Kiwan Lawson from Columbus, Ohio, was an All-American IU track and field athlete. While running for the cream and crimson, he set personal records and gained national awards.
This former long jumper has now made the leap from the track to dominate another of his passions: music. He is now the CEO of Music Legion Group.
Lawson said being a former track athlete has helped him in the business world.
“Track and field has a different feel to it than other sports,” he said. “It is such an individual sport that has a team outcome. It has a certain bluntness to it. Either you have it or you don’t.”
Lawson’s accomplishments on the track are a testament to how he “had it.” He was a Big Ten Champion in both indoor and outdoor long jump and set personal and national records for both events in 2007 and 2008.
Like any collegiate athlete, Lawson had to balance his academic life with competing for the Hoosiers. He said he had to endure some stereotypes in the classroom because he was an athlete.
“Some people definitely have those stereotypes of ‘Oh, he’s just another dumb jock,’ so I had to prove them wrong,” he said.
Lawson defied athlete stereotypes of double majoring in partying and sports by maintaining a focus on his studies. He has advice for athletes who wish to avoid the stereotypes and achieve academically.
“Get to class early, sit in front, ask questions and if you’re struggling, tell the teacher,” Lawson said. “You’ll earn the respect from your professor and your peers by doing that.”
Lawson attributes his success at Legion Music Group to his attention to balance and integrity.
“We do everything from marketing, security, videos, recording studios, web design, artist development, DJ development, anything that involves the music industry,” he said.
Lawson rose to the head of this company by age 27. He started as an intern for Legion, but “being at the right place at the right time,” a passion for music and hard work led him to the top.
He got started running programs in high school, organizing many hip-hop music events for his school when he was a senior, and he hasn’t stopped working with the genre ever since.
This constant work and dedication to his passion for music was evident to those who observed his climb up the corporate ladder. People who know Lawson said it is fitting that he has achieved success so young.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Jeff Huntoon, associate head coach of track and field. “He always conveyed a lot of confidence and was pretty good at talking and working with people.”
Despite the success, Lawson is still focused on higher education, and he said he sees the value a degree has in the business world.
“I’m still pursuing my law degree,” he said. “Hopefully, I will be able to represent people in the future. Plus, it is always good to have a backup plan. Your company might fail but having a degree never will.”
Lawson is currently working on his thesis about the displacement of African Americans by Hurricane Katrina.
“New Orleans still needs help,” Lawson said. “Everything has not been restored to what it was yet.”
This concept of outward vision isn’t something new for Lawson. He has been involved with community service for some time, even during his early years as a college student. His work on campus began when he approached Eric Love, the director of the Office of Diversity Education at IU, with a fundraiser idea.
“It surprised me that someone so young put forth that amount of effort into community service,” Love said.
This passion for service translates back to Lawson’s work with Legion.
Lawson and his company have been in the hip-hop news lately as his premier client, Rikk Reighn, released his video on one of the biggest hip-hop forums on the Internet, WorldStarHipHop.com.
The site has recently gained attention for becoming the rap community’s source for finding and displaying talent. For one day, Rikk Reighn’s video was the main feature on the site, an honor artists such as Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy have all enjoyed.
“This is obviously a huge milestone for our company that we are thrilled about,” Lawson said.
As of Oct. 19, Rikk Reighn’s “Good and the Bad” video had more than 3.3 million views, and his music can be found on iTunes. Lawson marked this as a huge accomplishment for Legion, which he is working diligently to expand throughout the next few years.