The Female Advantage

Hackbarth Family Reunion July 2010I grew up surrounded by women.

I had three sisters and no brothers.

I remember in the second grade one night preparing for my reading assignment in class next day.

Brenda, my oldest sister, was listening to my practice. She said, “Robert, whenever you have an exclamation point, you should add excitement and passion in your voice. That’s why you have an exclamation point.” When she said this, I got it immediately. In class next day, I read like I have never read before in my life. The teacher was impressed and spoke positively about what she heard. I know that day was born my eventual passion and love for the dramatic arts, for oratory and poetry contests in school, and eventually for the speaking that I have performed over the last 35 years. Passionate communication has certainly been a valuable business asset over the years as I have guided our company’s growth.

My second oldest sister, Dianne, was what I like to call “authentic” and a risk taker. Recently, as a single woman, she moved to Alaska to continue her career in counseling. Moving from the South to Alaska would be a risk for most. For her, it was part of her journey in life. I look inside our own company and see all of the risks my wife and I have taken to grow our company. The first time we opened a branch, I knew then that we were more than a Mom and Pop. How much of my own risk taking was developed in my thinking by my interaction with the women in my life? Dianne was an example to me of risk taking.

My youngest sister, Janice, is one of the kindest persons I have ever met in life. She cares deeply for others and goes out of her way to be kind to all. She is a great supporter and gives all in her life. I look at our company and it is very much a family business. We have a number of 20 year veterans. I believe that many are there because of the personable family atmosphere. Much of the kindness and love that permeates our company is there because of my wife and because of what I have learned from the women in my life. Janice is one of them.

Then, there is my mom, the closest thing I have ever experienced to unconditional love. I remember in high school when she applied for a job for the lunch counter at our local high school. She was turned down because of not having a high school degree. She was so upset that she went back and got her GED test. Then, she moved on to a nursing degree and gave over 25 years of her life loving and giving to her patients. She taught me that it is never too late in life. She also taught me to never give up. I was so reminded of this when our company was challenged by the losses we suffered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. During that time, I could hear my mom saying: “Don’t give up”. We didn’t. We find our company stronger today than ever in our history. Thanks, mom.

“There are no small moments in life”. I remember walking down that long hallway of the shotgun house I grew up in Birmingham. I would see my grandmother on her knees in prayer. She was old and only with a walker could get around. Yet, she was too humble to pray without being on her knees. She would have been praying about me and others in her life. She was a complete gift to everyone and never wanted anything for herself. She only wanted for others.

It was impossible to live around these positive powerful women in my life without some effect. They were the difference growing up. They still inspire and encourage me. It is no surprise to me today that I ended up having two daughters in my marriage. However, there is balance and justice in life. I do now have four grandsons and male bonding is all I thought it might be. Still, God does know what he is doing. I also have three wonderful granddaughters.

I came into this life with women. I am certain I will depart this life with women. It just happens to be my female advantage. Do you have any powerful positive women in your life that have made a difference? Give them a call and tell them.