Category Archives: Somewhere at the Intersection

Posts that combine business and life lessons as can only be narrated by Katrina VanHuss.

Are Your Clients Riding the New York Subway or The Tube?

Katrina VanHussTo preserve my budget, butt, and the planet, I typically walk or use the subway while traveling around a big city. I’ve come to notice a distinct difference between New York, Chicago, and London subway systems.

I’m not sure where to go when I use the New York subway system. The signage is bad. Everything is loud and there are lots of distractions. Ticketing is kind of confusing. Once I’m finally on the right train, there is nothing to tell me how far along I am or what the next stop will be. I am anxious the entire time I ride.

When I travel the Chicago “L”, I notice lots of signage as I look for the right train. It all seems easy. Ticketing is integrated between trains and subways. Once on my train, I get frequent reminders of where I am and what the next stop will be. I’m at ease.

Like the “L”, the Tube in London is an OK experience, but many of the Tube stations also have great live music. I’ve also noticed most passengers sound like they have a really high IQ. The English sound smart; they just do. I’m at ease and delighted. And I like it when someone who sounds like Adele is saying, “Oh my God, you’re American! Say ‘wall.’ Now say ‘vacation.’ Now say ‘herb.’”

What has all that to do with work? EVERYTHING! When someone becomes a client of Turnkey Promotions, it’s a train ride. They need signage, reassurance, direction. They need to be at ease and delighted.

I have to believe it’s the same with whomever you’re serving. Ask yourself. Are they at ease? Delighted? I’m reviewing my project list today and looking for those who might need a better experience.


Time to Pull Up Those Rituals by the Roots

Katrina VanHussNot too long ago my fiancée and I rescued a dog. The dog had been, as we say in the South, “released from service” which means a hunter thought the dog could no longer hunt so he let him go. There’s a whole ‘nother blog about people like that. But that’s not what we’re talking about today.

We brought the dog back to Richmond, named him Jeff, spent a bunch of money at the emergency vet (holy XXXX!), and finally brought him home. At first Jeff wouldn’t eat dog food or drink fresh water. But, when let into the back yard, Jeff ate enthusiastically from the compost pile and drank from the murky lake.

Around the same time we acquired Jeff, I hired an operations guy for my company. He looks into our patterns of communication and methods of accomplishing our work. Turns out Jeff is not the only one with a few ingrained behaviors that need to be changed. Jeff was eating rotten banana peels; we were using a 60-day timeline “just because.” We (at Turnkey) hadn’t had a fresh eye on us for so long we didn’t even know we were doing some counterproductive stuff because it felt normal and safe.

Am I worried you’ll think, “Why would I trust this company if the CEO compares their behavior to a dog eating a rotten banana?” Yes, I’m a little afraid of that and hopeful you’ll think, instead, “Wow, what refreshing honesty” or “Constantly looking inward… I like that”, or “I love composting!”

Regardless of what you think of composting, one thing is clear to me — doing the safe and “normal” thing over and over is clearly a trait of living things. That makes me wonder, do I have deeply implanted rituals in my life that need to be firmly yanked out by the roots? How about you?

25 Cool Things I’ve Learned About Business

Turnkey Promotions' CEO, Katrina VanHussAccording to certain legal documents I have filed somewhere, Turnkey Promotions was officially “born” in 1989; on October 1 to be exact. That makes this year, 2014, the 25th year I’ve been in business for myself. That’s a lot of years of sweat, sleepless nights, and just plain stress. But, it’s also been a lot of joy, new discoveries, and success.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over the last quarter century, and I’ve decided to make a list. Here are 25 pretty cool things I’ve learned about business. I’ve sprinkled a few life lessons in here too. Enjoy!

25 Cool Things I’ve Learned in the Last 25 Years of Business:

  1. You figure out what you are working so hard to buy, but find you typically already own it.
  2. You care less than you use to about stupid things, like your brand manual.
  3. You care more about things that matter, like keeping your promises.
  4. Most of the jerks move on and never call you again.
  5. The nice people also move on, but they do call you again. 
  6. You’ve been wrong enough times to be used to it.
  7. You’ve been right enough times to continue the pursuit of it.
  8. Sometimes the best product or service will not win the day, no matter what.
  9. You figure out it really is about the relationship.
  10. Office supplies are still intriguing.
  11. You can’t change others.
  12. You can change yourself.
  13. Being childish is ok, even necessary sometimes.
  14. Laughter fixes most stuff.
  15. Some people are mean. They are to be avoided and pitied.
  16. If you can’t avoid the mean people, acknowledge their handicap in your mind.
  17. There are a lot of business rules. Most of them are broken regularly by really smart people.
  18. A few of the business rules really matter. Don’t break these.
  19. If you are in a cool business (like promotional products), inbound mail is fun. 
  20. People who know nothing often “get it” much more quickly than those with mental baggage they call education.
  21. You will probably see people in big roles who you knew when they were just starting out.
  22. Environment is important, especially lighting.
  23. When you are sick, your business doesn’t care. The people who work there do.
  24. Friends happen everywhere, in all contexts.
  25. You should, in fact, lock the doors at night.