Kelsey Wong is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of CO-OPhx and the Director of Operations at CO+HOOTS coworking. She is most passionate about personal development, social change and creating meaningful experiences that bring communities together.
Kelsey’s Most Passionate Curiosity: “How to empower others to be their best selves and connect them to a community that embraces them completely.”
Defining my unique curiosity and purpose through Ignite, was not an easy task; it took a great deal of digging to uncover what “ignites my fire”. At the time, I had just returned from a life-changing travel adventure abroad and was working in Phoenix part time for a non-profit organization. Though the organization was led by an incredibly inspiring woman and worthy mission, it was not directly tied to my personal curiosity. Without such, my work lacked the passion and enthusiasm I knew was inside of me.
Things happen for a reason and it was through that organization that I serendipitously met Tom McDermott, Founder of Ignite. When I learned what Tom was starting, I was so curious and eager to go through the process. Tom took me through a more informal process; I went through some online tests and then we discussed my life experiences. He would ask “What were you always good at as a child? What did you find yourself wondering about that no one else did? What kind of environment do you thrive in? What kind of advice do most friends seek your input on?”
This left me with more questions than answers. I started to wonder, is there something that I am best at? What clues from my childhood were lost? What the heck was I truly passionate about?
Finally Tom asked, “What question would you walk to the ends of the earth, for the rest of your life, to answer?” It clicked.
“Why are we so disconnected and disempowered?”
Followed by a slew of other thoughts like: “Why are we driven by fear instead of love? Why don’t we believe in ourselves? Why are we told to dream and then constantly shut down for having dreams that are “unrealistic”? Why aren’t we provided any guidance in understanding who we are in school?” This left my heart pounding and me almost out of breath. We had struck gold. Next step was finding where did these feelings come from.
Growing up, my family never discussed topics like religion, politics, spirituality, government, world news, finances, college, travel or dreams. I imagine we had something to share at the dinner table, but it wasn’t anything memorable. If curiosity were a dog, my parents, though loving and well-intentioned, never took my dog out for a walk to let it explore. I didn’t realize how limited and naive about the world I was until I started my own journey of self-actualization. Since then I’ve realized that my parents were doing the very best they could at the time. We were close but they didn’t follow a spiritual practice. I was never told “I believe in you” but they always supported me.
“After a deeper understanding of myself through Ignite, my world opened and the community, connection and empowered self I was truly seeking were there.”
Ignite didn’t just help me find my curiosity, I found my natural talent as a “Project Leader”. My natural strengths: Empathy, Activator, Input, Intellectual and Positivity. And the best environment for me is one that changes frequently, is flexible and allows me to constantly meet a diverse group of people.
Introduce, my current position as Director of Operations and Community for CO+HOOTS coworking, a hub for entrepreneurs, creatives and small businesses to connect and collaborate. When the founder, Jenny and I met we spent two hours talking about our vision for making Phoenix the connected place it could be and how important it is for aspiring entrepreneurs to be a part of a community that empowered and inspired. It’s now been 11 months that I’ve worked for CO+HOOTS.
Here, I’ve taken the lead in growing the space from 25 coworkers to over 100. We’ve moved locations twice and I’ve worked on countless events and projects to help the space grow. CO+HOOTS is now recognized nationwide for its outsized impact in downtown Phoenix and the metropolitan region. And best of all, I love going to work every day to connect people and create community.
When I’m not running around CO+HOOTS, I am pouring myself into CO-OPhx where I exercise my natural talent as the Creative Director. At CO-OPhx we plan fashion, art and food events in Phoenix. We have hosted 5 events, brought together 550 attendees and donated over 2000 lbs of items to local charities.
“Needless to say, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
Friends and colleagues regularly ask me how I found a position that is so perfect for me. I tell them without a doubt, that the Ignite process was the map that led me here. You couldn’t have asked for more personalized insight into yourself unless you were some crazy psychic guru or the big guy in the sky. But truly, if life were a puzzle, Ignite helps you find your four corner pieces. It takes people ages, sometimes even an entire lifetime to figure this stuff out and in our world, that’s just not fast enough.
“So do yourself a favor and spend some time and energy dedicated to getting to know yourself through Ignite. It will help you reach your happy place way faster than a happy meal or a shot of tequila ever will. You are the most important person in your life and your relationship with yourself must be nurtured.”
Beyond that, when you are actively doing the purposeful work you were meant to do, you will find the perfect community of people who will embrace you and empower you to grow to your fullest potential.
I would wish you all the best but I don’t believe in wishes. I am certain you will take the steps to living the life of joy you deserve as soon as you’re ready (like now).