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.
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!