Beyond Business Success: A 34-Year-Old CEO’s Life-Changing Wake-Up Call

Jessie Lee Ward
Photo Credited to Jessie Lee Ward

Jessie Lee Ward was just like any other young entrepreneur: bold, innovative, and completely unafraid of the word “no”. She’d been hustling most of her life, from vegetable stands in the yard as a kid to the four painstaking years she spent going door-to-door when she realized that entrepreneurship was definitely her path.

A self-proclaimed “country girl with East Coast hustle,” Jessie Lee grew up with little. She also came to view money not as an evil, but as a resource that could be good in the hands of good people. She went to college, came home, and got one of those “normal” jobs that most people take.

However, as time went on, the urge was bubbling up inside of her. The urge to abandon the desk. To find a better way. To not be tied to one place to earn income to support her lifestyle. In 2011, while renting a room for a pathology lab in a building, the landlord decided to increase the rent by $300 per month. When Jessie Lee realized she couldn’t afford this, the landlord suggested that she look into “some type of home business” for some extra income.

What happened next, and what happened even more recently, is sure to inspire and evoke hope even in the most doubtful.

Jessie Lee’s Path to Entrepreneurial Success

Her first business was in direct sales, at just 22 years of age. Jessie Lee would go to people’s houses and put on presentations to get sales, which is a daunting task even for seasoned sales reps. After about four and a half years, she founded a network marketing company for health and wellness products.

This is what catapulted her forward. It gave that passion a place to explore and see what’s out there. She got interested in investing, coaching, and other opportunities as time went on. Essentially, her investment strategy for all of her business endeavors has been: Is there a way that I can make this business better?

Choosing things that you’re interested in, says Ward, will give you the fuel that you need to remain passionate and diligent, even when you’re first starting out and just working your entrepreneur gigs as a side hustle. She sticks to the strategy of investing in things that she understands. For example, she has health and wellness businesses, hair salons, a coaching program, restaurants, and even a car dealership.

If she finds something that she is interested in and thinks she can improve, she’ll just reach out to the owner and ask if they’re interested in a partnership, sale, or other type of investment. She has all but two of her original businesses and everything is running smoothly today. Currently, Jessie Lee does a lot of angel investing and is also learning how to slow down and let her hard work pay off while she takes time to heal.

The Healthiest MRI – From CEO to Cancer Patient

At the end of 2022 and into 2023, Jessie Lee Ward was feeling better than ever. Her businesses were thriving, she felt like the picture of health, and all was going well. She decided that she wanted to get an MRI to show off just how healthy she was, but that proved to be quite a challenge. Most doctors don’t want to give MRIs to healthy patients, after all.

Finally, Jessie Lee found Prenuvo, a service that allows you to pay out of pocket for a whole body MRI scan with no medical reason necessary. Within minutes of completing the scans, the technologists realized that this unsuspecting woman had a very, very serious medical reason.

They showed her the scans. There was something in her colon and abdominal region. That something ended up being stage 4 colon cancer. All with no symptoms, no signs, and feeling quite the opposite about being in a good place health-wise.

Jessie Lee received her cancer diagnosis in February of 2023, so it’s still relatively new and she’s right in the middle of the fight. She’s completely revamped her lifestyle. She’s got herself on a good schedule with medications, supplements, treatments, appointments, and taking care of her businesses as she can.

She’s also become an advocate for others, citing that there’s not enough information out there for younger people about the dangers of colon cancer. It’s a silent killer and it is being found in increasingly higher numbers of young adults. And as with Jessie Lee’s case, some people don’t even get a diagnosis until the cancer is advanced.

How Has Life Shifted?

Jessie Lee says her business approach is totally different. She’s excited that she has finally learned how to say “no” to the things she doesn’t want to do or doesn’t have time for. If she’s going to heal, she knows that she has to focus on healing, which means plenty of rest.

She’s also become much more deliberate about the time she spends on things and the people she spends time with. She is filled with gratitude that she took the time in her twenties to build her businesses because she’s now in a position where the businesses essentially drive themselves without her constant oversight or involvement.

She is more focused, more grounded, and has a lot more gratitude for all that she has in life. She’s still passionate and driven, but she knows that now is the time to focus on healing so that she’ll be around for future endeavors.

Jessie Lee’s Advice to Others

We have a growing digital nomad society where more people are refusing to be tied down. I would encourage everyone to have some sort of side hustle. It doesn’t have to be your main source of income, but something you can do on your cell phone that isn’t tying you down to a location is a great starting point.

Do not quit on the bad days. It’s easy to do, but that’s where you lose. Find the cracks in your day and fill them with your side hustle so that you know you’re doing something to help you get out of the rut. Stay excited and passionate as that will help drive you.

And finally, always do business with good people. It will save you a lot of heartache.


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