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Mother's Day

8 executives share the best career advice they received from mom

She bought the first brew from your lemonade stand. Read — and re-read — every last paper or project you were worried about. She helped you pack up for college, and well, choose a university. She edited your first resume. Framed your successes — and then bragged about them to anyone who would listen. She came to your games and your graduations and was there to pick up the pieces of every disappointment, no matter how significant.

As your greatest fan, your cheerleader and the woman who inspired you to chase after those lofty dreams, certifications, degrees and gigs, the impact of an ever-encouraging mom extends well into adulthood. Even if your mom doesn’t work in the same industry you selected for yourself, her smart — and carefully-selected — words make a difference in your professional decisions and progression. Especially for these executives, having their mother in their corner ensured their success and amped their confidence.


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In honor of Mother’s Day, they express their sentiments:

“You can always reinvent yourself.”

Though Charlie Javice, the founder of FRANK, finds a shift in perspective scary like anyone else, it was her mom who taught her the importance of reinvention. And maybe more importantly, not to fear the tides.

“Growing up, I remember watching as she changed careers and attained degrees through her tenacity, grit, and perseverance. It instilled a fearless persistence in me and I wouldn’t have the confidence I needed to succeed if I didn’t have that foundational training. Her biggest piece of direct advice to me was that ‘no’ can really mean ‘yes’ — if you ask enough times. And wouldn’t you know it, the saying here is true: ‘mother is always right,’ ” she shared.

“You have to always go for it.”

Founder of RAMONA and Bellus Wines, as well as director of Wine Special Projects for Momofuku, Jordan Salcito says her mom had a knack for watching out for brilliance in her daughters. Any type of passion was noted, and Salcito landed her first freelance writing gig after her mom encouraged her to type up writing samples and deliver copies in hand-addressed envelopes to editors in Denver, Colorado. It was this habit of perseverance that Salcito says primed her — and her sisters — to not only identify their dreams but go after them with tenacity.

“This approach to life has been incredibly empowering. Of course, there are always circumstances outside of our control, but having a mindset of focus and persistence has been invaluable as a founder of a company. My main job is to constantly problem solve, pivot when something isn’t working, and persevere through any hiccups,” she shares.

“Jobs are a two-way decision.”

No matter how high you raise in your career, there’s still something heart-fluttering about receiving a job offer for an opportunity you’re psyched about. But as the chief marketing officer of Evernote Andrew Malcolm’s mom reminds, jobs are a two-way street — and decision. That’s why she always told him not to be honored by an invitation to take a new gig, and remember it’s still up to you if you want to work there.

“I tend to believe that much of your career is luck and the seemingly high correlation of luck and cool job titles supports this belief. My mom’s advice made me aware of this fact and gave me the confidence to turn down jobs that were undoubtedly cool, just not for me,” he explained. “Embracing that idea allowed me to choose companies and projects that fit with my passions and where my skills could make a real impact. It also helped me remember my value/worth and what I bring to the table — this is something I try and will continue to instill in my kids in everything they do from activities/hobbies to school work.”

“Face your fears—no matter how big or small.”

Regardless if you’re anxious about speaking at your first conference, giving feedback for an employee at a performance review or about putting in your two-week notice, fear has a way of standing in between where you want to be and where you are. Chris Terrill, CEO of ANGI Home Services, the parent company of digital home service brands, including HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List says his mom stressed the importance of diving in, no matter how scared he was to take that step.

“Be it going for a position you aren’t sure you’re ready for, public speaking or trying something new you will invariably fail at until you get better — fear is crippling and can hold back even the brightest people. If a young, single mother raising two children can graduate Phi Beta Kappa and get her masters degree in social work, we can all push past our comfort zone to do more than we imagined possible,” he brags.

“You choose your career every single day.”

Though relationships and jobs are two different beasts, for the Group President of Prepared Foods for Tyson Foods, Sally Grimes, their mantras have strikingly relatable benefits. Because her mom came from another generation and another culture, she was part of an arranged marriage, and shed insight on how to make love and marriage work to her daughter. While not intended to become career advice, the idea of “choosing” something over and over again has paved the path for Sally’s career.

“She told me that love is something you work at — and to never to confuse the feelings of romance with actual love. She also advised that love is something you choose every day, even when you aren’t feeling it. I’ve actually applied this to my career. Time after time I’ve rejected the ‘romance’ of jobs or industries that were sexy or popular in the moment, in favor of substantive challenges like the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the world’s food system. And on the days when I am not feeling it, I just work at it,” she explains.

“You have to work really hard.”

Growing up, cofounder of Betches Media, Aleen Kuperman watched her mom — a Jewish-Russian immigrant — build a successful OB/GYN practice, without any money or knowledge of the English language. It was a long journey, but one that gave Kuperman a glimpse into what’s required for success: grit.

“Through watching my mother get through medical school while I was only a few years old and observing her work ethic as she got further and further in her career, I have learned that you have to work extremely hard to get to where you want to be. This is something I have applied throughout the process of cofounding and growing a business I’m passionate about,” she shared.

And since her mom did it with her own two hands — and stubborn ethic — Kuperman followed in her footsteps, and decided not to rely on financial support from anyone but herself. This makes the excelling media company the complete self-funded product of Kuperman and her fellow female founders.

“Find a career you love.”

It’s the same words of wisdom we’ve all heard over and over again, but it doesn’t make them less true: doing something day-in and day-out that you adore will make you happier—and more successful. The cofounder of MVMT, a watch and sunglass company, Jake Kassan says his mom encouraged him to follow his passion, no matter how ludicrous it might have sounded at the start.

“She supported my decision to be an entrepreneur, to drop out of college and pursue my crazy ventures was everything to me. I needed that support to get to where I’m at today. I have some friends whose parents fight with them and discourage them from their dreams. I’m lucky to have my mom,” he shared.

“Treat others how you want to be treated.”

As one of the golden rules we learn as children, respecting other people extends far past the playground and into every facet of our life — careers included. For cofounder and CEO of Minibar Delivery, Lara Crystal, prioritizing kindness has been at the forefront of her success, all thanks to the words of wisdom from her mom.

“In today’s connected age, this advice is more powerful than ever. Your reputation and how you treat others is ultimately what people remember and your greatest legacy,” she says.

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