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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Charm of the 3rd Time

A tale about grit, determination, willpower, and partnership

As you read this, my Promocations business partner, Josh Robbins, and I are in Florida about to embark on our third PromoCruise in less than 12 months. Damn, just writing that gave me joy and exhausted me at the same time. That realization also makes me question, “How did we get here?”


Honestly, the answer to that question is something more of a private reflection Josh and I will have while on the ship this week – likely over a bourbon. In other words, that’s not what this particular blog is about. This blog is about the nature of grit, determination, willpower, and perseverance in the business world and why, to me, it’s the single most significant indicator of success.


As many of you know, this genesis of Promocations was hatched – over a bourbon – while sitting in my backyard. To be clear, Josh started the conversation because, as a supplier, he had attended countless industry networking events and felt there was something, well, lacking. Josh also knew I had been to many events in the industry as we had previous discussions about the way we wish they were run. In other words, we had many casual conversations about making networking events more impactful, so the exchange wasn’t new.


However, this particular discussion was different.


We spoke, got a little frustrated with the lack of focus on forging relationships, started spitballing ideas of what we would do differently, and began to write notes mapping out what became Promocations. It was a damn fun afternoon, but I don’t think either of us realized the work involved to do it the right way:


  • Creating and promoting a new networking brand

  • Finding the perfect locations to host the first events

  • Building a trusting relationship with our third-party vendors for housing, transportation, and the overall event

  • Developing a schedule that focused on relationships and not merchandise

  • Learning how to build a dedicated app to enhance the overall experience

  • Marketing and selling the idea to the greater promotional products industry


Frankly, that’s just the tip of the planning iceberg, as anyone who has dared to plan a large event will tell you. The sheer amount of details that need attending before and during the event is just a wee bit overwhelming. When we stepped foot in Fort Lauderdale just days before the event on April 22, 2023, there wasn’t much more we could do except wait for our guests to arrive and host the event.


Oh, and be nervous – let’s not forget about that part.

I can tell you, despite our cool and calm exteriors, Josh and I were a bundle of nerves the first few days. Over the week, we did more than relax and enjoy the experience; we knew we had created something that completely shifted how networking events could be done in the promotional products industry.


Along with all attendees, we walked off that ship with more than just new friends—we formed bonds, both personally and professionally, that will last a lifetime. When you add the amount of business growth that every single person has experienced in the past year, well, that’s just the laser etching on the branded merchandise.


Today, just as we did on April 24, 2023, we will step foot on Liberty of the Seas with a crew of suppliers, distributors, and service providers. However, through that grit, willpower, and stubbornness to get everything right for this and every Promocation event, we are leaving the bundle of nerves at the port.

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