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We’re all the lucky beneficiaries of

the wisdom and foresight of the indus-

try legends who built this industry over

the past 100-plus years. From the many

PPAI Hall of Fame recipients to the

hundreds of unsung heroes who have

long since retired, all paved the way for

our success today. They understood

that by sharing experiences and helping

each other learn they were enabling the

industry to become more professional

and well respected. They formed

regional associations, shared experi-

ences with colleagues, created industry

education programs and built the

strong PPAI education and certifica-

tion program that we have today.

If you question the value of any of

this, ask yourself how you learned the

business. Who taught you the ropes—

the basics, the nuances and the techni-

cal aspects of this industry? It didn’t

happen in college. There is no degree

in promotional products. Other than

experience, and trial and error, it’s

almost 100-percent guaranteed that

you learned what you know from

industry colleagues at your company, at

regional association meetings, in webi-

nars taught by peers and at PPAI

events during the year. You learned

from people like you and me who

offered their time and shared their


Everyone has important skills to

share no matter their age or experi-

ence, or whether they have a lot of

industry knowledge or very little. Even

20-somethings right out of college can

teach their colleagues some valuable

skills. Aside from their major field of

study, most know how to shoot and

edit video, enhance images in

Photoshop, create PowerPoint presen-

tations, and use Google Docs and

other cloud services. Many are experts

in the techniques of reaching and

engaging an audience through text and

social media, and most are masters

with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram,

Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest, along

with other social media tools. If they

share this expertise, it makes us all


At the other end of the spectrum,

industry veterans have years of hard-

fought skills and experiences to share—

and usually a fair number of battle scars

to prove it. Ask any successful person

how he or she became successful and

you’ll likely hear story after story about

how their knowledge was acquired—

these are all building blocks from one

experience to another. Every experience

is important. Success is cumulative.

Share these life lessons with others and

you’ll help them succeed.

Whatever your skill, whatever your

age, be willing to pass your expertise on

to others. Offer to teach a class, sit on a

panel at The PPAI Expo, join an online

forum, mentor a colleague or start a

networking group in your area. Whether

you’re an information technology

expert, a whiz at market demographics,

a master at sales presentations or a pas-

sionate professional in any other field of

study—even, dare I say, product safety

and regulatory compliance—pass that

expertise, knowledge and experience on

to your colleagues. You’ll get great per-

sonal satisfaction and do a great service

toward moving our industry forward for

the next generation.

Experience. Pass It On.


4 •


• MAY 2015


Mentored a newcomer? Volunteered at your regional association? Presented on a panel at an

industry meeting? There’s no better way to protect the future of our industry than to share

your expertise with your peers.

Rick Brenner, MAS

PPAI Chair of the Board



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