Awards & Engraving

March '20

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24 a-e-mag.com • A&E MARCH 2020 Donna M. Gray is the co-owner and president of Total Awards & Promotions/DonorApprecia- tion.com in Madison, Wisconsin. She has authored two books and for the past 20 years wrote a monthly column for two trade publications, and writes a semi-monthly blog for a business magazine. Donna is also a charter member of the Recognition Roundtable. THE GRAY AREA By Donna M. Gray, CRM I had my first "real job" when I was five years old. My parents owned a bowling alley (that's what it was called back in the day), and I had the distinct privilege of throwing the first ball down the lanes at the start of each season. I had my own duck pin ball that was perfect for a little girl. My pay was an ice cream cone. So, having that great responsibility at such an early age allows me to say I've been working for a long time. Since those early days of learning how to be in business at my parents' knees, I've graduated both from real school and from the college of hard knocks in our industry. And now I have a new beginning… sharing my thoughts about working on and growing a successful busi- ness with you. NEW GROWTH For most of us up here in the frozen tundra (aka, Wisconsin), March is the real start of the spring thaw. We know that buried under the snow and ice are fresh, new beginnings. Someone once told me that growing a business is like growing a garden — each year one creates a new plan that is based on the current soil and growing conditions. Soon the seeds are planted, and one begins to cultivate the garden. These tasks are much like writing or updating a business plan, setting goals, and then working the plans and goals. Nowa- days, we cultivate the soil by creating or updating business plans, then we plant the seeds through marketing tools like user- friendly websites and social media. Per- sonal contacts will always be important in H ello to all of you readers. I'm the new girl on the block here at A&E… well, not really new. I've been around the business block for some time. Let me share a little bit about me and my background. New Beginnings Creating and updating your business plan

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