Being Mrs. Louisiana International 2013
There’s an old adage that serves present purpose: “Life is a journey” – believe this, pursue your dreams, and inspire others to do the same.
Let me begin by introducing myself! On a daily basis, I enrich lives, build dreams and secure futures. My name is Laura Valenti, and I am a marketing professor here at Nicholls State University. I am also the Chair of the Internal Relations Committee and Director of the university’s Free Enterprise Program. I am Mrs. Louisiana International 2013, which paves the way for me to work with several philanthropic organizations. I created the SHE-Selling concept (some of you came to my workshop today) which focuses on personal selling and marketing skills, contributing writer for WHAT NOW Magazine, President of the Houma Young Professionals Board, and Historian for the Association for Business Communication, Southwest. I am an adoring wife of a professional firefighter, and I have two miniature schnauzer pups that I love dearly. My favorite color is yellow and I LOVE wedding cake flavored snowballs!
I am here today to talk to you about journeys. I am still on mine, and what a great ride it’s been! I begin with belief in the journey.
[Believe.] Journeys are personal – because you must travel through your own journey. Some suggest the end point of the journey is what makes the journey worthwhile – perhaps a goal, a victory, or a sense of success. I believe a journey encompasses the entire experience, and that YOU have the ability to shape this experience, to shape your journey, into how you foresee it.
Journeys are an opportunity to grow, learn who we are, discover who we are not, and lead us to the most meaningful life we can possibly have. I believe that journeys are self created, and sometimes when we take the right paths we end up exactly where we are supposed to be. The biggest leap of faith you can ever do is JUST BELIEVE that you can accomplish anything you set your mind and heart to, for how you pursue your journey can make a world of difference.
[Pursue.] A journey with purpose is most meaningful. This is the secret that I share with you: “Build a journey, and the journey will build you.” I want to share with you pieces of my journey.
When I was a kid, I would have visions of my life – what I would be, what impact I would make (hopefully a big one), who I would marry, what my life would be like. From the ages of 7 through 12, I played school with the neighborhood kids (I always played “teacher”). I also organized, planned and hosted dance recitals that I recruited neighborhood moms to donate their front lawns for the sake of a stage, sew costumes and bake goodies for. I studied hard, did my homework, and made good grades. I also loved watching the Miss USA and Miss America pageants on the telly with stars in my eyes. I truly could not wait to grow up just so that I would know just how my life would turn out to be like.
I am happy to declare that I have accomplished all of these things: I am a marketing professor (school paid off), an entrepreneur, Mrs. Louisiana International and I enjoy working in my community. I often pinch myself: How did all this happen? How did the dreams and desires transpire over time and to a grandeur scale? I am just a normal person who hails from a middle class and loving family. I believed in my journey and dreams, and I had the willingness to want to accomplish great things throughout my life. Here’s the answer: a dream, dedication and constant perseverance throughout the journey.
Know that: Milestones are just stones, mountains can be climbed and that your journey will give these obstacle courses to ensure that what you are building is worthwhile.
In telling my story, I hope it inspires you to pursue and accomplish your dreams, too.
[Inspire.] One of the greatest things you can ever do is inspire and motivate someone else to take action in a positive way. Along your journey you will cross paths with some other people who are also on their journey. Help them, and be the guiding light, for some have done this for you, too. My husband, Ricky, walks the journey with me, clears my path, and sometimes needs me to hold the torch to guide his path. My friend Rachel plays “tag” on my journey – we are each other’s muse, inspiring each other to “keep on, push on, and do something bigger and better tomorrow than what was done today.” Along my journey I have also had mentors, like my former CEO, Steve, who played the role of big brother and gave me free reign to run his international franchise’s marketing department. There are tons of guardian angels along the way and lots of opportunities to listen to your gut instinct.
Use your journey to inspire others. Be the cheerleader who says, “You can do it!!” Help others. Be the nightlight for someone to have their journey lit when it gets dark. Work with philanthropic organizations, and share something as simple as a smile, hug, or “I care.” I work with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, American Heart Association, Kiva and Heifer International, to name a few. I enjoy being around other people, feel that I am constantly learning, and seek opportunities to make this world and one life a great journey.
In closing, remember that this is YOUR journey. I believe in you. Believe in yourself, and the path you are on. Make changes when necessary. Build and create your journey, and always look for opportunities to pay it forward.
I hope my message has been inspiring, and I place a challenge onto all of you: ALWAYS be your personal best, be confident in who you are, and with this, make the world a better place.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” ~Aristotle
I am incredibly honored to represent both my native state of Louisiana and a remarkable system, the International Pageants brand, as your Mrs. Louisiana International 2013! The journey here has been met with perseverance, support, lots of love and humbleness. I plan to share my story and reign in my Being Mrs. Louisiana International 2013 blog.
WHO: I am an advocate of many causes I care about immensely, a dignitary for married women in their quest to balance love, life, and family, and a role model to young women around Louisiana representing that confidence, career and education can take you to all corners of your bucket list.
WHAT: I want to change the world. Really, it’s true! I have chosen a career (well, it truly chose me) where I make an impact on people every single day. There are a few common denominators: I am positive. I am confident. I appreciate the abilities God allows me, and I appreciate each day because I am alive. That’s The Secret (fabulous book, by the way)!
HOW: SHE-Selling is a platform I created. The ‘SHE’ is an acronym for Selling Her Everyday. One thing I have learned in life is that many people do not know how to sell, or market, themselves. I change that. On a daily basis I meet lovely ladies who are approaching graduation by months or only a few years. I help them. I review their resume. I teach them how to introduce themselves. I give them a proper handshake. I coach them on their interview. I mentor them in how to dress feminine and professional. I give them life advice. I listen. I care. I want to give them the best opportunity to be the most successful they can be. And I do this through marketing.
WHEN: I will be Mrs. Louisiana International until January 2014. But my efforts and community work will not stop there. Pageantry allows me a platform and a microphone to call attention to the things I care about and support. It is an icebreaker for me and all the things I hope to accomplish over my lifetime. Though, I won’t deny I love the rhinestones and fabulous dresses!
WHERE: Everywhere, Louisiana! I am a Louisiana lady: born, raised and educated here. I love the bayous I see driving to and from home, sugar cane fields, the smell of magnolias, visiting plantations, swamp trees and Spanish moss, Mardi Gras season, the crazy Creole French accents we have, gumbo, and Louisiana traditions. Louisiana is in my heart and it’s certainly home to me!
I have some amazing appearances set for this weekend, beginning with a viewing of the Nicholls State University Scholarship Night video viewing (featuring yours truly), a crowning ceremony for my dear friend Sandy Guidry who just became Mrs. Louisiana United States 2013, and the Mrs. Louisiana America 2013 pageant! Somewhere in there I have a book review to do, a website to work on, and school things to tend to for Monday. Where there’s a will there’s an A!