Creative Genius: Becca Colbaugh

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Tulsa native Becca Colbaugh is spicing up the world of infographics and data presentation. The VP of Production for JESS3, Becca now operates out of JESS3's Oklahoma City branch. She loves Oklahoma and believes the Heartland is the heart of creativity in America, find out why:

How long did you live in Tulsa? Where did you go to high school?
I was born and raised in Tulsa and am a proud alumna of Booker T. Washington. My Tulsa roots run deep; here’s just a few fun Tulsa tid-bits:
- I first claimed my fame at a very early age with my TV debut on Uncle Zeb. If you’re a true Tulsan, then you know what I’m talking about here.
- My grandfather’s family owned a grocery store in the early Tulsa days, “Baker’s Market,” located at 11th and Sheridan, right on Route 66 -- which was considered a rural part of town at the time.
- I’m a midtown girl all the way; I honestly start to feel out of my element south of 31st Street.
- Two of my favorite Tulsa restaurants are BBD and Tally’s Cafe -- their cinnamon rolls are a must!
- My life mentor is Tulsa legendary educator, storyteller and and entertainer, the one and only Tyrone Wilkerson. To most Tulsans, perhaps Tyrone is best known for stealing the show year after year as the Ghost of Christmas Present in one of Tulsa’s longest running musicals, “A Christmas Carol.” Sure, Tyrone helped me grow as a thespian myself, and he played an extremely active role in laying the foundation for how I can help tell great stories, but this man truly helped shape the strong individual I am today. As my speech teacher for three years, Tyrone insisted that we recited out loud and together at the beginning of every class what has become my true life motto: “Respect: to hold in high regard; to show honor, courtesy and consideration for. In order to get respect, one must give respect, this starts with self respect.” Tyrone is a man that will forever be remembered.

How do you feel growing up in Tulsa has impacted you as an adult?
You know, as a child and disgruntled teenager, I had a real negative attitude about my Oklahoma roots. I couldn’t have made a more dramatic 180 degree turnaround; I suppose with age comes wisdom. Tulsa is such an artistic and culturally rich community with access to so many educational opportunities, perspectives, ethnicities, religions -- it’s a true melting pot. Tulsa is the type of community I believe is so incredibly healthy for children to grown up in, because it helps give them the best odds to be well-rounded, open-minded adults. I really attribute the most impact Tulsa had on me with the best teachers and mentors at both magnet schools I attended.

When did you move out of Tulsa? Where did you go?
I left Tulsa when I was college-bound to Oklahoma State University. After earning a double major in broadcast journalism and news editorial, I ventured to Washington, DC, to complete a political journalism program at Georgetown University. After my introduction into the real (read: working) world in our nation’s capital, I returned to Tulsa for my wedding in 2008, and made the (reluctant) move to Oklahoma City summer 2009. In total, I’ve had a glorious 20 Tulsa years. I visit there often, as my parents, grandparents and godchildren live there.

How did you get involved with JESS3?
As I recently blogged, my first days with JESS3 were long ago, when I needed a way to earn extra money so I could pay for my wedding. My job as producer for the award-winning national TV show, “The McLaughlin Group,” was fantastic, but when living in DC, working on an entry-level salary and trying to pay for your wedding, you’ve got to get creative! I met our now President and COO Leslie Bradshaw while working at TMG, and she had really started to begun helping Jesse scale JESS3. The most immediate need they had was someone to help organize and just help out wherever needed -- all the way down to organizing the original JESS3 HQ. My official title: Administrative Ninja.

How long have you been with JESS3?
Since 2007; I call myself (somewhat jokingly) Employee No. 3.

What is your role at JESS3?
Vice President of Production & Operations

Tell us a little about what JESS3 is doing? What are they doing in Oklahoma, specifically?
JESS3 is continuing to win the Internet each and every day -- and we’re doing it from all parts of the world, including right here in Oklahoma. Our client roster keeps getting longer, our ideas keep growing, and our team keeps expanding. Our company philosophy is that geography breeds mediocrity. We set up shop here in Oklahoma originally because this is where my recent home base is, and in an effort to scale my role, I’ve been snagging the best production talent within our state’s borders, and here we still are today!

You submitted a panel idea to SXSW about how companies should look to the Heartland for untapped talent, tell us why they should.
There are so many reasons, but here’s the topline:
1. Oklahomans are hard-working and straight-shooters; in the online and marketing world, this means we cut straight through all the social and marketing BS. We stay focused.
2. We are conveniently positioned geographically -- we’re right in the middle of it all.
3. People from the Heartland are only going online more and more; social and geosocial adoption rates are slowly, but surely, picking up.
4. We are a fascinating use case -- big companies are trying to leverage savvy marketing techniques to go after many of the “average” users -- what better place than the Heartland?
5. I believe the Heartland exudes a certain compassion in a way “big cities” don’t. We take the time to listen, to internalize, to empathize. I think all of these qualities translate beautifully into the agency world, where we must be ready to serve our clients, not force down their throats what is the latest and greatest happening in social media is.

What words of encouragement/inspiration would you give creatives living in Oklahoma?
Don’t consider yourself limited just because you’re a creative who doesn’t live on one of the coasts. The possibilities are endless, you literally have a world at your fingertips with the access the cloud provides. Get your work out there, use sites like Behance and Vimeo and really create a brand for yourself. Or, agencies like JESS3 are always looking for great talent in what others mistakenly consider unexpected
places -- so hit us up!

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