A Career Choice is a Life Choice Logo

Mallory Brown, creator of Travel Mal

On this week’s A Career Choice is a Life Choice blog post, we’re talking with Mallory Brown, a storyteller who connects audiences to incredible causes while providing a direct means to help. She has visited over 50 countries and pioneered a new, engaging form of philanthropy. Her philanthropic efforts have allowed her to help thousands of generous donors directly reach people in need. Read about her incredible story and journey.

DB: Hi Mallory! We’ve heard so much about the incredible work you’ve done around the world and can’t wait to hear about how you got here. To start, can you share with our readers what you do?
MB: I’m an impact storyteller and inspirational speaker. I tell real-life stories of human need that empower others to make an impact through my personal brand, Travel Mal.

DB: That sounds like a dream job! How did you end up here?
MB: My career path is a continuous journey, shaping itself from my personal experiences and ever-developing passion for humanitarian causes. In college, I majored in business and French but had no idea I would end up working in international philanthropy. After graduation, I rewarded myself with a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and saw true poverty for the first time. That lit a spark of curiosity in me. After working for two years in various media industries in my hometown of Detroit, I found the courage to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit, lean into my passion, and create my own social impact business.

At the age of 24, I started a buy-one, give-one clothing company called World Clothes Line. At 29, I expanded my philanthropic reach, creating Travel Mal. I began running video crowdfunding campaigns for incredible causes around the world. I also became a professional inspirational speaker, sharing my approach to philanthropy with national and international audiences. At 31, I embarked on my largest venture yet, Walk A Mile. Walk A Mile is a 26-part documentary web series that follows my global marathon for women’s empowerment.

As an entrepreneur, I am constantly expanding my skillset, evaluating my work, and challenging myself. Throughout all the shifts in my career, I’ve kept my same philosophy of “direct and personal giving” by providing meaningful, specific, and emotional touch-points of change. Now, at 32, I have traveled to 50 countries and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for people in need.

DB: For having such a personally and professionally fulfilling job, what would you say you value most about what you do?
MB: I value the ability to connect with people on a deep emotional level. When I travel, I immerse myself into the lives of the people living in poverty. I ask questions, share meals, sit in homes, hug children, learn vocations, and try to truly understand their struggles and triumphs. These are some of the most profound and emotional moments of my life. On the other hand, as a speaker, I am able to stand in front of large audiences of successful people that are searching for ways to give back. They are seeking human connection and eager to help impact someone’s life. These two face-to-face moments are very different but uniquely powerful.

I also cherish the flexibility of my schedule. I love traveling and could never give that up!

DB: What has been the biggest learning to date from your career path?
MB: Although my hardest learnings have been how to maintain a successful business based on passion (it’s not easy!), the most meaningful lessons are ones about humanity. Working with people in poverty, I have learned the strength of the human spirit. I have learned the power of love, and faith, and humility, and kindness. I understand, to my core, that we are all more alike than we are different. So many people are searching for “fulfillment” and “purpose” and “happiness,” yet they live a disconnected and closed life. True meaning comes from human connection.

DB: If you’re looking to hire someone on your team, what is your favorite question to ask them?
MB: I ask them, “Imagine it’s six months from now, you accepted this job offer and are working hard…what’s the moment you are most excited for? What’s the moment you are dreading?”

Deanna Backos is a partner at the midnight oil group, a Detroit marketing agency offering full-service communications for clients. We live and breathe our clients’ brands, always developing new ideas, strategies and creative solutions to build awareness, engage with their target markets, and develop true brand advocates.