PPAI Magazine January 2024

Icon Awards | Must Read “L.E.A.D. is one of the greatest things that PPAI does,” Petrie says. “It’s so vitally important that we advocate for small business owners, how they conduct their business and how they hire new employees, especially salespeople,” he says. “It’s always an honor to go to Capitol Hill. You see the same people over and over again, and they remember you brought something with a logo last time. It shows the power of our medium, and then we can have a really serious discussion about whatever legislation is on the table and how it will impact small businesses.” Petrie is also a founding board member of PromoCares, a volunteer-driven group of industry members dedicated to corporate social and environmental responsibility, and a former chef and board member with PromoKitchen, an allvolunteer organization that provides education and mentorship in the industry. “For my money, no organization has done more to truly nurture, foster and help people grow – at no cost – than PromoKitchen,” says Petrie, who has guided nearly 20 industry members through the organization’s mentorship program. “When someone asks for help, it will take a lot for me to say no. It’s important to give back, and I’ve learned so much more from the mentees than they’ve ever learned from me.” Sharing Wisdom A devoted educator within the industry, Petrie has contributed content for industry media outlets and regional association newsletters. He’s also written a weekly blog for more than a decade and has recorded more than 175 podcast episodes with Hasseman, who he’s known for 20 years. “Kirby is a great straight man and will let me be a little silly and fun because, let’s be honest, we’re in an industry that should be fun,” Petrie says. “We’re giving decorated nuggets of awesomeness to people. He’s a great sounding board and comes from a very different perspective. He’s a serial entrepreneur. I’m not – I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I’ve learned so much from him. I wouldn’t know what to do without him.” Although Petrie considers content creation to be a crucial part in giving back to the industry, it has also been a catharsis for him, especially after his wife Sandy suffered an episode of sudden cardiac arrest in 2016. On a Friday night in the summer, he found her “slumped in a chair, unresponsive, with shallow, labored breathing.” He began administering CPR and called 911. Miraculously, she was part of the roughly 10% of people who have a sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting and survive, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. As a result, the couple dedicates a lot of their time and donates a lot of their money to the American Heart Association. “I wouldn’t be a quarter of the person I am without her,” says Petrie, who documented the harrowing experience and aftermath in journal form. “I’m not a hero in this movie, as I did what anyone would’ve done in that situation: everything I possibly could.” What’s Next? All Aboard! At age 53, Petrie shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to all his efforts already highlighted, he is also the co-founder of Promocations, which creates experiences that allow professional and personal connections to flourish in a low-key, relaxed environment, such as a cruise or barbecue. “What’s the best part of any networking event? It’s the stuff outside the prescribed networking sessions,” Petrie says. “It’s in the hallways, a predinner drink, dinner itself or the shenanigans that happen after dinner. Those are the things that people bond over. At Promocations, we try to create those business bonds with something that’s more fun, and more importantly, can connect people on a level that they can’t in a 15-minute meeting in the middle of an Embassy Suites.” As usual, Petrie thinks differently than the rest, challenging the status quo in an effort to improve the industry. “The fact that I’ve bamboozled enough people to actually read what I write and hear what I have to say and think that it’s different and helps them in their business is something that makes me feel like a million bucks,” he says. Corrigan is a news editor at PPAI. Distinguished Service Award PPAI • JANUARY 2024 • 59