Digital media mogul Karen Civil has long been an inspiration of mines. Like me, she started out as a radio station intern in a major media market and went on to build her own personal brand, working in the music business, philanthropy, and in politics.
What I admire about Karen is her ability to seamlessly navigate in multiple worlds, while staying true to the culture and her brand. She can go from working with the hardest hip-hop artists like Nipsey Hussle and Pusha T, to hosting panels in the White House and even being tapped by Hillary Rodham Clinton to help with her 2016 presidential campaign.
Karen was a huge inspiration for starting the CSUITEMUSIC brand - we wanted to create a space where hip-hop culture meets the highest levels of influence. At CSUITEMUSIC, we not only use our platform to showcase artists and cultural influencers, but we also help brands, and even politicians with digital media creation and marketing strategies - all through a hip-hop lens.
Ms. Civil is now using her experience in the media business to help other people reach their potential in her new show on Complex. Karen truly is a trailblazer in the space of digital marketing and branding. When people ask what I do, I tell them “I just want to be Karen Civil when I grow up.”
But don’t take my word for it. Here are 10 reasons why every media hustler will be inspired by Karen Civil too.
1.) She started off as an intern at Hot 97 for Funkmaster Flex
Karen got her start in the business interning for Funkmaster Flex at New York, City’s Hot 97 radio station. After making good industry connections and gaining invaluable experience, Karen would leave Hot to start her own media website KarenCivil.com in 2008.
2.) She has her own "Karen Civil Day"
For the past 3 years, Karen has been honored by the Brooklyn Nets for her philanthropy work in Haiti.
3.) She built a playground for youth in Haiti
In 2015, Karen partnered with a number of artists including Meek Mill and Lil’ Wayne to build theLive Civil playground in Port-au-Prince Haiti. The playground has a soccer field, basketball court, swings, outdoor cafeteria and learning games for the 300 kids who attend the nearby middle-school.
4.) Hillary Clinton tapped Karen to help with her 2016 campaign for President
In 2016, the Hillary Clinton campaign partnered with Karen to help with voter outreach in the hip-hop community. Karen would bring seemingly unlikely support from the likes of Pusha T and Freeway to help rally voters around one of Hillary’s key campaign issues: prison reform.
5.) The Obama Administration asked Karen to host several panels at the White House
During the Obama Administration, Karen would speak several times at the White House, hosting panels and forums around entrepreneurship and women empowerment.
6.) She started her own marketing agency Always Civil Enterprise
After interning at Hot 97 for a number of years, Karen would branch off to start her own marketing firm, and has worked with a number of influential artists and brands on developing their digital commerce. Her clientele have included Lil' Wayne, Nipsey Hussle, YG, and Beats by Dre, to name a few.
7.) Karen offers online courses for entrepreneurs through her Live Civil Academy
The Live Civil Academy provides online courses for emerging entrepreneurs and influencers looking to take their business/marketing to the next level.
8.) She flawlessly navigates the streets and the corporate world
No matter how many corporate/political partnerships she has, Karen never forgets to bring the culture with her. From helping Nipsey Hussle and YG build their brands, to getting Hillary Clinton to tweet about Pusha T, Karen has unique knack for bridging the gap between the streets and mainstream culture.
9.) She is a published author with her best-selling book Be You & Live Civil
In 2015, Karen released her self-help book Be You & Live Civil: Tools for Unlocking Your Potential & Living Your Purpose. The purpose of the book is to give entrepreneurs a guide toward personal and professional growth.
10.) She is helping upcoming artists and entrepreneurs on her new show
Karen is the host of a new show Good Looking Out on Complex. According to Complex Networks, the show "give(s) millennial entrepreneurs an opportunity to receive advice from experts in their respective fields, including music, food, and fashion."
Watch an episode of the show below!
Michael J. Payton is the Founder of CSUITEMUSIC.com, Executive Fellow in the Office of the California Governor, and an Master's student at New York University.