To be able to say I met her towards the beginning of her soon to be successful career, is priceless. To see where it started, her early motivations, the passion, her drive to be better, and the desire to invest in others, left me in awe. It’s not every day you meet someone with such a bright future. I don’t mean to say I don’t run across successful individuals, or people who have accomplished a great deal, but I feel like I just met someone who’s currently living the chapters from the first book she goes on tour with. The struggles, the ups and downs, the good days and the bad, all ending with a common state of mind of what can I do to be better and help others around me to do the same.
This was the impression Morgan Witzke left on me just after one cup of coffee. A model social worker, in that not only does she aspire to be better every day, but has recently launched her modeling career. Currently earning her Master’s in Social Work, her passions include educating and encouraging young women about the true nature of beauty, helping to strengthen relationships and marriages, and aiding in the fight for various social justice needs, especially human trafficking. As for her modeling career, which started this past year, she holds herself to a “what would my grandmother think” standard when accepting contracts. Having the utmost respect for her body, she has said no to offers that could launch her career as a model, but would force her to forfeit her body to the will of the industry. Morgan is a gladiator for what we should see more of in this world, a world where people are not looked at as disposable, replaceable objects, but as people worth investing in. Her glowing confidence and courage to stand for herself and women everywhere is nothing short of the true definition of beauty.
Being creative doesn’t always mean creating flashy material. Take credit card sales for example. Mostly driven by direct mail promotions, the mailers that tend to work the best are the ones that are plain, have a grey color scheme, and consist of the most basic copy. If you gave this as a project to most college marketing students, myself included, the common thought would be to add a design to the outside of the envelope to entice customers to open the mailer. But what truly resonates with customers sifting through their mail is something simple on the outside and a clear and colorful explanation on the inside.
This example proves once again the importance of consumer insights in creating great marketing campaigns. Jim Jatcko, currently the Vice President of Business Development for Falk Harrison, explained how he discovered these insights back when he was working with Wachovia. They created multiple designs, ranging from the most colorful and in-your-face content, to the mundane and most basic mailers. They found that the bulk of their sales were from the plain mailers, and that customers were more likely to open the envelope if the outside was not covered in over-the-top design features. When you think about it, the selling point was never the outside of the envelope, instead the outside was meant to be a catalyst to open and read through the content on the inside, where the real pitch would be presented.
It starts out as a passion project. Something you start doing because you’re good at it, it brings a sense of fulfillment, and although it might be hard work, you enjoy it. Then one day you realize the thing that started for fun as a side project is actually something you can make a career out of. That’s what happened for Wes, the founder of the Treehouse Networkshop.
As humans we have the desire to connect and be social. For some, this desire is so great it becomes a passion and direct influence over their life. These individuals actively seek out opportunities to meet new people, learn new things, and share their connections and knowledge with others. Wes is one of these people. When he started Treehouse, he just wanted a place for people to come together and be social. He started hosting happy-hours, speakers, and other networking events, and people starting flocking. He realized there was value in the brand he had created and the events he was hosting, and decided to invest all of his time into making the most out of this new venture. Something Wes made clear to me was that he has no intention of making the bulk of his money on charging fees for attendance. He wants to keep entrance fees at a minimal rate, and bring in income through sponsorships and other forms of revenue. He says that the whole reason behind treehouse’s existence is to provide people with the opportunity to connect with one another and discover new opportunities, and he doesn’t want his entrance fees to halter that mission.
Beyond this new venture, he had some interesting insights that were refreshing to hear from a fellow self-starter. We talked about the job market, how starting a business in Illinois actually is not as easy as it sounds, and the mindset needed to start making ideas happen. This last point really resonated with me. Anyone can come up with an idea, but it takes determination and perseverance to follow through and execute. Wes is the type of guy that is great at coming up with creative solutions to complex problems, and then actually following through to make those ideas into a reality.
To stay in touch and learn about upcoming events, you can follow Wes at (@WesleyHoffman) and Treehouse at (@TreehouseNetwrk).