Leading Outside of the Spotlight: Interview with Katie Strandlund

This Wednesday, I got to meet Katie Strandlund for coffee and learn more about the unique company she owns. Katie, based in Nashville, is the founder and owner of Dirty Work, a “jack of all trades” firm that prides itself on tackling “just about anything except intense finance management and taxes.” More than a simple task monkey, Dirty Work is a group of high-quality, experienced team members who help entrepreneurs better prioritize and smooth out any details that get overlooked during the visioning process.

Since Katie was an education major in college, I was curious to learn how she transitioned into communications and how Dirty Work got started. The company is unlike anything I’d seen before—while plenty of people outsource their writing, design, and building needs, I’d never really seen an entire company take on the personal assistant role.

Katie explained that she fell into the job. After deciding teaching wasn’t right for her and serving as an assistant to a pastor for two years, she started doing various types of administrative work. A friend admonished her about not beginning a business around her skills, and after pondering the idea, Katie explained, “I literally didn’t have any reason not to do it.” Five years later, Katie has built up a team for Dirty Work and loves her job.

What struck me most about Katie was her humility. Although many consider administrative work to be menial or low-skill level, Katie’s work is crucial to many visionaries in her area. Katie and the Dirty Work team don’t receive a lot of recognition for their work, but Katie likes it that way. Though an enthusiastic people person, Katie would rather her work remain out of the spotlight.

That’s a characteristic I wish more of us had. Since we’re all on social media, it’s so easy to make it all about us. We’re all blogging, we’re all tweeting, we’re all posting our photos on Facebook and Instagram—it’s refreshing to talk to someone who really couldn’t care less about her name being in lights.

“You can’t treat this job as a stepping stone,” Katie told me as we were finishing up. The work she and her Dirty Work team don’t allow for that. Instead, Katie and her team focuses on creating reliable, quality work for their clients. This troubleshooting process is what Katie loves the most about her job.

Our coffee house closed before we really got to use up all the time we had, but it was still a very fun and interesting interview. I also got to learn about a spin on freelancing I’d never seen before. Thank you for your time, Katie!

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