updated 5/11/2014 1:19:19 PM ET 2014-05-11T17:19:19

In just about every major business decision that deals with people, I ask myself, “What would my mother do?”

My mother’s accomplishments have motivated me to make decisions, take risks and make challenges as they relate to my professional life. She made it through medical school when there were only a small handful of women in her class. Later, she moved across the globe from South Africa with my father to create a better life for her three children. She built her own successful company and after more than 20 years sold it. She can even whip up a feast for a dinner party all in about 30 minutes.

Related: How I Overcame the Challenges of Being a Female Entrepreneur

Despite all this success, she has remained incredibly humble, never allowing anyone to pay her a compliment. So today, I’d like to honor my mother by sharing a few pieces of wisdom she has shared with me:

“There is only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time.” Starting and running a business is a lot of work, which can often feel overwhelming. Being reminded that all projects, no matter how large, can be accomplished by breaking them down into bite-size pieces. Specifically, a to-do list in my case has helped me get through a lot of daunting tasks.

“You are capable of doing anything, if you work hard enough.” As a child, I had a lot of anxiety, often wondering if I was talented enough. My mother’s feedback wasn’t focused on inflating my ego (she never told me I’m brilliant) but she linked success to hard work and made me feel I had control over my own destiny.

Related: Leadership Lessons from Young Female Entrepreneurs

“Listen before you speak.” In terms of running a business, this has been the number-one lesson. I have seen my mother negotiate very difficult situations by just listening closely to what people are trying to say. This has allowed her to get to the root of challenges early and helped her find the right solutions quickly.

“Buy quality, not quantity.” My mother has always dressed beautifully. She said it makes her work better when she feels good in her clothing. My mother has never had a large wardrobe. Instead, she has a very limited number of nice things that she is never afraid of wearing for years. This belief has been instilled in me and has been the foundation for my company Zady, a consumer-conscious e-commerce store.

Related: Turning the 'Challenges' of Being a Woman in Tech Into Opportunities

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