Five years ago, TaKeysha Sheppard Cheney had a successful, secure corporate position with American Electric Power (AEP) working in sustainability. At that same time, Cheney became increasingly involved in numerous women and girl initiatives in her community as a volunteer. It became a growing passion of hers and she knew she had to do something more about it.
“I have a strong interest in business and helping women who are like me and serious about their careers or their businesses but, at the same time, understand how important it is to be engaged in the community,” Cheney says.
That passion led Cheney to start The Women’s Book, a media company that shares resources for women in business, in 2009. Cheney, CEO, began her new venture while still at AEP, but soon realized that she had to make a choice between one or the other. The Women’s Book won.
“The decision to leave my corporate job was a turning point because there was a lot of security there,” Cheney says. “The reality was that I did have to make a choice because it became too much.
“It was a big leap, but I felt that it had traction and potential, and it was what I needed to do. Now I had to figure out how to navigate this big move.”
With a new business under way and a number of uncertainties in front of her, Cheney pushed forward with The Women’s Book. She now had a lot to juggle day-in and day-out.
“One of my biggest challenges is juggling all my interests,” she says. “I’m very entrepreneurial and I come up with a lot of ideas. Half the battle is prioritizing which ideas to act on and which things to get involved with in the community. At the same time, I have a business to run, and it takes a lot of my time.”
While prioritizing is a big challenge for Cheney, she always puts her family first.
“I have a very supportive spouse, but he definitely tells me when things are off,” she says. “I’m also the eldest of seven kids, and it’s important that I spend time with them as well. They need to know that I value them and not just my business.”
Cheney says the key to prioritizing is being honest about what’s most important to you.
“Is advancing your business or your corporate career a high priority for you?” Cheney says. “Is spending time with your family and with your spouse really a priority? If it is, then you have to make time for it.”
Cheney makes sure that she spends time on the things that are most important in her life, but she has never been one to believe in the word “balance” but rather the word “juggle.”
“One month you might spend more time on your business than you do your family, or you might spend more time one month on your family than you do your nonprofit,” she says. “That’s OK. You just have to take a regular assessment once a month or every other month to look at where you’re spending time.”
These kinds of challenges and obstacles are what keep Cheney excited to take on each new day.
“The reality is that if there weren’t any obstacles, life wouldn’t be as much fun and certain goals wouldn’t be as worth it,” Cheney says. “There’s value in having to work hard and those obstacles do exist. You have to acknowledge that and figure out how you are going to deal with them.” ●
How to reach: The Women’s Book, (614) 678-8008 or www.thewomensbook.com
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