Wednesday, Salesforce presented its first-ever “National Black Business Month Block Party Summit” in partnership with Black Enterprise and Deloitte Digital, featuring an “incredible line up of luminary speakers along with special appearances from Black entrepreneurs, creatives, and thought leaders who have shaped the communities in their respective fields.”
Joining the #BlackBusinessBlockParty panel on “From Crisis to Creation: Pandemic-Driven Business Innovations” was a familiar face to Millenials and Gen Z for the culture: Karen Civil. Civil is known for representing big business to entrepreneurs; a few include: Hillary Clinton, Nipsey Hussle, and Beats by Dre. This virtual panel allowed Civil to discuss “figuring out the pivot.”
Salesforce noted, “Everyone knows that this past year has presented entrepreneurs and business owners with, especially difficult challenges. However, with those challenging circumstances came opportunities for reinvention and innovation. This panel will explore the various ways in which entrepreneurs can turn unique and unprecedented setbacks into unique and unprecedented successes. From navigating the pandemic to pursuing your passion — these lessons on how to navigate the unexpected will inspire all.”
Civil’ s session was humanizing. It showed a mogul at her most authentic. She, like all of us, was impacted tremendously due to Covid-19, remembering back to first thinking it (the on set and quarantine) would only last three weeks. Jokingly (really, but not really), she said, “reality set in after about a week.” For someone who is use to operating at a high level, moving at a very fast pace, negotiating deals and catching flights a minimum of five times each week, she knew downtime wasn’t an option and she needed to act quickly. She tells the story of pulling out her database and tracking contacts… who were the major players and businesses that she could work with virtually and sustain? This eye-awakening moment allowed Civil to take the pause, use them time to prepare, as “the world will never go back to the way it was.”
Prior to the pandemic, Civil’s crisis plan focused on if she ever decided to take time off due to factors such as motherhood or her client list not at capacity as usual. She evaluated her next year, “three months, six months, and a year from a financial aspect,” she said. Why? She wants to ensure she can still handle her “overhead payroll, personal finances, family (at times), and can still go and get the pricey french fries at $16 that I like.” While $16 is a grip for French fries to some, for this luxury connoisseur, self-care won’t be compromised. Humbly, she acknowledges, “It hasn’t been the best for people, but its been a growing experience.”
Growth indeed. During the downtime and experience to-date bossing during a pandemic, Civil notes that her focus has certainly changed in three specific areas:
- Philanthropy – The giveback area. Make sure other businesses are able to operate.
- Understanding – It’s never going to go back. This shift and change happened for a reason. Your business will never be the same.
- New Core Values – How will you sustain… what’s important given the climate we are in now?
Today, she encourages us to “use this as a learning experience in figuring out how we can strategically change our businesses to make sure we’re financially okay, able to survive and held above water.”
Through it all, she says, “Give yourself grace during this time.” Watch below, for more from Civil on “Grace.”