Tami Longaberger describes her rise through the business ranks in her new autobiography.
When Tami Longaberger was 17 years old, she approached her father, Dave, with what seemed like a perfectly reasonable request: She wanted to go to college. But Dave, an ambitious businessman who owned a restaurant, grocery store and pharmacy in their small hometown of Dresden, Ohio, believed that his education from the School of Hard Knocks was all that Tami needed, too. Eventually, he capitulated, after extracting a promise that Tami would work for the family company for five years after graduation.
When she reported to work in 1984, it was at her father's fledgling new enterprise, the Longaberger Company, which manufactured the now iconic traditional handmade Longaberger baskets and sold them through a network of representatives using the same model as Avon and Mary Kay. Her debut was inauspicious: "It seemed Dad had moved my desk out into the hallway next to his office door, and I would have no space to call my own--literally or figuratively," Tami writes in her recently published memoir, Weaving Dreams: The Joy of Work, the Love of Life. "'I want you to sit right there for the next five years and forget everything you just learned!' he boomed."
Tami persevered. When Dave passed away in 1999, she was president of a private company whose revenues she would grow to nearly $1 billion a few short years later.
Weaving Dreams is a series of lessons learned and imparted. These lessons--think positively, be self-reliant, respect others, make tough decisions with compassion--are familiar, but still true, and Longaberger clearly practices what she preaches. She is an active philanthropist who serves as chair of the Arab Women's Leadership Institute, a former chair of the National Women's Business Council and a former member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
In all, Weaving Dreams is a balanced account of the joys and responsibilities of building a remarkable business that has touched thousands of lives in a positive way.
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