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How Kristen L. Pope, ‘The Queen of Agility,’ Met New Challenges and Propelled Her Career

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Most recently elected as a 2020 top “Forty Under 40” alumna of her alma mater, and a Top 50 Most Influential Businessperson of Color in the Boston suburbs, Kristen L. Pope is a multi-hyphenate visionary. She is a founder, speaker, award-winning TV journalist, and a multimedia strategist.

Kristen manages social media at Harvard University in the Division of Continuing Education. Separately, she runs her own digital content production company, Pope Productions Inc.

Pope Productions Inc. produces culture-shaping digital social content for clients like Wellesley College and Pentecostal Tabernacle. Through her company, Kristen created and produced two seasons of the variety talk show, “The Positive Controversy with Kristen Pope,” to amplify voices not often heard in the media.

Through Pope Productions, Kristen has packaged her 15 years of expertise as a television news broadcaster in places including, NBC10 Boston and ABC9 News, into an online course, the “On-Air Academy,” that has helped dozens of aspiring journalists secure jobs in television media.  Prior to creating the transformational master class, Kristen won several awards including: a first-place documentary award from the New York Association of Black Journalists and a Woman in Media award.

Kristen Pope
Kristen L. ,Pope (file)

BLACK ENTERPRISE recently had an opportunity to sit and speak with this media mogul in the making.

Please introduce yourself to our reading audience.

Kristen Pope: Hello BLACK ENTERPRISE community! My name is Kristen L. Pope. I’m an award-winning journalist and an award-winning entrepreneur. I am a child of God, a wife, mom, and risk taker. I love life and I am enthusiastic about every new day. I am passionate about the power of media and using it to broadcast uplifting and empowering messages. Similarly, I am passionate about giving back and mentoring the next generation of media professionals in career and life. I’ve been extremely blessed at this point in life to enjoy the intersection of both broadcasting great stories full-time as the manager of social media for Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education and separately teaching aspiring broadcast journalists through my flagship course, the “On-Air Academy,” run by my company Pope Productions, Inc.

Why did you say that you were the Queen of Agility?

If there’s one skill that 2020 has taught we need, it’s the ability to pivot or agility. Agility means to move quickly and easily. Agility means to think and understand quickly. This year, I put all of these characteristics to work in order to thrive in uncertain times. My initial plan, similar to last year, was to speak at journalism conferences presenting my On-Air Academy. However, that all came to a screeching halt in March. Within a month, I was facilitating two webinars per month, taught by myself and other expert media practitioners. I learned very quickly that there was a great need to “skill-up,” and get prepared in the pandemic, especially amongst college students and entry level journalists of color. Students in their senior year were no longer able to be on campus and compile their news reel, which is needed to apply for jobs. Internships were cancelled and job interviews were put on hold indefinitely. My ability to quickly pivot and provide solutions for my audience proved successful. My ability to quickly pivot from in-person to online meant I could serve anyone anywhere. This ultimately resulted in signing one of my biggest contracts–consulting with the Harlem Children’s Zone to teach their high schoolers journalism.

What advice do you want to give to that entrepreneur who wants to give up?

First, I have been there. Many times. Social media has made entrepreneurship look sexy and glamorous and that’s not always the case. Most times, it’s lonely, coupled with a lot of grinding and grit work. Work that you ultimately love, but not always pretty. In the beginning you may be everything: the CEO and the assistant and that’s O. The process allows us to know all parts of our business and humbles us so that we are never too good to do something our business requires. Hiring a business coach or at least investing in one coaching session can do wonders for your strategy, and business acumen. Always keep your “why” nearby. When you want to give up, your why sustains you. It always reminds you why you are an entrepreneur. Remember that an entrepreneur solves a problem. An entrepreneur provides an answer to a need. In my early years as an entrepreneur, I didn’t clearly define what service I offered and what problem I solved. This is where a business coach comes in! Also surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key to you going from stuck to successful!

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

COVID-19 has been a great opportunity for my business to pivot, flex, and bend. My business is making double what is making pre-COVID. The ability to work online means my reach expands. I no longer have to rely on being in-person to meet my audience. Online has expanded my business, my audience, and my income.

What’s the one thing that you know for sure?

The one thing I know for sure is that God has a divine plan for us all. The key to unlocking that plan is to surrender to God’s will for our lives. Stop fighting against it. Get in God’s flow and watch God open doors that no man can close!

 

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez Gets Trump Pardon. Could This Be A Power Move By Jay-Z?

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Former President Trump disclosed last-minute commutations and pardons at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Variety reported. On the list were many people from executives to politicians, including former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and rappers Kodak Black and Lil Wayne. To everyone’s surprise, an unexpected name appeared on Trump’s clemency list– Roc Nation CEO  Desiree Perez. According to the publication, Desiree and her husband are close friends with Jay-Z. Perez’s husband, Juan, is also the CEO of Roc Nation Sports.

A statement from the former Press Secretary regarding Desiree’s presidential pardon stated Trump took into account the positive changes the leader has made in her life since her conviction for attempting to distribute narcotics. 

“President Trump granted a full pardon to Desiree Perez. Ms. Perez was involved in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Since her conviction, Ms. Perez has taken full accountability for her actions and has turned her life around,” the letter read. “She has been gainfully employed and has been an advocate for criminal justice reform in her community.”

Desiree, who is Cuban-American, is a music-industry staple and was appointed to the top position in 2019. In the same year, Billboard Magazine deemed her Executive Of The Year during the publication’s yearly Women in Music event. She heads the organization’s numerous outlets like activism, television and movies, music, publishing and touring. The multi-million-dollar entertainment and sports organization is home to today’s most prominent pop culture names, including Shakira, J.Cole, Rihanna, Big Sean and Megan Thee Stallion, Variety reported.

According to Variety, Desiree was arrested in 1994 for drug possession and in 1998 for gun possession and grand theft. After becoming an informant for the U.S. Attorney’s office, she was sentenced to five years probation. She violated her probation and served nine months in jail in 1999.

“I’m grateful to have received a pardon and to have formally closed that chapter of my life in the eyes of the law,” the 52-year-old Cubana told Variety. “I have taken full accountability for my mistakes from 25 years ago, but I also take tremendous pride in my personal growth, perseverance and accomplishments since then. This pardon reinforces my lifelong commitment to advocate for criminal justice reform and social justice initiatives.”

It’s also fair to note that Jay-Z and Beyonce were extremely vocal about their support for the Obama administration. The Carters were relatively quiet during this last election cycle. According to an insider, the Roc Nation owner didn’t want to get on Trump’s bad side– especially if it could help Perez.

“As anyone who’s worked with the Trump White House knows, you can’t piss him off, or he will take revenge,” the source told Variety.

Although the power move is speculative, Jay-Z is looking to break into the cannabis business, and Desiree’s felonious record could’ve interfered with that plan.

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‘There is No Place for Mediocrity’: 86-Year-Old Accountant Shares Powerful Success Tips 

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Lester McKeever made history as one of the first 100 African-Americans to become a Certified Public Accountant in the U.S. According to the National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants (NSBCPAs), less than 1% of all CPAs in the U.S. are Black.

“Being a CPA, a highly recognized credential in the business world, provided me the opportunity to leverage many unique opportunities,” says McKeever in an exclusive interview with Black Enterprise.

For many decades, McKeever has worked to expose more students to the accounting profession. Through various programs, he has raised millions of dollars to provide scholarships and job opportunities for the next generation of leaders.

“Being Black limited your opportunities,” McKeever shared as he recalls his experience trying to find a job as a black accountant in the 1950s. “But showing true concern for your client’s success and working to improve your community provides unexpected benefits. When you give to others, you gain more than you give in trying to help.”

Creating a Foundation for Success

McKeever is proof that where you come from does not determine how far you can go.

McKeever was born in Chicago in 1934. His parents did not graduate from high school but they fully supported his education. McKeever displayed a strong desire to excel in all of his classes, earning him the math and science award in high school. McKeever didn’t dream of going to college until receiving a scholarship from a student club. This one moment changed his entire career trajectory. 

He went on to graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtain his CPA license, and study law at the Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law.

“It’s a paper world,” says McKeever. “It’s unbelievable what really happens when you have credentials that indicate that you are prepared to take on other challenges.”

Overcoming Obstacles as a Black Accountant

Mckeever believes that mentorship and networking are important in your career. They were the link that helped him secure a job when major corporations were not hiring black people.

“When I graduated from college, the Big 8 accounting firms and large corporations did not hire African Americans,” says Mckeever. “My university forced one firm to give me the courtesy of an interview. They said they couldn’t hire me because their clients wouldn’t accept me.”

McKeever started his career working with a Black-owned life insurance company. Through relationships at this firm, he was introduced to Mary T. Washington Wylie — the first Black woman to become a CPA in the U.S.

Wylie provided McKeever with a part-time work opportunity during tax season. This kicked off a long career with Washington & Pittman accounting firm, leading to an appointment on the Board of Directors as a managing partner. Later, the firm was renamed Washington, Pittman & McKeever.

One of Mckeever’s keys to success is knowing your craft inside and out. “Anything related to the success of your career, you have to be on top of that. There’s no place for mediocrity anymore. You have to be skilled in what you are trying to do.”

Becoming a History Maker

Mckeever has had a successful career as an accountant and has broken many barriers. He was a member of the Finance Committee under Chicago Mayor’s Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley. In 1997, he became chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. These history-making moments established McKeever as one of Chicago’s most influential business leaders. 

If you want to achieve success and attract mentors, Mckeever says that “you have to get involved in the community.” McKeever has served on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Institute of Technology and treasurer of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. McKeever was one of the founding members of the Chicago Urban League’s Impact Leadership Development Program. He also paved the way for the Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program.

“I always tell people to involve themselves in as many activities as you possibly can (especially) community type organizations. When people see you working hard and trying to help others, they see you working hard and try to help you.”

If you want to learn more about upcoming initiatives to support the advancement and awareness of Black accountants, visit the National Society of Black CPA’s Facebook page and join the #MyCPAIsBlack campaign.

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Biden’s Green Energy Boom Could Send These Electric Vehicle Stocks Soaring

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