Diva Style: {World Class Woman: Female Empowerment Friday}

Friday, October 31, 2014

{World Class Woman: Female Empowerment Friday}

I preface this post by disclosing that several months ago, I had the brainchild to create a feature on Diva Style centered around female empowerment. This will highlight and celebrate women who are devoted to committing and engaging in inspirational acts and achieving greatness in and around their communities, no matter their particular passion or craft. I simply did not and do not feel that many of these power players receive enough accolades or exposure in general, and I feel a responsibility to bring their experiences, advice and wisdom to the forefront. The women featured here aspire to and succeed in touching the lives of others in a truly transcendental way, and I am extremely proud to call many of them friends. 

My first feature is my friend, Maimah Karmo, who I met through a mutual friend several years ago. She is many things, driven, a survivor, a beautiful light beam that continually influences and changes for good, the lives of other women. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I couldn't be more ecstatic to be one of the purveyors of her wisdom and many of her accomplishments!

On February 28, 2006 at 4:45PM, Maimah was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She had no family history of breast cancer, and was only 32-years old. While undergoing her second round of chemotherapy, she made a promise to God that if she survived, she would create an organization to educate, empower, advocate for and support young women affected by breast cancer. After her second treatment, Tigerlily Foundation was born.  Beginning in chemotherapy, Maimah grew Tigerlily from a concept to a national organization with more than 300 volunteers nationwide, providing breast health, wellness and transformational programs for young women in more than 43 states. 

At this point in your life, what do you feel your claim to fame is? 

I don't know if I have a claim to fame, but I do know that I am happy to be able to serve others through my breast cancer work at Tigerlily Foundation. I am thankful to be surrounded by wonderful women making a difference in the world and impacting others through their philanthropic endeavors.

When you were just starting out, who was your first mentor? 

My first mentor would be my friend Tomette. I met her at my first corporate job when I was about 21. She was in her early thirties, and recognizing that I was young and new to corporate America, she took me under her wing.  Unlike a lot of the women at the job, she was not catty, she advised me on my career, my professional image, my future and my personal aspirations.  Her support and guidance was invaluable to me at a critical time in my life. We are still friends today.

How do you suggest women find mentors, especially if they don’t naturally fall into a relationship early in their careers or early on in life? 

I suggest joining professional groups and also getting involved in philanthropy.  I firmly believe in servant leadership and, that if you give, you get much more than you would expect.  Personally, the moment I decided to pursue a life of philanthropy, my life changed. When you put out a certain energy, people and situations are attracted to you.  Through my charity work, I had the opportunity to meet women of all ages who have become mentors, friends and supporters of me and my work; and have been extremely helpful in guiding me in my business and personal life.

Upper right: Maimah pictured with her daughter, Noelle

Who are your biggest influences now? 

I have so many! I surround myself only with people and situations that help me grow, that are positive and uplifting. With this as a guiding principle, I am surrounded by people daily who influence me in various ways.  Currently, a lot of my close friends are "mom-preneurs", who, like me, are raising children while running a business. We have built a strong bond as we support each other in our pursuit of making a difference in our communities and at home. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Do you still follow it, or has it changed? 

I don't think I've received a "best" advice, but I read a lot and follow leaders  in the business, spiritual, philanthropic and other walks of life who have inspired me.

Do you consider yourself a role model for others? If so, how does that change the way you approach work/life? How do you pay it forward? How would you advise other women to mentor others?

I don't like to consider myself as a role model per se, but I do like my philosophy about living, giving and service to others. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years ago, it made me realize that life is finite and that I needed to pursue the things that made me happy. It also made me strive to grow spiritually and seek out the people and things that helped me to achieve better ways of living and being. I pay it forward by helping others and I believe other women to do the same. If you always seek to edify others, life becomes much more simple and things come to you...

When you hear that someone looks up to you, what do you say to them?

What is the one piece of advice you find useful to both give and remember in your life?  It makes me smile, because I'm still figuring things out myself.  I'm thankful to be able to be an example to others in some way.  My 4th grade teacher, Ms. Chea told me before I graduated, to "Always Persevere". Those words have always stuck in my subconscious and followed me through good times and times when life presented me with opportunities to stretch and grow.

How do you utilize social media to further your influence, if at all?
I actually avoided social media for a long time, but through my work, got pulled into it.  I "looked up" one day and found that I had upwards of 40k people following me through various social media networks, which was a pleasant surprise to me, because I use it less to further my influence and more to share the good things that others are doing and to share empowerment.  It really reinforced for me that if you work to be your best and help others to do the same, that energy grows.

How do you empower women? 

I see every woman as unique and special in her own way. Each has a special light and I always look to see how I can support her aspirations, and grow to her highest potential.  At the end of the day, we all want two things: to be happy and to be recognized for who we truly are. When you truly "see" people, it is amazing how that can empower them. 

If you would like to donate to Tigerlily Foundation, or have additional inquiries, please email info@tigerlilyfoundation.org


Until we meet again,

Live Glamourously.

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