In 2010, a mom entrepreneur by the name of Heather Lopez in Florida took a chance on me and awarded me a grant to start my former business, The Mom-e Club.

I’ll never forget the emotion I felt when I received the email and Facebook notification I had won and how a complete stranger believed in me and my business idea enough to see it through.

Talk about the Best. Day. Ever. I cried. I smiled and oh yes, I happy danced.

Her kindness and generosity is what inspired me to pass the torch and continue the tradition of paying it forward with a business grant to another individual with a brilliant business idea.

In the years following, I continued providing a grant to women in business each year, then in 2018, decided to broaden my reach as I was now focused on supporting startups, and made it a national grant providing initial funding to launch a startup business off the ground, countless resources, mentoring and a seat to my Startup Entrepreneur Academy.

Numerous applications flooded my inbox from all over North America and then I knew. I was making change happen for one individual to live out their destiny, and that made me smile even more!

I’ll always remember Derrick out of North Carolina. I encouraged all grant applicants to schedule a complimentary call with me so I could get to know them. Did they all? Nope, and that ultimately weeded out a whole pile of applicants for not taking the first and simplest step.

I was buried in work the day Derrick scheduled his call with me. So much that I completely forgot he was on my calendar and never called him. I wouldn’t have even realized it if Derrick hadn’t done the next best thing – he contacted me. He told me he was really looking forward to learning from and speaking with me and asked if we could reschedule.

How could I say no to that? Someone who actually follows through when I botched the situation?

He and I jumped on a 30-minute call and in our short time together, I learned he lived in Asheboro, North Carolina, and had quit his day job being a forklift driver to pursue his calling – to open up a coffee shop for the community.

Impressed, I asked him how a forklift driver prepares for opening a coffee shop. His reply? “I took my 401K savings and flew out to Seattle to attend barista school,” and he immediately emailed me a photo of him taken in his kitchen holding up his certificate with pride.

As you guessed, Derrick Wadleigh received my Startup Business Grant in 2018 for his community coffee shop, The American Bean, LLC, because he makes up the very traits an entrepreneur possesses: he invested in himself, followed through, researched resources, did not quit even when he wanted to, and believed he could do it, even telling his former boss he was leaving to follow his calling. Sign of a true entrepreneur right there!

Derrick Wadleigh, American Bean, Startup Business Grant
Fast-forward to today. Derrick and I talk every once in a while about how he and his business are doing. I’ve watched him go through the struggles, of course, as his initial plan was to open a brick and mortar. Instead, he resorted to a coffee shop on wheels due to funding, which in hindsight has worked out so much better for him in being a mobile business during COVID-19. His latest response, “Tisha, I’ve seen tremendous growth in my business the last two years.”

And that made me smile yet again knowing that I had a hand in his success story.

Paying it forward is not a choice we “have” to make.

Our purpose on this planet is to serve others.

We have this incredible opportunity, gift and ability to help the next guy or gal along with our time, talents, skills, resources, and yes, even our finances.

On September 15, 2020 (my birthday which also falls on estimated tax day), I’m continuing on with my tradition and awarding another startup with the same opportunity as Derrick and I cannot wait. Learn more about and apply for the Startup Business Grant here.

When we stop making it all about us and start making it about others, can you imagine what the world will like then?


Rule of Life Lesson #105:  

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