I’m sure there is a golden Hall of Fame of marketing and branding gurus and one person that definitely holds the Lifetime Achievement Award is the great Karen Civil – Founder of Live Civil. She’s the bomb. So much class, sassiness and savviness all wrapped up in this business-driven and grounded woman.

Karen Civil stopped by AlleyNYC to talk with HerAgenda founder Rhonesha Byng about how she got started and what motivates her to keep going.

Karen spoke about grabbing opportunities early by growing her already heightened fascination with the internet. She highlighted her humble beginnings in finding a niche she identified with and investing in it. “ I was a Haitian American, who dressed like Wednesday Adams, who loved the Backstreet Boys, says Karen. She found it easy to talk about the things she liked and created a firm platform in the process. She had no idea what any of this meant (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram A.D.) but she was determined to figure out how to create revenue from her special hobby.

Pretty kool eh?! Budding Business Owners TAKE NOTES!!!

She started and mastered her hobby of creating fan sites to reach goals that she placed for herself early on, like meeting J.D. Williams from The Wire, who after almost getting into legal trouble for selling and making money off fan merchandise, got to have a birthday dinner with him after smoothing everything out.

She really made it known that:

stepping out of your comfort zone (courage) + drive = opportunity

Speaking up and having the courage to do so is the only way to change your atmosphere. She was able to move up the ranks of Angie Martinez’ Apprentice contest and although she didn’t win, her drive pushed her to nab an internship with Funkmaster Flex.

One thing that stuck with me that she made sure to drive home was social media is your tool, your batter, your fabric that you can fashion and make into whatever you want it to be. Being yourself will always be popular and duplication will always keep you steps behind. With diligence, determination and guidance you can create the dream you want with the machine called social media. Sometimes keeping up with latest trends is what might get you all of the clicks, but being a true innovator is what will keep your business afloat beyond your retirement.

Timing is everything and one day it can be your time to shine. God has gifted us with talents and gift and we must obey His will and operate in them accordingly and fulfill our destiny. You may see your best friend or that girl in your class always getting first dibbs on everything! Frustrating right?! But we have to understand that “the race is not to the swift, but the brave” Running on someone else’ lane will cause you to get lost. God didn’t give you THEIR road map! Stay in your lane, know your gifting and listen to His voice! Karen made it known that it was easy back in the good ol’ days of Blackplanet and MySpace. Now with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and 500 other apps out there, it’s your duty to yourself to keep with THAT trend but still remain true to yourself.

Karen on creating value in your work

She gave credit to her upbringing and her mother teaching her to care about everything that you do. If it’s your passion and you have your seal on it, and it something you truly believe in, you must nurture it and do it right. Putting half of yourself into something is what your consumers will get. HALF. Give your whole self into your work. Consumers will identify with the authenticity of that and buy into it. You must give in order to receive. If you over-deliver, you make get more than what you expect from various different places. Over-delivering will always get you that money shot!

Karen on internships

Although the internships realm is a shaky job to maintain in some environments, Karen takes them extremely seriously. Some of her previous interns have gone on to do some great things. The late ASAP YAMS, founder of ASAP MOB and Sean, an art gallery CEO are some of the few greats that have had the privilege of being under the tutelage of Karen Civil. Time is never wasted, you will learn a WORLD of things that will prep you for reaching all of the stars you want!

Karen on who you surround yourself with

When Karen moved to LA she would go to events alone and talk to anyone she came across and handed out her business cards. Due to her heart for connections, she thought it a great idea to unify women, who may come from different walks of life, into one event so that they could trade stories and network. Judging someone is your stumbling block to success. Do not let your ego or your mis-informed perception of someone stop you from flourishing. FINESSE GIRL!

Karen on maintaining balance

As women it is difficult to balance an explosive career and a smooth sailing personal life. Whatever you succeed in one area, you will always lack in another. There will be important days, dates and events that will be missed, only organization and intense scheduling will keep you stress free. What you feel is of priority value to you, is what you will spend the most time on. Use your time WISELY, and it will benefit you in the end.

This interview was refreshingly honest. Karen is such a humble soul and humility was her highway to heaven! I wanna be just like her when I grow up!

Rachael Baptiste