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IAM2077 – CEO Shares Her Wealth of Expertise to Foster Growth within the Travel Industry

Podcast Interview with Veranda Adkins

In this episode, we have Veranda Adkins, a seasoned entrepreneur, speaker, and business coach with 22 years in the travel industry.

Veranda discusses her journey from corporate America to launching her travel agency, Travel Legacy, and co-founding the Association of Black Travel Professionals.

She shares her experiences in empowering black women and aspiring business owners through her unique mix of inspiration and business acumen.

Veranda also delves into the theme of entrepreneurship, recounting her own path to finding her calling in the travel industry and eventually becoming a successful business owner.

Additionally, Veranda touches on the significance of travel in breaking barriers and gaining new perspectives, especially within the African American community.

She highlights how she provides affordable travel experiences and the impact travel has had on her life and business mindset.

The conversation also covers practical business advice, including maintaining effective communication with clients, owning your mistakes, and the importance of having a clear vision and work structure.

Veranda's story and insights offer valuable lessons on resilience, adaptability, and the power of experiencing the world.


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Veranda Adkins Teaser 00:00

And so I think that goes back to the secret sauce, like just know what you do. And because I know travel and I do travel and I've done all these businesses and all this stuff, people just gravitate to me because they're like, she's done it.

Let's go to her and see what she has to say.

Intro 00:14

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:42

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Veranda Adkins. Veranda, excited to have you on the show.

Veranda Adkins 00:51

Thank you so much for having me, Gresh. I appreciate it.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Yeah, absolutely. Super excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing.

And of course, before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Veranda so you can hear about some of those awesome things. And Veranda is a 22-year-old-year travel industry veteran is a successful entrepreneur, influential speaker, and business coach. She left corporate America in 2014 to launch Travel Legacy, a celebrated travel agency.

Veranda owns multiple thriving businesses and is a co-founder of the Association of Black Travel Professionals, the largest organization in the U S dedicated to training and developing black travel professionals, she empowers aspiring business owners, particularly focusing on supporting black women using her unique.

Blend of inspiration and business acumen and absolutely love everything Veranda's doing. We were talking a little bit, she's a fellow podcaster, which is always awesome to hear. She has a podcast called trailblazing bosses where she features women entrepreneurs. And I was listening to, I think her intro for this podcast.

And she was talking a little bit about her story and how she got into the, all the businesses and that entrepreneurial spirit. She said that she loved entrepreneurship and that it's. Always been in her spirit, but really connected with me is that sometimes when we're finding out who we are, we sometimes don't go through the path of actually being where we should be.

And that could propel us to where we should be. So I'm sure we'll touch a little bit on this, but Veranda, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Veranda Adkins 02:16

I am ready. Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:17

Let's get it started then. So to kick everything off, let's rewind the clock a little bit and hear a little bit more about your story. What I call your CEO story.

Veranda Adkins 02:25

Yeah. So it's funny, like you mentioned in my bio, I never grew up. I grew up in Chicago. I'm from the west side of Chicago and growing up, I always heard you need to get a good, get good grades at school so you can get a good job. So that's what I did. I was always a pretty decent student.

I went to college. I got a job and I realized I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. Nobody ever told me as a kid growing up you can start your own business. I always thought people who own businesses were rich. You had to have a lot of money and then you owned your own business.

You were automatically rich too, because, you had all this money and neither one of those things are true. So, it wasn't until after I had spent all these years, like going to school and doing all this stuff that I realized like, Hey, this isn't really the life for me. But at the time I got married very young, my husband and I got married 11 months after we graduated from college.

So I still went to work because we had to. We had to build up some money. We had to get some things and get life started, but he always knew and I'm always so grateful for him that he just let me go. He didn't really have that entrepreneurial drive in him. So he was like, you got it. I'm gonna pay the mortgage.

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So we have somewhere to live. Let's figure out what you don't do. So, that was always great. And I just realized hey, I can do this and it's not as it's hard. But it's not as hard as people think it is. And you don't have to have everything figured out. That's one of the things that I always like to tell people is that every day is a new challenge.

Every day is a new thing. So just get started. And that's what happened with me in this entrepreneurial journey. It was just like, Hey, let me figure out one step at a time. I tried so many different businesses until I finally got to travel where I loved it. Yeah. And so all this other stuff along the way was all just learning blocks to get me to where I am now and to take that experience from there.

So that's my story a little bit in a nutshell.

Gresham Harkless 04:30

Nice. I love it. So I want to drill down a little bit more here, a little bit more on how you're serving your clients you're working with now. Could you take us through what that looks like and how you're making that impact there?

Veranda Adkins 04:34

Yeah, so you know what?

1 of the reasons that I love travel so much is my dad was military and I try to call I like to call my mama a nomad. In her own right. She never let the grass grow too much underneath her feet. So we moved a lot. And because of that, I always experienced new things. My dad was in the military.

So I got to go to Europe. As when I was like, 11 or 12 for the 1st time experience that, and I just noticed that so many people in the African American community don't get out and get those experiences to travel. And it's because we always think again, it goes back to money with everything, right?

We always think that. Oh, it's so expensive to be able to do this. So 1 of the big things that I do with. My company is just showing people there's affordable ways to travel. So going to crazy places like South Africa and Thailand and Egypt and, just all of these places that you see in movies and TV that you think are so out of your reach, there's affordable ways to go.

And so that is 1 of the things that I do with my clients is I have consultation calls with them. I put together. These trips that are affordable so you can look at my trips and see their price versus some of this other stuff that you see out there. That's astronomical. And then I just try to talk people through a lot of stuff because people think, oh, my God, I'm not going to be able to eat anything.

The food is going to be bad or all the hotels are going to suck. And I'm like, no. No, I stay in five-star hotels like everywhere we go and the price doesn't have to be crazy, so just being able to break those barriers with our community. That's really what travel legacy is about is just helping people understand.

I just feel like travel just gives you so much knowledge and so much different perspectives about how the world is that is. You're cheating yourself if you don't take the opportunity to do it. One of the, and this is like a sidebar, so I'm sorry, Gresh, but one of the things that, I just got off a recent trip to Thailand, and I met, Two guys that were there.

It was, I posted about it on Facebook. Both of the guys were dead. One was blind and deaf. And I went over to them and I had this thought I had to talk to them because here we are two guys that are blind and deaf. In Thailand, like what are you guys doing here? Whatever and people don't with me like what you're going to talk to them I had to talk to them with the notes feature on my phone because I only know the alphabet in sign language But we sat there and we had the best conversation typing notes back and forth to each other they live in Toronto and they literally travel the world everywhere together.

They've been friends since childhood. And I just use it. That was so inspirational to me. And it just shows the power of travel because here we are, let's go out here. Let's see, whatever you can see, do whatever you can do. This guy was out here blind. Feeding elephants and putting on the elephants.

That's where I met them at the elephant sanctuary. So I was like, that's just the power of travel. There's so much that you can do and so much that you can learn. So that's what I tried to give to my clients when they're coming to me,

Gresham Harkless 07:16

I appreciate you so much in sharing that.

Would you consider that to be like kind of part of what I like to call your secret sauce? This could be for yourself, the business or a combination of both. But isn't that ability to of course, be able to give people great experiences and help them to see the world in a different place.

But do you think that , why fuels you to make you Okay. stand out from the crowd, be able to have that great experience to not just, show them how to travel and what they could do, but also give them that awareness and understanding. Do you think that's part of your secret sauce?

Veranda Adkins 07:45

I definitely think it is. I think that's one of the biggest things that my customers tell me when when I'm doing things like that and they're talking to me, they talk to me and they want to boot travel with me because I'm a travel agent that actually travels. And I have that firsthand experience.

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I try not to sell anything that I haven't been to or I haven't experienced myself because I feel like anybody can look at pretty pictures online, but, and you can get wild by all the videos on Tick Tock and Instagram and all that kind of stuff. But to actually have somebody sit there and tell you, Oh, I just went and I fed the elephants and I cleaned them and we got in this water and it's dirty girl.

So if you don't want to get too dirty, don't do it. Just having those type of experiences is what helps my client say. I'm going back to Veranda time and time again to do that. And then even on the business coaching side of it, because I've done so many different businesses and things like that, that I'm really and I'm not a planner.

My husband is an engineer. So his mind goes 1, 2, 3, and you can't get to 3 without 2 and 1. My mind goes straight to 10. And it's how are you going to get to 10? I don't know. We're going to figure it out as we go. So that has helped me in business. So like I'll tell people to come with me with an idea, give me like a day or two.

And then I'll come back and I'll be like, so you should do blah, blah, blah, blah. So just having all of those experiences, but it all, I think ties back to the travel and just seeing how. Different people work and just that different perspective. And, sometimes we get such in our head about things we, we'll get so in our head and we just, we're thinking of all the other stuff.

And people don't really, I would say people don't really think about that stuff, but when you can make yourself an expert in your field. They trust you, so they don't know what they don't know, but you should know it. And so I think that goes back to the secret sauce, like just know what you do. And because I know travel and I do travel and I've done all these businesses and all this stuff, people just gravitate to me because they're like, she's done it.

Let's go to her and see what she has to say.

Gresham Harkless 09:42

Yeah, it ends up being so powerful.

So I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Veranda Adkins 09:54

When I'm here in the office and I'm ready to work, I'm up. And the first thing I do is like the switch that I do. And it sounds crazy, but I get up and I make up my bed and that switch just tells me, okay, now it's time to. Get to work because I've accomplished my 1st thing, my bed is done and my room is clean.

So let me just get up, go to work. And I come up here and in my office and I just, having that space. I hear some people say, oh, they work at the kitchen table or they work. I have a friend who does that. Runs a million-dollar business from her bed. It's just crazy to me, but she does.

And I was like, you don't have an office. She's girl, no, I'm going to office. So hilarious. And that works for her. But for me, that wouldn't work. So I think just having that space and coming up here and saying, this is. This is it. Now, I'm still working on the time management piece because sometimes I'll come in this office and it'll be like midnight and I'm getting a text from my husband.

You want to come downstairs? So that part I'm still working on, but I think that's the biggest hack for me. That's helped me. Stay focused is being able to work here. And I noticed that when I'm traveling, I'm not as efficient because I don't really have that routine in me. So I think just getting up and saying, okay, make up that bed.

That means you're on. Go do what you need to do and start your day. So that's like, 1 of my biggest hacks. And the other thing too, is I still am a pen and pencil. For pen and paper person. I know that there's so many lists and things that you can have in your phone and calendars and all this other stuff.

But if I don't write it down, it doesn't happen. So I'm at the end of every day. I'm writing down what I need to do for the next day.

Gresham Harkless 11:32

Nice. I love both of those hacks.

What would you consider to be what I like to call a CEO nugget? And you might've already touched on this.

It could be something that you would tell somebody who might be getting in the travel business, or you might jump into the time machine and tell your young business office.

Veranda Adkins 11:52

My younger business self, I would probably tell just keep going. Don't stop. Keep at it. Do what you're doing. You're going to figure it out.

It wasn't until I got on stage and actually spoke in front of a group of people for the very first time. I remember calling my husband and saying, I just figured out what I want to be when I grow up. And it, it takes time to get that and it's okay. Like you, I always tell people, you don't, that's the biggest nugget, I think.

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And you're right, I probably did hit on it. You don't have to have all the answers, just see the end goal and then, and this is what works for me. Like I see the goal. , I'll write down like the craziest things, and then it's like work backwards. Okay, you wanna make X amount a day?

How much is that per hour? How much is that? Just that much per month. You got to make this much per day. What can you do? How many trips do you have to sell to get this? How many coaching classes do I have to do to get this? And that has just really worked for me, because there's going to be new challenges and new problems every day.

My, master's degree is in human resources management. And so I used to do a lot with employee relations in the corporate world. And when you're working in employee relations like that, you have different. scenarios that happen every single day and you have to figure out Okay, I didn't think somebody was stupid enough to do this, but let me figure out what I mean.

They did it. And now I got to figure out. Is it dumb enough that they need to be fired? I can't just coach them and tell them don't do this. So you're always figuring out new problems like that. And I think that's what being an entrepreneur is. Even you can have the best laid plans. You can have, The best procedures out there and somebody is going to throw you this crazy curve ball and you're still going to have to figure it out.

So get out there and get started. I tell people that 1 of the biggest things that you got to be able to do as a CEO, make sure your clients can contact you.

So, that's the nugget that I will tell. Tell new entrepreneurs, just make sure communication is a top priority in your business.

Gresham Harkless 13:47

Yeah. I think that's so huge. So what would you consider to be your answer to my absolute favorite question, the definition of what it means to be a CEO and our goals to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show.

So Veranda, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Veranda Adkins 14:05

Being a CEO to me is owning your business and not just being the owner on paper, but owning everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. The buck stops with you is, I go for a 0 percent complaint rate when I'm trying to send people there.

So that's one of my things is having that experience to be able to share with people, but even, everybody gets it wrong sometimes. And I've just found that. Owning those mistakes and owning that with people goes a long way to say, hey, you know what I messed up. What can I do to get it?

Instead of trying to place blame and it's not always necessarily I don't believe that the customer is always right. Because that's not what I'm trying to say. But when you make a mistake. Only, and that has helped me so much with people just being able to say, you know what? I'm sorry. I didn't realize X, Y, Z, what can I do to make this right?

And I think people respect that instead of trying to make up excuses. So I think that's the biggest thing about being a CEO. Just own it all the good, the bad, the ugly, and just just figure out how to work the problems. And, I have an uncle who used to say 1 of the best lessons that you can get is a lesson that you bought.

Is the best lesson is a bought lesson. And so, things that hit you in your pocket. That's what's going to teach you. And so, figure out how to not to do those how not to do those things again. And I think that's just huge with CEO. You're not going to always know all the answers.

And so if you can give yourself that grace to just say, hey, I can admit. When I've done something wrong or something that's not working, that's going to help you so much more in your business than everything else.

Gresham Harkless 15:36

Yeah, and it ends up being so powerful. So Veranda truly appreciate that definition.

Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best people can get an overview on about your show and all that. Yeah,

Veranda Adkins 15:56

If people want to find me, I'm at The podcast is Trailblazing Bosses. So we're on all the podcast platforms and things like that. So you can get in touch with me there. But my website has all of my contact information as well.

Gresham Harkless 16:09

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And to make it even easier, we're going to have the links and information, the show notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up with you, but truly appreciate you for taking some time out.

And I hope you have a phenomenal day.

Veranda Adkins 16:19

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Outro 16:21

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo. co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos. CBNation. co also check out our I AM CEO Facebook group. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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