gold Rush, so searching for riches was in his blood. 

While he worked construction jobs, he would also sell items on the side at local swap meets.

He passed away when I was five years old due to stomach cancer.

I feel she got her entrepreneurial spirit from her father, which has now been passed down to me as I have started my life coaching business.

Anyone who knows me well knows that my mom and I have always been close. Anyone knows close mother-daughter relationships understand with this tight bond, there can be high tension with this closeness – and at times, utter chaos.

I feel she raised me to be very independent, and seeing as though I have half of her genes it is only natural we would share the same positive traits…as well as the not-so-fun ones.

For the longest time, I thought that success meant I would be FAR away from the life I knew. Although my vision includes building a life that would have been once unrecognizable, I am learning that as of now- I still need my foundation. I still need my mom.

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As much as we all want to “get away” from our parents as we continue with success – and some may need to for good reason – sometimes they are exactly what we need as we are building the lives of our dreams.

In my case, I feel as I am healing myself – I can inspire others to heal as well, including the woman who gave me life.

She is very much a part of this work. As I am healing myself, I am healing my lineage – I am breaking the cycle of messages and habits passed down through generations.

As my mom is a cycle breaker, I feel I am continuing the work she started. We both have the power to transform ourselves, our stories and our lives – and I feel so grateful for all the things she did to raise me and what she has given me.

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Here we find compassion, that can transform humanity

Come together as one, bring the earth back to harmony

Oh let the past be undone, because there’s no need for suffering

and when we heal ourselves, we heal each other as well

and this is the key

We hold the key.

-Ixchel Prisma, Warriors of the Rainbow

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom♥

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Pat Stephens is an email marketing consultant and list building expert for small business, entrepreneurs and corporations. She creates email marketing lists on a remote basis. Pat is available to consult and build email marketing lists (including address & phone numbers) for new clients. She can provide email marketing programs and work as an independent contractor.

She can be reached at patstephensdata@gmail.com 

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