Author Archives: Hausblog

Synchronicity: how a tux shop saved my life

Tuxedo - Illustration

The most important job of my life was managing a tuxedo shop at a strip mall in Skokie, Illinois. You’re probably thinking, “That has to be one of the most depressing jobs ever.” And you would be absolutely right. But that job changed my life.

When I was a kid, I was “Peter Perfect.” I stayed out of trouble and followed all the rules. I was even valedictorian of my high school class. So when it was time for college, I did what kids like me are supposed to do. I got into a good school—Northwestern University—and pursued a career in finance.

By senior year I was graduating with a degree in economics and it was time to start interviewing with banks and consulting firms. There I was, in my little interview suit, meeting other guys in their little suits. After a few rounds, I started to feel a sickening pain in the pit of my stomach.

I hated this!

I didn’t like these people. I did not belong in their world. After all these years of doing what I was supposed to do, I began to realize that I had made a colossal mistake.

But what now? It was time for some major soul searching. I started to review my life in detail, trying to find anything that I had been passionate about. Maybe I could figure out what I was supposed to be doing—all the while fearing that I was going to have to start over.

As I went through my past, things started to jump out. Playing piano, painting, drawing, reading about architecture and designing my own homes—everything I loved was creative!

I then had a revelation: If I was going to be happy in this life, I needed to be in a creative world.

During college I had a part-time job working in the men’s department at I. Magnin, a high-end specialty store. Soon after my big revelation, my department was invited to a fashion show by my all-time favorite designers, Marithé and François Girbaud. I was in love with their brand. The clothes were amazing: modern, edgy, architectural. During slow hours at the store I used to try on the latest collections, and would even turn the clothes inside out to understand how they were made.

I jumped at the chance to go to the fashion show. It was at the Limelight nightclub in downtown Chicago, so I put on my club clothes (it was the 80s, so I think parachute pants and an officer’s hat were involved) and headed out. I ended up being the only one from my store to show, but as I was hanging out by myself I met this guy named Ron Smith. He turned out to be the head of marketing for Girbaud! We hit if off immediately, and I soon learned that they had a job opening in New York. Ron said I should interview for it, so I flew myself to New York, had the interview, and then waited. Days turned into weeks, until I finally got a call.

They had gone with someone else.

It was devastating. I was so depressed that at one point I seriously thought about driving my car into Lake Michigan. Fortunately, I got over it and enrolled in some design courses at Chicago’s version of FIT to at least try to pursue this new dream. I wasn’t making any real progress though and after a year with no job prospects, I ended up, in desperation, taking a job with a tuxedo shop in a strip mall in Skokie. That’s when everything changed.

On my second day at the tux shop, the store manager from I. Magnin walked in. He was getting fitted for a tux for a wedding.

“Kevin!” he said with surprise. “Did you know that Girbaud is trying to reach you?” I had no idea, but I tracked down Ron Smith as soon as I could. Ron told me that they were opening a new division and wanted to talk with me about a job. And they were going to be in Chicago the very next day!

The following morning I met with Ron and his colleagues, had a fantastic interview, and got the job! A few short weeks later, I was in New York, working for my favorite designers, wearing clothes that I loved, and most importantly, I now had a mentor in Ron Smith who taught me all he knew about design and marketing, essentially launching my creative career.

There’s a big lesson in this story, and it’s best summed up by Joseph Campbell, who said:

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

The above is a transcript of my first Toastmasters speech:
Competent Communicators Speech #1: The Icebreaker.

SEC Roughriders Toastmasters Club 1876
District 46, Toastmasters International
13 August 2015

~ Kevin King


Mind map for the Speech:

Ice Breaker Speech - Mind Map

The 2 Euro T-Shirt – A Social Experiment – YouTube


When they learn the truth, people rediscover their humanity. Support the Fashion Revolution.

“Every day, you affect someone’s life because you get dressed. And what you buy to wear can actually make a difference,” Andrea Paltzer wrote in a blog post for Fashion Revolution. “It can have a huge social impact. Fashion can be an answer to poverty. It should not be the cause of poverty and environmental destruction.”

If you would like to support our campaign and help to build a better future for everyone in the global fashion supply chain, please donate via the following link:

Even donating €2 will help make a difference.


Brainstorming: Play this game to come up with original ideas

Shimpei Takahashi speaks at TED Tokyo about using the game of Shiritori to come up with fresh ideas.

Literacy has been a Curse? Thom Hartmann on Storytelling

What's Your Story?

Storytelling is a powerful thing. Here’s what Thom Hartmann had to say a few years ago on his radio program:

It’s interesting. In preliterate societies, which is the majority of the history of the human race, we didn’t write things down. We told stories. Everything had a story. Every tree had a story. Every rock had a story. Every animal had a story. Every place had a story. Every family had a story. Story was how we transmitted culture and it was how we remembered things.

When I lived in Vermont—I believe it was the University of Vermont, one of the colleges there—I heard of the Abenakis, the Native American tribe there. They have stories of what happened 10,000 years ago, when the mountains of blue ice, the walls of blue ice, receded: what happened, where and when, the order in which it happened, and things like that. A bunch of geologists checked it out, and the memory was accurate. A 10,000 year-old accurate memory.

There are a number of anthropologists over the years who’ve pointed out how literacy has really been a curse in some ways, as much as a blessing, because when we started writing things down, we stopped telling stories. We stopped having these multi-generational stories. We stopped teaching our children. And it’s so important that there be some stories that transcend literacy, that transcend the written down, the “here, it’s in a book.” It’s so important that we teach our children stories.

Thom Hartmann
29 January 2009

Photoshop wizard bends reality

Self-taught photographer and retoucher Erik Johansson explains on his website that “he doesn’t capture moments, he captures ideas.” And well, some of his ideas are pretty weird. The Berlin-based artist photographs different subjects, and then with the magic of Photoshop, compiles them into creative, often otherworldly scenarios and situations.

See more at: Mashable

15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015

As the new year approaches, many of us will resolve to transform our bodies — but what about our minds?

Giving ourselves a mental makeover could be just as important as giving ourselves a physical one. But accomplishing that doesn’t just lie in changing our thoughts — it’s also dependent on changing our words.

How we speak — to others and to ourselves — has a huge impact on our overall outlook. So isn’t it about time we started paying more attention to what we’re communicating?

Below are 15 phrases that will transform the way you think, feel and act in the coming year. Using your words to change your life? Now that’s a resolution worth keeping.

continues at: 15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015.

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery

100-year-old Typeface, rediscovered

Over the course of more than a hundred illicit nightly trips, this man was committing a crime—against his partner, a man who owned half of what was being heaved into the Thames, and against himself, the force that had spurred its creation. This venerable figure, founder of the legendary Doves Press and the mastermind of its typeface, was a man named T.J. Cobden Sanderson. And he was taking the metal type that he had painstakingly overseen and dumping thousands of pounds of it into the river.

100 years later, a London designer set out to find the type.

via The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery.

J.S. Bach – Crab Canon on a Möbius Strip

The enigmatic Canon 1 à 2 from J. S. Bachs Musical Offering (1747), The manuscript depicts a single musical sequence that is to be played front to back and back to front.
Video by Jos Leys ( and Xantox (

Free is a Lie

The business model of “free” is the business model of Corporate Surveillance.

6 Elevator Pitches for the 21st Century

From tweeting to rhyming, bestselling author Daniel H. Pink gives you six new pitching techniques from his latest book, TO SELL IS HUMAN.