Mimi Chang has always been drawn to helping others. After graduating with honors from Brenau University, she quickly found her initial career choice in annuities less than satisfying. When a friend approached her about getting into the hotel development business, she jumped at the chance. Although watching as brand new hotels were created from the planning stages through to their grand openings brought her a sense of satisfaction, Mimi still found herself longing for a more fulfilling career.

Armed with the valuable experience she gained in the real estate development industry, Mimi Chang left to pursue a new vocation. Currently, she concentrates her efforts on several charitable endeavors, including animal rights advocacy, combating severe illnesses, and building women’s shelters. From collecting donations to organizing fundraisers, Mimi has already brought so much to this field. Though partially sidelined by the pandemic, she has continued to research and raise funds in order to continue developing her nonprofit projects as soon as possible when the world returns to its pre-COVID state.

Tell us a little about your industry and why you chose to be an entrepreneur?

I met someone who was already in the hotel industry that asked if I would be interested in developing hotels with them. It piqued my interest and the more I thought about it, the more I was excited by the challenge. I had so much faith in what we were doing that I quit where I was working at the time to throw myself into this new adventure. With the experience I gained in the hotel industry, I was able to start moving into other areas I feel strongly about, like animal rescue and even helping those with severe illnesses.

What do you love about the industry?

I love watching my projects grow from the ground up. I am there at every stage, from conception and design all the way through the opening. It is so much fun to see something you once only thought of as an idea become a reality, and even better when you see it become successful. Since I have refocused my energy toward animal rescue and other more charitable enterprises, I have found myself even more in love with watching my projects become reality.

What does your typical day consist of?

A lot of what I do has been sidelined because of the pandemic. At the moment, much of my day consists of planning my next steps and laying the foundation for what I would like to do once things become a little closer to normal. We are doing a lot of fundraising, right now. Some of the funds are going to whatever animals we can rescue presently, but the overarching goal is to find a location big enough to build a new rescue shelter and fund the building of it.

What keeps you motivated?

My dogs are rescues. I love the idea of giving a better life to animals that may have otherwise been homeless or even euthanized. I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs. I see mine as my fur babies, I love them so much, and I want to spread that feeling as much as I can.

What inspires you?

My father has always been an inspiration to me. He actually battled the disease for many years, as did my sister. Seeing their determination brought that out in my own personality and helped me to focus on the things that really matter in life. Of course, with regards to my efforts in animal rescue, my own dogs and their stories are what inspire me.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?

Unfortunately, since the pandemic has had such an effect on real estate, it’s a bit tougher lately than it has been historically to successfully get into any new development. I would recommend doing as much research as possible, no matter what you are planning to develop, whether it be a new hotel or something else. Take very special care to research the area and the overall benefits of what you are planning to build. Make sure it is worth it for you.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

As I am still in the fundraising and building portion of my latest project, achieving a work-life balance has actually been a bit easier for me recently. My mother is dealing with some health issues right now and I have been able to be there for her. While my primary focus has been with my mom lately, I’m still looking into opportunities to grow. Thankfully, I have a great group of people who are helping me out.

What traits do you possess that make you a successful leader?

My compassion has led my career. I try to reach as many people as I can with my charitable efforts. I once had an opportunity to help a young sick boy attend an awards show. There was some issue with the tickets at the last minute, but with the connections I’ve developed over my career, I was able to help him inside to watch the show. It’s moments like that, not the material wealth, that guide my choices. Of course, I want to make money as everyone does, but that isn’t what brings joy into my life. Making a difference—having a positive impact on someone else’s life—does.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My mother’s strength and her generosity have made her a role model for me. Also, my sister is an excellent role model. She has had three bouts with the disease and yet she maintains her caring nature and her positive attitude. Seeing the obstacles my family members have dealt with has taught me that anything is possible with enough love and gumption.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

My dad always told me not to put too much emphasis on earning money because it can become more important than it should be. He also said to always pay attention to those around you. You can easily find those who have the same values and the same determination as long as you take the time to listen.

What do you consider your biggest life lesson?

Remember to make yourself a priority. I love helping others and I love being in a position that allows me to do that, but I have made the mistake of forgetting to take care of myself in the past. Just be cognizant of who you have around you and make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Where do you see yourself and your company in five years?

I hope to expand as much as possible within the next several years. The goal I have set for myself is finding and opening as many charitable facilities as I can. At my organization, we want to do the most good that we can, so finding the best locations and building facilities where they are needed most is what I expect will happen.

Besides your work, what defines you as a person?

I think my compassion and empathy are what really defines me as a person. Without those fundamental attributes, I wouldn’t have ventured into the more charitable areas of development. I am also very driven and I work very hard to bring my ideas from the idea stage into the real world.