October 15, 2013
Happy employees help a company’s bottom line. Unhappy employees hurt productivity. In the face of research studies proving engaged employees work harder and come up with better ideas, you’d figure companies everywhere would be scrambling to improve the workplace. You’d be wrong.
Even though creating a better work culture doesn’t cost very much, a lot of companies have yet to make the leap. Here’s where we come in: Starting this week, three ASI employees will visit 16 suppliers and distributors doing it right. The best part is that you can tag along – virtually – throughout the eight-day Counselor Best Places to Work Tour to learn what it takes to turn frowns upside down at your company.
But that’s not all.
On Thursday, November 21, you can take another short-cut to improved productivity by attending ASI’s very first Counselor Best Places to Work Conference in Santa Barbara, CA. Our 12 hot-shot speakers will teach you how to quickly and easily pump up your employees and create the kind of work culture that results in happier people – and higher performances.
The first thing you need to do is to start following Melinda Ligos (@ASI_melinda), Andy Cohen (@ASI_andycohen) and Joe Haley (@ASI_joehaley) at www.CounselorMag.com/roadtour or on Twitter (#counselortour). The road trip gang will post videos, pics and blogs every day – and you can help keep them going by posting comments and tweeting about the trip to your followers. As thanks, you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card, along with cool road tour memorabilia.
This is the third time our Counselor editors have hit the road to visit Best Places to Work honorees and share the many unique ways these companies balance work and fun. Check out the website to browse previous blog posts for ideas from past visits you can implement at your company – and be sure you join Joe, Andy and Melinda on this year’s trip for even more tips and to meet some of the hippest, happiest people in our industry (and that’s saying a lot!).
If past road trips are any indication, there’s sure to be enough morning beer, late-night chili dogs, wacky costumes, cranked-up tunes, crazy car games and roadside attractions to put the antics described in “On the Road” to shame.
And, I’m happy to report, ASI knows all about Best Places to Work because we are one. In a contest sponsored by Greater Philadelphia Media our employees voted ASI “Best Places to Work-Large Company” (among companies with more than 100 employees), “Best Place for Working Moms” and “Best Employer for New Graduates” in 2013. ASI previously won “Best Places to Work” awards in 2012, 2011 and 2010, so I think it’s official: this is a great place to work.
September 19, 2013
This year’s ASI Power Summit in Park City, Utah, had it all: Breaking news, early morning inspiration, late-night camaraderie, tons of expert advice, incredible views and great golf and mountain biking.
Memorable moments included losing power within a 50-mile radius of the resort during the very last panel with members of the 2013 Counselor Power 50. Undeterred, we powered on, first using the light from moderator Matthew Cohn’s iPad to light up the speakers on stage and eventually by relying on several other iPad lights along with lanterns from the hotel. Not a single person left the room and every question got answered. I think there’s an Apple commercial in this!
Here are a few of my other personal highlights:
And don’t forget to check out ASI’s Facebook page, for pics by Jake (@Phillyspread).
The whole point of smaller, more intimate get-togethers like the Power Summit is for people to learn from each other, make new contacts and deepen friendships with people they already know (or think they know). So I’d like to thank everyone who joined us, and each and every speaker and panelist. Quality ruled!
Throughout the summit I was thrilled. But I was also saddened to hear a young sales star – who sells several million dollars in promo products a year – say he doesn’t think our industry is sexy and that he never tells friends what he does for a living.
In my final address to the Power Summit attendees I shared that story – and really let loose in response. I told our audience I’ve been excited by the industry since the day I started nearly 11 years ago. I’m proud of what I do and of the incredible ROI promotional products provide. Every day, I’m amazed by the continual creativity of our products and the talented people in our industry. I can’t imagine having more fun anywhere else.
August 19, 2013
It’s a no-brainer that Korean superstar Psy and his “Gangnam Style” video is now the most-watched YouTube video, with 1.7 billion views. What’s more interesting to me are sensations like speed demon videographer Devin Graham, whose videos now boast a combined 200 billion views.
In a unique marketing twist, Devin recently partnered with Ford to show off its latest high-performance hot hatch. First, check out the stunts he pulled off with the Ford Focus ST, a mountain and a group of pro long boarders. Then, consider what a video master like Devin can show your company about capitalizing on the viral video craze. It’s all about taking your brand for a new ride. Not only does Ford get to look cool to Generation Next, thanks to Devin they get to show off their hottest product to nearly a half-million eyeballs.
Such ingenuity is exactly why we picked Devin (@devinsupertramp) as one of our featured speakers for the 2013 ASI Power Summit, coming up fast September 15-17. Where else can you careen down challenging mountain bike trails sporting a GoPro camera like Devin and get a briefcase full of great tips on motivating employees to the max from New York Times bestselling author Adrian Gostick? Just don’t try both at the same time!
ASI’s annual Power Summit, where the best minds in our industry meet for three days of brainstorming, networking and superior learning, is happening at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. But act fast to qualify for a special discount of $300 off registration. Visit the 2013 Power Summit website, where you can register and browse the agenda, the speakers and their hard-hitting topics as well as the numerous recreational opportunities in Park City and beyond.
Other benefits of attending include a first look at the expanded, 2013 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, the 3rd annual Marketing Smackdown (a real-time showdown with top distributors picked by the audience), a slate of panels and top-drawer speakers like Bruce Money, a Harvard MBA and consultant for Nissan and CSX, with a topic that should be on everyone’s front burner: our changing demographics.
Come for the summit, then take a few days to explore Utah’s vacation paradise, which boasts dramatic mountain vistas, wondrous rock formations, a unique Western culture and even Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. If you want to shake it up, you can bike, hike, fly in a hot air balloon, ride a roller coaster and go white water rafting. Or, you can just kick back and relax in a hot tub.
Make sure you check out Devin’s view on Utah, in a video featuring pro trail bike rider Jeremy VanSchoonhoven, a finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” riding killer rocks in Maob, named one of America’s best adventure towns by National Geographic.
So what do you say? Power riding at the Power Summit? Move over, Psy. Here we come!
August 7, 2013
Thirty years ago this summer, I worked as a Dow Jones News Fund intern in New York City. I was 21 and it was the first time I’d ever left Indiana for more than a few days. As you can imagine, those few months in the big city changed my life forever.
I flashed back to that summer the moment I met two Dow Jones interns from the very same program: Grace Thompson and Samantha Phillips, who are spending their summer working in our editorial department at ASI headquarters outside Philadelphia.
Grace is on the Dean’s List at Rowan University, majoring in Writing Arts and minoring in Journalism. She plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts after graduating next year and hopes to write the next Great American Novel. Samantha recently graduated from Elizabethtown College with a B.A. in Professional Writing. Her dream is to become a magazine editor, event planner or film critic. In the photo, Grace is to the left of me and Sam (as she’s known around the office) is to my right.
Every day, Sam, who’s 24, and Grace, 20, tackle everything from researching and writing stories for our award-winning magazines to proofreading and assisting during photo shoots, radio shows and ASI events. Everything they do is hands-on, which adds up to critical experience they can tout on their resumes.
ASI interns are paid. And yet, of the one million undergraduate interns helping companies throughout the U.S., roughly half earn no salary, working instead for the experience or the college credit.
Here at ASI, we believe that, like everyone else, interns need money for housing, food, gas – and the occasional new cool apps. In return, they perform much-needed jobs while offering all of us fresh perspectives. Interns can be a great resource to any company, but especially to those courting the next generation. Interns know what’s hot before anyone else, and can provide invaluable insight into products and especially social media marketing.
So don’t just delegate them to fetching coffee. Think of them as junior staff members and tap their brains as often as possible. Someday, you might be working for them!
To prepare for entering the full-time working world, both Sam and Grace spent a week in New York City in Dow Jones’ business journalism residency, along with 18 other interns from all over the world. Grace, a Florida native now living in New Jersey, says her favorite part was being in the heart of Manhattan and experiencing all the different cultures, both within the group and out in the city.
After talking to Sam and Grace and comparing notes on our shared experiences in the Dow Jones program, I was moved to contact the managing editor who meant a great deal to me during my own internship: Jim Furlong.
I was an editing intern, assigned to international business and economic news for what was then a joint venture between the Associated Press and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. My job was rewriting WSJ stories so shorter versions could be sent over the wires, to be read across the world. Since I was an economics and journalism major at Ball State University, it was a perfect fit.
The photo at right shows me from around that time, in a college dorm with my friends Cheryl, far left, Melissa and Richard on either side, and Mark, above. Jim, my boss that summer, was 47 – younger than I am now. We initially reconnected on Facebook, which I was delighted to find he also uses to keep up with friends and family. In an email, I told him how much his honesty and generosity meant to a farm kid like me, living in an apartment in Hoboken I’d found on a bulletin board, working the 7 p.m.-2 a.m. shift.
“I want to thank you so much for everything you did,” I wrote, “and everything that came about as a result. I’ve had a wonderful career, which continues, and a life better than it would have been if I had not met you.”
I ended up working at Dow Jones on the newswire side for seven years before switching, briefly, to public relations at an Ogilvy agency. After six months of hating every minute, I returned, but this time on the business side. All told, I spent 16 years at Dow Jones in a variety of senior management, editorial, marketing, technology and product development roles.
Imagine my surprise when, a few days after I messaged Jim on Facebook, I got an actual letter (remember those?) in return. I couldn’t believe how much he remembered about me, right down to the P.R. job, which he described as donning the “flak jacket.” I also had to laugh at his description of my younger self as a “live one.”
His letter, at right, was exactly as I remembered him: smart, warm and funny. “Thank you for remembering one of your old editors,” he wrote. “Your comments mean a lot.”
The lesson for all of us is that it’s never too late to thank those who help you when you’re on your way up. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember you. If you’re really lucky, they’ll call you “friend.”
July 31, 2013
Whenever you think you’ve got it tough, consider what Michael Ryba recently accomplished. Michael, an account exec with Brown & Bigelow Inc. (asi/148500), earned his Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information™ (BASI) from ASI® – while undergoing cancer treatment and recovering from surgery.
“I’m so proud of my achievement,” says Michael, who pursued his BASI to become proficient in selling other types of ad specialties beyond his niche of decorated apparel. “Clients and prospects ask me what the BASI in my e-mail signature line is – and when I tell them what it means, they say, ‘Wow, none of my other distributor reps have that designation and knowledge.’ ” Even better, his sales are up.
It really makes my day when I talk to people like Michael who are excited about continuing their professional education – and growing their businesses as a result. Today, I’m proud to say ASI’s Education Certification Program (launched in November 2010) has hit a big – and excellent –milestone: We’ve certified more than 1,000 industry professionals, who’ve earned their BASI or Master (MASI) of Advertising Specialty Information™ certifications.
As ASI’s Executive Director of Professional Development, I’m passionate about offering such a breadth of live and online professional development opportunities to our members because of how much it benefits individual careers – and the industry as a whole. And, lots of you have the right idea. More than 27,000 industry pros are enrolled in ASI’s Education Certification Program, and to date 5,040 have attended live education classes during the 2013 ASI Show® season, making ASI the largest educator in the industry.
Here are three quick reasons from my desk to yours why you should join us:
1. You – and your industry knowledge – stay current and relevant. By being up-to-the-minute on new products, decorating trends, the latest social media and mobile technology, and more, you’re part of the super-fast-paced, new “normal” we work in. You’ll make yourself indispensable to your clients.
2. You’re engaged in the industry – and engaging to clients. Don’t be content to conduct business the way you always have. The more you expand your professional knowledge and skill areas, the more excited you’ll be about your career and where it’s headed.
3. You’re a vital part of your company’s team, and the industry. The more knowledge you have, the more meaningful your contributions to your firm, and the marketplace as a whole.
To those ends, ASI’s Education Team is dedicated to creating the best educational experience possible for you. For example, every year we create a 100%, brand-new slate of 60+ educational courses that you can take live at our five ASI Shows and our traveling Advantages Roadshow – we’re working on our 2014 lineup now.
In addition, our Online Learning Center currently houses more than 400 on-demand courses that you can take 24/7 – so if you want to brush up on how to cold call or what the top five apparel-decorating methods are at 2 a.m., be our guest. Our goal is to offer you up-to-the-minute seminars in lots of subject areas, including sales, marketing, social media marketing and hands-on technology. (Sneak peek: Instagram is gaining steam, so I’m developing a course that will teach distributors how to leverage this cool site – and gain super sales from it.)
Participation is free and user-friendly, with all courses automatically tracked electronically. Click here for a complete overview.
I welcome your feedback, so drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy learning!
– Nicole Rollender is editor of Stitches® magazine and ASI’s Executive Director of Professional Development
July 16, 2013
I’m in Chicago for the last major ASI Show® of the season, meeting with members, listening to the constant rumble of the famous “El” train and marveling at the stately architecture. No wonder a record 16 distributor sales meetings are taking place during the show at McCormick Place – it’s a great show in an amazing city.
Along with two exhibit days and a full day of ASI education, we’ll also celebrate the 2013 Counselor® Award winners at a special ceremony on Wednesday at the Art Institute of Chicago, following cocktails among the Impressionists. Which companies hit the Top 40 lists? Who is 2013’s Person of the Year? Check out www.asicentral.com (and this blog) for complete coverage on Thursday.
If you’re here with us, make sure to check out a few features special to this show, the industry’s premier summer event:
If you’re here in Chicago, let me know what you’re looking forward to the most by posting a comment or e-mailing me here – and keep those tweets coming! And be sure to visit www.asicentral.com for show blogs and videos.
July 1, 2013
Here’s the beauty of Internet radio shows like ASI Radio: it’s interactive, it’s mobile and, since there’s no transmitter, anyone anywhere can listen in. Now, you can log on and listen in from the Far East as easily as you can from the East Coast. Hopefully, no matter where you are Tuesday, you’ll listen to our special 5-year anniversary show.
ASI Radio debuted in 2008 with the same five co-hosts still livening up the airwaves Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. ET. Since then, they’ve done an incredible 275 shows. In an era when the same old, same old is repackaged and sold as new, ASI Radio consistently delivers original business insight, breaking news and the most authoritative research and resources available – along with a fun, weekly dose of awesome.
Tuesday, July 2, we’re celebrating with cake, champagne and a trivia contest, so be sure to join us – and to compete to win prizes for correct answers. Call in at (215) 953-4979 or email us at email@example.com.
I’ll be a special guest, offering up congratulations along with a sneak peek at Counselor magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report and some info on ASI®’s next Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study.
Every week, ASI Radio offers something for everyone along with the latest sales and marketing trends and tips. Each show also features an industry news recap by Counselor® Editor Andy Cohen, a product safety minute and a list of each host’s favorite promo product, also available online, complete with images and descriptions.
Above all, ASI Radio is a true reflection of this industry’s sometimes zany, always creative personality. The five hosts know more about this business than just about anyone (except me!). Joe Haley, the host of “The Joe Show,” covers new products; Advantages® Editor Kathy Huston tackles distributor sales; Cohen provides business analysis, SGR™ Editor Michele Bell reports on the supplier side while ringleader and Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos keeps the show moving and the topics flying.
But collective knowledge aside, they’re also true entertainers. Log on for the laughs; log off armed with plenty of news you can use.
And where else in the industry can you get business insight from the likes of economist Steve Forbes and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who were both interviewed on the show prior to appearing as ASI Show® keynote speakers? Short answer: nowhere. ASI Radio is the first and still the only industry radio show around.
If you miss Tuesday’s live show, don’t worry. You can check archives of previous shows and featured interviews anytime at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, you get credit toward your ASI BASI or MASI certification for listening to the recording of each show later on, when you listen to it as a class in the Online Learning Center.
But try and join the gang on Tuesdays – because you never know what Joe, Andy, Melinda, Michele and Kathy will say!