We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Arrington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Have you ever heard that you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with? It’s time to stop hanging with people who have your problem, and hang with people who have your solution. If you want to uplevel your life + career, you’ve got to upgrade the quality of people you allow into your world. Surround yourself with grade-A encouragement, and you’ll rise to the top. Surround yourself with losers, users + abusers, and you’ll sink to the lowest common denominator. Having an attorney in my inner circle was never on my to do list. But the day I met Lisa Walker, Esq., my game changed and net-worth tripled. Some people are just gifted with genius, intuition, discernment, and the ability to cut through to the root of your stuff to pull out the “you” that you are mean’t to be. And that’s Lisa on a whole other level. Highly successful people can see your blind spots. They can see what you can’t see. Lisa has become more than a legal advisor. She’s a sister, confidante, mentor, and friend. There’s not a single thing that happens in my life now that I don’t consult with Lisa on or seek out her advice.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was born 3 years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I was there—a little girl with chubby toddler cheeks, standing next to my parents—while Dr. King spoke those historic words.
I was too young to fully grasp the immensity of what was happening that day. But on some level, I knew it impacted me. The words sank into my bones. Seeds were planted. Because for as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of a better world—a world of opportunity and limitless possibility.
At age 13, with fist raised, and sporting two afro puffs, I led a protest to change the name of my middle school. Several years later, the county school board approved a petition to change the name from Roger B. Taney Jr. High School (author of the infamous Dred Scott Decision) to Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
A few years later, as a college student at the University of Maryland, College, Park, I found my voice in the literary pages of works about African American sheroes like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Their stories ignited a spark that I couldn’t rid myself from—to be a voice for the silenced, disenfranchised and unheard voices of women of color.
And so, the seeds were planted and watered. I embraced my calling—a calling that has led me to many different projects over the course of my life and career.
My coaching, mentoring + philanthropic work spans over 100,000 hours of service — including my position as a Goodwill Ambassador to Sierra Leone, my work as the co- founder of the first Diabetes Awareness Day in West Africa, and my role as the founder of The Miss Black USA Pageant.
Over the past 20 years, I have personally mentored over 1,000 women helping them step into powerful careers in media, business, medicine + law — transcending hardship, abuse + financial limitations, and transforming their lives + communities. While my work has taken many forms over the years, her goal is always the same:
To help black women claim their power, redefine their destinies, and defy expectations.
I never considered myself a gifted writer. I had the belief that writing was a superpower, a gift, or innate talent. While it is true that many great authors are gifted, writing is a skill that can be learned. It takes practice. Once I found my voice, I found my passion.
My first book, Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence And Opportunity was nominated for and won a 2020 NAACP Image Award.
Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs and the most educated demographic in the U.S. But all the Lean In advice and Girl Boss platforms overlook the unique career challenges Black women face. It is because of these intricacies that I felt compelled to write Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, and Opportunity for Black Women in America (Mango Publishing).
The voices of diverse women belong on bookstore and library shelves. It’s not only necessary but essential that we tell our stories and readers can see themselves in these stories.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a resident of Prince George’s County, Maryland. We have some amazing restaurants, and we’re home to Gaylord’s National Harbor. There are so many great spots! Picture spa treatments, shopping, fancy restaurants, and wine glass(es) in hand.
Since, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, I would create a COVID-safe itinerary and plan most activities at home. However, here are a few must visits…
WHERE TO EAT:
World-class seafood at Jerry’s Seafood (Be sure to order the “bomb” crab cake)
Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill in Brandywine, MD (voted #1 soul food restaurant in the country)
WHAT TO DO: (Shop, of course)
Cherry Blossom Intimates Boutique (with large beautiful dressing rooms Oprah would approve)
A day at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD. The National Harbor is filled with cozy restaurants serving up delicious twists on satisfying comfort food, and an arts scene to rival cities much larger. And every place you want to go is within walking distance.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Since my Mom, Evelyn Arrington is going to read this article, and likely share it with everyone she knows, I have to give her the shout-out. I would not be who I am today or accomplishment many of my successes without her unconditional love, unwavering support and encouragement!