Talk about Brazen! Laurna Godwin didn’t even have a new job lined up when she left an industry she had known for almost 20 years. Hear how Laurna took opportunities that came her way and turned them into something great.
My most brazen moment occurred when I decided to start a consulting business. I had been a television news reporter, anchor, and talk show host for nearly 20 years and thought I would be in television for my entire professional career. But that changed when I decided to try and pursue some personal goals. I quit the television business with no job prospects. Eventually I set up a one-person shop focusing on media relations and video production and worked about 15 hours a week.
While literally sitting at home, a friend called to say that because her husband was being transferred to another city for work, she could not take on a consulting project she had gotten. Instead, she thought I would be ideal to take over the project from her. She told me to contact a person at St. Louis Community College to get started on the job.
For several months, I did not contact the Community College leader. Then one day I ran into him at a restaurant and he scolded me for not having called him. I was embarrassed because my parents had always told me to follow through on my tasks. So I called him, we had lunch, and he suggested that I apply for this project that was a partnership between the Community College and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. I applied and got the project, which was to conduct a “Listening Tour” throughout the City of St. Louis to learn from residents their environmental concerns at the local level. It was a project that included public engagement, outreach, facilitation and communications.
“…when opportunity knocks, take advantage of it.”
Taking on this project both scared and excited me. I had never done this type of work before. It was a pilot project that was the idea of then President Bill Clinton’s administration so lots of eyes were watching, and to me failure was not an option. I contracted with two other people to work on the project. The first phase of this project was so successful that my business was eventually awarded phase two and phase three. We created a training manual and a video for the U.S. EPA on grassroots environmental protection. People heard about our work and started calling asking if we could work on other engagement projects. Within a short time frame, we had a few projects. The rest is history.
My advice to other women entrepreneurs is that when opportunity knocks, take advantage of it. Never in a million years did I think I would own a consulting business, or a business of any kind actually. Now Vector is 19 years old. I never forgot that during freshmen orientation at college, a professor said, “you are here to learn how to think.” I feel as long as you can think and also write and communicate, you can be successful in whatever you put your mind to in life.
Follow Laurna and Vector Communications Corporation on Facebook @VectorCommSTL, Twitter @VectorSTL, and visit their website at www.vectorstl.com.
Vector Communications helps clients reach the people they serve through outreach, engagement and communications so they can build meaningful relationships that will help achieve their organization’s goals. For more than 30 years, Laurna Godwin has been using her communications skills to inform and educate people about issues affecting how they live, work and play. She is a three-time Emmy award winning broadcast journalist who in 1998 co-founded Vector Communications Corporation, an award-winning public engagement and communications consulting firm. Today she is owner/president of the firm. Vector strengthens organizations, corporations, and communities through outreach, engagement, event planning, media relations, graphic design and video production. Some of Vector’s current clients include: McDonald’s; St. Louis Community College; St. Louis Regional Chamber; and the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter. The firm has been honored with several international, national and local awards. For instance, a few years ago, Vector received the national “Entrepreneur Excellence Award” from Wells Fargo Bank and the National Black MBA Association for “innovation, performance, growth and community service.”
In addition to owning Vector, Laurna has served on several civic and corporate boards. Currently, she serves on the boards of St. Luke’s Hospital and the St. Louis Police Board Foundation and on the advisory board of Midland States Bank. Laurna is Chair Emeritus of the St. Louis Community Foundation, where she was Board Chair for three years.