If there’s one thing we’re more proud of than our clients and their projects, it’s our employees. The list of individuals who started or expanded their careers at Tactive is a long one, so we thought we’d catch up with a few of our “alumni”. In this edition of our Alumni Spotlight series, we check- in with Robin Lanning, who has been an employee, a customer, and currently runs the marketing efforts for Tactive.
When did you work for Tactive?
I started in August of 2008 and left almost exactly 7 years later in August of 2013. Fun story – during my interview I learned that I marched with the same Drum & Bugle Corps that Kurt’s son was currently marching in (Phantom Regiment). They won the championships that year. I guess it was a good sign!
What was/were your role(s) at Tactive?
I was hired to run the Promotional Product department. As time went on, I learned a lot about graphic design and printing and ended up serving primarily in a sales and account management position for most of my 7 years there. I was also the unofficial social director and party planner. And did a lot of the marketing. And sometimes I assembled packages or handled shipping or stuffing envelopes. It was a smaller company when I first started, and we had to wear a lot of hats!
What are you doing now?
I started my own marketing consulting company called Floof. (I named the company after my husband’s nickname for the hairs that stick up on my head every morning. I thought it was a good metaphor for going after your dreams, even if you have a bad hair day.) I help startups, solo-preneurs, nonprofits and small businesses who hate doing marketing or don’t know where to start. I help them get it done.
I’m also starting an “adulting school” called Grown Up YOUniversity. It’s pretty well-known that young people today are one of the most educated generations in history, but some parts of life – communication, finances, how to change a tire – seem overwhelming. Grown Up YOUniversity conducts casual, fun life-skills workshops that help young adults learn all the things their parents or expensive education didn’t teach them.
Is there anything you learned at Tactive that you are using in your current job?
So. Much. I really honed my graphic design skills at Tactive. When I left my last job, I spent a few months without a gig before I started Floof. I mastered the Adobe Suite at Tactive, so I was able to pay my bills by picking up layout/design jobs through Upwork.
I also learned everything I know about the printing industry. Digital marketing is very popular but also very saturated in 2017. I’ve helped my clients stand out because I really understand how print can complement their digital marketing efforts. Since I have knowledge of options, capabilities, cost, and design I’m able to help my clients have more well-rounded marketing and sales campaigns.
I didn’t go to school for marketing – or sales or business, for that matter. I have a B.A. and M.A. in Organizational Communication, which is basically just the people side of the business. My degree proved helpful when it came to project management, sales, and account management, but everything else I know about business: financial management, budgeting, prioritizing… I learned all of that either through experience or through the guidance of Tim & Kurt.
Do you have any memorable moments from your time at Tactive?
I’m always remembering fun times from my time at Tactive! I will say that I feel very lucky to still be working with Tim & Kurt. One of the things I missed the most when I left (briefly) was chatting with Tim & Kurt and solving all of the world’s problems. I always appreciated that they were open, honest, authentic and non-judgemental. We could have different opinions about politics or people, but we could talk about it in a really respectful way. The world could use more of that kind of respectful disagreement these days.
As far as a fun story, though, I really loved the year we dressed up as each other for Halloween. We all picked a name from a hat and had to dress as that person. It was a bit of a risk to take, but again, everyone was respectful and we all really had fun with it. I dressed up as Kurt, complete with a Bears hat and big hands and feet.
Kurt & Tim are notorious for sharing words of wisdom with their employees. Are there any that stick out for you?
“Say yes and figure it out.” – Tim & Kurt
While there were certainly some things we just couldn’t do, I’ve always loved this approach to customer service, and for that matter, life. Ultimately, what you think you can’t do you probably can. Just say yes, and then try to figure it out. 99.9% of the time, I’ve figured it out.
“It’s supposed to be fun.” – Tim
This is the best piece of relationship advice that I was ever given. I won’t go into too many details on the interwebs, but it definitely informed my choice in who I decided to spend the rest of my life with. And I share this bit of advice with anyone I come across who doesn’t seem to be having fun.
“Don’t be an a**shole.” – Kurt
I mean, how can you argue that? In life. In work. In relationships. To your family. To your friends. To your server or bartender. To strangers. On the internet. It’s sad that some people need to be reminded of this, but it’s solid advice.
Anything else you’d like to share about Tactive?
I think it’s very cool that Tim & Kurt have so many former employees that are still connected to Tactive as clients or vendors or simply friends. It’s not like every day was sunny and friendly and easy at Tactive. But my memories are mostly good, and it really felt like leaving family when I left.
When I decided to start freelancing, Kurt & Tim were the first to say, “you’re hired!” They helped me figure out how to start a business, and told me I was charging them too little, haha. They’ve supported my involvement in non-profit groups through in-kind sponsorships. They sent me to sales training that has changed my career outlook. I couldn’t be more grateful for all that they have done for me, what they do for their community, and that I still get to (attempt to) solve the world’s problems with them.
That wraps up our alumni spotlight with Robin Lanning!
If you’re looking for help with your marketing strategy or execution, check out Floof! And if you’re technically a grown up but don’t always feel like one, try an upcoming Grown Up YOUniversity workshop.