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Where Were You on September 11th 2001

America was changed forever on September 11, 2001. As we reflect on the anniversary of this tragedy, I wanted to share something we have presented to the audience through the years on this date. This story shared by past PPAI Chairman, and 2015 Hall of Fame Honoree, Paul Kiewiet, MAS+ is quite inspirational.

Most of you can recall where you were when the news of the terrorist attacks occurred. On that fateful morning, Paul Kiewiet was preparing to start his annual Golf Odyssey Conference and End User Show. Paul was presenting to a group of about 100 clients and some suppliers during a "Power Breakfast."

As he was nearing his conclusion, he received the tragic news of what had happened that morning. Paul turned on the big screen TV at the back of the auditorium, and the group witnessed the first tower burning and moments later the second attack.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Years ago, Paul shared this story and the response he received from one of his end-user clients regarding the decision he made. This person apparently felt quite strongly about the use of branded corporate gifts and recognition awards. He greatly appreciated that Paul chose to continue with the day’s events. Here is the letter:

"Promotional motivation and incentives do indeed serve in a tremendously important capacity in our society, simply because you all deal daily with matters that place value on individual human effort and commitment.

We can only guess how many of the poor souls in the World Trade Center Towers had reminders of their value on their desks and walls, given to them by those that cared about their business and personal relationships.

In no other business that I can think of is that idea more important than in yours. For that reason alone, you and your staff served a greater good by continuing on with your program and its goals.”

I've shared this story through the years, and there is really nothing I can add to it. A couple of people were offended by it, but I'm not sure why? 9-11 just hits a nerve with people. We are in an awesome business and what we do has value. Many refer to what we sell as "trash and trinkets" and lately our industry has come under fire by people who don’t understand the proven effective impact of our marketing medium. The products we sell show appreciation, in addition to building brand awareness.

The story from Paul shows the positive, powerful impact our products have on lives…contrasted with attacks on our industry. Promotional products, awards, imprinted apparel and incentives offer an unprecedented branding and relationship building opportunity that other advertising mediums can’t.

Life is filled with tragedies and challenges. It’s also filled with joy and great rewards. Let’s reflect on our blessings and consider how we can make a positive difference in our personal lives and our business lives. Show love for our families, care about our neighbors and serve our clients to the best of our abilities.

“If there is any kindness I can show, any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” - William Penn

© 2013 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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