My name is Veena Choudary. I am a daughter, sister, friend, pharmacist, mother, entrepreneur, mentor, and so much more. I am a single mom and I run two very large businesses. I have nothing original to say to you that you do not already know in your heart. And all I can do is echo the words of the many great people I follow, listen and learn from. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to share my life lessons. 🙂
How many kids do you have and what are their age(s)?
I have three children: two living: my older daughter is 12 years almost 13 and her brother is 7 years old. I lost my middle child at 39 weeks and 2 days but she is very much part of our family. 🙂
Favorite family activities?
We love exploring- new places in town, parks of all kinds, libraries, craft activities, museums: whatever we can do.
What is your favorite thing to do when you need some “me time”?
Listen to an engaging speaker, go for a drive or a walk.
How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project you might be doing? How has it changed since becoming a mom?
I am a pharmacist by training. By passion, I am a problem solver. I love running businesses because I love solving problems. My strength is my persistence- I stay in the game when others give up and I find the way out. It took me a while to understand this about myself but that is who I am.
I started off by going to pharmacy school and then on to graduate school. I have two advanced degrees with a third in holding pattern. Life got in the way. I had numerous challenges but I have stood the test of time. 🙂 I am living proof that anything is possible if we have the will and the faith. Everything is figureoutable!
I was fortunate to work for a wonderful boss when we lived in Albuquerque who saw potential in me very early on. I was always hustling and trying new things when everyone else wanted to give up. And he spotted that early on in me. I managed to get noticed by the Vice President of Operations for the company I was working for. It helped my own confidence very much as well. We then moved here to Connecticut and I was thrown into a crucible- a failing independent pharmacy. I worked very, very hard and turned it around. It was a great experience because it taught me that one person can make a huge difference. I was then in charge of a very large operation where I am now: with two pharmacies, a durable medical equipment center, a nutritional supplement line with e-commerce and a compounding lab. So, I had the opportunity to learn many, many new things. I am blessed to work with an amazing team who have helped me every step of the way to realize the crazy, big ideas I have.
I have ended up where I am now because I learned to say yes even if I did not know how. I knew I would figure it out along the way. I was presented with an opportunity to feature in a documentary. I was always the behind the scenes person not much of an on-camera person. But I decided to say yes and do it- mostly because I wanted to do it for the amazing people who supported me. Here is a link to the documentary:
The documentary ended up winning awards and changing my life in many ways. Most importantly, it taught me to expand my horizons and that while we will never be perfect, when you speak from your heart, it shows! And people respond to that light in you.
We took the leap from pharmacy to family entertainment because we did not want to sit around idly when the healthcare industry was changing so much and insurances and chain pharmacies were taking over jobs and margins. Mail order, robots and remote consulting were all becoming common place. We knew we had to diversify. We also knew we wanted to be in a business that served people and that helped make happy memories. We serve people daily in pharmacy and durable medical equipment and we are privileged to be part of their lives as they take their last breaths. But we knew we wanted to be in the other end of the spectrum as well. We loved the Urban Air model because it offered so much more- like our own personalities- there was so much to do! And we were always about go big or go home! 🙂
It is very important to us that a parent can come to Urban Air and be able to see their children playing easily without having to hover over them- the clear line of sight of our attractions is by design. That we have a step stool by the water fountain and rest rooms for the little ones (I set those up myself!) That the employees who work there know that we care about them- not just at work but that they made it home safely, or how their mother is doing or if they are staying focused in school. We do our best to balance it all while remaining their employer. It is an awesome privilege to be able to do what I do- to be a small part of so many families’ happy memories, to help so many young people shine at their first jobs, to create so many jobs in the community, to collaborate with so many different skills, trades and multi-talented people across the globe. We have met so many amazing entrepreneurs, tradesmen and made so many friends as we grow this business. It is an amazing and humbling experience!
What are you most excited about in life right now?
I am excited about the infinite possibilities. It is an amazing time in history when we can run an entire business from a phone. It is an amazing time when every person has the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. It is a time when we are looking at the possibilities of a young woman wearing a piece of jewelry with a sensor that can call 911 and keep her safe if attacked. Of crowdfunding- when you don’t have to depend on a financial institution to realize your dreams. We live in a time when education is at our fingertips, whether it is Khan Academy or Udemy or Skillshare or Coursera or the numerous amazing, amazing heroes who provide hours and hours of free content that we can use to change our lives.
I grew up in a time when you had to choose one path. Now, the possibilities for side hustles are infinite. That was not even a term growing up! Now, it’s the norm! 🙂 It is an amazing time to live in- when you can be anyone and many some ones! It is incredibly exciting to be a part of these times! 🙂
How do you find balance?
I do not strive for balance. I am an all in person: I work hard, and I am a mom 1000%. I have no in-between. It was quite the struggle in the beginning when I had limitations on how I can work and what I can do. But slowly, I built a career and life I am proud of- I bring my children to work when I have to- (million snow days!) they don’t always enjoy it but they see that I am working constantly, they see what I do, they see how warmly patients respond to me and how I joke with my coworkers, they see how I am continually changing things at work and trying new things. I once had to drag them out of bed at midnight because a patient needed a medication. It was not ideal but it was necessary. They jumped up and were ready and out the door to handle the problem with me. It taught them that when you make a promise to take care of someone, you stand by it. Similarly, when they have an event or practice, I am there- I am cheering them on, waiting for hours on end at practices- whatever it takes. I work off my phone or take material with me to review. I figure it out.
It is easier today for us to find balance or integrate our work lives because of how much technology we have available. Our challenge is to find the ways to respect both our work and our family in whatever order needed at that time. It is good for children to learn that they have to wait while mom solves a problem and similarly, for your coworkers to see that you are vulnerable or human for wiping chocolate stains off your shirt. We figure it out together.
I was raised by a stay at home mom who hustled all the time. I remember her pouring over the financial portion of the newspaper, reading about stocks and shares, reading her dividend statement to learn all the terms, door to door selling, to finally selling high end jewelry she designed. She is a high school graduate. She educated herself and learned on her own. She never sat still. Growing up, it was a gift for me to see this because that is how I felt inside- always wanting to do more, be more, learn more. My mother single-handedly raised my brother and I to make us accomplished human beings. My mother taught me that anything is possible. She would do whatever it took to figure things out.
I went to school at the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota where I was fortunate to train under a fabulous mentor who taught me to listen to my intuition more than anything else. She is multi-talented and found ways to marry the rigors of an academic life with knitting, beading, weaving and so many more talents in addition to raising beautiful children while rising in her academic career. She did all this while remaining a nurturer for her family, her students and the community. She is a living example for me that we can do what we want by remaining who we are.
For me, the goal is to integrate my family and work. It never feels like work to me. And what I want my children to see is that when you love what you do, you are never tired, you are never without hope and you are never bored. They see that as living example in front of them. They may not appreciate it every day right now but they will one day when they look back. Just like I do. I am very grateful for how I was raised- it taught me to stand on my feet, to hustle all the time but most importantly to always look for an answer because seek and you shall find.
Proudest mommy moment?
When I hear the children echo some great words that they have heard from a talk I listen to. When kind is the word most commonly used to describe them.
Best piece of advice for another mom?
I have a few actually……
Find your YES Posse!
The world is full of naysayers, people wanting to pull you down or to compare you to Jane, or Kate or the Joneses. Find your YES posse! These are the people who lift you up. They are there for you. They may not be many but they are the people you call at 1AM for help, your first call when you get that amazing job offer or when your child is in trouble. These are the people who will hold you when things are uphill and who will cheer for you in the arena.
And just as importantly, don’t pay attention to any one jeering from the cheap seats- do your thing and do it proudly- whatever that is. If they are not in the arena fighting with you, their opinion does not count.
Be Kind to Yourself:
This is so hard and I know I struggle with it every day. It is very easy to lose yourself in the immediateness of your life- of the morning car line, the lunch run, the dry clean run and what not. It is just as easy to beat yourself up if the project is not completed exactly as you want it to be. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can with what you have. If that is your truth- that is enough.
No one knows what is best for you, only you do. Do what seems right to you. Listen to your inner voice and wisdom. I struggle with the wisdom part myself. I listen to my inner voice but I do not let my wisdom shout. I am trying. Listen. Practice every single day.
Shine in your light:
You have a unique gift that only you can give this world. There is only one YOU. You have a purpose- and you know what it is. Go live it. Shine in your own light. The world is not served by your playing small. Whatever lights you up, do it. Listen to that inner voice telling you to attend a talk at the library when you see a poster when you are waiting at story time. Or the voice that tells you to send that email or pick up that phone and make that call. Do what lights you up.
The stories we tell ourselves:
We are very good at telling ourselves stories about how we are not enough or are not ready. Start before you are ready. You will figure it out. You have all the answers. You will never be fully ready for anything. You just have to do it. I promise you, that you will figure it out. And if you don’t, you will still be better off for having tried. You cannot go wrong when you rise.
Last but not least:
None of us can do it alone. I would be nothing without the support of my amazing team at all my businesses, my beautiful children at home, my tireless mother, my cheerleading brother, my few, very amazing friends and so many more people who lift me up. And we need all these other women like us who know how it feels and who are text away to lift us up! I am here to do that for you. Count me in your YES Posse, to remind you to be kind to yourself, to help you Shine in your own light and to help you destroy the stories you tell yourself. I am here to serve you in any way I can.
Something we’d be surprised to learn about you?
I love action movies- I am very gentle and non-violent but I have a thing for action films. Something about that larger than life triumph of good over evil! 🙂 I have watched Speed and Die Hard countless times! 🙂