The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl: A Fairytale

Image result for storybook "O"nce upon a time, in the fabled land of Grandview Heights, in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, in the year of our Lord 2017, a group of friends congregated in the mission of fellowship and folly, in what is now known as The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl. This is their story.

 

The day was melancholy. The sky moaned with soft thunder and drizzled with gentle rain. It was a sleepy summer shower. The day was wet enough to send a shiver down your spine, but certainly not enough to cancel what was in store for the day. Kelsea, of House Cozad, arose that morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. She turned to her partner, Derek, Lord of House Cozad, and kissed him awake. Together they prepared their castle for the events of the day.

 

The fateful day.

 

The day of the House Crawl.

 

In just a few hours, every House in the Grandview Kingdom would stop by to partake in their House Beverage and drink from their House Cup. It was a right of passage. A sacred tradition. And despite the beautifully marbled sky and damp ground– it was happening that very day.

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After prepping their palace and dressing in traditional all-black garb, House Cozad linked arms and made their way to the opening ceremony. Upon arrival in Suffbaugh Landing, there were friends from near and far making their way inside. House Stanley of the Elmwood Alliance was accompanied by many guests in green clothes and travelled in an extravagant chariot. Lady Barb and Lord Spencer were in attendance in clothing the color of rubies. House Langenkamp, newlywed in the Dublin Wedding of that same summer, sported blue clothing and eager smiles. The Suffbaughs welcomed all into their new castle, and even invited guest to sit upon their lush rug.

 

Once all of the guest arrived and drank from their aluminum cans, House Suffbaugh opened the day with the playing of the anthem and the presentation of the flag. All stood, removed their head coverings, placed hands across chests, and bowed in reverence. The end of the song spelled out enormous applause and The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl was officially begun.

 

After much drink and several rounds of the Royal Game, “Kings,” the House Crawl was due to advance to the next estate. House Langenkamp would host the Kingdom, now. Most would progress on foot, braving the puddles and gentle summer rain. House Stanley would opt for chariot. Upon arrival at House Langenkamp, all would remove their boots and enter into pure bliss. Not only did they provide drink (Pink Panty Droppers) and entertainment (Civil War), but also feast and even more guests. House Redfern of Westerville and Lady Reagan of Hilliard greeted those arriving.

 

Much drink and food and merriment were had at House Langenkamp. So much so, that Kelsea and Derek saw it wise to exit early to further prepare for the next stop on the House Crawl: House Cozad.

 

They quickly bustled through the rain and rushed into their palace. Putting coffee on the fire was paramount, as the House Drink was a whiskey, coffee, and liquer blend known to the locals as a “Hot Nut.” Each guest that entered into the house would receive a small portion of this notorious drink in a traditional red solo cup. Next, was to prepare the entertainment. Certainly outdoor festivities were not in question, due to the less than favorable weather. Lord Derek hearkened the court jester to engage everyone in what is known as a Powerhour. The jester would play songs, but only for exactly one minute. At the start of each new song, every guest would have to drink from their cup until exactly one hour was completed.

 

But before the last Hot Nut was poured, friends funneled in through the front gate. Cheers and laughter followed. The House Crawl was off to a billowing success. Hot Nuts were distributed to all, and ceremoniously raised in honor of the new tradition the collective had begun.

 

“To the First Annual Grandview House Crawl!” one cried out!

 

“Cheers,” the crowd followed!!

 

Now was time for the Power Hour. But before the merriment could begin, it was always the prerogative of Lady Kelsea to commission a group portrait. And so, all of the guests were shuffled into the living area and given a pose to remain in until the portrait was complete. (Even Lady Reagan)

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Portraits complete, drinks consumed, and hours powered– the congregation moved South of the Grandview Kingdom to the founders of The Elmwood Alliance: House Stanley.

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As was custom, House Stanley provided full cups of delicious beverage and a new-age game called “Drawful.” More portraits were commissioned here as Captain and Cokes (and Vodka waters for those of the Ketogenic mindset) were consumed and endless laughs were exchanged.

As the sun began to set and sobriety began to disappear, it was time to move onto the final stop of the Crawl: Lady Barb and Lord Spencer’s. The hosts sponsored a racing tournament that seemed impossible to win. Some guests fell asleep here as the day of fun had exhausted them; some ventured out past the Crawl route to explore  what else The Grandview Kingdom had to offer; and some stayed put, opting to continue drinking and singing songs of the knight John Mayer until they could sing no more.

No one puked (that I know of). No one cried (that I know of). No one stopped smiling.

 

And they all lived Happily Ever After,

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Bad Bish Network

September 6th, 2017.

 

6-ish o’clock.

 

I’ve parked my car on State Street and shoved every silver coin I can pick up with my acrylic nails into a meter.

 

1:28 is all I get.

 

“That’s fine,” I think to myself.

 

I shove my sunglasses onto my face, spritz some perfume onto my neck, smooth my dress out, and begin to model-walk to my destination: Serendipity Labs.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

I pass a sleeping homeless man behind the ticket booth at the Ohio Theatre. I wonder why he’s sleeping at 6pm. I keep walking.

I catch my reflection in every store front window. I correct my posture and mess with my hair. I keep walking.

I am careful to keep my neck straight and chin high and stride long. I keep walking.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

The intensity of my entrance gives way to a gracious, bubbly smile as I walk into the event space. I acknowledge new faces and recognize familiar faces. I make sure everyone sees my face.

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I shake hands and slap on a name tag and ask everyone what they do and how their day has gone and what they’re drinking and if they’ve been here before and can you BUH-LIEVE its already fall?!

 

I am in full on networking mode.

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The event begins. I’m sitting in the front row next to the woman who introduced me to this world; to this mode. I’m making intentional eye contact with the speakers. I nod when it makes sense and smile when my gaze meets someone else’s. I’m taking notes and ignoring notifications on my phone and being conscious of my posture and facial expressions.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

After the entire room introduces themselves to one another, Erin offers an opening that snaps me out of networking mode. These women that I have been schmoozing and shaking hands and giving hugs and offering waves and winks and rubbing elbows with will not be one and done. There will be no more “Hi, I’m Kelsea and I’m a social media manager.” or “hey girl, didn’t I see you at that CYP thing?” I will be on a personal and career development journey with all of these ladies for the next 10 months. And that journey is starting, meow.

 

I am in full on panic mode.

 

We break from the speaking-space into small groups. I am in, perhaps, the smallest group, with another Kelsey. Our conversation goes from “Oh nice name,” to, “oh, I’m really passionate about diversifying my workplace as well,” to, “yeah you should totally run for a political office.”

 

Yeah. Wtf.

 

I look back around the space. I look down at my heels. I think back about the homeless dude sleeping behind the ticket booth. I wonder if my stomping woke him up. I wonder what happened to the confidence I had before I walked into this. I look back into the eyes of my Fellow Kels. She’s opening up to me about a lot. Her vulnerable eyes are asking for empathy, not for a resolution. I feel way more connected to her than I did when I read her nametag.

 

I acknowledge my breath. I acknowledge that vulnerability/empathy are way more important to me, in this moment than confidence. That relationships are better than schmoozing. That looking into someone’s eyes and relating to them and silently vowing to just be there is bringing me more joy than my new dress or my San Pellegrino or my open-toed-slingbacks.

 

I have shed networking mode.

 

I have put on sisterhood.

I have put on empathy.

I have put on courage.

 

I am in Bad Bish mode.

 

Game Changers

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio’s annual fundraiser Keyholder is back with amazing guests, Lisa Ling and Billie Jean King. (Crazy, I know.) This year’s topic is Changing the Game. I decided to take a deep dive into what changing the game means to yours truly. Read the blog post below and comment your thoughts for your chance to join me at this year’s Keyholder.

Who changed the game for me

Elizabeth Renee Elnora Ingram changed the game for me. There were no big sweeping speeches about me changing the world one day. She never sat me on her lap and told me to be strong, independent, or empowered. Those things were gently, and often quietly, woven into every hour of my upbringing. Renee Colin KelseaJust as were treating others with the kindness I want to be treat with and respecting other opinions even if I didn’t agree with them. She taught me these things on the playground at my brother’s baseball practices, during the insatiable silence on the pew during church on Sundays and on weekend trips to the Thrift Store. They were drops in a bucket and I’m certain she doesn’t remember ever changing the game. That’s probably because she was so amazing at it, so nimble, so genuine– that she didn’t even notice.

Thanks, Mom.

When the game changed for me

I was twenty-something. I was in my Chevy Sonic that I couldn’t afford, weeping my eyeballs out to my mother on the other end of my iPhone. I had just been fired from my first big-girl-job. I had held the position for three years. 10154557_10203840419517642_2076252025_n.jpgIt was an Inventory Management role for a medical distributor in Dublin, Ohio. I was hired as a temp and had weaseled my way into a permanent position after only a few weeks. I was delighted with myself, and my friends and family were delighted with me. I had purpose in my life. I woke up at 5am and I bitched about rush hour traffic and I drank coffee and I did my thing. I had an email signature and a cubicle and a salary and a 401(k).

But on that day, I had lost it all.

My purpose. My title. My life, I thought. All I had was my iPhone and a seemingly unconcerned mom on the other end of it. I felt worthless.

That day, in retrospect, was the greatest day of my life. If I had not been fired from that position, I may very well still be inhabiting that same cubicle, addicted to the same garbage coffee, living the most boring, status-quo life of all time. A cycle that a ton of people get sucked into. But I am not “a ton of people.” I’m Kelsea, daughter of Elizabeth Renee Elnora, and my game was about to get changed. (I think Mom knew that was the case all along.)

If my life were a bar graph, that point would be the low before the spike. After that day a lot of soul searching happened. In a matter of two years, I would be making a living doing what I love: writing. I would meet the guy that would introduce me to the love of my life. I would get involved with amazing organizations like The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and Women in Digital. My life would find a new purpose, and it would be far more substantial than a gray cubicle or nasty, free coffee.

Why changing the game matters

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I wouldn’t wish the pain I felt getting fired on anyone, (insert ugly crying kimoji) but I wish that come-up on every little girl in the world. Changing the game matters because you, reader of this blog, are not “a ton of people.” You do not have to settle for anything. For status quo, for safe, for normal. You can go get great. And if you don’t have a mom or a major life event to tell you– here’s your sign.

 

Who changed the game in your life? When did your life game get changed? Why does changing the game matter to you? Comment below for a chance to attend this year’s Keyholder in Columbus, OH featuring Lisa Ling and Billie Jean King with me. 

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“So what all do you do?”

If you’ve ever scrolled through my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, or this website and thought to yourself “what are all these random ass events she’s always at…” your answer will be contained within this blog post.

Let’s go!

 

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio

 screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-1-17-33-pm(See also, “TWFCO” + @womensfundco)

Capacity: Virtual Ambassador, Grant Reader, Keyholder-er?, Volunteer, Friend + Advocate

Mission: You can read, in detail, about what TWFCO is, why they’re important, what they do, etc., on their website. If you’re lazy af, like me, you can take my word for it. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is an arm of the Women’s Funding Network. This organization provides funds (monies) to organizations that benefit women + girls. When I “Grant Read,” I am reading submissions from said organizations that are asking for funds from TWFCO for help with their particular mission. It’s my job as a Grant Reader to make sure that organization falls in line with the mission of TWFCO, is filling a hole or solving a problem for women + girls, etc., etc.

The Story: Tonnisha English invited me to Keyholder (TWFCO’s annual fundraising event) in 2015 on a total whim. She and I were not working together at the time, but she had received an extra ticket to the event. We sat in the nosebleeds of the Ohio Theater and live-tweeted the entire thing. I saw Nichole Baum-Dunn for the first time at this event. I heard chilling statistics that I felt compelled to change during this event. I became a philanthropist at this event. Tonnisha and I made our minds up to get as involved as possible in the city + networking during this time, and I made a commitment to give as much of myself to this organization as possible.

After the first Keyholder event, I wrote a blog post about my experience. That caught the attention of some of the staff + ambassadors + and even the keynote speaker, Melissa Etheridge. That led to me becoming a true friend of The Women’s Fund in every sense. A year later, at Keyholder 2016, I was volunteering and being featured in a video. My work with this amazing group of social change agents has only begun, I promise you!

 

Bad Bish Network

 screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-1-20-11-pm(See also @badbish614)

Capacity: Friend + Talk-Too-Much-Er + Featured On Website

Mission: I believe Bad Bish’s mission is evolving, currently, but I know it was always intended to bring the smart, diverse, talented women of Central Ohio together. Whether that be in a networking capacity, a social change capacity, or purely empowerment—the outcome has always been me feeling energized and motivated!

The Story: After my first experience with Keyholder + The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio (see above) Tonnisha invited me to a post-event happy hour at a hotel bar, downtown, as a part of our attempt to “attend all the things.” That’s where she and I both met Erin Scott for the first time. We met other professional Columbus women who had attended the event. We shared stories, laughs, and ended up creating quite the bond. Now Erin is a great friend and committed to the whole “Change the World” thing I keep gabbing about. A few weeks (maybe months) later, we were invited to get our headshots taken and be a part of the Bad Bish Netowrk website launch. Since then I’ve attended multiple Bad Bish events and Erin has supported me in my endeavors as well. The ladies I’ve met in the Bad Bish Network have become trusted friends + sisters.

 

 

 

 

Women in Digital

 

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-1-23-22-pm (See also #CbusWID, @WomenInDigital)

Capacity: Advisory Board Member + Conference Speaker + Advocate + Digital Woman

Mission: My boss (and mentor) founded Women in Digital to connect and unite the women in the very male-dominated digital space. The group has grown, astronomically, since its beginning, with expansions to Cleveland and Cincinnati on the horizon. This group also introduced me to my boss + mentor, and my current job.

The Story: June 2016. I get invited by a colleague (Sam Bush) to attend a morning-networking-thang. (My favorite.) Turns out to be the inaugural Women in Digital event at Vue Columbus. Alaina shares the very personal, very vulnerable story of her career. Stephanie Slagle does as well. I’m a puddle of empathy and motivation. I bumrush Alaina to ask her if she needs any help with this group or what I can do to make myself available. That leads to linkedin messages which lead to lunch which lead to this and this.
And I will say, the future is bright.

 

 

 

CbusChic

 14956466_10211378218517906_3745337938314438478_n(See specifically, “Single & Successful.”)

Capacity: Honoree

Mission: Online publication for women in Columbus, OH.

The Story: My girlfriend Dayna is a publisher of this magazine. After linking up with her at a Digital Mixer (we’ll get to those…) I find out that they are hosting this “Single and Successful” event. I ask her what “single” means, and after she gives me a pretty loose/fluid definition, I make Tonnisha nominate me. Before you know it—I’m playing with zoo animals at their first annual event at Copious in downtown Columbus. Not only that, but CbusChic has shouted me out and my blog out on several occasions. Dayna is also a serial networker and in a bunch of these other groups with me. (Hi Dayna!!)

 

Culture Talk Change Agents

 

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Capacity: Discussion Leader + Community Member + Mannequin Challenger + Promoter

Mission: Guided discussion and community building events to promote networking and problem solving as they relate to the black community. This particular talk: Opportunity + Support.

The Story: Kelsea gets a random invite to be a discussion leader by James Drakeford. Kelsea accepts + promotes + attends. Kelsea is a better Kelsea. (Simple as that, folks.) Read all about it in a post by the Director of The Ohio Diversity Council, here.

 

Creative Babes

 screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-1-27-56-pm(See also @creativebabes)

Capacity: Babe + Featured on Website

Mission: Creative community for the Babes of Cbus, Oh (my favorite city in the world.)

The Story: Sam Bush invites me to a poetry workshop put on by the Creative Babes + Joy Sullivan called “Pinot + Poems.” My brain + heart + mind explode at how amazing is. I do the thing I do and write a blog about it. (It gets pretty well received.)
I link up with the amazingly talented Megan Leigh Barnard who takes my photo and pops it on the site, homie! Creative Babes continues to do amazingly kick ass stuff while I’m busy being a bum and not attending, but  I’ll be at Babesgiving Happy Hour tomorrow night! Very excited to get more involved with the Babes.

 

 

Digital Mixers

 

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-1-29-37-pm (See also @cementmarketing)

Capacity: Attendee

Mission: I’d have to ask Alaina but I believe the Digital Mixer was a precursor to Women in Digital and just an attempt to gather all the digital minds of Columbus to learn from other digital minds. (Don’t quote me on that.)

The Story: These go down at the Cement office in downtown Columbus on the third Thursday of every month and are just a dope networking + learning opportunity. I’ve only attending two as a Cement employee, but I am a smarter, more open-minded marketer for having gone to both.

 

Web Analytics Wednesday

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 (See also #cbusWAW)

Capacity: Attendee

Mission: Analytics nerds unite! (With free beer + food!)

The Story: Back when my title was “Web Analytics Specialist” and I was navigating the world in that realm, I began attending, by word of Sam Bush, Columbus Web Analytics Wednesdays. It’s occasionally been a little high-level for me, but always fun and inspiring. Another great networking opportunity and even better learning opportunity. Oh, and seriously lacking in women attendees, so go check it out.

 

Honorable Mention: GiveBesa.Org, 1Girl, Girls On The Run, The Ohio Diversity Council, Date 2 Remember, Columbus Young Professionals, and (hopefully) Columbus Women’s Commission!

 

If you are interested in joining any of these groups, attending any of these events, or telling me about new stuff—please, please, please call me beep me to reach me. (If you wanna page me, it’s okay.) Jk. Email me: Kelsea@kelseagunner.com

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The Big Table

 

Erin Scott and I met through happenstance. She was launching her Bad Bish Network and Tonnisha and I were just getting started on our networking kick. I was just getting introduced to The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and taking baby steps into my dream career. Tonnisha had signed us up to attend Erin’s Bad Bish cocktail hour, and the rest you could say is history.

 

Once you start showing your face around the city, especially in the young professional space, you start to see the same faces over and over again. But Erin isn’t easily lost on me. She’s usually hosting, facilitating, speaking, etc…Slack for iOS Upload.png

 

So when she texted me last night and asked me to join her table for The Columbus Foundation’s “The Big Table” campaign—I knew I had to make it happen.

 

The Columbus Foundation is a 70+ year old organization started by a group of citizens who just wanted to make the city better. Now, it is one of the largest philanthropic forces in the city, “assisting donors and others in strengthening and improving our community.” You may have seen The Columbus Foundation efforts in “The Spirit of Columbus” or even “The Big Give.”

 

So what the hell is The Big Table?

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Today, er, yesterday… depending on when I post this… August 30th, 2016, The Columbus Foundation invited a guided, city-wide conversation about the issues we face and how to overcome them. Hosts signed up to facilitate groups of 8-12 for one hour of safe dialogue about how to truly make Columbus the greatest city in the world. The hosts of these discussions would take the high-level notes and takeaways and present them back to The Columbus Foundation. 4,000+ Columbus residents were expected to participate. I am anxious to see what the true number becomes.

 

Why should I care?

I don’t know, really. But I’ll tell you why I care. Columbus is my city. I was born in Mount Carmel West, I grew up on the south side, I’ve worked for Nationwide and L Brands in some capacity or another, I got my ACL repaired at Nationwide Children’s, I use to go to Clipper’s games with my family at The Coop and I spent every Sunday morning on W Broad Street at the bottom of the hilltop at church.  Just like you spend most of your formative years hating your parents and then finally grow up and learn to appreciate them, so have I grown to truly adore my city. I love the person it has shaped me into. I love that it cares enough about bettering itself to facilitate these types of events. I love that selflessness is at the core of Columbus and is evidenced in a myriad of ways.

And to quote one of my life mantras, “Change must be actively pursued.” So you should care because you (probably) live in a city that is actively trying to make itself better. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that positive change?

 

What’d y’all do?

We started our Big Table discussion with a sounding board of what specifically makes Columbus so bomb. Here are some of the things we tossed around:

  • The art/music scene
  • Education opportunities (OSU, CCAD, etc.)
  • Columbus’s philanthropic and charitable spirit (Pelatonia, Komen for the Cure, etc.)
  • Large corporations (Huntington, Nationwide, L Brands, etc.) and small, local businesses thrive here (Jeni’s, Homage, etc.)
  • The spirit of pride that Columbus natives feel

 

But we also discussed the difficult stuff. The stuff that we thought Columbus could be better at. I’ll be honest—this conversation went somewhere I did not expect it to go to—but I have since found out that many Big Table conversations landed at this same destination.

We spoke almost exclusively of public transit. That’s right: the bus.

 

Here’s where Columbus kind of sucks when it comes to public transportation.

 

  • Current bus lines almost exclusively transport from downtown to nearby neighborhoods—but if you are in a suburb or a few miles away from downtown, public transportation may not be readily available to you.
  • COTA is cumbersome and inconvenient to use. If you don’t have exact change, in cash, you may be SOL.
  • There is a stigma attached to “taking the bus,” which may speak to further class, socioeconomic, and race issues that Columbus is suppressing. In fact, there was a petition from businesses on High Street to move the bus stops to a “less noticeable” location because of the patrons. (i.e., all the lower-income minorities. Yikes.)
  • In fact, most OSU students have bus fare included in their tuition, but still choose to drive or Uber to their destinations instead of using the bus.

 

Other topics we briefly touched on:

  • Safe places in Columbus to discuss racial issues and discrimination.
  • Where the Columbus Police Department stands in the wake of a nationwide attention to police brutality.
  • How language and the words we choose can be the first step in “being the change” we want to see in our community
  • How Columbus can learn from other cities (Cincinnati and Cleveland to be specific) and their successes and failures in certain endeavors.

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All in all—it kicked ass. If for nothing else, it kicked ass to connect with likeminded souls in this community (that I love) that want to see it continue to be the most ballin’ city in the Midwest.

 

Shoutout to you, Cbus. You’re fucking awesome.

xo

KWiggz

Stuff Mom Taught Me

I like to tell whomever will listen that my mother taught me how to make PowerPoint presentations instead of how to cook; how to interview properly instead of how to clean; how to put together my resume instead of how to do laundry. This often gets a giggle, or a “wow!” or even a sincere head nod followed by a very high compliment to my mother who clearly defied gender norms before it was cool to do so.

 

 

It’s partially true.

 

 

My mother was (and still continues to be) a very accomplished, professional woman who did often bring her work home and let me into her world. I find myself becoming her every day, and (while I hated that idea when I was nineteen) I am overflowing with gratitude for it. I don’t believe, however, that she set out to make me into her clone. (She did teach me to cook and clean and all of that. We just spent more time in Excel than the kitchen.) I think she just wanted me to know some of the stuff she had learned on her journey to whatever abstract definition we attach to “success.” And even though a sweet-ass, Canva-embellished Power Point presentation is a great tool in the professional space—it will always fall short to the greatest thing my mother taught me: building, maintaining, and nurturing relationships.

From the second I decided I had to in order to drive wanted to get a job, my mom’s first question was always, “who do you know?”

It was never

What experience do you have?

Are they even hiring?

Are you qualified?

Do you have the time?

-...the greatest thing my mother taught me- building, maintaining, and nurturing relationships.-

I was taught to network authentically from a young age. To build connections with souls that I could not just pull from when I was ready to flip to a new job—but to learn from.
To soak in from.
To marinate with.

Now that I have found my true professional passion, this skill set has been absolutely the most valuable tool in my belt. It has also become one of the most important qualities in a work culture.

Are my colleagues people that will challenge and push me? Are my leaders invested not just in what I can get done in an eight hour workday, but how far I can push my potential? Is this company going to invest as much into me and my development as I am into it?

That’s my why for Columbus Women in Digital.
Because if our skill set and our knowledge is all there is – we are doomed. But if relationships and community are at the core of journey to success—we can achieve greatness.

 

Let’s connect,

KWiggz

 

 

 

 

 

Columbus Women in Digital

Digital is sort of a new world to me – but networking is not.

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I walked into Vue on Liberty Street in the Brewery District at 8am this morning to go do what I do: network. However, I uncovered an unfamiliarity. I did not expect to experience the whirlwind of courage and vulnerability that I found in that venue this morning. Although unexpected—it was definitely welcome. As I reflected, three things became clear:

  • This was not your ordinary networking situation

Don’t get me wrong. This looked, smelled, felt, and tasted like the normal “pass-out-business-card-shake-hands-smile-and-laugh-at-unfunny-jokes” situation. There were modestly sized mimosas, a spread of breakfast bars, nuts, fruit, and (obviously) all the coffee this addict could handle. Plenty of well-dressed women with “Hello, My Name Is” name tags were schmoozing. I felt comfortable in this space. This was a space I had done a million times.

So what made this different?

I sat down and prepared myself for, what I expected to be, the “YEAH women coming together!” speech from Alaina Shearer—but was quickly shut up. Instead, what I heard were real stories from Alaina’s personal journey of sexism, gender bias, stereotyping, and plain ol’ injustice. And I’m not talking about statistics that are sometimes hard to attach yourself to. I’m talking about recounts of real events from real businesses I was familiar with in our community. While this was uncomfortable to listen to, at first, I understood how important it was to not keep these things in the dark. Further—not to blanket them with “I know what you means,” and “I’ve been a victim of that stuff before, too.” It was important to air them out, scorch them with the blinding light of exposure, and make a plan to make them obsolete.

 

  • This was not your ordinary “group”

Most “events” I attend want one of three things: my money, my membership, or my services. I was never asked to pay for anything, I was not pressured into “joining” Columbus Women in Digital, nor was I asked to write this blog. In fact, Alaina encouraged all of us to give their opinion on how this group should look and what it should evolve into. We were invited to fill out a survey and join an advisory board. It was unusual but wonderful to be respected enough to be included in the very beginning processes of what I could tell will become an amazing organization.

 

  • These were EXTRAordinary women

But we already knew that, right?

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But seriously.

 

We walked into the venue this morning with one thing unifying all of us: our occupations or career aspirations; this “digital” mindset that we all subscribed to. We left with a thicker, stronger bind tying us together. We were a collective—a sum of all of our stories and experiences—with a mission of counsel, fellowship, and social change in our industry.

To say that I’m excited to see where this organization goes, what it evolves into, and how many lives it impacts would not come close to describing my emotions. I’m thankful to have found it at its launch and committed to seeing it through to fruition.

 

Join me!

 

xoxo,

KWiggz