picture of guest Karene Richards

Listen In

Ready To Start Your Own Purpose or
Passion Project?

Imagine finally taking that dream of starting a podcast, writing a book, becoming a public speaker or any other creative endeavor and turning it into something tangible in the world. I'm talking #Done

I can help?  Let's set up a few minutes to talk


Where can the people learn more about your passion project and the dope work you are putting out into the world. 

Instagram: @FitHiddenFigure

Linkedin: Fit Hidden Figure

Website: www.FitHiddenFigure.com

What do you do for Full-time work?

So I am an investment banker. I spent 16 years in investment banking, and earned my charter, which is the CFA, which is one of the hardest exam in investment banking industry. If anyone listening to the show, look it up is considered a third largest exam, third hardest exam in the world. And shortly after getting the charterholder the charter, I went straight into my passion project, which is what made this story a very stunning one.

What is your passion project and how long has it been in existence?

So my passion project, which is now a business for me full time is health and fitness. So I went from investment banking to being a health coach and personal trainer.

What is your project’s origin story: Why did you start this project; what was the passion behind the project.

This origin story actually began with a bit of a tragedy. My mom passed away from breast cancer about 15 years ago. And as she was taking her last breath, my dad was, you know, sitting on one side of the bed, I was sitting on the other side of the bed. And he said, You know, he said to me, I know you love mommy. I know you're just as ambitious as she is, but can do one thing and then different for Daddy, can you? Can you just practice self care along with that, because that he can't take another loss, that he just cannot take another loss. And I promised him as my mom was taking her last few breaths that I would do something different in terms of practicing good self care, as I matriculate in this thing called life. And she died. And 10 years later, the doctors found a lump in my breast. And I had, it was very scary, because the last time someone reported that they found a lump in their breast, they died two years later. So you know, thinking back to the commitment I made to my dad, thinking about what I would do if I had two years to live, you know, became, you know, Top Most in my mind. So the doctor told me I needed to live a healthy and fit lifestyle. Like, you know, it turned out that the lump in my breast was not cancerous. But he said that I needed to live a healthy and fit lifestyle. So that what happened to my mom doesn't happen to me. So I was just like, what is the healthy fit lifestyle, I thought I was living that lifestyle. And I went on a journey to figure it out. And I'm the type of person that work really well under pressure, I learned that from investment banking days working on the trading desk. Um, so I set a date to compete in a bodybuilding competition. Seven months after that doctor's appointment, whatever it is, this healthy and fit lifestyle, I'm figured out in seven months, because I'm not going to go on a body stage looking crazy. So that's where everything started.

So, when I got on stage, I got fourth place. And that meant I was qualified for the national stage. And I decided that you know, all right. I learned how To eat healthy and to learn how to work out, but I'm just not a fourth place kind of girl, I made a perfect fit match score, I've just always number one. So I'm not going to walk away from this competing thing with fourth place behind my name. So I competed again, and learned even more about the sport, and became the Masters bikini champion for an entire show in Maryland. And with that, I had decided, wow, look at the the transformation. I mean, I wish, sometimes with a podcast, he can show pictures, but it's all over my Instagram, and looked at my transformation and said, You know, I bet there are a lot of black women out there that are so successful in what they're doing that. But when it comes down to their weight, or fat loss, or getting in shape, it seemed like this invincible type of thing that they just cannot attain. And so I decided that if I could just put out a framework for them, so they don't have to go on a 10 year journey the way I did, and get to the body of their dreams. With that, with cutting out the noise, just getting directly to what they need to do to get from place a to place B, that that would add value to people's allies. And I think of each woman that I've helped with their transformation, I think about I think about them as my mom, you know, my mom getting an opportunity to do things differently so that she could add years to her life.

It's called the hidden figure. And the beauty of the name is that when I started the business, when I was getting ready to compete, the movie Hidden Figures was coming out. It's about those three black women at NASA. And one was a mathematician. Do you remember that movie?

And if the story of the mathematician in the group was very similar to my childhood, because I've always been known to be very strong at math, I remember going to kindergarten and my mom, and my kindergarten teacher was speaking. They didn't know I was listening. And, you know, my mom asked her how, you know, How's she doing? And she goes, you know, she could be better at English, but she's very strong at math, you know. And I was sitting in the car listening to the conversation. And I remember committing to myself at five years old that if I just take to math, I'll be okay. Right. So I matriculated perfect as a team math score. Good note. Almost perfect. Jerry. Math score is seven, nine in the Jerry math course, I've always been on the really high performing side of mathematics. And so I'm identified with a woman the story, and I named the business after the movie, and I just put fit in front of it. So it's fate hidden failures, because Thank you, and then I'm along the way, when clients will come. I remember one woman she was in her 50s. And she goes, Karene, I know I have a great figure. It says hidden right now. So I'm coming to you to reveal my Hidden Figures. So it has come it has, you know, taken on a few different meanings. But that's what it's called the hidden figure

Is there a point where you hesitated to start it?  What got you over that hump?

Yes. So my, the truth is this is that, you know, I was very, very successful in investment banking, and fit hidden figure was supposed to be something I did on the side, right. And for many years, I was doing it. As a matter of fact, I have a event coming up on March 27, where I host the event on fitness for women apps called dare to be great. And I've been doing it every year for the last four years, right. So this was supposed to be something on the side. It turns out that when the pandemic hit There were, you know, I usually work in investment banking as a consultant on projects where, you know, you might be like a VC firm, looking to be bought out, or, you know, you know, those types of projects, and I would be on as a consultant Anyway, when the, the pandemic happen, a lot of that consultancy, work dried up. And a lot of the focus for everyone was on their health and fitness. So, um, what was happening is that I was pushing the door of investment banking, when the doors were being closed. But here is the health and fitness doors are being open. And I had a business coach Whitney wide at the time. And I was just like, put an investment bank is what I do this, what I do is what I do, but I keep pushing on these closed doors. And she she said to my book, Kareem, Cathy said that this door over here is opening, you know, pursue the health and fitness pursue the health and fitness. And in my mind, I struggled because coming from a Caribbean background, you know, we're taught to, you know, do well in school, go to Ivy League schools, get great posh jobs, and all that kind of stuff, I can't look at my parents, after all of what I've all this education, and tell them that I'm gonna turn around and be somebody's personal trainer, you know, I mean, there was a lot of pressure that way. So after talking through my business, with my business coach, and over those parental expectations, those family expectations, I decided that you know, what, I'm gonna live my life doing what I'm truly passionate about. I'm passionate about adding years of people's allies, I wasn't necessarily passionate about making an already wealthy organization more wealthy. And so, you know, she has a program called take back your time, where it does deep into how you want to spend your time and make money doing things that you enjoy doing. And that's was that whole program is what propelled me into going after health and fitness. But it was a tough one.

One of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to starting passion projects is finding time in their already busy lives to do it.  How did you find or make time for your project?

So um, this is where witness program is very helpful. She does this program called take back your time. And there is one module where she pushes you to take inventory of how you spend your time. And she uses this noise matrix. And within the noise matrix, you can clearly pick up on things where you're spending time in ways that are not serving you, right. And so I'm becoming really, really clear on what my goals were, and where I need to be spending my time became one of the fruits of of the program. Once I got clear on that, right, I had a framework on the types of actions I needed to be doing on a daily basis to get from place a to place B. And then I would simply use a Notes app, create a list of to Do's, okay, and copy and paste them from day to day to day to day and every time I did it, I would just check them off, check them off, check them off. But the thing about it is is that even coming up with a to do list, if you've got to be very intentional about it, you know, because the to do list should have things not things that you feel like doing not things that You think it would be nice to have, but things that will get you to your goal, right? Like, for example, I'm an amateur athlete, bikini athlete right now, right? I want to go pro. So what does that mean? That it means that every day I have to strength train. So that's on my to do list, it means every day, I have to do cardio that's on my to do list. Also, in bodybuilding, you can have the best physique in the world. But if you can't present the physique, then you won't win. So posing, you know, practice pausing, is part of my daily routine that I have to do. Also, managing emotional, spiritual mental energy, so I practice devotions that's on my to do list, my gratitude journal so that I don't have this scarcity mindset, I keep my, my mindset to be one of abundance. So I'm, you know, doing the my gratitude journaling, you know, getting to bed on time, waking up on time, eating my meals on time, you know, so it's a specific things that will lead you to the goal, you got to be very intentional with the to do list because your success is embedded in your routine. Like, I can look at somebody's routine, I can tell them where they're headed. And so your routine should line up with your goals.

Another big challenge faced is fatigue.  You work 9-to-5, it takes up 95% of your energy.  And we are not even talking about family and their needs yet.  What can you share with the listeners about getting energy after all the demands of life?

I give my best and first fruits to myself, which means that my best energy is going to be in the morning, right. And if I have a nine to five job, that means I have to get a way before nine o'clock, okay to give my best energy to my and invest in myself, right? Then when the nine to five comes or whatever is left goes to there. Right? That's rule number one, give me give my best energies to myself, right and my goals. Rule number two is practicing a daily habit of devotions, whether you are Christian, whether or not you're atheist, but, or atheist, or, you know, thinking of some higher power weathers the universe, but tap into your higher power for me is God. And I use a Baba app to take me through devotions on a daily basis, where I am reminded of God's truth about me, right, that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made, and created an images likeness of him, that His love endures forever. Like all these affirmations, like affirming who I am in Christ. I read them, I journal about them. I don't about the way I feel about them. And then I go into prayer. And one of the things that is really, the one descriptors that come to mind is that my strength comes from God. So if I, you know, I think about the whole analogy, and the Scripture talks about it, that, you know, if you have a vine, right, and the branch, you know, you have branches that call the vine, if one branch breaks and no longer connected the vine, the branch dries up and becomes nothing. So I think about my devotion times as my way of as me being the branch, constantly connected to the vine, and always getting drawing from source energy source from the vine at the minute, and I'll tell you, it takes real discipline to get up early in the morning. Do your devotions spend time in the word, and but the minute I fall off of that practice, I feel like a dried up branch. Literally just just dried up note no source of energy. So my source of energy comes from that quiet time, where I spend time with God, I speak to God, I take time to listen to him, I spend time reading about him, and understanding what his purpose is for me. And that's where I get my strength.

I have heard about passion projects providing renewed confidence and new skills when it comes to people’s day jobs.  How has your passion project impacted the way you show up at your day job?

Oh, yes. I'm gonna tell you from, from what my friends say, um, just imagine a girl walking around 30% body fat. And now she's 50% body fat in the best shape of her life. And she just walks with her head higher, more confident, more proud to the point where, um, I was involved with an organization called the associates program in science. And my confidence blew through the roof, that they actually appointed me CEO of this 100,000 member organization. And the way I showed up, I don't think I don't think the whole system changed. I think the way I showed up changed, I was just way more confident, way more sure of myself. And I see the same thing happening with with my clients, like, my clients that, you know, when they first come to me, they're, they're covered from top to bottom. Now they call it to work off showing up in their sports bra and shorts. And they're showing up with more confidence and the confidence after confidence after day after day after day of more confidence, lead to them showing up in the workplace, completely different. It's, it's To me, it's it's absolutely life changing. And it's so fulfilling to be able to bring this kind of change in a woman's life.

Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, these are some of the things that, you know, in our previous conversation before we started the show, you know, when I thought about health and fitness, I thought that you know, it's just about adding days to your life, you know, you you live a more healthy life, you know, you probably won't die as young as my mom at 48 to breast cancer, I didn't realize that paying attention to health and fitness had so many other kyno get out, run vacations, you know, like I didn't realize that I wasn't showing up with certain, you know, confidence in a room, the way I sit in the boardroom, the way I sit at the table, the the, the, the clarity of mind when I'm thinking my memory is something so a lot of people don't think about the fact that your brain works a lot better, you're able to retain more information when you're healthy and fit, right. Like, I'll go into board meetings, and we're talking about something and I'm like, you know, six board meetings ago, we already talked about this, this is what we decided these are the facts we had, and just the memory to be able to bring to the board meeting. And then the the logical thinking as well. The clarity of mind, you know, are all things that you know what I benefit from, from just having a healthy and fit lifestyle, you know, and I don't know if I had anticipated that going into it.

There is someone out there listening to this recording who has something they are passionate about but they are on-the-fence when it comes to starting.  What bit of guidance would you provide to them?

I'm gonna start with this particular store, because the way I can share is just their stories. Um, in my last year working in investment banking, I remember working very close to a Bloomingdale's, and I would go in, you know, doing my shopping. But I was always very particular about the way I carry myself. And a lady in Bloomingdale's says to me, oh, wow, you know, I'm always so impressed with the way you carry yourself, you know, get your friends dressed the way you do. And I'm like, sure. She goes, Oh, well, I want to host your birthday party. Right? So I'm like, strange. Why would bloomingdales want to host my birthday

I said to her, Well, sure. You got to host my birthday party. If you donate whatever you want to make, you donate a portion of it to organization I care about. So they're like done as long as their 501 c three compliant. It's done. And you know, so I said, Okay, sure. So, I went out on this journey to Pharaoh, okay, Kareem, what Bible one c three, organization you care about? Right? So I did some research. And as a woman in STEM, I chose the Association for women in science, it was the only organization that was based in DC, that advocates for men stem, so I'm like, okay, that's the organization, they did this birthday party, they made $20,000 in two hours, credit check for $2,000 and send it to ageless associates old mindsets.

the then CEO of a with shows up at my front door to figure out okay, I just got $2,000 worth, you know, in care of some girl named Corinne Richards, I want to know how this came about. So she shows up at my front door. And the next thing, you know, I became on the board. The reason I'm telling the story is one that, um, you know, dress for success, just for where you're trying to go not for where you are currently. And it matters, it really doesn't matter. To if you, you have power, if you're spending money, you have power. So use that to your advantage. And what I mean by that is, when I spend my money, I spend my money in a handful of places, I got one place to get my hair done, I go one place for clothes, I go one place to get my nails done, I go one place to shop for groceries, I go one place for everything. And what happens when you do that is that you build up relationships with each one of the places that you spend money. And when you do that, it the relationship ends up benefiting you in the long run. So the reason why Bloomingdale's hosted my birthday party was because I gave them all my skincare, clothing all my business to one place, I'm not the type of person who's gonna go aimlessly shopping in a mall I, I solidify my relationship with them, right? They turn around write a check to the associates or woman science for $2,000. Right? Now, that's power right there. And what what Bloomingdale's did was get me in the door with the Association of Women in Science and next thing, you know, I'm on their board the next you know, I'm the CEO of the organization, right? And it all stemmed from being very intentional with how I spend money, right? I know, I do an event, you know, called dare to be great, where all the places I do spend my money. Okay, they get to come to my event as sponsors, okay, so my entire network can benefit from these very companies, that that's deepening the relationship even further. Right. So, you know, I'm having an event called dare to be great. So the woman, you know, being a woman of color and staying fit is very, very hard because you have to worry about the hair, and all that kind of stuff. So you know, staying on brand, as a woman of color and being sweaty in the gym and other kids. It is very, very hard for us. So I have one here status, that was able to help me crack the code on that one, so that I could be a competitive and Then show up at my board, I could be one minute training to be a competitor and show up at a board meeting, you know, the next day. So I'm saying already, within hours, he is something where she taught me how to do that, she comes to dare to be great, and shares the secret with everyone. I'm the person who does all the entertainment for all my events, you know, she is a female DJ that plays that that is a good DJ, but she plays a fiddle to the beat of the music, you know, she comes to my event. And then next thing, you know, everyone who comes to my event has access to my entire network of women that empower me. And so what we do is that we keep the world within or give no organization. So a lot of even though I'm in health and fitness Now, a lot of this investment banking background and experience actually changed the way the way I spend money and how I use money to establish relationships, right. So I have shared a number of different things that I have done, but I think that's a one thing we didn't talk about is how to leverage your buying power. Okay, for your advantage, is one of the things that what we probably didn't discuss so far in the episode.

having a routine of eating clean, and working out, is also, you know, alluded to this a little bit earlier, is very beneficial to even performing better in the workplace. Right. And I'll give you an example. You know, I did, you know, as an investment banking, I was taking a CFA exam. And for level three, it took me six years to pass it. And I wasn't able to crack that exam until I was on a health and fitness routine. And I've seen people coming into it from it, passing their it exam by being on our program, being on a healthy and fit. So a lot of times when people think about getting in shape, they're thinking about just the aesthetics of it. But get No, they're not thinking about how they're showing up, day to day, and they're getting no intellectual abilities being developed by having a good healthy and fit lifestyle.

Lastly, are there any particular books that you have found helpful along the passion project journey?  Please share 1 to 3 of them if any come to mind.

Well, Whitney white, comes to mind, she has a program called take back your time, which was very helpful. And then I'm also in her program called Small Business accelerator. So I would say Whitney wide is, you know, she's not cheap, but is completely responsible for my success, you know, with the help of God, you know, yep. I told you a lot about my devotions. But, you know, you need that person that will push you to further growth. And she was definitely a good resource. In terms of books, books, there's a book called successful women think differently, that I have actually created a whole book club around. And a lot of the concepts with that book has helped to propel the way I do things. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It's probably the third book that I would say and then, you know, lastly, the Word of God. Just, you know, it's just filled with wisdom. And it helps me to make a lot of those small decisions on a day to day basis. Because, you know, success is just a series of A bunch of very good decisions.