Turning Tragedy into Hope with Maggie Lam

S07 | 11 – Turning Tragedy into Hope with Maggie Lam

Lindsay Recknell Hope, Podcast Leave a Comment

We all experience trials and different tragedies in our lives. Unfortunately, many of them are unforeseen, so typically we are ill-prepared for them when they happen. Many find it difficult to stay motivated during times of uncertainty.

Today’s guest, Maggie Lam, is here to tell her personal story of not only persevering through tragedy, but using it as a catalyst for growth. Maggie believes that experiencing hardships is an opportunity for transformation and to bring about a better version of yourself. It’s not that you never allow yourself to feel sadness, grief, anger, or any other emotions, but you allow yourself to experience them, process them, and then accept what has happened and decide how to move forward with intentionality.

Ready to turn tragedy into hope in your own life? Tune in!

About Maggie Lam:

Maggie Lam was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada in 1991, leaving behind her parents, 2 brothers, and twin sister. She quit school in grade 9 and didn’t speak much English when she immigrated.

A few years later, Maggie lost her twin sister in a car accident. That motivated her to start her own business, a consignment store in downtown Calgary, in 1996 with hopes of immigrating her parents to Canada in order to take care of them.

Around this time, she met the love of her life and got married. They had beautiful twins, a boy and a girl.  At this point, Maggie’s life was magical. They had everything we wanted until suddenly, tragedy struck. 

Today, Maggie’s kids have grown up and are 22 years old, and she has been working at an insurance company called Combined. She has been with this company for 5 years and is very passionate about what she does. 

Mentioned In This Episode:

Find more resources on my website


Lindsay Recknell  0:03  

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Hope Motivates Action podcast. I’m your host, Lindsay Recknell. And it is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Maggie Lam. Hello, Maggie.


Maggie Lam  0:14  

Hi, how are you Lindsay? 


Lindsay Recknell  0:17  

I am so excited to have you on the show I have. I’ve heard your story. I’ve been inspired by your story and I can’t wait for other people to hear it as well. Let me share a little bit formally about you and then I’ll pass it over to you to share your story with us. 


Lindsay Recknell  0:35  

Maggie was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada in 1991, leaving behind her parents, her two brothers and her twin sister. She quit school in grade nine and didn’t speak much English when she came to Canada. A few years later, she lost her twin sister in a car accident. That was the motivation she needed to start her own business, which was a consignment store in downtown Calgary, which she ran from 1996 to 2012. She had a hope to immigrate her parents to Canada and take care of them with her sister gone, and her consignment store was one of the ways that she was going to do that. 


Lindsay Recknell  1:11  

Around this time, she also met the love of her life and got married. She had beautiful twins, a boy and a girl. And at that point, it was her life that was magical. She had everything she wanted. And then tragedy struck. And I’ll leave her to tell us a little bit more about that. Currently, her kids have grown up and are 22 years old, and she has been working at an insurance company called combined. She’s been with this company for five years and is very passionate about what she does. 


Lindsay Recknell  1:42  

Maggie, you have turned a tragedy into a very hopeful future. Can you tell us a little bit more about your story and how you have gotten to this place 22 years later?


Maggie Lam  1:52  

Absolutely, Lindsay. This is a great experience for me to share. And we all have a story to share. So I’m going to just share with you a little bit of my journey. Even from when I was a teenager, And I already know that one day I’m going to be another country. And that was my hope. I want to experience more in life. So I really took action to be my own country and start my journey in Canada. All my voice at that point, what am I thinking when I arrived here, really, as I mentioned, Lindsay earlier mentioned, not knowing much about English. 


Maggie Lam  2:37  

And of course life is not that easy at all. But what is really my choice and to motivate me to stay in Canada. But I know if I really want to stay in Canada I need to motivate myself to keep pushing to adapt that my life here. So first I was a server. And because I know I’m I can speak Japanese. So that is the way I can get my first step into Canada to meet my normal life. And then two years gone by I thinking oh my god. So now I think is the time for me to learn English. So what can be better if I work for Canadian, so I can earn money. And then at the same time learn more English, right? 


Maggie Lam  3:31  

So four years gone by, as earlier Lindsay also mentioned, is suddenly, unexpected events do happen every single day. So my sister was in a car accident, and she passed away right away. So this at the time it motivated me. Of course, our whole family was really sad. What are we gonna do about it? and in Chinese culture, girl usually is the one will take care parents, even though I have two brother in Hong Kong. 


Maggie Lam  4:05  

But I was when I going back to Hong Kong and go to my sister funeral. And I asked my parents I say, Now I know sister, my sister. She’s gone. So I would love to see why being able to take care you guys. So I asked my mama there and say, Would you like me to immigrate you guys? And they say yes. So I can’t promise and so I make it happen is because of that then my consignment store get created. Because I know when my parents come to Hong Kong, I come to Canada, and they don’t speak much English. What are they gonna do if I work for a job? So the only way I can take care of them is to create something, create a business. 


Maggie Lam  4:53  

So I created my business one year, and then I have somebody to run the business for me. Then Where was it? When they are here in Canada, I was able to take them to go for lunch and casino and everything. So that is what helped bring me and the action and everything. So. So after that, meanwhile, while I’m having my business, another tragedy. 


Maggie Lam  5:23  

Tragedy’s happened in 2003. And my husband at age 42 was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after two months in a hospital. And left my children age four for me to raise on with our family here and running my business at the same time. But the worst part is unlike most people, why do we even need insurance, they never get paid. I don’t want to even listen to it. So I don’t have anything when my husband passed away. i was devastated. 


Maggie Lam  5:58  

But because my husband is there without any kind of insurance, and it motivated me now with this company for five years so I can help the other people. I have a hope when things unexpected happen. I couldn’t get out $100,000 at that point. And that could have definitely helped me while he’s in hospital or after he passed away, it was much easier for me to deal with everything in life. 


Maggie Lam  6:28  

So through this journey, I have learned English because I have to motivate how to take care of my finance. How’s the schoolwork here? Everything is unfamiliar to me, but I know I have hope. And tomorrow is a better day. Hope spring me the future. So never in my life I thought I will be in an insurance industry and that passion. 


Lindsay Recknell  6:57  

Love it. What an incredible story. You are one of the most tenacious people I’ve ever met. You have had so many things happened to you. Yet, If you were down, it doesn’t feel like you were down for long. Do you consider yourself to be a tenacious person? Somebody who doesn’t give up?


Maggie Lam  7:21  

Absolutely. Because I don’t think give up is my choice.


Lindsay Recknell  7:25  

I would say that that is a true strength of yours. I definitely know that giving up is a much easier option. And many of us have taken it. But over the long term, it doesn’t feel like you have given up on much. It’s incredible. It’s very inspiring. Maggie, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you. I love the intentionality behind the decisions that you take. 


Lindsay Recknell  7:53  

You know, you mentioned at the very beginning how even as a teenager, you had intention that you were going to emigrate somewhere. And you know, it doesn’t feel like you do much on a whim. You know, or without a whole bunch of thought behind it. What made you want to immigrate somewhere? And why did you choose Canada?


Maggie Lam  8:19  

Well, because this is I think is a we all have our childhood story. So my childhood is is my parents tell me when I was six, seven years old, you don’t move and you don’t talk. Just sit there quietly. So I’m like, okay, the outside world is bigger. So I need to go Oh, and Canada is one of my choice is because I know the Rocky Mountains and all the outdoorsy and like it’s so much offer in Canada. So my first husband actually bring me to Canada.


Lindsay Recknell  9:02  

amazing, beautiful. I love it when you say that, you know, someone told you you couldn’t So you said watch me. 


Maggie Lam  9:12  



Lindsay Recknell  9:14  

a very hopeful story. Um Tell me so you have your kids who I know you’re very, very proud of. And what do you know what they would say if I asked them what the thing they admire most about their mom?


Maggie Lam  9:36  

I think if five years ago you’ve asked them who is their mom? They will say my mom is really crazy. Just step on the gas and then just go and try to kill us. But then five years later, I mean shoe everything and as because the whole so I tell myself What have I gone through? It’s just the past, it’s just a school for me to learn more about it. 


Maggie Lam  10:05  

So over the time, I do a lot of personal growth, to look inside of myself and say what I can do as a mother. So now I think they were things, as you say, their mom is never give up.


Lindsay Recknell  10:24  

Yeah, very tenacious. Yeah. I, I agree. Isn’t it funny how when we, I don’t know, when we get to be adults, and we can see how, you know, maybe the things that weren’t so obvious to us where it felt as teenagers that you were putting me know, maybe our parents were pushing us or, you know, telling us their own perception. But then as we get older, you can see the strength in that the courage in that or the encouragement in that. Yeah, very, very cool. So tell me, how do you recognize hope in yourself and in other people?


Maggie Lam  11:06  

Well, that’s a really good question. And I have to say I acknowledge to all the other people have goals and plans, and the people will make things happen rather than seeing it happen. That is equal to hope. And I realized I have a hope in myself is because my vision, and in my imagination, what could happen in the future. I really took action and a small step at a time to make it happen. Again, I’m very lucky now. And I have worked this amazing company. And really, my job is just to bring hope to others and when they facing unforeseen situations.


Lindsay Recknell  11:57  

Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Because I know that your career, I wanted, you know, your career change after 18, 20 years of having your consignment shop? That was a big career move for you? How did you? How did you take that? How did you make that career move? After so long being in a different career? And yeah, how do you? How do you inspire that in other people? How do you encourage those kinds of pivots and other people at the same time?


Maggie Lam  12:31  

Wow, you know, it took me a few years to ask this question. Because fashion is something, it’s a creative, colorful and everything, and then insurance is black and white, dry, is nobody wants to talk about it is totally 360 degree different. But what I really can seeing and one things in linked together is because we want to create the happiness and the solution. 


Maggie Lam  13:04  

So they both have very unique product, when a consignment store is I seen people come to my store is they come to find the jam, they find a good value, they find something affordable, they find something usable, is exactly the same as the living benefit, which is a lot of people haven’t final, this keep secret. It is affordable, and it’s usable. And just like a job.


Lindsay Recknell  13:38  

I love how you made that I would never have made a connection between consignment fashion, and life and living insurance. Amazing, amazing to make that connection. But I mean, when you have such passion for the work that you do, it’s cool to see how you can make nonlinear relationships. 


Lindsay Recknell  14:04  

And working with the business coach and what he says to me all the time is don’t talk about what you know what you can provide, talk about the sort of compelling desires that you’re the transformation that your people will reach when they invest in you. And it’s cool to hear you describe insurance as a thing that will help people get to a future better than today. 


Lindsay Recknell  14:32  

Truly, you know, I do. I feel like you’re giving them hope. Coming from your own place of not having that financial security not having that hope for the future. When you lost your husband and didn’t have anything financially to support you. I can see how the work that you do is giving hope to people that you’re working with. 


Maggie Lam  14:56  



Lindsay Recknell  14:57  

i love it. Love it. What Is your definition of hope, Maggie?


Maggie Lam  15:04  

I would say my definition of a hope is encouragement. The bright bring us a better version of ourselves. And when our life have a breakdown, we know we have a hope. So as we break, sure, and the happiness is on the other side, so we’re going to have a challenge and difficulty when we break down, but the hope will bring us to break through it. 


Lindsay Recknell  15:35  

Yes, I couldn’t agree more. hope will break through the challenge. Yes. Love it. 


Lindsay Recknell  15:43  

If there are some people listening who are or have gone through similar experience than you, or are going through similar experiences, or super challenging times, where would you tell them to start? What would you say to, you know, if they were your friend? And they said, Maggie I’m experiencing this, and I don’t know what to do First? Where would you tell them to start?


Maggie Lam  16:11  

I always say, less, just listen to yourself, listen to your body, not to fight it over and get yourself emotionally just go through it, and accepted and not to push it away. But acknowledge it and say, yeah, I’m sad right now, I need to do whatever I need to do to just acknowledge that moment. But I would say maybe allow yourself one day, one week, one month. And then next is what is my action? What is my action to honor whatever happened? And when can I make the difference of because of that?


Lindsay Recknell  16:59  

I love it. Yes. Acknowledging the feelings. Somebody said to me the other day that we don’t, we don’t get to choose which emotions we want to experience that we, you know, we can only choose to experience the happy ones, we also have to take the sad ones or the angry ones with the good ones. And I think it’s really important what you said, you know, just experience it, feel it, be in that space, recognize and then move through, you know, get to the business of figuring out what’s next. What that those next steps are. I really, really like that.


Maggie Lam  17:36  

Yeah, I think life is… that’s called life. A little bit juicy, a little bit of those ingredient. So sweet and sour. 


Lindsay Recknell  17:47  

Yeah. Yes. 


Maggie Lam  17:49  

You have to have the Sweet. And you have to have sour. So it actually tastes good sometimes. 


Lindsay Recknell  17:54  

That’s right, you got to take the good with the bad. So you recognize the good when the bad is over? 


Maggie Lam  17:59  

Exactly. Yeah. 


Lindsay Recknell  18:00  

Otherwise, I feel like you could sort of take advantage of it and take advantage of all the good stuff. Where have you seen hope lately?


Maggie Lam  18:11  

Wow, okay. I think I will use a COVID and give people a hope through that from my own transformation. So because of COVID, actually, and this is what I see. And what reasoning is, I’m able to change a lot of things. The thing doesn’t serve me anymore. I mean, lucky and our company changed, everything is online. So I wasn’t able, I don’t need to kind of go out to do my business and business is normal. And it actually is more urgency. 


Maggie Lam  18:47  

So what I did is, my hope is I want to have a transformation. So I sold my house, I get rid of my car, I get rid of my boyfriend stuff. So I have more time to create more hope. So as long as we can look into really the bright side of it, we can always have can be resilient. So that’s what I recently see my hope is to COVID actually.


Lindsay Recknell  19:20  

You know what’s funny is- not funny. It’s amazing to me how COVID has been. It’s been very, very different for everyone. Right? It has been super, super negative, horrific, super challenging. For many of us, most of us in different ways, scope and scale of it all. And but there has been so many good things that have come out of it. 


Lindsay Recknell  19:47  

Also, from a prioritization or a self awareness, you know, an opportunity to make these changes like you’re talking about where And big life changes where it was just the, I don’t know, kick in the pants that you needed to do the things maybe that you were already planning but hesitating to do or something like that, you know, these are big life transformations that you’ve done over the last two years.


Maggie Lam  20:18  

Yeah, cuz I think a lot of time, we saw, we said spend so much time that our words and society we just have so, so. So so much thing to take care outside to COVID is really, we can take a time to bigger inventory to know ourselves and listen to ourselves.


Lindsay Recknell  20:42  

Yeah. And I don’t know if this is an experience that you’re having as well. But more people are interested to speak about it as well. Before COVID, I felt that people were less receptive to having these important conversations. Or they would say, you know, that’s not wise, you should wait on that, you know, wait to see or is risky or something like that? Is that an experience you’ve had as well? In the willingness for people to have these conversations,


Maggie Lam  21:23  

I agree, I think people is more receptive to talk about things. Because I find it as people now is more care about feeling it care about the joy, the love, how’s the other people doing? You know, who knows? Maybe this is maybe the last day, you know, you never know what will happen. So I think you just bring people closer together, through COVID. And mentally,


Lindsay Recknell  21:56  

yeah. And I feel like our priorities are different, or that that connection is more important than maybe some of the, I don’t know. More, like more tangible things, what’s the word I’m looking for? You know, the finances or the fancy trips or something like that, that connection with our family and spending time with the people we care about, has seemed to become much more important over the last couple of years. 


Lindsay Recknell  22:28  

Do you? How has COVID impacted your business along this line? Are you finding that people are wanting to protect themselves and their family because their priorities have changed?


Maggie Lam  22:41  

Wow, you know what, actually, last year, and is the best year of the company and is the best year of my business. We’re independent contractor. Because we can be so focused, and we have less time to travel to see our client in person so we can do way more appointment. And people also see the urgency. And we also do cover COVID on non COVID related, I got busier, I got way busier, I was able to even read the trip and bring my daughter along as possible and to go to Mexico because of that.


Lindsay Recknell  23:22  

Amazing. So people’s priorities are changing, and they’re reaching out to protect themselves. That’s amazing. Yes. What’s next for you? Do you have more transformations in your near future?


Maggie Lam  23:36  

Ah, I can see myself and could be more organized and do more improvement and also involving to more in a community aspect of it to be more volunteer. And because one of my goal is I want to create my own charity organization to to be aware of how difficult being a single mom meaning is raising your own kids without any health. 


Maggie Lam  24:11  

Because a lot of women could be have a children but they never have the spouse or anybody to take care. So literally, they have to do anything and everything. I want you to create something for them and make them maybe get dressed up one day and let’s go to dance one day, you know, let’s take care of your kid. You don’t have to worry about the kids one day, you know, just give them a break.


Lindsay Recknell  24:39  

That feels very hopeful to me. Yeah. can happen. Yeah, it totally will happen. I’m sorry. Have you met you, being you hardworking tenacious sort that you are. I have no doubt that that kind of thing will happen. If you set your mind to it, that goal will be achieved for sure. 


Lindsay Recknell  25:03  

Maggie, tell me what gives you hope.


Maggie Lam  25:08  

Okay, so hope. What give me a hope is one day my children will know. And I was there for them as mother and father and I don’t give up and set a very good example for them. So, yeah, I did that. And so they know I’m maximized myself. 


Maggie Lam  25:34  

And yeah, I don’t need to be the best, and I only need to do my own best. And also give me the hope is, oh my God, through my business, really how many people I can help to create their hope. 


Lindsay Recknell  25:54  

It feels very hopeful to me. Very hopeful to me. I love to see the passion in your face. When you speak about your kids, about your business, about your family and your experiences. It has been so wonderful getting to know you a little bit better. 


Lindsay Recknell  26:09  

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It has been an absolute joy, and I look forward to continuing our conversation.


Maggie Lam  26:16  

Thank you, Lindsay.


Lindsay Recknell  26:18  

Take care Maggie. 


Lindsay Recknell  26:22  

I hope you enjoyed this latest episode of the Hope Motivates Action podcast. These episodes are a labor of love. Inspiring conversations with hopeful people make my heart happy. If you also love this episode, it would be amazing if you could go to Apple podcasts and leave a review five stars if you’re into it. It’s these reviews that encourage Apple to promote this podcast to their network and the more people that listen, the more hope we can spread into the world. 


Lindsay Recknell  26:45  

Don’t forget to check out the show notes of this episode to find all the links to my guests’ books and other resources referenced in this episode. You’ll also find the link back to my website where you will find additional support and resources for you, your team and your community. I truly believe that the future will be better than today. By taking action over the things we can control and hearing from these guests on these episodes. I know that an even more hopeful future is totally possible. 


Lindsay Recknell  27:09  

I’m always looking for inspirational guests so if you or anyone you know would like to be a guest on the show. please reach out you can find me on the contact form of my website at expertinhope.com or by email at Lindsay@expertinhope.com. 


Lindsay Recknell  27:25  

When I was a teenager when my sisters were leaving the house to go out for the night. I always made it a point to remind them to call me if they need me. It was my way to tell them that I cared and would always be there for them. I’d love you to know the same so all of you listening out there Call me if you need me. 


Lindsay Recknell  27:40  

Again, thank you for your love and support of this podcast, my work in hope and your intentional focus on making your future better than today. After all, hope without action is just a wish.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Lindsay Recknell | Expert in Hope | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Take Hope Home!

Listen to this and all episodes of the Hope Motivates Action podcast wherever you listen to your favourite content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.