I'm a cross between a journalist, evolutionary psychology researcher, ed-tech entrepreneur, and media designer. Mostly because I couldn't make up my mind which one I wanted to be when I grew up.
A longer, more official-sounding version of my bio, suitable for cutting and pasting--along with media downloads--is below.
The Early Years
Vicki Kunkel always had a passion for writing and research. In grade school she started entering--and winning--public speaking contests on topics such as environmental conservation and soil erosion. She also won several poetry-writing contests. In high school, she continued her public speaking competitions--this time focusing on modern-day interpretations and applications of the U.S Bill of Rights. (Yeah, that didn't exactly make her the most popular kid in school, and was fodder for the butt of many jokes.) She used the scholarship winnings from those contests to pay for the first three years of her college education.
Career: It All Started in Broadcast Journalism
Vicki Kunkel started her career as a TV news anchor and reporter. After a half dozen years in the business, she had the itch to try her hand in a more creative position and landed myriad jobs in marketing, including Director of Marketing for a behavioral health hospital.
The Spark That Ignited An Interest in Mass Appeal and Evolutionary Psychology
But she felt unfulfilled in marketing and wanted to do something that had a direct impact on people. She accepted a position as Senior Outplacement Counselor at a Chicago-based outplacement agency, where she traveled around the country and internationally coaching downsized C-suite executives on personal branding strategies and job-hunting techniques.
It was while working at the outplacement agency Vicki began testing some of her own job-hunting strategies based on her independent research--and techniques she had used to successfully land jobs in the highly-competitive broadcast and marketing industries. Soon after implementing her own techniques in her client coaching, she skyrocketed to the #1 outplacement counselor--landing more high-paying jobs for execs than any other counselor in the company with a 98% job placement rate in two months or less.
Scratching the Entrepreneurial Itch
Although Vicki loved this job, she grew weary of the constant (90%!) travel, and decided to branch out on her own. She started her own executive presentation and branding company, where she prepped C-suite executives for media appearances, coached national politicians in tight races on debate tactics, and counseled lawyers in high-stakes court cases on persuasion
and mass appeal techniques. These were the real-life labs where she road-tested and continued to tweak her research on evolutionary psychology and behavioral economics.
It was from these experiences that her book was written and later published by HarperCollins.
The Move to Ed-Tech
Never one to become complacent or rest on her laurels, Vicki next took her research and applied it to the world of immersive learning through gamification, apps, and virtual reality. Among the programs she created was an interactive performance management software app that she sold to a multi-billion-dollar HR consulting company. That company is still using her software program today--more than a decade after buying her company and software.
Vicki later created interactive virtual reality movies to train Federal Air Marshalls in managing various types of crises, as well as learning apps and other gamification programs. One of her apps took first place in an industry-wide learning app development competition. (Vicki's app beat out one created by Google developers in the competition! Her Instant Appeal strategies had now been proven to work for mobile learning apps!) A gamification portal that she designed and developed from the ground up using her evolutionary psychology techniques also won first place in a competition sponsored by Training Magazine.
Coming Full Circle
It's funny how sometimes you end up back where you started. After more than 15 years in the ed-tech space, Vicki once again longed for something that gave her meaning--and also incorporated her myriad creative talents. After much soul-searching, she realized that the job in which she felt most fulfilled was that gig as career outplacement counselor, and the career where she felt most creative was ed-tech. Hence, she now provides career training for mid-level professional job seekers through immersive, multi-media training programs. She continues her love of writing through her Substack newsletter and, of course, her books. (She now writes cozy mystery fiction under two pen names. But that's another story for another website.)
Book and Author Images
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