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People At LIME: Maria de Cadenas

Level Up with Nick Lopez | Maria de Cardenas | Personal Development

In this podcast episode, the guest, Maria de Cardenas, ponders over the origin of her inherent characteristics. Maria talks about being a believer and how growing up in the Catholic faith has shaped who she is today. She also shares her perspective on how life experiences, especially her career and motherhood, have contributed to her growth.

She stresses how becoming a mother helped her understand herself better, calling it her greatest accomplishment. In this introspective discussion, Maria affirms that her faith, experiences, and motherhood are all intertwined, contributing significantly to her personality and characteristics.

As General Manager for LIME Painting of Atlanta, Maria’s operational prowess and team leadership skills have proven integral to her professional journey, while her interior design capabilities bring an extra dimension to her work. Moreover, she’s not one to shy away from recognition; with a General Manager of the Year award in 2023 and a Rookie of the Year award in 2022 to her name, Maria embodies excellence.

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People At LIME: Maria de Cadenas

Unique Insights Into The World Of Leadership, As Well As The Crucial Aspects Of Personal Development.

We have another special episode of the people at LIME. It is my pleasure to welcome the General Manager, Maria, to the show.

Thank you, Nick, for having me. It’s a pleasure for me to be here. I’m excited to talk to you about LIME, my journey, and all that good stuff.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was just in the South there in Atlanta in the neck of the woods visiting you and all of your talented painters. Andrew told me being the owner that you guys were serving some beautiful homes. I was very impressed. I was looking forward to this conversation and we’re going to dive into plenty of that. If you wouldn’t mind sharing your story about how you found LIME.

Thanks for that. It was great to have you here. We certainly had a good time showing you around. When I moved to Georgia, I moved here at the time that I ran into LIME. I have been for a few years and my background is in real estate and interior design. I had launched a little bit of an interior design side hustle, but I didn’t know a lot of people, so I was looking for something that would complement my background and my needs.

I started looking online and I found LIME. I went through the interview process and found that I really loved the message that LIME. It was right up my alley. The luxury aspect of it was interesting to me. It’s a very unique aspect of the home service industry. I just happened to click with the mission that LIME has in general and with the owner here in Atlanta, Andrew, and the rest is history. We’ve been trucking along. We’re starting out on our third year and it’s been good.

Level Up with Nick Lopez | Maria de Cardenas | Personal Development

It’s clear that you and them are united behind that mission and definitely stood out. Probably what stood out to me the most was your relationship with your crews or the artisans that you work with. It’s very clear that you’re focused on people. I’m curious. Tell me a little bit about your story.

My parents were Cuban, so I grew up in Miami. I moved around a little bit but mostly went to school in Florida. I went to a college at Florida International University. I graduated with a Psychology degree and then proceeded to not use that as a career path. My background is in real estate investment and development and design. I lived in the Port St. Lucie West Palm Beach area for many years where we were developers. We did some neighborhoods out there.

Where I shine and gravitate towards is in serving my clients no matter what area I happen to be in at the moment. For me, service is a pinnacle. That’s what I’m drawn to no matter what role I’m in. Now, I’m a General Manager. For me, it’s a little bit twofold. I’m serving my community but I also like to have a great relationship with my painters, crews, or artisans. I consider myself to be as much a Relationship Builder as I am a General Manager. You can’t serve if you can’t connect.

It’s so well said. It’s very clear. What do we represent at LIME? We’re a luxury brand. We deliver world-class service, we’re experts at our craft, we’re aligned behind the way that we do business, and it’s clear. Somebody like yourself with a life of experience and talent can join our mission in supporting clients, subcontractors, and our artisans, but at the core, it’s about people. I love that you said that. It does not surprise me, but where do you think that developed within you? Where does that come from?

That’s a really good question. I don’t know that I have a very specific answer for that. I’ve always been that way since I was young. I am a believer. I’m Christian. I grew up in the Catholic faith. It’s just part of who I am intrinsically as a person. It’s built-in. It’s grown over the years. Experience teaches you a lot of things. It is experiencing different things that happen in your career or things that happen in your life. I also think becoming a mother is something that helped me zero in on that aspect of myself. As a mom, I consider that my greatest accomplishment out of all the things that I may have accomplished in my life and may accomplish in the future. For me, the greatest thing was that. That also is something that has really fostered that characteristic in me. It’s part of who I am. I can’t separate myself from it.

The world benefits from it. It benefits from that intentionality, care, and focus on people. Motherhood has a way of doing that.

It really does. It also gives you insights that I don’t know that you would have otherwise into behaviors, people, and relationship building especially. Motherhood has definitely been a benefit for me.

We’re all grown children at the end of the day. That’s great. What do you think are some of your professional areas of expertise from a professional standpoint?

What I bring to the table is handling production. That is a skill that I possess, whether it’s setting up crews, managing the jobs, making sure everything is done on time, and sticking to schedules, punch lists, and all of that stuff that comes from my background in real estate development. Also, sales. I have a very strong sales component. There’s a saying out there, “You’re always selling.” Selling gets a bad rap, but for me, with selling, you could take all the courses you want but it comes back to a relationship, developing a conversation, and just realizing what your client needs from you and being able to give it above and beyond what they even expect that you’re going to give them.

I do bring sales. I bring years of knowledge of the real estate investment industry from a perspective of let’s say I’m dealing with a residential client and I can give them the benefit of understanding what we’re going to provide. The service that we’re going to provide is not only going to be beneficial for the curb appeal of their home, but it’s going to be beneficial for the value of their home. It’s going to be beneficial for the value of the homes in the neighborhood. It’s things of that nature. We do a lot with people who are thinking of selling their homes, so I can work with them on the areas that I know from experience in the industry will get them the most bang for their buck.

Those things are also important. From an I perspective, I have experience in design. I’ve got experience in the construction industry. When you’re in those industries, there has to be a lot of attention to detail. You can’t just come in, throw some paint on something, come out, and expect to deliver a great product. That’s not what I’m about. What I really love is that that’s not what LIME is about. I do bring that level of scrutiny and past experience with me. Those are the main strong components that I bring to the table.

In our role at LIME, there’s so much consulting and educating. A lot of clients don’t quite understand what the sun and water do to all of their property. Being that we’re a luxury paint company, we’ve focused on custom homes and there are a lot of substrates that make up a home. That’s an opportunity. You talked about ROI and design. There’s this whole element of protecting and coating from that perspective.

Level Up with Nick Lopez | Maria de Cardenas | Personal Development

On the flip side, once it does make sense from an Xs and O, it’s exciting to transform your home and make it yours. So much of that is surrounded by expertise and consulting. Clearly, your skills allow you to provide a lot of value to clients in assessing their current state and then advising them on, “How do we restore, protect, and transform?” Having the logistics of the project, the artisans, and the recommendations to do all that turnkey, so much of that is people. That is truly a lot of value for a client when they’re looking at protecting and maintaining one of their highest-valued assets.

LIME stands for Love, Integrity, Mission, and Excellence. We talk about all these Xs and O’s. That’s what we do as a luxury brand, but we commit to doing business a certain way. With my life experiences and who I am, I know that LIME and the way that they do business, I can step into that and excel. It’s been awesome to have you a part of our team at LIME. In fact, it’s earned you some awards. You’ve only been with LIME for a couple of years and you mentioned GM. What are some of those awards?

Thank you for that. Humbly, I can say I won the Rookie of the Year Award my first year out. That was exciting and I was actually surprised. I was excited by that. This 2023, I won the Jam of the Year Award. Hopefully, I’ll keep trending upward. I honestly don’t think about those things when I’m working and doing. For me, I’m just trying to provide that level. I’m trying to keep upping the game and providing that level and that’s what’s taken me there, but I’m very happy and proud to have gotten me awards.

Well done. You’re probably one of the most humble people I know. Like you said, just serving one client at a time and one interaction at a time is something that you do very genuinely. Frankly, that’s who you are. Your clients, your team, and your community are so lucky to benefit from your skills and ability to serve. It’s important for our customers to have that level of service. You can look around, Maria, and not everybody takes that approach. LIME stands for Love, Integrity, Mission, and Excellence. What is your favorite value and why?

My favorite is excellence, which sometimes surprises people because I’m such a feeling kind of person. For me, everything else stems from excellence. In my very personal opinion, if you’re striving for excellence, you’re not going to get to excellence without the building blocks of love, integrity, and mission. If you don’t have those building blocks, you can’t get to excellence. For me, my favorite one is excellence because, to get there, you have to possess all the other elements and levels of LIME. That, for me, is my driving force. If I don’t have the love for my clients, my company, and my guys because my crews are my guys, and I don’t have the love for the community, educating people, and serving people, then I’m not going to get to excellence.

Level Up with Nick Lopez | Maria de Cardenas | Personal Development

If I don’t have integrity, forget it. If you don’t have integrity, you’re not going anywhere. That’s integral. What’s the mission? The mission is to serve. The mission is to provide value. The mission is when you hear LIME, you say, “I want that.” The mission is to make the community a better community, one project at a time, whether it’s a residential project or a commercial project. People are like, “It’s just paint.” That’s the thing. It’s not just paint. If you do it right, it is not just paint and then you can get to excellence. When you get to excellence, everything else falls into place.

At the core, it’s about the people. Thank you for sharing that. I’m curious. What is your greatest example of leveling up?

For me, I could use the example of LIME. I came in. I was New to the industry itself. I had a lot of knowledge with things related to the industry. I was new to the area. I didn’t really know Georgia very well. I jumped in. I remember going through the interview process and one of the questions was, “If you get this position and we tell you you have to come to training in Colorado tomorrow, are you ready to go?” I said, “Let’s go. Let’s do it.” My biggest example of leveling up has been taking that leap of faith and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. There’s a process that we have at LIME, which is the door knocking. A lot of people don’t like to do it and I have found that it has become one of my favorite things because I get to interact with people. I get to educate people I get to show them how we can help them, but now, that’s my greatest example of leveling up in a business sense.

It sounds like you’ve just jumped in and committed. You’ve seen alignment and you attack the process from day one.

I took what was in place that you guys have carefully put in place and it works so well. Like I said, I took a leap of faith and said, “What do I need to do? Who do I need to become to hit the goals that I want to hit?” That’s what I’ve done.

Clearly, you have a high-performance mentality. You’re intentional. You have to have some tendencies to stay sharp with you and your team. I’m curious. How do you go about continuing to level up amongst yourself and your team?

There are a few different ways. Communication is key. We have daily meetings. We’re making sure we’re on the same page. Checking in with not only my guys but the other people on our team and checking with Andrew daily keeps us connected. It keeps us all on the same path. It’s making sure that everybody’s functioning like a well-oiled machine because you’re not on every day. Every day, you don’t feel like doing the things that you need to get done, but you have to you have to do them. Number one, I lead by example.

I wouldn’t ask anybody to do something that I’m not willing to do. That goes a long way. I listen to my crews. I listen to my team. I try to play to their strengths. That’s very important when you’re managing and also even when you’re dealing with a client. You want to put the right crew at the right place at the right time to get the perfect result for that person. Listening, consistency, discipline, and communication are the ways that I help the team continue to level up and myself as well. I needed it as much for me as for anybody else. It keeps me in check as well.

Did you have any kind of personal development?

I do a lot of personal development. It’s imperative. I’m always learning something. Mentors are very important. If you don’t have a mentor personally in your life, luckily now, with things like podcasts and things of that nature, you have the ability to get information that before was unheard of. I do a lot of personal development. I do a lot of reading. Some of my favorites now are Ed Mylett and Alex Hormozi for business-related stuff. The older I get, the more I realize also that I need to stay healthy and stay in shape, making sure I’m doing all those things, eating right, exercising, and all that good stuff. I do a lot of personal development and a lot of reading. I carve out time for that. It’s important to keep your mind fresh and to always be learning new things and figuring out how you can apply those things to what we’re trying to do with LIME and for our clients.

What would you say is your superhuman power?

My superhuman power is empathy. A lot of people confuse sympathy and empathy, but for me, it’s almost like you’re asking before. It’s part of who I am. I don’t know how to extricate myself from it. It serves me well in life in general, but I find that when I’m dealing with clients, I have a very high ability to truly empathize with whatever situation I might be dealing with regarding that specific client at a specific time, whether it’s they’re just looking to freshen up their home and they’re excited about picking new colors or things of that nature because sometimes the jobs are just that simple. I can feel that energy, I feed off that energy, and it’s reflected back to them. It makes the process fun.

If it’s somebody whose home needs a lot of rehabilitation, I can empathize with the pain of having to go through that and reassure them and being able to understand that that’s not a comfortable spot for them to be in to know that their biggest investment is starting to need some repairs here and there. It’s being able to connect with that part of my client, know what they need, and have the ability to provide them with a solution for that need. I don’t find myself having to guess a lot. Sometimes, people will say something, but they’re thinking or feeling something else. I can pick up on that. For me, it’s a superpower. It’s benefited me greatly in life.

So much of what we’ve talked about is people. It always goes back to the values and people, but specifically, how are you applying those values to whoever it is that you’re interacting with? Empathy allows you to deploy those values in a good stewardship way with love, integrity, mission, and excellence. You can contribute to that relationship with what you’re picking up from an empathy perspective. When you’re having a full home makeover, you go through a lot of emotions from due diligence and curiosity to excitement and design to, “What’s going on? We’re in draft mode and it’s messy,” to, “It’s clear. It’s beautiful. It’s mine.” You do such a great job at serving clients and helping them fall in love with their home again.

That’s the mission.

That’s one moment, one interaction, and one client at a time. It requires a lot of intentionality, persistence, and commitment. That’s what it is. It’s our craft. It sure is fun doing LIME with you and perfecting our luxury space or craft. Maria, I have certainly been inspired by our conversation. Thank you for sharing how you’ve leveled up. I know that customers are greatly benefiting from you serving them and being intentional like you were throughout this entire conversation. Thank you so much. If anybody would like to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

You can call me directly. My cell phone number is (470) 930-0281. You can also come to our website, We also have @LIMEPaintingOfAtlanta Instagram. You can DM me through there and I will respond. I am available to serve anytime. Hopefully, I look forward to meeting a lot of people that are reading. I hope I’ve been able to help and inspire someone to give at least a little tidbit of information and hopefully make somebody smile.

You at least made my day. Thank you so much. As always, please subscribe to the show, like this episode, and drop a comment. As always, level up.

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About Maria de Cardenas

Level Up with Nick Lopez | Maria de Cardenas | Personal Development
General Manager | Interior Design Professional
I am a seasoned leader with a diverse background in real estate investment and interior design. Currently serving as the General Manager for LIME Painting of Atlanta I bring strategic vision to operations, team management, and business development.
General Manager of the Year Award 2023 – Recognized for exceptional leadership and significant contributions to organizational success.
Rookie of the Year Award 2022 – Demonstrated outstanding achievements and rapid success in a competitive industry.
As General Manager, I’ve honed skills in strategic planning, team building, lead generation, sales, and operational excellence. While I am passionate about creating innovative and aesthetically pleasing designs at Carolina Armas Studio, my expertise in general management has been pivotal in driving overall success.