Stars to Steer By is our monthly event series focused on helping #bsuenglish students make the best of their degrees after graduation. This month, #bsuenglish alum and owner of The Playground Group Monica Scalf will be presenting “Personal Branding: Uncovering Your Authentic Self” on Wednesday, 10/26 at 6:30 P.M. in Bracken Library 104. Below, Monica shares the career journey that led her to developing The Playground Group.
I studied Secondary Education and English while at Ball State. I also have a Master of Arts in English from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. When I first enrolled as a Freshman at BSU, I thought I wanted to major in telecommunications. After my freshman year, I realized I wanted to teach and study English, so I switched my major. I had always loved reading and writing, and this major was a natural fit for me.
I currently run my own corporate consulting and training business, The Playground Group, LLC. It’s called The Playground Group because we teach engaging and interactive workshops in corporate settings that are fun, but not corny. Employees get to “play” and learn at the same time. We specialize in teaching Team Building, Productivity, Personal Branding, and Personal Effectiveness.
When I first graduated from Ball State, I wanted to teach high school, but it was December, so no schools were hiring mid-year. Instead I got a job in sales at a company of a family friend. I enjoyed it and stayed for several years. After getting married and becoming a mom, I went back to get my Masters so that I could teach at the college level because I still had a desire to teach in the classroom. After teaching as an adjunct at Xavier for several years and doing various freelance writing for outlets like The Cincinnati Enquirer, I realized I wanted to start something of my own.
In 2009 using my teaching background, research skills that I learned in college, and writing skills, I developed a series of stress management workshops and marketed them to businesses in the Cincinnati area. I had always been interested in how to reduce stress and increase productivity, and I enjoyed creating and delivering these initial workshops. Once I started getting traction and gaining more clients, I named the company The Playground Group and expanded our content offerings to include various professional development workshops.
Each year my business has grown. I love my work because I’m constantly reading, writing, researching, and developing new content to teach new courses. These are all skills that I honed while getting my initial degree at Ball State. The ability to take a large amount of information and funnel it down into an essential piece of learning that can help others be more effective is much like writing a research paper. As a student at BSU, I wrote countless papers, and those research and writing skills have helped me throughout my career. I could have never predicted the path my career would take, but in each stage I have used skills that I got to learn and practice in college.
Dr. William Liston and Dr. Rai Peterson in the English Department both influenced me. I went on a trip to the Stratford Festival in Ontario that Dr. Liston organized for students and Muncie community members. It was a memorable experience, and I appreciated Dr. Liston’s love for the festival and how he shared and communicated that to trip participants. Dr. Rai Peterson was influential because of her connection with students. I had never had a professor that connected in such an authentic way with the class. She made me look at literature as a living, breathing thing that had the power to connect emotionally. In my workshops, I try to first connect with participants and then connect emotionally through content that has the possibility to make their lives better and easier. She was a master at connecting to students and connecting students to the work.