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4 Empowered Women Share Lessons They Learned from Their Mothers

Successful business women credit their mothers with teaching them they could do whatever they wanted to do.

Our mother Betty Harrington
Our mother Betty Harrington

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s hard for us not to think of our own mother, Betty, who we lost far too young, 26 years ago. But we carry her with us every day and hear her words of wisdom as we walk through our lives. She guides us as we make decisions, sends us signs when we need to know she’s there and lives in us and our siblings as a constant reminder of the woman she was. We learned very valuable lessons from our mom and have many of her sayings ringing in a constant loop in our heads.

Some, like her greatest hit, “I may get over it, but I’ll never be the same,” are particularly relevant in times like these. Our mother taught us to be independent, fight for what we believe and always be curious. We know she would be proud of the work we are doing with The Passionistas Project — shining a light on women following their passions.

Whenever we interview anyone, we always ask them what lessons they learned from their mothers. So, on this Mother’s Day, we wanted to share a few of them with you.

Always Be Curious

Lindsay Gordon founded A Life of Options after hitting career dissatisfaction rock bottom working for Google. As a career coach, she works with analytically-minded people who are feeling uninspired or crushed by an ill-fitting job. She focuses on people who are thinking about transitions in their work environments and learned a lot about this from her mother.

“She became a stay at home mom when she had my brother, who’s three years older than me,” Lindsay explained. “So she wasn’t working in a traditional sense that I remember, but she was always up to interesting things. She was decorating children’s cakes. She sewed clothing. She made stained glass windows. She took on all these great projects and I think I learned that it’s great to be curious. It’s great to change what you want to do and to not see that as a downside of you’re not focused enough.”

You Can Be Anything

Jaime-Alexis Fowler is the Founder and Executive Director of Empower Work, a confidential support system for challenging business situations via text or web chat. Her mission is to create healthy environments where employees are valued, supported and empowered. She learned these values from her own mother while growing up in Texas.

“My mom is really incredible in so many ways,” remarked Jaime-Alexis. “She went back to school and got her PhD when I was finishing high school and pursued her dream of becoming a psychologist, in a second phase of life. Growing up, she and my dad both were this constant drum beat of, ‘You can do anything. You can be anything.'”

Relationships Are Based on Respect

Kate Anderson is the co-founder of iFundWomen, an organization that not only provides a platform for women to launch crowdfunding campaigns, but also guides them through the process and offers coaching for female founded start-ups. As a working mom, her own mother taught her valuable lessons about balance at home.

She described her mother and father’s relationship, saying, “My parents were equal partners and even though my dad worked, it was very much both people were equal parents. There was no hierarchy between my parents at all. And that largely impacted most of my thoughts about relationships. Both me and my husband work. So that was different than my experience was growing up. But it never felt like that was something I couldn’t do because I didn’t see that behavior modeled. I saw a relationship between my parents that was largely based on respect and that has been what my relationship has been based on.”

There Is a Solution to Everything

Caleigh Hernandez is the founder of RoHo, a company that focuses on social change by empowering female artisans on Africa. She hires women at a fair wage to make all her products. Profits from RoHo fund artisan development as well as women’s and environmental initiatives in Kenya and the United States. Her mom instilled the philosophy that every problem has an answer.

“My mom was the primary breadwinner in our family,” recounted Caleigh. “My parents got divorced when I was going into high school and was a single mother of three and just had to make it work. My mom has always taught me that there is a solution to everything. And she taught me how to be scrappy.”

When it came to founding RoHo, Caleigh’s mom was her biggest cheerleader. “She’s the one who said, ‘We might not have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank in order to fund this business. But at the same time we have these friends who are all knowledgeable in these areas and so we can reach out to them and ask them for their advice in these categories. So we can save money here and we can always find a path forward.’”

Caleigh continued, “I am eternally grateful to that woman. And I think it’s my mom who, at the end of the day, is the one who got me so passionate about women and women’s rights, just seeing she could do it all. There needs to be more women like her.”

Sisters Amy and Nancy Harrington have been inspired by the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp campaign and decided to use their skills as celebrity interviewers to work to tell a different kind of story. Where many podcasters reserve their airtime for the elite, Amy and Nancy are talking to amazing women you probably haven’t heard of, who are making a huge difference by following their passions. From the founder of a successful ice cream company to a volcano scientist running for office to an artist who makes sculptures using melted down nuclear weapons, Amy and Nancy shine a light on the positive stories of women on The Passionistas Project Podcast.

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