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  • Writer's pictureMatt & Dani

7-Year Update

Most of you already know our story from this blog, from Instagram, and from other media sources, but for those of you who are new here, here's a quick update and recap of our journey over the past 7 years. On August 21, 2015, Matt and I left New Zealand for our honeymoon in the US. On August 24, 2015, Matt was admitted to the hospital (we thought he had the flu). On August 26, 2015, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. On August 28, 2015, he collapsed in my arms, his vitals plummeted, and we were rushed to ICU. On September 11, 2015, we arrived by life flight to UCSD — a major cancer center in San Diego. On November 11, 2015, Matt received a life-saving bone marrow transplant. For the next year, we lived in hospitals, outpatient housing, and isolation continuing to fight for his life. We lost everything we had ever known along the way — our house, our cars, our jobs, our savings, and all our belongings except the 3 weeks’ worth of clothes we packed for our honeymoon. It was a long road back to normalcy, and we had to re-build everything from scratch — 7,000 miles away from our home in New Zealand. I was a corporate attorney back in New Zealand at one of the largest companies in the country. I should have been able to get a job with ease, but instead, no one would hire me. I applied for various jobs as a corporate attorney or in-house counsel, and I couldn't even get the courtesy of a response to 99% of my applications. I don’t know if it was my international experience (during an interview, an attorney asked me if we had “long contracts” in New Zealand, or if they were just simple, two page agreements ) or the fact that our story made international headlines and no one wanted to take the risk of hiring me. In any event, it was a long journey to rebuilding my career. It took me from being a corporate professional with a clear career path to the top -- to becoming an unsuspecting entrepreneur who was suddenly unemployable and found myself having to build a new brand from scratch. Everyone told me that going public with our journey would hurt our careers. And they were right. But I was determined to prove them wrong. It may have closed off my opportunity to land that corporate job, but it gave me the best give ever: taking my personal story and using it to build my brand. When people google me, they see my story. And my story gives me credibility. It makes me relatable. It makes me human. And after all, people want to work with HUMANS, not resumes. (Contrary to corporate America's beliefs." So I doubled-down on living my life publicly. I created an Instagram account where I've shared everything about our journey -- from the realities of being a full-time caregiver to my husband, to rebuilding a life from the rubbles that were left of ours, to starting my own company when my son was 6 months old, to the daily struggles and joys of being a full-time business owner and mom to a (now) 3-year-old!

After losing everything in 2015 (not even having a bed to sleep on), and with no one willing to hire me, I can now say that I’ve officially rebuilt my career. And I've been very public about it. I've done interviews with publications across the world from Reader's Digest (as syndicated to other news sources) to the Daily Mail, to local news sources, to podcast interviews (like this one about "Playing the Hand You're Dealt") and I've even been open about my journey on the business platform LinkedIn, where I recently posted an honest and vulnerable post about my journey that had more than 1 million views and 10,000+ engagements. I now own a successful law practice catering to rapid-growth tech companies -- and most recently I've launched a membership program for entrepreneurs, founders, and business professionals who want access to experienced legal counsel without the hourly fees or enormous monthly invoices! Through Legal-Up, I also provide legal resources (contract templates, etc.) and education content to help entrepreneurs and business leaders level-up their legal skills. After losing everything 7 years ago, and starting from scratch again 6 years ago when we were finally released from isolation, we've managed to recreate a beautiful life again through hard work, determination, and a belief that whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right (as further discussed in this article for Authority Magazine). We defied all odds over and over again. As Matt always said, "Odds are for other people. I'm 1 of 1" (as I discuss this this Podcast about "Learning to Let Others Help"). When I first started my law practice in 2020, my lofty goal was to hopefully make $100k/year for the first year or two. In less than two years, I’ve now surpassed $1 million! To some that may seem like a lot, to others it’s a little, but to me, it’s a HUGE milestone! I did it all on my own, with no handouts and all odds stacked against me. And the best part is that I have a wonderful, healthy, cancer-free husband, an amazing son (after being told we’d never have kids), and a beautiful life again. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it was 100% worth it. To all of you who have supported us along the way, THANK YOU. Thank you so, so much. And for those of you looking for guidance in your entrepreneurial journey, check out Legal-Up and follow me on LinkedIn. For those who need real life inspiration (and comedic relief) from a mom, entrepreneur and dream chaser, follow me on Instagram.


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