Famous People Whose Career Was Inspired by Mom

In 1905, Anna Jarvis began campaigning for a national Mother’s Day to honor “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” she said.

But it wasn’t until 1914 when Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation that the day was officially created, setting aside the second Sunday in May to honor mothers.

Now the day is often commemorated by children everywhere by making their moms breakfast in bed, or at least remembering to call Mom and express love and thanks.

Many famous people over the years – some before the national recognition in the U.S. – have taken the time to thank their moms for helping to make them successful in their careers. From Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to President Abraham Lincoln to Pablo Picasso, consider how the famous were shaped by their mothers:

  • “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington
  • “The doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” – Wilma Rudolph
  • “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” – Thomas Alva Edison
  • When my mother took her turn to sit in a gown at her graduation, she thought she only had two career options; nursing and teaching. She raised me and my sister to believe that we could do anything, and we believed her.” – Sheryl Sandberg
  • “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” – Washington Irving
  • “My family has very strong women. My other never laughed at my dream of Africa, even though everyone else did because we didn’t have any money, because Africa was the ‘dark continent,’ and because I was a girl.”  – Jane Goodall
  • “My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”—Pablo Picasso
  • “My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”  – Maya Angelou
  • “It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew… I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her.”—Charles Chaplin
  • “My mother taught me about the power of inspiration and courage, and she did it with a strength and a passion that I wish could be bottled.” – Carly Fiorina
  • “I think my mother…made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected.” – Caroline Kennedy
  • Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder

How did your mother inspire your career?

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Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated columnist for Gannett/USA Today on workplace issues and the author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.” She has been on the Today show, and quoted in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self.com and BusinessWeek.com. Her website, 45things.com, is listed on the Forbes top 100 websites for women.

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