Women in Sales Month: My Inspiration, My Mother

Women in Sales Month has been extra special this year.

Running a community (vs. just being an employee at another company) has afforded me a much broader perspective on the sales world as a whole. Through RevGenius, I have listened to more women in different roles, companies, and situations than I previously ever have.

This has helped further educate me on the many challenges women face daily in the workplace and has given me opportunities to support them in a much bigger way than I previously had. When October came around with Women in Sales Month, it was a great opportunity to double down on positively impacting women in our professional world.

October is also my birthday month; in fact, today is my birthday.

Like many, we get a bit introspective at this time of the year.

Being inspired by Catie Ivey’s incredible article ‘A Call to Action’ in which she spoke of interactions with women that inspired her, I started to think about who has inspired me.

The answer was easy; my mother, Risë Cowen-Robin.

My mother was a strong woman and the best mom. She loved her children with all her heart, and everything she did was for us. One fond memory I had early on was when she bought me a Spurs basketball hat and T-shirt when I did a book report on a book on David Robinson to the class.

She was that thoughtful.

Like most women, she did not have it easy.

She divorced my father when I was a teenager, and along with my two younger siblings, she became a single mother to us. While my father was still around, she was forced to go back to work as a teacher, to provide for us and downsize our living situation.

She stepped up and did what was necessary to provide for us.

She was tough and strict but always wanted the best for us, and while she pushed us to try our absolute best in school, she was proud of us no matter what. She got me my first job at 14 for a small local diner where I would sweep the floor and do dishes.

When I worked a full 5 hour day on Saturdays, she would put my bicycle in the back of her truck and drive me home. She was always there for my siblings and me.

Regardless of our financial situation, she always made a point to do an annual vacation in August when she was off from school. It was a time when my siblings and I, no matter how old we got, would be together and have fun and continue our childhood laughs and humor together.

We all loved this time together. The Caribbean was her favorite place. We vacationed to numerous islands.

When I went to Penn State for college, she became the biggest Penn State fan and would often razz me if I missed them on TV. She had more Penn State shirts than I did and proudly wore them on gamedays. When my sister went to Wisconsin and brother went to UCLA, she got their shirts and supported their teams the same. She was really good at pretending to root for my team to win when our teams would play head to head.

We always went to Jets games together and rooted for them no matter how mediocre they were.

When I moved to New York City and visited her by train, she always gave me money for my trip. To her, she wanted to make sure that I was always financially comfortable.

She was a shining example of an incredible mother and a strong woman. But she was more than that – she was my everything.

We were so incredibly close, although I rarely admitted it. And wish that I did.

As I got older and more mature, I was there to protect her – from whatever she needed, as she had done me. Although I couldn’t protect her all the way, nobody could. And that’s OK.

My mom was the strongest woman I ever met. Even though she was hard on me at times, it was just to help me maximize my potential and become my best self. She was proud of me always. And that is something that meant so much to me.

Because of her strength, her perseverance, her love and protection, her intelligence, her ability to recalibrate her whole life to be a single mother to three children; all while going through things I’m sure I’ll never fully know—she will always be my number one inspiration for everything I do.

My mother passed away on April 3, 2018, at 62 years young from terminal cancer. She did nothing wrong to deserve that. But alas, here we are.

After she passed, I found a letter dated 1987, some 30 years earlier, never opened, addressed to me. I was only five years old at the time. The letter spoke of what she was doing getting the house in order as I was away with my father and his relatives.

That’s who my mother was.

Today, on my birthday, I will be listening to the message I saved of her last birthday voicemail and remember her.

I dedicate my journey of building RevGenius to her. I want to be as thoughtful, loving, and inspirational for others as my mom was for me.

I know she’d want me to do as much good for women as I can and continue to maximize my potential.

Without her, I wouldn’t be me, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

I love you, Mom.