As 2018 continues, so does the Future of Business Series; each panel just as good as the last in its own unique way. From female founders to farming, we’ve had the privilege of hosting innovative, successful business owners that gladly share their knowledge with the community and take time to answer their questions. Wednesday, June 13th, we brought in Ryan Munsey, Jess Horton, Zack Miller, and Jarrell Williams for our latest panel, “Content as a Product: The Rise of Digital Influencers.”

This panel discussion showed how four online pioneers got their voice through the internet and learned how to use it in an effective way. As attendees trickled into our intimate multi-purpose room, the panelists sat in their chairs waiting for the event to start. At 1701 we are ardent supporters of the idea that professionality and hospitality are not mutually exclusive, which is why we were happy to see a conversation between attendees and panelists blossoming before the panel even started.

It’s not surprising that in a room full of business owners and entrepreneurs the conversation shifted to business. Zack Miller jumped in to answer a question and give someone advice, which was accompanied by directive hand gestures and a passionate tone of voice. “Ok, so is this the panel?? We might as well go ahead and start!” Jarrell laughed. The attendees laughed along; any ice that needed to be broken had all but dissolved.

One of the attendees that night was a Spaniard journalist named Sylvia. She had recently moved to the United States and married her boyfriend, so after settling down from those two drastic changes she finally decided to step out and get connected to the community. As a freelancer in Spain, she covered digital culture and social change. Now that she is in the United States, she is trying to decide what she’ll write on now that she’s writing for herself!

“When I saw this talk about content and digital image, I thought it would be nice,” Sylvia said, “I found out about 1701 by researching coworking in Virginia Beach; I live in this area. I used to work at a coworking space back in Spain, so I know these places are a very good way to have a community.”

Because of their different backgrounds, experiences, and mediums of choice, each panelist shared wisdom from a different perspective, giving the audience a holistic experience. They all agreed that someone shouldn’t speak about what they don’t know, and if you want to get advice, get it from someone who has gone through what you’re going through.

Yet, their perspectives also allowed them to give a unique piece of wisdom that came from their own particular business ventures:

Ryan Munsey, podcaster of Better Human project and author of F*ck Your Feelings, wrote his book because he was practicing a speech he was going to give in Switzerland at a 1701 event, and the right person happened to be in the audience. He had no idea he was going to write a book, but he did and in the process he learned to be nice to everyone because you don’t know who you’re talking to.

Jess Horton is the owner of The Fit Petite and reminded us that the reason you do something is just as important as doing it. After being offered a lot of money to blog about certain products she didn’t necessarily believe in or support, she realized that sticking to personal values will not only keep a business from being a fragmented brand, it will build the type of following that you want.

Zack Miller, the author of Anomaly and founder of Hatch, instructed several times throughout the night to play the long game. Zack knew Jess Horton from before this panel because he helped build her business, and in context of Jess refusing product marketing, he stated, “Content is a very long game. Getting cash from that offer is a very short game.” Later in the night, Jess recounted the story of another blogger who was plagiarizing her content. Zack once again spoke up and said to play the long game because her followers will point out the misdeed and defend her brand.

Jarrell Williams founded Nomarama, a grassroots organization centered around food and support for the local community, and gave some insight about branding. He emphasized that you are your brand. Whether you are looking to refine your business’ direction or are struggling with the balance of your personal and business social media accounts, you are an individual with unique interests, skills, and life choices. Honing in on these features will help you choose a direction that will keep you passionate and give your social media accounts a flair that will keep your following interested.

Keep up with these content cultivators to keep your business, social, and personal life at its peak! Look out for the next 1701 event on our monthly calendar!

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