Sharon Kim is a passionate, imperfect millennial striving to live a life of meaning as CEO/Founder of CanPlan, a one of a kind planner that exists to assist cancer patients and their caregivers navigate the confusing and often overwhelming world of cancer treatment. Here she outlines how she got her idea off the ground, why it’s important to her, and how she hopes to change the perception of the millennial generation for the better.
My inspiration behind CanPlan was… after my mom passed away from cancer a few days before my 23rd birthday, I asked myself, “What control would look like in one’s cancer journey?” The answer was a planner that acted as a roadmap to guide patients through the different stages of cancer.
I got my idea off the ground by… running a crowdfunding campaign in order to obtain enough funds for the first printing because I strongly believe in the power of a unified community working towards a specific cause. So I crossed my fingers, launched my project on Kickstarter and was fully funded seven days before my campaign was set to end.
My proudest accomplishment was… completing my second Relay for Life Speech. I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I received.
My boldest move to date was… when I moved from Hawaii to California. I knew that I had to put myself in an uncomfortable position in order to grow, so I left my friends and family behind and moved to California with a small savings and no real plans of what to do next. I took a leap of faith and trusted that I’d figure things out along the way.
I surprise people when I tell them… I was class clown in high school. People think I’m very serious since cancer is a pretty serious topic. But I’m actually very lighthearted and I enjoy making fun of myself.
My best advice for people looking to make a difference in people’s lives is… you cannot influence others without being vulnerable and being authentic. Always come from a genuine place and allow yourself to be deeply seen. Be raw and don’t be afraid to show off your imperfections. I truly believe that imperfection is the driving force behind connection, so put yourself out there wholeheartedly, with the risk of judgment and criticism.
My best advice from a mentor was… there is no such thing as failure. You either win or you learn.
My biggest setback was… lacking confidence in myself. I knew I had a great product and a great idea, I just didn’t believe that I had the ability to bring it to fruition.
I overcame it by… each and everyday waking up, and telling myself: I believe I can do it. I believe I deserve it. And I believe I will get there.
I balance work and life by… setting goals for the week and then breaking it down by each day. If I accomplish my goals for the week, I make sure to do something I enjoy as a reward.
Being a young entrepreneur is… riveting. But it’s not for everyone. You have to be comfortable living on a shoestring. You have to still feel motivated even if it’s the third day in a row you’re eating cup noodle. You have to ask for help even if you’re prideful. It takes sacrifice, perseverance and faith.
Creativity is an important part of my job because… it a fundamental aspect of any successful business. The ability to stay ahead of the curve and see a solution to an unmet need is what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.
I stay inspired by… TED Talks. I listen to a podcast each morning.
The future excites me because… I have hope that the millennial generation will prove society wrong. We’ve developed a culture where giving back is something of importance. We believe that a healthy society stems from a unified community where every voice is heard and every opinion has weight. We have already made profound changes in the world we live in today, and whether people think those changes are praise-worthy or not, they can’t argue that it’s fundamental in order to move society forward.