Nicole Moll, Box of Balloons Inc.
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Nicole Moll, founder and executive director, Box of Balloons Inc.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Uniqueness. Box of Balloons is a unique nonprofit; there are not any other organizations in Dane County providing our service, which means there are not many examples or “best practices” to follow. I am constantly learning as I lead, educating myself on how other organizations operate, and then figuring out how to make it work for us. Being unique means we do not get many grant or large funding opportunities because we do not fit nicely into parameters or categories. Box of Balloons is doing something different and “out of the box,” which is very challenging when it comes to funding. On the flip side, I love that we are unique and able to provide a free service to the community that was not being offered before. It is incredibly rewarding to know children are being celebrated who otherwise wouldn’t be. Being able to work with hundreds of generous, committed volunteers to provide a day of joy, love, and hope to children in need makes the struggle of uniqueness so worth it.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
There are so many people inspiring me on a daily business when it comes to business. That is a quality I admire most — inspiration. It is one thing to be focused, driven, and successful, but when someone inspires me to learn more, take a risk, and be better, that is when I have the most admiration. Christy Wright, an author, business coach, and creator of the Business Boutique, inspires me to fight for my dreams and take business to the next level. She cheers for women entrepreneurs to chase their vision of business success. Taking a new idea and turning it into a reality is not easy. Running a small business is filled with challenges, but I admire how she encourages entrepreneurs to keep going and take small steps to reach the next goal.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I recently authored a children’s book called Box of Balloons. It is the how and why behind the organization from a child’s perspective. Being new to the writing process and a first-time author, every step of the way was a new learning opportunity. Being accepted by a publisher and seeing my vision come to life in the form of a beautifully illustrated book has been an honor. The biggest high thus far though was reading the book and sharing how I started Box of Balloons with hundreds of elementary students at the school I attended as a child. Children are the next generation of leaders, and being able to share not only my successes but also struggles and learnings was beyond fulfilling.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
To never underestimate the power of one. Over the course of my career, I have seen what one simple idea can evolve into and the difference it has made on the lives of thousands. I have seen the power of one volunteer willing to go the extra step and give generously. The power of one kind act or the power of taking one risk has left me speechless. Also, seeing the power of one connection has been amazing in my career. I have the opportunity to meet new people daily with Box of Balloons — people all over the country — and seeing what one interaction can do for me as a leader or the organization as a whole has been something I could not have anticipated. Never underestimate that one conversation or one meeting or one idea. You just never know what it may evolve in to being.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
There are so many “best” things, but the people by far are my favorite. Dane County is home to the most supportive, encouraging, and helpful people. I get to work with a variety of business leaders, community advocates, volunteers, and families in Dane County, and each of these groups leaves me feeling more and more thankful to call Dane County the home base for Box of Balloons. Dane County is the best for cultivating connections and ideas; whether it’s a workshop at the Dream Bank or a crafting night at Revel, Dane County offers an abundance of opportunities to connect with others.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I am not sure if this is a talent per se, but I have quite the knack for finding hidden or unique activities and experiences. I love traveling and planning trips, which always includes finding roadside attractions or tours that most have never heard of. Last year, we took our kids to St. Louis to do all the “must-see” activities, but everyone’s favorite was the chocolate factory tour I found where we got to go behind the scenes and learn how chocolate candies are created. Or the time I went to Chicago on a business trip and found the tiniest yet delicious cupcakery!
What are your guilty pleasures?
Valentine’s Day! I love this holiday and all things pink, sweet, and lovely. Valentine’s Day is such a favorite of mine that years ago I unofficially changed my birthday (which is in November) to Feb. 14. People who know me from before high school still wish me Happy Birthday in November, but everyone else after that fully believes my birthday is on the sweetest holiday of the year! Even before I started Box of Balloons, I loved birthdays and just wanted to celebrate mine on my favorite holiday, filled with candy hearts and pink roses.
Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.