Perspectives: Change Is The Ticket To Progress


Last June I responded to a survey that asked if COVID-19 would change the industry forever.  My quick response was “No.” 

Wait, what?  


Everything was already different and most assuredly not going back to the way it was, so what caused my total lapse in reasoning?  

Thinking back, I suppose I answered with my heart and not with my head. The old way was comfortable, predictable and I knew how to win in the old way. Perhaps this was a coping mechanism to escape how things suddenly felt: uncomfortable, urgent and foggy.  

Today, it is clear that we are not going back to the way things were, or at least not to how we thought they were. Instead, we move forward as individuals, as businesses, as an Association and as an industry in a totally new landscape. We must. I think General Eric Shinseki said it best: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”  

With that statement in mind, your Association board and staff have been hard at work developing new opportunities to diversify how we provide visibility, viability and credibility to the promotional products industry. We are about to embark on a new journey together as PPAI delivers its first-ever PPAI Expo Direct-2 You. 

This one-of-a-kind, virtual, live event coming to your laptop, desktop or other device on January 11-14, will deliver unmatched education and hundreds of exhibits and product introductions on a flexible schedule along with real-time networking opportunities. With pop-ups, gamification, unique lounges, live Q&A and a live master of ceremonies sharing highlights throughout the event, it promises to be the industry’s most important and valuable virtual event yet. 

PPAI will be presenting education sessions daily along with programming provided through the SAGE Conference and communsku University. On January 13 from noon to 1 pm CT, join me, PPAI 2020-21 Board Chair Ira Neaman, MAS, and PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, for an Association Update where we’ll discuss current issues and opportunities for the promotional products industry, the Association and its member companies.

If your company is not yet registered for Expo Direct-2-You, qualified distributors can sign up their entire team at

Living through the past 11 months has definitely given me perspective. Today, if someone asked me the same question, “Has COVID-19 changed the promotional products industry forever?” my new response would be “Yes, and it’s just beginning.” 


Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, is incoming chair of the PPAI Board of Directors, effective immediately following PPAI Expo Direct-2-You, January 11-14, 2021, and is president of distributor Quality Resource Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

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