Alumna uses communication skills to tackle new career challenges

From a screen-printing business to magazines to real estate, Halle's path has taken her far and wide


October 29, 2018

Originally, alumna Nikki Halle’s plan was to stay close to home and attend Michigan State with all of her friends. But then her father sat her down and offered a proposition: Go anywhere else in the country and he would pay for it. In other words: Go spread your wings.

“I had never been to Arizona, but I was very intrigued with the desert from photographs — this was before the internet. I went down to our college adviser’s office at my high school and they didn’t have anything on Arizona, so I called and got brochures on ASU and U of A, applied to both and got accepted to both. I chose ASU because of the business college and it just seemed like a better match for me, being close to a metropolitan city.” Nikki Halle Today, ASU alumna Nikki Halle works with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s as a Realtor and as a federal political coordinator with the National Association of Realtors. In that capacity, she works in Washington, D.C., twice a year to present legislation about issues facing homeowners including property rights, taxes and flood insurance. Download Full Image

Halle, who graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a degree in communication in 1988, studied abroad during her time at the college and stumbled upon an idea that would soon set her future career path in motion.

"I was studying abroad my junior year, and I met some girls from another university who were telling me how they designed T-shirts for a rival college, sold them and were so successful,” she said. “When I got back to campus the next semester I noticed that everybody on campus had custom T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts for their club, team, sorority, fraternity. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s opportunity everywhere here.’”

Soon, Big Man On Campus (BMOC), Halle’s screen-printing business, was founded.

After graduation, Halle rented space off Campus Avenue and employed students to help the growing business. She created a catalog and 1-800 number and expanded her influence to universities, clubs and teams across the country, recruiting student salespeople in the process.

As BMOC evolved from Tempe to Tucson and beyond, so did Halle’s opportunities. She bought a newspaper called the Greek Review. And she began collaborating with a tour operator, helping to sell and manage student travel tours.

By this point in life, Halle was 26, nearing 27. She was running stores in Phoenix and Tucson, while managing a network of student salespeople across the country. But she was ready for the next level in life, so she sold BMOC and bought her first piece of real estate. Then she sold both the ASU and U of A Greek Review newspapers and created a travel company called Planet Tours, followed by the creation of Planet Magazine.

Halle said these ventures allowed her to see the world, but it wasn’t very lucrative. So she sold the tour and magazine operations and sought a job opportunity that would allow her to meet key players in the Valley.

From her time volunteering in and after college with various organizations and causes, she had made connections and was offered a position at the American Heart Association. After a year at the association, she was offered a job as director of marketing by one of the largest developers in northwest Tucson and relocated. From there, Halle transitioned further into the world of real estate, both as a real estate agent and then as a Windermere franchise owner.

Today, Halle works with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s as a Realtor and as a federal political coordinator with the National Association of Realtors. In that capacity, she works in Washington, D.C., twice a year to present legislation about issues facing homeowners including property rights, taxes and flood insurance.

Halle didn’t anticipate this is where her path would lead when she made the decision to abandon her plans with Michigan State and said that she’s fortunate and appreciative of all the opportunities.

“[I appreciate] my whole ASU experience, all the doors it opened and what a wonderland it was and continues to be for me,” she said. "[A communication degree] turned out to be a blessing because of all the things I learned from public speaking, nonverbal communication, journalism — it all tied into my career path as an entrepreneur and salesperson.”

Halle’s advice to current and future ASU students is the same as she told her 20-year-old daughter: “Follow your passion. You will be happy if you’re passionate about what you do. If you don’t know what it is, just look at every door as an opportunity.”

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

480-965-8986

Alum seeks to impact local community, support alma mater

Lawrence honed his natural entrepreneurship at ASU and applies what he learned in history program to his work in real estate today


October 29, 2018

For many students, deciding where to attend school and what to study can take serious deliberation.

For Charles "Spike" Lawrence, who graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in history, both decisions came easy; he never questioned attending ASU. Spike Lawrence ASU alumnus Charles "Spike" Lawrence is the co-founder of Lawrence & Geyser Development, a real estate development firm, as well as the founder of Spike Lawrence Ventures, which includes partnerships of several restaurants, country clubs and a golf resort. Download Full Image

“I was born a Sun Devil — my mom and dad both went to Arizona State University,” Lawrence said. “I’m a lifelong Sun Devil.”

Today, Lawrence is an entrepreneur and businessman. He is the co-founder of Lawrence & Geyser Development, a real estate development firm, as well as the founder of Spike Lawrence Ventures, which includes partnerships of several restaurants, country clubs and a golf resort.

Lawrence said he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, having grown up watching his father conduct insurance and agriculture business and starting his first business in high school. When he arrived at ASU, his entrepreneurial spirit continued, this time in the form of the Devil’s Tale newspaper he created and distributed to 15,000 football season-ticket holders.

“I’m a fanatic for ASU sports, so it was really a work of pleasure for me covering all of these great student-athletes and coaches,” he said. Lawrence sold newspaper ad space to local business leaders, which he said allowed him to build business connections while in school, connections that remained well past his time on campus.

“I sold the newspaper upon graduation and transitioned into the real estate development business. I started a company called Lawrence & Geyser Development and my first early investors were those that advertised with me in the newspaper,” he said.  

Lawrence learned hands-on business skills during his time at the university but chose a degree in history because it’s a subject he’s fascinated by.

“I knew I was going to be in business but wanted to study something I thoroughly enjoyed so I would look forward to going to class every day,” he said.

While he may have pursued history because of his interest in the subject, the knowledge gained in the program’s curriculum has influenced his work in real estate today.

“Studying Western civilization and the westward movement in America from the East to the West is an interest of mine. What I’m doing ties directly into that because we’re shaping neighborhoods, we’re shaping communities, we’re creating life experiences for people with buildings, offices, retail space, restaurants and the golf course. We’re part of the fabric of our local community,” he said.

Lawrence advises current and future students to study and understand history, no matter what field they’re pursuing.

“I encourage everyone to study their history and know it so that way we can be better stewards of our future.”

Being a steward for the future is important to Lawrence, which is why he has stayed involved with the university through support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Chapter Board, the President’s Club, the Sun Devil Club board, ASU’s Masters of Real Estate Development program and the Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Crow, we’ve done amazing things at Arizona State University; my family and I support him wholeheartedly. My advice [to alumni] would be get involved. There’s so much to get involved with on campus."

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

480-965-8986