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Blown Away in the Windy City

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Members, News About ASI

Here’s all you need to know about ASI Chicago: Tony Robbins rocked. Mayor Daley delivered. And from all accounts, everyone who attended enjoyed the nonstop networking, show floor action and unprecedented education.

Officially, the 2012 show season is over. All that’s left is the packing up and plane rides. As always, the end comes with mixed emotions. I’m happy to put another successful year behind us – and excited for 2013, when another incredible lineup awaits.

It’s never too soon to register for the 2013 ASI Shows (Orlando, Jan. 5-7; Dallas, Feb. 6-8; Long Beach, March 22-24; New York, May 8-9; and Chicago, July 16-18) – registration is open at www.asishow.com. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers already locked in: Steve Forbes in Orlando, Emmitt Smith in Dallas, Ben Stein in Long Beach, “The Cake Boss” in New York and Christopher Gardner – the inspiration behind the movie Pursuit of Happyness – in Chicago.

If you missed us in Chicago this year, go to ASI Show, www.asicentral.com and Counselor magazine for complete coverage, including blogs and videos. Click here for Hot Party pics (look for me in the crowd. I’m the one with the red tie and big smile).

The McCormick Place show, undeniably one of the most significant shows within the industry and continually ranked as the industry’s most important summer show, featured 718 exhibiting companies, up 5% from 2011 – including many Counselor® Top 40 suppliers and 204 new exhibitors to Chicago. Total distributor attendance was about 4,400 from 1,800 distributor firms.

Leadership authority Tony Robbins alone attracted over 1,000 distributors and suppliers on Tuesday, a record-breaking day of education.

Robbins’ full-day program, which was co-sponsored by Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100) and Showdown Displays (asi/87188), spoke to companies large and small. Nikki Edwards, of Red Line Graphics (asi/305643), summed it up best: “Tony Robbins was fabulous and extremely energizing … I would have paid over and over to see it, but thanks to ASI I didn’t have to.”

And that wasn’t all.

The three-day show featured the industry’s most innovative products for the fourth quarter, the New Exhibitor and Incentive Pavilions showcasing the most unique items and a total of three receptions.

Earl Bateman, from DVL Enterprises (asi/261648), says he’s already planning to share the ideas he discovered on the show floor with his clients for the upcoming holiday season. Now there’s a forward thinker!

Don’t forget, for information on exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities for 2013, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

And if you were at the show, please let me know what you thought – and any suggestions or ideas you may have for 2013 – by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

Things are happening fast and furious here at ASI Chicago. Wednesday night, we celebrated this year’s Counselor Hot List with a wild party at the downtown hot spot, Crimson Lounge. It’s clear that for the 38 men and women hitting the 2012 list, “the future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades.”

Click here to read all about the star power lighting up the industry. If there’s one thread running through each of their stories, it’s fearlessness. As we learned from this week’s all-day education session with Tony Robbins, true winners have one gear: drive.

Speaking of winners, we kicked off the last day of our three-day Chicago show with a keynote by one of the most successful mayors in our nation’s history – Chicago’s own Richard Daley, considered the nation’s top executive for his deft handling of the machinations of the Windy City during his unprecedented 22-year tenure.

And, continuing ASI’s own winning streak, we just got word that three ASI publications have been recognized for editorial excellence by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) in a stiff competition that included Bloomberg Businessweek and Computerworld.

The winners are:


Gold: Original Research for “State of the Industry”

Bronze: Feature Article for “Behind Bars”


Gold: Front Cover Photo for “The Style Issue”

Silver: Front Cover Photo for “Head of the Class”

Silver: Feature Article Design for “The Color Issue”


Silver: How-To Article for “One Company, 12 Contacts, Big Bucks”

Bronze: How-To Article for “Social Networking Boot Camp”

If that’s not enough, ASI just announced that nearly 2,000 ESP Websites™ are now live, setting an all-time record high for user adoption in the launch of an ASI product.

Launched in May, ESP Websites continue to gain momentum with thousands more new ESP Websites going live in the weeks ahead. It’s clear the industry has embraced ASI’s latest product offering with gusto.

If you haven’t jumped on the ESP Websites bandwagon yet, click here to climb on board and give your business the online boost it deserves.

We’ve still got a full day of exhibiting left here in Chicago. If you’re at the show, let me know what really caught your eye on the show floor by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

New International Alliance Launched

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

ASI, Sourcing City and PSI just announced the joint formation of PromoAlliance, a new international alliance to identify and introduce best practices and market development concepts benefiting the U.S., U.K. and European markets.

We made the announcement on the first exhibit day of ASI Chicago. Joining me were ASI’s new international partners – Alistair Mylchreest, CEO of Sourcing City, which serves the U.K. promotional merchandise industry, and Michael Freter, director of PSI, the international network of the promotional product industry. You may know PSI from attending its trade show in Düsseldorf each January, which routinely attracts upwards of 20,000.

Through this international alliance we’re ushering in a new era of international cooperation in order to further benefit the industry and our members. The overriding goals are to introduce best practices, develop fresh market concepts, explain new marketplaces and foster education.

It’s important to understand that all PromoAlliance founding members are committed to the efficient and effective distribution model of suppliers providing products and services to distributors and distributors serving as the sales channel to buyers of promotional products.

As Alistair put it, “Having three major players working in alliance, sharing ideas and exploring new concepts will create exciting opportunities for all of our customers.”

We believe that by leveraging the strength of all three organizations we can provide greater insights into new markets. To operate most efficiently in today’s worldwide economy, it pays to form a strategic alliance with respected global partners like Sourcing City and PSI – an alliance that aims to improve and expand the international promotional products marketplace.

I entered into this alliance because I firmly believe ASI’s distributors and suppliers will benefit greatly from greater communication between worldwide partners.

Sourcing City, ASI and PSI are in active discussions with other potential PromoAlliance partners, and we’ll keep all our members apprised as things develop.

In the meantime, for more information and to hear the recorded webinar announcement we made from Chicago, visit www.promoalliance.com.

And let me know what you think of this new alliance by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Get Pumped for Success

Filed under: ASI Shows, Education, News About ASI

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins literally rocked the house at ASI’s all-day education session in Chicago on Tuesday. As one Counselor blogger put it: It was a sales rep’s Super Bowl. Or, as Tony himself said: “This is not your typical biz seminar, but they’re boring as sh**.”

You gotta love this guy.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an audience so energized and so willing to jump in and do whatever it takes to tap into Robbins’ energy and make it work, work, work for them to transform their lives and achieve their business goals.

I hope you followed the constant stream of tweets and blog posts from our editors, but in case you need a recap, below are some Tony tidbits and highlights. Print them out and post them where you can see them every day, to get started on your very own “celebration.” One tip: Play your favorite get-pumped music really loud while reading:

  • Too many people make things worse than they are and make up euphemisms for their situations. Face the truth like it really is.
  • Be honest about your own business – and capitalize on the current economy. This is when you can steal market share and capitalize on the problems of others.
  • 65% of Fortune 1000 companies started during a depression or recession.
  • Success is based on a strong mentality. Tell yourself:  I was made for this time. This is where I come out stronger than ever.

  • Emotions – creativity, flexibility, compassion, vision – are the ultimate resources.
  • Success is 80% psychology, 20% mechanics.
  • Decisions = destiny. If you want to change your life, you have to make new decisions.
  • Some people buy from you simply because they like being around you. Be happy and energized.
  • Energy comes from psychology, not food or sleep.
  • To get pumped before a big sales meeting, act like your favorite team won the Super Bowl – and change your movement by jumping, galloping, fist-pumping, etc.
  • You can be someone who sucks all of the energy out of the room or somebody who lifts people up by your energy. Which one do you want to be?

For more photos and to read the Counselor blogs in their entirety, click here or go to www.asicentral.com.

And if you were at the session, let me know your favorite advice by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Last Show in the Second City

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

We’re in Chicago this week for our last ASI show of the season – and we are definitely going out with a bang.

Tuesday is an incredible first for ASI Education: an all-day session with motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Maybe you’ve read his best-selling books or even watched his videos. But nothing compares to catching Robbins live, on stage.

I can’t wait to see how Robbins interacts with our Chicago audience during “Unlock and Unleash: The Power of Breakthroughs.” I guarantee it’ll be as intense as a warrior workout. To help you experience the rush even if you’re not with us, Counselor® editors will blog highlights throughout the day.

The ASI Show takes place through Thursday at McCormick Place in Chicago, which is a great town to visit in summer. Whether you’re into jogging along Lakeshore Drive, strolling through Millennium Park or enjoying any number of top restaurants, there’s always something happening in this Midwest hotspot.

Speaking of hot, Wednesday, Counselor magazine hosts its annual Hot Party at the Crimson Lounge nightclub, where we’ll name this year’s trendsetters. We wrap up two exhibit days Thursday, when the city’s former mayor – the outspoken Richard Daley – will share lessons he learned as the nation’s top urban executive during an intimate morning keynote.

If you see me in Chicago, please stop and say hello. If you’re not here, you can still follow all the action on www.asicentral.com and through nonstop tweets from ASI staffers.

The Heart of the Matter

Filed under: Community

I graduated high school in 1980. When I look back, I realize how much has changed – and how much has stayed the same.

It was the year of the Iran hostage crisis, which lost Jimmy Carter the presidency to Ronald Reagan. We were glued to the “Who Shot JR?” episode of “Dallas” – and the all-too-real shooting of John Lennon. For the first time ever, we could watch news 24/7, thanks to the debut of CNN.

That summer, the U.S. led a boycott of the Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And with Japan taking over the auto market, GM announced an annual loss for the first time since 1921.

Where were you in 1980? I was in Hope, Indiana, graduating from Hauser High School and on my way to Ball State University to study journalism and economics. Although the world at large seemed so uncertain, everything and anything still seemed possible to a small-town kid with big-city dreams.

My best friend back then was Steve Workman. We bonded as co-editors of the school yearbook and went on to attend the same college. From there, our paths diverged. Steve became a reverend and music teacher and among his many accomplishments, he supported internships for college students, helped start a men’s homeless shelter and mentored other young ministers – while serving on the board of a local food pantry and on a school board in Illinois.

Those crazy-wonderful days of high school – days filled with hope and promise and heartache and best friends you thought you’d know for life – flooded back recently when I returned to my hometown to be inducted into my high school’s 2012 Alumni Hall of Fame.

It was a lovely ceremony, and I was so honored to be on a list of Hauser alumni that also included my old friend Steve. Clear as day, I could still picture the two of us flying down the hallways of our old school, always on our way someplace – anyplace – fast.

Steve wasn’t at the Hall of Fame ceremony. He died in March 2011, at age 48, leaving behind a wife and a daughter and, I am sure, hundreds of parishioners who also loved him for all he did for his church and his community. Steve’s family shared the stage with me at the induction ceremony.

Service to others is a fitting legacy for Steve – and something for all of us to aspire to, no matter what community we serve. As everything else changes, that’s one thing I hope, for me, always stays the same.

Home Made Holiday

Filed under: Community, Members, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

A recent report from the Boston Consulting Group caught my eye, for it noted that the USA-made trend is picking up speed, as more than a third of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the U.S. from China or are considering it.

In light of the July 4 holiday, ASI put together its own list of USA-made ad specialties, along with a product demo video from Joe “The Joe Show” Haley. Whether you watch fireworks, hit the beach or simply stay put in the AC with a cold one, I hope you enjoy your holiday — and can use some of the ideas below in an upcoming campaign.

Below is the list of ASI’s Top 7 Made-in-the-USA Products:

  • Laptop backpack, from Sports System Custom Bag Corp. (asi/88782). Protects both books and laptops in a fully-padded laptop compartment and an even larger front compartment.
  • Cocktail shakers, from Howw Manufacturing Company (asi/61952). Light-up or clear cocktail shaker adds pizzazz to any office party or company dinner.
  • Lanyard and knit bracelet, from SnugZ/USA Inc. (asi/88060). Flash a brand via knit bracelets and lanyards made from 100% Virginian cotton.
  • Beach towel, from Terry Town Inc. (asi/90913). Make any sandy beach a personal billboard by imprinting or embroidering logos, slogans or brand names.
  • Mini Frisbees, from Target Line (asi/90640). 100% biodegradable.
  • Wall mounted clock, from Calconix Inc. (asi/43270). Time marches on with branded clocks.
  • Cooler, from Visual Promotions (asi/93997). Made from high-density plastic for extra cold retention, it holds over 12 cans, making it perfect for company picnics and retreats.

To see photos of the products and a video demonstration, click here.

Let me know what you think of the USA-made trend and whether you’re seeing more American-made products by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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