Justin Wise = Chandler Bing: I’ve been getting the question a lot lately, “what is it that you actually do?”
Reminiscent of Chandler Bing on “Friends” or Kramer on “Seinfeld,” have a mysterious work arrangement can be intriguing and fun, but many times it can stifle momentum.
The farmer sells you food. The car mechanic fixes your car. The barber cuts your hair. But if you don’t know what I do, how can I help you?
To clear up some confusion, I want to share what I’m doing now and why it matters to you (because it does). The path to starting my own company has more zigs and zags than a self-stitched flesh wound, but, as the philosopher Drake once put it, “I started from the bottom now I’m here.”
For better or worse, this is my story.
First Things First
In 2004, I started interning at Lutheran Church of Hope and was on the fast track to become a pastor. Most people know this about me, but it still takes some folks by surprise.
At Hope, I did everything from high school ministry to college ministry to communications to weddings to finally winding up as the church’s digital director.
It was at Hope I saw the power of connecting a mission to the Web. I saw how the internet could make the mission of an organization travel further faster.
With the church it happened to be faith-based in nature, but I saw how the Web could be used to communicate any mission or vision to millions and billions of people.
Hope taught me the power of online communication.
So I went through seminary, graduated in 2010, and then promptly told my wife “I don’t think I want to be a pastor.” After having paid for seminary out-of-pocket, you can imagine how pleased she was when I shared this information!
In 2011, I went to work for Monk Development and further learned how to help organizations communicate their goals through an online medium.
Once an Entrepreneur, Always an Entrepreneur
Before I get to my current gig, I think some history is important.
When I was in grade school, I used to collect baseball cards. Throughout the year I’d get all the cards I wanted to keep and put them in really nice albums.
The ones I didn’t want, or the players that weren’t valuable to me (couldn’t trade or sell eventually), I’d put in a big box. In the summer, I’d take that box and tell the kids on our street, “Hey for a quarter you can stick your hand in the “mystery box” and grab as many baseball cards as you can and you get to keep them! For a quarter!”
I actually made a ton of money doing this! It was an easy way for me to get rid of ball cards I didn’t want and get candy money at the same time.
Painting Houses, Making Bank
Then, in high school I was a house painter. I made all the money I needed to pay for the stuff I wanted during the school year by working only in the summers painting houses.
I’d go out starting in May, canvassing neighborhoods and handing out fliers. I’d go to the more expensive houses, but they couldn’t be more than two stories (or rather, 36 feet—the average West Des Moines home size), because that’s how high our longest ladder was.
So we’d go through neighborhoods with our fliers and get enough clients to fill our summer months. People hired us because we could paint houses for a very low price, we were high school kids, and we did a good job. We made a ton of money for being in high school and didn’t have to work during the school year.
I did the same thing in college where I wouldn’t work during the school year but come home and make bank painting houses with my friends. It was great!
The Wise Group
Now here we sit in 2013. After hemming and hawing for years with different side projects, I finally made the decision to officially start my company. See, I’ve always been entrepreneurial at heart. Neglecting this calling has been the source of great pain and frustration. Accepting it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I named it Wise Group because, well, it’s my last name, it’s flexible enough to move through different projects and interests, and it works. Let’s just say there are worse last names to have. Like Butt. I’m not being silly here, either. Look at this player from Michigan. His name is Jake Butt. (And if your last name is Butt, I’m, like, super sorry!)
The Wise Group is the umbrella organization for Think Digital and Think Digital Academy. In terms of what I do on a day-to-day basis it all revolves around the theme of teaching people how to build their online audience and influencing them to take action.
That’s the “Why” of The Wise Group: to teach people how to build their online audience and influence them to take action. (My eternal thanks to Simon Sinek and these terms, taken from his amazing book, Start With Why. Life-changing. Go read it now.)
The “How” of the Wise Group is hosting learning events and building relevant resources and learning materials.
The “What” of the Wise Group (right now) is Think Digital Academy, our social media coaching program that (you guessed it) teaches brands, organizations, and individuals how to intelligently build their online audience by using relevant, data-backed content that causes their audience to take action when asked.
Currently, my time is spent creating and optimizing content for Think Digital Academy, interacting with Academy members, ensuring they’re well taken care of and getting what they need. I’m always looking for opportunities to make the lives of our members better; most of us have a lifestyle we want to achieve and I know from experience implementing the content in the Academy can get people there.
I’m also actively looking for partner organizations who want to add value to Think Digital Academy and profit from its success.
Another “What” for Think Digital is speaking engagements and leading workshops and seminars; anything that resources people from a strategic level on how to build their audience intelligently. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak and lead workshops around the country, including NRB Research Symposium, NRB Digital Summit, CLA Internet & Ministry Technology Summit, and the Nonprofit Leadership Academy.
Lastly, we also work with organizations to do a full-day onsite strategic visioning sessions. Our Strategy Sessions help organizations optimize their online communications. We look at everything from their current practices, how they’re connecting their organizational goals to their social media presence, and how they’re moving community members or customers through the organizational life-cycle (brand-news, bought-ins, believers, and builders).
At the end of the day, I want organizations to have a firm grasp on how they can leverage online communication practices to achieve organizational goals.
Just like when Jerry, Elaine, and George learned Kramer’s first name (Cosmo), hopefully this post sheds a little more light on what I do and how I can be helpful to you.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Think Digital Academy (you can even get a 14-day trial of the goods!).
If you’re interested in having me lead a workshop or speak at your event, head to my speaking page.
Lastly if you want to get social media attraction in your organization, investigate a strategy session.
Enough about me. I want to know about you! What do you find yourself doing during the day and, bonus question, what’s your dream job?