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Boss Uncaged Podcast Overview

Check out this episode of Boss Uncaged. I had an opportunity to chat with Wanda Y. Dunham; recently retired Chief of Police of the 9 th largest transit system in the country.

Listen as Chief Wanda provides valuable business and leadership tips and discusses what it’s like to transition from the structured life of a Police Chief to becoming an entrepreneur and Author. She describes the challenges of writing her first book Becoming Chief: Life Lessons Learned On The Road Less Traveled when you have to tap into your emotions and allow yourself to be vulnerable to the reader. This interview is raw, insightful, and candid, which will provide you with an up-close and personal glimpse of this career Law Enforcement Executive.

“Do your research. Yeah, you need to research the business that you’re going into. Sometimes you jump too fast and you don’t know the business and that’s when you get frustrated. And so you need to do your research. And the tools are out here now. I mean, when I had my business, it was even less. But just when I was coming up, we didn’t have the Internet and all of these tools available. So utilize these tools.” Wanda Y. Dunham


Becoming Chief, readers will get to know another side of this extraordinarily professional yet intensely private Chief of Police turned Author and Motivational Speaker.

Boss Uncaged Podcast Transcript

S1E27 – Leadership Consultant: Wanda Y. Dunham AKA The Chief – S1E27 – powered by Happy Scribe

Do your research. Yeah, you need to research the business that you’re going into. Sometimes you jump too fast and you don’t know the business and that’s when you get frustrated. And so you need to do your research. And the tools are out here now. I mean, when I had my business, it was even less. But just when I was coming up, we didn’t have the Internet and all of these tools available. So utilize these tools. Networking is super important. Know people in your business. Get to know people that are doing a similar business. Benchmark, find out who’s doing the best and learn what they did, discover how they did and then do a better.

Boss Uncaged is a bi-weekly podcast that releases the origin stories of business owners as they become Uncaged Trailblazers, Unconventional Thinkers, Untethered Trendsetters and Unstoppable Tycoons. We always hear about overnight success stories, never knowing that it took 20 years to become a reality. Our host S. A. Grant Conduct’s narrative accounts through the voices and stories behind Uncaged Bosses in each episode guest from a wide range of backgrounds sharing diverse business insights. Learn how to release your primal success through words of wisdom from inspirational entrepreneurs and industry experts as they depict who they are, how they juggle their work-life with family life, their successful habits, business expertise, tools and, tips of their trade. Release The Uncaged Bosses Beast in you welcome our host S.A. Grant.

Welcome welcome back to Boss Uncaged podcast. On today’s show, we have a special guest, I call her the chief. Some people may know her as Wanda Dunham. Welcome to the show, Chief.

Oh, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

So to people that don’t know who you are, which is kind of hard to believe that some people don’t know who you are, especially out of Atlanta. Who are you?

Well, my name is Wanda Dunham, formerly Wanda Gresham. But I was raised in Atlanta. I am a Grady baby. That means a lot to the Atlanteans. We distinguish ourselves whether you are a Grady baby or not. So I am a Grady baby. I am a original. Georgia Peach grew up here and went to school, went away to college, but came back to Atlanta and started working for Morada. Two thousand six worked my way up the chain of command to become the first African-American and first female chief of the MARTA Police Department.

Nice. So, I mean, even with that, I mean, that’s a hell of a feat to get to that level, not only just in the police department, but also in mass transit. So what did that journey really look like for you to kind of come up in Atlanta and to become the chief of police of MARTA?

So it’s ironic because I remember my grandfather riding Marta every day to where my grandfather worked as a janitor for the Sears building on Ponce de Leon. And he rode Marta every day as a janitor and back and forth on Marta. And so we didn’t really read that much. I knew about it, but just didn’t go downtown that much because the times that we lived in segregation. So it was interesting that when I was looking for a job graduate from college, my grandfather was one to suggest that I get a job at MARTA and I didn’t know a lot about Marta.

And he said, well, all my friends and bus operators that he had known over the years, he said that Marta was a great company to work for. And I said, OK, I’ll give it a try. At that time I had a degree, but no job. So I was willing to try just about anything. Well, I had a job, but I had to have a really good job that I wanted. And so I said, I’ll give you a try.

I applied Neverfail ID as a little known that never had an application to after I was to the police academy, applied and went to the police academy and became a police officer. Now there’s a long row between the police officer and being the chief. And it was a lot of challenges, things that I had never done before. So it forced me to push myself and it was uncomfortable. I’ll tell you, it’s not an easy road. It wasn’t an easy road, but it was well worth with that.

I mean, I was just this is the business podcast. And I don’t think a lot of people really understand that even in the police department, even as a chief, there’s a lot of similarities with business and the structure of how you run things. You want to kind of touch bases on that a little bit to kind of explain that obviously you were part of a corporate structure, but in that corporate structure, you learn a lot of business principles.

Yeah. So I didn’t realize that there were similarities. And it wasn’t until I started being asked to speak at businesses. I was asked to speak at the Georgia Diversity Council to speak to them several times. Then I was asked to speak to the National Diversity Council. I was asked to do lenience sessions for the Intercontinental Hotel Group ISG. And at the end of these meetings, you know, I would just get up and talk about what I did as a police chief or at least the lessons that I learned as a police chief and my role to be becoming a police chief.

And the women that I was talking to, they were like, oh, my God, we did not know that police had so many similarities to what we do in the corporate world. I do not either. And so when they started saying, oh, I can relate to this because this happened to me. And one of the stories I was telling of the tale is that when you’re in a room and a lot of times I was the only female and the only African-American in the room, and you come up with a good idea which were benchmarking, we’re talking and we come up with a good idea and I come up with a good idea.

And the rule is that nobody will say anything. And then one of my colleagues who happened to be a male, a white male, they would say, hey, that’s a great idea. So you sit there thinking to yourself, you have to say that the women in the group that I was talking to, they said, oh, man, that happens to us all the time. I didn’t realize that. And they didn’t realize that what we did, what I did.

So what happens is that they were saying, you have to tell the story, because for years law enforcement has been such a closed closed off to the world. We don’t usually talk about what we do. And it’s this kind of cloaked in secrecy because we talk to one another. And so for me to. To these women and these audiences and they were saying this has to be told because we did not know that this happened in your world. And I said, well, I didn’t know what’s happening in your world.

And so it was kind of a natural progression. At first they asked me to write this book and I was thinking of that, didn’t pay much attention and I didn’t think about it. And then as I continue to go three or four and more groups like you have to write this book. And so I said, I think I have to write this book now because I didn’t have time when I was the chief. And so I recently retired in June, June 1st, and I had time to write this book.

So, I mean, that is a solid Segway to how you and I even got on the same accord. Right? I mean, we have common denominators. But when you were talking about writing the book, when we first started to write your book, which was a few months back, The Social, we wrote two books.

We did. Yeah, we did. So let’s talk a little bit more about the differences between the two books. Your first book is the one that you’re going to be releasing. Actually, it’s release now, right? Yeah, right. Yeah. So with that being said, my goal is to get that book to be a number one top seller. So just go ahead and pitch that book and talk a little bit about the story behind that book and where the journey is going to take someone if they read that book.

So the book is becoming cheap, titled Becoming Cheap The Life Lessons Learned on the Road Less Traveled. So let me tell you how the nexus to road less travel, it kind of became the inspiration for that came from one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, and his poem, The Road Not Taken. And I of that. There’s a lot of things that you go through as you are deciding what your journey will be. And so sometimes how you start is not always how you finish.

And so definitely how I started was not half finished. Little know that I did not want to be a police officer. I know people like you. You’re the chief. I did not know that that was my destiny to become a police chief. And so I went down this path thinking that I would only be Almada as a police officer for two years and then I would go and do something else. God had other plans. And so that started that two year plan of mine turning to thirty four years working for Martin.

But it was my destiny and I truly believe that’s how I ended up there. So behind the scenes, this book, I hope and the early reviews are very positive people. They have been very supportive of the book and it’s very interesting that people want to email me and they’ve been texting me and saying I can relate to this, I can relate to that. They’ve been sending me their own pictures of how they grew up is very encouraging. And that’s really what I wanted.

That was my vision for this book. I want to encourage people, male, female, different nationalities. I think everybody can relate to the things that’s in this book and it’s lessons learned because sometimes it’s how we grow up and you’re thinking, OK, that’s insignificant. That didn’t mean anything but all of these things. And so what we did in the book was to show how from the very beginning, when your parents are teaching these life lessons and you go away to college and you deal with things in high school, and then you go away to college and then you go into the workforce, out of those life lessons can actually benefit, you know, think about it as, oh, you know, woe is me.

It really is set. You were for what God has to do in your life. And so you don’t really know. So you don’t really think about it while you were on that journey. But as you sit back and reflect, you can say, wow, that’s what I have to go through, X, Y, Z. That’s why I had to go do that and go back and tell people one thing. One thing I want them to remember is a no doesn’t necessarily mean not ever is just no for now.

And so don’t get discouraged when you hear no, you’re going to hear a lot of notes and you kind of any kind of letter, you’ll hear a lot of them. You know, it’s definitely a a stumbling block, not a well, I can’t ever get that done. And you have to stay positive and you have to stay on your course.

So with everything that you just said, it kind of opens up the Pandora’s box to say that you’re moving from being a police chief to essentially becoming an influencer. And you’re more so in personal development. Just talk about a little bit. I mean, obviously, in being a chief, you had an opportunity to help people. You had opportunity. And then in your book, you kind of talk about some of these things on your journey, how you you help somebody get from point A to point B.

You also kind of hint to model a little bit. Right. So you’re moving more into a consultant role. What does that journey look like coming from a corporate environment, moving into a consulting role, and you’re using your book as the transitioning factor?

Yeah, so is new. It’s a new space. Right. And so have been achieved is so much different than. The consultant space, but then that’s what I did every day really got me, you know, I gave people advice, I tried to help them. I try to be leaders, people that work for me. I was strong, had a strong belief in professional development. I wanted to make sure that they go back and get additional training courses.

I was really insistent on education, making sure that they had all the tools they need in their tool box to be competitive in this space. And people like, well, there were already police officers. Yes. But I wanted them to get promoted. I wanted them to know that there is life outside of being a police officer, but also the changing workforce. We were dealing with a new demographic of police officers. And if you’re not on if you had honed in on your skills about how to deal with millennials in the workforce, or I think it’s one of the first times we’ve had multiple generations in the workforce and we had the next year, the baby boomers, the millennials, these X, Y, Z.

And so we had so many. And so you have a good leader will understand how to harvest all of those different generations and the different energies and the things that they bring to the table. And so they will harbage that in a different way. And an informed leader will make sure that those folks are utilizing in the best way. If people in that challenge, if they don’t feel that they’re being heard and feel that you care, then you will lose people.

So what I want to do in this book is, yeah, I may not be the police chief any longer, but I can still hopefully have an impact on new people or new leaders that are coming in to the work that want to move up, not just in the police department. I have several meetings. I mentor several people and they’re not in the police department and so corporate America. So I think the mentoring is the same no matter if you’re in the police department or not.

That’s what I want to do. I want to encourage people. But you have to kind of get you have to transition to that to that model. It’s been interesting. It’s been a learning, especially writing. The book was a lot harder than I thought. And people keep saying, oh, I want to go and write a book. There’s a lot different. And so, as you know, I started off on one path, which was doing a training, kind of a self-help book.

We will release that at some time. It was about what characteristics do you need as a good leader? And I think that’s still need it. But I wanted to tell this story first because I think people need to understand where I came from. I wasn’t just a team. Right. So I think they need to understand a little bit about who I am and where I came from and to get to that spot. It’s a lot of people out, as you just always been.

That’s why they know. So some of the feedback I’ve received from the book is like, oh, my God, we can’t believe that you ever been as vulnerable. This is not you. You had stepped out to. Yeah, they they were like, oh, because we don’t know you like that. They only know because what they see like decisive and quick and is done. And so there are a lot of surprise people when they read the book because I am vulnerable in the book and that’s a scary place to be.

Don’t get me wrong, but I think people need to see that so that they can hopefully be encouraged that if I could do it, then they can do it as well.

Yeah, I think it’s definitely funny you brought that up because, you know, I didn’t grow up in Atlanta, but once I moved to Atlanta and writing Marter and I would see you on TV over the years, whether I was a news bulletin, something crazy happened, whatever it was. So to kind of know that person on television as like the pillar, the structure behind the entire transportation authority, and then to kind of help you write this book and to kind of hear some of the stories, I mean, I think one of my favorite stories in the book was the VCR detective.

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And that was one of those things that is kind of like, well, it’s a testament to who you are, but that’s how you got there. So if you want to kind of just dive into, like, that particular chapter a little bit so people can understand, like you weren’t always the chief, but you were always going to be the chief, even though you didn’t know exactly.

I did not know it. And so that’s what I go back to, the journey that life takes you on and has been done because I had no idea that I was going to be a police officer even and graduate from college, needed a job. And I was just taking the job to as a data entry clerk because I wanted to go on vacation and I didn’t want to start a real job. And so I took this job thinking and I was done after a month or two, I left, I was gone, went on vacation, came back and they said, we want you to work full time, really.

So they offered me this job and it was great because it was good money. I could pay my bills. It allowed me to move out because I needed to move out. I wanted to move out. So I moved out. And that’s about extra money, so I took this job at a retail store as a loss prevention officer. I didn’t really know Vigil, but I figured it was about five minutes from my full time job. So I said, I’ll do that.

I went to work and it was basically like arresting shoplifters, like shoplifters. And she said, well, because you had a criminal justice degree, I guess she thought it was a natural progression. I had no idea that I would be arresting shoplifters in a retail store. So I went to work and really didn’t know where I was supposed to do. She told me and my boss, she worked days. I worked nights. I really didn’t get a lot of training.

I said, well, I’ll just go walk around and observe and learn what I’m supposed to do and figure it out that she thought I was doing a good job, whatever I was doing. So I was just being a visible presence. And then I just kind of just being observant and walking around. Nobody knew where I was. So that was good because she never got to introduce me. I just started looking for things that I thought was interesting or different.

Now, have it now I need to set this up because I worked for a retail store before and so I worked some work in retail, not at that store, not for that company, but I knew in general how things were supposed to go. And so when I went to work for this company, I was like something strange here. She left me a note. We will communicate. My boss let me know and we will communicate the messages.

And she said, oh, we had a theft. We’ve had several of these Ja War stolen. Just take a look at it. OK, so I went back to the room. I saw three brand new Bisgaard that were out of the locked cage. And I thought, well, if they’re having trouble with this yard, why would they leave three brand new DCR outside of a lock? They need to be more protected. So I zeroed in on that and I thought, OK, I don’t know.

I just don’t think it was one of those that I didn’t think this is right. So I went upstairs in the dark room and I just started looking at what was going on with the VCR as an employee came, picked up the VCR, the woman a trash can, big bucket, and took it out on top of that. Didn’t look good, went out there. So I said, OK. I went back and looked at the cameras and I couldn’t see what he did, where I knew they were missing.

I didn’t know what they were. And I didn’t want it to be my fault that these three fingers were missing. So I went back to the stockroom. What I told the doctor, I saw him and he I couldn’t find it, OK? It’s in a dumpster. Then I couldn’t find him. I looked into Dumpster, couldn’t find them. Just as I turned around, the three VCRs were underneath the dumpster. So I read that column about my balls.

Used to be the one that kind of police officer. So she called her husband. She was retired. She got a husband who was still a police officer, and he sent some plainclothes folks over to watch the VCR as the employee and a friend at about an hour, hour and a half later after the store close came back and got the VCR and put him in the trunk. It was just like a movie. All of these police officers movie, they made the arrest and I got credited for breaking up a really big VCR frame that had basically been hitting all of the retail stores.

It was like my first two weeks at work. So I was like, oh, this is pretty good employee of the month. They offered me a full time job and it gave me a bonus. So that’s how I became a VCR detective.

Gotcha. So, I mean, the reason why I asked that question, because every single time, like we read parts of the book that you don’t even realize on your end is that you get extremely excited talking about these topics.

You know, in addition to that accolade, I mean, I want you to give us a little list of like what are the things? I mean, you’ve been in Ebony magazine. What other things have you done in the past thirty years of being a chief?

Wow. So I really had a really good career at Marda, and so I’m thankful for that. One of the things that I really concentrate on, I really have a love for the community, any kind of community engagement. I’ve been recognized by several organizations. The national black law enforcement officers gave me a community outreach plan. I’ve been recognized by Ebony for being the first African-American and the first female chief of a four hundred person police department with the ninth largest.

And so Ebony reached out to us and say, hey, we understand we have a person that’s breaking the mold and basically breaking barriers. And so we want to do the story in two thousand six. I was featured in Ebony magazine, did not know it was in the airport, and they said we may or may not do the story. We didn’t know I was promoted in May, and I think it came out in September, August and September, Ed.

I didn’t even know what we just happened to be in the airport. And my son was flipping through every magazine and said, Mom, this is you. They never called me. So, of course, about every one of the had on the stand because you’ve got to keep there’s one. It was pretty exciting, but I wish I could have gotten the best notice. So I’ve been recognized by Women’s Transportation Group for Diversity. At one time, I had every key role in my department where females and so people were like, oh, you know, you have so many female.

No, I had the best qualified people. And so I wasn’t purposely trying to fill those roles with females, but they were the best qualified. And so we ran a really good ship and they were held accountable just like everybody else. But they did a really good job for me. And so I appreciated that I’ve been so many too many to talk about, but I’ve just really been a lot of community engagement, a lot of leadership engagement, a lot of awards for leadership.

And then, of course, just being recognized for diversity and inclusion, which is really a big thing today.

But all those things we always hear about the 20 years that it takes someone to be a success story, that seems to be an overnight success. And earlier on, you were saying that everybody always known you as the chief. Talk about your journey. I mean, so we’re talking about 20 years. How long did it take you to actually get into the role of being chief? And then where are you right now as far as being post chief?

So I have been at Florida 19 years before I became chief, but I worked my way up through the chain of command. I didn’t come in as chief. I worked my way up from an officer starting working to be just like everybody else. And then I went to the next level. And then there’s also the hierarchy is a lot is the chief. There’s a corporal, the sergeant, a lieutenant, a captain, a major, an assistant chief and then the chief.

And so there’s a lot of things that you have to go through. Now, keep in mind, I didn’t go in thinking that I was going to be the chief. And so every level, I was just trying to do the best job. And I think that’s what people should or should think about, is that when you get a job, you should just be the best that you can be in whatever that role that you’re currently, that space that you’re in.

And so I was trying to learn, but I didn’t know a lot about being a police officer. And so as a police officer, especially working in Florida, they gave us a free pass because you get a free pass to read. And I didn’t really know a lot about that. I didn’t know about the trains and that kind of thing or the bus route. But I wanted to be the best officer that I could be in his role. So I got to be the best officer.

So on my holidays, I would just come out and just ride the buses and I would ride the train and just familiarize myself with where I was going and what happens on this route out of the buses, I memorize all the bus routes that came out of the stations I knew have two ways to get to every call, every station just because and that’s just me. That’s my time. My whole time. Nobody told me to do it, but I needed to be the best that I could be.

And I didn’t know a lot about it, but I was going to work hard and harder than anybody to try to find out. And I think that’s what people think. Oh, well, you know, she got promoted because she was friends with somebody. No, I mean, I got promoted because I earned it. No one. But also I worked harder than anybody else to get it. I put in work and that’s what people don’t want to do.

Some people don’t want to do. You can’t wait for a handout. You got to be willing to do what it takes. And so I was just always willing to do what it takes to get there. If it was a training class, I would go and take some take some additional training classes so I can put myself in a better position myself for that next promotion.

OK, so what’s one thing that you would do differently if you could do it all over again? Oh, wow, that’s a good question. So, you know, I don’t know. I don’t think I would do anything different because I really learn from everything that I did, even though I thought that I didn’t want to be a police officer once I got into it, because it really allowed me to do what are the best right. Serve the public and help people.

So I thought, well, I can do this in law enforcement. And so the things you see on television and I know law enforcement has changed and law enforcement officers have a bad rap, I still think that law enforcement is an honorable position and profession and I wouldn’t change that for anything. I think I did really good based on I did some good. I mean, there was a kid on my beat. There was always late. I was at the west side of town and he was always late for school.

Oh, my goodness. And so we have a truancy thing where we would check the kids that were just hanging out of the station and so I stopped as little boy and I said, why are you always late? He goes, I can’t get up on time. I can’t get up on time. So I said, OK, let me go to your house. So I took him to his house. He was grandmama’s, raising him with four other siblings.

I said, ma’am, I said, he comes to the station late every day and I know the school must be calling you. And he said, yeah, they do. And I said, well, what I said was, you didn’t have an alarm clock. It’s like he didn’t have an alarm clock. Well, OK, now, of course, this is before cell phones and everything is on your cell phone now, but we took him to the store and two officers and bought them an alarm clock and he was late to school anymore.

We set it for him and we told him how to use it. We told grandma this is what we were doing and he was late for school. So it’s those little things that you can do to affect somebody’s outcome that I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to do had I not been a police officer. So this kind of makes you feel good that you can affect change. You know, everyone who didn’t have to be arrested, they don’t have to go to jail due to a big change.

And so we learned that lesson. And that’s what I try to impart on the officers that work for me, is that everybody didn’t have to go to jail. Let’s see if somebody some help he’s got a person is need alcohol treatment, then you take him to the alcohol treatment center. So you try to get him some help. If the person is hanging out at the station, you take him to the homeless shelter. So looking at how, you know, you have to enforce the law, you can have people in the station, but you can also do something to try to help find another way, another alternative to putting them into the criminal justice system.

Let’s try to help him even with that. Right. I mean, I think part of that is part of your upbringing, right, coming from the roots that you came in. So that is a two part question. Do you come from an entrepreneurial background like anybody in your family have those kind of roots? And in addition to that, outside of the entrepreneurial side effect, what in your background gave you the initiative to be as caring as you are?

Because considering that as a police person, we always see police as very stringent, very cut and dry. There is no gray space. But you just alluded to there is some room for gray space in there. So if you don’t mind kind of touching on those two topics.

Yeah. So being entrepreneurial is kind of like just trying to do the best that motivated. It was like, OK, I see a need to go and do it. And so I definitely didn’t have any training growing up and being entrepreneurial. You know, I just wanted to make sure that I could do know I was like, OK, there’s a need, what can I do to affect change? And so it was like, OK, let me think about how I can be of service and how I can help.

I didn’t have any person say to say, OK, this is what you do and I have a business and this is what you do. But I’m an avid reader, know, I like to research. I try to see you need and I can do it. I actually started my own business several years ago. I saw a need because my parents were older and I saw a need for home health care. And so my husband, I started our first business.

It was called Helping Hands Home Care Business. It was a lot of work, but just I go out and meet the clients. And then I hired a director to run the day to day. But it was a lot and I was still working at the time. I just saw just the need for people who were kind of they were not realistic and they could live alone. They didn’t need to go in a nursing home, didn’t have a lot of family.

And I thought, what would I do? My grandparents did that care. And so we started a business and it was very successful and we sold the business. It was a nurse that was retiring and he purchased the business from us. And so it was a rewarding business. And I was so happy that she took the business because it was like your baby. And I wanted to turn it over to somebody who I knew would take care of my clients.

And so that was kind of my first business. And then being a consultant is just normal. That is what I do, telling people and advising people and helping people. And so that’s kind of a natural progression since I’ve been retired and I knew I wasn’t going to sit down, so I knew they would work for me to do. I’m not finished yet. So it a lot of things that I can do and this is just the beginning. But writing a book was definitely a challenge.

So and the other part of that question was like, OK, so you’re caring side. Like, where did that come from? I mean, obviously some people would say, mom, some people would say they died. Some people say their family background like where did that again? Because coming as a police officer, you have to be very strict and rigid. Where did that greenspace come in that?

Yeah, so and I think all of the above. So my mom, my grandparents, my grandfather was a Baptist preacher growing up. We went to church a lot. We were in church every day, pretty much. Now we’re in church every day. But we will go to church twice on Sunday or early in the morning. We sometime we started school. And so I think it was my Christian background. And then my mom basically just saying, you know, you have to look at the reasons behind something.

We had a lot of our neighbors and and I talk about it in the book. She would on Halloween, we would have to go to her house and she would give us fried egg sandwiches for Halloween and I really like fried egg sandwiches now. She was my mom’s, like most mothers, right. When you finished trick or treating your parents, come and check the candy to make sure that, you know, that is safe and everything. So it was a fried egg sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil.

And so my mom would get the sandwiches. And so it was always the first thing to go. She would throw it out like that. But we were like, so, mom, why do we have to keep going to our house if, you know, we’re not going to be eating? And she goes, well, she’s lonely, she lives alone, nobody cares, but nobody will come and visit her. And so she has shared with my mom that that was one of the highlights of her year, is to see the kids and to see us come over.

She didn’t have a lot of money. She was on welfare and she used her rations from welfare and eggs and milk and cheese and all of that, then bread. And so she would make all she had to give us was the fried egg sandwiches. And so I learned empathy for that because I feel sorry for her. And knowing that behind the scenes often make it explain why she did what she did. And so we continued to go as long as we live there.

And I was always like gave her extra time and it was kind of extra chatty because I just wanted to make everybody feel good. And that was just kind of me. That was who I will. Now, I’m also be by the book kind of rules person. Right? I’m a typical type is like I’m really structured. And so how do you bring empathy into being disciplined? So you have to compartmentalize things right by the book. And so police officers, we have a huge binder of things, the rules, regulations that you have to go back and look at those things.

And then I try to bring in everything. Everybody makes mistakes. And I realize they don’t make the same mistake over and over and over again because it’s not a mistake. It’s a choice at that point. But I want to make sure that I try to give people a second chance and I bring them in and personally talk to them. I will talk to them about why we were here and what did they think I should do. And this is what the policy is, blah, blah, blah.

Hopefully you will change the way they, you know, the outcome of what they did in their career. And so I was able to bring a little bit into that. But I think one thing people can say or two things people can say is that I was always very consistent. Definitely, definitely with that right. So you’re also a big family person as well. I am. So how do you juggle your work life with your family life?

Yeah. So my husband’s a police officer, too. We met in the police academy. A lot of people like, oh, my God, how do you do? How do you that work life balance and how do you juggle being a chief of police, a wife, a mother? It takes some do it juggling. But my husband is very supportive. You have to start with the support of spouse and you have to build your village. Right.

You have to build your support. Village couldn’t do it alone. And my husband was like he took a different chair so that he chose to work at night like 11:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning. I work eight thirty to bed. And so we’ve got a baby. What? I will get the baby ready, take him to my husband, who may or may not be on our own. And they’re supposed to be at seven. You got a late call.

I’m stuck with the exact I have to hold on to the baby. And we were very lucky. We have people everybody has the support village people. We’re ready operators. We have secretaries. So we had a really good support village. And then, of course, my mom I mean, I went back to school for my masters when I was five. It was a challenge when it was out of town. So I didn’t go to like Georgetown, Columbus Day, and it was like Alcatraz.

I went out of town, had to stay there during the week, but my husband would meet me halfway with the baby at night and thought we could have dinner while I was gone and then also check his homework because I wasn’t sure my husband was making sure he was doing his homework. And so that control factor came in. I was like, I got to make sure he’s doing his homework now. He’s only five. I get that. But I want to make sure that he was doing all of the things that he was supposed to do.

Plus, you need to see his mom and I need to see him.

So it’s funny that you brought up both your husband and your son. Right. So I don’t want to give too much away. But if you get your hands on the book, I want people to kind of read the chapter is called Military Grade Shine, and it kind of talks about the story about how they met and how he knew she was single.

Yes, yes. No, no, no, no, no. You got to leave a little bit to the imagination, right. So you get to meet and also the whole TransAm thing. So, I mean, obviously, reading the story, you know exactly what I’m talking about once you read that chapter. So, I mean, going into, like, your morning habits, obviously you’re very structured, right? You’re almost militant to a certain extent.

So what is your morning routine? It’s funny because like you and I like to be working on stuff and you send me a message like ten o’clock at night, I’ll send you a message back five o’clock in the morning and nine out of ten times. We both always respond no matter what time we send message.

What’s your morning routine look like? So before cause before I retired, having for thirty four years have to be responsive to cell phones. Texting I make to do lists. I’m truly everything to do list everything is structure timelines. I would say my husband. What people don’t know is that he saves a lot of people from receiving text messages from me and four or five o’clock in the morning. So what he did was like, please don’t say that to him if you want to go.

People think they have to respond when you say that. And so it’s like, well, I’m just in an outstanding day because I needed to get it out for my to do list. And he was like, yeah, but they think that you want them to respond. So what I was started doing and because of my husband, I go ahead and type him up and then get him to shoot at seven. So I said a lot of people, he saved a lot of people and he kept me grounded because he was like, OK, let’s send it to him.

And so a lot of people, they have him to thank for not receiving text messages. But I wanted them to just when I think of things, I have to send them out because it mentally gets off my checklist. And so that’s do what are we doing now? I still have that responsiveness. It’s only been six months. So, you know, I’m so used to respond quickly. We do talk about we have a checklist like, OK, this is what we get and then you post things.

And so we’re so alike about schedules and structure and making sure that all of these things are done. And that was a good I think that’s a good habit to have. I think it is very enjoyable because if you write things down, you get have done for me, whether it’s on my phone or in paper and pencil. I’m also I wake up at four o’clock in the morning and I’m on my side the bed with a little light and I’m typing.

And he said to do OK. And he turned up because he knows I need to get it out, because if I don’t, I’m thinking about it all. Like wheels are turning and I don’t want to forget it for that next morning. So it works.

So where do you see yourself in twenty years from now?

How’s. Really retired, hopefully, as an author, which is kind of interesting space, you know, most people like to and I think you told me that, well, you know, you’re an author now. And I was like, I don’t feel like an author. And I see myself as an author. And then, you know, people’s response or reaction to the book, they’re like, wow, you know, you’re an author now. And I thought, OK, so when I get New York Times bestseller, then I feel like an author, but I’m enjoying this process.

This is so new and I like challenging myself. Whatever I can come up with in between now and 20 years, that’s what I’ll do. I like whatever I can do to help people. And so if it’s some type of service that I can be, I love to volunteer for nursing homes in kids. They have a passion. So do some type of volunteerism, you know, staying active and hopefully just playing with grandkids.

I hope my son sees this, but in 10 more years, you could just put you on the spot.

Jordan, just just out of nowhere, just 10 more years of his hustle. Right now, he’s building and everything else. So I don’t know if he wants to have any kids right now.

I know he does. He definitely does not. And he’s the entrepreneur. And I think it’s interesting because my husband says you don’t even know where he gets that from. Know he gets that entrepreneurial spirit from you. He decided he wants to have a brand. And so I close the nine items. And so instead of saying, no, no, no, I told my I told somebody, I said, you know, I’m packing t shirts and folding t shirts.

We make it labels. I’m in my house was like a factory where the kitchen table and I’m helping him a lot more. I thought this was his business. I forgive, but I’m his village, so I’m helping him. But I didn’t do well. Was he met with you? I mean, you told him a smarter way to do it. Thank you. But I didn’t mind helping him because I wanted him to see what it’s like to have his own business.

And he’s had a business in college party. But this is a brand different thing. But it’s good to see something that he was interested in that he was excited about and in fact, helped. And it didn’t cost me a lot of money. I was there for him.

So, I mean, this is another good Segway to what words of wisdom would you have? I mean, obviously, you’re living with a new entrepreneur that’s growing up in the ranks. Kind of you seen him as a child. You’ve seen him go to college. You kind of see what it’s like afterwards. He starting his own business. What words of insight would you have for someone coming out of college on their journey? What would you tell them?

Yeah, do your research. Yeah. You need to research the business that you’re going into sometimes jump too fast and you don’t know the business, and that’s when you get frustrated. And so you need to do your research. And the tools are out here now. I mean, when I had my business, it was even less. But just when I was coming up, we didn’t have the Internet and all of these tools available. So utilize these tools.

Networking is super important. Know people in your business, get to know people your business, get to know people that are doing a similar business benchmark. Find out who’s doing the best and learn what they did, discover how they did and then do a better. OK, that’s definitely solid words of advice, so, I mean, just go ahead and drop the name of the book again and a website so they can kind of get in contact with you.


So, of course, this is the part one of a two or three part series we haven’t decided yet, but this is part one. And so by becoming cheap life lessons learned on the road, less traveled. And then this next part, because people when I was like, OK, where’s the next part? Where’s that part? We talked about that because this next book is going to be like two is going to be talking about the 14 years that I was watching.

So we had to set the table and we built the foundation. And this first book, Becoming Chief is just that. Who am I? Who was that? How did I get to be achieve all of those lifelessness, ups and downs and how your upbringing sometimes defined or defines who you are, who you become, how successful, and then the people that you meet along the path that are pushing your way in puts in your path to help you.

And it could be temporary. You might never see these people again. But it’s like all of these things is truly just kind of go together to build out the perfect will that God has for your life. And you don’t even know. And you don’t even think about you know, I had the captain who when I had put myself out of taking a leadership role and his little five minutes with me in his office encouraged me to go for a leadership role.

Now, had he not been there, he could care less and said, well, you don’t want to put hand on her. But by him spending time with me and kind of being an influencer to say you’re ready for a leadership role, I didn’t see that in myself. But he saw in me. And so how thankful for him for being who he was to take time to say you’re ready for this leadership role. So so people like that along the way that you don’t even think about that job with there and then you build off of that and you go that OK, but and I talk about a book having to deal with the whole experience of dealing with missing girls in high school.

It was interesting because you think, oh, my God, it was the end of being a husband thinking I was horrible. But it really helped me as I was kind of a police officer, how to deal with real customers, how to deal with people who may have been in this know as co-workers. And so it helps you. It prepares you because you’ve already dealt with this. You know how to deal with it. So that’s what this book is.

The next book will be about being the chief. That’s a different rollercoaster. So I tell people all the time, they say, oh, you broke through the glass ceiling of becoming a female chief. And I was like, yeah, but the journey started. That’s where the journey begins, right? It starts all over again. Because now you have to stay or cheat and you have to deal with a whole new set of issues that I never dealt with as an officer because the buck stops with me.

And so it’s a lot, lot of responsibility. And so you have to be ready for being sued or people blaming you for things that you didn’t even do. You weren’t even there. But because you’re teaching now, you have to respond to that. And as you alluded to, yeah, I was on TV a lot because people wanted to hear from the chief I can sing or bad public information folks out there. And then that’s their request. We want to hear from you, Chief, and knowing when as a chief you should speak because you should always be as cheap, because there’s certain certain times that is reserved for the chief.

And in certain situations, if I’m out there all the time, then it waters down the message. But if I tell them that, you know, that is serious, just understanding that that and how to have your message, you go out without always being on camera. But getting the work done and building your base and building your supporters is so important and so forth. So all of those lessons will be talked about in Book two, and it’s coming with 14 years of just being an officer and thinking, really thinking that because I have been internal, I was already hired and I knew everything about our department being the chief was going to be easy because I already knew absolutely the wrong message.

And so I learned a lot, stressed a lot. I was intentional about trying to do the best job that I have to do. And I think I had a pretty successful career. But it’s all about who you surround yourself with and making sure that you stay relevant is staying relevant. So I’m looking forward to that. I really hope people will purchase this book and other people has already purchased it. Please go out and buy one for your mama.

Is there anybody that you’d think that would benefit from the book and the message is, is that you to your own way, no matter what you’re dealing with? You, too, can build your own success story and whatever that is for you didn’t have to be my success story. Doesn’t have to be the path that I chose. Didn’t have to be college. You can be whatever you feel is right, but you could be starting a business. But hopefully these life lessons that I’ve learned and I talk about in the book will help you on your path.

So, I mean, I think you brought up a lot of good different than points, just about like the book and just about the content in the book, if you don’t mind. Just touch base a little bit about like the journey of developing the book. Like, I think you and I worked on it extensively, has been like, I don’t know, like four or five, six months at this point in time around the clock at certain times and certain times.

You know, we had a week or two, we had some grace period to kind of make some edits and stuff like that. So just go in and touch bases on a little bit.

What people don’t know is that we started writing, we talked about it. We started writing one book. We started probably where we were going to write a different book. And so about June, I had this epiphany and I said, I don’t want to write that book. The book was 80 percent done. It was eighty five percent.

Then it was completed. Almost 80 percent decided anyway. I think it was pretty much done and I couldn’t do it. It was the best period. I needed to write a different type. So the pivot and you guys were very good about pivoting and saying, OK, well, what do we need to do? This is a totally different book. I said this is the book that I wanted to write. I got it right, this one. So we pivoted and we had to really change the change, the style of book to.

Right. So that we had to start out basically. And I think we started out with June, July, I think July. And so from July to now, we’ve been working around the clock. So the good thing about writing the book is you made it easy because you said, OK, you’ve got to have an outline, do it outline about everything that you want to put in the book. And so they were like, was that my outline?

You said these become your chapters and then you go back and I’ll approve the chapters. And you said go back and building. And it really made it an easier process. But I had no idea how to write a book. And so you said it’s really easier than you think. You just kind of fill in the chapters and then the book and write. It still wasn’t deep. Then I got into building these chapters and then we had back and forth about should this go into that?

The land should come in and come out. These stories would be in a place being in law enforcement. We’re very cut and dry. Right. Just the facts.

The thing that was difficult for me was tapping into my feelings and expressing them in the book. So you were like, you got to say what you were feeling when you saw this. And I’m like, yeah. So I was just basically saying, yeah, we went to a college and it was a person, you know, who was pretty much. Yeah. And you were like, OK, you have to go back and tell us a little bit more about this and talk about how it made you feel.

Talk about that something totally. Please. We don’t tap into that. Right. It was difficult. So I had to tap into a whole new feeling. I mean, I have to express those feelings that we normally don’t express in long voice and my line of work. So I had to go back and talk about all of those things. And it really brought up a lot of feelings. And in the book, I think this was cheaper than therapy writing this book, because I got all of my issues out and, you know, and it though I think afterwards.

So, yeah, it’s a good process. I’d like to learn this about publishing. And you think you just write a book and then it’s done, but, you know, formatting and book covers and photo shoots and all of that was different. But step by step, you guys let me through it. And I think that’s what made it a lot easier than having to do it on my own.

We definitely had a good time. And to your point, the particular thing that you’re talking about was, I think by you opening up, it made the book ten times better. And to your credit, I mean, all the references you’re getting at, the reviews you’re getting right now are all because the nuances that people didn’t know that the stories that you experience, the emotions behind it. And I think that’s what really made the book more of it.

To your point, it was more clinical before.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like boot camp. You’re like, I don’t really know what you’re dealing with. So I had to go back and tap into that, but I had never tapped into it before. But, you know, you guys pulled it out and that was good. You know, you recognized that we needed to go deeper and not just surface level. And so I had to dig into that. And so it really made it easier once we get that or, you know, how did it make you feel?

Like I was in the bag. Like, how do. Make you feel when this happens? Oh, well, yeah, I have to think about that.

So I had to go back and dig deeper and it was good. So then, of course, is the editing and proofreading and the formatting. And this is a progression and it’s a step, but it’s a good process. And I would definitely highly recommend I think when people saw that I wrote this book, they were like all of them. We want to write a book. We’ve always wanted to write a book, but we just didn’t know how to get started.

And so I think there’s books and everybody write. There’s something that people could share. They could tell, but they just don’t know how to start.

Hmm. Yeah, definitely. Definitely right about that. So, I mean, going into the bonus questions. Right.

Like the fun part for me. Right.

Yeah. If you could spend twenty four hours with anybody dead or alive, who would it be and why.

Wow. Well I know this is kind of cliche, but I think Oprah Winfrey, just because I respect Oprah and I know her story, she’s been open and told her story. And so truly, her story was a lot of challenges. And so she worked her way up as an African-American woman in a male dominated industry, broadcasting and having very few women that looked like her women of color. So that looked like her. And to build herself up to being a billionaire.

My hat’s off to her. And I watched her masterclasses. And they’re all I always get something out of them. No matter how successful or what have I done, I can always find something that I can say, oh, wow, this is good. This is a nugget of information that I could use going forward. So how does that pick a brain? And to just ask her, when did you know that you were going to make it?

As she probably would say, you probably didn’t know until she made. I’m assuming because she was probably just trying to go through and do it and just getting to the next level and get to the next level. And then she was there. But it was hard work and sure was hard work and a lot of behind the scenes that we probably don’t know. But I would just like to pick her brain.

Yeah, I mean, I think Oprah is a great choice. I mean, I wrote about Oprah in my first book, a whole case study on her. And just studying her life and understanding everything you’re saying wasn’t true. I would think that even till today, I don’t think that Oprah still thinks she’s made it and hence why she keeps on achieving more and more. She’s always on that climb. And so, I mean, she’s a multibillionaire at this point.

But in her mind, probably it’s nothing to work because she’s still on her journey. Yeah.

Yeah, I think so, too. I think she’s humble and probably feels that she didn’t deserve it just because of her upbringing is kind of like that. Where in the church you were taught not to be prideful. And you know that if you strut, you stumble. So you can’t be bragging about these things. And it was almost like you were taught not to not to to expect success. But when you got success, you should bring that out.

And I thought was interesting, people said, well, you’re very shy. And I was like, I’m definitely not shy, but I think they’ll see when I get to book to how my voice has changed and how my experiences change and who I had grown to be as a leader because they don’t see that side in the early part of my story. But as I got to the new role, I think I developed my voice, which is probably not heard in the first as much.

And it goes to the point leaving the first book as a cliffhanger. Right? I mean, sending it up to understand that this book stops at a particular point and it’s going to lead directly into the next book. It’s essentially it’s like a Lifetime movie split up. It is, yeah.

Yeah. What have to be a 700, 800 pages. Right. Because it was getting long and we said we need to cut it off. But I think it was a good place to stop and then go to the next section because 14 years being a team is totally different, different experiences that I want to share with people and those they are totally different than the person. So what was the second question? Oh, superhero, because I want to be Wonder Woman.

I mean, you know, already her I like Wonder Woman because of the strength.

She too was a woman that people didn’t think that she could achieve. She came from male dominated. You know, everything was male dominated. And, you know, she’s a superhero. You don’t have that many female superhero. So I think I embody Wonder Woman just because I think that she can achieve a lot from that being a female in a male dominated industry of superheroes. Gotcha.

I mean, I can really see that. I mean, if I was your age, my personality. So if you didn’t say super woman out of bed scratching my head, like, do you have a split personality? Like what’s going on right now?

That’s who I am. It served me well to be in my career choices, but it has served me well to make sure that things are the way they’re supposed. And I can’t change that at this point, so it is it is. It is. It is what it is coo coo.

So usually at the end of the podcast, I usually give whoever I’m interviewing opportunity to ask me any questions. So the microphone is yours.

What kind of plant would you say. I have been one of the I guess a scale of one to 10 am I had the worst or the best. I need to know where I am.

Put me on the spot. But as far as you’re definitely not the worst client. Oh, that’s good. Thank you. Thank you. Definitely not the worst client, but I mean getting to who you are. I knew you’d be my personality. And I also knew that I couldn’t back down at any point. If I showed you any weakness at all on this journey, you would have completely cut my legs off at my knees and been walking around with me with a leash.

So I had to stand my ground at every stop.


Yesterday, yeah. Yeah. You were like, OK, this is what I have to do this. But I’m like, OK, you tell me why. And the explanation is that the communication back and forth. And so I think we kind of balance out each other but is a good experience. But I was like, he probably thought, why is he doing this?

And I’m like, I got a really text, but do not take the pictures anymore. We’re like, OK, I’m in trouble, I’m in the doghouse. But when I see things that need to be done, I just go in and do it. I mean, yeah, yeah.

I think I have to kind of kind of control myself some because it’s like oh like oh man. Like our system is being broken, the system is broken. Then it’s going to cause a train reaction if things are going to go negative. So I’m trying to wheel it back in. So any time I going to reach out to kind of like this, please don’t do this anymore is because behind the scenes is by things that you don’t know about that if you go wrong because of that and the pictures and.


So yeah. Oh yeah. No, it was fine. I was like, oh my God. But I didn’t know. So those are kind of things. I jump out of them because I was like, oh, it needs to be done. And I was thinking, OK, I don’t know what you were doing over here. So but it’s definitely been a give and take. It’s been a process. And where do we got it? I think we got it.

We got we have a good understanding. So I think to be a bit easier now. Of course, everybody has read this read, but wonder like when it’s book to come in at. As a kid, as my publisher, well, I mean, the funny thing is I always look at our publishing companies kind of like the intermediate publishing is kind of we’re not the big house publishers and we’re not like the one shot publisher. So we take people that want to publish their own books and get you ready to become a larger publisher.

Right. So what book to in book one? I mean, the goal of that book, one is going to become a top seller. And the goal is I want to kind of get you on TV shows and get you out there with some PR. And then I want to see Book three, book for book five, potentially be to a large publication to where you kind of get more of a global footprint. But this is just starting to kind of get you in that space.

And now you understand the procedures. Now you understand behind the scenes. So when you’re dealing with a publisher, it’s going to be completely different. So that’s what he was talking about. OK, I get it. Oh, yeah.

Yeah, it’s exciting. So I wanted done that is my email address and my website. So my website is up. So please take a look at it and we’re going to have a book signings just because they were a little delayed. But go to my website and look for book signings. I would love to see everybody there and I would love to hear your feedback. So get me up. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

And also, when you go to our website, you want to want to sign up for our newsletter. So you kind of follow up and see what’s going on. I mean, people don’t realize newsletters are the key to success, so make sure you sign up for that. I definitely appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule. And I mean, obviously got a million things going on and business is going on.

Business ventures on top of books, right? Yeah, that’s true. So, I mean, again, I appreciate it as, say, Grant over and out. Thank you.

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