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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

We All Need a Kirby

Why a relationship like his matters and will set you up for success

Today is going to be a fantastic day for a variety of reasons: I’m in Las Vegas attending an in-person tradeshow for the first time since the pandemic, I get to see my business partner for the first time in almost a year, I’ll have lunch with a long-time industry colleague, and later this morning, I’ll step in front of a live audience to speak in over two years. So, in the words of Larry David, that’s a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good day. However, there’s one thing that will make the last part just a bit better: I get to speak with my friend, Kirby Hasseman.

Many of you know that Kirby and I tend to be linked when it comes to the promotional products industry. We’ve hosted a weekly podcast for over seven years, jointly written articles for PromoKitchen, and teamed up to speak at numerous events as we will do in a few hours. However, many of you don’t know that while Kirby and I have known each other for about 20 years, we’ve only been close friends for 12 non-consecutive years. If you want that story, you’ll have to find me at a bar and buy me a beverage – yes, it’s that good.

Kidding aside, I genuinely believe everyone needs a person like Kirby in their professional sphere, and if it bleeds over into a personal friendship, all the better. However, for this blog, I want to focus on why having a “Kirby” in your professional life will make a dramatic impact on your level of success.

  1. Support – Regardless of what I’ve done in my professional life, Kirby has supported me. He may disagree with specific decisions – and even challenge me on them (more on that below) – but once I’ve made up my mind, I know I can count on his encouragement. The security that comes with knowing that unwavering support exists is priceless.

  2. Perspective – As opinionated as I am, I don’t know it all, which is why it’s so important to have someone outside my brandivate world challenge my way of thinking. When I have an idea about direction, content, or even strategy, Kirby will listen and then ask pointed questions from an outside perspective, forcing me to incorporate other factors into the final decision. In other words, Kirby and his way of challenging me makes the work I do better.

  3. Accountability – To be crystal clear, Kirby calls me on my bullshit. You may not think this is important, but it is for the simple fact that we all need someone outside the organization that brings a dose of reality to the situation. While Kirby is a kind and joyful human, he holds me accountable to the goals I set for myself and brandivate. This added layer of accountability shows me how much he truly is invested in my success and brandivate.

  4. Reciprocation – What makes this dynamic work for both of us is that I provide the same value to Kirby. It’s almost as if each of us sits on the board of directors for each other’s organizations. In other words, this works because it’s a two-way street. While we give each other a hard time, the mutual respect and admiration we have is without measure. It’s that esteem that allows each of us to be open to the other’s views.

To be clear, having a “Kirby” inside your business is critical as well – someone who truly understands that company, the financials, and the struggles. At brandivate, my business partner Kelsey Cunningham is that someone. However, for the reasons I outlined above, having an external view provides a far fuller picture because they see things from the outside looking in - a full 360 degree view. So, if you don’t have a “Kirby,” I strongly suggest you find one and do it quickly. As for Hasseman, he’s taken, and I’m damn proud to call him a friend.

If you’re in Vegas and would like to join us for a bit of education today, the details are below and we’d love to see you there!


Past the Pandemic: Finding Success in the New Economy


In this session, industry thought leaders Kirby Hasseman and Bill Petrie will share many lessons learned during the pandemic that can be applied to propel any business forward. During the past two years, many companies thrived while others simply did not adapt to the seismic shift in how business was conducted. Through case histories, real-life examples, and engaging stories, they will help attendees create their plan of success moving into the post-pandemic economy.


Monday, January 10, 2022

11:15 AM PT – 12: 15 PM PT


Mandalay Bay – Lagoon L

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