If you’ve kept up with the Olympics over the past two weeks, you’re likely aware of the touching story that took place between two Olympic runners–America’s Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin–after a collision affected their chances of winning a medal. Instead of getting up and continuing to run, D’Agostino stood up by Hamblin, who was still on the ground, and offered to help her up, saying “we have to finish this.” Both of them finished the race, and despite having not placed, they were still given spots in the final (and recently a pair of sportsmanship awards).

What the hell does this have to do with the print industry? What correlation is there between international sports and printers? There are actually quite a few parallels that can be drawn between the print industry and the spirit of sportsmanship shown by these two runners as well as the Olympics in general.

The Olympics represent the best of the best competing against one another. As each Olympics comes and goes, the level of competition is raised higher and higher. Each country is forced to train harder and grow in order to keep up with the competition. This is what the print industry as a whole faces in a digitally saturated marketplace. If we want to stay relevant, we need to continue to create a competitive atmosphere that drives sustainability and innovation. This means learning to adapt to a digital world and constantly finding ways to improve servicing our clients.

However, we can learn a thing or two from the runners who helped each other finish the race. Despite wanting to hold our cards close to our chest, we need to recognize that in order for us to stay relevant in today’s environment, we need to collaborate with one another. Our industry has thinned out and only the best of the best remain. Those of us who are committed to our crafts and know how to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace are enduring a transition through which we need to find ways of helping each other out so that our industry doesn’t sink underneath a digital ocean.

Collaboration

In order to do this, we have to recognize that our industry as a whole needs to adapt. We can’t be stuck fantasizing about how things were and how we’ve always done it. We need to help each other find ways of integrating print with the fast-paced digital landscape if we want to stay a relevant option to our consumers. This is something I currently do with my good friend Mike Schmidt and his digital agency, AnchorWave. While not necessarily a printer, we have found a way to integrate our print services into his company’s marketing strategies and help them grow their business.

In our industry, what knowledge remains is soon going to leave our generation if we don’t pass it on to each other and down to the next generation. This is why I have placed a high importance on recruiting and developing young talent for our organization. One of the reasons the US has been a dominant Olympic competitor is that they understand the potential of young talent and know how to find and develop it in order remain a relevant contender on the big stage. Printers need to start doing the same before it’s too late. If we want to continue innovate and move forward, we need to recognize the value of bringing in younger individuals who can apply their knowledge of the digital world to the print industry.

Fortunately, over the past six years there has been a steady increase in the amount of collaboration that has happened and continues to happen. When I first got involved in print, there seemed to be virtually none. Everyone was playing defensively and refused to trade knowledge with one another. It was a rare instance when it happened, but as time goes on I’m noticing more and more organizations open up and share their experiences within the industry. Organizations like Dscoop are providing platforms for others to collaborate, while industry magazines like Canvas provide commercial printers with thought provoking ideas and tools. If we can talk more amongst ourselves and willingly help one another out, we can sustain the print industry in the years to come. Just like Abbey and Nikki.

Have a look at the runners’ story here.

Once again, I hope I’ve brought more value to the table for you. Thank you for following my content, and be sure to keep up with me on my social media pages! As always, let me know what I can do to help you and continue to provide more value.

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