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Thanksgiving Day 2011

November 29, 2011 by  

Howdy y’all!!!  Last year, I posted an article titled, “Thanksgiving Day 2010” and I’d like to continue the tradition…even if I’m a little late.  In keeping with the tradition of providing you an opportunity to get to know me on a bit of a personal level while not talking much business, here it goes…

CHANGE.  During the past two months, there has been a lot of change in my life and moving forward into 2012, it looks like there will continue to be a lot of change…and yet my piggy bank remains near empty.  Let me provide some insight as to this change:

  • Got engaged to a Southern Belle from Alabama.
  • Accepted a new role with AC which brought me back to Chicago.  Yeah…that might upset some of you Southerners that I’ve been calling on over the past few years, but the truth is I was born a Yankee and have always been one deep down, even though I loved my time in the South, I really missed home…so I was pretty thrilled to learn about this new opportunity.  Please don’t hate on me too much as I will still oversee and manage the Southeast Region.  This new position gives me additional territory while also getting me more involved with our marketing efforts and Software as a Service (SaaS) development.
  • Rented “Martens Manor” aka my foreclosure rehab project of the last three years, aka my first home to whom appear to be “perfect renters”.  A young couple named Gary and Rachel and Rachel’s daughter who is in the 10th grade.  Rachel sends me text messages with pictures like…”check out what we did to the bar, I bet you miss this” and “Gary borrowed the power washer from work, the driveway looks new”.  They signed a two year lease to remain in the same school district until Rachel’s daughter graduates high school.  Did I mention, Rachel’s from the North…instant connection.  Perfect renters.
  • As part of the rental agreement, there were some items that needed to be completed  to finish the renovation of Martens Manor.  My dad came down to help.  He wishes he hadn’t.  We made a great team, but I think he’s still recovering from all the work.  It is amazing the things that you live with(out) and then when it comes time to sell or rent your house you fix…why did I not make the repairs/improvements so that I could have enjoyed them???  Check out the before (at time of purchase) pics and after (at time of rental) pics on my facebook account.
  • Moved back to Illinois and (temporarily) living with roommates that prefer to be called Mom and Dad.
  • Got un-engaged to previously mentioned Southern Belle.
  • Started my new role at AC early…the position doesn’t officially start until January 1, but after working from home for the past three years and setting my own hours/schedule, why would I not be anxious to go into the office 8-5 or 6 or 6:30 each day?  Love my job.
  • Currently in the process of re-branding Award Concepts.  Want a description of who or what Award Concepts is?  THE BEST.  ‘Nuff said.  Not enough said?  Invite me to meet with you so I can explain further…send me an email.
  • Oh yeah…I also moved my bank accounts from Bank of America.  ;)

So, this Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for the change in my life.  Both business and professional.  The ups and the downs.  As I write from my desk here at Award Concepts, knowing the change taking place within these walls, I’m excited about the new products and services we’ll soon be offering to our clients.  It’s going to be a really fun year and I hope to meet and speak with each of you at some point in 2012…I have lots to talk about!  Last year our “product turned awesome” was our Badge ACcent…this year we have a LOT to unveil!

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you…I look forward to getting to know each of you on a more personal level over the years.


Carl H. Martens
Regional Sales Manager

ph: 630-513-7804 x233

Welcome Spring!

April 5, 2011 by  

Spring and “springtime” refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth.  It is a time of change welcomed by the end of a cold winter.  Spring to me is a time to be optimistic about the new year.  In with the new; out with the old mentality.  With that comes change in both my personal and professional life.

I had the opportunity to pick up one of our (Award Concepts‘) owners, Bob at the airport here in Atlanta last month.  We stopped by my house and I gave him the tour of the “Southeastern office”.  He was in town because his sister Judy was performing in a play just north of my residence in Commerce, GA.  Five years ago, when I lived in Chicago and worked at the corporate office, Judy worked at AC as a customer care representative.  That being said, I thought it’d be nice to accompany Bob and see Judy and her husband Al.  Prior to the play we sat out on the patio and as is the case when I’m around Bob, we got to talking business.  The most puzzling thing to an owner of a company and to a salesman of that company is why isn’t everyone a client…I mean…we sure feel like we are the best in our industry.  We searched for the answer and concentrated on this question for awhile.

I presented the idea that recognition programs are like cable television.  During the course of the year you receive promotions from many cable providers, but unless you’ve experienced problems with your current service you’re likely to not even think twice about switching providers.  When was the last time that I “shopped” cable providers in my area?  In the four years I’ve lived at my house I have had the same cable provider and I’ve never looked at any others.  Wow, I finally found myself in the shoes of the people that I call upon.  Being a salesman is tough and requires persistence…y’all as administrators of your recognition program seldom look at what other options are available and rarely change providers.  When was the last time you seriously gave another company a look?  When was the last time you changed providers?  It has probably been awhile hasn’t it?  I understand, heck…I can relate.  It is important for you to know a lot has changed in the recognition industry in the past 1-3 years as there is a big push towards providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in addition to common service award programs.

Cable television isn’t really a big deal in the scheme of things.  This is where my analogy gets a little weak.  Recognition is most likely not your primary job function, but unlike cable television, it is a big deal.  Recognition when done right becomes a way of life.  It can transform a workplace and create engaged workers who are appreciated and feel that their work is of value.  We here at Award Concepts, are advocates for creating a culture of recognition.  We realize that no two organizations are the same and that is why each program we craft is unique to each organization.  We take a different approach to recognition, serving as consultants we lean forward when we listen and the end result is a program that has your name stamped on it…not the stamp of some other company.  Award Concepts does not sell recognition programs, we sell the service of crafting custom recognition programs.

You might be wondering if I did anything about my cable.  The answer is yes.  Upon this epiphany  I came home and contacted the providers in my area to see what was available.  I changed providers.  One company (like Award Concepts), had significantly greater value added benefits in the form of SaaS solutions.  Services that I had no idea even existed.  Go figure!

  • Control my cable and recordings from my iPhone
  • Watch television and my DVR from my iPhone
  • Watch ALL Chicago sports (my previous company did not offer a NBA package)  Go Bulls!!!  Derrick Rose for MVP!
  • More channels
  • A reduced bill

The above are some of the new benefits that I enjoy.  There are others, but these are what stood out to me.  Everyone has there triggers.  I’m still searching for a cable company that lets me tell them exactly what I want and craft a subscription package accordingly.  Lucky for you, when it comes to your recognition program you do have options and one of those is Award Concepts and they will listen and craft a program specific to you.  Start a conversation today!

Spring is a time for change.  Below are some images from the 1st quarter of this year and what has changed in my life.  Enjoy!  (Click on “View with PicLens” to see image captions)

Let’s Say Thanks

December 10, 2010 by  

Xerox is back at it again with what I think is one of the best Holiday promotions ever!

The three words “you’ve got mail” most of us take for granted, but to our troops in the Armed Forces thousands of miles from their home, it can offer just the boost they need.  I know this first hand, because I was in a situation years ago…14 months spent away from my home, family and friends…mail was something that always provided the uplift I needed.  I received mail from family and friends, even people I had never met before…you expect your family and friends to write, but what really got to me were the people I had never met that took the time to write to me…a stranger.

Xerox’s website, Let’s Say Thanks gives you ,”a stranger” the opportunity to send a free printed postcard to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas showing your support and appreciation for their service to our country.  You are able to select from postcards depicting patriotic scenes and hometown images designed by children ages 6-14 from across the country.

Recognition doesn’t just start and stop at the workplace; it is a lifestyle.  As your Recognition Expert, I wanted to share this wonderful site with you and urge you to send a holiday greeting to one of our troops…pass this along to your friends too!

Thanksgiving Day 2010

November 30, 2010 by  

Greetings! I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for allowing me to serve as your Recognition Expert. Thanksgiving is meant to be spent with family and friends, as such I felt I should write something to each of you.

family = clients and friends = future clients ;)

I am privileged to serve as a sales representative for a company that studies and embraces RECOGNITION. I view my work as a calling and not a job. I am here to answer any questions and serve you in any way so that your employees view their roles the same as I view mine. Recognition is more than just a program acknowledging years of service, sales achievements, safety, etc. Recognition is a lifestyle that is contagious and a catalyst to many positive benefits for any organization. Recognition is the realization of a higher calling…viewing yourself as more than just an individual…we all play a part in something much bigger.

I elected to use the photo of myself looking out on the mountains of the Appalachian Trail for the ePostcard (pictured above) because of what it symbolizes to me. With the day-to-day it is sometimes hard to find time to reflect. Thanksgiving to me is a time to reflect upon what all you have to be thankful for. It is when I’m in nature that I find the needed time to forget about whatever stress is in my life and reflect on things with a clear head. This image is the wallpaper on my computer desktop. It serves as a reminder to me of all I have to be thankful for year round and the overall “bigger picture”.

Thanksgiving Day is a time to celebrate and be grateful. Recognition serves the same purpose. We recognize to acknowledge, praise, and say thank you to the individuals that contribute to the goodwill of our organizations. As individuals sharing this earth together we are all bound and linked with one another. I want to express my gratitude to each of you for allowing me to serve you.

I hope that each of you find yourself surrounded by friends and family today and with all the chaos surrounding the preparation of the feast, you find a moment to pause and recognize all that you are thankful for in the past, present, and future!

The average person spends more time at work with co-workers than they do at home with family…view some of my favorite photos from this past year and get to know a little about the stranger contacting you by telephone.

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you…I look forward to getting to know each of you on a more personal level over the years.


Carl H. Martens
Regional Sales Manager

ph: 678-231-3615

ASHHRA 2010 Winner Announced

September 28, 2010 by  

First off, thank you to everyone that participated and attended the ASHHRA 46th Annual Conference & Exposition in Tampa, Florida this past weekend.  We had great weather and got to meet and interact with some fun folks.

If you stopped by the Award Concepts booth at the show you were entered into a chance to win a Samsung MP3 player.  We collected a lot of entries and had our drawing today.

The winner is…

Luke Morris

Luke is a Human Resources Consultant with Intermountain Healthcare located in Provo, Utah.  Congrats Luke!