Career Lessons From My Mom Comments62 Comments

jeremy-and-mom

In honor of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I decided to write about how my mom overcame financial adversity.

I’ll begin this story shortly after my mom and dad divorced. We definitely weren’t a wealthy family before, but suddenly my mom was taking care of my older sister and me financially, primarily on her own. That’s not to take anything away from my dad, but a carpenter in a small town is a tough career to consistently make good money with.

The tough times started with my mom resorting to welfare for 2 months while she struggled to find a job. She knew this wasn’t going to cut it though. She vowed that to take care of her kids she would never put herself in that position again.

Eventually she found a job at an electronics and music store, but unfortunately it was barely above minimum wage. Knowing it was better than welfare, she negotiated a slightly better wage with a promise of a review in a few months.

She worked hard at that job, taking full advantage of the opportunity she was presented with. In time her pay increased and she moved up within the company. She obviously impressed the company owner with her work ethics and intelligence.

A few years later they presented her with an offer to manage a video rental store in a neighboring town. In addition to managing the store, she would be able to buy into becoming a partial owner of the store. Of course she took the job and we made the move.

Thanks to some savvy management, hard work and a focus on customer service, she turned that store into a very successful business. It would become the busiest video rental store in town. She also developed multiple sources of income for the store to turn it into a thriving business.

As recognition for her success the local chamber of commerce honored her with an award for being business person of the year. This spoke volumes about how well she ran the business and the kind of work she put into it all.

I have to admit that I was extremely proud of what she had managed to accomplish. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. She showed that you really can work your way up from the bottom to become a success. Her business smarts and dedication to hard work proved to be extremely invaluable.

Despite being a business success and owning 50% of the store, she wasn’t content with just coasting from there. Instead she bought out the rest of the store to become full owner. Plus she later became manager and owner of the video rental store back in our original hometown.

After running both stores for a while, she realized the effect the internet was starting to have on the video rental business. So rather than face that uphill battle, she was wise enough to sell both stores and make a nice profit. Seeing all the video rental stores going out of business lately, it was definitely a great decision.

Since then, her career has included some years in advertising and human resources. There was even several years of working overseas. It was her work with the video rental store that set her financially though.

Now she has taken early retirement and is spending her time helping build her retirement house. She and her husband have also been lucky enough to travel all over the world. They’re truly living the good life.

Thank you Mom for being such an awesome source of inspiration. What you achieved really was amazing and I’ll always be proud of you. I appreciate the continued support too.

Have any of you been inspired by your mom’s career or life in general? What kind of career or financial lessons did she instill in you?

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By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 7 May 2012
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62 thoughts on “Career Lessons From My Mom

  1. Carrie Smith

    This is such a great story, and a very nice compliment to your mom with her business savvy. Going through a divorce is tough, and having to take care of kids as a single parent is even more difficult. But your mom’s character shown through and she was able to make a positive out of a possibly negative situation. What a great example to have in your life!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes she certainly went through a lot to get where she is. And I’ve only mentioned the career side of things. Raising two kids and going through a divorce is challenging enough on its own. She really was a great example and she continues to be.

      Reply
  2. From Shopping to Saving

    This is amazing Jeremy! Your mother sounds wonderful, and very similar to my mom. My mom raised me as a single mother and I know how difficult that was for her. Your mom sounds like a smart and savvy business woman, and looks like you learned a lot from her. This was a sweet post. I plan to write about what I learned from my mom as well!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I look forward to reading that post on your blog. It seems like she raised you really well too. So it will be interesting to see the parallels. I did learn a lot from her and not just on the career front. I look up to her in a lot of ways.

      Reply
  3. femmefrugality

    Aw! The last paragraph is so sweet! It’s always good to have a role model in your life, and always so great to hear other’s shared stories. Kudos to your mom for making what could have been a turbulent, I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed situation into something meaningful and successful.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yeah I don’t know if she ever got to that point, but it was a struggle early on. There is only so much work in a small town for a young woman with limited experience. Glad to know you enjoyed the story.

      Reply
  4. John | Married (with Debt)

    Nice tribute – your mom sounds like a very savvy lady to get out while the getting was good. My mom stayed at home, which I view as a sacrifice they made for us.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      A stay at home mom can be very inspiring too. They are sure to do a ton of work and also face many challenges. A single working mom faces a lot more pressure though. A lot is resting on her shoulders.

      Reply
  5. MyMoneyDesign

    What an outstanding story! It’s people like this that show that anything is possible if you stay focused and look for the right opportunities. I see where the entrepreneurial spirit comes from!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yep I definitely got my entrepreneurial side from her. Both of my parents are hard working, but my mom was a lot more into business. I’m not sure if I would’ve ever pursued my own business if it wasn’t for her influence on me early on.

      Reply
  6. Jason @ WSL

    That’s a pretty awesome and inspiring story Jeremy. It sounds like we come from similar pasts too…interesting.

    It’s pretty fun to see and hear about people that beat the odds and succeed. I’m sure there was a lot of struggle, long hours, and exhausted evenings but it sounds like things have paid off quite nicely.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That is interesting that we come from similar pasts. Have you wrote a post about it on your blog? If so, send it my way to check out. Obviously I wouldn’t have read much beyond the last 2 months or so.

      There was definitely a lot of long hours and hard work. Still, she always found time for us. She also got both my sister and I working there to spend more time with her, make some money and develop some employment skills.

      Reply
        1. Jeremy

          Haha. Well I recommend you relive those memories and share some stories from your past. It seems that people really like to read the personal stuff.

          Reply
  7. Sean @ One Smart Dollar

    Great story Jeremy. Both of my parents Instilled the quality in me that whatever I set my mind to I can complete. It has been a big help to my confidence that when I started my own business I could succeed.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Those lessons early in life are crucial. When they come from such an influential role model, it sticks with you a lot longer and you take those lessons much more seriously. You get to actually see first hand what it takes and what it can lead to. It’s much better than just seeing glimpses of how some famous person got to where they are.

      Reply
  8. Anthony Thompson

    That’s such a beautiful story, Jeremy. In fact, it’s one of those stories that makes you reflect on your own life. Now, I see where you get your spunk, determination, and intelligence. Your mom is not only a great mom, but a hell of a businesswoman. Not only did she pull herself out a difficult financial situation, but literally turned dirt into gold. She appears stronger than most men I know, and that’s powerful.

    Blessings to you and your mom, and I hope you both have a Happy Mother’s Day. By the way, I dig the photo.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks Anthony. As always, I appreciate your kind words. I think in a single parent household, the primary parent is a much bigger influence. You end up developing a much stronger bond in many cases. I couldn’t imagine trying to raise 2 kids on a single income and facing what she did. She is an incredibly strong woman.

      Reply
  9. yourlifeforless

    Great story. Your mom’s hard work is an inspiration to us all, and proves that it is possible to make something from nothing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think

    Moms are so precious. Your mother sounds like a really hard worker. When you grow up in a household with that type of influence, it’s hard to be lazy. You’re truly fortunate to be raised by such an inspirational woman.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes I am definitely fortunate. I was raised well and learned so much from her. It sure is hard to be lazy when she sets that kind of example.

      Reply
  11. Michelle

    This is a very sweet tribute to your mom. I can tell you really respect her for how she raised you and all that she taught you. It’s amazing that she went from needing government help to owning a couple of successful businesses in a matter of a few years. That is truly inspiring and makes a lot of sense since you are so business savvy yourself!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It took more than a few years to get from point A to point B, but she did make a drastic change in her career during my childhood. I think she took over the 2nd store around the same time that I moved away for college. I do respect her a lot for all she’s been through and how she still managed to be successful.

      Reply
      1. Michelle

        Oh, I see. Still, that’s amazing! Most people will never own their own business. The fact that she’s so successful and did it all by herself is so inspiring.

        Reply
  12. Katie

    You’re mother sounds like such a great person and role model. She set a very good example for you.

    My mom actually went back to college about 4 years ago and got her degree. I was so proud of her for doing that. Now she has a job she loves and I am just so glad that she took the leap into going back to college. :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That’s awesome that your mom went back to college. That takes some courage to jump back in with those young students and attempt a new career. It’s even better that she found a job she loves because of that decision. If you haven’t already, you should write a post about that story.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I think having a technology savvy son helped open her eyes to that problem. Even back then though she was noticing that both movie and video games were gradually dropping. So she probably would have seen the writing on the wall either way.

      Reply
  13. Christopher @ This That and The MBA

    Sometimes we see that when our back is against the wall that we can overcome and succeed. It looks like your mom down on her luck taking public assistance stood up and rose. I applaud her effort, so many we see people just give up and ride what society gives them. She sounds like a great woman and I am glad she is able to retire and live life to its fullest.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes she could’ve easily sat back and kept collecting welfare using me and my sister as an excuse as to why she might be better at home taking care of us. Instead she worked hard to find a job that could improve our situation. She definitely deserves the comfy life that she has built up.

      Reply
      1. Christopher @ This That and The MBA

        We see that all to often in our society now that an adult uses the kids as pawns to gain social welfare. Between the work my wife does and what I do, we have seen it get so bad that they are just popping out kids to get more social welfare. Almost like they are proud of it. Glad your mother fought hard! Give her a hug!

        Reply
  14. Eddie

    Jeremy,
    Great story. You almost brought tears to my eyes. I’m proud of my mother as well. She’s the financial guru in the household who till this day does not use a calculator, and instead does the math twice with pencil and paper.

    Your mother is a great example of what someone can do when faced with adversity.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Wow no calculator. I’ve gotten so lazy with using a calculator that doing math by hand would take so long. To do all her finances that way is impressive, although I wonder why she wouldn’t use a calculator.

      Reply
      1. Eddie

        As a woman born in the fifties, that’s the way that they were taught in school. It stuck to her, and she doesn’t rely on a calculator. She always said; “I trust my double math more, than keying numbers on a pad”.

        Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yeah she stops by once in a while. I’m not sure how often, but she’ll come across this post soon enough. The longer it takes, the more great supportive comments she’ll read from all of you.

      Reply
  15. Young Professional Finances

    Your mom sounds amazing! That’s so awesome she was able to create such a successful business. You definitely get a lot of your smarts from her. :)

    Reply
  16. Edward Antrobus

    Your mother sounds like a great role model. My mother was a stay-at-home mother for most of my life, but she babysat a steady stream of kids over the years to bring extra money in.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It’s great when stay at home moms still manage to bring in extra sources of income like that. That must have kept things interesting for you in your childhood to have a bunch of kids over all the time.

      Reply
  17. American Debt Project

    This is SO inspiring! Not only is your mom savvy and a hard worker, she set an example for small business owners and women business owners. I love that ownership in something as seemingly “simple” as a video store was what get her and the family on the path to financial security. Now I’m inspired!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes it was a fairly simple business compared to others, but there was still a lot that went into it. She did all kinds of things to set the store apart from her competitors. Things like community involvement and personally connecting with customers was huge in a small town like that. Finding quality employees and keeping them happy enough to stay long term was very important too.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      No problem Miss T. I always enjoy showing my appreciation for everything my mom has done for me. This blog post is just a small gesture compared to the sacrifices she made for me and my sister.

      Reply
  18. ShortRoadTo

    Great story. It simply shows that a will and hard work towards a goal will get you out of any mess.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Well I’m sure there are some messes that even hard work and a strong will won’t help you. In this case though, it was exactly what was needed to build a successful career.

      Reply
  19. CultOfMoney

    Fantastic story about how your mom worked hard and used her savvy to become so much better off financially. The fact that she was recognized so widely as a skilled businesswoman say volumes about her and her involvement both in her stores and in the community. Great story, and well played to get ahead of the mother’s day posting crowd. Some of that savvy abviously rubbed off.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      No I admit I posted this early in the week mostly due to my laid back posting schedule. As usual I have a guest post scheduled for tomorrow and will do the regular Friday update to close out the week. So that part doesn’t reflect any of the traits I picked up from here. I blame that part on my dad lol.

      Reply
  20. Savvy Scot

    What a great story! Your mum did very well and kudos to her for selling up early enough. Too often people become greedy and don’t know when to quit!

    Reply
  21. Marnie Byod

    Our mother is our source of inspiration. I believe that your Mom is very happy wile reading this, she will be proud to you. This is really inspiring and thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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