How to get what you want – and make it a win-win for everybody

carmen rustenbeck and jamie

As my Grandmother would say: You don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s great advice, but like a lot of advice it can be easier to implement in theory than in practice.

But when you’re faced with a situation that just doesn’t work for you, you can ado something about it, or b) feel resentful for the foreseeable future because you didn’t stand up and speak out.

Let’s be honest – most of us (myself included) will default to Option B because we don’t want to be rude, cause inconvenience, or make work for other people. And that’s fine, if you’re just dealing with the wrong latte size. But when you’re dealing with something that materially impacts your business, you have to go with Option A: do something about it.

(At this point you’re probably saying to yourself – yeah, yeah, Jamie, that’s very high-minded, but what brought all this on?)

We were at the IBPSA conference last week, and our booth placement was not very well-positioned to take advantage of foot traffic. After a day of wandering around muttering to myself (Option B), I thought – nope. This doesn’t work for me OR my company. Time for Option A.

So I found Carmen Rustenbeck, Executive Director and Founder of IBPSA and the co-coordinator of the annual conference. (That’s a picture of us, above.) I told her about the issue and how I thought we could fix it, and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone. I was deeply impressed not only with how right it feels when people of goodwill work toward a common goal, but also with how much better I felt about myself when I consciously decided to address the issue.

In fact, Carmen and I were so inspired by our collective problem-solving mojo that we’re going to get together to discuss other ways to increase the value of the organization for all of its members.  I can’t wait – it’s always such a pleasure to work with the pet professionals at IBPSA.

It can be tough to ask for more than you’ve been given, because someone might be upset with you!

I get it. I really do. But everyone can go for Option A when the stakes are high enough. So in every situation you have to ask yourself “is it worth taking charge / potentially upsetting someone /c ausing a fuss?” When it’s a Dunkin Donuts coffee order and the line is six deep, perhaps the answer is no. When it’s your business, your brainchild, and your responsibility to do right by everyone who depends on you, my answer to that question is always going to be yes.

No matter your personality type, you can make deploying Option A a little bit easier with this simple exercise. Figure out how you would arrange the situation to your satisfaction before trying to make a change, instead of passively-aggressively addressing it with others or expecting someone else to read your mind and take care of it for you. If you can walk up to the decision maker and say “here is the situation and this is how I think we can change it”, you have a much better chance of getting what you want – and deserve. And, at the same time, you can strengthen relationships and grow as a professional. In other words – everybody wins.

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

SuperZoo 2017

Groom Team

At the end of last month, I attended SuperZoo 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada—and I’m happy to say that what happened in Vegas won’t be staying in Vegas this time!

In fact, a major goal of my trip was to bring back insights and exciting new ideas to help make FetchFind the most useful, current, go-to web destination for all of you who love being part of this booming industry and awesome community.

SuperZoo is North America’s premier pet-industry show, drawing more than 1,000 exhibitors and nearly 20,000 industry professionals from around the world to explore and celebrate anything and everything related to pets. The show is designed to help pet professionals build better businesses, and it was truly inspiring to share four days with so many people as passionate as I am about being a positive force for pets and the pros who serve them.

I was super excited to spend time with the PetSmart Groom Team. Other than taking my dogs to be groomed, I’m pretty new to the dog-grooming universe, and it was totally eye-opening! The PetSmart team was supported by a large and energetic cheering section, and the sense of community and support was palpable—as was the competitors’ pride in their individual and team talent. Clearly, these groomers aren’t just going to a job every day—they love their work and couldn’t wait to demonstrate their world-class skills in the show’s thirty (!) dog-grooming competitions—including one just for rescue dogs.

The groomers at SuperZoo enjoy quasi-rock-star status, and it is 100% deserved! They are artists by anyone’s definition.

The whole SuperZoo experience was amazing, and I’d encourage anyone in the industry to attend it at least once. Having been intimately involved in this industry since I was in college, I know how easy it can be to feel isolated at times—which is why I’m so big on building networks and working together. But once you attend SuperZoo, you’ll know you’re not alone—not one bit—in your passion for pets or your professional commitment to making their lives as great as you possibly can.

Here’s to seeing even more of you at SuperZoo next year!

Feeling inspired,

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

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How to get a great ROI from pet industry trade shows


By Keith JohnsonFounder of PawedIn Media

Pet industry trade shows are a considerable investment in time and money, so it is critical that you do what you can to maximize the effectiveness of your time while there. There are three key things that you can do to make it impactful so that you come away from the whirlwind trip feeling confident about the results.

Get clear on your purpose for attending, how you will achieve that purpose, and a measure of success.

In your notebook, write down and refine why you are attending the event. Make it crisp on one objective, careful not to create a laundry list of what you are going to do while there. Examples of the purpose can be:

“To make new relationships that my business can further develop over the next year.

“To find new products I would like to introduce in my stores.”

“To learn new marketing tactics to increase my sales.”

Next, write down the two or three ways you will do to try to achieve the purpose. This helps your get focused on what you are going to do. Finally, put a number on it up front. The old adage “you get what you measure” applies here, as studies show that people are more productive when they quantify what they are trying to achieve.

Break out of your shell during the event.

Most people are not natural extroverts…me included! But you must be as much as possible at trade shows. There are many times where people casually pass a booth, and really really they would welcome meeting and learning something new. As an exhibitor, you need to engage them in through an informal “hello, how are you?” As a show walker, you must engage with exhibitors and educators that meet your purpose in a time-effective way. If you are not sure if the individual will be a fit, after an introduction, get crisp on a few questions which will help you qualify the individual or exhibitor. If you realize you are not a fit, don’t try to force too long of a conversation – you want to be able to talk with more people. And if you are working a booth, always be standing in the front of the booth, not sitting behind a table. People will naturally avoid talking to people sitting as they feel that they may be disturbing you. And try using the person’s first name…it helps to remember the individual later while setting a stronger foundation for an on-going relationship.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

I have been in many businesses where after the big show, the next steps sort of never happen…the leads are never acted upon. Unfortunately, this is all too common. As soon as you get home, you should be taking out the business cards and notebook, and creating a spreadsheet of the companies and individuals talked to, including all information so you don’t need to refer back to business cards in the future. I do this through a shareable Google Table so that I can share with others and make real-time updates. What is critical is to specifically write the next step, who will do it, and when should it be done. Also, send that individual a LinkedIn invite so that they are able to remember you by your face. To maximize your ability to follow up, make sure you write down one or two points immediately after you talk with them, on the back of their card or in your notebook.

Following these three key activities will help you maximize the benefit of the show in helping you achieve your goals. They also will help you cut out the “time traps” people typically fall into during a show, such as spending too much show time with individuals and co-workers they already know and can talk with anytime. Hope the show is productive for you!


keith johnsonKeith Johnson is the Founder of PawedIn Media, which helps pet companies grow through new media. He spent 18 years with P&G and was the Global Brand Manager for IAMS. He also created a breakthrough ecommerce pet food company, Petbrosia. Keith’s expertise is in leading businesses at various development stages, the pet category, ecommerce, and impact & inbound marketing. 

2017 Pet Age ICON Awards announced


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I am thrilled – and deeply honored – to be one of the recipients of the 2017 Pet Age ICON awards. The awards recognize pet industry professionals who have demonstrated a long term commitment to the success of the pet industry based on experience, integrity, and leadership. A full profile of all the recipients (listed below) will be in the September issue of Pet Age magazine (you can get your subscription here.)

Side note: if you want to get a good idea of how many opportunities there are in the pet industry, browse through the links below. And believe me – this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is something for everyone in the pet industry, with so much scope for innovation.


Jim Bradley, Bradley Caldwell, Inc.

Andrew Darmohraj, American Pet Products Association, Inc.

Bob Fountain, Fountain Agricounsel, LLC

Dave Friedman, Health Extension Pet Care

Dr. Bob & Susan Goldstein, Earth Animal

Rob Jackson, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Edward Kunzelman, Petland, Inc.

Aaron Lamstein, Worldwise & Pawscout

Mariah Leal, Mariah Leal Author

Louis McCann, PIJAC Canada

Jamie Migdal, FetchFind 

Peter Muhlenfeld, Champion Petfoods

Nina Ottosson, Outward Hound Nina Ottosson AB

Dave Ratner, Dave’s Soda & Pet City

Elwyn Segrest, Segrest Inc. &  Segrest Farms Inc.

Thomas Somes, Pet Tech Productions, Inc.

Beth Sommers, Pura Naturals Pet

Kurt Stricker, Pedigree Ovens & The Pound Bakery

Richard Ticktin, SynergyLabs

Sylvia Wilson, Bark Busters Dog Training

How to rock Global Pet Expo – like a Boss!


PBN collage
With Wendy Jones from Walk-e-Woo, and a drool-free spokesdog from The Wipe It. 

By Candace D’Agnolo, Founder of Pet Boss Nation & CEO of Dogaholics 

Are you going to Global Pet Expo next week? I’ll be there, so I hope we can connect!

Even if you can’t be there in person, you can still experience the excitement! Just search #globalpetexpo on all social media platforms during the show (3/22-3/24) and you’ll be sure to come across loads of photos and videos of everyone sharing their experiences and product finds. And you’ll have access to all the awesome vendors who will be exhibiting by looking at the exhibitor list online.

Global Pet Expo is of the biggest pet trade shows in the world! With that being said, I want to share some of the tricks I’ve learned over the last decade of attending these types of shows myself. My tip in the video could save you HOURS on the floor!  

For Bossin’ Buyers

There are thousands of ways to spend all your money and all your time next week. I had many years where I left a show thinking “What just happened?!” So just stay true to what your business stands for. See every product and service you’ll come across through your business uniqueness. Don’t fall for an offer too good to be true, and don’t give in to a pushy sales rep.

#1 – Before you write an order, think about if the product aligns with your brand. Would your customers value it? Will it help you stand out from your competition?

#2 – Trade shows are not just about buying products and taking advantage of show specials. It’s about creating opportunities for yourself and your business when it comes to pricing, strategies, and partnerships with vendors. Build relationships and work together!

#3 – Have a plan of attack! It will likely be impossible to walk the whole show floor. Remember that it’s about the journey, not crossing the finish line. Have a list of things you want to find, instead of impulse shopping. Identify your top 10 current vendors you want to make sure you see for specials and new releases, then work the room discovering all the new stuff.

Here’s a quick video on how I like to plan my route, utilizing the show’s website.

For Bossin’ Exhibitors

Having had my own booth at two trade shows last year, I got to see the other side for once. I could not believe how exhausted I was!! At least buyers get to walk the show and take breaks from talking, but not exhibitors! It’s the same message and conversations, over and over and over again.

Here are a few things to consider, from the viewpoint of a seasoned buyer: busy exhibitors who make eye contact, smile, and say “I’ll be with you in a moment”, go a long way with a retailer. Being acknowledged and treated with the same high quality of care that we give customers in our own shop is fantastic.

And it is even more impressive to us when an exhibitor is still able to have great energy at the end of the day or the end of the show…I know it’s not easy. But you never know who might be walking by and ready to place a big order – or better yet, become a lifelong customer!


candace-dogsCandace D’Agnolo, Founder of Pet Boss Nation and CEO of Dogaholics, started the Pet Boss Nation community because she knows the value that support and coaching can provide to a business. In her own company, she took the initial concept of a brick and mortar location and turned it into multiple revenue streams – up to three locations, offer services (as in dog walking, doggy daycare, grooming), online informational products, books, merchandise, and now pet business consulting. She’s employed over 150 people, led a team as large as 30 and still runs a successful 7-figure business. 

Learn more about Candace and Pet Boss Nation on the Pets Mean Business podcast!


Get yourself out there


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

An essential part of running a startup is getting your company’s name out there, and to do that YOU have to get out there.  It’s not enough to ask your friends to share and retweet your information – you need to personally connect with industry experts and media professionals. If you’re just starting out in the business, make sure you get your ducks in a row before calling the local news outlets or setting up investor meetings:

Update that pitch deck. Make sure the information is current, and have at least one other person proofread every single version. Nothing will destroy your credibility faster than nonsensical information, wrong numbers, or apostrophe’s in all the wrong place’s.

Check your technology. If you’re going to be giving a talk featuring your amazing website or slick new mobile app, make sure everything works. Spend a little more money on developers or website designers to get everything working reliably before your make-or-break presentation to a room full of potential investors.

Polish your elevator speech. Memorize, and practice delivering, short and long versions of what your company is all about so that you don’t freeze up when someone asks you a basic question during an interview or at a networking event.

Put together a mini-press kit. Reinventing the wheel is the biggest waste of time ever. Once you have your personal bio, headshot, company bio, social media links, one liner, mission statement, etc. crafted to your liking, put them all in one document or folder and have them ready to cut and paste into emails as soon as someone asks for info.

Go to expos and trade shows. This will get you in front of your hardest customers, and every conversation you have will help you to fine tune your product. You’ll also get to meet the competition and hear what people are saying about them.

Go to seminars and workshops. Whatever your current business roadblock is, someone has already faced it, and there’s a pretty good chance that someone else has developed a seminar to help solve the problem. Check out professional associations like IBPSA for seminars and workshops in your area.  Bonus: these are also great networking opportunities, on a smaller, more manageable scale than trade shows.

Hire professionals. Yes, consultants are expensive (especially if the money hasn’t started rolling in yet), but so is wasting time and making avoidable mistakes.  However, you need to do your homework, and you need to hire a lawyer to go over your contracts before you hire anyone else. Trying to get media traction? Find a public relations firm that works with new businesses. Need to start blogging, but hate to write? Hire a freelancer or a small company that can offer a la carte writing services. Doing a tv or newspaper interview about local entrepreneurs? Book a makeup artist and hair stylist before you even think about getting in front of that camera. (Please believe me when I tell you that you should never do your own hair and makeup, unless you want people to think you are a circus professional.)

Starting your own business is a lot of work, and you will need help. You can make it easier on yourself by hiring professionals who already know how to do the things that you can’t. This will leave you more time to focus on your mission and the things that you love.