I rarely make the time to comment on blog posts or stories I read, but I knew I had to comment last Friday when I saw the headline on this particular LinkedIn post.

As of Sunday evening, more than 300 others apparently felt compelled to comment as well. I don’t remember reading a LinkedIn post that generated that many impassioned responses.

Jennifer Openshaw, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch and author of The Millionaire Zone, wrote a post with the headline,  “A One-Time Motel Maid Looks Back on Success, Then & Now.”


The headline grabbed my attention because I worked as a hotel maid one summer during college instead of taking an unpaid internship at a newspaper. The internship would have looked better on my resume, but as a maid I learned a more valuable lesson about the value of education and to be thankful for my opportunities. I’ve been a reporter for more than 20 years, but my dad still beams when he talks about the summer I worked as a maid.

In her post, Openshaw chronicled how she as a 14-year-old, lying about her age, took a job as a motel maid. From watching her single-mom struggling to make ends meet as a waitress, Openshaw was determined to make her own success. And through “a lot of hard work and sacrifices,” as she wrote, Openshaw has.

Nowadays, she stressed, professional success also requires greater risk taking and more creativity and adaptability.

As the comments from her readers demonstrated, we’re all searching for that right mix of ingredients that can propel our own careers.

Had I not come from comfortable, middle-class means, perhaps early on I would have been hungrier and more cognizant that we have to shake things up. Playing it safe and simply doing our jobs aren’t enough.

The most professional satisfaction I’ve had — after playing it safe for 20 years — has come from envisioning a role for myself that wasn’t in my job description. In 2009 when I became fascinated by social media and began leading efforts toward its deployment at my company, I opened up a world of new possibilities for myself.

Sacrifice, vision and sometimes ignoring the rules — Openshaw did lie about her age to get that job at the motel — are a great start.



Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email