Patterson returns to share stories of success



Kaite Patterson is the CEO and founder of Happy Medium and Happy Boards. Patterson is also an alumna of Northern Iowa

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor | b[email protected]

“The back of my phone should say, ‘I’m not rude, I’m tweeting,’” Katie Patterson said at the opening of her lecture, “Finding My Happy Medium.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 1 Patterson – a UNI alumna and founder and CEO of Happy Medium and Happy Boards, visited Curris Business building to share her experiences in business and leave students with advice for the coming years.

The event was hosted by the UNI Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in collaboration with the American Marketing Association (AMA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and the Digital Collective.

“We wanted to collaborate with three other student organizations to cross the bridge between the communications studies department, as well as the school of business administration and basically bring both schools together,” said vice president of programming for PRSSA, Trevor Rayhons.

Patterson shared her enthusiasm of being back at UNI, but she was not a fan of the room in which her presentation was being held.

“[In] this room I started as a business major at UNI, and this is the room I failed out of microeconomics,” said Patterson whose company has earned a revenue of $3.8 million last fall according to Business Record. “I turned out okay, so it’s fine.”

Patterson spoke for around 50 minutes on the five things she wished she knew while she was in college and before she started her business. She shared anecdotes about the early years before starting her company and the issues she had to overcome making Happy Medium into what it is today.

By the help of gifs on her PowerPoint presentation, and statements such as “I was the best damn phone answer that agency had ever seen,” Patterson kept an audience of over 70 students fully engaged.

“I thought it was very informative. Very inspirational too, especially as someone who has entrepreneurial aspirations,” said electronic media production and leadership major, Devin Harschnek.

Throughout the talk, the hashtag of the night was #MyHappyMedium, which put students in the running to win prizes.

Patterson encouraged students to use social media during her presentation, and even took a selfie with the audience at the end of her presentation. In a July 14 publication on the Iowa Biz site, Patterson wrote about Snapchat being the next biggest frontier for brands.

“We [Happy Medium] always have to be on to that next thing and […] how to win at that next big thing,” Patterson told the Northern Iowan.

“It was very inspiring to hear another female entrepreneur speak,” said senior interactive digital studies major, Katelyn Kozak.

Patterson shared an inspiring story about one of her earliest blunders with her fledgling company. She was in her first three to four months and running the social media for a car company called Ramsey Auto. The Des Moines Register gave her an opportunity to auction off tickets to the Iowa vs. Iowa State game using the Ramsey Auto Facebook account, but she misread an email, leading her to auction off more tickets than she had.

“I was bawling and called my friend and I was like ‘That’s it, the company’s shutting down. I just can’t,’” recounted Patterson. “I don’t have the several thousand dollars to replace these tickets.” But her friend encouraged her to not completely give up.

“And so, I took a deep breath, and I took a shot of vodka,” said Patterson receiving audience laughter. “And then I took another shot of vodka and then I called the Register.” Much to her surprise, they managed to attain the needed amount of tickets, and her company survived.

“Keep pushing even when you just feel like you can’t anymore,” said Patterson. “You just have to get up and you have to keep going.”

“I think the thing that stuck out to me the most […] was that piece of artwork where it said ‘Dream Bigger,’” said Harshnek. “Like she said originally it was supposed to say ‘Dream Big’ and that’s what everybody says […] It was pretty cool how she approached it ‘Dream Bigger,’ one step beyond.”

After her lecture, Patterson answered questions students had about working in the professional business world, stressing the importance of sending hand written notes after interviews and telling the business what they can offer them.