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Let’s Thrive Together

By Lisa R. Higginbotham, CRM, FiveStar Awards and Engraving, and Awards and Personalization Association president


In these tough times, our association is here to help your business

(March/April 2021) When I began my journey in this industry back in 1999, I never dreamt I would be writing this column today. So many feelings: I am honored, humbled, excited, anxious, encouraged, challenged—those are a few that come immediately to mind. I have to credit Glenn Beckworth for being the first person to ask me to serve on an Awards and Personalization Association committee years ago. I remember being shocked that he would ask a tiny nobody retailer like me to serve. From that moment, I was hooked. But perhaps the greatest motivators have been the many retailers and suppliers who have helped me over the years. Embedded in my DNA is the commitment to pay that forward. And so, here we are.

First and foremost, I want to salute Tom Jackson for leading our association through the most challenging period in many of our lifetimes. As I jokingly (but not so much a joke!) told him on a call recently, I will be putting his photo on my wall. When times are tough, I will “channel my inner Tom Jackson” and ask myself, “what would Tom do?” Tom’s calm demeanor, courage, and dedication through the surreal 2020 period are inspiring. I promise to give you no less—and, hopefully, more!

I want to encourage all our members to dig in. We ARE #BetterByAssociation, as Tom repeated in his theme for his term as association president. One of the things I love most about our membership is the spirit of helpfulness with which we support each other. I always know that I can email or pick up the phone and someone will help me figure out a solution to anything. This goes for both retailers and suppliers. At the onset of COVID, when I, like many of you, found myself flailing in fear and desperation, the resourcefulness of Linda Dwyer, Nathan Sletton, and Steve Weist—to just name a few—kept me from jumping off a ledge. I was able to channel that into supporting my community, which made me feel useful and grateful.

Even through the darkness, the board was working to deliver tools that would mirror our mission to help our members thrive. We launched the new M2M Forum and a fabulous new Inside Insights electronic newsletter. The Conversation Circles led by Dan Bencsik helped me connect with peers that I missed so much because of travel restrictions and the cancellation of our Vegas show. Cancelling that show was such a hard decision, but the right one. We WILL be back in full force next year, and we will pick up on the high with which we left the 2020 show. Because it was a terrific show!

Education has always been my passion, and I cannot emphasize strongly enough how valuable the association’s webinars and resources are in supporting your company and teams. Like all of you, I have spent way too much time on Zoom and Webex, but I have also learned or been reminded of so many tools I could use to grow my business, so it was not wasted time.

As I sit here reading the submissions for this year’s ARIEF scholarship applicants, I am grateful that our association has a program like this to support our youth. My daughter received an ARIEF scholarship several years ago, and that meant the world to me. This is a benefit that you can share with your employees, so do not overlook the value!

Do not forget that we are the Awards and Personalization Association. We make recognition items that are personal and significant. Have you taken the time to nominate a peer for the Gold Obelisk program? It looks different this year because we won’t be having an in-person celebration, but I assure you it will be no less meaningful.

I will wrap up this first column by once again emphasizing our association’s mission: to help our members thrive. There has never been a more important time to pull together and help each other as now. There is a TON of opportunity out there for all of us, and I want you to remember that helping another will come back to you. At least I know it has for me. Therefore, I have chosen my theme for my year as association president, and I invite you to join me. Let’s Thrive TOGETHER, APA. Please use this hashtag in social media: #APAthrive

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president this year. I look forward to a great year and promise to work tirelessly with my board and committees and incredible AMC staff for you.

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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