Chamber puts ‘Spotlight’ on local social media star

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader | March 22nd, 2018 10:54 pm

WILKES-BARRE — Chris Bohinski may be most famous for asking people what makes them smile.

If you asked the Wilkes-Barre Township resident that very question Thursday evening, he would’ve likely told you it was his fresh tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm.

With a smile, of course.

Bohinski was the keynote speaker at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s Connect Spotlight Series event at the Chamber’s THINK Center off Public Square. Penn State Wilkes-Barre sponsored the session.

The Spotlight Series is held four times a year, bringing in professionals to talk about their area of expertise.

“The whole goal is just to showcase,” Chamber Vice President Lindsay Bezick said. “This is open and free to anyone. We really focus on getting our students here to mix in with our business community to see all the opportunities the area has.”

The theme of Thursday’s spotlight was social media, with more than 80 attendees listening to and taking part in conversations about the importance of social media and networking with Bohinski and other influencers. Three other speakers joined him, including Socialocca owner Ryan Kenton, CoalCreative.com Project Manager Jess Ross and Wilkes University Marketing Vice President for Zebra Communications Aislinn Speranza.

When Bohinski uploaded a video to YouTube six years ago showing him shattering crystal glass with his voice, he didn’t think it would garner as much attention as it did.

Now, Bohinski has over 1 million YouTube subscribers with that video accumulating almost 1.7 million views to date. He is now also the proud founder of NYC Smile 4 Me, a platform he created to simply add a bit more joy and positivity to the world, doing so through a series of celebrity interviews and more.

“Its sole purpose is to promote happiness, positivity and joy by sharing the things that make folks smile,” he said.

However, Bohinski noted that when he first moved to the Big Apple, his life was just the opposite. He said his days were filled with negative energy, and he saw that negativity spread among many within the city on a daily basis.

So Bohinski took the advice of a friend and began a blog, initially sharing about the things that made him smile. In time, NYC Smile 4 Me would shift into a multi-platform initiative and be composed not of what made Bohinski happy, but others as well. He would share these “#SmileStories” through social media.

Now through his YouTube channel and other platforms, Bohinski has traded in shattering glass for quick red-carpet interviews with the likes of Steve Martin and Morgan Freeman. Known as “Boh the Smile Guy,” Bohinski always asks the same, simple question:

What makes you smile?

According to Bohinski, the responses may surprise even the biggest celebrity fans — and sometimes even the celebrities themselves.

“What I find is lot of these people that we think we know because of the persona that they might have on television or in a movie … I’m talking to them about things that often they tell me they’ve never spoken about in interviews ever before.”

Bohinski explained how a single viral video changed the course of his life, and with it his life’s purpose.

Wilkes University senior and THINK Center intern Mariah Curtis said listening to Bohinski and the other speakers served as motivation.

“I just think it’s very empowering as a student,” she said.

Chris Bohinski, a Wilkes-Barre Township resident and founder of NYC Smile 4 Me, speaks Thursday at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s Connect Spotlight Series event at the THINK Center in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL032318Spotlight3.jpgChris Bohinski, a Wilkes-Barre Township resident and founder of NYC Smile 4 Me, speaks Thursday at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s Connect Spotlight Series event at the THINK Center in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Jessica Bienkowski, of FASTSIGNS, left, talks with Wilkes student Julia Jonelunas, 20, at the Chamber’s Connect Spotlight Series event Thursday in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL032318Spotlight2.jpgJessica Bienkowski, of FASTSIGNS, left, talks with Wilkes student Julia Jonelunas, 20, at the Chamber’s Connect Spotlight Series event Thursday in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Caroline Jones, intern for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, center, is engaged in conversation during the Connect Spotlight Series event at the THINK Center on Thursday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL032318Spotlight1.jpgCaroline Jones, intern for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, center, is engaged in conversation during the Connect Spotlight Series event at the THINK Center on Thursday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader


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