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A Special Message from the Eternal Optimist

Wednesday December 20, 2017 | Filed under:

I like to end every year with a message to our members, as thanks to everyone for doing business with ASI. This year, my “holiday card” is actually a 2-minute video with five quick tips for success. My hope is that it helps entrepreneurs in our industry plan for a productive and profitable 2018.

Click here to watch.

If there’s one theme that resonated with me in 2017 it’s “change.” It’s inevitable – and it’s happening faster than ever before. Thanks to the online shopping tsunami, digital isn’t just a part of the economy, it is the economy.

And increasingly, the middlemen – our industry’s lifeblood – are under siege, with numerous products now coming direct from China. Like it or not, everyone must now meet consumer expectations raised significantly by Amazon – at a time when dramatic business transformations are happening almost overnight.

What do we do? We compete like hell – and we survive. Every company in our industry – distributors and suppliers – must identify and maintain a sustainable, competitive advantage over increasingly trusted sources delivering products from around the world.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m an optimist as well as a realist. As worrisome as change is, change can also be good. Even great. Without change, there is no innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement.

But although I’d like to lose 15 pounds and go to the gym every day, I don’t – even though it’s near the top of my New Year’s resolutions. The same problem exists in this industry: We know change is needed, but we fail to act.

Solutions start with you. My advice is to think small and change just one habit. I’m betting it goes a long way toward helping you change your life – and your business – for the better.

To get you moving in the right direction, below are my five tips for success (in case, like me, you still prefer the written word over video!):

  • Solution No. 1: Invest in Yourself. Every year, ASI invests $1.5 million a year into education – for good reason. Continually improving your industry knowledge is the best way to get ahead. The best part is that ASI’s world-class education is free to members – with 500+ courses automatically tracked online via ASI University. And, at every large trade show, we offer an entire day of education, with top-shelf business experts presenting the latest ideas in sales, marketing, social media and technology. But, only 20% of you take advantage of this opportunity to learn the latest skills – and earn a BASI or MASI. Why not get started today?
  •  Solution No. 2: Invest in Your Business. If you had a good year, instead of splurging on a new car, hire a millennial to teach you more about social media.
  •  Solution No. 3: Seize Technology. A lot of us fear automation and new technology. But if you reduce time-consuming back-office tasks, you’ll have more time for clients and sales calls. A great start is to take advantage of everything ASI’s ESP platform has to offer, like CRM and Orders, specials, live inventory and live product feed, automatic tax calculator, split shipments, and so much more.
  •  Solution No. 4: Embrace Diversity. Most of our industry looks just like me: white, male, older. But that doesn’t reflect the world today, which is why ASI started a Summer Internship Program to help bring more young professionals into our industry. Last summer, ASI helped train 166 interns at over 60 industry companies – a number we hope to double in 2018 – with your participation.
  •  Solution No. 5: Lead Change. Since change is inevitable, your best bet is to prepare for it now, instead of reacting willy-nilly when it occurs. My advice is to write down what steps you’d take if you lost 30% of your top accounts, seal it in an envelope and, if a recession hits, take it out and do whatever it says. This way, you’re not reacting to crisis, you’re employing a thoughtful plan of action.

As I say in my video, this industry is filled with thousands of successful entrepreneurs I’ve grown to love. No matter what, ASI will be with you every step of the way, sharing new and improved ways of doing business online, in our print magazines and in our classes, while continuing to offer leading products and services designed to help you survive – and thrive.


Happy new year, everyone!