Keynotes Offer Inspiration For Growth And Progress In 2023

To bounce back from the depths of the pandemic and reach what PPAI currently projects as the industry’s biggest revenue year ever in 2022, promotional products pros had to be both resilient and comfortable in growing themselves and their businesses.

Why stop now? The uniting theme of the twin keynote speeches during The PPAI Expo Conference on Monday was a willingness to adapt and grow. Or, perhaps better stated, the “confidence to evolve” – a phrase used by Association President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, in his remarks before introducing speakers Maureen Zappala and James Pogue, PhD, for the two most widely attended talks of the day.

  • Zappala is a former NASA engineer who studies and teaches audiences about imposter syndrome, how it manifests and strategies to combat it.
  • She explained that by channeling her own self-doubt, she was able to embrace personal and career growth.
  • Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon many people identify with, the feeling that we are not worthy of our success or accomplishments and could have them slip away at any time.

“It’s a thought process,” she said. “A person with imposter syndrome goes to Herculean efforts to prevent the bad thing from happening, to the point where they catastrophize the possible outcome.”

 Sales pros in the audience heard Zappala’s tips for harnessing and combatting imposter syndrome. She was previously a highly regarded speaker at PPAI’s Women’s Leadership Conference in 2022.

With Zappala delivering the confidence piece of the two conversations, Pogue took the stage to discuss the need for evolution, specifically on the questions of diversity, equity and inclusion within industry firms – no different than any other sector of the economy. To endure, any business must now be prepared to meet the expectations of a younger generation of customers and workers.

  • Pogue specializes in diversity, inclusion and multi-generational leadership.
  • He frequently consults with companies, colleges and business groups on how to prepare, recruit and retain millennials and members of Generation Z into their organizations.
  • His remarks revolved around the need for professionals in promotional products companies to adapt and cultivate an “inclusive leadership mindset,” gathering a wide array of viewpoints of working to bring out the unique best in everyone.

“It doesn’t happen automatically,” said Pogue, who also spoke to industry leaders at the 2022 PPAI North American Leadership Conference. “There is no magic dust for inclusive leadership. It requires a ton of hard work. But the truth is there’s nobody in this room that isn’t already working hard. There isn’t anybody in this room that hasn’t already done something that’s impossible. This is just the next impossible thing that you have to do.”

The Future Of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation more closely resembles a living, breathing animal than a static industry topic. There are myriad ways in which evolving technology touches the promotional products industry, and it is part of PPAI’s mission to not only facilitate digital transformation in the industry but to help its members react to and stay ahead of the ways technology might affect them.

The PPAI Expo Conference 2023 made sure that digital transformation was top of mind so that attendees get the tips, tools and even warnings on what tech topics need to be acted on in 2023.

Below are a few of the digital transformation topics touched upon before the trade show floor officially opened Tuesday.

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Promotional Products Work Session Shares Program’s Accomplishments, Future

PPAI’s Promotional Products Work program has grown into a cornerstone of the Association’s outreach for the promo industry. On Monday during The PPAI Expo Conference, Lindsey Davis, MAS, the Association’s director of business development, brought her audience up to speed on where the program came from and where it’s going.

PPW Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

The Promotional Products Work program has taken several different forms over the years, but all have them shared the same mission: to elevate promotional products and educate buyers on the value of our advertising medium through research, education, networking and events.

“This is an evolving initiative for us,” says Davis. “It is not by any means ‘done.’ We want it to be a collaborative effort between us and our membership.”

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Equipping PPAI Expo Attendees To Become Leaders In CSR

During Monday’s PPAI Expo Conference, session speakers empowered attendees to become leaders in sustainability. Corporate social responsibility can be daunting, but there’s a starting point for every industry business. Each session encouraged attendees to take that first step toward sustainability, no matter how small.

Here are the big ideas from each session.

Conscious Consumers Are King

Consumers have high expectations for the companies they buy from. PCNA’s global chief merchandising officer Liz Haesler and chief revenue officer Holly Brown led the breakout session, “Conscious Consumerism: A Seismic Shift in Buying Behavior.”

“When you talk about social responsibility, sustainability is really just the start,” says Brown. “Consumers are looking for so much more. There’s a recent LinkedIn survey that shows 75% of consumers today demand that companies give back. Demand – that’s a strong word. DEI is also at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

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