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3 Pieces of Career Advice From Famous Mothers, on Mother’s Day


To paraphrase Mark Twain, when you’re a kid, your mother doesn’t know anything – but it’s surprising how wise she gets, as you grow older yourself. No wonder, then, that many of us grown-up “kids” turn to dear old Mom when the going gets tough. Here, in honor of Mother’s Day, we present some of the best career advice famous moms have to offer.

Maya Angelou 

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

1. Maya Angelou: “Don’t Ask Questions You Already Know the Answers To”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

In Esquire, Josh Barone shares an anecdote about the career-shaping advice he once received from Dr. Maya Angelou:

Less than five minutes into my interview with Maya Angelou, she cut off my question and asked, “Do you want to work for The New York Times?”

I said yes.

“Then stop asking questions you already know the answer to.”

With her trademark eloquence, she caught me. And, oracular as always, she predicted the future.

Barone went on to work at The New York Times.

2. Tina Fey: An Improvement on “Do What You Love”

As part of her bestseller Bossypants, 30 Rock creator Tina Fey offered this prayer for her daughter. The career-relevant section goes as follows:

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.

Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes

And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

3. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: It’s Never Too Late for a New Career

“Following the death of her husband Aristotle Onassis in 1975, she became an editor, first at Viking Press, then at Doubleday,” writes Meredith Lepore at Levo League. “The Vassar-educated, avid reader enjoyed being an editor. Some were slightly confused as to why this very rich woman wanted to work a 9-to-5 job, but Onassis continued to do it despite questioning. She once said, ‘If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life.'”

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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