MF 140 : Cherie Aimée on Success, Survival and Starting Over
Cherie Aimée is a speaker, author and VIP Partner at Influence. Today, Cherie will share her amazing story of survival, success, and starting over and why sharing your story is the foundation for moving forward.
Successes at a glance:
Cherie started her entrepreneurial journey after college, working as a programmer in the tech startup field. Cherie describes herself as an artist who stumbled into and fell in love with coding. Cherie quickly made a name for herself and was sought after by many tech startups, eventually starting a digital tech firm. Cherie was at the top of her game: she had big clients, a staff of 20 employees and was living her dream of being her own CEO. Entrepreneurship is in Cherie’s family and her blood. It also stems from a deep passion that she has for building, creating. As she shares she “cannot-not be an entrepreneur!”
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
Shortly after she launched her tech firm and two months after her wedding, Cherie was diagnosed with cancer. This was a huge devastation for her and her family. This started a different kind of journey – a 7 year one to save her life. Cherie was cancer free after 6 months of her treatment but went into cardiac arrest 2 months later. Cherie shares that the doctors had a lot of trouble resuscitating her and they were ready to call her time of death. However, one doctor continued ordering CPR which extended well into an hour and a half. Cherie was then admitted to one of the top cardiothoracic hospitals in the world and the doctors were able to save her life. It was a miracle and a struggle to keep Cherie alive as the best doctors worked around the clock, using the latest technology. Cherie ended up with a bionic heart for 5 years and eventually received a transplant.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
The transplant is when Cherie finally entered a state of health and recovery. For Cherie, this was both a 7-year physical, emotional and mental battle to stay alive. For a long time, Cherie felt helpless and alone. As she started on the long road to recovery, Cherie asked herself “how am I going to rebuild my life?” and “who am I?” By then, Cherie had lost her digital tech firm and going back to the tech startup grind was no longer an option. Up until then, Cherie identified herself with her work and success as a tech entrepreneur and now that was gone. Moreover, Cherie had people who relied on her, including clients and a fulltime staff. All of this was now gone too. Cherie was both grateful and angry; grateful to be alive with a new heart but angry that she couldn’t answer the “who am I” question any longer via her vocation. Then, one day, the realization hit her. Cherie survived and she now had a choice: she could spend the rest of her life with this new heart in misery or she could utilize all the lessons of success and survival, and create something completely new. Cherie chose the later and today, she is a personal branding expert, sharing her story with others and inspiring them to move forward.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Cherie to move forward:
Oprah Winfrey: as an example of someone who transformed her life, out of adversity.
Kris Carr: a cancer thriver who has created a whole wellness movement.
Tip for sharing your story:
Cherie knows it isn’t easy to share your story, the good and the bad, so she recommends this: know why. Why are you sharing your story? The why has to be strong enough for you to “hold your ground.” If your why is simply to create a brand and make money, that isn’t going to be a strong enough to carry you thru the tough times. Cherie doesn’t share her story for the sake of it. There’s a big why behind it that connects to the time she was in the hospital. One story she shares is of meeting a young girl who was also waiting for a transplant. Cherie later found out that she didn’t survive. Cherie shares her story to honor all of the patients she has met in her life, some that have lost limbs and others, their lives. This is her big why for sharing her story and always moving forward.
What keeps Cherie moving forward:
Cherie sets aside time in the morning for creative space – this includes meditation and writing.
Cherie loves writing with pen and paper but after her transplant, she lost the ability to move her fingers so she typed out an entire book using one finger on her phone!
Cherie is also a fan of essential oils and avoids coffee and caffeine.
Daily yoga – this can be as simple as using a chair at the side of her bed.
How Cherie recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Being near a body of water.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Cherie would choose to go back to when she was working as a programmer for an advertising firm. Her advice to her past self is “nothing is worth compromising your health.” At the time, Cherie worked long hours in digital marketing in advertising. The stress she was under was unhealthy and there’s a point where you have to stand your ground and say no to things. It’s scary but after losing 7-years, Cherie values her health above all else.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Just be authentically you.”