Saturday, March 30, 2024

See It Through: The Best Stuff Happens After Intermission

As I mentioned in “Just Give It a Minute,” I was recently in Las Vegas for two back-to-back conferences. I spent a total of two weeks there. I love Vegas.

More specifically, I love old Vegas. When I visit, I love staying in the older casinos—the ones with decades of caked-up cigarette smoke infused in the ceilings, with marquees all missing a few bulbs, and with their time on this planet coming to a close. As Vegas does, older casinos are often plowed under to make room for bigger, bolder, flashier, (and pricier) new behemoths. Aside from frugal Marty loving the price of the older places, there’s just a nostalgia there that I want to experience while I can before it’s all gone. One night, while I was there, I took in some shows with a double feature at the MGM Grand: David Copperfield followed by KÀ by Cirque du Soleil.

Let’s talk about the amazing David Copperfield first. I admit, my hopes were very high for this show. He’s an institution and has been performing in Vegas for decades, but I’ve never gone to see his show. I saw Criss Angel years ago at the Luxor and was completely blown away by the energy and sheer enormity and mind-blowingness of his illusions. I remember sitting toward the front in an aisle seat and Criss came up the aisle, gave me a high-five, and then stopped right next to me. In a puff of smoke, he disappeared and, at the very same moment, reappeared in the back of the theater and walked back down the aisle to where he was just standing. It was him both times, I promise. I can’t figure it out. It broke my brain and I loved it so, so much. And so, I had similar expectations for David Copperfield because, after all, in the ‘80s and ‘90s when I was obsessed with magic, David Copperfield was the be-all, end-all, top-of-his-game illusionist to follow.

But, it turns out, 67-year-old David Copperfield does not have the energy, vim, and vigor that he did in 1990 when we all watched him on live TV going over Niagara Falls tied to a raft and then emerging a few seconds later dangling from a helicopter. Today’s David Copperfield has clearly been doing the same scripted show for decades and has every line memorized so tightly that he mumbled through them without emotion or enunciation, leaving the audience confused and strained to try to figure out what he’s doing or saying. And today’s David Copperfield somehow hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s not OK to make constant jokes about race and gender. It was quite the let-down.

However, that being said, today’s David Copperfield is still quite the talented illusionist. While the first half of the show was not very exciting, a little past midway through he somehow made a gigantic UFO appear in the theater, hover and spin over our heads, and then disappear. It was amazing! And, in the finale, predictable as it was, a gigantic animatronic dinosaur skeleton appeared on stage and roared at everyone to close out the show. So, yes, David Copperfield’s show was worth it. I’m glad I went. I saw a legend, even if I couldn’t really follow what he was saying as he whipped through the script without much energy. It was a Monday night, after all, but still for a magic show it could definitely have used some more magic.

KÀ, however, was full of magic. Not illusion in the traditional sense of magic, but magic as in actual stage magic—that thing that live theater brings when the cast is energized, hungry, and full of life and it just electrifies the whole theater. KÀ was indeed completely magical; I’d expect nothing less from a Cirque du Soleil show, as every one I’ve ever attended has been completely magical. But, it turns out, not everyone felt the same…

Less than halfway through the show, the couple sitting next to me at KÀ—a smelly, loud-talking, heavily-drinking pair who weren’t doing much show watching but rather doing a lot of getting up and down and in and out and under-their-beer-breath commenting—got up and left. They just left! Right during the amazing baton act that had the rest of us in the theater glued to the talent while the enormous giant rotating stage lifted up in the background and reset for the next act. And as soon as the couple next to me left, aerialists dropped down from the ceiling all across the theater over our heads for a suspended dance that took my breath away, followed by multiple wheels of death, a completely vertical fight scene on a climbing wall, and pyrotechnics that made me check to make sure my eyebrows were still intact afterwards. I don’t know why that couple left, but clearly they weren’t the type to trust that the second half would be better than the first.

Often, the best stuff happens after intermission. Sometimes we have to sit through the first half, having faith that the second half will be better. And sometimes the first half is pretty great too! Sometimes, even though we may be disappointed in one person or a group of people who seem to have lost their spark and their magic, we need to remember that the main production is still worth the ticket price and that that giant UFO that comes down over our heads without warning will make it all worthwhile. Sometimes we have to understand that this baton act, as amazing as it is, is nothing compared to what’s going to follow it, so we need to stay in our seats and see it through. There’s always a roar waiting at the finale.

Why Wait?

I recognize the irony that this blog post is titled “Why Wait?” when the last blog post I did was titled “Just Give It a Minute,” but I promise each thought has merit and they’re really talking about two different phenomena. Bear with me... 

I’ve lived in my current home for a little over five years, and now the time has come to list this house so I can get moved to Delaware and be closer to my family, downsizing to a smaller, easier-to-maintain condo or something in order to be more flexible, travel more, and enjoy my new semi-retired work-from-home and work-on-the-road lifestyle. So, before the photographers come from the real estate company in mid-April, I’ve been doing some long-overdue updating.

For five years, I’ve lived with a Pepto Bismol pink bathroom, complete with chipping paint on the trim, a yellowed and ancient medicine cabinet with non-functioning lights, and a gold, glittery light switch cover. I’ve also lived with a seafoam green guest room, a cabinet in the hall that has a door with a mind of its own, constantly swinging open without notice and catching me as I walked by, and a ceiling fan in my master bedroom that was down to one blade because the other three had fallen off in short order after I thrice got whacked in the head by the oversized, antique-looking rotating fan attached to the low ceiling,. All issues are easy fixes, and I had paint, a new medicine cabinet, a new light switch cover, a new ceiling fan, and a clasp for the cabinet all purchased and ready…just sitting in my to-do area, waiting for “someday” when I would have the oomph to get them taken care of.

For five years, I haven’t done those projects. Yes, I did others. I had the electric blue that covered the main living areas and hall painted over years ago, got a new roof, did a good amount of landscaping, put up curtains, took down old window coverings, and did quite a bit to make this 1950 brick cottage I call home feel more like my own instead of the previous owners’, whom I’m convinced hadn’t decorated since at least 1960. But, some of these last projects just sat there. To my credit, in February 2020 I did have a contractor on the line who had quoted gutting my pink bathroom to make it sleek and modern, but before work could start the building material supply chain crisis hit hard and my quote doubled to the point where I called it off.

But now, the photographer is scheduled and my house listing will be up within a month and these projects just had to be done. My amazing Realtor® (so amazing that she’s been featured on House Hunters multiple times, if I may brag a little about the incredible human she, who I’m blessed to also call a friend) gave me the name of a friend of hers who does handyperson work, so I hired him to do that final bit of painting, ceiling fan installation, and medicine cabinet replacing. And, oh my dear, does my home look so different now! I still have a little more to do in the newly-painted spaces, like making valences for the windows (bought fabric yesterday for that) and staging them for the photographer and house showings, but the change from those obnoxious colors to clean, crisp white walls is dramatic and so overdue.

Why do we wait on things like this? Or, more specifically, why do I wait on things like this? For five years, I’ve been a battered homeowner by an attacking ceiling fan to my forehead and an attacking hallway cabinet to my left arm. For five years, I’ve apologized to every single houseguest about the pink bathroom with yellowing, non-functioning medicine cabinet and peeling trim. For five years, I’ve told guests to try to ignore the green walls in that guest room. For five years, I stared at that gold glittery light switch cover, when all it would take is two quick unscrew-and-rescrew gestures to have it replaced. Oy.

Now it’s finally updated. It should have all been done five years ago so I could have enjoyed the updates and not have them done just as I’m about to leave this place. Though, I do suppose that this all has one silver lining—or, should I call it a gold glittery lining—as I’ve saved that bathroom light switch cover for wherever I may end up in Delaware. It seems, somehow, I’ve grown a bit fond of it.

Just Give It a Minute

I’m currently sitting at the bar at ITH, my local, very small, six-terminal Ithaca, New York airport. It’s a gorgeous, recently renovated airport, but still very intimate (as in tiny) and quite short-staffed. There’s no one working at the bar, though I guarantee you if there were they’d be making a killing right now. There is an adorable handwritten sign by a cooler of drinks that says, “If no one is working, help yourself and please leave cash by the register.” Oh, small town charm galore. I could sure use that canned espresso shot right about now. If only I carried cash. I suppose the Mountain Dew Zero from the vending machine that takes digital payment will have to do…

There’s only one flight leaving this airport this afternoon and we’ve just learned we have a two-plus hour delay; many of us will miss our connections at JFK. When the news came though, with the hard-to-understand stained-voice gate employee shouting the announcement and, for some reason, refusing to use the public address system, proclaiming to all of us within semi-earshot, “JFK has low visibility and too many planes on the ground, so they’ve asked us to stay grounded here in Ithaca until things clear up. They estimate about a two-hour delay, but it could be more or less, depending.”

Okay. No big deal for me, as even though I have a tight layover in JFK, I still don’t have to be at my conference in Vegas until tomorrow night. I quickly got on my Delta app and super easily switched my connecting flight to LAS and will get in just a few hours later tonight than planned. Easy, breezy, beautiful. With that and the very long line that immediately formed in front of my chair of people who don’t apparently use the app to take care of situations like this, instead springing to life to yell at the poor strained-voice gate agent, I moved from a seat by the gate to the bar, along with a number of like-minded passengers, and set up a temporary office to kill the time and get some work done. This unstaffed bar has now effectively been tuned into a U-shaped conference table, with a dozen or so of us tech-savvy app users (said with an eye roll, as I’m notoriously not tech savvy, though am savvy enough to click the “delayed / rebook” button on the Delta app after I got a text message from Delta telling me to do so) using it for workspace.

There’s one man here who, for the sake of this story, I’ll affectionately call “Utah,” because as soon as they made the delay announcement he shot up and stood right in front of my chair in the long-forming line to talk to the sole gate agent…fuming. I garnered from his enraged partial sentences that he’s going home to Salt Lake City (hence the nickname I’ve given him) and has been in Ithaca on business. According to him, this delay is “completely unacceptable” and his life is apparently ruined as a result. I kept trying to tell him before I moved seats that he can easily just open up his phone and switch his flight, as I’m sure JFK will have a dozen different options to reroute him to SLC by a decent time this evening, but I couldn’t get a word in. I guarantee you that Utah is the same type of person who waits in an exhaustively long line at Starbucks to place his order, complaining the whole time, rather than ordering on the app, getting the points, and picking up his latte five minutes later to avoid the whole line situation.

Anyway, after a long, sputtering, spitting missive to me and the others of us within his view and who were unfortunate enough to make eye contact, Utah immediately started calling many different people on his cell phone to complain about how awful his life is because of this “ridiculous” delay. The poor man was just miserable. A total victim-mindset with seemingly no capacity to take a beat, take a breath, and realize that it’s just a mere bump in the road and that there are abundant options to make it turn out just fine in the end; his life isn’t actually over because of fog in JFK.

That being said, I understand where Utah might be coming from. I too get overwhelmed easily. Before I got on anti-anxiety medication, it was an all-too-common occurrence for me to break down from panic attacks…always at the worst times. Before I had my staff, I’d have to sometimes excuse myself from helping a client or guest and go in the back to push through it, but there were times when I wasn’t able to do that and I had to help someone while shaking, crying, and exasperating. Panic/anxiety attacks are terrible. When I had my team, things got much better because I had coworkers to take over for me when I’d feel the spiral starting and my chest tightening, the lump coming to my throat, and my breath becoming labored. They knew the signs and I could say, “Just give me a minute,” excuse myself, and take some time in my office or the bathroom to draw some deep breaths, collect my thoughts, and recompose. Now, that being said, Utah is not having a panic attack. His issue is not medical, but rather I’m confident that it’s drama and attention-seeking related.

But anyway, thanks to wonderful medicine, both preventative and abortive, my anxiety is much more in-check now. I do still occasionally get overwhelmed, but it’s much more rare and much easier to get through. Stress is a big trigger for me, of course, but what usually gets me worked up the most is just too much happening all at once and the feeling that I can’t sort through, organize, and pigeonhole every input that’s being thrown at me at once. I am a compulsive organizer, and if I can’t take notes fast enough or make sense of things, it triggers me to completely freaking lose it.

The older I get and the more I work through life, the more I realize that most situations just need time. It seems so much that comes at us fast and maybe catches us off guard is not nearly as huge as it may seem initially…if we just give it some time. New things often seem like giants. That’s because they’re unfamiliar and usually are right up close. But with a little distance and a little bit of time to take it all in, what may seem like giants can easily become just regular old things that we can deal with easily. Mountains can be made into molehills with time and distance.

In addition to panic attacks, I also get migraine attacks…and have since I was a teenager. They too come on suddenly sometimes and can be completely overwhelming, derailing my day and causing everything to become muddled, fuzzy, and painful. They’re mountainous giants. The miracle of modern medicine has also saved me from the brunt of my migraines that traditionally would have floored me, but the pills I take to help with migraines still take a little bit of time to kick in. During that time, I can’t function very well (though, I must admit that I have become a wonderful actor over the years and can fool many people—except my mom, who always can tell—by going about my business while my head is pounding and my right eye feels like it’s about to pop out of its socket). If I can, when I feel a migraine starting to come on and take a pill to try to head it off, I’ll find a table and put my head down, or, if I’m able, I’ll lie down for a few minutes and close my eyes. This helps tremendously to reduce the stimulus and lets me focus on the pressure points that relieve some of the pain. It just takes a little time.

Just giving things some time and some distance from stimulus is a solution to so many of life’s problems, whether medical like a panic or migraine attack, or other issues with stress, situations, new information, overwhelm, and giants that seem to be all too common and come out of nowhere. Giving things a minute makes those giants smaller and more manageable. Though, it’s much easier said than done. It’s not in our nature to step back and assess and wait a beat. We, as humans, are bandwagon beings and don’t often naturally take the time and space we need to look again at the big picture before jumping the gun.

As I’ve mentioned in a few posts lately, I’m a person of faith. I call the power that I trust in “God,” and you may also use that term, or perhaps you call it “The Universe,” “The Almighty,” “Allah,” Yahweh,” “The Fates,” “Destiny,” “The Great Spirit,” or something else. Whatever you choose to name that thing that’s bigger than any one of us, many people of faith will agree and testify that that power often has a timeline that’s far different than that of our own making. There’s a plan that I believe fully in and want to be able to trust more. That plan will often present itself in chapters, and many chapters and their plot twists can—and will—really knock us for a loop. But, if we give it some time and turn a few more pages in faith, we’ll see why things happened the way they did and how it set us up for something far greater. The answer doesn’t always appear right away, but I believe wholeheartedly—and have proved over and over—that the right doors will open and close if we keep walking…and take our time, giving it a minute as we go. Don’t force it.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and it’s about faith. He said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I’ve also seen this quote paraphrased as, “Faith is taking a step without seeing the entire staircase.” It’s beautiful. It’s powerful. And it’s so important.

I’ve proven this in my life. I’ve also jumped the gun and gotten on the worst-thing-ever panic-infused bandwagon at times, and each time have regretted it in hindsight. In selling my business recently, somehow the timing just worked out as it should have. It wasn’t timing I had planned, but it was right and the doors opened up and closed and led to it just as it was meant to be. When I had cancer 11 years ago, the same thing happened. It was a huge shock and blew me away and could easily have been the worst thing ever, but truly in hindsight it worked out like it should have and I’ve experienced so, so many silver linings since. And in my current project of fixing up and selling my home in Ithaca in order to relocate to Delaware, I’m seeing so many things open up and close and just work out—differently than I anticipated, but that likely means better too. There are still lots of answers still pending, but things are working out…and I know will continue to do so.

We’ve now landed in JFK and I’ve found my next gate. I have an hour here, so I’ve opened up my laptop to post this blog and then realized that Wi-Fi at JFK isn’t free like it is at ITH…and frugal Marty doesn’t need to spend money for Wi-Fi immediately when this is obviously something he can easily post later. So, I’m rereading this story and want to give a little update, then hopefully I’ll post it all tonight when I’m in Vegas and finally settled into my room. I used to have hotspot service on my phone to keep business running when the internet would go down at my office, but now that I’ve sold the business I also got rid of my hotspot. I kind of regret that, but again, frugal Marty detests wasting money on things that aren’t either necessary or special; airport Wi-Fi and phone hotspot service just-in-case don’t seem like they qualify for either designation. But, I digress…

When we landed at JFK, the attendant announced that anyone with a tight connection should deplane first. And that’s reasonable and normal and pretty much standard practice. Utah shot up and got right to the front of the line to deplane. Antsy and agitated in his sensible green plaid shirt and dad jeans, he was wiggling and talking to anyone near him about how he needed to get off the flight because this delay was, once again, outrageous and he was very victimized by it. To most of the passengers’ frustration (but secretly to my amusement, as I was impishly experiencing serious schadenfreude watching Utah squirm at this point), the JFK crew couldn’t get the jet bridge to attach to the plane. We waited for 30 minutes, Utah still standing and whining and sputtering while most others had taken their seats again, before the attendant announced that we would have to reposition because we weren’t parked straight, and the jet bridge just wouldn’t attach. And not only would people have to all sit down again, but they’d have to re-stow the luggage most had already taken out of the overhead bins. Utah was furious; I was trying to hide my smirk because, despite not being excited about my body-odored exit row seatmate returning, I was completely bemused watching Utah turn everyone around him off by his unreasonable grouchiness and attacks on everyone whose fault the delay clearly wasn’t.

To Utah’s credit, it was a frustrating experience. But, for me, the solution wasn’t complaining, but rather it was just waiting through it and trusting it would be okay. It really wasn’t a huge deal. It was a molehill, not a mountain. And now, after walking through JFK and experiencing the huge breath of fresh air that it is to me—people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, identities, creeds, family types, and so much more surrounding me in this beautiful, eclectic, feels-like-home melting pot, peppered by the looking-very-fly pilots and flight attendants in sharp, crisp uniforms walking together to their next legs—I’m recharged and excited and feel like the world makes sense again. A beat and a breath sometimes aren’t just exiting to the bathroom to cry through a panic attack, but sometimes it’s getting back to a place that feels like home or taking a trip to get a change of scenery. Both are so helpful to reset our minds, refocus on the big picture, and remind us that we’re a cog in a wheel in a beautiful system that’s just turning and turning and giving us a ride we can truly enjoy if we just let ourselves.

I can’t express strongly enough how much time and distance from a problem, situation, concern, or scene of stress can do to heal; I can’t tell you enough how just giving things a minute will make things much, much, much more manageable and sensible; I can’t advocate enough for the importance of trusting in a plan bigger than what you see now and going forward on the staircase even when you can’t see the top yet. What’s getting you overwhelmed and causing you to make a scene today likely may not really be that big of a deal. What if you put it aside for just a minute, step into another room, take some deep breaths, refocus, rethink about what’s most important, and then go back and see if you really need to freak out like you had started to do, or if you can just give it some more time to become much less of a giant and more of just another day’s challenge.

This, like most things I share, is advice to myself just as much as it is to anyone else. I need it.

I need so often to just give it a minute.

The above essay was written on March 6, 2024, however due to aforementioned hotspot issues and then the non-stopness of the back-to-back conferences I attended in Vegas, I didn’t get it posted until now. So, just ignore the date inconsistencies as a result, please. :)

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Getting on the ALDI Train

a story about non-traditional relationship-based business practices

Years ago, my parents got on the ALDI train in our hometown. They loved it. But I just didn’t get it.

For those unfamiliar, according to Wikipedia, “Aldi is the common company brand name of two German multinational family-owned discount supermarket chains operating over 12,000 stores in 18 countries. The chain was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946, when they took over their mother's store in Essen.”*

So, basically ALDI is a German grocery chain that is growing strong in the United States. They have very low prices, and the experience is intentionally no-frills. You can find items there that you can’t find anywhere else, and there are no baggers but rather just a long counter after the checkout area where you can pull your cart up and take your time to box or bag your own groceries. It’s not for those who want the white-glove treatment.

Now why share an article of praise for a company that, at cursory glance, does the opposite of what I seem to have made my career in facilitating: providing the best service possible by holding a guest or client’s hand to make things as easy as possible for them. Well, it’s because, while ALDI may be more do-it-yourself, it has at its core the thing that’s at the core of my coaching: relationships.

ALDI clients are very loyal. I saw this in my parents and my friends who got on the ALDI train. And, as I mentioned, I just didn’t get it. I did try it, though got immediately turned off when I was required to magically produce a quarter to get a cart. A quarter? Really? Who carries change anymore? I found it so silly and don’t think I even went in.

Years went by and friend after friend got on the ALDI train, but I remained at a distance. Until one day, now in my 40s, when a coworker brought me a calzone for lunch that his family had brought home from ALDI. Just one minute and 15 seconds in the microwave later, I was sold. Let me tell you, that calzone changed my life and I have had—on a low estimate—dozens of them since.

I went back to ALDI. I put my prepared quarter in the cart and released it from its chain and went inside, side-by-side with a trusted guide who also couldn’t believe I had never gotten on the ALDI train. And I left with a cartful of goodies for way less than I would have spent at other grocery stores that I frequently patronized. I found incredible imported European foods that brought back memories of trips to Europe and family dishes I had enjoyed when I was younger, along with staples for a fraction of the name-brand cost at other outlets.

I was so impressed by the speed and efficiency of the checkout process. If you ever want to see someone excel at their job as a result of what can only be attributed to a great training program, just observe the ALDI cashiers in action. I gleefully bagged my own groceries into my reusable shopping bags at the do-it-yourself bagging counter behind the checkout area, packing them full to reduce my carry load from my truck to my home on the back end, making sure my bananas and eggs and avocados were on top and not buried under canned goods (a concept seemingly lost nowadays on most professional baggers), and even took some of the reused display boxes they gave out to help with the carrying process.

Now, a few years and countless ALDI runs later, I’m fully onboard the ALDI train. I still don’t carry change, but do keep a special ALDI quarter hidden under the mug rug in my truck’s cupholder, always there for when I need to stop in for some spaetzle or keto-friendly no-sugar-added ice cream, of which they have a great selection for sugar-free people like me. Each time, I discover a new treasure there, from new cheeses to their always-fun-to-browse aisle of everything you never knew you needed in home décor or seasonal merchandise.

I've observed people with their ALDI quarters. Some people even have special ALDI quarter keeper or quarter-mimicking keychains (google it)! It’s a whole culture of ALDI shoppers, made up of those on a budget trying to save on their grocery bill to those high-end clients who enjoy the experience just the same. The ALDI quarter has become a novelty, and the topic of fun conversation with friends of mine who now sit by my side on the ALDI train.

ALDI gets relationships, but it’s not in a traditional sense. ALDI requires you to take a leap of faith with them before you enter the doors, but when you do you learn that their efficiency and the non-traditional grocery shopping experience can be incredibly delightful and day-making.

As a bonus, because of the quarter-for-a-cart (which you get back, by the way) concept, the ALDI parking lots are cart-free. It’s so neat and organized, and if there’s one thing my obsessive and compulsive tendencies love it’s order in a space that traditionally for other businesses in a similar space is chaotic.

I’ve taken many lessons from ALDI over the last few years in this regard: bringing order to what is traditionally confusing and creating systems that guests and clients, once they try, come to appreciate and advocate for, which in turn creates a whole culture and group of loyal advocates who understand the value in what you’re providing.

*Wikipedia doesn’t capitalize ALDI, but on the official ALDI site they spell their brand in all caps, so I'm honoring that for the purposes of this article anywhere except in the directly quoted text from Wikipedia.”

Marty Johnson is the Communication and Vision Coach at AYM High Consultants, a columnist, and an editor, producing the mail and business center industry's leading magazine, MBC Today. In 2023, he sold his popular and growing brand, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, and retired from shopkeeper life to focus on writing and coaching. Subscribe to his Ask Uncle Marty™ newsletter and read more at; follow him on socials @askunclemarty. #AskUncleMarty

This article was co-published on the AYM High Consultants blog and on on March 14, 2024.

Friday, March 1, 2024

March / April 2024 Edition of MBC Today

The March / April 2024 edition of MBC Today (volume 26 issue 2) just dropped. A free preview version is available on the homepage of the Association of Mail & Business Centers ( and AMBC Members may access the full version in the Members Only section of the site; AMBC Members will also receive their printed copy in the mail soon!

Thank you to all who contributed to this issue of the mail and business center (MBC) industry's leading publication, keeping both independent and franchise stores across the country up to date, in the loop, and networked together. It's a privilege to produce and edit this publication, but it's because of your hard work that it has such rich content.

I'll share my Letter From the Editor below. Enjoy!


Dear Readers,

This edition of MBC Today is quite unique for a number of reasons. First, it's unique because it serves as an event guide for the upcoming Getting More Out of '24 event in Las Vegas. We know that the issue will drop digitally on March 1st and the event starts on March 7th, so the print version of this edition may not arrive to mailboxes until after the event is wrapped, but still we wanted AMBC Members and other MBC Today readers to have all of the information about the event in one place digitally so they can save it on their phones and use it as a quick reference guide. Of course, printed schedules and much swag will also be available in person at what promises to be a super fabulous event.

This edition of MBC Today is also unique because it's the first issue that we've ever featured two letters from AMBC Board Chairs. Why? Because this will come out the very first day that Crysta Reeves will be seated as AMBC Board Chair, and the day after Norman Froscher will have left the position, fulfilling his terms on the AMBC Board of Directors in full. I want to congratulate Crysta on being elected as the new Board Chair, as well as Tommy Armstrong on becoming AMBC Board Vice Chair, Mary Bray on becoming AMBC Board Secretary, and Tom Ogilvie on becoming AMBC Board Treasurer. I also want to thank Ayden Daubigne and David McCallum for their continued, dedicated service on the board, and thank Steve Dick and Norman both with the most enormous thanks I can muster for the many years of service, dedication, and genuine heart that they put into their service to the board; Norman will remain an ex officio director and advisor now that his terms have finished as a voting board member, similar to how other past Board Chairs Fahim and myself each did. The AMBC board truly is a family, each board member elected by their peers—AMBC Members—to serve with term limits and guide this important, essential, and beloved non-profit industry association.

And finally, this edition of MBC Today is unique for me personally, as it's the first issue I'm editing and producing while not owning a mail and business center, having sold my store recently. It's also the first issue I'm editing and producing while not being on the official AMBC team (though will still help as needed, if needed), having stepped down as ex officio Director of Communication and Advisor to the Board in order to follow new opportunities as a representative of an AMBC Trusted Supplier.

I want to be transparent and clear with you all, dear readers, now that I am part of the AYM High Consultants team and therefore representing an AMBC Trusted Supplier. As we're a brand new supplier and therefore featured in this issue, I commit to be as fair as possible going forward as editor of this magazine and not to give favoritism to AYM High in content or advertising placement. So, if you feel that that could be happening, please let me know. Call me out. Be my check. That being said, AYM High does plan to take advantage of opportunities given to official AMBC Trusted Suppliers, including ads in MBC Today, guest articles, and guest blog posts; not many official suppliers use those benefits to their full opportunities, but we sure wish more did! Consider this your reminder and invitation, AMBC Trusted Suppliers, to reach AMBC Members through all of the means that AMBC facilitates.

With that, let's get to it! Welcome to the March / April 2024 edition of MBC Today. Thanks, as always, for reading. I hope to see you in Vegas!

With gratitude and care,

Marty Johnson (he/him)
Columnist | Ask Uncle Marty™ 
Editor & Producer | MBC Today
Founder | Uncle Marty's Shipping Office
Communication & Vision Coach | AYM High Consultants
Co-Host | *To-Be-Announced Podcast Launching in 2024* · @askunclemarty · #AskUncleMarty