We met up at the Starbucks over by the liquor store in Cotswold. The first time I met Susan Anderson I gave her $1,000. A year later I gave her another thousand. It was a gift, not a purchase, not a fee, not a transaction of any kind. I have given her $2,000 through my podcast @ManListening because I believe in her mission: to give working moms a chance to finish their degree.
Susan founded ANSWER Scholarships with her own money. We talk in the podcast this week about how she made that money. Let’s just say in a half hour she taught me a lot about what makes a great salesperson!
Since starting the non-profit, Susan and her board have been instrumental in seeing to it that about 100 hardworking mothers go back to school and get a new start on life.
Susan made a very successful career for herself with no diploma. So why does she believe so strongly in getting a degree? Because it sets women in particular on a whole new level, a new path, an entirely different trajectory. It gives them a ton of hope.
Not only does it help working moms feel a sense of accomplishment that they finished something. It inspires their kids to see firsthand what hard work can get you. It’s not just about money (although money helps). It’s about having a mom who is not resigned to a decades-long slog at a mere job, but rather a more meaningful and lucrative career of her own choosing.
Once upon a time, young women chose between three careers: housewife (married to a house?), teacher, and nurse. Those days have gone the way of the girdle. Now working moms can set themselves up to succeed by being nimble and pivoting on a dime to create their own careers rather than work for the man.
The success stories behind ANSWER Scholarships would make a grown man cry. Women who have faced cancer, abuse, poverty, misogyny and come out as strong vibrant contributors. Most of the moms who get ANSWER scholarships face more than one challenge.
That’s why Susan sets up mentorship and coaching relationships to help these women through challenges that would make most folks quit. They work out the practical details of juggling jobs, the kids’ homework, meals, marriage AND school. It’s tough. Very tough. But it’s not forever. And it’s not impossible. On the other side of each of these challenges there’s a woman who can tell stories about how she overcame.
Many of my colleagues profile the women who receive ANSWER Scholarships. Through my company ManListening, I didn’t just profile a recipient. I put my money where my mouth is. And then I did it again.
Congratulations Susan! And a HUGE congratulations to all the ANSWER Scholarship winners, whether you’ve got your diploma hanging on the wall or whether you’ve got a stack of books and your laptop on the kitchen table, I applaud you. I support you. I’m cheering you on! You got this. You’ll be glad you did it! GO!