When you feel like what you do matters, and when what you do connects you to others in a meaningful way, other people feel that too. Ask yourself how you want to give back in life, and your focus will shift from what you want to take from the world to what you have to offer.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Venus Nicolino aka “Dr. V” — Relationship Expert & TV Host.
Take an irreverent perspective on life’s problems and add a dash of profanity and you get Dr. V (aka Dr. Venus Nicolino). The humorous yet philosophical doc is the author of the number one bestselling book, Bad Advice: How To Survive and Thrive in an Age of Bullshit. She was also the host of the hit show Marriage Bootcamp Reality Stars, and previously starred on Bravo’s LA Shrinks. She’s been featured on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Steve, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, The Dr. Oz Show, Rachael Ray, and The Real. Dr. V holds a master’s degree from New York University in counseling psychology, and a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?
When I was a child, my family hardly ever travelled, and never very far, because we were a large family with little money. As a result, my family and my Philadelphia neighborhood were the world to me. Mine was the kind of area where people knew a lot about their neighbors, and it always seemed to me that every story in our neighborhood was one of struggle and outright conflict. There was never enough of anything so it was never calm on our block. Someone was always upset and the problem was always complicated, because so many people were involved. I used to listen to the adult women in the neighborhood, who talked in the evenings and on the weekends, telling stories behind the stories, the facts behind the feelings and the explanation or the platitudes at the end of it all. I listened closely. I listened carefully. “That’s life”, I heard over and over, by which I gathered that life was endless, unsolvable trouble. Finding a solution to these painful, recurring human dramas seemed impossible to those women and, at the time, to me. I watched closely. I watched carefully. It was seeing and listening that brought family and neighborhood members to my stoop to simply talk and be heard. The more I listened the more I learned. I was, and still am, a privileged participant in the lives of other people. It was these family and neighborhood members that brought me to this work by allowing me to walk hand and hand through the past, present and possible future of their lives.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Principal Sister Victoria. I got kicked outta Catholic school in second grade. It was at that moment I knew I was destined for greatness. The nuns refused to call me by my first name “Venus” — Venus, in their eyes, was a paigan name (gasp!). I became so tired of being called Vanessa (a saint’s name) that I lost my shit and told Sister Victoria to go fuck herself. Sister Victoria taught me to never accept toxic authority. Ever. She also taught me the skill of alienating all the right people. Thank you, Sista!
As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
Be more courageous than you are afraid.
Per Aspera Ad Astra is the motto of police departments, cities, fire departments and universities the world over. It’s Latin for “Through Adversity to the Stars”. One of the reasons it’s so popular with groups like these is that it’s a reminder of the human potential or courage. Even Fully-Realized Superhumans don’t feel great all the time. Not only are you allowed to feel bad, sometimes you need to feel bad before you can get what you need. It’s why the potential for courage is hardwired into you because you need it.
Sometimes you won’t get what you want. Or sometimes you’ll get what you want, only to discover it doesn’t satisfy you the way you thought it would. Sometimes, even when you understand your feelings and know what you need, satisfying your needs will be difficult, scary, painful and who knows what else. But don’t remain afraid. Instead of trying to deny or escape your unmet needs and the fear and pain surrounding them, acknowledge and engage with all of it. Decide to be more courageous than afraid. You’ll transcend fear and reveal your feelings, along with the needs connected to them. You’ll recognize how those emotions and needs connect you with others. You’ll remember your undeniable worth, because you are worthy. You are worthy of all you feel, and every one of your needs is worthy of satisfaction. Once you know this, you become a champion of your own truth. The truth of what you feel. The truth of what you need. The truth of who you are. On the other side of every struggle waits a greater version of who you are now.
Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?
When you feel like what you do matters, and when what you do connects you to others in a meaningful way, other people feel that too. Ask yourself how you want to give back in life, and your focus will shift from what you want to take from the world to what you have to offer it. Who are you? Are you a Light Bringer? Are you a Truth Seeker? Are you a Teacher? Are you an Artist? Are you a Storyteller? Are you a Healer? Are you a Builder? Are you a Planner? Are you an Advisor? Are you a Caretaker? Are you a Guardian? Are you a combination of some or all of those, or maybe even others not listed? If you don’t know, that’s OK. Whatever your answer (or answers) is, it is you.
What You Do is not Who You Are, but it’s who you are that reveals what you do. Once you know what that is, figure out how to do it for other people. In doing so, you forge a powerful connection between you and your online community, because you’ve created a way to find joy in being of service to others. Your shift in intention from selfish to selfless opens the door and lets people in, online and IRL.
Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
When I find some quiet, I hear everything.I respect quiet moments. What’s it mean to respect your quiet moments? Don’t strive to fill them needlessly. If there’s nothing to do, it’s OK to do nothing.There’s a difference between working to get ahead, and working only to *feel* like you’re getting ahead. The only way to know the difference is to be in an un-busy state. You don’t need to be meditating on a mountaintop, just slow down. If your responsibilities and expectations start to feel overwhelming, create a quiet moment for yourself. Find the time and space to be alone. Just do nothing, and give the machinery in your head a rest. As much as possible, don’t let this process be interrupted (exceptions being emergencies, of course). This is your time, you’re entitled to use it for yourself. Creating and respecting my quiet moments gives me a break from the inevitable hectic, dare I say, busy times of life. You could even carve out a regularly scheduled time in your day to be un-busy. Whether that’s closed eyes and deep breathing or just disconnecting from any and all screens, make it a regular practice to create and respect your quiet moments. In other words, make a commitment to being un-busy. And if somebody tries to muscle in on my quiet moments… I just tell them I’m busy.
I am also obsessed with Chel Hamilton’s Mini Meditations. I know,I know when I hear myself say the word “meditation” I can see you eye rolling me into another universe. But the key word here is “mini”. Seven minutes long to shift your mind, your mood, your thoughts. Seven minutes in heaven.
I seek creativity. If I told you to Be Creative, you’d probably think I was asking you to write a poem, draw a picture or do some other activity one could classify as artsy-fartsy. It’s true that artsy-fartsy things are creative, but they’re not the only avenues of creative expression available to you. (Of course, if you hear the call of the artsy-fartsy, heed it). Creativity is your innate human ability to express yourself through the change you create in the world around you. You are absolutely capable of creating real and immediate change in your life. It can be as simple as changing what you wear, what you have for dinner tonight or the route you take to get to work tomorrow. One change leads to another, and you may find the smallest action creates a domino effect you never could have foreseen.
Express your creativity. What you are doing is creating a difference in what could otherwise feel like a never-ending sea of sameness in your life. But more importantly, you’re tapping into the fearless child part of your heart that never dies.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Internal beauty is eternal. Be kind. Think of others. Reflecting the best in others can highlight your own beauty: Think of the Moon.
- Imperfection is a vital component of beauty. “Beauty” is often the kind of imperfection most people find the most perfect.
- Your greatest ally and worst potential foe can be found in the same place: The Mirror. So eat carbs.
Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?
I’m impacted by anything that can tell the truth with heart, regardless of genre. The writer Robert Mckee said a good story is something that says, “Life is like this…”. So whether that’s Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude or Becker’s The Denial of Death, anything that offers a new perspective on the universal experience of being a human…that’s what impacts me.
As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The You Matter Movement: A never-ending stream of selfies. Someone’s initials scrawled in Sharpie on a bus seat. The Great Pyramid in Egypt. They all carry the same message of
I was here, and the same subtext of I matter.
And you DO matter. Let’s start with the inarguable and scientifically verified fact that you matter. You matter because on a planet you share with billions of other humans, you are the only you. The specific combination of genetics, environment and experience that makes you who you are has never happened before, and it will never repeat again. And you almost didn’t happen. Dr. Ali Binazir, author of The Tao of Dating, expanded on an idea popularized by self-help author Mel Robbins. Taking into account all the different variables of life, Binazir crunched the numbers and concluded that there was only a one in 400 trillion chance of you ever even existing. There are things that will only be said by you, ideas that only you will have, and people that will only be moved in a unique way by you. And that’s no small number of people, by the way. According to an algorithm created by Columbia University statistician Tian Zheng, you probably know around 600 people. And those 600 people know 600 people, so now that’s 36000 lives you could potentially make a difference in. And according to infographic author Anna Vital, you will probably meet, if only in passing, around 80,000 people. You are a being that beat insurmountable odds even to exist, with the potential to affect a total of 440,000 people. You matter. You matter because so much depends on your existence to exist. You are irreplaceable. And it’s because you matter so much that it’s vital for you to create a connection with something bigger than yourself. The reason is because we, The Rest Of The Whole Fucking World, need you present and functioning at optimal levels. We need you to maximize your direct influence and impact on all those hundreds of thousands of people. The World needs you. You matter.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
We’re currently under Covid-19 lockdown. When this passes and it will, I’ll get back to you about dinner plans.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Facebook: Dr. V
For more information about Dr. V, go to www.talk2Dr.V.com and be sure to order a copy of “Bad Advice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Age of Bullshit on her website, Amazon, or anywhere books are sold*