Vikki Pryor is the Managing Principal and Founder of Change Create Transform LLC (CCT), an organization that leverages the intellectual capital of an expert platform comprised of business professionals designed to help businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals succeed through services offered at the C-Suite executive level. The Change Create Transform Foundation is the philanthropic side of CCT and offers scholarships for students who need additional support to finish their educations. Vikki holds an impressive array of professional degrees including a JD, MBA, CPA and well as CLU and ChFC certifications – a veritable alphabet soup of accomplishments – and she uses that professional training and many personal talents to steer her companies (which we are pleased are SGR clients). She was also a single mother, a survivor and is now a new grandmother.
Why did you form Change Create Transform?
I started the company thinking it would be a good way for me to leverage my experience and education. In the process, I realized that there are many other individuals with important experience and skills to offer businesses in need. I have a deep respect for the importance of business in solving issues critical to people, and this is a good way for me to use my skills, and make a difference at the same time.
Do you believe business has evolved in a positive way?
Yes, business has had a profound impact on human progress, but of course there is room for improvement. Business can strive to be people and community centered, while structured to integrate the needs of all stakeholders. By focusing on human capital, businesses can strengthen families, and facilitate the right to a family and to participate in family in a meaningful way. Tapping into the unique skills and genius of each individual is a business imperative. We have more work to do to address unconscious bias in the workplace that gets in the way of optimal performance at every level of the organization.
How did you acquire such an impressive set of credentials?
Nearly all of my education was acquired while working. I didn’t have a plan; one step led to another. After graduation from law school, I worked as a tax lawyer – I needed more training, so I went back to school, passed the CPA exam and that led me to business school. Later I qualified as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“Stay in the game” — never give up. My parents were influential — they taught me the importance of two key personal qualities: resilience and resourcefulness.
How do you like to spend your free time, assuming, of course, you have any?
I love spending time with my new granddaughter – she is just incredible. l enjoy gardening and the water – I’m an enthusiastic swimmer and scuba diver. I also read a lot – I guess that’s not surprising.
So, that’s a natural lead in to the next question: what are your favorite books?
There are so many! I am a huge fan of non-fiction and one of my all-time favorites is a book by Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life. Martin Seligman’s, Learned Optimism, is important to read. I like Maya Angelou’s, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. On the fiction side, I like older books; The Good Earth and East of Eden are favorites. To help you move forward whenever you feel stuck, read The Power of Decision by Raymond Charles Barker.
If you could have dinner with three other people, who would you like to join you at the table?
Naturally, I always love having dinner with family and friends. I’ve met a number of famous people in my travels, though, some by chance, and had some fascinating conversations. A few years, ago I met Gloria Steinem at a Women’s Forum event in New Jersey. I arrived a bit late and there was one seat left, and it just happened to be next to her. We had a terrific conversation which left a lasting impression on me. I also met and have conversed with Michael Jordan and the Dalai Lama. That would be an interesting mix of dinner companions, wouldn’t it?
There has been a lot of negative talk lately about the value of law school and many are now saying that it’s a bad choice. What is your view on the subject?
I feel fortunate to be a lawyer. Law school gave me the professional foundation for all phases of my career success. The training and mental discipline you acquire is invaluable and law school actually provides great, all-purpose training. Many successful law school graduates do not practice law, at least not in the sense of going to a law office every day. There are many great career options upon attaining a legal education. Recent grads should be creative, flexible and open-minded in seeking career opportunities.
What or who motivates or inspires you?
Many, many people have motivated, inspired, mentored, supported and helped me. I did not get here on my own. If forced to choose one person would made a profound difference in my life, it would be my grandmother, Marie Nesbitt. She only had a third grade education but she was a true visionary and possessed the most amazing drive and work ethic. She fostered in me an early belief that I could achieve anything in life. As a matter of fact, the Change Create Transform Foundation offers a Promise Prize scholarship named in honor of my grandmother, the Marie Nesbitt Promise Prize. What inspires me is making a difference, however small.
If you won a million dollars, would you quit your job, and, if so, what would you do?
No, I wouldn’t quit my job – I like to work, and adhere to Martha Stewart’s advice, “Life is work and work is life.” Actually, I would appreciate more time. I would use it to spend quality time with people, see more places in the world, and live life more fully.
Do you have a personal philosophy by which you live?
Gratefulness: To accomplish things in life is a journey where you are challenged to use all experiences to learn and grow, and make the best of what you have. It’s what my parents and my life’s experience have taught me – just because you are disappointed, frustrated, or angry about how things are going, you should not give in to the temptation to blame, or give up. A seeming failure is another opportunity in disguise.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I have many and some of them are on the Change Create Transform website, such as “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” That’s Margaret Mead, another inspiring woman.
Borrowing another question from Bernard Pivot: “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?”
“Peace on earth is starting right now.”