Vanessa Van Petten - Creator of

[quote style=”boxed”]Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Say no more often![/quote]

Vanessa Van Petten specializes in social and emotional intelligence research and development. She runs, a website where readers can find the most interesting research on human behavior in an easy and relatable format. She wrote her first book when she was only 16 years old and just released a second book with Penguin USA on how parents can use emotional intelligence to better understand their children. Her company also works with brands and individuals to help them use social intelligence and human lie-detection to improve website traffic, sales and branding. Vanessa’s unique approach has been featured by CNN, CBS Miami, Fox New York, Wall Street Journal, Teen Vogue and she is a 2-times winner of the Moms Choice Award.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on 3 major projects right now. First, I am doing workshops for corporations and organizations on “How to Become a Human Lie Detector,” tailoring non-verbal behavioral lessons for sales, marketing and human resources. Second, I am  working on the launch of my latest parenting book by speaking in schools. Finally, I am expanding my tutoring and teen mentoring program beyond Los Angeles to Portland, OR.

Where did the idea for come from?

I realized that there is an exact science behind reading people that can be applied in many ways. This happened when a parent told me that her teenage son never talked to her about anything. I started to research non-verbal ways of communication and discovered scientific research on human lie detection. I have been slowly expanding this research to apply to a multitude of areas–human resources, parenting, teaching, sales and more.

What does your typical day look like?

I get up at 7:00 AM and work through my email. Once that is finished, I go to the gym to get out some extra energy. Before lunch, I work on writing articles for my website. I usually have a lunch meeting or afternoon meetings. After meetings I work on marketing projects like managing my interns (we have 120 interns at our company!) or writing press releases.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a loose idea about the end result and then break down the process to get there in as many 10-minute steps as I possibly can. That way, I can accomplish or realize big ideas by doing things 10 minutes at a time. It doesn’t feel overwhelming and I am able to take my time with each process.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am loving the virtual conference trend. I get so busy and traveling to conferences is difficult. I love doing virtual conferences and webinars because you are able to attend no matter where you are.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I really didn’t like being a telemarketer in college. I took the job to make extra money and to get sales experience. I learned a lot and got very comfortable asking for money, but getting yelled at night after night was terrible.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would spend less money developing products before I knew there was demand. Now, instead of creating a webinar and then trying to sell it, I put up a sales page to understand interest before I develop it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Get in the habit of breaking your to do list down into 10-20 minute activities. So many people put off their big to do items because they feel overwhelmed. If you break them down, you will get way more done.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Get interns! We could all use the extra help and by hiring interns, you are giving young people work experience and becoming a mentor. It’s a win win!

Tell us a secret.

I hate the phone and would rather write an ebook than do a conference call.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

I love Ning for our private intern network. I love Google Docs for sharing spreadsheets and I love Skype for webinar recordings.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and Good to Great by Jim Collins. They are both must reads.

What’s on your playlist?

I only work to classical music, but on my workout playlist I listen to silly Top 40 music.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I love Louis CK’s standup and the videos on YouTube of “Sh*t Girls Say.”

Who is your hero?

I think Lois Lowry is an amazing author. She tells stories that are imaginative, amazing and moral. I also am amazed at how many books she has published and how huge her audience is. She makes marketing look effortless.

What do you constantly say to yourself?

“Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Say no more often!”

Is there a professional quote you live by?

“Dream big, work hard and you will get there.”


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