Colorful Cast of Characters, The 2016 40 Under 40 show their true colors

In Business Madison

If the adult coloring craze is any indication, chromotherapy is back in vogue among people of all ages, especially the young adults who are moored to technology and seeking simple ways to unplug. As we present our annual 40 Under 40 class, we provide information about their professional and civic contributions and their favorite colors because the latter might say more about them than any other quality.

The fascination with adult coloring is no surprise to Mark Schmitz, principal and creative director of Zebradog Dynamic Environment Design, a Madison-based facility brand integration firm. Schmitz believes it’s a natural result of the daily media bombardment we face. “We’ve been so inundated with media and with our handheld stuff and our computers and everything else that we’re craving baby powder and coloring books,” he says.

Experts believe our favorite colors say a great deal about us — from the action-orientation of red, to the need for socialization associated with orange, to the analytical coolness of blue, to the need for logic and order linked with yellow, to the yearning for security connected with green. Similarly, if your true colors are purple or violet, you’re quest for perfection never ends, while lovers of black crave power and control over their lives, and middle-of-the-road gray devotees are more likely to be the cool and composed types. Meanwhile, gold diggers aren’t shy about displaying their charisma, and anyone wearing white is said to long for simplicity.

In truth, there are as many color theories as there are personalities, and our 40 Under 40 showcases a bit of their childlike whimsy through their own coloring efforts, displayed alongside their profiles on the following pages.

Read on as we explore how Madison’s most promising young professionals color their world and the lives of people around them.


Jason Ilstrup
General Manager

Age: 39

For Jason Ilstrup, hospitality is about more than managing a hotel, it’s about community outreach. When he first joined HotelRED, he learned the surrounding neighborhood was opposed to the development. He also knew that Madison appreciates small businesses, which the boutique hotel happens to be, and his service in the Peace Corps probably helped as he proceeded through the lens of a small business owner — hiring local people, holding regular neighborhood events, and eventually winning people over.

Ilstrup is also helping to spread the word about Madison as a destination. In concert with the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, he created and founded Madison Hotel Week, an annual 10-day travel promotion for local lodging. His effort was recognized with the 2015 Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association Innkeeper of the Year award.

Favorite color: Blue. “I’ve always found it very soothing. It calms me down and keeps everything on an even keel.”