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as a way to help me prepare for my passion. I couldn’t be a cop until I was 21. At the time, I was 18, so I saw the military as a way to give me discipline. I read that you saw another female pilot at an event and that was what actually inspired you to become a pilot. Absolutely. I was in ROTC, and it was career day at my Leadership Advance Camp. I wanted nothing to do with Aviation; I didn’t even want to go to the Aviation tent. I actually made the remark black people don’t fly. I think God was listening when you said that! He said, “I’ll show you”! (Laughter). He designed a bigger plan for my life, and that’s a very powerful moment for me because it’s about access and exposure. And in corporate America, what are we giving our teams access and exposure to try to bring people forward and help our women and minorities get promoted. I actually had a similar experience earlier in my military career. I remember working at the I.D. Card station and a caucation male pilot came in to renew his I.D. card. I was a Specialist at the time, and he asked me if I had ever considered becoming a pilot. I said no, but I was thinking, “Black people don’t fly”, simply because I had never been exposed to it. Even though I did not become a pilot that was a defining moment that inspired my decision to become an officer. So I agree that access and exposure can play a big role in the decisions that we make. Oprah Winfrey has been quoted as saying, “there is no shortage of accomplishments” when speaking of your career. What do you think has been your greatest personal accomplishment? I truly feel my greatest personal accomplishment has been becoming conscious of my purpose on the planet. Everything that I have done has brought me to that moment and it’s prepared me to give the message that I now give as a woman business owner and an entrepreneur out here helping folks. But my biggest accomplishment is being able to live my purpose on the planet, and I know if I were to be taken from this earth right now today…that, I was walking in the steps of my purpose. Not everybody can say that. When did you come to the realization that you were tasked to do something great? Twice. When I was a little kid and knew that, I wanted to be a police officer and knew that I could do anything that I wanted to do. Every little kid feels they’re going to be great, right? And the second is not about being great but it’s about contributing and being part of the legacy and the community. For me it’s not about being great, it’s about creating the impact that I was supposed to create. When and how did you go about making the decision to transition from the military to become a professional speaker? I always loved to speak and when I was a cop I did career days and when I got in the Marine Corps I would speak at different units and schools, and I knew I loved motivational speaking. And I always said that I would always speak for the rest of my life as my community outreach, and if it ever blew up, I would do it full-time. I also knew that I hadn’t planned on staying in the military for my career, but I didn’t know when I was going to get out. I just said whenever it’s time God will give me a sign. I went to a conference where I was being recognized as a pioneer, and I facilitated a breakout session. Afterwards, several women came up to me and said, “Oh my God! We are so inspired! We are all going to our Plan A”. And I said, “That’s great!” But in my head I’m thinking, they’re going for their Plan A and I’m not even going for mine when I inspired them! And in that moment, I knew it was time to make a gutsy move. How hard was it for you to make that decision? Once I make a decision, I just look at the action steps that I need to take to get there. There is no walking back and forth, or asking myself am I sure I can do this. I know I can do it, it’s just a matter of taking the right steps to get there. But I believe that with most people, like even in my business now, I offer what are called strategy sessions, I tell people up front it’s not a coaching session. This is a session to help you figure out the best move to move you forward—that strategic move that will create a quantum leap. It’s usually just one thing that will really move you in the direction from where you are to where you want to be. Do you miss law enforcement? Do you think you will ever back into it?Do I miss it? Yes! Will I ever go back to it? Well, I’m certifiably unemployable is what I like to say. I actually sat next to a gentleman on the plane on the way here to San Diego, and he’s a former Marine as well. He flew H-53 helicopters in the Marine Corps, and he said, “Oh, you should look into going to get a federal job working with federal law enforcement”, and I said,

I actually made the remark black people don’t fly. “You mean as a consultant? You mean them hiring my company? Because I can’t afford that pay cut.” It’s interesting how people will recommend, oh you should be an airline pilot, you should work for the ATF. Not that having a job is a bad thing, a whole lot of people have jobs, it’s just not my path. And once I got out, I got out as a Captain; I promoted myself to General. That was the first step. I’m kidding (laughter). I knew for sure that no one would pay me as much as I was willing to pay me. Did you feel any pressure when you realized that you could be the first African-American female pilot in combat? Absolutely. Because I knew, I was standing on the shoulders of many. You have The Tuskegee Airmen, Bessie Coleman, Willa Brown, The Montford Pointe Marines, which my grandfather was a Montford Pointe Marine. I felt a tremendous pressure, and actually, in combat I failed a tactics test. It was after combat operations had slowed down, and they were like ok let’s get back to training. And I had been flying quite a few combat missions…hadn’t been hitting the books like I should have and I ended up failing that test and I was devastated because I knew people were watching me, saying how are women going to perform in combat, how are women going to handle an aircraft. How are women and minorities going to get along with the guys and handle the stress. I felt like I had let so many people down. I passed the test the next week with flying colors, but that wasn’t the point. The first time right, and they don’t put you on the fast track when you fail a tactics test and 51

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