We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaleea Venney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaleea, how do you think about risk?
*Laughs* My entire career is a risk. It takes courage and perseverance to go against societal norms. Society says we’re supposed to go to school, get a job, and retire from that job after having spent your life doing it. It doesn’t matter if you are fulfilled or if you even like the job. You just wake up and show up for work daily. You’d have to be a little crazy to risk the security that comes with a 9-5 to chase your dream. It’s a huge risk. What if people laugh at you? What if no one supports you? What if you can’t make any money? The odds that you will fail seem insurmountable. I had all of those thoughts and fears until I realized one thing: God will not give you the desire to do something that he will not see you through. If you allow fear to cripple you, you will never know what you’re made of. You are at your best when you are afraid. Fear makes you alert, and aware of all of the possible scenarios. Fear brings out your fight or flight mode and kicks your adrenaline into auto pilot. Some of your biggest wins will come from ideas that scared the crap out of you. While the idea that “the bigger the risk, the greater the fear” may be true, what is also true is the bigger the risk, the greater the reward. That feeling in your gut is destiny. Lean in to it. If you don’t take the risk, you’ll always be where you’ve always been. THAT is scarier than anything else to me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a best selling author Author, Speaker, Podcast Host and Non Profit Founder/President. My passion has always been writing. It’s always been my dream to connect with the world through my words. My journey to finding my purpose has not been an easy one. I always thought I was supposed to be writing but, it almost never happened after I had my daughter at 16. Everyone told me to find a “safe” career so that I could help to provide for my new daughter. I ignored my passion for writing and played it safe by becoming a nurse. I did well but, I was miserable because I knew who I was supposed to be. I had no choice. I had to go for it because the regret was unbearable. I knew I was supposed to be writing but, it was even bigger than that. I leaned into who I was and wrote from my heart. When I wrote my book dedicated to young women: Little Girl, Little Girl, Don’t Get Lost In This World, I met so many young women with questions, that wanted to connect with me further, and knew I had to answer that call. Never did I dream I’d be starting a non profit (Venney Girl Inc) to help young women reach their full potential but, that’s exactly what happened next. I started VGI to help young women who are told that where they start or come from should define who they are capable of becoming. Through mentoring and retreats, it was obvious I had to do more. I started my Podcast (Girl Which Way) because I wanted to reach young women on a global level. I wanted to start conversations between teenaged girls and their parents. Some parents are so afraid of oversharing or being “the parent” that they don’t realize that our kids are at school having these discussions without us. Who are their peers learning from? I wanted to change that. I wanted to open the door to reality by helping parents and their daughters connect without judgment. There weren’t many podcasts that parents could listen to with their girls, Girl Which Way, changes that! I am most excited that I didn’t give up on my dream because so many other people have benefitted from me just doing what I love. It has not been easy, but it has been the best time of my life. I am walking in my purpose. Had I let fear keep me on the sidelines, I would have never started VGI or the Podcast. You might be thinking you’re supposed to be doing one thing-and that’s probably true, but there’s always so much more attached to that one thing that you don’t even see today. It’s worth starting, even if you’re afraid. Your goal is bigger than you think. You never know who is waiting for you to be your true self. The biggest lesson I learned is to bet on myself. So I share the lesson I learned the hard way with you: DO IT! With everything you’ve got.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A week? So much to do, so little time. I’d take my bestie to a Lakers Game because the whole experience is so much fun, plus, Staples Center and LA Live are great LA attractions. Everyone always wants to go the Hollywood sign so we’d go and do that but, I’d do it from the skies via a helicopter tour. We would have to check out Venice Beach because Venice is never the same experience twice, it’s always a fun time. We’d probably dart over to the Santa Monica Pier too and ride the rides. Since we’re going to the beaches, we’d surely visit my hometown of Long Beach and check out the Queen Mary, the Aquarium, and the boardwalk. We might even head over to Catalina Island from Long Beach. We might have to do Universal City Walk, Disneyland, Knotts’ Berry Farms, or Six Flags for some adrenaline. We could visit the museums, the zoo, or walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Maybe she wants to do a celebrity homes bus tour. We’d eat great Mexican Food pretty much all over downtown LA, we’d hit up burger spots, hole in the wall places like my favorite Louis Burger in Long Beach (Chili Cheese Fries), and some that are better known like Roscoes in Inglewood or Mar’sel in Palos Verdes, I just don’t know if a week is long enough.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would have to split my shout out between my best friend and love of my life, my husband Ken, and our 2 children Khaleea and Kaylin. To my husband Ken, thank you for loving me and seeing me in a way no one else ever could. We were just two kids who fell in love. You have rallied around me, constructively criticized me, and helped me to chase my dreams. I don’t know what I’d do without you. To my children. Thank you for rooting for and loving me with the purest love. You guys are my reason for everything I do. I hope I make you proud.