When OZY Media (ozy.com) was still a dream in the mind of former CNN and MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, he sat in Busboys and Poets downtown and watched residents pass by. “That’s where I first formed the concept of the change generation—folks who are challenging the status quo and bucking convention, who want to hear fresh new ideas from around the world and a diverse range of perspectives,” says the Emmy-winning Watson, whose digital media company includes The Carlos Watson Show. His guests have included everyone from John Legend to Pete Buttigieg. Watson sat down with us to discuss inspiration, playlists and what’s after TikTok.
1. Who are your biggest influences right now?
I’m a big fan of how my friends Malcolm Gladwell and Jameela Jamil think about the world. I love what Lupe Valdez and Adam Grant have to say about management. I love the words of Roxane Gay, who I think has one of the most powerful voices in America today.
2. Last book you loved so much you bought for a friend?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Whenever anyone asks me for business advice, I start by having a conversation with them about this book.
3. Next big thing in media programming?
TikTok may or may not be the biggest media platform in the world in 10 years, but the sort of trends I see on that platform—creative blends of humor, music and storytelling; interactive and participatory content; and stories that cross borders and demographics—are here to stay.
4. Top three artists on your Spotify playlist right now?
Saweetie, Lizzo and a throwback [and DC native], Roberta Flack.
5. Best interviews you’ve done in the past year?
Three people I consider true rising stars—comedian Aida Rodriguez, future congressman Jamaal Bowman and filmmaker Oge Egbuonu.