Continuing Education Can Be FUN


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I have shared my thoughts on the importance of continuing education in several blogs over the last couple of years. Whether reading books, taking classes or participating in webinars, staying up-to-date with the latest information in your industry is a must. For one week every summer, I travel to Chicago to participate in the ASI Chicago trade show. For several days, I devote all of my time to educational classes and meeting with suppliers so I can bring ideas to my clients that will help them grow their businesses.

Last week, my husband and I traveled to Chicago. It takes a few days to prepare for this trip because I have to bring my office with me so I can work in the evenings. We have learned over the years that it is best to stay at the Hyatt connected to the McCormick Center so that we can walk to where we need to be and while at the trade show, I am a short walk from my computer if my customers contact me with questions.

Day One from 8:30 am until 4 pm is a day of education. There is a reception at the end of the day with snacks and adult beverages. It provides a chance to share thoughts and ideas with other promotional product distributors. ASI has a variety of classes and speakers to choose from. My husband and I always go to separate classes and then we share the notes. The presentations are available online so we can actually have the benefits of the entire day at our fingertips.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Coach Ken Carter

Day Two began with a breakfast and the speaker was Coach Ken Carter. I actually knew nothing about him prior to the breakfast. What an awesome man! His talk was inspiring and thought-provoking. He also offered his book, his book on CD and a copy of his movie, all autographed, to anyone who visited his booth so I am anxious to read his book and watch his movie. It was a great way to start what is a long day on a tradeshow floor. The trade show was open from 10 until 5, and we always try to get a little more than half way through the show before the end of day one. With over 2500 suppliers, that means there is no time to waste. We ended the day with a celebration on the rooftop of the Godfrey hotel. Despite all of the rain, the evening was beautiful and watching the sunset over the city was breathtaking.

“Don’t wait for the “perfect time,” you will wait forever.  Always take advantage of the time that you’re given and make it perfect for you.” Daymond John

Daymond John Photos ( image hosted by )

Day Three began with our keynote speaker, Daymond John.  He is an entrepreneur, multimillionaire, and stars on the television show, Shark Tank. He shared the ups and downs of owning a business, some of his own mistakes along the way, and the importance of doing what you love, and loving what you do. We spent the day on the trade show floor, and were so busy we didn’t even take time for lunch. It was almost a relief when the show floor closed and the closing celebration began. We didn’t win any of the prizes, including the $5000 grand prize, but it we had a great time anyway.

We ended the week spending time with our sons and daughter in law. It is a bonus that they are in Chicago so we can blend business with some family time.

We returned to Indianapolis completely exhausted, but I’ve seen all of the new products offered in my industry and I can share ideas for future promotions with my clients. The educational classes and the ability to see all of my suppliers in one location during the week make me a better business woman and allow me to be serve my clients more effectively.

My challenge for you this week is the following;

What are you doing to stay up to date in your industry? Traveling to a trade show may be costly and exhausting, but in the long run, you will be more knowledgeable and be better prepared to work with your clients. If your industry doesn’t have a trade show, take advantage of webinars or find a mentor in your field to help you grow. The main thing to remember is you are never too old to learn.

“Follow your passion. The rest will attend to itself. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s possible. And it’s your turn. So go for it. It’s never too late to become what you always wanted to be in the first place.” J. Michael Straczynski

Have a blessed week!


I own a promotional products company, Gardner Promotional Solutions, where I offer over 1 million different products to meet your promotional needs. In addition, I also have a complete wedding line that includes ‘save the dates’, invitations, napkins, imprinted stemware and attendants gifts.  I’d love to schedule an appointment or a phone call with you to see how I can help you with your promotional items!


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