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Say Anything: Paul Norrell, Business Owner, 1-World Globes & Maps

Oct 15, 2019 12:00:00 AM

Tell us a bit about yourself and your company. 

My name is Paul Norrell, and I serve as President and Business Owner of 1-World Globes & Maps. We're a leading online retailer and fabricator specializing in high-quality world globes, printed maps, and large-format map murals for schools, homes, and businesses. We offer thousands of map titles, many from our own publishing division, Academia Maps®, which has become a leading supplier to the education sector in the United States. We're proud to carry one of the largest selection of globes in the world. 



What inspired you to join the business?

The story of 1-World actually begins with my mother and stepfather in 1998. Back then, they used to blog (before blogging was even a thing) films about their favorite foreign flicks. My mother had a globe she wanted to repair. After doing a bit of research, she contacted the manufacturer with the idea that she could use their love of foreign films to also sell globes on their website. She even sent them a check for $500 to convince them to do dropshipping for us.


My mother figured that those who were interested in foreign films would also be interested in globes. She was right. In six months, globe sales were higher than the films. Thus, 1-World Globes & Maps was born. I joined the company 2002, at which time we moved from a basement in Bremerton, Washington to an official space in Seattle.


What has been your proudest moment in business?

In 2012, one of our biggest maps providers went out of business, which left us with a tremendous gap. We could've easily looked for another vendor, but we decided to take on the challenge ourselves. We ended up going into production as a result (talk about a kick in the pants).  We still work with other providers of maps but we also have our own set up. For a team with no previous experience in printing, it's been a great achievement.



Name one thing with which you've struggled in the work you do.

Adapting and evolving with the current tech trends. We've been slower to adapt than I would like, even though we're almost entirely online. That's a product of the industry as a whole, but still. I'd love for us to be a trailblazer.


What's one life lesson you've experienced that has translated into the work you do?

Unless I have a really strong opinion on a service or a provider, then I'm often better off doing it myself. Many providers don't share the same passion for quality that we do, and if we're not on top of them, it shows. We've become more self-sufficient as a result.



Let’s switch gears. You’re on a desert island; what three things would you have with you and why.

Magnifying glass, knife, and a mirror. A knife is a basic tool for survival, and you could make other tools. With glass, you could make a fire, and a mirror would be used as a signal to catch the attention of people flying by. 



Last question: If you could impart one piece of wisdom to your peers, what would it be?


Simple: Don't let your fears of other people's judgement get in the way of your success.

Topics: Q+A

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