• Bill Petrie

Time to Fly

Updated: Jul 12

Some birds aren't meant to be caged

Today is a bizarre day for me, even though I knew it was coming for a few months. While I usually use this blog to write about better marketing, creating branding that matters, Van Halen, or even the occasional opus on the pros and cons of beans in chili (I’m definitely on the con side of that argument), today, I am writing to share that Friday, July 8, 2022, was Kelsey Cunningham’s last day at brandivate.


Simply writing that on digital paper made it ten times more real than it already felt.


Let’s get two critically important things out of the way before I continue:

  1. Kelsey is leaving brandivate because she missed working on the supplier side of the industry. There’s nothing sinister here, nor is there some sort of weird drama – Kelsey simply craved to get out from behind her computer and be in front of people on a consistent basis. Sometimes, like this time, it’s just that simple. But, as she will tell you, sitting behind a desk every day was akin to being a caged bird, and now it’s time for her to fly.

  2. Kelsey and I have been close friends for years, and that bond is stronger today than ever. Her desire to return to the supplier side of things has been something we’ve been discussing and planning for a few months. There are no secrets, no gotchas, and nothing negative - it’s just time for her to follow her career heart.

Change always affords the opportunity to grow. Because we have been working on her transition back to the supplier life for several months, it allowed us to explore how to do more than simply continue the creativity, communication, and service brandivate delivers to our clients; it was critical that we found a way to enhance it. After much research and consideration, the answer was as clear as J.Charles crystal: expand our resource-sharing back-office services with a like-minded organization.

As fate would have it, at the same time Kelsey and I were discussing her desire to leave brandivate and return to the supplier side of the industry, I was working concurrently with the owner of Vault Promotions on Promocations. As we spoke – and perhaps enjoyed a bourbon or two – it was apparent we shared many similar back-office needs. To that end, we will are expanding our staff and resources to improve internal operations and provide additional bandwidth for all brandivate clients. During a time when the profound reality and sadness of Kelsey leaving was real, making this change was a ray of light and something that excites me. However, that’s something I can write – or talk – about another day. Today is about Kelsey.

Kelsey will always be part of brandivate, and her presence is already missed as she was instrumental in the organization’s formation. While, in many respects, Kelsey’s contributions were more of the “behind the scenes” nature, that doesn’t make them any less impactful. Kelsey has the innate ability to look at something and find a way to make it exceptionally better. I’ll miss that, along with her boundless energy, uncanny organizational skills, positive outlook, and deliciously wicked sense of humor. Thankfully, I’ll still be able to experience that while she is flying as opposed to on a daily basis as I’ve become accustomed.

In short, change is hard even when all the news is good. Well, not all good as there is a bit of sadness in all of this – especially for all you suppliers thinking you might be able to hire Kelsey to bolster your organization. Not surprisingly, she’s already landed a great gig with an equally fabulous organization – all of which will be revealed by her in the coming days.

As this day has loomed, I’ve thought a lot about a quote from my favorite movie. It’s near the end of The Shawshank Redemption where Red is reminiscing about his friend, Andy Dufresne, who escaped the prison they both called home and it sums up my feelings perfectly:

“I have to remind myself that some birds are not meant to be caged; their feathers are just too bright. So, when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up in the first place does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty now that they’re gone.

I guess I just miss my friend.”


It's time to spread your wings and fly, Kelsey.

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