Success can come from a variety of places, including trial & error, luck, and being aggressive
While all of us in the audience instantly recognized Vanessa’s sheer magnitude of talent, both in terms of IQ and EQ, Vanessa noted that her career has not been linear and that she has benefited from trial and error, luck, and being aggressive. Vanessa’s first job out of college payed-in-kind via concert tickets, and when she realized it didn’t pay an income, she quickly pivoted to working as a receptionist at Turner Broadcasting. From there, she quickly worked her way up. Throughout her career, Vanessa has always been passionate about helping African American women in a radically different way as she, and other African American women, are experts in their own community. After many iterations, Vanessa and her business partner founded GirlTrek, a “badass radical movement of 150,000 African American women taking back their neighborhoods through walking.”

Daily life is persistence
Everything about Vanessa’s life has hinged on persistence. Her success today is a reflection of the daily grind she faced in her personal life. Now that Vanessa is in charge of strategy of an organization, her persistence is even more important and critical. Vanessa noted that she goes hard in every direction she can… and if she needs to fall back in one aspect of her life, she will do that.

Think small…and ask for help
For all those budding entrepreneurs, Vanessa suggested starting by understanding if you have a genuinely special idea that solves a problem that you are passionate about. If so, Vanessa said to start small — oftentimes, people get so caught up in developing business models that they get psyched out about all the work. Throughout her journey, Vanessa was surprised at how many people want to help and will reply to cold emails and calls. Vanessa and her partner were able to ask for help because they knew what they were experts in and knew what they weren’t experts in.


  • Manatt
  • MMLafleur Logo