Like many good stories, the tale of Switch begins with a hot cup of coffee at a local cafe. A mutual colleague and friend of Kathy Wilcox and Joe Watson had suggested the two meet, saying, “I don’t know what will come of it, but you are both doing interesting things.” Many cups and several hours later, there was a sense that collaboration was inevitable. Though nothing would formally result for another year or two, the seeds were planted.
Over many ensuing conversations, more coffee, much testing, learning, and pandemic pivots, Switch began to take shape. It started with a shared passion for helping people and organizations become the best versions of themselves. An unwavering belief in the power and necessity of hope. The recognition of the intrinsic human need for connection and the corresponding craving for meaningful experiences. The ability to listen and understand and authentically connect. A never-ending supply of ideas. A rich and diverse pool of knowledge and experience to draw inspiration from. A fundamental desire for impact and a strong bias toward action.
By combining these ingredients with their respective expertise in design thinking and organizational development, Joe and Kathy collectively continue to grow Switch. They remain passionately committed to helping leaders, teams and organizations solve problems, innovate, and build the culture required to do so effectively.
Joe ventured out into the world with the plan of becoming either a U.S. Supreme Court justice or a Disney animator. He ended up with a BFA in graphic design from Ohio University and never quite made it to law school. He did, however, keep his curiosity and passion for understanding challenges at their fundamental root level, and for solving those challenges in beautiful and inspiring ways.
Joe has applied his passion for learning and connecting all of life’s dots in a myriad of ways. He founded and ran a successful brand agency for 20 years. He taught senior level design courses and MBA courses at the collegiate level. Joe is the former President and advisory board member of the Cleveland chapter of AIGA: the professional association for design. He has spoken at numerous conferences and events on design thinking, creativity, and innovation best practices. In every interaction, Joe seeks to create safety and trust, to engage all participants in meaningful dialogue, and to collaboratively inspire the innovative and creative solutions that are already bubbling under the surface.
What constitutes fun for Joe in his free time often involves creating and learning. A lifelong musician, he has written and produced music personally and professionally, including for nationally syndicated television commercials. You can also find the music podcast he hosts with Toby Brazwell, Riffs on Riffs, on all platforms. Joe is a yondan (4th degree black belt) and internationally certified instructor in Isshin Ryu karate. He’s trying to learn Italian. He enjoys designing and building things, often out of wood, but sometimes with electronics and other materials. He writes, though not as frequently as he likes, and also wishes he took more time for drawing and painting. He is the proud father of the most amazing daughter ever. His happy place is a trail in the metroparks.
Kathy has always been an independent thinker dedicated to making life better for the humans living it. Setting aside her childhood dream of becoming a truck driver, Kathy pursued an undergraduate degree in psychology, then applied her insatiable appetite for learning to consumer research and insights. After spending some time in the advertising agency world, she was compelled to figure out a way to make work a better place for people. Kathy received her Master’s in Organizational Development from Case Western Reserve University, and has spent the last 15+ years applying best practices around communication, psychological safety, physical environment, and work/life balance to organizations of all sizes. Kathy is a compelling speaker who has presented on numerous topics related to workplace culture. She is never the loudest voice in the room, but she is often the wisest.
While Kathy has still never hauled cross-country in a big rig, she does maneuver a large RV on the open road in her free time. She is always reading and writing — usually 12 different things at once. She has three boys, two dogs, and α flock of chickens that keep her both constantly amused and very busy.