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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
June 14, 2013
One thing I’ve learned from 30 years in business is that the bigger the world gets, the more we need to work together. Today, even the most successful businesses are networking and forming strategic alliances while learning together at conferences like the ASI Power Summit.
ASI designs each Power Summit agenda around breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. But along with new ideas and strategies, the most valuable takeaways are often the bonds participants build with each other.
At our first-ever Canadian Power Summit, which just ended, we opted for an interactive format and more round-table discussions. I don’t know if it was the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies, the late-night cocktails or the potent combination of both, but from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, the construct worked.
In my iPhone pics, you can see the view from my room, me and AIA president and CEO David Woods in one of the gorgeous meeting rooms and a group at wine tasting. To see more (really good!) photos, click here.
Not surprisingly, we spent a lot of time at the summit discussing the Canadian economy and learning new ways to encourage more business between companies on both sides of the border. As close as we are, there are interesting differences between the two countries, some of which were revealed at the summit in a special sneak peek at Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report.
Canadian highlights include:
Also at the summit, we celebrated Canada’s fastest-growing ad specialty companies, while learning a few of the secrets behind their success during one of our final panel sessions. Our top 10 list was determined by the percentage each company grew between 2010 and 2012. The top companies are:
10. Akran Marketing, 15%
If you missed this year’s Canadian summit, you can sign up for next year’s, taking place June 11-13 in Ontario, at Queen’s Landing, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Don’t forget: Anyone who attended the 2013 summit received a coupon for $300 off the regular rate for the 2014 event.
In addition, registration’s now open for the U.S. conference, ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
June 12, 2013
I probably qualified for enough frequent flyer miles to get to the moon this week, leap-frogging from ASI® headquarters in Pennsylvania to meetings in California before heading to Banff, Alberta, for the inaugural ASI Power Summit in Canada.
The summit, which takes place Wednesday through Friday at the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs resort, features sessions on emerging markets and breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. I’m really looking forward to an on-stage discussion with our keynote speaker, the multi-talented Dr. Jack Mintz, a world-renowned corporate taxation expert and director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
While it’s our first Power Summit in Canada, it’s our seventh altogether, with registration already open for the ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
The hallmarks of every ASI Power Summit include an intimate, relaxed setting in a beautiful place, conducive to great conversations and superior networking among the industry’s most knowledgeable and influential people. The list of business leaders speaking at the Canadian Power Summit reads like a “Who’s Who” of ad specialty insiders and representatives of a number of Counselor Top 40 suppliers and distributors.
In addition to a full slate of panel discussions, on Thursday we’ll celebrate the release of our first-ever list of the fastest-growing ad specialty companies in Canada, a list topped by a company that grew an incredible 253% between 2010 and 2012.
I’m sure a high point of that night’s dinner discussion will be Canada highlights from Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report. Sneak peek alert: 2012 Canadian distributor ad specialty sales rose to $1.56 billion, up from $1.48 billion in 2011.
The ASI employees working at the event include Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos, pictured from left with Glenna Fulks, assistant director of corporate events, marketing guru Colin Graf and Counselor Editor Andy Cohen. They tell me the hotel’s bison served over risotto is not to be missed.
After three action-packed days, I’m looking forward to one day’s worth of hiking in Banff National Park, where “residents” include black bears, grizzlies, wolves, cougars and elk. I sure hope the hotel gift shop carries bear spray along with their branded gear!
May 23, 2013
The views from the top of the world – the top at One World Trade Center, that is – are striking. Although still under construction, I was lucky enough to get a recent tour of the $3 billion (and counting) tower being built on the WTC site. To the New Yorker I’ll always be, no matter where I live, it was unbelievably exciting.
Sporting the required hard hat, I zoomed up, up, up with ASI® Vice Chairman Matthew Cohn, who had arranged for me to be his guest as part of Matthew’s active involvement in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a networking organization of over 20,000 business leaders in more than 120 countries. There were only about a dozen of us, and we spent more than two hours on the site. It was a total thrill!
We traveled to the 90th floor in an outside construction elevator, which wasn’t as scary as you might imagine. Although wind gusts could conceivably reach 100 mph, and most tall buildings are designed to sway in strong wind as much as three feet, I didn’t feel any movement – well, no more than I had anticipated.
A few weeks ago, the building reached an important milestone when a crowning, 408-foot spire was raised, bringing the high-rise to 1,776 feet, a symbolic reference to American independence. (Click here to watch a very cool New York Times time-lapse video of the spire, a broadcast antenna, going up.) I wish my iPhone photos could do the scene justice. On a clear day from the “top of the house,” as the hard hats say, you can see all the way into Connecticut, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean.
As you can imagine, those of us on the tour had a lot of questions about security. The 104-story building – currently the tallest in the U.S., with 3 million square feet of office space – was built on bedrock atop a 185-foot windowless concrete base, designed to withstand ground-level truck bombs. In addition, there’s a concrete core, six feet thick in some places, that’s been likened to that in a nuclear power plant, with rebar “big as tree limbs,” housing elevators, communications, stairs and sprinklers. There are even biological and chemical filters throughout the ventilation system.
Interestingly, a lot of the mostly steam-powered building’s structure is constructed from post-industrial recycled materials, and recycling is also a big part of its operation, from rainwater collection for cooling to 80% waste product recycling.
Eventually, the entire World Trade Center complex will feature a total of five high-rises along with a nearly $4 billion underground PATH transportation hub, below – on track to be the world’s most expensive train station.
Although suitably wowed by the complex’s wonder, to me the most moving sight was of the two iconic steel tridents, at right, that once supported the south tower. Amazingly, though scarred and burned, they withstood the building’s fall and now grace the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opening next year.
This visit carried a lot of personal meaning, and brought back a lot of memories.
I worked in Manhattan for 15 years, and most of that time I lived in Hoboken or Jersey City, across the Hudson River. Every day, I took the PATH train into WTC, rode an escalator to the shopping concourse, walked onto the Plaza and then crossed the street to my office in the World Financial Center.
I hadn’t worked regularly in New York City for a couple of years, but the day before 9/11 I had an appointment and decided to go in early and have breakfast at a favorite spot in the WTC. It wasn’t the famous Windows on the World restaurant at the top of WTC – it was around the 42nd or 43rd floor, with incredible views and good omelets. The next day, I would have been a casualty of the attack.
Until last week, I had only visited the site once. It was absolutely perfect to see a soaring new structure, rising from the rubble, zoom to the 90th floor, tour the new PATH complex several stories into the ground, and come out with dust and dirt all over my pants and shoes.
Thanks, Matthew. A wonderful gift, a wonderful new memory.