Prairie Portrait: Kaylee Williams of VolunteerLocal
Name: Kaylee Williams
Bio: I'm an Iowa native. I grew up in Cedar Falls and then attended the University of Iowa, where I studied English and Economics. Currently, I live in Des Moines and work as the Community Builder at VolunteerLocal and Hatchlings. I also work as a volunteer columnist for the Des Moines Register. I love cats, surprise parties and poetry slams at Java Joes.
Title: Community Builder at VolunteerLocal
Residence: Des Moines, Iowa
Intro music: "Gagnam Style", by PSY
Silicon Prairie News: What are the most important lessons about being a community builder you've learned in your eight months at Volunteer Local?
Kaylee Williams: I think most importantly, know your product. Know its strengths and weaknesses. That’s important. Second, know your competitors. My first project for VolunteerLocal was to complete in-depth reviews of our top four competitors. I still look to those reviews when I’m speaking to prospective clients today. Third, respond quickly. It builds trust and lays the foundation for happy customers — and here at VolunteerLocal, we’re all about making people happy.
SPN: Between working for Volunteer Local, Hatchlings and Court Avenue and occasionally writing for the Register, how do you find time for everything? Any strategies for juggling it all?
KW: I like to create lists. But sure, sometimes a shower or two must be sacrificed. And sometimes the night has to end with gin. But I love what I do, and I think that’s probably the trick. I get to write, cultivate meaningful relationships with people from all around the globe and practice my stand-up comedy routine on an interchangeably captive audience of co-workers or small families at the brewery. I also couldn't be more grateful for the professional guidance (and candid comedy advice) I get from Brian Hemesath at VolunteerLocal.
SPN: What's your approach to writing columns for the Register? What do you hope readers take from reading your column?
KW: I think people are generally curious about the startup world. I see part of my role as a columnist for this community to remove the cloak of mystery shrouding entrepreneurship in Des Moines. More than that, however, I hope to champion our cause by garnering support through the column. Additionally, the startup scene around here is pretty hip, and I try to respect that culture in the way I craft my columns: fast paced, informative and engaging.
SPN: You're a lover of poetry slams, so a poem-related question seems fair. How would you describe Des Moines startup life in a haiku?
KW: As acorn to tree,
Proper hydration is key.
There’s beer in the fridge.
SPN: I'll admit, I'm late to the party on "Gangnam Style" and just watched the video for the first time. So enlighten me: how do you explain the craze surrounding it?
KW: Is it just an absurd K-pop song that pairs itself strategically with an equally campy twist on the classic ride-the-horse dance move? Or does it re-program innocent listeners into sleeper assassins? No one knows. Just dance. GANGNAM STYLE!
Credits: Photo courtesy of Williams.
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