LEADERSHIP PROFILE – Melissa Ingram, General Manager at AspireTV

Interviewed by WICT Volunteer, Kenya Brock


Melissa Ingram

Where are you currently located?

Atlanta, GA

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?

General Manager at AspireTV

Describe your role at AspireTV?

I like to explain my role as General Manager in context to one of our core values at aspireTV – servant leadership – my role truly is to serve an amazing group of people primarily made of very dynamic and passionate women. To cast a vision for the future of aspireTV so that they are engaged and empowered on a day to day basis to make strategic and sound decisions for the business; to develop them into the best version of themselves and collectively; continuously revive the vision; demonstrate their worth and value and carry-out the values of aspireTV in my own walk so that we collectively can execute on not just a brand mission, but also on a mission to change the face of television by allowing an audience of color to see themselves through celebrating, sharing and reflecting Black culture and urban lifestyle.

You started your career practicing employment and entertainment law at local firms, then became an attorney at UPtv. Now, you lead a team managing business operations for a cable television network. Tell me about that transition?

It’s funny because I always said that I wanted to be an entertainment attorney; yet, I never imagined myself as a GM of a cable network. God clearly had bigger plans for me than I had for myself. LOL. Yet, when I look back over my trajectory, I clearly see pivots in my journey that prepared me for this position. First, starting my legal career at one of the nation’s top firms, Alston + Bird, provided a solid foundation and training in critical thinking and writing. Serving as Counsel for UPtv, I gained incredible insight into the business serving other business units as well as working closely with the CEO and Vice Chairman on strategic partnerships and negotiations. As Counsel for aspireTV, I reported into a GM that was not only invested in my development as a mentor but also gave me a seat at the table and in the Boardroom (from prep to presentation) providing me access and intense training that all prepared me to step into the position of GM.

What advice would you give our readers who are thinking of a career change?

I don’t want to oversimplify it, but my advice is quite simple — It’s never ever too late to make a career change and to think otherwise is nonsense. If you have a vision for your life, God will always provide provision. Move in the direction of the change you seek realizing that it won’t be easy. Stay committed to the vision for your life and know that while a career change may not come easy, it will be worth it.

What does leadership mean to you?

My definition of leadership is taken from Ken Blanchard + Mark Miller’s The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Great leaders SERVE and the acronym SERVE is really the guiding light for me as it relates to my leadership style. Great leaders See the future; Engages and develops others; Reinvents continuously, Values results and relationships and Embodies the values of the company.

What has been your greatest achievement and biggest challenge as a leader?

aspireTV has been a purpose-driven company since day 1 and there is no doubt that the aspireTV team members joined the company because they felt connected to the purpose and mission of the network. My greatest achievement by far has been to cast a vision for a re-brand of the network that allows the team members to engage with, relate to and get excited about what aspire has to offer as they can now “see themselves” in the programming. When connecting with aspireTV’s niche audience, having a team of passionate and excited employees makes a difference and it comes through in everything the team touches. I forget who said it but this quote resonates with me “uninspired people rarely do inspiring work” and I’m humbled to know that not only is the aspire team inspired by the vision but they, in turn, are inspiring so many people through their work.

My biggest challenge as a leader is myself and when I say “myself”, I mean the self-doubt in my ability to effectively lead. In a time when the external disruptors are vast and the internal realities are limiting, I often question whether I’m the right person in the seat; am I equipped enough; do I have enough experience as a leader under the age of 40 to lead? So I combat my doubt with a lot of daily meditation/prayer, affirmation, and resources dedicated to helping me achieve a healthy mindset to lead yet with a self-awareness to never stop learning, growing and developing into a stronger leader and the best version of myself.

This year’s WICT theme is “Be a Catalyst”. Do you feel like you’ve had the opportunity to be a catalyst in your career? If so, tell us about it.

When I think about the word “catalyst”, I think about something that triggers a change or an event, and as difficult as it is to recognize myself as catalyst – remember the self-doubt issue I talked about – I often ponder the impact of me being a young woman of color as GM of a national cable television network. At aspireTV we talk about the power of representation; the importance of seeing people that look like you as inspiration; and our ability to change the way in which we see ourselves with authentic narratives and it is my hope that my role at aspireTV serves as a catalyst – a spark for change – to see more people of color, particularly women of color in the same role in years to come; to inspire the next generation of women to change the make-up of this industry; to empower us all to change the way in which we see ourselves and most importantly, each other.


Kenya Brock is a WICT volunteer and the Director of Marketing for Brown Sugar, the popular new subscription video-on-demand service from Bounce TV featuring the biggest collection of iconic African-American movies available. She is a marketing, partnership, media and e-commerce professional with over 15 years of experience in developing and executing multi-platform marketing campaigns and B2B/B2C partnerships for national and local brands.


Are You Ready to Join the WICT Southeast Board?

The WICT Southeast election season has finally arrived and we’re looking for enthusiastic, organized and dedicated members, who are looking to take the next step and join the 2019 Board of Directors! Whether you’re a marketing director, an attorney, a coordinator or an accountant, serving on the WICT Southeast’s board will you enable you to thrive and become a catalyst in your career.

Jamie Miller, WICT Southeast President and Director of Program Planning for Discovery, Inc. said, “As a WICT Southeast board member since 2013, I have had the privilege to meet many of our members and have gotten to know executives who work at companies in different facets of our industry (provider, programmer, tech & vendor). I don’t believe those connections would have occurred to that extent had I not gotten involved with the Southeast board. Besides expanding your professional network, board service is an opportunity to learn new skills, as well as hone your management and communication styles.” As Jamie mentioned, there many benefits to joining the WICT board, below are our top four reasons.

Strengthen your professional credibility and personal brand

Taking on a board position is the perfect place to showcase your expertise and value within the industry because it raises your professional profile. Robyne Gordon, former WICT Southeast’s Director of Red Letter Awards and corporate legal manager for Turner Entertainment Networks, explained she “had an opportunity to interact with industry leaders in “low pressure” environments (e.g. Red Letter Awards, Taste of WICT, etc.). Having this type of interaction as an initial meeting sets the stage for you to build rapport on a personal level and nurture and expand upon that platform for your professional development.” Robyne mentioned that being a board member has put her personal brand on display, both knowingly and unknowingly. She also said her position gives her a “bird’s eye view on how you’re perceived, how you work under pressure and your leadership skills” that can propel your personal brand to heights you have not previously imagined.

Connect with new professionals. Gain exposure and insight on the industry

As the media industry changes and as professionals we are being tasked to become increasingly adaptable, now is the perfect time to join the WICT Southeast board. By taking on this new role, you’re able to connect with new professionals in different areas of the region and gain insight into what they do. With such a diverse group like the WICT Southeast members, it is more than likely is outside of our day-to-day demands. Additionally, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming programming events and the be first to know about the upcoming changes in the industry.

Sharpen your professional skills.

Serving on WICT’s board will enable you to strengthen a variety of professional skills that will help your career and give you the opportunity to step up and lead. LaShaun Solomon, Vice President for WICT Southeast and Community Account Executive for Comcast said, “I have had opportunities to practice my people management skills as well as grow my leadership skills. Both of these skills I consider pertinent to my professional career growth. Another benefit of being a part of this board is that you get to learn and pursue a skill that you otherwise may not be able to in one’s current role.”

Be a Catalyst for Your Career

Aligning with this year’s WICT theme, when you join a board, you’re able to become a catalyst for your career. You are able to take the reins and develop skills in areas you may not work in within your day-to-day job. Additionally, you’re able to build your resume, grow your mentorship circle and gain a new perspective on the media industry.


Are you looking to get more involved in WICT Southeast? Apply to run for our 2019 Board of Directors! Nominations for WICT Southeast board open from Thursday, July 26th – Friday, August 24th and elections will take place in September, with the 2019 Board of Directors announced later in this fall. Apply here: bit.ly/WICTBoard

Candidates must be a 2019 regular or executive level member and will need their manager’s approval to run for a board position. If you are interested, please submit a position statement of 300 words or less including biographical information and why you want to run for a particular position by Friday, August 24, 2018. Mentioning previous involvement or volunteer work with WICT or WICT Southeast is helpful.

Before you sign up, keep in mind that pursuing a role on the board may require considerable time and effort and it’s not always glamorous. Depending on the position, you can expect to devote a minimum of 5 to 15 hours per month, but the payoff could be worth it.

If you have any questions about a board position, please contact WICT Southeast Vice President LaShaun Solomon via email at lashaun_solomon@cable.comcast.com




Embracing Feedback as a Catalyst for Growth

Contributed by Renee Haralson

Negative feedback can hurt, it’s messy, and most of us lack a role model for how to constructively provide it. It’s no wonder that study after study show that managers are reluctant to give negative feedback. However, it is one of the most important catalysts for change and advancing one’s career.

More and more we must take control of our own development and that includes soliciting negative feedback; after all, the only person you can control is yourself. So, what can you do help your manager and colleagues feel safe providing this much-needed catalyst?

Formally Ask

Initiate your own 360 evaluation by asking 4-5 colleagues to provide candid feedback. Make it clear that you will be keeping their response confidential and that they are not the only person participating (there is safety in numbers). You could even go so far as to create a blind survey to provide greater anonymity. Keep it simple with only 2-3 open-ended questions.

Get Creative

If you’ve asked and still aren’t getting the feedback you need, it’s time to get creative. In her article “How to Solicit Negative Feedback When Your Manager Doesn’t Want to Give It”, Deborah Grayson Riegel shares tips for coming at it sideways or softening the request.

Start the Ball Rolling

Begin the conversation by giving yourself some negative feedback first. In the same manner that a self-deprecating joke can defuse tension, beginning with your own self-criticism signals that it is okay for the other person to critic.

Ask for Help

Reframe the request to make it about helping you reach a professional goal. Share that you want to improve in a specific area this year and ask for your manager’s help in determining the area. This shifts the focus to helping you keep a commitment.

Flip the Conversation

Instead of asking for feedback directly, ask what you can learn from them. This turns the conversation around and makes them think about themselves. It makes the request less threatening and is more likely they will share active changes you can make.

Keep it Small

Ask for “just one small thing” that you can change instead of a broad request for all negative feedback. Keeping it bite-sized signals to the person that you don’t need too much from them and makes it easier to respond.

Manage Your Reaction

Resist the urge to respond or justify yourself. This is about trying to change and Kristi Hedges’ article “How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out” reminds us that the feedback you receive is “only as good as your ability to remain comfortable while receiving it.”

Give Them Permission to Write

Most managers feel that negative feedback should always be done in person, after all, it is a richer form of communication. However, when feedback is provided in writing it gives you a better opportunity to reflect and focus on the feedback itself, instead of focusing on managing your reaction. Give your manager permission to provide the feedback in writing and then follow up in person if you feel you need more clarification.

In an ideal world, our managers and leaders would provide us with timely and constructive feedback on a regular basis. However, the reality is that this important catalyst is often missing in career development. That doesn’t mean you must go without if you get creative and take steps to solicit the feedback you deserve.






Speed Mentoring in Atlanta – There’s Still Time to Register!

View Event Details >

Thursday, June 14, 2018
7:30am-10:00am ET

The Wimbish House
1150 Peachtree Street,
NE Atlanta, GA 30309

Space is limited!

WICT Southeast is hosting one of our most popular programs- Speed Mentoring in Atlanta. Join us on Thursday, June 14th at the Wimbish House as we kick off the program.

Sign-up NOW for three 30-minute, topic-driven mentoring sessions with the following leaders of our industry. Don’t miss this opportunity to receive tips, tools and personalized advice from Atlanta’s top telecommunications executives. And become NEXT LEVEL FIERCE in your career!

Courage to Shed the Golden Handcuffs

Reta Peery, Chief Administration & Operations Officer & General Counsel, UP/ASPIRE

Executive Presence

Elva Acosta, Director, Program Management, Comcast Central Division

Flex Communications

Nikki Heise, Owner & Chief Thought Provoker, Ridgeline Coaching

Inspiring a Leadership Network & Building Your Success Team

Elaine Meryl Brown, Director, CINEMA Program, Georgia State University

Know Your Worth: Positive Self-Talk & Self-Promotion

Elizabeth Kealoha, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and Production, Katz Networks

Unstuck: Taking Ownership and Changing Your Professional Narrative

Andrea Bibbs, Director, Ad Sales Integrations, HLN

Perseverance: Bouncing Back and Finding Courage to Take Risks

Lauren Linder, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Weather Channel

Public Speaking: How Gaining Confidence in Public Speaking Can Build Your Career

Susan Shiflett, Head of North American Marketing for Connected Home, Technicolor

Real Talk: Being Vulnerable to Feedback and Finding Your Authentic Voice

Sloan Kennedy, Vice President, Domestic Network Distribution, HBO

Topic TBA

Kristine Faulkner, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Cox Homelife

Glean wisdom from executives who have learned from successes and challenges along the way, exchange ideas and learn about different aspects of our industry.

Speed Mentoring Perks

Contributed by Susanna Hoskins, Supervising Producer, RIVR Media

Ever heard of an “elevator speech”? This phrase means a short spiel that you could give at a moment’s notice, to kind of “sell yourself” to a prospective employer if you were ever given the opportunity. If you were stuck in an elevator with him/her for two minutes, for example. What would you say? How would you make yourself sound good, without appearing to be bragging, in such a short time period? On the flip side, how could you best use that time to learn as much as you could about someone else in the elevator with you? A higher-up, your career idol, a company CEO, President, or department head. A “speed mentoring” session is the perfect place to practice and perfect the skill of quick, efficient, polite, useful information exchange with people who work in your desired industry.

“Speed mentoring” is a quick, interactive, topic-driven mentoring sessions in which attendants take turns speaking with various mentors and peers. Mentors give tips and pieces of advice. While mentees receive constructive feedback for reflection and future demonstration. It also helps build relationships and with your networking. This is a great way to practice one’s social skills in a professional environment while getting helpful counsel at the same time.

If you want to make a good first impression, always look the person you’re meeting right in the eye, smile, give a firm handshake, and introduce yourself. Quickly state your position or field of interest and your past work experience or current employment/student status. Then ask the other person about him/herself. “What is your job title and how long have you held that? What’s your day to day like?”

Once you have the essential information, you can move to more detailed questions later, if there’s time. Like how the person got his/her start in the industry and their career path since then or their favorite aspect of their job. You want to try to glean as much information from this more experienced person as you can in the allotted time. Speed mentoring can help with your nerves and teach you valuable skills, like how to interact with people who are above you in your field. You realize that they are people too, and they also put their pants on one leg at a time. Speed mentoring will also give you the opportunity to practice making a good first impression. Hey, you might even have fun and make a friend, or at least a career contact. Plus, you get it over within such a short time, so if you’re nervous, what’s not to like?

Want to practice your speed mentoring skills? Sign up for the WICT Speed Mentoring event in Atlanta on Thursday, June 14 from 7:30-10am at The Wimbish House here: https://wictse.org/speed-mentoring-atlanta/ or the event in Nashville in July.


Stop Keeping Your Head Down and Continue Being Curious – An Interview with Nikki Heise, Chief Learning Officer at Ridgeline Coaching

NHeiseNikki Heise, Chief Learning Officer, Ridgeline Coaching, Atlanta, GA

With 20 years of experience in corporate information technology (IT) leadership positions, Nikki Heise understands the language and challenges of both business and technology leaders. She thrives on building connections between leaders at any level and their teams, customers and partners. Creating workplace environments where people enjoy coming to work, are productive and feel like they are making a difference is her passion. She wants people to have more of what they want in their careers.

To help kick this interview off, what are three easy ways someone can identify their strengths?

  1. Ask somebody close to you. People around you see things that you’re awesome at, that you probably take for granted, as superpowers.
  2. Think about what you love to do. When you get lost in an activity or when you are doing something that feels really meaningful to you, what are some of the talents or strengths that you’re using in those moments?
  3. Take an assessment. This will help put language around your strengths and help see them from a slightly different way.

Can you share the best and worst pieces of advice you’ve received?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to be curious – have a beginner’s mindset about everything and continue to learn. If you’re willing to see things from a different point of view it can open so many doors and help you gain a new understanding on any situation.

Opposite of that, the worst piece of advice I’ve received is to keep your head down, continue working and don’t speak up. I think it’s well-intentioned advice and I don’t disagree that you should do a good job. However, when people see you’re doing good things with your head down, you risk being so good at that thing that they won’t promote you because they can’t imagine anybody else doing it as well. If you keep your head down and assume that what you’re doing is the right thing, you’re not looking around and learning something new. Often this is when people get stuck and when they finally do look up, it’s twenty years later and their life doesn’t look anything like they were hoping it was going to.

What’s the most common thing you see people not doing, that you think they should be?

Too often, people don’t test their assumptions and interpretations about situations and don’t ask for clarity. We are storytelling machines and make up stories about what that tone just meant or what the comment at the meeting meant or what the people across the room from us are saying about us. So, especially in situations where there are miscommunications or when there’s tension at work, I wish people would ask for clarity or see if there’s a more generous interpretation of the exchange.

What are the benefits of having a professional coach?

As far as benefits, it is having a safe place to work out your thoughts, have a really good sounding board and support. There’s a lot of power in having a conversation that is just about you, where somebody is holding a safe space for you to think about your life and your career and is only focused on you. In most conversations when you’re talking with a good friend or a colleague you’ll start to talk about something and then you hear, “Oh yeah, me too. I had that happen” and the conversation shifts. But a coaching conversation is special because that doesn’t happen. A coach holds that space for it to be about you. So, whether I’ve had the exact same experience that you’ve had, as your coach you won’t know that because this is not about me. This time is about you. That kind of conversation is rare, and it is powerful.

At what level in your career should you engage a professional coach?

Typically, in larger organizations it seems to be, reserved for upper levels of management, but I don’t think that necessarily needs to be the case. The closer you are to the front line the more people you’re impacting in their day to day. Working with a coach to improve yourself and how you communicate and how you work with other people can have a pretty big impact on the front line. I don’t know that you have to cross a threshold at a certain level, but you have to cross a threshold of mindset to be open to learning more about yourself and willing to shift and work on some things and to be open to change.

This year’s WICT theme is “Be a Catalyst.” Why do you think being a catalyst is so important?

You can’t even anticipate the benefit and the ripple effect that can happen from you taking the step and being a catalyst for somebody, but there will be one.

Looking for more information about Nikki Heise or Ridgeline Coaching? Visit https://ridgelinecoaching.com


Top Five Reasons to Have a Mentor



Contributed by Courtney Madson

If you ask any professional or look for the “top 10” pieces of career advice, one common tip is to have a mentor. Someone who can guide you, fight for you and help you become a better version of yourself. While this is truly invaluable advice, the mentoring process can seem overwhelming and at times may appear like more work than the return.

Here are our WICT blog volunteers top 5 reasons why having a mentor or being a part of a mentoring circle can be an extraordinary experience and worth the time devoted to the relationship.

You Receive Impartial Advice

“Having a mentor has allowed me to seek advice, both professional and personal, and confide in someone who is impartial. Their expertise and coaching skills to help guide my decisions and often times get a different perspective. Over the years, my mentors have been essential in helping me grow personally and professionally as well as providing encouragement and giving me the confidence to be my best self.”

Kenya Brock, Director of Marketing, Brown Sugar

You Are Introduced to Different Areas in the Company

“Having a mentor was an amazing resource because he taught me about other departments here at the company that I would otherwise not have been exposed to. He was able to introduce me to people for informational interviews, so I could get a better glimpse at what executives in other departments are working on and make valuable connections. I even approached him with some challenges I was facing in my daily tasks, and he gave me excellent advice on how to raise a flag to my boss when I needed help, made suggestions on how to improve my own workflow for efficiency, and provided me with resources for furthering my education so I could be an expert at my job.”

Cheyenne Perry, Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Coordinator, Discovery Communications

You Gain Perspective

“One of the things I value most about my mentor is her perspective. I can present her with a scenario and she can then help me see that there is always another way to approach a situation.”

Jenny Oberhaus, Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Specialist, Discovery Communications

You Both Grow

“When you have a mentor it doesn’t necessarily mean that you now have a therapist, it’s a two-way street where you both are able to grow. While it took me a second to clue into this, having a mentor to share my work situations, learn from and about his work, and have an open communication has been such a priceless experience. We both learn from each other, me more than him, and have grown because of it.”

Courtney Madson, Home Category Brand Creative Associate Writer/Producer, Discovery Communications

You Can Ignite Change in Your Career

“A mentor isn’t there to coddle you- He or she can help push you out of your comfort zone, ignite new ideas, or open up new opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to find someone who may not be in your department or has a different personality because they might offer insight that you have never thought about”

Valerie Carrillo, Home Category Brand Creative Senior Writer/Producer, Discovery Communications

While everyone has a different experience, there is overwhelming support to have a mentor. So how should you go about this? Join WICT SE’s award-recognized Mentoring Circles program as we embark on “Being a Catalyst for Change in My Career and Community”. This year’s Mentoring Circles will provide an interactive approach to intentional career advancement, led by Betsey Magness instructor LD Bennett.

Circles are small groups of mentees led by mentor pairs through a guided six-month program. The program kicks off in June and completes by the end of the year. Step it up in your personal development, equip yourself to ignite change in your career and community, all while building relationships with like-minded women! Apply at the below links through May 18!

Application to be a mentor: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DLB7WRS

Application to be a mentee: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DFFM36Q

Why Join a Business Book Club?

Contributed by Jenny Oberhaus

We’ve all listened in awe as the most successful people in our industry nonchalantly reference how many business books they typically devour – one per week, six per month, 100 per year – the numbers are staggering and often intimidating. “I’d be thrilled if I could finish one every few months,” we think to ourselves and then rarely happens because life tends to get in the way.

Enter: A Business Book Club.

A book club-generally speaking- is a great way to connect with friends, meet new people, hone public speaking skills, learn to appreciate others’ opinions and, most importantly, read more books. For all the same reasons, the book club model translates well to a professional setting.

And now you’re thinking, “Great! Now if someone could just magically stop time for an hour each day, I’ll have the time to read.” While-trust me- I’m with you on that, there are actual, logical ways to fit reading into your busy schedule.

  1. Set a timer. Physically defining a span of dedicated reading time will help keep you focused. Situate it directly in front of you so you can snap back on task if your thoughts to wander to your ever-present To Do list.
  1. Make it a priority. Does that mean watching less TV in the evenings? Perhaps. Does it mean getting up a little earlier? It might. But when something truly is a priority, we find a way to make it happen.
  1. Reach for a book instead of the phone. How many times a day do we find ourselves passing idle moments by looking at our smartphones? What if we reached for a book and read a few pages instead? Bill Gates, arguably one of the most success (and undoubtedly busiest) people of our time always has a book with him and reads every chance he gets. If Bill can do it, surely we can, too.
  1. Join a book club. Yes, I realize this is a post about why you should join a book club, so it rings a bit redundant- but bear with me. Accountability to a group is a powerful incentive. The act of committing to a book club will help you carve out time to read. The club meetings will give you a timetable to plan for and, the commitment will help to keep you accountable.

With some planning, a firm commitment and healthy dose of focus, you’ll be checking off titles and feeling more accomplished in no time. If you’re interested in joining the WICT Southeast Book Club, check out the one in Knoxville on April 24th. Visit our WICT events for more information on how you can get involved.


Jenny Oberhaus works at Scripps Networks Interactive as a Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Specialist, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She originally became a member of WICT in 2007 but has recently rejoined after a hiatus from the industry to spend time at home, raising her two kids. She is a lover of travel and any competition cooking show- especially “Chopped.” She would love nothing better than to eat her way around the planet with her husband of 16 years, Jason.


The Importance of Volunteering Outside of Work

Contributed by Susanna Hoskins, Supervising Producer, RIVR Media

Even though many of us love our jobs, working in TV can sometimes feel like it might not be the most rewarding thing in the world—for our hearts and souls. In that, we (usually) aren’t giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, or aiding the sick in our day-to-day work lives. We also might not get as many opportunities at work to hone our leadership skills or utilize our “hidden” strengths. We are not just our jobs. These are all reasons that I think volunteering outside of work is vital to our personal fulfillment, our mental/emotional wellbeing, and developing our leadership skills.

When I find myself hoping for something unfortunate and dramatic to happen to perfectly nice people so I can have a cliffhanging “bump-out” to commercial, I tend to feel slightly shallow or even malicious. I don’t actually want anything truly harmful to occur to any talent on any show, of course. But there is that hope, whether we as reality TV producers admit it or not, that something interesting will happen, to create an amusing show that will hold an audience for the full 22 or 44 minutes. So I need to put some good karma out there into the world. I choose to do this by volunteering!

Another great reason to volunteer is to develop or enhance leadership skills and have experiences that you might not get at work. Volunteering takes initiative. Since it’s not “required,” it takes the enterprise to even offer to help with an organization in the first place. What else can you gain from volunteering?

  • You can learn useful skills like organization, responsibility, & leadership.
  • You can practice event planning, public speaking, managing, and budgeting.
  • You get to work with others, use teamwork, and learn to delegate tasks.

“Where do I volunteer?” you ask. Maybe it’s following your passions and searching for local groups that affect issues you care about, or maybe it’s reaching out to your company to see what organizations they may be connected with.

For me, volunteering my time at a local nonprofit, The Junior League of Knoxville, makes me feel like a better, nicer, more helpful human being. I get to directly help less fortunate Knoxvillians and actually feel like I’m making a difference. We do things like donate clothes to women at the YWCA and the Helen Ross McNabb Center. It also allows me to meet people and even make friends outside of work. In fact, one of the bridesmaids at my wedding was actually a girl I met at the JLK.

Plus, as the prior chair of both the Social Media and Spring Fundraiser Event Committees, I’ve gained experience with communication, event planning, cold calling to ask local businesses for donations, delegating tasks to fellow committee members, and leadership – skills I couldn’t have gained with my current role. With my social media experience at JLK, I was able to become “social media manager” at my company. So volunteering can definitely positively affect your career.

Do you want to take your career to the next level through community volunteer opportunities? Discover tips on how you can build new skills and have great experiences by checking out the “Own Your Project: Creating Leadership Opportunities” webinar, presented by WICT Southeast, WICT Greater Memphis-Jackson and Comcast.

Adaptive Capacity – What is it and Why is it Relevant?


Contributed by Courtney Madson

Many times, in business, natural phenomena are referenced to help answer our toughest questions. No, unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a feed of those inspirational posters plastered around your office. This is how we can learn from nature to become stronger change leaders and enable our business ecosystems to flourish.

Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes, of Time Zero Enterprises, are proponents of this theory referenced as biomimicry. Working with companies across various industries, they’ve helped organizations perform like highly productive ecosystems. To do this, they’ve not only looked at specific organisms but at the conditions needed for a successful ecosystem.

One property that they’ve heavily study is adaptive capacity. So, what exactly is adaptive capacity? It’s the idea that the same strategies used to deal with change in nature that can be implemented in business. In today’s industry, change has shifted from isolated occurrences to a daily constant – especially in the media industry. To cope with this, Sally explained, “you have to start it off by completely reframing or re-perceiving change in an organization.” Being agile and adaptable to the conditions of the desired change will not only help you to become a stronger change leader but become a better professional and less stressed. And don’t we all want to be less stressed?

Along with change, Sally and Argerie have examined how ecosystems in nature have deployed strategies to deal with crisis or fear. They explained that while it is in our nature to react to the unknown or fear, the key is to be attuned to your surroundings. By having this understanding helps us to better prepare and know how to respond in a fearless manner.

Interested in learning about a living systems model or how principles in nature can help improve your organization or help with your professional development? Join Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes in Knoxville, Thursday, March 22nd for an interactive workshop with individual and small group exercises. Want more information? Seating is limited, so REGISTER NOW for this exclusive event


Courtney Madson works at Discovery as an Associate Writer/Producer for HGTV, DIY and Great American Country. She is based in Knoxville, Tennessee and has been an active member of WICT since 2015.