As SkillPop’s Haley Bohon warns, don’t follow ‘invisible rules’


“Everyone’s story is different but there was no giant moment of launching a company for me; it wasn’t one big leap. Rather, there were many small moments of research, cold emails, and pitching my idea to strangers over coffee. Many, many small moments of holding tight to the vision and just taking the next step.” – Haley Bohon, Founder of SkillPop

Charlotte is one of those cities. It’s a place where ideas and companies are born and move outward. And, one of the most vibrant examples of that is SkillPop, a company that provides a community-driven way for people to access in-person classes on a variety of subjects – an alternative to the standard model of vocational and avocational arts and educational classes.

On Friday, Oct. 6, Haley Bohon, the founder of SkillPop, spoke to a sold-out room of Charlotteans at the monthly meeting of CreativeMornings at Warehouse 242.

Rapidly expanding into other cities like Raleigh, Greenville, SC, and, most recently, Nashville, Tenn., SkillPop is considered a success both inside and out of Charlotte. But, its creator is quick to note, the 2-year-old company still has a long climb ahead. They’re still pioneering a new way of organizing education. And, that doesn’t come with a road map.

“Pioneering is about starting,” says Bohon. “Sometimes that means breaking the rules, going against the grain, and doing something differently than people have done it before. Sometimes pioneering just means knowing what the next step is — not the next 100 steps or 10 steps or even five steps — just the next step — and taking it.”

That is precisely what Bohon did when she quit a successful and promising job as a product engineer to follow her passion and set SkillPop in motion. While this move may have seemed counter-intuitive to some (including Bohon) at the time, in retrospect, it was exactly what she needed to do. The only thing truly holding her back was the spectrum of unspoken, invisible rules called “conventional wisdom.”

“When I looked ahead, the career path I was on was safe and logical,” she said. “But it was not right for me. Despite hearing whispers of ‘you should stay here three years, minimum!’ in my chest, I turned in my notice with shaky hands, shifted directions entirely and went off the path. I broke the rules that I thought were there. When I broke the rules, life opened up in a huge new way.”

To experience Haley’s entire talk and a post-event discussion, please use the links below.

(1) CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO of the morning’s event courtesy of Charlotte Star Room.

(2) CLICK BELOW to hear the Charlotte Is Creative podcast, featuring complete audio of a post-event conversation between Haley Bohon, Matt Olin and Tim Miner:

More Creativity Coming Next Month: A 20-Minute Talk from Johnson & Wales Professor Mark Peres.

The next meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte will feature live music, local coffee and food, Queen City Quiz Show and a 20-minute talk from Johnson & Wales University professor of leadership, Mark Peres. All this will take place starting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, November 3 at Warehouse 242. More information is available HERE.

Tickets for this event will be free and can be claimed online at 9 a.m. sharp on Monday, Oct. 30 at Mark your calendar and set your alarm. Tickets always go quickly!

Photos: Monique Floyd Photography


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