Will Hedrick ‘18
My name is Will Hedrick. I am the Founder & CEO of Speek and a Junior studying Entrepreneurship and Social Media Marketing at High Point University. I graduated from Woodlawn in 2018 after having spent 11 years there. While 11 years might sound like a lengthy amount of time, it sure did fly by quickly. I am grateful for various things, but Woodlawn’s ability to shape me into who I am today is what I am most thankful for. Woodlawn grew right alongside me for all of those years. In second grade, I was taking my math class in Stinson. When I graduated, I was finishing the 100m dash across our brand new track facility. The growth from both of us seemed so small at the time. When looking back, the evolution is outstanding.
Having been separated from the school for almost three years, it may be difficult to see how it has affected the creation of Speek; however, the impression is larger than I expected. Many months ago, when I knew that I wanted to start my real estate brokerage, there was never a second thought as to whether I could or could not. My view was primarily due to my entrepreneurial past - which started as a senior project at Woodlawn. Capstone is a year-long investigative project based around a question the senior develops. Mine was "What Creates a Successful Entrepreneur?". After a few weeks of research, there was one common theme that stuck out to me, the ability to start. Realizing that starting is what set the successful apart from the rest, I decided to give it a shot. A few months later, I started my first company with my brother, Drew Hedrick (’16). Hedrick Custom Designs was a custom furniture business surrounding the themes of rustic and live edge furniture. We even created a few installments around campus you use today. I used all of the experience from Hedrick Custom Designs to weed out 2.5 years of mistakes. This irreplaceable experience helped me profoundly with the launch and creation of Speek.
When it was time to develop the branding for Speek, I knew that there was one element that I wanted to focus on: the individual. The real estate model is upside down. Brokerages are created for their profit, not the growth of the agents within them. At Speek, we are flipping that upside down, putting the individual in the spotlight. Since we know that our agents are the priority, I wanted a way to remind them of what they should strive to be; and what we are looking for in our agents. My thought sent me on a brainstorming trip to figure out what we are looking for and what makes an individual successful. Speek stands for Sincere, Passionate, Empathetic, Enthusiastic, and Kind. Notice how there was nothing regarding wealth, previous sales records, or any good connections you have. Everything that makes an individual successful is from within. These interpersonal skills are paramount, and until I looked back, I had no idea where this idea developed. From the day you set foot on campus at Woodlawn, you notice the importance of these soft/interpersonal skills. They are taught in classes, mentioned at assemblies, and highlighted in staff and faculty meetings repeatedly. An 11-year long impression was made, and it sure has paid off. These skills are frequently mentioned in the Office of Student Success at High Point University as the most important qualities employers look for. High Point even teaches a college-level course on the importance of life skills taught by the President. Woodlawn not only taught the importance of these from a young age, but they also embodied them through the students, faculty, and staff.
Other than shaping Speek to be focused on the individual, another element that sets the brokerage apart is our teams. Speek has 3 teams: Media, Success, and Solutions. Each team is dedicated to a different avenue of creating success for our agents and their clients. These teams collaborate to develop our agent's businesses exactly how they want them, and we all work in unison as one big team. Not only do our agents and teams work together, as the CEO I have to make sure everything is operating in order and promote a community-based business. Teamwork is of utmost importance. The want to see everyone around you grow can is too. Both of these attributes connect to another large aspect of my life at Woodlawn. Three of my four years in high school, I was in an elective called Outdoor Student Leadership, created by some of my closest friends, Jake Johnson (’17), Quinn Schneider (’17), and Zach Lorch (’17). Not only were they able to get a low ropes course created on school property, but they also partnered with faculty to create an educational program that partnered with it. Spending three years blindfolded, silent, or with any other creative ailment while attempting to complete team-building activities put you directly in the shoes of what it is like to operate a team. Not only was I in the field working on my teamwork and leadership skills, but I was tasked with helping write the curriculum my senior year. Focusing on the ins and outs of what creates a successful leader, communicator, team leader, and so much more developed an irreplaceable impact on my life. I use all of the skills I learned in that class every single day while working.
Woodlawn has actively taught me calculus, English, biology, and history in the classroom, but little did I know that over my 11 years on campus, they were subconsciously shaping me to become a leader with the interpersonal skills to care for others and succeed in life. This irreplaceable education inside and outside of the classroom has shaped me into the person I am today. Without it, Speek would have never come about.
Will Hedrick ('18)