If you’ve tuned into WWL in recent years, you’ve seen Sheba Turk, vibrant and smiling bright and early when most of us are barely on our first cup of coffee. As a frequent guest on the morning show, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know this fearless female. I can also attest that the Sheba you see on your screen every day is the same Sheba you’ll see in real life – even in line at Cafe du Monde on a random Friday night (hey, we both had a craving). Her rise on WWL alone is impressive, but her full story even more so. I recently had the chance to chat with her about her career, fresh off the heels of her debut novel Off Air: My Journey to the Anchor Desk.
She shares so many great lessons learned, even her missteps. It’s a good read not just for aspiring students but also for established professionals, entrepreneurs and more. Parents especially will want to know this story. After all, isn’t our goal to raise happy kids? Here’s how such a kid grew into happy (albeit, successful) adult.
At what age did you decide what you wanted to do for a living?
I still haven’t decided what I want to do for a living, and I really mean that! Some days I wake up and think that I still want to be a dolphin trainer. And maybe one day I will still give it a try. I believe in constantly reevaluating my life to make sure I am happy and living my life to the fullest.
With that being said, I decided to go into journalism when I was about 21. I was not the girl who grew up dreaming of being a news anchor. I just never considered news as a career option. I ended up taking a journalism class just because a friend was taking it. I loved writing, so journalism turned out to be a great fit for me. In my junior year of college, I met an amazing mentor, Kim Bondy, who encouraged me to go into TV news (I was going to become a newspaper writer). I am very grateful for my career. I enjoy talking to people and sharing their stories.
What advice/encouragement did you receive from your parents along the way that helped?
My parents are the reason I am in the position I am in today. They have given me so much advice. My dad’s advice comes in the form of humor. He’s a lot like me. He’s a very hard worker and always focuses on the bright side. The best advice he has given me is to not take life too seriously.
My mom is full of advice all day long … every day. When I was little, she would always say, “If everybody else jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump too?!” It sounded crazy when I was little, but now I get that she just wanted me to think for myself. Both of my parents are very real people. They taught me the value and freedom of being myself and never putting on a show to live up to other peoples’ expectations.
What advice would you give parents trying to guide their kids today?
In my new book, ‘Off Air: My Journey to the Anchor Desk,’ I tell the story of how I threw a tantrum when I was four years old because I did not want to wear a flower crown for a school program. My mom didn’t yell at me. Instead, the next day, she kept me home from school, took me for a picnic in the park, and talked to 4-year old Sheba like she talks to adult Sheba. She explained that if I decided to do something, I had to be all in- no complaining – or I could decide not to do it. It made perfect sense and I apply that to everything in my life. Do I care enough to give it 100% percent? If not, I don’t do it.
From my perspective, it is helpful for parents to have very real conversations with their children. I would also stress to other parents that you don’t have to be perfect people to be perfect parents. I learned from my parents’ mistakes because they were willing to be honest about the things they wished they had done differently.
What are some missteps you’ve had and how did they help/set you back?
The biggest misstep in my journey so far has been choosing to go to a college that I really could not afford. I went to New York University, but I had to drop out during my sophomore year for financial reasons, even though I was doing great academically. It was a low point for me. I was always a book worm and I believed that school would get me from where I came from to where I wanted to be. There I was, 23 years old … from a family with financial struggles and I couldn’t afford a car. I had no real experience, and no one wanted to hire me – even for retail jobs.
I eventually got a small job and worked my way back into school at the University of New Orleans. Looking back at that time, it made me tougher and taught me to have faith when things are rough.
If you could do it all over, is there anything you’d do differently?
No, I would not do anything differently. Even though I could have made some better choices, I wouldn’t go back and change the way I did things. If there is anything I have learned, it is that the lows of my journey are just as important as the highs. I accept every part of my journey. For instance, with the knowledge I have now, I certainly would have gone to a cheaper college. But would I have learned to be smarter with my money if I had not hit rock bottom? I’ll never know.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have been given that helps me with balancing my goals is from my mentor, Kim. She knows that I love talking about the future. Years ago, she told me to take one step at a time. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I think about her advice and remember that it’s helpful to focus on one step in my plan, tackle that and then move on to the next. Focusing on the big picture is great, but it can also be very intimidating.
My mom gave me the best advice about making decisions in life. She always told me that I had to be happy with myself when I went to bed at night and I was alone with my pillow. That helps me to remember to live for myself and do things that I believe in. It’s easy to get caught up and do things just to impress other people or to make money, but I never want a superficial life like that.