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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Transient Moments

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

In 2011, I was given the career opportunity of a lifetime when the 5th largest office products company in the United States hired me to start, build, and grow a promotional products division. At the time, I was well entrenched as the Vice President of Sales at a top 20 distributorship, but the opportunity was too good to pass up and it sure didn't hurt that the new position would require me to move from Chicago to Nashville. There, I was given complete autonomy, and over the next three years (and with the help of a great team), the division became profitable 14 months ahead of schedule. Our promo division was growing wildly, ownership was thrilled, I loved what I was doing, and I was making more money than I ever dared to hope. I thought the good times would last forever.

I was wrong.

At the onset of 2014, the volatility of the office products industry finally touched me, as the company I worked for decided to form a strategic alliance with the largest office products organization in the country. On the surface, this partnership was only for the business's office products portion, representing approximately 85% of revenue. In January 2014, however, my job was eliminated, and the division I built was gutted so as to avoid directly competing with the new partner. To put it mildly, I was devastated. Over the next nine months, I did lackluster work for two distributorships, my confidence was in tatters, and I felt as if my professional life was spinning out of control. I thought the feeling of despair would last forever.

Again, I was wrong.

The simple fact is that things are never as good as you think they are, nor are they as bad as you think they are. Good moments – winning the RFP, landing the whale of a client, having your largest sales month – are transient. The bad moments are also fleeting – missing a deadline for your largest client, the sudden resignation of your top salesperson, or having a year of negative sales growth. The fact is business – and life – is in a constant state of flux and always will be.

When business is fantastic, enjoy and appreciate it because it won't last long. The same goes for when business goes south – it won't last forever.

After about nine months of wandering aimlessly in the desert that was my career, I started consulting for several suppliers and, ultimately, one large distributorship. I also threw myself into volunteering both locally and nationally. Finally, I began to speak at industry events to help others who might have faced some of the same challenges I had working in the promotional products industry. I did this for two reasons:

  1. Regain control over my career destiny

  2. Rediscover my professional confidence

In the almost four years since the launch of brandivate, I've had the good fortune to work with people I admire, share my transparent authenticity through writing and speaking, and received recognition I never thought I would attain. Heck, I've even been able to start a second company - Promocations - with my friend Josh Robbins, and we are seeing the fruit of our collective labor. As I write this, brandivate has experienced tremendous growth and I have the honor to do work that matters for our clients.

Today, life is good.

I will enjoy this moment as I know it won't last forever. Even so, when this moment ends, I know another great one is on the horizon.  

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