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Courtney Mckenzie Newell: “FutureProof movement”

My movement is the FutureProof movement. I’m extremely passionate about being future focused and helping to build brands that stand the test of them. In order for brands to do this they must not only embrace, but must celebrate diversity. There’s so much value and beauty in being different. It drives so much innovation and […]

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My movement is the FutureProof movement. I’m extremely passionate about being future focused and helping to build brands that stand the test of them. In order for brands to do this they must not only embrace, but must celebrate diversity. There’s so much value and beauty in being different. It drives so much innovation and unique perspectives. It’s my life’s work to help people FutureProof not only their businesses, but their mindsets also.


I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Courtney Mckenzie Newell.

Courtney McKenzie Newell is the Founder and CEO of Crowned Marketing & Communications, an award-winning creative agency that provides strategic multimedia marketing and PR solutions for global brands, government agencies and small to mid-sized businesses. As one of the country’s leading brand and marketing strategists, Courtney partners with CEOs, executives and Fortune 100 companies to grow their personal and professional brands, establishing their role as buzzworthy and in-demand authorities within their dedicated sectors.

After spending nearly a decade working as a PR and marketing consultant for global brands and multi-million dollar businesses, Courtney knows what truly drives conversions, sold-out events and top-ranked national TV interviews. She focuses her efforts on P2P (person-to-person) connections and has a passion for helping companies and the people within them to communicate effectively.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always fascinated by people’s stories. I originally wanted to be a news reporter until I fell into marketing and communications in college. Two months post-graduation, I founded my company, Crowned Marketing & Communications. Now we work with Fortune 100 brands and mid-sized businesses helping them reach and build brand affinity with millennial and multicultural audiences.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting story of my career was writing my book FutureBook. It became a bestseller during pre-sale. I got so much great feedback that I turned it into a podcast and an academy where I help Fortune 500’s and business owners, FutureProof their businesses. In the past several months, since launching my book, I’ve seen the powerful pivots brands have been making to become more future focused and embracing their millennial and multicultural consumer bases. It’s amazing to be a part of that level of transformation.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when starting my business was talking about Facebook marketing to people who had never heard of Facebook. When I started, social media was fairly new. There were no Facebook Business pages and there was no Instagram. As a millennial, I knew Facebook inside and out, but my prospective clients at the time were barely on Facebook. I was talking to the wrong market. Lesson learned: make sure you’re talking to the right market.

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important for a business to have a diverse executive team?

  1. Diversity breeds innovation, agility and new direction. Without it, you can only get so far. With it, you become limitless.
  2. If you don’t have a diverse executive team, you risk missing the mark with messaging, branding and communications. One wrong word, one poor placed image, one bad ‘joke’ can cost your brands tens of millions of dollars, and even worse, loss in brand affinity. Many brands don’t recover.
  3. Your C-Suite, board, consultants and suppliers should represent your diverse customer base. This not only helps you better understand and identify with your customer base, but it shows them your brand cares about them, their values and their views.

More broadly can you describe how this can have an effect on our culture?

Diversity is not a buzzword, it’s reality. The world is becoming more and more diverse. The brands that will dominate are the brands that are invested in better understanding their increasing multicultural audiences. It’s important to invest time and resources in getting to know your customers, what they expect from brands, what they are attracted to and what offends them. With social media and the internet, brands can’t afford to ignore the culture or lack thereof in their brand communications.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in executive leadership?

1) Step outside your culture zone — For many people there’s a comfort that comes along with working and socializing with people who only look like themselves. I call this the ‘culture zone;’ however, if everyone stepped outside their culture zone and tried embracing other cultures, they would learn there’s power in being different, and there’s power in embracing what is different.

2) Make diversity a priority — Diversity and inclusion have been buzzwords for the past 20–30 years; however, many companies don’t put any resources behind hiring and developing diverse talent. Moreover, few companies utilize diverse businesses as vendors and consultants. In order to truly make a change, it has to be a priority from the top down. If the CEO isn’t invested, the team won’t be invested.

3) Become a mentor to someone who is from a different race — Most mentors choose mentees who remind them of their younger selves. They transfer their knowledge, best practices and network. If most senior leadership at large corporations are not diverse, the likelihood of their successor being diverse is slim. However, if there are more mentor-protégés that are diverse, there will be an even larger pool of diverse talent that has been primed for the C-suite.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is seeing things in others, that they don’t see in themselves and helping them unlock it. Leadership is stepping out on faith and continuing to press on, even when no one understands. Leadership is never giving up and creating something bigger than yourself.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t take “No’s” personally. It’s easy to get discouraged when you keep hearing no but you have to stay focused on your goal.
  2. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right.” -Henry Ford

You either win or lose before you ever get started. If you go into anything with a losing mindset, you will lose. If you go into something with a winners mindset, you win.

3. Follow your intuition. It’s truly your North Star.

4. Try it now, perfect it later. We can often become paralyzed by perfection. The reality is you can only perfect something once you’ve gotten started.

5. Get a business coach. Every high level athlete gets a coach. The coach helps them perfect their craft, see their blind spots and encourages them when they need it most. Business owners need that too.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement is the FutureProof movement. I’m extremely passionate about being future focused and helping to build brands that stand the test of them. In order for brands to do this they must not only embrace, but must celebrate diversity. There’s so much value and beauty in being different. It drives so much innovation and unique perspectives. It’s my life’s work to help people FutureProof not only their businesses, but their mindsets also.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Average skill, phenomenal will”

To pay for college, I competed in local Miss America scholarship pageants. It took me 14 times and 2 years before I won my first title. I realized every time I stepped on that stage I was only competing against myself. I continued to work on my talent, I continued to work on my interview skills, I worked on my health and fitness, but most importantly I worked on my mindset. I refused to be outworked. I knew my then average skill, matched with my phenomenal will would make me unstoppable. Most people give up right before they reach their goal; but if you keep working on your goal, continue to work on your craft and hone the necessary skills; you are unstoppable. You can either be stoppable or unstoppable, the choice is yours.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have a private meeting with Bob Johnson, Founder of BET. He is a pioneer in media. He saw a void in the market, found the necessary funds and partners to turn his idea into a profitable business. He later sold BET to ViaComm and made a billion dollar exit.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@CEOcourtney on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Courtney McKenzie Newell on YouTube and LinkedIn.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!


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