What happens when you put two serial entrepreneurs who are also best friends on a network owned by Joe Budden? You get the “Girl, I Guess” podcast.
Snob Life owner Ming Lee and LiveCivil.com founder Karen Civil have come together as besties and colleagues to bring conversations for Black women, by Black women to the culture. With their premiere episode, “Pull Up A Seat. You’re invited,” the co-hosts break the barrier between themselves and the audience to have candid discussion about life, love, business and basically everything in the interim. Since its premiere on Jan. 21, 2021, the podcast has amassed over 80,000 listens on Apple, over 60,000 views on Youtube, and earned itself a spot on the Apple Podcast “New and Newsworthy” trending list.
“It was necessary that we be able to express ourselves outside of what they see in beauty, music and entertainment,” Ming Lee told AfroTech about the timeliness and importance of “Girl, I Guess.” “It was important for us to show real conversations and talk about real political issues, real issues inside of our community and show the comradery of successful Black women coming together, being real friends and having real love for each other.”
In a time where diversity and inclusion efforts are being pushed to the forefront, the title of their premiere episode, “Pull Up A Seat. You’re Invited,” did not go unnoticed. Karen Civil honed in on how television would paint the picture of one overruling clique or popular person, but for the podcast, they were tearing down all stereotypes surrounding popularity of hierarchy.
“Me and Ming are in different lanes but we applaud each other and we love each other. If Ming made $10 million today, I would be super happy for her. If I was able to get a new client today, she’s happy for me,” Karen Civil said. “What we really wanted to do was instead of saying you can’t sit with us, pull up a seat, you can sit with us and have great conversation. It’s just taking away the notion when it comes to women — especially powerful women and entrepreneurs — that there’s this status quo that there can only be one and we can’t join forces.”
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AfroTech connected with the Black girl bosses themselves — Karen Civil and Ming Lee — about the “Girl, I Guess” podcast, how they’re making room in the podcasting space for Black and brown girls, and key branding and marketing tips.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
AfroTech: What’s it like working with your best friend on this new venture?
Ming Lee: It’s so much f**king fun. It doesn’t even really feel like work. Me and Karen are both workaholics. Even in the beginning of our friendship, when we started, and we went on our first vacation together, we realized that we’re kind of the same. We want to work, take our pictures, be on our phones and we won’t get mad if each other’s on the phone or the computer working. It doesn’t feel like work. I feel like we’re sitting on a couch catching up and having a good conversation. I personally can’t believe it’s considered a job and we get paid for this. You mean to tell me that I get paid to talk to my friend? This is crazy.
AfroTech: How does your work relationship intertwine with your personal relationship, or do you manage to keep them separate?
Ming Lee: Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, so it’s kind of hard to have a hard stop and start. In doing this podcast, it’s so fun because we get to talk about marketing ideas and rollouts so it doesn’t feel like work. For me, it’s my lifestyle. We might be talking about going on vacation or I might be telling her about a boy that I like while also sending back and forth proofs of what cover art to use for a playlist or Instagram post. It’s all in one. If you read our text messages, it’s all over the place.
Karen Civil: Honestly, there’s no on-and-off. The most important part to me is that Ming is the sister God didn’t give me, but He blessed me with [her] on Earth. I want to make sure that even though we have the work aspect [and I was talking about this to my therapist], I’ve got to make time where we just catch up. Because it’s such a part of our lifestyle, we’ll just be sitting together and I’ll be like, “Hey Ming, you should do X, Y, Z.” It’s a wonderful thing and I love it, but I’m gonna work on the balance.
AfroTech: During the rise of apps such as Clubhouse, TikTok, and the new Instagram’s Reels feature, how has social media had a hand in brand elevation for your podcast?
Karen Civil: Our launch! We really planned and social media really helped elevate our launch to the point where Ming and I got so many calls. I’m talking A-list celebrities [and] moguls who were like, “What the f**k is going on?” We’re both avid fans of Beyoncé and how she does her rollouts. We take this seriously. Marketing comes like second nature to us, but we make sure we utilize social media to really help push our podcast. All we had to do was drop it, it was trending and it did what it had to do for us. We used it in our favor.
AfroTech: How did you identify your audience?
Ming Lee: We were thankful that we already had a platform to market to and our social media platforms like our YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. People wanna know every and anything about you — always. Since there’s no true platform to see our opinions outside of what we’re good at as far as her in entertainment and me in beauty, people don’t get to see our personal opinions. Every single week, they can tune in and hear girl talk from two best friends who are very thankful that we have people who look up to us. They can just see us be regular people. We got through the same things as everybody else. We’re not perfect, we don’t try to be perfect and we do our best.
AfroTech: What are some key things that you learned about yourselves as businesswomen while creating this podcast?
Karen Civil: I’m realizing I am very introverted and as much as I have this big personality on social media, I’m very quiet, to myself and sometimes I can get emotional. I’ll see certain things and it may upset me but I’m now realizing instead of focusing on that, I’m now focusing on the people who are actually fans of the show, fans of myself and critiquing it to where I’m taking notes and trying to make myself better every week. This is a whole new space for me and to be so open, forthcoming and sharing can be a very scary thing. When I used to speak on stages, it would be 30 minutes. I knew what I was gonna say and it was nothing personal. Now, I’m talking about myself, my experiences, my friendships or family, so I’m opening myself up to all these opinions. The wonderful thing about having a sister like Ming is that she reminds you to have thick skin and enjoy it. I kid you not, I call her my Ray Charles because she doesn’t see any of the bullsh*t.
AfroTech: What skills from your careers as entrepreneurs and brand strategists were transferable and most needed in the development of this podcast?
Ming Lee: I don’t know if it was a skill that I transferred over, but it was more so my artistic self. I get to just show up as me. There’s no prep for a podcast; it’s just real conversation. I don’t know what skills except for marketing and us figuring out how to market [our podcast] because there are so many others. How to make it more interesting and come up with cool ideas to keep our listeners entertained until the next Thursday was the marketing aspect.
AfroTech: What do you believe is the most important aspect of branding when it comes to launching a podcast, blog or platform?
Karen Civil: Being authentic and letting your audience know who you are, what you’re trying to convey and setting yourself apart. Just going back to referencing our promo, we talked about that for a couple of weeks to months, but we wanted to make sure it included us, our personality, it was authentic, it had comedy and some sarcasm. That’s really what it was about when it comes to marketing and a podcast. It’s really just us showing up as our authentic selves. With social media, you have 140 characters; you can’t say much there. A picture’s just a picture. With this, you get to hear our opinions and the great thing is marketing is something we both love and do, so you get to see it with this podcast. At night, I’m making memes for it and we’re both excited about what we do because we’re not just the hosts. We’re marketing our own podcasts. It’s us just being us.
AfroTech: What can audience members expect from the “Girl, I Guess” podcast?
Ming Lee: They can expect mommy advice, relationship advice, our views on political issues, for us to talk to therapists, specially invited guests, some of our favorite people, real conversations that they can be part of. Most importantly, we want to be their best friend. Your favorite best friends and you can actually sit with us.
Click here to tune into the “Girl, I guess” podcast.