How is it possible that 2017 is almost over? It’s been a quick year for me as your chair, but an extremely successful and productive one for our Association. Here are a few of the year’s highlights.

Success Of Get In Touch!
The Get In Touch!® campaign is really gaining momentum. Since the program launched in the spring, average daily traffic at has risen by nearly 900 percent. Plus, there have been more than 1,500 toolkit downloads, and over 35 percent of our membership is aware of the program with more than one third actively engaged and using it. Thank you to all for what you have done and are continuing to do to make the Get In Touch! campaign so successful in its first year.

The Summer Of PPAI
In June, I had the honor of joining 163 women at the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference in Phoenix. This year’s focus was “Enlighten. Empower. Encourage.”, and 67 women attended the event for the first time. The energy and commitment of those who attended was inspiring. What a great way to share successes, enhance the skills women professionals must have and learn how to use these skills effectively to make this industry even stronger.

We enjoyed two days of education sessions and presentations by industry experts in a number of key areas including leadership and time management, and we learned how to uncover big ideas and reach our full potential. The conference featured important topics such as strengthening negotiation skills through preparation, building brands, utilizing industry research, communicating, finding our favorite relevant apps and relieving stress for better health. I look forward to the 2018 conference in Miami, Florida, June 25-27.

In August, I joined my PPAI colleagues at the North American Leadership Conference (NALC) in Austin, Texas. It is always insightful to be among such a group of promotional products leaders to learn, share and network. Immediately following NALC, the fourth annual PPAI Technology Summit was held in the same location. This two-day conference provided in-depth, diverse discussion on the issues, challenges and opportunities that are top-of-mind among industry technology professionals.

As part of NALC, we were fortunate to have Seth Kahan, principal at Visionary Leadership®, as one of our speakers. PPAI began working with Seth last year as we were developing our Strategic Plan and mapping the steps to transform PPAI’s culture from transactional to relational. One of Seth’s areas of expertise is strategic foresight, a proactive approach that helps businesses prepare for the future and position themselves for success.

There are five steps to achieve strategic foresight, according to Seth:

1 Engage – Gather the leaders who are responsible for your business’s game plan for growth. This includes internal leadership, mentors and others who are forward-thinkers.

2 Scan – Make sure you are researching and understanding trends that are relevant to your success, not just for your business, but for what is important to your customers and how their needs and expectations are changing.

3 Connect – Review the trends and identify (a) their likelihood of materializing, and (b) how fast they might become real forces that impact your business. These two factors will identify which trends require your attention and preparation.

4 Act – Dedicate resources (time, money and people) to specific actions based on the trends you have identified that prepare your business for the future.

5 Measure – As with any initiative, the success of your efforts is crucial for your business’s bottom line. Review what works and refine your efforts for greater results.

Over the past year, we have continued to move the Strategic Plan forward and made progress in increasing member value and engagement. Our industry is all about relationships, and your trade association understands this and is continually looking for ways to have deeper and more meaningful interactions with you, our members.

We are excited about implementing your suggestions at The PPAI Expo 2018 in January to move the industry’s largest and longest-running trade show from great to extraordinary.

In Appreciation
As I write this article, my last as PPAI chair, I am deeply honored to have spent this year meeting many members and participating in so many wonderful conferences all focused on our amazing
industry. As I shared in my first article in February, I have been a PPAI member since 1993. I can confidently say that my business, Competitive Edge, would not be the success it is today without my talented team and the support, resources and expertise we get from PPAI. With nearly 15,000 member companies and growing, I am proud to be among such an excellent group of industry professionals, thought leaders and friends.

Thank you.