Driving Disruption: Chris Peay Of Cxmmunity Media On The Innovative Approaches They Are Taking To Disrupt Their Industries

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion, Cxmmunity Media focuses on creating safe and inclusive spaces for multicultural gamers. By hosting events and tournaments that celebrate diversity, we help ensure that all voices are heard and represented in the gaming community. This not only fosters a sense of belonging but also helps us attract a wider audience.

In an age where industries evolve at lightning speed, there exists a special breed of C-suite executives who are not just navigating the changes, but driving them. These are the pioneers who think outside the box, championing novel strategies that shatter the status quo and set new industry standards. Their approach fosters innovation, spurs growth, and leads to disruptive change that redefines their sectors. In this interview series, we are talking to disruptive C-suite executives to share their experiences, insights, and the secrets behind the innovative approaches they are taking to disrupt their industries. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Peay.

Chris Peay is the co-founder and CMO of Cxmmunity Media, a pioneering media-tech company dedicated to future-proofing diversity in esports and gaming through innovative, educational, and entertaining content. As a graduate of HBCU North Carolina Central University with a degree in Mass Communications and Media Studies, and Georgia State University with a master’s degree in Marketing, Chris has leveraged his expertise in brand storytelling and HBCU culture to co-create the groundbreaking HBCU Esports League. This league, the first of its kind, garnered 14 million live views in its inaugural season and secured a $1 million donation from the Verizon Foundation to establish esports and innovation labs at partner HBCUs. Under Chris’s leadership, Cxmmunity Media has orchestrated strategic partnerships with major brands like Mountain Dew, Microsoft, Verizon, Discover, Nike/House of Hoops, and NBCUniversal, while also spearheading brand strategy for notable films like Space Jam: A New Legacy and Candyman. Chris’s ongoing mission is to elevate Cxmmunity Media into a globally recognized household name.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about disruption, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Graduating in 2016 with a degree in communications, I honed my skills through involvement with the campus newspaper and radio at Livingstone College before transitioning to Georgia State University. My professional journey has been diverse, from working closely with athletes to organizing and curating Christmas drives, showcasing my passion for storytelling, marketing, and creating social impact. Additionally, I have experience in coordinating 7-on-7 football tournaments, further demonstrating my commitment to sports and community engagement.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Social good is at the heart of CXM’s storytelling through media, where brands find connection through the compelling narratives being shared. CXM’s focus extends beyond gaming, delving into the intersection of pop culture and emphasizing positive news stories. Notably, our initiative which provided access to technology during the COVID-19 pandemic raised an impressive $118,000 within just 24 hours. The involvement of prominent figures like Dionne Warwick, DL Hughley, Michael Strahan, Offset, Doug E Fresh, Cedric The Entertainer, and Shannon Sharpe inspired us to harness the power and impact of CXM’s reach in promoting social causes and fostering community engagement.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

At the core of our mission lies the art of relationships — building, nurturing, and leveraging them to their fullest potential. We understand that true magic can be created with anyone; the key is finding those individuals who share our vision. Our community is not just our target audience; it’s our essence. We believe in telling our stories because we are deeply connected to our community and are committed to safeguarding its interests. Initiatives like Red Bull’s investment of $75k to develop labs underscore our approach of not merely allowing brands to access our audience but ensuring that students receive fair equity. Embracing disruption, we see ourselves as conduits for positive change amidst challenges, akin to “doing God’s work in the devil’s playground.” The HBCU Esports League epitomizes what we yearned for during our academic journey, and every victory is a triumph for our collective aspirations.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

Embracing my own ignorance and committing to showing up every day, I acknowledge that being right isn’t always guaranteed. I firmly believe that a significant portion of what we hold in our minds is fallacious, prompting me to encourage questioning one’s beliefs. In the realm of leadership, I advocate for hiring brilliant minds and stepping back, relinquishing control to allow them to thrive. Building formidable teams around us has always been my ethos, recognizing that diverse perspectives enhance our collective strength. When faced with dissenting opinions within the team, I advocate for inclusion and trust, understanding that I don’t possess all the answers. This philosophy is exemplified by figures like Offset and NLE Choppa, as well as Elon Musk, who faces doubt yet remains the figurehead due to the immense trust placed in him.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. In the context of a business, what exactly is “Disruption”?

To me, “disruption” in a business context, simply put, is the process where traditional methods and established industry standards are challenged and overturned by new approaches and innovative practices. It’s not just about introducing a new product or technology; it’s about fundamentally changing how the market operates, how consumers engage with it, and how value is created within the ecosystem.

How do you perceive the role of ‘disruption’ within your industry, and how have you personally embraced it? Is it a necessity, a strategy, or something else entirely in your view?

In the gaming industry, disruption is seen in how digital platforms, community-driven content, and esports have transformed traditional views of gaming from just a pastime to a globally connected, spectator-friendly, and commercially viable industry. At Cxmmunity Media, we embody disruption by focusing on underrepresented voices and creating opportunities that foster inclusion and diversity. This approach doesn’t just alter the landscape; it enriches it, making gaming more accessible and representative of its diverse player base. We’re not only participating in the industry; we’re actively redefining it to reflect a broader, more inclusive range of experiences and values.

What lessons have you learned from challenging conventional wisdom, and how have those lessons shaped your leadership style?

The biggest lesson I learned was that ​​the only rules in life are controlled by the laws of physics. Everything else is just a recommendation. I realized that an extra large chunk of the macro-society thinks that technology, the government, or even our communities just automatically improve over time. They don’t. These things only improve if a lot of people work hard, daily, to make them better.

Disruptive ideas often meet resistance. Could you describe a time when you faced significant pushback for a disruptive idea? How did you navigate the opposition, and what advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

Understanding that true knowledge extends beyond the confines of an office, our cheat code is that we just simply married academia with practice. As a young Black-owned company, we prioritize learning and adapting, understanding the unique challenges of building trust within our community. It’s often challenging for larger, non-Black companies to grasp the intricacies of our experiences and the politics inherent in our endeavors. We acknowledge that being Black-owned imbues our media company with a distinctive perspective, one that necessitates constant learning and resilience in navigating complex socio-political landscapes.


What are your “Five Innovative Approaches We Are Using To Disrupt Our Industry”?

1 . Inclusive Community Building

  • Understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion, Cxmmunity Media focuses on creating safe and inclusive spaces for multicultural gamers. By hosting events and tournaments that celebrate diversity, we help ensure that all voices are heard and represented in the gaming community. This not only fosters a sense of belonging but also helps us attract a wider audience.

2 . “Social Good Through Media”

  • Understanding the educational gap in the gaming industry, particularly among underrepresented communities, Cxmmunity Media offers scholarships and educational programs. These initiatives equip young gamers with the skills needed in the gaming and tech industries, paving the way for a new generation of diverse professionals.

3 . Partnerships with Brands & Creators

  • Cxmmunity Media collaborates with brands and content creators to craft unique marketing campaigns that resonate with a diverse audience. These partnerships help brands authentically engage with the gaming community through tailored content and interactive experiences, boosting visibility and appeal.

4 . Streaming & Content Production

  • Leveraging the power of streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, Cxmmunity Media provides content that highlights diverse gamers and stories. This not only showcases the varied aspects of the gaming culture but also provides a platform for voices that are often underrepresented in mainstream media.

5 . Bridging the Digital Divide with Advanced Technology

  • Cxmmunity Media is committed to addressing the digital divide by utilizing cutting-edge technology within our foundation. By enhancing access to high-speed internet, modern gaming hardware, and educational resources, we enable underrepresented communities to connect with the digital world. This strategic use of technology not only provides essential tools for digital literacy and participation but also ensures equitable opportunities for all gamers to thrive in the evolving landscape of digital media and gaming.

Looking back at your career, in what ways has being disruptive defined or redefined your path? What surprises have you encountered along the way?

I’ve learned so much on this journey. The redefining disruptive moment, I’d say, was realizing that unconventional thinking became necessary when conventional thinking makes the mission impossible. There’s something exciting about going against the grain and coming out with a deeper sense of understanding.

Beyond professional accomplishments, how has embracing disruption affected you on a personal level?

It liberated me, gave me a deeper sense of meaning. First, I realized that it is impossible to disrupt anything without information. Then, I realized that a lack of information isn’t the issue holding back the bottom 80% of people– it’s human behavior and mindset. So now, I’m on a mission to build bridges for all those underrepresented in entertainment, just laser focused on gaming for now. I no longer predicate my confidence on my skills or ability, it’s solely based on my intentions.

In your role as a C-suite leader, driving innovation and embracing disruption, what thoughts or concerns keep you awake at night? How do these reflections guide your decisions and leadership?

The rapid pace of the digital landscapes and staying relevant and impactful within our community are some concerns that keep me up at night. Technology and consumer behavior are ever-changing and bring both opportunities and challenges. My main worry is ensuring that we not only keep pace but also can anticipate and lead industry innovations.

Our commitment to amplifying diverse voices within the gaming industry brings its own set of challenges. It’s essential to find effective ways to support and showcase underrepresented creators, while maintaining an empowering and inclusive presence. Balancing the scalability of our impact while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of our mission is crucial.

This drives my decision-making, emphasizing the importance of strategic partnerships and investments into technology that align with our core values and enhance community engagement. Influencing my leadership approach of fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. By encouraging innovation and creative problem-solving, we stay agile and responsive, not just participating in the gaming industry but actively shaping its future.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would develop “Kindness Day.” We all have problems, everyone on earth is dealing with some sort of frustrating obstacle that they’re trying to overcome. Since we all have our own individual problems, it’s very easy to only operate in an isolated bubble and people are usually mistaken when they think these things just automatically improve. They only improve if a lot of people work very hard to make them better. I think Kindness day is a start.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.