Today we’d like to introduce you to Shani Walker.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born right here in Atlanta (shout out to all the Grady babies!) but I spent most of my adolescence in Pearl, Mississippi – a suburb right outside of the capital city of Jackson. My household was very tight-knit, so my immediate family means everything to me. All praises and thanks go to God and my beautiful mom because even though we didn’t have a lot of money, we never went without.
I’m one of those people who have so many interests and I get excited about new things really easily – so I have my hand in a lot of ventures. Full time, I’m a CPA working in public accounting as a tax senior for insurance corporations. I’m on the board of directors for NABA (the National Association of Black Accountants), and I oversee a high school program that introduces minority students to the accounting/finance/entrepreneurship professions. I also have a bakery/dessert table business (Lilybud Bakery), I do a small amount of graphic design work & personal finance coaching on the side, and my latest and greatest project is my podcast, The Mocha Message.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Pressure makes diamonds, and as I’ve continued to grow I’ve realized that your challenges shape you into exactly who you need to be. One of my biggest struggles is my impatience; for those of you who are into astrology, I’m an Aries & we are notorious for not having much patience. When I’m working on something and it isn’t progressing as fast as I would like, I really have to stop myself from just putting it down and picking up another passion project/entrepreneurial venture. I know, I know, that’s not how life works Shani!
Over the past few years, I’ve had to work on not comparing my journey to others. First of all, most people show you their highlight reels – especially on social media – and you may have no idea what all it took for them to get where they are. Second, I’ve had to realize that God already has an intricate plan and timeline for me, and the more I’m impatient and messing it up, the longer it’ll take me to reach my fullest potential. It’s still something I find challenging, simply because my nature is to ‘go, go, go’, but I’m definitely better than I once was.
Another obstacle that I’ve had, and this is me being really transparent, is my aversion to risk (especially financial.) It’s crazy because I’m an adrenaline junkie in my personal life. However, I think because I grew up in an area where not many people had a lot of money, it’s an internal struggle for me to take some business risks knowing that there is a possibility of stuff going completely sideways.
I’m that type of person that likes to have backup plans on deck so that I have comfort in knowing I’m always covered. But that’s not how business or life works sometimes! As a young, growing, black entrepreneur, I’m slowly learning ways to take calculated risks and how to avoid that anxiety about my financial security as a result. In her recent Elle interview, my good sis Beyoncé said that “Creativity starts with taking a leap of faith – telling your fears they are not allowed where you are headed.” I’m taking that with me into this next year of business and beyond. I’m a work in progress, y’all!
Please tell us about Mocha Message Podcast.
I am 1/2 of the Mocha Message Podcast. Our tagline is, “Giving love, light, & inspo… for the culture.” About a year and a half ago, I started looking into podcasts and subscribing to a variety of topics – finance, entrepreneurship, music, etc. I got really frustrated because I wanted to find a bunch of shows hosted by black women, but the majority back then were all ‘hot take’ podcasts which I’m not really interested in. I have my own thoughts about ‘black’ sites and shows like The Shade Room or the Breakfast Club, and I didn’t want to listen to a bunch of celeb gossip for an hour straight. So, along with Jackie – my amazing co-host – we developed the Mocha Message!
We talk about any and everything that relates to current black culture: being a minority in the workplace, feeling like you’re always “behind” your peers, the power of women friendships, even the Tinder-era of dating. My absolute favorite thing about the Mocha Message is how authentic and honest our conversations are. If you ask our listeners (or Mocha Mavens as we like to call them), they’ll tell you that we are the first to admit we don’t have all of the answers. But the first step to growth is acknowledgement and transparency… and we provide that in a way that makes you feel like you’re not alone. Plus, we give you some laughs along the way because we’re both super goofy as well; that’s the icing on the cake.
At the end of each episode, we give you a Mocha Message that can be used to inspire and encourage you throughout the week and beyond. In January of 2019, we started this podcast without any background in media, mass comm, or entertainment. Through research and networking, we’ve really built this up into something that already reaches people around the globe. I was so hyped when I saw stats that we have Mocha Mavens in Canada, Mexico, and Europe! It’s been absolutely amazing to see the growth of our podcast and just how much our content is positively affecting others.
What were you like growing up?
I’m the oldest of three – and I have a pretty large age gap between my younger siblings. I felt like that always gave me a little extra push to go harder in life because I knew I had my little brother and sister watching my every move it seems like. I definitely was (and still am) super competitive and so I think that leaked into almost everything I did – straight A grades, keeping my 1st chair spot on the snare drum line, the tennis team… I love to win.
But I have to say I really blossomed into my own when I attended my alma mater, Jackson State University (Thee I Love!) Everyone knows that I’m super passionate about HBCUs. The experience is like no other – from the quality education, the long-lasting connections, the multitude of opportunities… I won’t go into too big of a rant right now, but my two HBCUs (JSU and CAU) really molded me into who I am and how I view myself as a young black woman in America now.
I’m still super silly and love to be around people that keep me laughing. I’m a huge daredevil (I even went sky diving this year for my 25th birthday.) I’m pretty open about trying anything at least once, and I’ve never been embarrassed to like what I like. I absolutely love music of all genres. I used to play a lot of video games but I don’t get to enjoy them as often these days… reading is a huge passion of mine, and so is cooking/baking. I never stayed in any one “clique” all throughout school – If I’m cool with you then I’m cool with you. So I guess it’s safe to say that not much has changed as far as my interests and personality from when I was growing up. Now, I’m just a bit more worldly and mature!
- The Mocha Message is FREE to listen to on all sites & apps where you listen to podcasts!
- Website: www.mochamessage.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mochamessagepodcast/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mochamessagepodcast
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/mochamessagepod
Khalid Johnson (photos in earth tone outfits) Khamel Carter (photos in white) & Alexis “Lex the Flex” (photos in Mocha Message jerseys and yellow/blue dresses)