Carson was born in Syracuse, NY, but grew up an only child in Dayton, Ohio. He was raised by his mother in a single parent household and he spoke extremely high of her impact on his life. Carson is a very dynamic individual and looking back this trait has always been a part of his DNA. In high school he was the captain of the football team and also captain of the debate team. He was a member of Jack & Jill of America, but conversely went to public school. When we spoke about education I found out that both of Carson’s parents are Hamptonians! Carson said, “I’m a fifth generation college student. The first degree in my family was earned a year after the civil war ended. Education has always been a pivotal point in the lexicon of my family.”
Carson and I met up at the Grand Hyatt DC before one of his events called, “What happens in Georgetown.” Carson is constantly evolving as a young entrepreneur. I would like to say he’s a hybrid between a brand architect, event specialist, and social activist. Academically, he’s a Hampton Alum and traveled the world to receive a Master’s in International Relations from Webster University. Professionally, he’s created four successful brands and also been a contributor to many others. His latest movement is an idea that has caught fire amongst young professionals, known as “Just Know I’m Workin.” Carson was recognized by HBCUBuzz.com as a member of the Top 30 under 30 Alumni and is also a member of the Royal Institute of International Relations at Chatham. Dive into the enterprising mind of a socially conscious entrepreneur in this week’s #ShineHard conversation.
What is your passion and when did you know?
Carson: My passion is talking and events. I been talking since I came out the womb. I was six months old standing in front of the mirror preaching. That’s just my passion, talking and connecting people and I do it through events. My first real big event was when I was 13. I was always good at sports, but I felt like Michael Jordan when it came to events. I was the first person in Dayton, Ohio to do a boy/girl event where people interacted. At that age, there really wasn’t an outlet for kids to be safe and have fun and the parents approve of it, so I came in and found my niche. Same thing I do now, I provide a service for a certain group of people in the Washington DC area; young professionals and young alumni.
Who did you look up to as a kid?
Carson: The only person I really looked up to was my mom because she was my direct influence. I didn’t grow up with my father. I tell people I’m kinda like “a puzzle piece of a man.” I took pieces of people that I looked up to and integrated them into myself. The people I had on my wall were Malcolm-X, Gucci Mane, and Marcus Garvey. And then as I’ve gotten older I added Puffy Daddy and Donald Trump. I was born with qualities, but those five guys really exuded the qualities I didn’t really know I had in myself.
Tell me about your experience at International school..?
Carson: I got a Global Master’s in International Relations. It’s a joint program between Webster University and Regents College in London. The program is pretty intense. Thirteen month program with two month rotations. I lived in London, Beijing, Viena, Geneva, and Liden in the Netherlands. Each location was geared towards different elements of international relations. Things like law, diplomacy, business, and organizations.
So what was your favorite destination? What have you learned from your international experience?
Carson: Probably Kiev. I went to Ukraine for like three days in my travels. It was just amazing to see black people in places you didn’t think we exist. So that just changed my whole perspective. Like Paris? Paris is like Detroit. It’s so many black people in Paris. When you at the grocery store or coming off the train? Black people. But socioeconomically, there’s still progress to be made. What we see from Paris is the Aristocrats, the Louis Vuitton and all that. There’s not a lot of black people in that class. But the working class; they’re all from Northern Africa, West Africa and they speak fluent Francois. They look just like me and you. You just have to go over there to see that.
Here in America there’s no blueprint to be successful as a black man, or be a millionaire if you’re not going to be an athlete or entertainer. It’s a lot of people that experience success in business that don’t do a good job of creating blueprints for kids to follow. When I went over there is when I got my “Aha!” moment, like this is my calling. Still be @Carsonbyrdotcom, still be the over-the-top, the life of the party, but promote positivity and success, and also give young brothers different avenues in which to garner success.
Tell me about #JustKnowImWorkin?
Carson: #JustKnowImWorkin is a personal development brand that I came up with. It started off as a hash tag and the whole passion behind it is, “How do we take an idea and make it a phenomenon?” I was living in Beijing, China. I woke up one morning and I was kinda beating myself up mentally. I received a message on Facebook and it was a simple, “What are you doing?!” At the time I didn’t know. I was seeing the world completing my masters, trying to figure everything out. It wasn’t happening as fast as I wanted it to. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t being successful by going through this process. So I gathered those thoughts and I replied back to that Facebook message with a simple quote, “Just Know I’m Workin.”
What inspires you to succeed?
Carson: I had no other option, but to be successful. I kind of feel as if I’m the West Dayton Superhero. Coming from where I’m from it’s not a lotta cats who make it out or do more than what they already know. It’s a factory town. Dayton is an innovative place. Ya know, the airplane, the refrigerator, and the cash register were all founded in the same city that I call home. So it’s kinda in my DNA. But I feel as if I have no other option because if I don’t make it… Young African-American males won’t have a blueprint to follow in this generation.
Whats been the biggest challenge in your career this far?
Carson: Probably lack of mentorship and not always understanding my relationship with God. I gave my life to the Lord December 15, 2013 and I’m not going to say life became easier, but the objective of life became more clear. That day the preacher was talking about 2 Luke 25-36. He was speaking about Simon walking in the path of God and the preacher said, “While you’re waiting just know God is working.” He had never met me and I had already came up with just know I’m working. That came from God. Tears bro, real tears. This thing is bigger than me.
How are you able to manage your different brands and what is your end goal?
Carson: I just started my own company called “The Carson Byrd Group.” The Carson Byrd Group is a consolidation of all these smaller brands. #JustKnowImWorkin is owned by the CBG, The Promo Gorilla is owned by the CBG, and when my website TheCBGroup.com goes live you’ll see those wrinkles. Man I had a big problem trying to figure out “How do I separate Carson Byrd the man, who my mother birthed me as, from what [the brands] I’ve created?” It’s humanly impossible. You have to accept who I am and the brands I created. I just do this in a way that doesn’t demean my morals nor my end goal. My end goal is that I want to be an HBCU College President.
Johnny: That’s Talent! Pure talent cannot be marginalized, but a lot of people can’t wrap their mind around a person being able to do so many different things WELL. Things that don’t necessarily align with what society deems acceptable or possible.
Tell me what accomplishment are you most proud of?
Carson: Right now, being a son. My mom is a stage four breast cancer survivor. I graduated with my masters one year ago. My mom hit me and said congratulations, but I need you to come back home “I need you.” I never really realized that being a mother is a job, and also being a son is a job too. I’m doing my job as the son right now and making her proud. Making sure her finances are in order and making sure she has a shoulder to lean on is my greatest accomplishment right now.
What frustrates you most about today’s culture?
Carson: What frustrates me is that African-Americans don’t understand that we are global people. A lot of our frustrations that we have here in the United States we really don’t have to deal with this. We can go anywhere in the world. We’re the only people who have been mistreated and taken advantage of yet still put on an American jersey at the Olympics. When you meet a black person around the world you tell them you’re from America they will laugh at you. American is not an ethnicity. Where are you really from? What is your native tongue?
Another thing is that we now reward ignorance and lack of education with monetary benefits. We’ve made rapping and athletes the perception of success of the black male. We have to make being JBsFood4Thought, CarsonByrdotcom the ideal model of success for the black male. That comes from marketing and promotions. There are so many outlets for filth, but are there outlets for positivity and success for the black male? No? We can’t be mad that CNN doesn’t want to interview us. We gotta cut out the middleman and create our own CNN. We got money, we got access, and we got the internet! There’s no excuse not to be famous.
Advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs looking to lead and impact people at a high level?
Carson: Do whats natural. Do not do what you want to emulate, but do what you naturally can do. What are you good at? Read, research people in your field. Do internships and shadow success. Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of social media. Personal branding and company branding are two different things. Don’t integrate the two unless your personal brand is your company. Lastly, strong fortitude! You have to be mentally tough to be an entrepreneur.
Johnny: Mental toughness will take you a long way in life. Carson keep building brother, and welcome to the @ShineHardFamily.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Carson?
LinkedIn: M.Carson Byrd