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(April 2020) When I first started to write this column, things felt very different. Although we had been hearing a great deal about COVID-19, the reality of it hadn’t yet hit our shops, employees, and families like it is hitting us now.

At that time, I had planned to again write about the theme for my presidency, “Be Better by Association,” and what that meant to me. I wanted to talk about all of the ways we, as an organization of dedicated and passionate awards and personalization professionals, can help one another. How we can help each other build our businesses with education and words of wisdom, and how we can grow the industry with our combined creativity, collaboration, and drive.

I was going to talk about how we can share our ideas via the Member2Member Forum; by providing content for Insights, webinars, or other educational opportunities; by engaging with one another on the Awards and Personalization Association’s social media; and by connecting with our colleagues nearby, across the country, and across the world.

I was going to write about how being an association of peers gives us a unique support system of people who know exactly what we mean when we talk about our challenges, our successes, and the feeling of making a customer feel recognized.

And I was going to share with you how honored I feel to be president of this association. And how I came to volunteer for, and eventually lead, it because of the many people from this organization who supported me and made a difference in my business and my life, just the way we all can make differences in each other’s lives.

But as I thought about all of the things I was going to write, I realized that these are the very things we should be talking about right now.

We should be sharing our successes and challenges with one another so we can help our fellow professionals find unique solutions to help us weather a difficult and uncertain time.

We should be connecting via social media and the M2M Forum to ensure we’re maintaining the close relationships we’ve already developed and fostered over our years in the business.

This is the best time to lean on each other and to see how much better we all truly are by association.

So I ask you to reach out: to me, to your association staff, and to each other with your ideas, your challenges, and your successes. If you see a fellow awards and personalization professional struggling with a problem, share your advice. If you see a great solution from a colleague that you’ve implemented in your business, send them a special thank you. And in turn, we will work hard to bring you resources to help you learn, grow, survive, and thrive.

Now is the time to show how much better we all can be by association. I know each and every one of you will prove it in your own way, and I look forward to sharing these stories next year at the 2021 International Awards & Personalization Expo, where we can all come together to celebrate our industry and the great work we’ve done this year.

Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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