While Working At JP Morgan Chase, The Zimbabwean-Born Entrepreneur Bucked The Odds To Create a Renowned Publication Dedicated To Regular People's Stories of Success and Hope
Growing up the youngest of ten children in a rural part of Zimbabwe known as Matebeleland, Lumbie Mlambo went hungry much of the time - but was blissfully unaware that her family was poor because she found ways to enjoy her childhood despite the suffering and struggle. Her parents were farmers who grew crops (largely, corn) to feed their large family, and Lumbie grew up feeling loved and supported, learning from them the value of not judging others, being humble, appreciating the little things and understanding that positive change for the better can come, no matter how hopeless the current moment may seem.
Incredibly, her father, an orphan whose own lack of family growing up inspired him to raise his own children with discipline and hope, found a way to send all of his children to college to pursue their dreams. While several of Lumbie's siblings had moved to the U.S., she was the last one to remain at home. When her parents sent her to Dallas to live with one of her brothers, could never have known what a powerful and inspiring American success story she would become.
Discovering a passion for computer science and Information Technology, Lumbie - who moved with her new husband's job to Indiana - earned an Associate's Degree in Computer Science from Indiana University at South Bend and later returned to Texas to get her B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from Texas Woman's University. She launched her career in Software Development in 1996 and later worked as a business analyst in the IT Industry. Her background includes an extraordinary 10 year stint as a Software Engineer with JP Morgan Chase, where she was in charge of developing robust mortgage-related consumer software.
Incredibly, she did all her schooling and became a force in the software and IT industries while raising a family; her two sons are 20 and 26 years old. "It wasn't always easy to balance work and home life, but family came first no matter what I did. My husband and boys knew they came first. And it was a blessing to find positions that lined up with my own personal values." Her powerful ability to overcome harsh circumstances also helped in her recovery from a stroke in 2001 that left her partially paralyzed; she has since recovered, but considers herself "forever a stroke patient".
For Lumbie, balance in all things has been the key. Even while living in the bleak countryside setting as a child, she never gave up hope and developed a true sense of Equanimity - officially defined as "a state of mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation." Years later, that became the perfect name for her revolutionary national magazine where driven people from all walks of life balance their lifestyle for success in reaching their goals.
In 2009, while still employed with JP Morgan Chase, Lumbie launched a small publishing business that developed into a publication "whose mission," she says, was "to empower, encourage, and inspire others through true stories 'real people stories' to not give up hope, but to realize they have a potential rise, be creative, and be who they want to be, as well as participate in the community."
Originally a nationally distributed high quality glossy quarterly (available at Barnes & Noble, among other retailers) and now available free of charge online, Equanimity Magazine (whose subtitle and founding motto is: Balance Your Lifestyle) shares stories of people in different stages of their life and career journeys. Some are beginning and growing, others have succeeded in reaching the balance that is the foundation of their pursuit of their life's dreams and goals.
Its departments in each issue include Self-Expression, Heart & Soul (encompassing Music/Ministry, Other Talent, Giving/Cause and Future Kids), Fitness & Nutrition (encompassing Fitness, Exercise & Training and Diet & Nutrition), Fashion & Style (including an annual Holiday Gift Guide), Celebrate You (highlighting various exciting Events) and Balance Advice (including the sub-sections of Time Management, Beauty Balance/Tips and Balance Words of Wisdom).
From the beginning, it has been the hope of Lumbie (Publisher, CEO and Chief Editorial Editor) and her talented staff of contributing writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers and administrators that readers will gain insight from people in various industries and walks of life from around the world. Currently funded solely by loyal advertisers, Equanimity - whose beautifully designed main landing page has some of the articles that are in the latest issue, plus a link to the actual online version of the volume itself - provides abundant access to tools for productivity, planning and inspiration. The magazine is also a platform for emerging talents.
As in its early stages, Lumbie's writers continue to scout for extraordinary stories - but as Equanimity's popularity has grown, they receive hundreds of potential story ideas from people (via the website and social media) who are making a difference in the world and who hope to up their game by appearing in the magazine. Publicists routinely contact Equanimity hoping for some "ink" for their clients.
When Lumbie was putting together her original business plan and working with Legal Zoom online to help her set up her LLC, she was motivated by her passion to share stories of happiness and encouragement with people ...something she kept under the surface during her years as a software engineer. "It was during the recession," she says, "and I wanted to inspire people not to give up hope while encouraging them to do something positive in their own communities. I also envisioned the magazine as a productive way to provide work for writers and photographers, and creating a vehicle that would fulfill me personally while keeping people employed at a difficult time."
Lumbie was aware of the conventional wisdom that the magazine publishing industry was slowly dying with the ongoing rise of internet based publications - but her belief in her entrepreneurial abilities and the need she saw for an uplifting outlet at this uncertain time in American life kept her optimistic.
"My hope was to revive the industry by reaching one person at a time," she says, "because one person can make a huge difference. I wanted to share inspirational stories of regular people in the hopes of reaching a large audience with the message that they shouldn't give up, that they can do something positive and enduring no matter who and where they are. By reading the stories we published in Equanimity, they could feel a sense of inspiration and hope. My goal was to showcase not only successful people but others who have failed but continue to strive for their goals.
"Then as now, I want people motivated to reach their full potential," Lumbie adds. "I knew that if it worked out, advertisers would like what we were doing and support a small, growing business - and Equanimity has exceeded my expectations beautifully. I enjoy reading the testimonials of those we feature who have told us that the magazine has helped them grow their businesses - that they're making sales because of what we write about them. We hear wonderful things from readers as well. It is gratifying to know that I have helped somebody, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue doing that."
As with so many other aspects of her extraordinary life, there have been great challenges along the way as Equanimity has evolved into a popular entity. Though veteran actress/singer Gloria Loring (mother of pop star Robin Thicke) and megachurch pastor and author T.D. Jakes have been featured on the cover, Lumbie made the decision early on to mostly spotlight "regular" people. Slow initial sales sparked criticism from distributors and newsstand owners, but she was determined to continue to cultivate a different way of looking at things.
"I always like to think differently, and I knew eventually putting unknown people on the cover would still inspire readers to buy it like any celebrity centered lifestyle magazine," she says.
Ultimately, the shifting publishing economy dictated that Lumbie shift to an online presence only, which allows her to share the magazine and its content for free, with the option of printing it out at home for those who don't want to read it on their computer or mobile devices. It's a business model that is thriving. Her roster of advertisers has grown and remains loyal to her brand. She is encouraged by the thousands of responses she gets from readers who say it's one of the few magazines they read from cover to cover, as well as the growing buzz via those who connect to Equanimity via Facebook and Twitter. Always thinking ahead, Lumbie recently connected the magazine to a service called Klout, which measures success levels based on online visit and views.
In line with Lumbie's values and ongoing desire to give back to her local community, Equanimity has a powerful philanthropic aspect as well. The magazine sponsors many events in its local region around Grapevine, Texas (near Dallas), including the recent Trash & Treasure, a lake shoreline cleanup for which one of the magazine's advertising clients donated a hand-made "greenhouse" to display products and information by other advertisers.
The events are mostly centered around eco-friendly causes and products in line with Lumbie's green aesthetic. In 2014, she founded and pioneered a Walk-4-Green movement which encourages workers to take time out of their busy work schedule and walk for 30 minutes a day to relieve job stress, have fun and appreciate life. It was inspired by the unique approach to life taken by her mother, who passed away from cancer at age 92 in early 2014.
"The movement encourages creative walking, meaning walkers talk about the importance and benefits of living green, what they are grateful for, they sing, share exercise tips and healthy recipes and/or eats, and give to the community during the walk," she says.
In January, 2013, Lumbie launched JB Dondolo, Inc. (www.jbdondolo.org), a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide charitable services to benefit impoverished communities worldwide. Named after her late father, who played a critical role against poverty in Zimbabwe and continues to inspire his children, friends and families across the world, the charity's interest is in promoting, developing, and completing projects and programs that have been started but left incomplete or imagined but not started for a variety of reasons. The charity is a member of the United Nation's Green Industry Platform.
The ongoing initial project that JB Dondolo, Inc. is involved in is refurbishing a rundown clinic/hospital in Zimbabwe whose restoration was close to Dondolo's heart when he passed away a few years ago. Continuing to raise funds and seek grants, the organization is working on issues like providing clean water via replacing the old water system, proper roofing and replacing windows, doors, walls, beds, and providing ongoing educational programs. She and her volunteers are creating a documentary of every step of their progress. Lumbie's choice to help a community in Africa derives from her belief that charity begins at home - and in many ways, Zimbabwe will always be her spiritual home.
"I have picked up the Hospital Hope project which my father could not complete due to illness which led to his death," she says. "Using my father's priceless teachings, I imagine what life would be like for the Igusi community if we were to finish building the hospital. They need clean water, toilets and bathrooms, new roofing, mother's waiting rooms, new beds and bedding - and much more. Together, the actions of JB Dondolo, Inc. can save the lives of mothers, unborn and newborn children, the elderly, and the rest of Igusi community.
"I truly believe I was given a second chance at life," Lumbie adds, "and my vision is to make a difference in people's lives. Balance matters to me because without it you can't function. There is balance in everything. My father struggled growing up an orphan, but he sacrificed for me to get an education so I could make a difference. I honor his legacy and gift and would like to provide equanimity to all by encouraging, empowering, motivating, and inspiring others to not give up but pursue their dreams and goals, so that they may become productive, help themselves, and serve in their communities. I believe that if we are empowered with the proper tools and knowledge, we can accomplish a lot more - start businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the economy's success."
Equanimity LLC is a magazine publishing company based in Coppell, Texas. Our magazine is a full glossy print publication with unique layout and what will prove to be award winning content and coverage of inspiring stories of life and success. Equanimity Magazine is where driven people of all kinds and classes balance their lifestyle for success in reaching their goals.