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Recognition Still Matters




(May 2020) As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic world is drastically changing around us, not just day by day, but hour by hour.

I pray that by the time we’re reading this in print, the fear, panic, and uncertainty that this virus has brought to our lives will have started to subside, at the very least.

As everything around us changes—none of us entered 2020 thinking we might spend part of the year fighting for toilet paper—it might seem a bit odd to use pages in this magazine to celebrate the successes of the International Awards & Personalization Expo.

The expo brought together thousands of industry professionals in February in Las Vegas, NV. (This was before social distancing was the norm and before Las Vegas’s hotels closed, when fewer than 20 COVID infections had been found in the U.S.)

We’re especially lucky that the largest show in the industry happened before the pandemic really hit the United States. We were able to see lifelong friends, learn personalization techniques, handle new equipment and products, and get reinvigorated for another year.

And, boy, did we need that boost or what?

So why are we taking time to shine a light on the expo, the new Certified Recognition Specialists and Certified Recognition Masters, and the recipients of the Clear Obelisk and Gold Obelisk awards?

In a nutshell: It’s what we do and it matters. Recognition is important, even in crazy times—maybe even more so in crazy times.

Right now, many of us are trying to figure out how to keep ourselves, our employees, and our businesses healthy in trying times. Our association is working hard to keep us updated on the pandemic’s effect on the industry and ways we can ensure we stay strong.

In addition to the other great ideas, I loved the positive note that retailer Dan Bencsik struck at the end of the COVID-19 article in this issue of Insights. He points out that there are going to be a lot of heroes from this pandemic that can get the formal recognition they deserve when we beat this virus. And we’re the people who can help make that happen.

I’m seeing so many emotional examples of informal recognition happening around us during this scary time. Just like the personalization professionals we honor at the expo, many of the recipients of this informal recognition have been unsung heroes:

Viral videos show doctors and nurses giving janitorial staff members a standing ovation for their crucial role in controlling this pandemic.

People have been photographed pressing handwritten cardboard signs against the windows of medical centers to thank the staff for saving their loved ones’ lives.

The media has helped us to publicly honor the sacrifices made by doctors and nurses who contracted COVID-19 at work and of patients who turned down lifesaving ventilators to ensure there would be enough for others who needed them.

That’s recognition, and it’s bringing us closer together, not just as communities, but as people. That’s why it’s important not to abandon recognition now. Together, let’s applaud the successes of the professionals and companies featured in this issue. Let’s practice what we preach while we adjust to this new world and prepare for the coming partnerships that will be necessary to provide much-deserved recognition to all of the everyday heroes who stepped up to bring us together and save lives.

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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