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The Joy of Working Together

Friday, 12 April 2013 | Tags: , , , , ,

A couple of months ago we were asked to write an article about JOY: the joy we found in creating our brand, finding our path, turning challenge into opportunity, and finding success in what we do. Here's what JOY means to us:

This article originally appeared in the
Spring 2013 print edition of Motivated Magazine
titled “Shopping for Joy”

 

Kristina:

 

Anna and I were working together at Global News in Vancouver for a few years when we decided to embrace our entrepreneurial spirit and start our own business. I have to admit, I didn’t really like doing the news. It’s not a very joyful business. In fact, I remember the day that Anna came to me and said “You really don’t seem very happy here, and a lot of people are starting to comment on it.” That was a wake-up call. I needed to get out and do something else as I was turning into someone I didn’t like very much.

Anna:

 

We were actually sitting in the newsroom when we started to discuss what that business could be. Then we started going for coffee or drinks, and that led to writing down ideas. We were both educated and experienced in journalism and also shared a keen passion for getting just the right product for the job, whether it’s a skirt, a chef’s knife, or a car. It was that combination that set the wheels in motion for what is now, almost 15 years later, Worldwide Bag Media Inc.

We produce our own shows, as well as shows we’re not in, we’ve recently re-launched annaandkristina.com, and we’ve started our own line of products. It seems like a no-brainer now, but walking out the door from a job I’d worked so hard to get was no easy task.

Kristina:

 

Tell me about it! Leaving a steady, decent-paying union job is pretty daunting. There goes the security blanket. But that said, nothing is ever easy and a new career comes with a new set of pressures. Now, everything rests on our shoulders. If we don’t come up with new ideas, we don’t work and we don’t get paid. But being in control of your own work destiny is very powerful. It has definitely makes us work harder.

Anna:

 

I have learned a very important lesson about myself over the course of my career, which is that I am much more creative and productive when there are no guarantees. When in the news business, I worked freelance before landing a full-time job and I was much hungrier before I was getting the guaranteed paycheque. Running our own company is very similar to working freelance. We need to continually come up with new concepts. We have to stay one step ahead of the game if we’re going to stay relevant and stay in business. It’s high pressure indeed but it is what gets me up in the morning. I don’t mind working on a Saturday night or working long hours because I find excitement in the pressure to keep our engine running.

Kristina:

 

When we started, we knew TV (or we thought we did anyway), but we didn’t know much about running a business. But one of the greatest advantages in taking a risk when you’re young is that you really don’t know what you don’t know! We never doubted we could do it and we had NO idea of the challenges that lay ahead. If I could offer advice to anyone going down a similar path, it would be that one should never be afraid to ask questions. We’ve learned that there’s no one road to follow, that just because something is usually done one way, it doesn’t mean we have to do it that way. You have to create your own path.

Anna:

 

I think that’s key. Doing things the way everyone else does them just because that’s the way it’s done has never worked for us. We believe in calling it like we see it and finding our own way through. That is the authentic approach. And when something is authentic, be it a product a service or an overall brand it generally leads somewhere positive. That’s what’s worked for us anyway. And if you look at any successful business or idea, there’s usually a great story behind it. You truly have to believe in what you’re doing to find real success. And success doesn’t necessarily come in the form of dollars, but in finding joy.

Kristina:

 

One thing I love about our day to day is that we don’t spend a lot of time stuck behind a desk from 9-5. Sure, there is some of that. But when we are working on one of our programs we are often doing some pretty interesting things. Fishing for cod in Newfoundland, for example. Riding camels in Morocco. Or spending three days to bake a three tier cake for a wedding. These are the moments when I forget that I’m working, when I’m immersed in the experience.

Anna:

 

I would never have done well behind a desk all day. I absolutely love the variety of my schedule. Sometimes we’re on the road for weeks and on camera a lot which means I’m constantly on the move, under pressure, getting my hair and makeup done and having to be “on” all the time. Then everything changes and we shift into a concept creation time when I don’t have to care about what I’m wearing and everything gets much quieter and slower. The constant change keeps everything fresh and keeps me smiling. The other part of my job I love is working with someone I can be really honest with and would (and have) trust with my life.

Kristina:

 

We aren’t just business partners, we are also friends. And while that isn’t always easy, of course, there are so many positives. It’s great to have support, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to rely on. When we’re pitching a show to a broadcaster, for example, if I stumble, I know Anna is there to jump right in a finish my thought for me. Honestly sometimes I think we can read each other’s minds. Traveling for business can be exhausting, but traveling with your best friend can be a lot of fun. Sharing the entire experience with someone is very rewarding.

Anna:

 

We have had so many hilarious and memorable times on the road. Sometimes the painful experiences; the canceled flights, the technical problems, the weather that doesn’t cooperate, the crew issues, the important meetings that just don’t go well. After the fact those are often funnier than when everything goes right because having someone to help you laugh about it and laugh at yourself ultimately brings a feeling of unity and acceptance.

Kristina:

 

Anna and I are quite different people but we do share a couple of very important traits. One, we do not give up. And two, we don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative. Sure, we get down, we get upset or feel defeated. But we always pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on. Being in this partnership really helps with that, because we are there to support each other and prop each other up when need be.

Anna:

 

I can’t even count the number of times we’ve called each other at night and begun the conversation with “I just need to rant…”. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call the person who understands and get it all out. I always feel a million times better after one of those rants. Then I’m ready for whatever’s going to come tomorrow.

Kristina:

 

We’ve all heard it said that you should do what you love. I think it’s also really important, if you can, to work with people you love. We have a great development team that we work with to create new shows. Our meetings are so dynamic, boisterous and engaging! And when we’re shooting a show, we are surrounded by a small team who we spend a lot of time with. When you get that magic combination, the right people all working together, I completely forget that I am at work. It just feels like I’m hanging out with a great group of people.

Anna:

 

I love it when I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are smarter then me. That’s when I know I’m in the right place! And aside from one’s actual work, everything that surrounds it is so important. The time you spend sitting in traffic, the air quality in your office, your freedom to work flexible hours and yes of course, the people around you, all play a major role in finding joy at work. As I do type this I’m in my pajamas, the dog is at my feet and I’m drinking a mug of tea. But I could have just as easily been answering from a noisy set or from an airplane. You never know where I’ll be on a Tuesday morning and I love the variety. The variety creates balance.

Kristina:

 

Naturally, if you’re overworked and stressed out, it’s pretty difficult to feel joyful. So balance is incredibly important to us. Even though the blackberries are always on, we totally respect each other’s (and our team’s) need to decompress and disconnect. We work hard, but we also value our time off and make an effort to spend quality time our families and our friends.

Anna:

 

When I’m on “holiday” (like K said, our blackberries are never off), that’s when I find my greatest inspiration and ideas! I love getting out and seeing the world, seeing what other people are doing and how it relates to what we do.

Kristina:

 

I experience a lot of joy from the little things in life and I often find more happiness in the quiet times than the boisterous times. The perfect cup of coffee, walking my dog on a crisp morning, reading a good book or enjoying a chilled glass of wine at the end of the day. These are the moment when I feel peace and gratitude for what I have in my life.

Anna:

 

Excellent. Can you walk my dog this weekend?

 

 

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  • Tim Edwards

    Great story ladies. I always think timing is everything. Your life changed because you both we’re ready for something new at the same time. You two are so lucky to have each other. 🙂

    • annaandkristina

      Thanks Tim!

  • Susan Powley

    I just wanted to say I love watching all your shows! You guys have always inspired
    me. I like that you both seem very smart, stylish, funny and down-to-earth. I just wish that you had new episodes of the Shopping Bags because I trust your opinions and testing methods and I don’t have time to do all that research myself!
    I say….bring back The Shopping Bags! We love you and need you! Please think about it! I watch your reruns of The Shopping Bags and Grocery Bags on OWN but I need more!
    One of your biggest fans,

    Susan Powley

    • annaandkristina

      Thank you Susan! We will think about it. We’ve got lots more ideas brewing too so stay tuned!

  • http://twitter.com/looneyngilo2 somethin!

    I’ve been watching you guys for years (since The Shopping Bags) and just adore your dynamic and humor. You’re very hard workers, and provide us with a lot of useful information. I even ventured into cooking once I started watching Grocery Bag and saw it was ok to screw up sometimes. You just have to keep trying! 🙂

    • annaandkristina

      Exactly, somethin! Keep trying, and remember, it’s not always you making the error; sometimes it’s the recipe. Thanks for watching!

  • http://www.facebook.com/inandoutmoments Nelson Tome

    You guys look beautiful. I’ve seen you from the start of your programs. I am really proud of you. I have done my own projects in the media. Some have had major setbacks, some have succeeded, but still working on getting to that place where I can expand a project that has legs. You really inspired me today…and I really needed it this morning! Thank you….

    • annaandkristina

      That’s great! Thank you too, Nelson!