In this week’s Gambling Marketing Musing, Lee Davy catches up with partypoker’s latest Twitch recruit, Monika Zukowicz, to talk about her personal branding.
In the past 12-months, partypoker has woken from a long lie-in to contest the leadership of online poker. They have achieved many brilliant things, putting the players at the forefront of their thoughts with millions in guarantees honoured both online and live.
But there was one vital area I felt they were falling short.
The online giant is applying the right focus by creating a Twitch stream team of their own, and this week I caught up with their latest signing Monika Zukowicz to find out how she managed to build a personal brand big enough to catch the eye of the pretender to the throne.
My name is Monika Żukowicz. I am 27 years old. I was born in Poland, but I live in Malta.
Why are you in the poker business?
I always wanted to have my own private business, and I spent years trying to figure out what kind of business I could run after finishing my studies. At the same time, I didn’t realise that I am already running one… by playing poker! Being a professional poker player is like having your own business.
I have to be responsible for my decisions every day. Despite a wonderful Maltese sun, I need to be determined and make sure that the planned work is done first.
Being a poker player makes me feel free and independent. I love the financial freedom and travel opportunities. I am surrounded by interesting, open-minded people, who are continually working on their progress, just like me.
What can you do that nobody else can do in poker?
I can wear red lipstick and still not look like a clown! Which most of the men would… Try that Fedor!
What is your purpose as a personal brand?
A few years ago, when I was still a High school student, I read a book about women who used to believe that marrying a rich man is the solution for all problems in life and the recipe for a wonderful life. I could read in this book how unhappy those ladies were after few years of such a marriage. Despite unhappiness, most of them were not able to get divorced.
Their impressions got stuck in my head, and I promised myself that I would never choose the easy life path! I was young back then, but I decided that no matter what I want to be financially independent so all of my love and life decisions will never be based on money.
How are you making sure you stay true to your purpose?
I hope to inspire other ladies always to stay true to themselves and not to be afraid of making big decisions in life. Financial independence builds confidence and helps to achieve goals we set for ourselves.
At the same time, online poker doesn’t care about the gender, and that’s why it’s an excellent starting point for ladies who might be scared of others opinion at the live tables in the casinos.
How do you make your Twitch viewers feel?
I never know who is hiding behind the Twitch nickname so I am treating everyone equally. I always answer all the questions in the chat. The stream is for viewers and I am here for them. Technically the show wouldn’t exist without the audience!
When I treat my viewers with respect, they respect me as well. When I am trying to understand their point of view, they are trying to understand mine. It’s like the friendship which often is also alive in the stream.
What effect do you think you are having on the future of poker?
Those who are following me on my Social Media might see that patience and persistence are the keys. My start was quite slow because of the time-consuming studies I had, but It was never an excuse.
I was never afraid to make big life decisions – I decided to give up on PhD studies in Canada even though I have worked hard for a long time to be accepted by that University. I was not afraid to change my mind and question my old decisions! I am showing my followers that staying true to yourself is the key to the happiness.
I have never won a WSOP bracelet, but I don’t need that to live a fulfilled life and make my wishes come true.
I am showing people that poker can be for everyone. It’s never too late to change your mind and pursue your dreams.
What happens because you exist?
I am still quite young, so I believe the best is yet to come. I feel like I am still exploring the world. Studies took almost six years of my life, and I didn’t have enough time for anything else. I graduated just 12 months ago… across the previous year I have travelled through 30 countries, so now I feel that I am just starting the real life that might have an impact on the others.
I understand how lucky I was by being born at the right time and place. I am always trying to remember about that and be grateful for being healthy, educated and beloved person. I know that not everybody is as lucky as me, and I don’t focus on the luckier people than me. Nevertheless, I always make sure to use the full potential that I have day by day.
How can you support this vision on a daily basis?
I never complain. I am trying not to waste my time. I am trying not to judge other people as I don’t know what story they have and it helps me to be always kind to others!
What core values are important to you and your brand?
Being grateful. Have faith in the long-term scores and being persistent with good daily habits. At the same time, I have a distance towards myself, and I don’t like to be too serious. This interview is probably the most serious one I ever gave!
What do you do to demonstrate these to your viewers?
I understand that all the mistakes I am making during the streams are necessary to be better and better. I can have distance and forgive myself. I also remember to do a homework afterwards, make the conclusions and try to better next time.
How does poker make you feel?