Most of all, I’m someone who loves seeing people shine by helping them share their big, audacious ideas with the world.
You see, I believe that everyone has a story. I believe that each of us has some idea or vision that can help make the world a better place. We just have to have the courage to come out of hiding and step into the spotlight -because you never know whose life your story can inspire.
That’s what happened to me.
I came to Hong Kong with my husband, a 3-star Michelin trained chef, on a 2-year contract, 25 years ago - and have lived here ever since.
Life as an expat may seem exciting, but I grew up poor in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s that flood devastated area that you probably saw on an endless loop on your TV screen after Hurricane Katrina. Most of my family still live in New Orleans and I’ll always consider it ‘home’.
I excelled in school at a young age, went to the #1 high school in the state, and eventually to Paris (France, not Texas) for university. I was fluent in French by this time and when I came back home to New Orleans, I met my French husband. A few years later we moved to Hong Kong for his job.
I opened my own catering business as a side hustle and eventually that grew into an award winning restaurant that got me featured in Essence magazine, the Robb Report, CNBC’s the Winner’s program and even a tiny blurb in Time Magazine.
I opened a second restaurant right before the financial crisis in 2001 and we lost EVERYTHING. You can hear all about it in my first TEDx talk ‘Entrepreneurship: Lessons from a Schizophrenic Fish’ which can be found here
(oh, how I wish I could change that name now!!!).
Getting up and telling the world about my ‘mess’ changed my life. I no longer had to put up a façade. ‘Make your mess your message’ became my personal mantra and ‘Just keep swimming’ became the new catch phrase that I heard people using when they were going through a rough patch (you’ll get it after you hear the talk).
I had people coming up to me telling me how much my talk inspired them to keep going when they faced overwhelming obstacles. Most touching for me were the random emails I got, or meeting new people years later who tell me that thinking about my talk helped them get through dark times.
Here’s what the curator of that event had to say: