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It's all about the “Breakthrough Mentality": using it, Vernice “Fly Girl" Armour flew from beat cop to Marine Corps pilot in just three years and on the way became the USMC's first African American female pilot, then their first African American Female Combat Pilot. This might seem, and indeed is, a unique achievement, but after you've listened to Vernice and her inspirational “Zero to Breakthrough" flight-plan strategy you'll realize that you too can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

Vernice followed a family tradition by joining the Army Reservists and then the Army ROTC program when at Middle Tennessee State University. She took time off from her studies to join the Nashville Police Department (along the way becoming the first African American woman to join their motorcycle squad), went back to college to graduate with her BS in Physical Education and then was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. She finished flight school not only ranked first in her class of 12 but first in the last 200 trainees to graduate. She completed two tours of duty in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying a missile equipped attack helicopter, engaging hostile forces and providing cover for her colleagues on the ground.

On leaving the service, Vernice established VAI Consulting and Training LLC. Using the same principles she sets out for her audiences, she created six-figure plus revenue in the first year and over $1 million in the first five. It is her belief that a Breakthrough Mentality mindset is required globally if change is going to come, and she travels the world to spread her message of personal responsibility, accountability and teamwork.

Vernice's book, Zero to Breakthrough tells her extraordinary life story and the philosophy behind her success. She has been invited to speak to numerous prestigious leadership conferences and Fortune 500 companies. Her story has been featured on Oprah, CNN, Tavis Smiley, NPR and many other broadcast, print and online media. She has been awarded two honorary doctorates and also been honored for her work with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Full Profile

When I was flying in the middle of combat and needed to engage the enemy, we had to ask for permission to shoot our weapons. The magical phrase we needed to hear in order to protect the Marines and Soldiers on the ground was ‘Cleared Hot.’ As you’re reading this, I’d bet it’s safe to say you’re probably on a different type of battlefield. Maybe for you it’s combat in corporate America, you’re a teacher in today’s classroom, or you’re an administrative professional in a large association. Whatever your situation, you probably have challenges that you would like to effectively destroy!

You HAVE permission to Engage! Notice I didn’t put the emphasis on permission, but on HAVE. You’ve ALWAYS had permission. It’s such a simple statement, but one that is overlooked by many. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has told me they lost their dream, are too busy taking care of everyone else and don’t know HOW to take care of themselves anymore, or even worse, they felt guilty taking care of themselves! Employee engagement, customer engagement, relationship engagement or career engagement. Why do so many of our team members need permission from outside of themselves, when the bottom line is, they HAVE permission to Engage? They’ve ALWAYS had it, they just needed to give it to themselves! I’m standing by to help your team or organization take the next step and execute… CLEARED HOT!

Once you are CLEARED HOT, now what? Known simply as “FlyGirl”, Vernice ignites her audiences with a dynamic spark that can’t be extinguished. Soar through the execution of any plan by harnessing the power of a “Breakthrough Mentality” mindset! From the moment she leaps into the audience, she shows attendees how to go from “Zero to Breakthrough” and create a personal flight plan utilizing her candid strategies to help win on the battlefield of life!

Leveraging her “Breakthrough Mentality” mindset, she propelled herself from beat cop to combat pilot in a record-breaking three years and became the United States Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot and, shortly after, she was recognized as America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot by the Department of Defense.

Upon completion of two tours in Iraq and leaving the military, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. By applying the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Model to her own company, Vernice produced over six-figures in revenue within the first 12 months and over a million in the first 5 years! Her passion is helping others create similar results.

As featured on Oprah Winfrey, CNN, Tavis Smiley, NPR and others, Vernice Armour’s fresh style and presentation methods have inspired hundreds of organizations and individuals.

Vernice ultimately impacts organizations and individuals with an understanding of the passion and leadership required to excel. Through her keynotes, executive and group coaching, seminars and executive retreats, Vernice conveys messages of Zero to Breakthrough™ through her unique insight and life strategy: “You HAVE permission to Engage!”

Vernice travels extensively in order to create a global movement based on the Breakthrough Mentality mindset. In order for us to change the current conditions we are going to need to think and execute differently. We are going to need leaders to step up, lead and Get Gutsy. Our society and global community needs people to take personal responsibility and accountability. We win or lose together. One Mission, One Goal, One Team™.

Her signature book, Zero to Breakthrough™ (Penguin 2011) chronicles the process she utilized to transition from beat cop to America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. She is an internationally recognized inspirational leadership keynote speaker for premier leadership conferences and Fortune 500 companies.

Vernice has two honorary doctorates, been featured extensively in the media to include Oprah Winfrey, CNN, MSNBC and the View and is a member of the COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council. She has also received awards as a pioneering pilot, to include her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She was the Marine Corps’ first African American Female pilot, first African American woman on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad, Camp Pendleton’s 2001 Female Athlete of the Year, two-time titleholder in Camp Pendleton’s annual Strongest Warrior Competition, and a running back for the San Diego Sunfire women’s professional football team.

If you were to ask Vernice for yourself, how she accomplished so much at such an early age, she would tell you she’s standing on strong shoulders and had great mentors. So, to give you a closer look at where Vernice came from, we’ll take you on a more personal journey of how she grew up and some of her defining moments.

Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was 3 years of age. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. Her first little pony was given to her on the Christmas following her fourth birthday, and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she was very active in the music program, class Vice President, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta (the mathematics honor society) and The National Honor Society.

Vernice marched in the military boot steps of both her dads; Clarence Jackson, a former Marine, who married Vernice’s mother Authurine, and her father, Gaston C. Armour Jr. of Chicago, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and in the fall semester joined the Army ROTC program while enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought! In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department Correction Officer, Vernice took additional time off from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy and graduated as a police officer in December 1996. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science. In 1998, with the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998 and on her way to flight school.

When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award and was her classes top graduate and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot.

After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, she was recognized as America’s first African-American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground. She has completed 2 combat tours of duty in the Gulf.


Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour Speaker Videos Back to top

Vernice Armour: Keynote Speech


Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour has pretty much been there and done it all; the first African American woman in the Nashville Police Department motorcycle squad, the first African American female Combat Pilot, a professional football player along the way… but her question is, why don't you believe you can achieve like she has? She sets out her philosophy that if you allow yourself to have “Permission to Engage": “We are the bombs, bullets, missiles, just waiting to be loaded up for that next mission, to do what we are called to do. At what point do we choose to engage, and how are we engaging?"

Vernice tells her audience that anything is achievable if they want it badly enough and plan well enough. “When people asked me what I wanted to do when I was a little girl, I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a police officer. I had a flight plan, just like that day on the battlefield. Ask any kid what they want to be, they don't say I think I'll try, or I might… they know what they're going to be… they're not even thinking about how, are they, they are ready to engage."

Advancing her simple but effective message as to what you should be doing with your flight plan, she explains, “Where are you and where do you want to be? That's it. And you have direct order: do not think about the how. Create the full picture first, because as soon as you start thinking about the how, next thing you know your dreams start going down."

Keynote Speech Clip



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


With Vernice “FlyGirl" Armour, you are “Cleared Hot"–the phrase she would hear in her role as a combat pilot which gave her permission to deploy her weaponry. Vernice's ambition is for you to give yourself permission to execute your plans. She sets out straightforward, energizing strategies that will ensure your business takes off.

Vernice believes that anyone can move forward, however low he or she feels they are; she calls this making a commitment to the commitment. She shows you how to get that passion in your life that will enthuse everyone around you and how, wherever you are, you can always begin the journey towards your full potential.

As a proud African American former Diversity Officer for Headquarters Marine Core and liaison to the Pentagon, Vernice is passionate about diversity and the ways in which it can be a positive asset to any organization. She explains that diversity is normal; it is the way you manage it which will decide whether diversity becomes a problem or a solution for you. Following her lead you will be able to make every person in your company an ambassador for diversity.

Cleared Hot!
You HAVE Permission to Engage Employee engagement, customer engagement, team engagement, personal engagement. No matter what area an organization is strategically trying to improve, individuals have to be engaged and execute in order for the plan forward! The key is giving the permission to engage from the inside out. Once that happens, your organization will be CLEARED HOT! There’s no secret... a solid flight plan is the key. Give your attendees a fast paced message that will show how them how to:

  • Harness the power of a ‘Breakthrough Mentality’ mindset
  • Lead through mentorship
  • Leverage functional and individual diversity as a strategic advantage
  • Create breakthroughs for their teams with five simple steps
  • Who Needs A Runway?! Take Off From Where You Are!!!
    The bottom line is that we have to move into action from where we are! Unfortunately, many people become paralyzed in the preparation phase. Decide what you want, put your stake in the ground and execute! Vernice calls this making a commitment to the commitment. Give your organization the boost they need to come together as a team, understand how their objectives support the overall strategy and accomplish the mission achieving the desired results! Give your attendees an invigorating perspective that reveals how to:

  • Infuse passion in your life professionally and personally!
  • Recognize and utilize the skills and talents of everyone around you
  • Lead a Zero to Breakthrough™ life with a ‘Breakthrough Mentality’ as the foundation
  • Unleash your full potential no matter where you are personally starting from
  • Zero To Breakthrough™
    A Breakthrough Mentality Creates A Breakthrough Life! Put passion back in your life and design the path to your dreams with a ‘Breakthrough Mentality.’ Be inspired by Vernice’s personal story of setbacks, challenges, adventure, success and triumph. Vernice takes you on an amazing journey through her life experiences and, most importantly, the lessons learned. Unleash the personal leadership power needed to take your life to the next level! Attendees will discover:

  • How Passion, Purpose & Positive Steps create breakthrough results and shape your destiny
  • The Tangibility of Possibility
  • Delay is not Denial and to Retreat does not mean Defeat
  • How to ignite your spark and make YOUR dreams a reality!
  • Driving Diversity Deep into the DNA of Your Organization
    One Mission, One Goal, One Team Vernice reveals, as a former Diversity Officer for Headquarters Marine Corps and liaison to the Pentagon, what it took to help a 200,000 personnel organization get back on track! When you bring people together, you will have differences and similarities that result in tension and complexities... THIS IS NORMAL! How you MANAGE diversity is the key! The leader will discover how to:

  • Know your people and harness the power, skills and talents of the team
  • Unleash the full potential of diversity to impact the bottom line
  • Effectively tap into the power of the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Teach everyone to be an ambassador for diversity
  • Create a culture that values and respects all team members: One Mission, One Goal, One Team!
  • (Great for senior and middle management, Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups)



    Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    "Vernice was amazing! I appreciated the fact that she requested to interact with our students prior to the start of graduation. She is highly personable and the students resonated with her speech."
    Argosy University

    "Vernice's message and energy and sense of humor combined to create an amazing experience for all who attended our event."
    Unisys Corp.

    "There’s no shortage of achievements. You’re awesome girl... You’re awesome!"
        Oprah

    "I was so inspired, I hit the ground running with several ideas that I have been planning for months now..."
        M. Mack Jones, Bank of America

    "I’ve shared stage with hundreds of great speakers over the past 20 years, and they all better take notice because Vernice Armour is a force, a powerhouse, and I highly recommend her to you. She will change your life!"
        Les Brown, International Motivational Speaker

    "One need only hear Captain Armour speak to understand why she is so sought after by CNN and shows such as Tavis Smiley and Oprah... This history making, mission-focused woman represents the ‘total package’."
        Paula Miller-Lester, Publisher, Minorities and Women in Business




    * Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    "Vernice was amazing! I appreciated the fact that she requested to interact with our students prior to the start of graduation. She is highly personable and the students resonated with her speech."
    Argosy University

    "Vernice's message and energy and sense of humor combined to create an amazing experience for all who attended our event."
    Unisys Corp.

    "There’s no shortage of achievements. You’re awesome girl... You’re awesome!"
        Oprah

    "I was so inspired, I hit the ground running with several ideas that I have been planning for months now..."
        M. Mack Jones, Bank of America

    "I’ve shared stage with hundreds of great speakers over the past 20 years, and they all better take notice because Vernice Armour is a force, a powerhouse, and I highly recommend her to you. She will change your life!"
        Les Brown, International Motivational Speaker

    "One need only hear Captain Armour speak to understand why she is so sought after by CNN and shows such as Tavis Smiley and Oprah... This history making, mission-focused woman represents the ‘total package’."
        Paula Miller-Lester, Publisher, Minorities and Women in Business


    Zero to Breakthrough

    Zero to Breakthrough
    Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour went from beat cop to combat pilot in 3 years. Within a year she found herself flying over the deserts of Iraq supporting the men and women on the ground. After serving two tours overseas, she had become America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. When she returned home, she realized that many people want to create breakthroughs in their own lives, they just don’t know how.

    From her experiences, she created a 7-step process called the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Plan. In this extraordinary book, she now reveals her astonishing story, and what principles formed the foundations of her unprecedented success.

    Known to most simply as "FlyGirl", she is your battle-tested, personal coach in this unstoppable, tour de force methodology.


    Cleared Hot!
    You HAVE Permission to Engage Employee engagement, customer engagement, team engagement, personal engagement. No matter what area an organization is strategically trying to improve, individuals have to be engaged and execute in order for the plan forward! The key is giving the permission to engage from the inside out. Once that happens, your organization will be CLEARED HOT! There’s no secret... a solid flight plan is the key. Give your attendees a fast paced message that will show how them how to:

  • Harness the power of a ‘Breakthrough Mentality’ mindset
  • Lead through mentorship
  • Leverage functional and individual diversity as a strategic advantage
  • Create breakthroughs for their teams with five simple steps
  • Who Needs A Runway?! Take Off From Where You Are!!!
    The bottom line is that we have to move into action from where we are! Unfortunately, many people become paralyzed in the preparation phase. Decide what you want, put your stake in the ground and execute! Vernice calls this making a commitment to the commitment. Give your organization the boost they need to come together as a team, understand how their objectives support the overall strategy and accomplish the mission achieving the desired results! Give your attendees an invigorating perspective that reveals how to:

  • Infuse passion in your life professionally and personally!
  • Recognize and utilize the skills and talents of everyone around you
  • Lead a Zero to Breakthrough™ life with a ‘Breakthrough Mentality’ as the foundation
  • Unleash your full potential no matter where you are personally starting from
  • Zero To Breakthrough™
    A Breakthrough Mentality Creates A Breakthrough Life! Put passion back in your life and design the path to your dreams with a ‘Breakthrough Mentality.’ Be inspired by Vernice’s personal story of setbacks, challenges, adventure, success and triumph. Vernice takes you on an amazing journey through her life experiences and, most importantly, the lessons learned. Unleash the personal leadership power needed to take your life to the next level! Attendees will discover:

  • How Passion, Purpose & Positive Steps create breakthrough results and shape your destiny
  • The Tangibility of Possibility
  • Delay is not Denial and to Retreat does not mean Defeat
  • How to ignite your spark and make YOUR dreams a reality!
  • Driving Diversity Deep into the DNA of Your Organization
    One Mission, One Goal, One Team Vernice reveals, as a former Diversity Officer for Headquarters Marine Corps and liaison to the Pentagon, what it took to help a 200,000 personnel organization get back on track! When you bring people together, you will have differences and similarities that result in tension and complexities... THIS IS NORMAL! How you MANAGE diversity is the key! The leader will discover how to:

  • Know your people and harness the power, skills and talents of the team
  • Unleash the full potential of diversity to impact the bottom line
  • Effectively tap into the power of the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Teach everyone to be an ambassador for diversity
  • Create a culture that values and respects all team members: One Mission, One Goal, One Team!
  • (Great for senior and middle management, Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups)



    Vernice Armour: Keynote Speech


    Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour has pretty much been there and done it all; the first African American woman in the Nashville Police Department motorcycle squad, the first African American female Combat Pilot, a professional football player along the way… but her question is, why don't you believe you can achieve like she has? She sets out her philosophy that if you allow yourself to have “Permission to Engage": “We are the bombs, bullets, missiles, just waiting to be loaded up for that next mission, to do what we are called to do. At what point do we choose to engage, and how are we engaging?"

    Vernice tells her audience that anything is achievable if they want it badly enough and plan well enough. “When people asked me what I wanted to do when I was a little girl, I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a police officer. I had a flight plan, just like that day on the battlefield. Ask any kid what they want to be, they don't say I think I'll try, or I might… they know what they're going to be… they're not even thinking about how, are they, they are ready to engage."

    Advancing her simple but effective message as to what you should be doing with your flight plan, she explains, “Where are you and where do you want to be? That's it. And you have direct order: do not think about the how. Create the full picture first, because as soon as you start thinking about the how, next thing you know your dreams start going down."

    Keynote Speech Clip