The president of Planned Parenthood got her best career advice from her mother, a housewife-turned-governor of Texas

The president of Planned Parenthood got her best career advice from her mother, a housewife-turned-governor of Texas

Cecile Richards

Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Cecile Richards opens up about her mother.

  • Cecile Richards learned from her mother, Ann Richards, that she should take any opportunity, which is why she accepted the job of president of Planned Parenthood.
  • Ann Richards spent many years as a housewife before serving as governor of Texas.
  • The younger Richards recalls that her mother's advice helped her be brave enough to seize even potentially intimidating career opportunities.

Before serving as the president of Planned Parenthood for 12 years, Cecile Richards got the best advice of her life from her mother, the former governor of Texas. Her mother advised Richards to "never turn down a new opportunity," the younger Richards told Business Insider for our podcast "Success! How I Did It."

When Richards was offered to lead Planned Parenthood, her initial reaction was to doubt her own qualifications. "I had run smaller nonprofits, but I had never raised that much money, been responsible for a huge national organization with this almost hundred-year history, and so I was afraid of failing," Richards said.

Richards recalled that when she told her mother about her doubts, Ann Richards told her daughter to "get over yourself. You never know unless you try and the things you really regret in life are the chances that you didn't take."

And it's not a waste if it doesn't go according to plan, she continued. You still "get something from every single job or new adventure you take," Richards said.

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Ann Richards
served as governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995. She was the last Democratic governor of Texas and Richards lost her reelection bid to future president George W. Bush. According to her daughter, Ann Richards was happiest when she followed her own advice and started creating opportunities for herself.

Richards said that her mother "spent years just doing what society expected her. She was just to raise kids, be a perfect wife, throw the perfect dinner party, and she did that for several years. And it wasn't until she had the chance to break out and do what she wanted to do for her."

According to Cecile Richards, her mother was "a rabble-rouser. I mean, she was a housewife but she was fighting for the farm workers and she was, when the women's movement came to town, she just jumped head first."

ann richards

Joe Maquette/AP

Ann Richards served as the Democratic governor of Texas from 1991-1995.

"My mom began to take her own path, and finally kinda left that life as a housewife, which was rewarding but not enough for her. And eventually ran for office herself," the younger Richards said.

Richards looked back at her mother and said "I think like a lot of women who run for office or maybe get into business, they look at who's in the job and think, 'well, I think I can do a better job.' And that really was what motivated her."

She continued, "I think she was always regretful that she, you know, missed some time. You know, she let social convention get in her way."

Reflecting on her own career, Richards said she "worked with a lot of people who didn't have any choice in what they did," continuing that, "it really taught me a lot about how much opportunity I had to do anything I wanted to with my life. And so, when you do have that chance, I think it's on all of us to make the decisions about how we want to use our time on this Earth."

"This is the only life you have, so you've got to make the most of it," Richards said. "I've been real privileged to do that."