RapidChat: Molly Singleterry

"I am a writer—not a speaker," admits Molly Singleterry, host and organizer of CreativeMornings GR. But modesty must be one of this woman's strong suits—because it is clear that Molly is nothing short of wonderful at capturing everyone's attention within the (very crowded) room of this monthly speaker series. We suspect her unintentionally quirky sense of humor doesn't hurt her case, either.
"I am a writer—not a speaker," admits Molly Singleterry, host and organizer of CreativeMornings GR. But modesty must be one of this woman's strong suit—because it is clear that Molly is nothing short of wonderful at capturing everyone's attention within the (very crowded) room of this monthly speaker series.
Rapid Growth: What role did you play in establishing the GR Chapter of CreativeMornings?

Molly Singleterry: Julia Swenson is the original founder, starting the chapter in 2014. She was the one who asked the CreativeMornings HQ team in New York if GR could have a chapter. Originally they wondered if we were too small and wouldn’t have enough people to attend. So she put together a video and some mock events to prove that we had people who were interested. I took over in April 2016 as host, when Julia announced she was moving. I had been on the volunteer team for awhile doing photography and logistics when she asked me to take over.

RG: What has that transition been like for you?

MS: I love CreativeMornings a lot. Professionally it has been great for me. On a personal level, I was scared straight thinking I was going to speak in front of people. Public speaking is not my forte. I am a writer—not a public speaker. I said yes originally, then immediately regretted it. I asked myself, “What am I doing? What am I getting myself into?” I liked the idea of leading people, but not the idea of getting up in front of people. I did my first event, and [it] was tough. So was the second and the third... but slowly they began to become a little bit more comfortable. Now, I actually find myself looking forward to speaking. Though it doesn't hurt that it’s a great crowd.

RG: How do you go about selecting your speakers?

MS: We have a core group of volunteers who get together every month and talk about who we would want to see speak. We have a long list of people around Grand Rapids and West Michigan who would be great speakers with a great story to tell. HQ gives us a theme every month, and we will choose speakers based on how they will fit the theme. The idea of ‘creative’ is very broad for us; we’re always looking to expand our circle.

RG: Tickets to CreativeMornings sell out unbelievably fast! Why do you think that is?

Photograph by Leigh Ann Cobb

MS: We have definitely gained traction over time! There are a lot of great events around GR, but I think CreativeMornings is a great melting pot for creatives. We are pretty consistent and mainly host on the last Friday of the month. Since I’ve started, tickets have typically sold out on the same day—and often in under an hour—they have gone on sale (one week before the event itself). I think mornings are easy to fit into your schedule, but it also doesn't hurt that we give people free breakfast and coffee, as well.

RG: To date, which of the speakers has personally impacted you the most?

MS: Most recently I really loved Kimberly Wolting, a designer at Atomic Object. She spoke on compassion and it was one of those perfect days. Kimberly was so enthusiastic about the event and wanted to help with logistics. So we dropped balloons on the audience and gave them calls to action on how they could show acts of compassion throughout the day. I think our most impactful talks are personal and relatable. 

RG: The realm of marketing and design is growing increasingly more competitive, what is your advice for young professionals who are looking to break into the field?

Photograph by Lance Nelson

MS: Unfortunately you have to diversify the way you go about finding a job. You need to do the networking, join the organizations that are appropriate for the job, create a website to show off the work you have done, and beyond. A lot of people—at least in this town—hire because they like to work with you. It seems so simple, but it’s not.

I have been in my career for over 10 years now. It definitely was a lot harder when I was trying to figure out how I was going to break in. I hate networking. I think it is very difficult being a young women and getting your foot in the door without being taken advantage of. And it’s even that much harder for communities of color, those with disabilities, those whose access is blocked to the businesses in GR: if you’re not seeing yourself represented on agency’s "about" pages, why would you think that you would have a fair shot to get your foot in the door?

RG: Who do you seek inspiration from?

MS: I am a big fan of Tina who started CreativeMornings, and I am not saying that just because she is “Mama Bear” of CreativeMornings! She is the founder of Tattly (temporary tattoos) and started a co-working space called ‘Friends Work Here.’ And she’s overwhelmingly positive and realistic—she creates work atmospheres where she trusts her employees to do their job, celebrates what they do, and shows a big heart toward every decision. I love that and want to operate with that attitude. I am often trapped by indecisiveness and change—it’s something I’m working toward. I also find constant inspiration from my friends near and far: like designers Kelly O’Hara and Lindsay Jones; entrepreneur Laura Vaughn; my excellent team for CreativeMornings (Lauren Starrett, Emily Carbonell-Ferguson, Erica Brown, Abby Ziolkowski, Adriana Ray, and Terrance Weinzierl); DJ Adrian Butler for his boundless energy (and commitment to playing a little Motown on a very regular basis at our events); my husband, AJ, who constantly pushes my fears of “am I good enough?” with positivity and realism.

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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