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Karren Arrington: Your Next Level Life

Behind every female powerhouse is a tight-knit community of women lifting her higher. Oprah has Gayle. Bey has Solange. Speaking personally, I could not have achieved any of my biggest triumphs—including founding the Miss Black USA Pageant and Scholarship Foundation, or cofounding Diabetes Awareness Day in West Africa—without a strong tribe of sisters behind me.

I hope you’ve already got at least five amazing Gayle-level friends in your life. But, if you don’t, now is the time to find those Next Level Friends—the spirit-awakening, butt-kicking, lift-you-up-higher-than-you’ve-ever-beenbefore women who will cheer you on and take you to new heights.

Call it a clan. Call it a tribe. Call it a family. No matter what you call it, it’s going to bring you to a whole new level of success.

It’s so powerful to have a circle of sisters waiting with open arms to elevate you, to help you articulate your dreams, to weigh in on ways you can get there, to grow your professional network, and to encourage you to step into a life full of impact and adventure. Sisters hold sacred space for you—and hold you accountable for your expansion into it. Sisters keep you going when you’re ready to give in. Sisters see your blind spots, your best qualities, and your potential. Sisters see you as you are and as you are meant to be. And if you need a lil’ devotion, they’ll pray for you too.

Imagine what you could accomplish with the power of five badass ladies in your corner. You could:

• Write that book

• Leave that career in favor of one that fulfills you

• Heal that painful relationship

• Ask for that raise

• Give your first TED Talk

• Start that charity or six-figure start-up

• Visit that country

• Discover your superpowers and leverage them like crazy

Have you ever heard that you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with?

It’s time to stop hanging with people who have your problem and time to start hanging with people who have your solution.

I remember who I was before I found my Next Level Gayle-friends and how far I’ve come since then. When I began to consciously build my sisterhood, it was as if the clouds parted in my favor. Having an attorney in my circle was not on my to-do list. But the day I met Lisa Walker, Esq., my game changed and net worth tripled. My brother suggested we meet, so I arranged a power lunch at a small Italian restaurant in my neighborhood with nothing on the agenda other than girl talk, good wine tasting, and risotto. Lisa, a very accomplished attorney, walked in the restaurant oozing with confidence (my mind went straight to Meghan Markle’s character in Suits). I quickly pulled out pearls. Over the next three and half hours, we shared life stories, laughed, and charted a new course for my non-profit (and my Next Level Life). Some people are just gifted with genius, intuition, discernment, and the ability to cut through to the root of your stuff to pull out the “you” that you are meant to be. And that’s Lisa on a whole other level. This sister is also licensed to practice law before the United States Supreme Court. Just being in her presence makes you better.

As we departed the restaurant, Lisa paused, looked toward me, and said, “I’m going to be your attorney.” Waving hands to the sky, saying thank you to the Most High!

Since then, Lisa has become more than a legal advisor. She’s a sister, confidante, mentor, and friend.

Note to self: Highly successful women think differently and can see your blind spots. There’s not a single thing that happens in my life now that I don’t consult with Lisa on or seek out her advice about. I’ve learned so much from her about being a boss, business negotiations, and life. She’s even introduced me to her power network. Clearly the Universe knew who I needed in this new season of unlimited possibilities.

New opportunities arose from seemingly nowhere. I was introduced to people I’d always wanted to meet and invited to exotic destinations I’d always wanted to go. That’s what I want for you, too.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you strategically cultivated your inner circle. If you want to up-level your life and career, you’ve got to upgrade the quality of people you allow into your world. Surround yourself with grade-A encouragement, and you’ll rise to the top. Surround yourself with complainers, pessimists, naysayer, bullies, losers, users, and abusers, and you’ll sink to the lowest common denominator.

Who has your back? Who’s your Gayle? Who are your Next Level Gayle-friends?


1. Identify the people who lift you up.

Write down the names of everyone in your inner circle of love and trust. Friends. Family. Teachers. Your pastor or spiritual mentor. Take a moment to thank each person for their continued love and encouragement. Send a text. Send a gift. Never take these people for granted.

2. Identify the people who drag you down.

Take a good, hard look at the relationships in your life that pull you down. Relationships that exhaust you, drain you, or leave you feeling weakened instead of strong. These people are NOT your Next Level Friends. Sooner or later, you’ll need to eliminate—or renegotiate—those relationships. Your confidence and success depend on it.

3. Reach out to one person you’d like to know better.

You know that fabulous, shining, charismatic, confident woman that you’ve admired from afar? The woman who’s using her superpowers to the fullest? Reach out. Invite her to an event. Congratulate her on one of her recent victories. Or tell her about your latest project. Invite her into your life and see if she’s open to sparking (or deepening) a friendship with you.

When you upgrade your circle of friends, you upgrade your entire life.

Karen Arrington, Your Next Level Life

Channel your black girl magic: If you’re feeling stuck or trapped by other people’s expectations of what you can achieve, it’s time to stop playing small and start redefining what success can mean for you. It’s time to get that upgrade. Karen Arrington―founder of the Miss Black USA Pageant, creator of the Next Level Women’s Summit, and mentor to thousands of confident, successful young black women―is your guide to getting your next level life.

Leave a legacy of black excellence: With the seven simple rules, you’ll learn how to bring your career, income, and lifestyle to that next level. Don’t settle for a life of invisibility and mediocrity. Set ambitious goals, reach for bigger opportunities, and know that you are brave enough to get what you deserve.

The rules of success in Your Next Level Life will show you how to:

  • Create all the money you need

  • Position yourself like a star

  • Connect with other powerful women

Give a gift of confidence: For anyone looking for inspirational gifts for women in their lives, Your Next Level Life is unlike other self-help books for women. It’s a guide to opportunity that recognizes and celebrates the true magic of ambitious black women.

Your Next Level Life is where Gay Hendricks’s The Big Leap meets Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes. If you liked personal development books like Believe Bigger and Don’t Settle for Safe, you’ll love Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, and Opportunity for Black Women in 2merica.


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