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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

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

you can find us at MLCCancerFouncation.Org

And I'm also excited to say that Invitae, which is a company that actually does genetic testing, and you can find them at,  actually have my story and my mom's story on their website. So if you go to or you just go to the patient stores part of the website, you can check this out there and also check out a couple of pictures of my mom and I. And last but not least, we're found on Facebook and Instagram: MLC Cancer Foundation. So check us out. Learn more about us. And we'd love to hear from you in one way or another.

What do you do for Full-time work?

Well that I am and have the pleasure of serving as the vice president of sales, for Kimpton, hotels and restaurants actually the first boutique hotel company that there were so I am so excited to work for a company such as Kimpton where we're based out of San Francisco, but I actually have the pleasure of living in Washington, DC.

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

my passion project came about about 10 years ago, and the name of the organization which is a nonprofit, it's MLC Cancer Foundation. And MLC is after my grandmother's name, Myrtle Lee Carter. So again, it's in LC Cancer Foundation. And what we do is we really focus on three different areas. We provide direct and indirect financial assistance to those who have been diagnosed with cancer and experiencing their cancer journey. We also provide education regarding genetic testing. And we also there just as a support system, oftentimes when people receive a diagnosis of cancer, they think of death. And we really turn that around where we take the word cancer and really focus on the words I should say, on the letters. A in which is the word can.

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

Oh, wow. Well, that is a very long story, Mike, but I will try to make it as as as short as possible. It is very unfortunate to say that cancer has been in my family for a long time, even longer than we actually thought a couple years ago, it goes back to what I can remember my grandfather, who was diagnosed with cancer and lost his journey, and I was approximately eight years old at that time. But I really wasn't aware. When that happened in my life, I just knew that he was no longer there. So when I move it forward, and I look back at in the 1990s, my grandmother was my mom's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. But what's interesting about experience before she was diagnosed her doctors are, we see a little something, but we don't think it's anything. And a year and a half later, my grandmother lost her. Her battle with this as relates to on earth with because of cancer. And that was the beginning of a different phase in my life. Because I was older. My grandmother was everything to me, she helped to raise me. And that really struck a chord in me, and changed my life. But still, at that point, I didn't realize what was really happening, or how disempowered I was at that moment. And as I move that forward, so that was in the 1990s. My mom was actually had a little bit of a similar situation, about 11 years ago. And that was, she actually found a lot herself just from doing her own self breast exam. And she knew something wasn't right. So she made an appointment to go to the doctor, and she ended up having to go to the doctor three times before they confirmed that it was cancer three times that she had to initiate a doctor's appointment to get the diagnosis of cancer. So think about this, I think about tell you the story about my grandmother, who was told that there's nothing to worry about. Then you move forward, yours. And then my mother has a very similar situation. But she took matters in her own hands, fortunately, but still, meaning when I say fortunately, they found it and it was diagnosed, but if it wasn't for her persistence, we're not sure what that story would have looked like. So when She was diagnosed with cancer, there were so many emotions and things that I went through. But I will also share with you, when my mom was diagnosed, we went through this process called genetic testing, which is one of our pillars of our company, or I should say, of our nonprofit. And genetic testing is basically this educational arm, this extra knowledge that you can be aware of so that you will know, what are your chances of getting cancer, what is the likelihood of this genetic mutation being carried in your family. And so after my mom was diagnosed with cancer, we as a family did genetic testing. And what happened after that, although my mom was going through her cancer journey at that time, which was about a year and a half, a couple months after my mom was diagnosed, we actually found out that we carry the gene. When I say we, it's myself, my aunt, meaning her sister and some others. We shortly found out after that, that my aunt was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer.

So as you can only imagine all of these cancer journey so not only was my mom diagnosed, we had no idea that my aunt at that time, but my mom's diagnosis, was going through her journey. But six months later, while my aunt was actually having surgery for preventative purposes, found out she has stage three ovarian cancer. Now, my aunt, unfortunately lost her battle, she was that she actually was diagnosed with cancer through two more times after this first diagnosis. But what I do know is that my mom extended my aunt's life. I know that for a fact, had we not have known, especially the aggressiveness of her cancer and being ovarian cancer, we know that it would not we would not have been gifted the amount of time that we had with her that we were. So when you asked me what is it that that that makes my heart beat? Or what is it that makes me so passionate about this, this cancer and my Personally, my family journey, and it is because I feel that I have gone from disempowered to empowered by educating myself and our family educating itself, in addition to the journey that we've been, we've been guided through to go on.

Well, that is this story within itself, Mike. So my mom, we were at so by, when I was told that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she actually traveled to Washington, DC, which is, which is where I reside. And it was actually on my aunt mine and my husband's wedding anniversary that they decided to come up to join us. And she shared with me that the that she was diagnosed with cancer. And so I said to her, there's no appointment, there's nothing that's a part of this journey, that that will not be a part of. And she made a pact to do that. So I head down to Virginia for her first appointment where they actually gave us the truth stage of the cancer diagnosis. So we're, we're anxiously awaiting sitting in the, in the room with the doctor. And she proceeded to begin the conversation of telling us what the stage was. But before they told us the stage, my mom looked at me and said to Lisa, I asked two things of you. One is to have a grandchild, which that was not possible and wasn't going to happen. But the second one was, I want to help other people. I want to start a nonprofit to where I help other people through their journey. I don't know what my journey These are my mom's words at this point. I don't know what my journey has for me. But if I can just give one person a smile, a gleam of hope. And just a reminder of what life is. I would be beyond excited. So with tears rolling down my face, yet a smile being able to be showcased at that moment. All that I could say was okay, when do we start? So it was from that moment admit that I said to myself, that there's nothing, absolutely nothing that's going to come between what my mom just shared with me and her dream and her hope of making this come reality. And so each and every day, I will, I will say that almost every day that I get blessed with that memory somehow goes through my mind of keeping me energized about why we're doing this. So it was my mom's wish, before she found out that she was actually stage to be as it relates to her diagnosis that she requested that of me. And I immediately said, we got I got you. Let's start this rodeo. And we will get this done. So that's how

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

Well, I'll tell you what, you know, I will just say, nothing really hesitated me to be completely honest with you, because it was my mom's, it was my mom's hope and her dream. However, if you were to ask me, if there were something that set in my head that I really, really thought about, it was in cancer, there's so many, you know, there's either continuation of life or either there's death break. And so the thing that said, in my head of, you know, am I ready to deal with all of the outcomes that are ahead for people that we're working with. Because when you're working with these individuals, and you and you build these relationships, and you get to know them, you know, they become your family member, they become a part of your life, and then when something happens to them, and unfortunately, death is the end result because of the cancer. That's tough. That's tough. And so if there's anything that said in the back of my head to where I'm like, Oh, am I you know, what we have ahead of me. That was that that was what set in my head. But what got me over the hump was, see, well, the the passion that my mom had with her cancer journey. And, you know, she took this thing like a champ, like he said, nothing that you can tell me doctor, or can say to me, that's gonna take my spirit of my joy away. And I'm getting through this. at me over that hump was my mom's story. You know, how she told her story? And her eagerness of just choosing life and saying, Yes, and that's what got me over the hump. Was my mom.

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?

Well, I actually, I will tell you, that's that's something that I dealt with for four minutes. So the day that my mom shared, I was in the midst of or just starting a new job, actually, with Kimpton. And I said, I have no idea how I'm going to do this. I've been in corporate America, for all of my professional career. And I just, I just don't know how I'm going to do this. And I'm a type A personality. So unfortunately, perfectionism is is like, you know, something that I needed to change at that moment in order to balance my life a little bit more, especially with adding this to it. And so, what I had to do was to become very clear with what my life priorities are. And when there's a when, when something like this happens to your your family member, it, it really forces you to Reaper dereyes everything. And at this moment of kind of going through this process and setting this up. I remember my boss saying to me, not that she knew about the nonprofit at that time, but she knew about my mom's journey. She says, you know, what do you want to take? FMLA? And I said, No, I don't want to do that because I personally felt like well I don't want to not to succeed at work and not to succeed will help them my mom. And the other challenge with this is that I live in DC. And my mom lives in Martinsville, Virginia. So we're four and a half hours. At a minimum from a driving perspective. I also share with my mom that there was, as I mentioned earlier, there was no doctor's appointment there, this journey that I wouldn't be a part of. So whatever sacrifices I needed to make, I was going to make and that was not even that was not to be questioned. And so what I really had to do was become very specific of what my priorities are. And in all honesty, I worked with a at that time I worked with a coach to be able to help me to really to parameterize and to be able to say no, I had to say no to a lot of things that I wasn't accustomed to saying no, when at that point in my career, I just explained that my roles and responsibilities in the hospitality space from I went from one property with my previous company, to over 10 in this new in this new position. So imagine all the complexity of handling and also showing up the way that I wanted to show up. So with my life coach, and with following up with those steps that I needed to do to really stay focused. If it wasn't for that. I don't know how I would have been able to do it.

So there was a lady who actually started Tiger Lily, and which is a nonprofit for, for women who've been diagnosed with cancer, actually young women. And what I was able, what I learned from her was how she balanced these two things like her nine to five, and then also her passion project. And so I was introduced to her, we get together for lunch a couple times, and I was just kind of messaged her, she'd give me ideas and things that I needed to do. Because at this point, I had no idea how to start a nonprofit. I've never done that before. So it was her help. It was also my my life coach, and my execution of the things that I needed to do, also topped with the skill of saying no, at that moment, and at the time of my life, that got us across the finish line of getting this set up. But in addition to that, being able to manage and multi task through this through this journey, right, because at any given time, during a work day, you would work during your normal times, but the same time, you would get people to call about the nonprofit, and you just had to work very hard and clear with your purpose and intertwining them and balance as best as possible. So it was a test. But it was a test that I passed. I'm excited to be on the other side of this and 10 years later, here we are.

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?

Yeah. You know, with my with my mom's diagnosis, there are so many things that that I learned. So I was sharing with you earlier about this, I consider this this journey. And I title it disempowered to empowered, because there's so many things that I did not know, in my younger years. And then there's been these series of life journeys, and then these people that have surrounded themselves around us and with us that have empowered me to make better decisions. There are so many things that we have access to today that we didn't have 11 years ago, specifically for an example of genetic testing, it's different than what it was back then. Today, it is less expensive. And it's also easier to get your hands on in order to get genetic testing. But to your point, one of the things that that I really worked on at that point, because my my mom's nutritionist is and many other doctors said that this journey requires you to change some of those things that you have been doing in life. So at that time, I actually started working out and committed to working out and before I started working out, I'm like, Okay, yeah, they say that this thing helps and gives you energy, I have to tell you, I didn't I didn't believe that at that point. I was like, but let me try it out. And in addition to that, I also worked really hard on changing what I was eating. And at that time, I made small changes. But but enough changes where I could tell that there's a difference in my energy. And then I also started to sleep seven, eight hours a night. And I know all these things are things that you know, people will say, Well, my mother told me this a long time ago that it's important and I'm going to share with you at this point of my life. When I made these additional changes in my life and my schedule, I blossomed into this person to where I one was able to make time to get things done, too. If it was six or seven or eight o'clock at night that we were talking to a person within the MLC Cancer Foundation helping out a cancer patient. I was revved up and ready to go. And those changes, I was able to see how my body turned and and and i when i say turn meaning the energy level. Just you see the increase. You see my husband even said to me at home Boy, he's like, I don't even understand how you are doing this with the smile, and you're acting like nothing's wrong, I didn't have bags under my eyes, and the list goes on. So those changes truly made a difference in my energy level. It, it changed drastically, it changed drastically. And then in addition to that, when I fell off the bandwagon there for a second, it let's just say a year or two, after we got the organization up and running, I saw a difference. And so I knew that I had to get back on the trajectory that I was on originally when we first started in order to continue this through. And even So today, Mike, I work very hard to get seven, eight hours of sleep, I'm a vegetarian, I work out six days a week, I take my vitamins, and I drink 100 ounces of water. And those are the gifts that I have to give myself every day, in order for me to balance out everything that I'm doing. So I that was probably more than what she wanted. But that energy level, let me just tell you, it just it changed. It went from level one to like level seven or eight with those small changes about 10 years ago.

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?

Yeah. Well, so as I mentioned to you, I've been in corporate America since I graduated from University of Virginia, for undergrad, and all that I knew all that I will at that point, all that I knew was corporate America. And that is basically a plus b equals C, right? That's kind of how corporate america works. And so when I had to when I started with Kimpton, what I loved so much about Kimpton was that it was not about a lot of so Pease and manuals and specific ways that you have to do taking care of a guest. And whatever discipline you were in at the at that time, I, as I mentioned to you, I oversaw over 10 hotels from a sales perspective. And what, what what happened at that at that moment was when I when I stepped into Kimpton, and I saw how they worked, I said, Oh, my goodness, this is the best thing between corporate america and entrepreneurship. Because I could raise my hand when I had an idea, I could execute that idea. And at that time, the CEO would listen to me. And that was so amazing to me. So that was, as I as I said earlier, around about the time that my mom was diagnosed, I had just stepped into this new family, this Kimpton, hotels and restaurants, family. So when this was presented to me by my mom of her dream, and her hope, I was able to take this door, it's slightly open in my Kimpton experience of being open, let your creativity just flow. And so when my mom shared this with me, I'm like, you know what, I've been doing this for a couple of months and up for this challenge. And what it allowed me to do I think Kimpton opened that door for me. And once this came about my creativity just went left, right upside down inside, I had to create a website, I had to come up with the name, I had to figure out the logo, I had to all of these things I had to figure out, and I did it within less than 60 days. Now, for those of you all who have, and for those of you all who have not, trust me when I say that is a lot of work on one person, but I had so much fun doing it, I made it my priority, I made it my commitment to myself and to my mother to get it done by certain timeframe so that Kimpton hotels and restaurants opened up the door for me, it gave me that, that that that initial door opening of what I can do, and I took that and I made my mom's Dream Come reality,

full circle, full circle, it's in not only just that, it it, it was almost like you know, if you look at if you look at it, I guess it kind of has a little bit of a like a a, I'm going to say a rectangular kind of approach, right. And maybe you can look at it from a circular approach as well. But I look at like my home life, I look at my work life, I look at MLC Cancer Foundation. And then I also shortly after that started working with another foundation called Cinderella Foundation, where I'm actually the chairman of the board. And what I saw was this, this thing that kept flowing and moving. And I felt like I became the CEO of an operation that I didn't even know that existed to be completely honest with you. And then that CEO role, I had all of these skills, I had this creativity, I had this I had this, this this digital marketing kind of thing that I didn't even know that existed. I had this palette of like choosing all the right things at the right time. And things were just happening. And in addition to that I got promoted on my job. So to your point into your question, it just kept flowing. And the best way that I can describe it, it's like it started off like the four angles of a triangle of a triangle, I mean a bit of a square rectangle, I should say. And then I think it morphed into something similar to like a circle that it just continued to flow and it never stopped to have to say,

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?

Well, you know, I will first and foremost say that everyone has a message to tell. And it is so important, and we are human beings. I think that this COVID environment has taught us what we as human beings, we value, we value connection, we value relationships. And I know for my for myself, learn the best and the most when it comes to sitting down and chatting and understanding and hearing someone else's journey. And if you've got a message to tell, tell your message. Because that can save lives. I think about I think about my mom, and I think about what if she would not have right out of the things that I've shared with you all today? What if she would not have and I think about my life, and I think about my journey, I am I am 49 years old. And at the age of 49, in my family, between 49 and maybe a little bit past my age, so many of my family members lost their journey, lost their life with cancer. So if it wasn't for my mom telling her message, and some people say that there's mess in the message, and I'm going to say you know what, there's mess in every message. However, there is an end of the rainbow that comes out and have my mom not have told me what that message was. And given me that opportunity. I personally don't know if I would be here today, I really do not. I've changed so many things about my life that had I not have changed. And had, I've still been that disempowered state, I have no idea where I would be. And so even though there may be message in the message, know that there's something to be received. And, and and even if you don't know who has actually received it, trust me when I say that there are people out there listening, and little girls and little boys and young men and young women that are just sitting at the edge of their seats, listening and making changes. And although the change may not come to you today or tomorrow, trust me when I say changes are being made. So going from disempowered to empower which is my story is the best gift that you can give to anyone. So tell your story. Tell your message. And let it be heard loud and clear.

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.

there there are a lot of books and things that I've read or listened to etc. But I will tell you, there's this there's, there's this lady Her name is Mel Robbins. And they're they're like three people in my life that I'm like, Oh my goodness, if I ever get a chance to meet them. You just have no idea. One of them is Mel Robbins. The other one is Michelle Obama and the other one is Oprah Winfrey. And Mel Robbins is someone that and you can get more information about her on Mel Robbins comm she has her website. She also had a talk show and she's also a public speaker. She's written a lot of books one that's called the five second rule and no, it's not the five second rule that your grandmother probably I told you about if you drop some food on the floor, it's not that one, it's totally different. And if you haven't read it, it is a must read. There's also another book that's called take control of your life. And then also on her website, Mel Robbins calm, she has a host of online workbooks that are free. But what Mel Robbins has, why I'm so intrigued and I'm so passionate about her is that she is authentic with her story. At the age of 40. She was literally about to lose everything. She was about to get divorced, she was losing her house, she was about to file bankruptcy and the story goes on and on and on. And by the age of 50, this woman isn't is a millionaire. Now, what she shared with us through the tools that I just mentioned to you are the processes and things that she put into place to make her life different. So if you haven't read the five second rule, go get it. It's guaranteed to make you think differently about how you are approaching life. She and her books helped me over the last 10 years to get through a lot of things that I was dealing with, to kind of manage through and to be where I am today with MLC Cancer Foundation. So check it out. Those are must reads and must do specifically the complimentary online workbooks, they're free. Go do it.