Krystal Garner: The Grand Hustler Talks Business, Success, and Overcoming Limitations

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Written by Shariah Green

You ever meet someone who just boosts your self-esteem when you’re around them? You just leave feeling motivated and inspired? Krystal Garner did that for me over a candid conversation about her experience on T.I’s hit reality show, “The Grand Hustle”. On television you see pure determination. And you get the same genuine interaction over the phone.

Krystal’s career in the entertainment industry began after college as a model, actor, and on-air personality. To make an income, she got heavily involved in the liquor industry as a promotional model then was promoted as a Lead Promotional Specialist. Upon leaving the liquor industry, she got into planning and coordinating events for different people and brands which led to her career in marketing at Diageo doing activations and promotional advertising.

“I’ve been doing this thing for a while and I’ve been excelling at it!” Says Krystal

Shariah: After winning The Grand Hustle, what is your largest responsibility or how has your role evolved since your big win?

Krystal: Well my world has evolved because I had to take on a chance and move to a new city. Get acclimated with how things are done in this market. I’d say my biggest responsibility is to prove that it wasn’t just a show. That it wasn’t just for TV and that I am a hustler, that I do grind and I have the experience to get this job done. I believe that’s my greatest responsibility. As well as maintaining that integrity to let other women know that you don’t have to compromise who you are or how you carry yourself to be successful in the Hip Hop world.

Shariah: What are the most important skills you’ve learned since being apart of the competition that you can utilize in your current position?

Krystal: Oh yeah, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to speak up and believe in myself and my thoughts. Because a lot of times you just want to be a part of something so bad, that you just roll with the punches. Versus being the person that speaks up and suggest, ‘hey maybe we should do it this way?’ Or that I have a better idea. So having confidence in my ideas and thoughts was one of the biggest things I learned and to speak up for myself.

Shariah: What challenges have you faced being a double minority in the entertainment industry?

Krystal: Well the challenges I face are just that. Of course being a woman and being...well not even being Black because you know in Hip Hop we represent that. But, I dealt with that in the liquor industry, being a double minority. And, how I was able to conquer it was by excelling but also making sure I tooted my own horn. Now, I don’t normally like to do that. But, I had to learn how to do it because if you don’t, then people don’t really pay attention to it as much as they should - just because you’re a double minority. So I’ve learned to toot my own horn and I would say in Hip Hop, girl, I take it as an advantage! Anytime anything is not being looked at, I’ll say, “Well as the woman…” I throw that in there to try and throw my perspective out. I just use that supposed negative as a positive when I have these conversations.

Shariah: Do you think being an entrepreneur is for everyone?

Krystal: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. You know to each is own. But, it's not as easy as it looks on social media. It’s not something you say, Oh hey, I’m going to be an entrepreneur and everything happens correct that first week. That’s not how it goes. A lot of businesses on their first go around fail. And, if you aren’t good with dealing with failure...If you’re not someone that’s able to adapt to the changes and be okay with that; and have a positive mindset and understand what your goals are, then it's not for you. I try to tell people when they say to me, I wanna get into modeling. I say, ‘Are you okay with people telling you, you’re ugly? Your waistline is off; Your butt is too big; You’re too tall/too short; You’re too skinny. Are you okay with someone telling you that everyday? And will you still be healthy after hearing that for a week? Will you be able to understand that you’re still beautiful the way God made you? If you’re not able to handle that then this isn’t the industry for you. And the same thing goes for entrepreneurship. If you’re not okay with people saying your idea was trash; and people telling you no they don’t want to partner with you, that’s to say I don’t want to invest in you. And, if you’re not okay with going on a Ramen noodle diet to give your all to after whatever it is you’re pursuing, then it's not for you. It’s not. I don’t want to discourage people. I want to encourage people to go after what they want to do. It’s just really not for everyone and it's not healthy if you don’t have the tools or the mindset in place to be successful in the industry you’re going into.

Shariah: In another interview you mentioned that sometimes being in your home state can make you distracted from achieving your career goals. Do you believe that as a marketing specialist or anything in the industry that you should move in order to succeed?

Krystal: Absolutely, because when you’re around your comfort zone you tend to focus on satisfying everyone in that realm. So, when you’re home you have your friends that you grew up with. Somebody may have a Baby Shower or birthday party. Then you have your family and they wanna do outings. You have so many different things pulling you left and right that your 100% focus is not on going after what you’re going after. When you switch into a different market and get out of what you’re comfortable in and get a little uncomfortable and not know anybody...and have to test yourself to reach out and meet new people you tend to give a little bit more. It’s no longer, I can’t go to this event because such and such has a wedding. You have less distractions. All you have is your goal to achieve. When you go after your dream, it’s a 24/7 job. I say 28! Like this is everyday. This is more hours than a regular job. You’re constantly focused on that hustle. Sometimes you have to step away, maybe into a smaller market and just capitalize and be at 100%.

Have you ever noticed? Well I’ve noticed since I’m from New York, I’ve noticed people come from other states and do the same things as me and get further. I’m like how are they getting further? They’re getting further because that’s all they have. Versus having to be in so many different avenues.

Shariah: You possess many of the characteristics of a leader. But, do you think it's important to also know how or when to follow in your role at certain times or situations?

Krystal: Definitely, because when everybody wants to be in charge a lot of heads get bumped. You have to understand that, especially in different and new places things work in different ways. I was saying this the other day in an interview about me having to had worked for Diageo prior to the show coming out. Because I had to learn how to be someone that can work within an organization and not just as an entrepreneur. I think working for Diageo prior to the show brought me back to that mindset of having to work with different teams and having to step back when someone had more experience in an area. To step up when people thought they were leading or thought they knew what they were doing but I had to speak up. So, I needed that experience to remind myself how to not always be the person that’s in control. As an entrepreneur, you’re in control of the whole situation. But, when you’re in an organization you have to learn how and when to work together. All about teamwork. But, I had to learn how to do that again. So yes, you have to learn how to be apart of a team. But, you also need to be able to identify when you need to step up and make sure you’re the leader of the team or the whole situation will fall down.

Shariah: The show required you to manage others at times. What is your greatest personal struggle or limitation in supervising others? Can you give me an example of a time when you overcame one of your limitations and resolved a problem?

Krystal: I think I can give a great example, back when I used to be the manager for the campus dining service. Even though I was still in college, I was considered a student manager. I had staff that weren’t on campus, they were just regular people that worked in the dining service and they were older than me. When I first got the position people looked at me like, ‘Who is this 20 year old girl telling me, a 45 year old woman, what to do?’ What I had to do, is learn how to communicate with them. Instead of just trying to be a dictator and say “you do this”. I spoke with them one on one and talked about what they felt their issues were in the position or in the workplace. I got to know them on a personal level. I remember one time I took a few people out to the movies.

I overcame it by just meeting people where they’re at. I think a lot of times when people get that title they may not understand that they are still human. So, I always make sure that when I’m in those type of positions that I’m relatable, I’m just a regular person, I communicate with.

Shariah: What can our readers look forward to in the near future?

Krystal: Yes! So, we’re working on my new book, “The Survival Guide of a Hustler”. The goal with that is to provide people with the tools to have the mindset to be successful when out here hustling. Because I believe wholeheartedly in having a strong mindset. I say it all the time. Because your mind is super powerful. Your source to predict what you do in your habits. So, I want to be able to provide a tool, just how I have read tools over the years to keep my mind a certain way. I want to provide a tool for other hustlers coming up and how to survive. Because it ain’t easy.

Shariah: What books you’d recommend?

Krystal: I’ll give three; The first one I’ll say is “Alchemist”. “Alchemist” is everything. That is a must read. The second is, “Who move my Chi”, that’s for anyone who’s learning how to work with different people and different mindsets and communication types. And the third one is “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, because I’m really huge on your habits and mindsets so that book is another tool that I utilized.

We’re all winners whether working in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur. The important thing is to remain focused on the end goal. Constantly feed your mind, body and spirit with things that encourage you when things get hard and understand sometimes failure is inevitable. But, how you get up and move forward is what matters.

Follow Krystal on Social Media (@krystalgarner) and stay on the lookout for her new book and other business ventures!

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