Lisa Jennings is the Chief Experience Officer for Wildly Different, which specializes in unique, play-based events. She has a B.S. degree in Leisure Services & Studies (a fancy name for Recreation) from Florida State University. From there, Lisa gained well-rounded experience from a variety of positions over the course of 30 years.
She has worked in resort, community, health club and senior recreation. In the hospitality industry she has worked for a team building company and event-marketing agency. She eventually opened Wildly Different in 2003 with her business partner and best friend, Jane Lipps.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I’ve wanted to have my own business for as long as I can remember. The “push” that finally got me to step out on my own, however, was frustration over things not changing despite giving feedback to my boss and knowing that I could create something better for myself and my clients. I didn’t want to look back one day and say, “I wish I would have done it!”
Tell us about your business.
Wildly Different creates and implements team building events, charitable activities, networking mixers and trade show gamification for corporate groups. We also consult with organizations such as cruise ships, hotels and theme parks who have the ability to run events for their guests with an in-house team, but who look to Wildly Different for fresh, new programming.
We’ve won several awards from the Resort & Commercial Recreation Association for Vendor of the Year, the Debbie Regnone Service Award and the Carrot Award for dedication and success.
Where is your business based?
Our main office is in Orlando, Florida, and we opened another office in Scottsdale, Arizona last year.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I did a lot of networking at professional organizations at first to get the word out about my business. When I made a connection at one of these, I’d then ask to make a presentation to their team.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The biggest contributor to our success was hiring a company that was really good at website optimization to get the word out to those out-of-town clients I couldn’t interact with personally. They were great at getting us in front of anyone who was searching for our type of service.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Finding the time to do all of the things that we want to do to propel the company forward.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Well, the more successful you are, the more your time is taken up handling the day-to-day, so it’s a constant struggle. But, we’re trying to do quick weekly meetings to keep our eyes on our end goals. You get what you focus on!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
It’s not hard to stay motivated when you love what you do! I’ve also surrounded myself with an amazing team that feels more like family than employees. We all want each other to succeed and we push ourselves accordingly!
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We are a boutique agency. What that means to us is that we do have “classic” events that our competitors may have, but the reason we’re called Wildly Different is that we love to customize and create the perfect event to achieve our client’s goals.
We’re not just “cookie cutter!”
It also means you always work with one of us from the main office, no matter where your event is. We don’t push you off onto a local provider and hope they’ll treat you like we would. Our clients become like old friends – we get to know them inside and out, so we know what they like, don’t like, understand their objectives, etc.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
To take one day a week where you don’t do anything business related – take a phone call, check email, work on a project. You think you’re being more effective working all the time, but you’re actually not. When you take time to recharge, you get more done when you do go back to work and feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Go after your dreams.
- Do one thing a day that moves you towards your goal.
- Tell everyone what it is you want to do.
When you share with others what you’re going after, it starts to snowball and great things start to happen!
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Despite what I said about taking time for yourself, the tools I appreciate the most are those that allow you to work from wherever you want, whenever you want – the cloud, a phone system that directs calls to your cell, email. It’s great to be able to work from a beach, catch up during a down time in an event, etc. if you want to!
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Jack Canfield’s “Success Principles” – SO many great lessons in that book!
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Writing blogs! I know how important it is to have fresh content on our website, but finding time to write them can be challenging.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
To do more consulting with cruise lines, theme parks and hotels. We’ve created some amazing Escape Room types of programs that work in one room without transforming the room with props that literally hundreds of people can do at a time. The ones we’ve created are getting awesome reviews and word is spreading!
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Hashtags #wildlydifferent #playoutsidethecubicle