Lisa Weeks is clad in a black catsuit-style outfit with a high-tech coat-of-arms-style logo on the back hyping her soon-to-be-debuted video-game company, TurboPlay. She's also wearing knee-high platform boots with sound- activated LED meter displays and a pair of LED-lit glasses propped behind the bangs of her silvery wig. She is quite literally glowing.
Though she looks like a character from a sci-fi space opera when we meet, it's a typical Wednesday for Weeks—she's no more or less dressed, wigged, and tech-accessorized than usual. She wears costumes all the time, even in corporate settings. She owns more than 100 wigs.
She's also warm, effervescent, and completely natural in her weirdness—in fact, by leaning into her geekiness, passion for costuming, and love of video games, she's made weirdness into a personal brand. In her 2013 TEDxSeattle talk, "The Economy of Weird," she discussed how her persona has benefited the companies she's worked for: "Because you stand out, you're memorable. And especially if you do it well, if you do it authentically, not like it's some kind of contrived shtick, then it will really make an impression, it will advance the brand awareness, it will resonate with people, and it provides a talking point."
But, she says, if you're putting yourself out to the world like this, "you have to work twice as hard on the back end, and make sure that you show a hell of a lot of substance, because people are not going to take you seriously, they're going to make assumptions about you."
Weeks's first job in Seattle after relocating here from Montana in 1998 was at Nordstrom; she went from sales floor to corporate marketing and product development for the cosmetics division in a year. Five years later, she transitioned to the vendor side of things and worked with clients that included Disney and Xbox. That was in 2004, around the same time she started doing more serious cosplay, crafting elaborate costumes, making her own wigs and weaponry, and experimenting with her day wear.
She went on to help build up the brand at Filter Digital, a gaming recruiting agency and her first big video-game gig, putting them on the map for Seattle and then the West Coast. "Paving the way for making those relationships between game companies and people who need jobs, the developers themselves, was my specialty. I was basically connecting humans to other humans."
She did a brief stint at GeekWire, and she spent a few years as the chief marketing officer at Hashbang Games before becoming CMO of TurboPlay, "a revolutionary new video games marketplace that is by indies, for indies, and offers developers an unprecedented 90 percent revenue and an entire ecosystem of developer tools." She cofounded TurboPlay with CEO Vince McMullin and COO John Nguyen. They'll make their debut at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this month.
She's also organized the Seattle Game Developers Meetup since 2014. The group is for developers, designers, artists, and people from related disciplines to demo, share work, network, and even find work. She has helped it grow from 400 to more than 2,400 members.
And then there's Geekaraoke at Club Contour in downtown Seattle, her ongoing karaoke night with geek themes that change weekly. Geekaraoke celebrated five years in February and has been a surprising success, considering it's an extroverted activity aimed at a segment of the population that's traditionally pretty self-contained. "I've gotten feedback from people who have been coming for all of those five years, that they've actually gotten better at their jobs because they've been able to increase their self-confidence and get up in front of their team or talk in front of a group."
You can find her there on Monday nights, rallying the geeks, keeping the good times going—and more likely than not, dressed to the nines in celebration of whatever theme is happening that night. Pokémon? Mad Max? Chewbacchanalia? You just never know.