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Married to the Mission of Women’s Empowerment: Lisa Nicole Cloud

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It wasn’t her looks that did it.

It wasn’t her brains that did it.

It wasn’t personality that did it.

What it took was faith and focus.

When Lisa Nicole Cloud walked away from a high-paying job as a pharmaceutical sales rep to move into a completely different career direction, she would have no corporate safety net. She would have no base salary or perks. In fact, her new move into direct marketing provided no initial security at all.

That was 10 years ago and now millions of dollars later, and she hasn’t looked back since. The “Married to Medicine” star actually looks forward to giving back in a meaningful way now. Through ventures like her Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN), she motivates women to find a profession or opportunity that both suits and supports them.

Journey to Success

Originally from Maryland but raised in Georgia since the 6th grade, she grew up in a single-family home without her father. She may have spoken with her father on the phone two-three times per year. She says, “We had no natural bond.”

While attending a workshop called Inward Journey, she, for the first time, dealt with the pain of paternal rejection and the subconscious damage it caused in her life. During the workshop, she had to go back and relive the pain. It was called “carpet work.” She says, “Once I was able to forgive him for not being there in my life and release all the pain, it set me free. That workshop helped me decide that I didn’t want to be in corporate America anymore. I went from pharmaceutical sales to direct sales…I no longer tried to find a man to fill that void that I didn’t have from my father.”

As her career in direct sales blossomed, Lisa still hadn’t found a promising relationship. “My grandfather was the one man in my life that I had a strong, loving relationship with.”

Lisa would have to find support and in some other regard, which she first began to discover while in college. During her freshman year at Emory University, Lisa received a grant, scholarships, and help from her mother to cover the $30,000 per year tuition.

At the onset of her sophomore year, her mother explained that she wouldn’t be able to help pay her tuition anymore. Her mother suggested that Lisa attend a less expensive college. “You don’t have to graduate from Emory,” she said.

Determined to complete her studies at Emory, Lisa got a full-time job to pay for school herself. “I had to be so disciplined. I stayed very focused and very persistent.”

She graduated three years later as a psychology and pre-med major, discovering, “There is nothing I was afraid to go after.” She then completed her graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in the leadership development program.

She knew her husband in college, but they didn’t date until 10 years when she was on a business trip in D.C. Meanwhile, she dated the same guy throughout college, and they got engaged afterward. “Thankfully, that relationship didn’t work out,” she says, describing him as an insecure man would tried to minimize her achievements. “He wanted to make sure he was the only one out front. People needed to say, ‘Here is Joel and his woman.’ I tried to be that for him, but as a person, I was dying.”

She began dating after that relationship ended, but she said the dating scene was “horrible.” Once Lisa read “Lady in Waiting” by Jackie Kendall, she learned that she had to work on herself and recognize her spiritual foundation before aligning herself with a man. “You have to prepare yourself so that you are already whole, not a half waiting on another half to complete you. It’s about two whole people coming together.”

Armed with that revelation, she says, “I spent my time working on Lisa, getting my finances and relationship with God in order. Before I knew it, the man came along that was going to be my soul mate. I was not looking for him. When I was looking, I was attracting everything wrong.”

Because she grew up in a single-parent home, she wanted her children to be in a two-parent family. She believes that a man should be the head of the household and respects her husband as such, even while sharing that she makes more money. The fact that she is so accomplished and successful was a factor that played into the type of man she knew she had to marry.  She realized after dating her college sweetheart and almost “making the mistake” of marrying him, that she needed a confident, secure man, someone who wasn’t intimidated by a woman who other men found attractive or who made more money. “I needed someone who would let me be me.” She says she found that in her husband, Dr. Darren Naugles, an ER physician.

After seven years of marriage and two children, DJ and Amira Faith, she declares, “I love being a mother, and I love being a wife. I have a great marriage. I’m really proud of my relationship with my children and husband. My husband and I are friends.”

As a society, Lisa believes, women have become stronger and more successful. Then, she says, “They started being with men that they had to take care of because mothers were raising the girls and loving the boys.” She advises women not to settle but also not to set their standards so high that no one can reasonably meet them. “Be realistic and understand that he may earn less but that doesn’t make him less of a man. Stop being superficial and focus on his values.”

Sacrifices and Rewards

Achieving any type of success comes with personal sacrifices. In Lisa’s case, she had to learn to manage and guard her time, making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, as she describes it. “I sacrificed a lot of time with family members and friends. I had to have real conversations with friends explaining that I wouldn’t be around or available as much. Some people couldn’t take that. My thing is that you have to surround yourself with people who do understand because that negativity can have a very detrimental impact on your goals.”

When it comes to her immediate family, including her husband and two children, she admits feeling “guilty,” like most women, about being busy all the time.  “We feel very guilty when we are making those types sacrifices. It doesn’t make me less of a mother because I can’t attend every recital or every basketball game.”

Of all the things that Lisa does, however, she says she prefer to spend quality time with her family. “As busy as I am, I like to be home, relaxing and playing games with the kids. I have to push myself to go to all the red carpet events.”

She says she turns off her cell phone and the television so she can spend quality time with her family. “If you don’t carve out that time, then you will begin to resent your success,” she warns, especially when it comes to children. “While you may be able to buy your kids all the things they want because you’re making more money, sometimes all a kid wants is you. Sometimes I go to my kids’ school and have lunch with them in the middle of the day.”

Lisa also feels that busy women must also find time for themselves. “As women, we’re taking care of everybody else and the one person we often neglect is ourselves. I have to give myself permission to take care of me.”

A firm believer in mediation, she says, “I love the spa.” The spa room in her house is where she is often able to be alone and relax, staring out the window in silent contemplation. “Sometimes you have to sit still to get clarity. I built a massage room in my house…Sometimes when I’m lying on the massage table is when I’m spending time with God.”

Even with the pampering she affords herself at times, she says she mainly does her own hair. “I don’t have time to sit around all day at a salon. That won’t work for my schedule.”

Helping and Empowering Women

Except for “Married to Medicine” and a few other shows like it, Lisa feels disheartened by the way African American women are portrayed on reality TV. In fact, she said “no” to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and said “no” for the first season of “Married to Medicine.” She says, “The women I was around didn’t act like that. That’s not what I was used to…I’m not your drama queen.”

Lisa describes herself as a humble person who believes in helping people. When she joined the cast of “Married to Medicine” in season two, she tried to offer advice to her castmates. “I’ve given them all business advice. With Quad, I always offered her information and marketing strategies. Someone did it for me at some point.

“People are not always receptive to that kind of help, though. They feel like it takes away from their success, but every successful person has a mentor. Everyone has some executive to push them to peak. Most successful people are not afraid to be students.”  

She says she didn’t know many of her co-stars before the show, but she’s probably closest to Heavenly. “We’re closer because we are successful business women. We’re both wives. We both have similar beliefs about our husbands being the head. Heavenly gave me a lot of flak in the beginning, but by the end of the season, she had a respect for me.”

Lisa is pouring both some of what she’s learned and earned into WEN, which is in its third year, so that other women can evolve as a result of getting substantial information and resources, as she did. “WEN is my gift. It’s an assignment. It’s not something I’m looking to make money from. It’s an organization I created to dispel the myth that women can’t get along. That’s a stereotype.” She wants women to embrace the spirit of collaboration and sisterhood while building participants up personally, financially and spiritually.

Meanwhile, she and her husband prepare for yet another philanthropic endeavor, Fashion for Cause. It involves something close to both her and her husband’s heart, providing direct medical assistance to the impoverished and underserved. Through the conduit of fashion, specifically the Lisa Nicole Collection, the couple is able to raise awareness and money to support their efforts. “It’s our way of bringing help and hope through medical mission trips. We are taking a trip to Haiti next. We have already provided $200,000 in medical supplies, and 12 doctors have agreed to go on the trip to assist.”

What’s next is left to be seen on a television screen, runway, book or in business. Stay tuned.

-ARJ

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