I just got back from our first live, in-person Awards and Personalization Association Board meeting since the COVID pandemic started. For me, I needed that face time with my board and friends, and not on a computer screen. It was difficult because we had mask regulations indoors, but there was plenty of time without masks to socialize and brainstorm and share wisdom.
That is what I have missed the most this year. In fact, over breakfast, I was able to gain two “nuggets” that I could take back and implement immediately. THAT is the APA “secret sauce.” It felt SO GOOD!
In reflecting on the board meeting, I find that it is important for the membership to know that this board is working very hard to deliver value. From adjustments to the M2M Forum, to webinars, to the International Awards & Personalization Expo, your board is committed. We are hyper-focused on bringing back the Expo in February, and we are very encouraged by a terrific education lineup.
We are also committed to engaging great supplier exhibitors—and new exhibitors—to help our retail members grow their businesses with sources, options, and ideas. Who do YOU know that you want at the show? Make sure to TELL THEM. The floor is already filling up, and I feel strongly that our retail members will be in person in Vegas in better numbers than before.
After a year off, I personally cannot wait to get back! The 2020 show had an outstanding turnout from both new and longtime members, and my hope is that 2022 will be even greater. I have missed my secret sauce time! Suppliers greatly benefit from interacting with retailers in person, and I think it would be a missed opportunity to not exhibit.
I have used the analogy of the buffalo with my board members. It is something I learned from a CEO peer group I belong to. When the storms come, most animals run from the storm, head to the barn, and hide in their stalls. In contrast, the buffalo head into the storm and run—unwavering, purposeful, together. The herd spends less time in danger because they don’t run away from their circumstances; they face them head on. Leaders will always face uncertainty, but how you respond and who you run with can determine whether you make it through and emerge victorious. BE. THE. BUFFALO.
Another thing I did while I was up north: I drove up to Wisconsin to celebrate the 40th anniversary of an awards business—American Awards & Promotions—belonging to my friends Mark and Lori Warren (see Association News on p. 44). Congratulations! We live and work in an industry where even our competition can be our friends. What?! That is outstanding. And I love it!
On Sunday Morning recently, one of the feature stories was about an antique dealer in New Orleans. He talked about how blessed he was to have a job where he thoroughly loved what he did, a job he loved going to every day. I say it all the time. We get to play with cool toys and make pretty things. How lucky are we?
I am looking forward to seeing all of you in Las Vegas in February. I cannot wait for all the conversations and all the “nuggets” I will bring home from the show. But mainly, I cannot wait to be with all my friends, to celebrate, to encourage new business owners, to learn new things. #APAthrive
By Lisa R. Higginbotham, CRM, FiveStar Awards and Engraving,
and Awards and Personalization Association president