Editor-in-chief’s Letter

Tap Into Your Inner Artist

From time to time, each of us needs a little inspiration to stay motivated and focused on our goals. For me, that inspiration came from the ASI Long Beach ballroom stage in March, when artist and entrepreneur Erik Wahl bounded onto the stage.

While U2’s “Beautiful Day” blared on the speakers and its video played for all to watch, a shaggy-haired Wahl painted a perfect picture of Bono, the group’s lead singer. In less than four minutes. That’s right, in the time it took for the group’s song to finish, Wahl banged out a painting of Bono, which one lucky show attendee got to take home.

Whether you happen to be an extremely-talented painter like Wahl, or are more likely to paint blotchy stick figures (like me), channeling your inner artist from time to time can help you conquer your fears and achieve big business results, Wahl told the audience as he finished his painting.

“You can’t be successful today without being creative,” he said. “You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition, and creativity can do that. The companies that are successful right now are the ones that create unique experiences for their customers.”

To do that, Wahl recommends that ad specialty distributors begin to analyze their business in different ways than they may have done in the past. He told attendees to look at their operations and customer relationships and find where there are spaces of opportunity. To Wahl, that opportunity often exists in the places where company managers are most fearful. “Take a step back and look at the spots in your business that are risky or that you’re fearful of,” Wahl said. “Turn those around and begin to view them as opportunities.”

Wahl believes that truly creative people embrace risk and fear, while most people in business today too often shy away from those risks. “You can’t let fear get in the way of creativity, performance and growth,” Wahl said. “Expand your own definition of risk from minimizing liability to actually capitalizing on the opportunity that risk provides.”

If you’ve lost your creative spark—or just want to get a little inspiration to carry you through the next half of the year, be sure to head to ASI Chicago in July. On July 15, Education Day, Stephen M.R. Covey will present a free half-day sales seminar that will help you ignite your sales. And on the second exhibit day, July 17, Wahl will again take the stage, and is sure to give you the motivation you need to charge into the second half of the year, guns blazing.

I can’t think of a better way to keep motivated than to spend a few days with these two very different, yet equally inspiring, people. I hope to see you there!