"I want this magazine to inform, educate and inspire. By showing these acts of kindness, selflessness, sacrifice, love and generosity, I hope that people will gain a profound sense of hope that our world can be better place if we all do our part within our sphere of influence."
Mimi Greenlee was a single mother who knew she was born to do something amazing. After many trials and tribulations, she founded an online magazine called 'GiversGain Magazine'. The magazine features different companies, non-profits and individuals whose goals are to make the world a better place. Well guess what, Mimi? YOU are making the world a better place!
Every Ella: Hi Mimi! Tell us about yourself.
Mimi Greenlee: I was born and raised in Philadelphia. My career began right after high school when I joined the Air Force and proudly served for 4 years, while studying Business at Temple University. Early on, I worked as a junior broker with a venture capital firm that specialized in corporate and municipal finance. I moved on to corporate finance. Then, at the age of 30, I became a mother and the trajectory of my life completely changed. Having my son, Khan, propelled my life forward in such an amazing way. For the first 11 years of my son’s life, I was a single mother and during those years, it was important for me to provide the best life for him and to show him that his mother was fiercely independent and fearless. So, I chased all of my dreams. I wrote a book; which went on to become a bestseller, and I did the book tour thing for a while before settling into my career working with non-profits and consulting. Currently, it feels like I live on the road, traveling frequently to New York, Virginia, and DC for my marketing/consulting business. My home base has always been PA and I recently relocated to Northern VA, right outside of DC; which I love.
You are the founder and editorial director of an e-zine called “GiversGain Magazine.” Can you tell us what GiversGain is all about?
GiversGain is a monthly digital publication that features individuals, non-profits, and social enterprises who give their time, talent and resources to make our world a better place. By showing exemplary acts of giving, from all walks of life, it is my hope that GiversGain Magazine will inspire others to join in...get involved...actively participate...shop consciously/ethically, and to ultimately use their lives to give back for the greater good. Every month, with each new issue, I am constantly amazed and inspired by the grassroots philanthropy that is taking place. The people that lead these organizations are unsung heros. It is my honor to shine a spotlight on them and spread awareness about the great work they are doing to positively impact our world. Proceeds from magazine sales are donated to select partner organizations that are featured, and I also facilitate fundraising initiatives on their behalf.
How did you come up with the idea?
My work as the Director of Community Outreach for a non-profit definitely had a huge impact on me starting this magazine and choosing to tell these types of stories. In my day-to-day work, I was seeing “giving in action” first-hand, every day.
GiversGain actually went through a few incarnations before it became a magazine. I had written a few novels in the past and my original thought was that GiversGain would be a really cool business guide to giving through corporate social responsibility and social enterprise. However, when I started diving in, I soon realized that a book had too many constraints. I thought this concept would be more successful in engaging people within a digital realm. I also wanted to be able to share links and images; which I wouldn’t have been able to do in a traditional book format. The first draft of the book was actually over 400 pages long (which was ridiculous) because I didn’t want to leave any organizations out. But after further consideration, I realized that with a magazine, I would not be limited. I could feature new organizations every month. And it was important to me that the work be visually stunning; which magazines lend itself to.
What do you hope to achieve with your online magazine?
On a very basic and organic level, I want this magazine to inform, educate and inspire. By showing these acts of kindness, selflessness, sacrifice, love and generosity, I hope that people will gain a profound sense of hope that our world can be better place if we all do our part within our sphere of influence. I want to tell stories that make people stop to consider how these organizations are rebuilding lives, strengthening communities and actually changing the world.
How do you choose which organizations to work with?
I select innovative, awe-inspiring, game-changing non-profits, social enterprises and individuals that improve social issues, positively impact communities, enhance people's chances to thrive, and are stewards of the environment. When I come across an organization, that I feel would be a perfect fit, I always just know...I am the type of person who always follows her gut instincts.
Can you give us some examples of what organizations you have worked with?
GiversGain has featured a wide variety of amazing organizations, such as Smile Squared, THX Co., Farm to Kids, ShoeHeals, Generation Hope, Vessel Bags, The Created Co., Half United, CauseBox, Toms, BOGO Bowl, Warby Parker, Kind Snacks, This Bar Saves Lives, Dot for Schools, Charity Gaming, lemlem, Bridgewater Candles.... The list goes on and on... And, many more to come!
Has there been any particular organization that you really hold dear to your heart?
That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Every month I fall in love with each and every one of them. The people leading these businesses have been very kind, gracious, supportive, and generous. It has been a very humbling experience for me to be associated with and closely connected to so many authentic, beautiful, giving people.
What are your goals and ambitions for the future- both for your magazine and for yourself?
I truly feel that this magazine is just the beginning.The tip of the iceberg. I see it as a springboard which will enable me to create an even bigger platform. In my future, I see speaking tours, conferences, and TedX events; which are already in the works. Personally, I would like to challenge myself to identify ways to expand my giving capacity, by using this magazine as a conduit to financially support other organizations.
What has been the biggest challenge thus far with running your own magazine?
There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I endeavor to do. A big challenge has been finding balance between being a wife and mother and running this magazine single-handedly. Most people have a 9 to 5. I have a ‘when I open my eyes to when I close my eyes’- while trying to squeeze time in for myself in the margins. But it’s all about time-management, prioritizing, and maximizing efforts right? So, I just breath, relax, and I take small bites every day.
Name one woman who inspires you.
I am definitely inspired by Michelle Obama. She is my spirit animal. She is intelligent, poised, driven, diplomatic, stylish, refined yet down-to-earth, a wife, mother, leader and a dynamic woman who champions so many worthwhile causes.
What advice do you have for girls today?
Wow! It’s tough to be a girl! Girls face so many challenges, and trust me, I’ve been through what they are going through. But, it’s also great to be a girl because girls possess indelible power and strength--and empowered girls uplift families and communities.
The mother in me would advise girls to focus on their studies and I would tell them that boys can wait! But more importantly, I would want them to know that they can aspire to be whatever they want to be in life. I would encourage them be proud of who they are, just the way they are, and to pursue their dreams to the fullest. To truly lean in, let their voices be heard, and change the world.
If you could meet one female celebrity, who would it be and why?
Oprah! She would definitely be able to pick up what I am putting down!