A social entrepreneur with a mission to “Serve the Underserved” Karen shared with us how that comes to life in her pursuit to build bridges, connect others and tell important stories.
In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights from this incredible conversation full of wisdom and optimism.
“Serve the Underserved”
Karen became a social entrepreneur through her passion to help her community. Years ago, she was called out by a friend on her blog for only having images of white people. Then after Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered by police, she realized how the media images were criminalizing the victims, rather than showing who they really were. This event in particular motivated her to show the world stories that don’t get told through TONL imagery and narratives.
In additional to TONL, Karen is also focused on Building Bridges Brunch, which supports women’s networking and builds connections. Building Bridges Brunch was inspired by Oprah and her “The Life You Want” Tour. During the event, Oprah asked the audience to envision the life that they wanted. Everyone fell silent. It was emotional. The realization was that we usually just go day to day and lose track of what is important. Inspired, Karen wrote in her event booklet, “serve the underserved.” Karen launched her first Building Bridges Brunch with her own booklet, focusing on being introspective and the importance of figuring out your “why.” [IG #buildingbridgesbrunch]
“What is your “why?”
As a Changemaker, her advice to other women is to ask ourselves what is our “why” and run a lens though that, because it precedes everything we do. Figure out what type of life you want for yourself. Explore the different paths you can take, pivot if you can’t answer your “why” on that path, even if it means moving cities or changing jobs.
The key guiding principle that keep Karen focused on the “why” is to be careful who you get your advice from. If you wouldn’t trade places with them, why would you take advice from their POV? We spend too much time focusing on what other people think. We should care less about what people think, not be disrespectful, but stand your ground on what you believe in. In the limited time in life, do we want to be shackled by what everyone else is saying? Or do we want to live it up, be free, and tap into those gifts we have?
“Passion is about the result”
Through all of her ventures and the changes in life, one of the biggest challenges for Karen was to understand the role to play as an entrepreneur while having a job in corporate America. It was definitely a tug of war. Karen learned how to make the most out of the tools from her corporate job to build a business, taking as much as she could, while running TONL. She also realized how important it is to follow your passion, which should be about the result and not the title or the money. We should be always focusing on what fulfills the “why” in our life.
An area where Karen challenges herself is in finding balance and figuring out where her energy is needed. As an entrepreneur, Karen advised us to be conscious on how we decide what we ventures to take up, and to make sure to show up. Maybe we don’t need to hold all the hats, for the sake of our mental and physical state.
“We have a culture… so use it as a superpower!”
Karen shared with us a story about one woman that stuck with her. She told Karen that she felt self-conscious at work and was debating whether to change how she looked and the clothes she wears. Karen responded to her, that in her corporate America environment, she may be the only representation of an African American, and to embrace who she is. Karen believes strongly that anyone that is underrepresented should use that as a badge, bring the food that you eat, wear the clothes, be everything that makes you who you are. Karen keeps her spiritual and mental balance by being herself!
“Women that surround me are my Changemaker role models”
The women that surround her are Karen’s Changemaker role models: women who take risks. When she reflects about what women go through, their physical states, and particularly women of color, it all comes with its set of challenges. And another role model?…of course Oprah!
For sources of inspiration, Karen recommends: Start with Why by Simon Sinek for anyone that tries to figure out their “why”. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Good to Great by Jim Collins and Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.