Written by AlphaPixel Reach founder, Mindy Hanson.
It has been a long and strange road to get where I am today but there is nowhere else I would rather be! I know the switchbacked and at time bumpy path that I have traveled has taught me all I need to know to be excellent at what I am doing now. So, what did that road look like? What led me to really understand my “why”? Why me? Why this road? Join me as I navigate from my early days to now…
When I was in high school, I knew I loved theater and dance but those were passions, not professions in my mind. So, I decided I wanted to teach special education in elementary schools. I knew I could help young children have a chance at a bright future. I wanted to work with the kids that faced extra challenges. Looking back I realize this was the first time I thought about having a career that would benefit others. I wanted to make the world a brighter place for those children. As soon as I entered the classroom with those kids, I knew my heart was going to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, I did not recognize the restrictions I would face that would significantly hinder my ability to help the students. I walked away from the classroom after a year of student teaching and knew I could not work in a field that was ruled by unrealistic restrictions.
As I continued down what was now an unknown path, I learned of a great adventure. McMurdo Station Antarctica was calling my name. I journeyed to the end of the earth to work and try to determine what was next in my career journey. I became a stronger and more independent individual and reaffirmed that I wanted to do something to improve my little corner of this world.
I returned home and went back to Regis University to earn a degree in English and Economics. I was not sure what I was going to do with the knowledge but I knew I would find my passion soon. During this time I worked for a catering company. We worked small open houses and fund raisers for presidential candidates. I even served Limousine beef to President Clinton! During this time I learned what works and what doesn’t during events. I learned how to spot issues before they were noticed by the guests. I learned what it takes to make an event shine!
Upon completion of my degree, I was hired by a small software company to run their Sales and Marketing efforts. The entire company was three computer programmers. They were great at what they did but they were not sales people and they had very little idea about marketing their product. I developed a network of international resellers, built relationships with magazine editors, cultivated an online user community and organized trade show appearances. We, as a team, took the company from a small project that required other employment by everyone to an astonishingly successful enterprise that kept us all busy for many years.
During my tenure at the software company, I felt the urge to learn more about how to grow the business. I returned to Regis University and earned an MBA with a double emphasis in Marketing and International Business. I was thrilled to be able to put my knowledge to use and continue to expand the market for our products.
I loved the software industry and all of the connections I had built but I was feeling restless after 15+ years and knew I needed to be making a bigger impact on the world. I had a friend working for a local land trust and they needed help with community outreach. I joined their team and found that the time I spent engaging community members and working to share the importance of saving open spaces in our mountain community made my heart and soul happy. Since it was a very small nonprofit, there was not very much budget for salaries but I decided that I was willing to make that sacrifice. Since I now had a husband and son, I wanted our community to be the best it could and that was worth a lower salary. I found creative (and very cost effective) ways to spread the word about the amazing work we were doing at the land trust. I planned community outreach events that introduced world renowned speakers to our town. I had found my groove and realized that it was in non-profit outreach and event planning.
I took a detour on this part of my journey that I never wanted to take. My mother became very ill and I was her primary caretaker. I had the opportunity to sit with her for long hours talking to her and sitting at her bedside. I spent my quiet hours thinking, hoping, dreaming and planning for the future. I realized that my need to make a positive impact was something that was instilled in me at a very young age. My mother spent her entire life making the world a better place. On her deathbed, she told me, “If everyone who I met can tell one happy story, I have lived my life well.”
I took some time with my family but it was not long before I felt the need to be back out in the community. My next employment was as an Operations Manager for a local historic theater building and performing arts group. I was responsible for assisting with community outreach and promotions. I also had to manage a building schedule and assure that our group’s events were on the calendar but also work in other groups who wanted to use the building. With multiple areas open to community use, it was vital that conflicting events were not scheduled and each user understood where they were expected to be. I was also responsible for working with a local fine art gallery to schedule artist displays and openings at the theater. I helped to organize a youth summer camp and had the opportunity to work with parents and students to make their time exciting and educational.
As I wrapped up my time with the theater, I had cemented a belief. Nonprofits and small businesses need marketing, public relations, and community outreach to expand their reach and grow their client and supporter bases. I had mastered all of the skills I needed to fill this need. I had a strong understanding of the small to medium business world as well as a solid grasp on how non-profits work. I had an understanding of how limited budgets are for many organizations. I was an excellent problem solver and knew how to find creative solutions to issues that arose. I loved being creative and understood many of the ways to expand the reach of a message. I was set to go!
And that brings us to AlphaPixel Reach. I have found my “why”. I work with non-profits and small to medium businesses to get the word out about their offerings, through cost effective media and eye-catching messages. I rely on my experience and all the twists and turns I have taken on my journey to provide solutions for my clients. I listen to their hopes and dreams. I propose a plan of action (with itemized pricing) so we can prioritize and determine what the biggest impact will be. I communicate with them on a regular basis to make sure the plan is proceeding as we hope. I make adjustments as needed to improve our success. I work to bring my clients the exposure they need to achieve their goals. I have found a way to use my education, my experience and my passion for making my corner of the world a better place by helping others.