A Message from Tiffany Bass Bukow, Founder of
Throughout my life, I have enjoyed significant financial
success and endured surprising financial failure. Dealing
with the success was easy. Dealing with the failure
was not, especially when it was unexpected. I have had
to challenge my values and work hard to continue to
succeed while learning from failure. And I discovered
that friends who had been in similar circumstances were
my greatest source of motivation.
I hope that MsMoney.com's Success Stories provide
you with the same inspiration I received from my friends.
Each week, we will profile a remarkable woman who has
confronted financial obstacles and overcome challenges
to lead a happy, financially secure, and meaningful
If you'd like to share your success story, please e-mail
us at email@example.com.
How I Got to Where I Am
…And Won $10,000 Along the Way!
By Mary Jo Barnett
is a really big year for me
Im turning 50, which
I plan on celebrating big time! And winning $10,000 in the
MsMoney.com sweepstakes has just added to all of the excitement.
I feel so fortunate that I have a career that I love as the
Director of Marketing Services for Sunsweet Growers, Inc.
I interact with talented people, am constantly facing creative
challenges, and work at a pretty fast pace that doesnt
allow for much down time but does keep me interested and energized.
When I look back at my life and consider whats led me
to where I am today, I think theres one rule in particular
that has kept me moving forward and on track to reach my personal
I believe that its critical that women not be afraid
to ask for what they want and need when it comes to making
their career and family lives succeed. I started using this
approach early on in my life, and it has always worked for
I grew up in Milwaukee, 1 of 9 children, and both my parents
had to work to support the family. The only money discussions
I remember growing up were things like What did you
do to earn this nickel? when Id ask my parents
for my Girl Scout dues! I also wasnt raised with a strong
career ethic--I understood that I should go to college in
case I ever had to work instead of being given career advice
and professional direction.
I graduated from college late, just shy of my 31st birthday.
My degree was in Journalism, but I was disillusioned with
the lack of job prospects so I started looking around. I really
wanted and needed to get on with my life! I took a job as
executive assistant to the vice president of a large promotion
agency just to get my foot in the door. I also made it very
clear to the person who hired me that I considered this job
as a stepping stone and would only accept the position if
the firm would guarantee advancement, which it did. I hated
the position but took advantage of every free moment to hover
around the designers and learn as much as possible.
Nine months later, my boss called me into his office and
announced that I was being promoted to account executive.
In the same breath, he said that due to a salary freeze, I
would not be receiving a pay increase. I was thrilled about
the promotion, but once the reality of the salary sank in,
I felt devastated and angry. After agonizing over the decision,
I turned the promotion down unless it included an appropriate
pay increase. It was one of the most difficult things Id
ever had to do in my career. I really wanted the job but knew
they were taking advantage of me.
After many rounds of negotiating with my boss, we reached
an agreement. I took the job and received a substantial raise--but
not the salary of the person I replaced. It was enough to
satisfy me, however, and I saw the opportunity as one I couldnt
With two years of experience at this large agency, three
of my co-workers and I left and started a new agency. Because
we were small, we did everything ourselves which was valuable
experience and contributed towards the success of my career.
Besides hard won experience, I have always approached my work
with a can do attitude. For instance, I frequently
find myself doing tasks that arent my responsibility,
but they have to get done, and Im willing to step in
and make it happen.
Perhaps my greatest achievement is my daughter, Kate, who
is almost 16 (this is a big year for both of us)! Shes
an artist and actress. I used to say that she wants
to be an actress, but shes been in drama since
she was five, and now I think of her as an actress. Ive
made a point of exposing her to my career--taking her to work
with me for her first year, including occasional client meetings.
Ive invited her on business trips when I can and even
used her as a model a few times. When I finally put her in
day care, there were times when Id be in a meeting that
was dragging on late in the day. When I felt it was an appropriate
time, I would simply excuse myself and announce that wed
have to continue our meeting the following day.
By staying true to whats important to you and asking
for what you want and need, I think youll find that
anythings possible. As one example, when I was interviewing
for my current job 10 years ago, I mentioned in every interview
that I would not be able to conform to the companys
hours due to my parental obligations and the long commute
I would be facing. Everyone agreed that it wouldnt be
a problem, and it hasnt been.
Im very excited about winning the $10,000 from MsMoney.com!
At first, I imagined all sorts of ways to spend it--a new
car, an exotic vacation--but Ive decided to start my
first investment portfolio. That way, I can learn how to make
smart investment decisions, watch my money grow, and earn
enough to buy a car, take a vacation, and much more!