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Successful business women share pearls of wisdom from mom



(Chef Michelle Bernstein and her mother Martha enjoy a moment at Michelle's restaurant Michy's on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.)

With Mother’s Day nearing, it is a good time to reflect on motherly pearls of wisdom. My mother had a habit of saying, “Find a job you love and always have your own money.” It was a lesson my mother, Iris, learned the hard way when she divorced. As my life grew hectic with deadlines and diapers, I was mindful of her words and continued to hold onto the job I love and some of the money I earned doing it.

Today, there are more than 85 million mothers in the United States with 72 percent of them with children under 18 earning income, according to labor statistics and the U.S. Census. As women become business owners, corporate managers, doctors and law partners, we are guided by the wise words our own mothers used to influence us.

I reached out to some of the successful women I know to learn what insights their mothers passed on:

Donna Shalala: It’s hard to argue that Donna Shalala is one of the most influential academics in the country. She has led the University of Miami as its president for 10 years and solidified its position among top U.S. universities.

Shalala says her mother, Edna, who is 99 and still comes to school events with her, has played a profound role in her life. “An avid tennis player, she would tell me to always keep my eye on the ball. She repeated it often and not always on the tennis court.” Shalala said she never could have taken the university as far as she has without staying focused. It’s sage advice she tries to pass on to college students.

(Shannon, her kids and her mom)

Shannon Hori: Turn on the CBS4 news and you will see anchor Shannon Hori, super-composed, despite being a new mother to 2½-year-old twin boys (one underwent immediate open-heart surgery as a newborn). Hori credits her mother, Joanne, with her can-do spirit. Her mother went to college when Hori was 8, bringing her to class. She told her daughter “woman can do and be anything.” Those wise words have guided Hori as she worked her way up from smaller to larger markets in the competitive television industry.

Hori says her mother also is always on the go. She even eats breakfast and lunch standing up. Hori, too, is always on the go. And, if Hori speaks clearly for television, credit her mother for that, too. “When my mother was growing up she would read out loud from the newspaper with an English accent to try to get rid of her New York accent. It worked.”

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