Salty Girl of the Month: Shelby Stanger, Adventure Journalist, Surfer, and Host of “Wild Ideas Worth Living” Podcast

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

Salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

Shelby Stanger - Salty Girl of the Month

A surfer, traveler, and entrepreneur, Shelby Stanger touches on all things Salty Girl. She's the host of the inspiring podcast, Wild Ideas Worth Living, that highlights folks from all walks of life who have followed their passion and pursued their own wild ideas. We first met Shelby when we teamed up with Toad and Co, who sponsors Shelby as part of their commitment to ‘Keep Good Company.' By sharing the stories of so many trail blazers, Shelby’s work empowers others to live their passion. Which means not only has Shelby built her life around the ocean, she has made it her life’s work to celebrate others who do so.

We love how Shelby’s responses truly embody the candor and humor that this Salty Girl exudes. If you’re like us, you’ll find yourself nodding along and laughing out loud as you read this interview.

What do you love most about the ocean?

I love how you can’t take your cell phone or computer in it (guess that changes with the Apple watch). You have to be present in the ocean. Anytime I’ve ever dealt with something hard, couldn’t make a decision, or had a loss, I’ve gone to the ocean. It always gives me back exactly what I need - - sometimes it’s just a good beating, other times I learn patience, and often it’s just where I play and where my best ideas originate. It’s also where I met my future husband (after cutting him off multiple times surfing in Costa Rica until he talked to me), and where I met some of my best friends.

Shelby Stanger - Salty Girl of the Month

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

A salty girl isn’t afraid to get wet, to be gritty and who appreciates the joys of the ocean and all it has to offer. They derive their passion and drive from the sea.

When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?

I think of all the times I surf with friends, or teach surfing to women and to disadvantaged kids or disabled veterans. I also think of one particular wave in Indonesia that changed me forever. The wave was called Mutz, which translates to “vagina” in Aussie slang, but it was no pussy wave. I had just quit my job to be a writer and was invited to surf in the Mentawais in some of the biggest waves I’d seen. Mutz was fast, hollow and it terrified me. I was scared I’d fall, make an ass of myself, or possibly die. When I finally caught a wave and its lip went over my head for a nanosecond, it changed me forever. I later interviewed surfer Mickey Munoz who said he once came out of a barrel in Indonesia ten years younger. He said it literally changed his body chemistry. After my one awesome wave at Mutz, I had a newfound sense of confidence that I’ll carry with me forever.

No matter where in the world I am I start my day with a cup of coffee outside. Any pre-surf or pre-work rituals that help you get your mind right?

I love starting my day with two rounds of Wim-Hof style breathing, five minutes of meditation, a little gratitude practice, some light stretching and then coffee with steamed coconut milk or a tea. The whole thing takes only 15 minutes, but adds hours to my day. I also love going out for a three to five mile run once I am warm or have done a little work. It clears my head and I usually can write all my stories and get the rest of my work done in my head in those first few miles on my feet. I love how running makes me feel – in my body and my mind.

Where has your love of the ocean brought you?

To South Africa, Indonesia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Japan, up and down the coast of California, and even to Hawaii where I once had a boss I worked for at Body Glove who told me I had to paddle out at Pipeline or he’d fire me. It was a massive day and very crowded, but I padded out in the channel and right back in. When I get scared and it gets big, or even on days it’s too small and there are not many waves, I talk to everyone around me, so in that sense the ocean has introduced me to many people – near and far.


What inspired you to start Wild Ideas Worth Living?

I worked as a journalist and marketing consultant in the outdoor industry for over 15 years and wanted to tell the full stories behind the amazing people I profiled. I also wanted to put out positive content about people going after their dreams, especially ones that seemed impossible to achieve or wild. I never get sick of those stories. I love listening to podcasts myself in the car, on the run or while cleaning, and I had previous radio experience. I took an entrepreneurship accelerator course at a place called Hera Labs in San Diego, which helped me create my business plan. I studied podcasts in depth and launched last December. It’s been an incredible ride.

You interview some pretty badass women for your podcast. What inspires you most about the women you feature?

Thank you. I love that they walk to the beat of their own drum and aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers to achieve their goals. The most badass ones have a great sense of humor.

If you could interview any Salty Girl in the world, who would it be? (Or have you already interviewed her…)

I’d love to take Oprah surfing. I also love interviewing female sailors. Liz Clark who sailed as a young woman to Tahiti is coming on the show. So is Kimi Werner, the spearfisher woman, who I am also excited to talk with. Nicole Levinson, a school teacher who quit her job to sail with her husband, Ryan Levinson, would also make for a great interview. She and Ryan left their jobs to sail from San Diego all around French Polynesia, and she’s learned how to do everything on a boat and has a great attitude about it all. They have a great YouTube Channel called TwoAfloat that chronicles their adventures.

Shelby Stanger - Wild Ideas Worth Living

As an entrepreneur, how do you balance running your own business with getting enough time on the water?

I’m lucky that we literally live in a condo complex with our own stairs down to the stand. When I am sick of staring at a computer, I pull myself away for a fifteen-minute surf and a dip in the ocean. I call it the three-wave channel and make it a game for myself. It sets me back on track and the negative ions recharge me better than any cup of coffee or energy drink ever can.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!