We had the good fortune of connecting with Chynell Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chynell, how do you think about risk?
The term “risk” typically comes with a negative perception that you’re taking a chance that you should be hesistant about taking. For me “risk” has always been getting out of my own head and doing what I know I need to do, hoping for the best and settling for nothing less even if the take away is simply a lesson.
I worked at Chick-Fil-a from the age of 15 to 21. I started as a crew member making $4.25/hour learning the ropes, serving the world famous chicken sandwich. I worked my way to shift manager in college making $11.50, until I was given the opportunity to intern for McDonald’s DFW marketing team. This was a pivotal moment for me because of conflict of interest, I had to quit my well-paying college job to intern for class credit for one-semester. For me, the answer was easy, for others I was taking a major risk. “What if nothing comes of the internship and you’ve quit your job?” “How will you supplement the money you made working while interning? “How will you drive to Dallas from Denton everyday and make it to class? All of these comments caused doubt for me, but it was worth it. I chose the internship with little knowledge of what it meant to be a marketing professional, I realized quickly I was built for this. Don’t get me wrong I had to work another job in the evenings teaching swim lessons to pay bills, rearrange my class schedule to work at the office during the day and spent so much time sitting in Dallas traffic, but the wealth of knowledge, experience, and connections I made were invaluable to what I sacrificed. Once the internship was over, they hired me full-time and I then had to learn how to manage finishing my senior year of college and working full-time; my internship was practice. I was on the marketing team for McDonald’s for 6 1/2 years and made two big moves across the country. I got to work on a bunch of unique projects, pitched ideas to McDonald’s Corp leadership and had a lot of fun traveling for the brand. Long story short, taking the risk sometime pushes your life in the direction you need to go and not settling for where you are. I now have my own marketing agency and I feel I got the strongest foundation from the very first leap I took in college to leave my comfort zone and stepping into a whole different world of fast food marketing. If I had not of taken the risk, I have no idea where or what I would be doing today.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
2020 challenged a lot of people differently. My 2020 challenge was simply defining my purpose. After I left McDonald’s I worked for another agency for a couple of years and I felt very much so like an entrepreneur, running a team, little supervision and really teaching myself the ropes of managing a business. After the events of 2020 I was really stuck on two things: 1. life is too short to spend days unhappy about what you’re doing and 2. as a black marketing professional I felt a social responsibility to have more of an impact in my community. At the beginning of 2021 I left my full-time job and started my own marketing and pr company with my business partner called Code BLK. It has not been easy, primarily because it’s an extremely competitive market for those with allocated marketing budgets and for those without them, it takes a lot pitching and convincing that marketing is worth the investment. My business partner and I have years of experience marketing for Fortune 500 brands that allocate millions to marketing annually; now, we’re working with much smaller clients having really big ideas and “not so big” budgets. That is also the fun part, working with people who trust us on a personal or professional level that a lot of the roadblocks of legal and board of directors that we’ve encountered in the past are no longer a challenge. In the civil unrest of 2020 we noticed that black companies don’t get as much funding, companies in general lack diversity and most importantly lack the sensitivity to all races, genders, backgrounds etc. that is needed to successfully contribute to a more accepting culture. We really want to help brands/companies navigate these issues. We are creative and inclusive, we’re experienced and diverse, and we keep the brand and consumer in mind at all times. Seeing our clients successfully rebrand, grow their following, increase sales etc. are all major celebratory moments for us. Keep our name on your radar, you’ll definitely hear Code BLK as a top marketing and pr agency one day. Outside of Code BLK, I am also a producer and host for @blackwall.st, I have a live audience talk show called “The Catch-Up Roundtable and I own an active lifestyle brand called “Get up. Get out. Get active.” All of these things are my passion and would love for you all check them out.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I like to consider myself an awesome host when friends do come visit so here are a few of my favorite spots in no particular order: Discovery Green Park Hermann Park Centennial Gardens Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University Turkey Leg Hut Atomic Bottle Amahle Restaurant and Lounge BB’s Tex Orleans Bike Riding Rentals Downtown Eado Big Boy Toy Rentals Drive in movies and of course on my event days the show “The Catch-Up Roundtable.”
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom, dad and siblings are my first shoutout because they raised me to be bold, caring and unafraid of success. They’ve appreciated and celebrated my uniqueness. My next shoutout is to Moroch Partners for giving me such an awesome professional foundation; holding my hand enough to teach me but letting my hand go enough for me to feel free in creative expression and confident to do my job well. And last but not least, my friends! They are often times the subjects of my creativity, it’s many times I brainstormed in conversations, they showed up at events or even shared my work. My personal and professional success can be attributed to all of these very special people!
Other: https://www.codeblk.co/ https://www.chynell.com/get-up-get-out-get-active
Ray Lucas Ricky Haggerty