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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Magic of Colored Folders

Creating a feeling of comfort amongst the chaos of life

As many of you know, I was on holiday from June 14 to July 1, 2024. The most accurate, if not overused, word to describe the trip to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, and Spain would be epic. It was both life-affirming and soul-affirming in every way an experience can be. However, this particular post isn’t about the trip; this trip is about the ability to take almost three weeks off while ensuring that neither my clients nor my business suffered.

This post is about the magic of colored folders.

Whether it’s work or vacation, I thrive on feeling what I call “squared away.” In the world I’ve created for myself, I have dozens of moving parts that, of course, need to synchronize properly for everything to go smoothly. To me, that’s the only way I will feel squared away. To prepare to be away from brandivate (and Promocations) for three weeks, I had to put my love of organization into overdrive:

  • Six weeks before we left, I communicated with each client to inform them of my planned absence and assure them that services wouldn’t be interrupted while I was gone.

  • Three weeks before we left, each client had a detailed plan – including marketing assets and a schedule – of what and when would happen during my vacation.

  • I ensured each client was aware that I would check emails once a day but that brandivate’s Executive Administrator, the fabulous Angela Tabor, would monitor everything to guarantee everything would go according to plan.

  • For Promo UPFront Podcast, I worked with my partner, Kirby Hasseman, to pre-record three episodes so I wouldn’t have to lug a microphone and worry about unstable internet.

  • A few weeks before we left, I took an afternoon to create multiple “Final Note” posts and schedule them.

  • To keep the brandivate blog rolling, I wrote one in advance, then posted two “greatest hits” that some may not have seen before.

  • Josh Robbins, my partner in Promocations, worked with me and my schedule to launch our updated website, share our 2025 event calendar, and schedule marketing assets while I was traveling.  

As you can imagine, pulling this off took a ton of planning, thought, attention to detail, time, and, because I’m me, colored folders – something that I haven’t really shared with the world. To be clear, for clients and things I do with brandivate/Promocations, those colored folders are digital and live in the cloud. Even so, without them, I would have not only felt lost, I believe that brandivate clients would’ve felt underserved. In other words, clients, partners, and I felt squared away professionally before I ever set foot on an airplane.

In the case of an overseas vacation with multiple cities, Airbnb's, hotels, airlines, tours, restaurants, and, of course, trip insurance, being squared away means knowing the details of every day and where information is should something go awry. When we left for Rome on June 14, my bride decided to expose my love of colored folders when I travel via a social media post. Predictably, people jumped at the chance to give me a hard time about carrying printouts and, even worse, the fact that things were color-coded. The comments were nothing short of hilarious:

  • “Printing things like this screams old man.”

  • “Bill ‘Folder Boy’ Petrie! Now that’s just perfect!”

  • “Oh dear…drink up, Sandy!”

  • “Tell me you’re Gen X without telling me you’re Gen X!”

  • “#boomer”

Here’s the thing: it never hurts to be prepared. Technology fails, the internet isn’t always accessible, and the little portable Google machines we lovingly take everywhere can get broken, lost, or stolen. And, to be clear, I was vindicated on the way home.

On June 30, the plan was to land at JFK in New York at around 11:30 AM ET for a three-hour layover before heading home to Nashville. However, Delta had other plans and canceled our connecting flight. To make this already very long blog post shorter, the cancelation resulted in us having to stay in New York for the night without luggage and an ambiguous plan to get home. Because I had easy access to printed copies of our flight confirmation numbers and trip insurance, I could efficiently juggle being on the phone and relaying detailed information without looking for small, detailed numbers on my phone while navigating a stressful situation. The fact that they were color-coded (red for travel, green for trip insurance) was the icing on the cake.

The bottom line is that there’s no right or wrong way to make yourself - or your clients - feel squared away. You have to do what is best for the situation and your personality. In my case, I like printed copies of important information when I travel overseas. In the words of one friend, this is one of the things that makes me old and why she calls me “Billasaurus.”

In this case, I’ll wear that name with pride.

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