101 Simple Lessons for Leaders | 1-10

If you’re a business owner, manager, entrepreneur, etc – you are a leader. That’s just how it goes. It should therefor be in your goals to become a better leader in the coming leader. Maybe you write our specific goals and maybe you don’t, but either way, you definitely want to grow as a person and leader within your organization.

Focus.com has put together an excellent list of 101 simple lessons that leaders should learn. You can print this out and focus on one every 3 days, and you’ll be set by the end of the year! The bold points are from the site, the rest is our thoughts.

1. Stand tall. Posture has a lot to do with confidence, and long-term health!
2. Take your hands out of your pockets. It gives a slight air of unprofessionalism, and can signal that you’re looking for something else to do or you are bored.
3. Stand with your arms crossed behind your back. This helps keep your posture balanced and keeps your hand out of your pockets. Two birds with one stone!
4. Make eye contact. This is professionalism 101 right here. Don’t make it too awkward, but convey that you aren’t afraid to look someone in the eye.
5. Sit up straight. To get into work first thing in the morning and put your feet up on your desk won’t motivate you. Keep them on the floor, sit up straight, and you’ll be ready to work.
6. Face the person you’re talking to. When talking to someone new, don’t just move your head towards them, move your whole body to face them. You’ll show them you’re interested and committed to the conversation.
7. Shake hands firmly. There is certainly a fine line – you don’t want to come across and over-bearing. However, few things bother many business leaders than a limp and weak handshake.
8. Always smile. Choosing to smile impacts your attitude  more than you think, as well as the attitude of those around you!
9. Look your best. How you look is directly related to how you feel and to your overall confidence. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but stay a cut above slothy and you’ll feel great.
10. Walk confidently. Keep you head up, keep a manageable pace, and you’ll show you mean business.

What body language lessons have YOU learned over the years? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter!

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7 Easy Ways to Add Curb Appeal | Home Selling Tips

Add Symmetry Sprucing up the exterior of your home adds incredible value not only to those driving and walking by your abode, but also to your own standard of living. Stress goes down when you know your home is in the best shape, and looks the best that it can. You have the freedom to relax on your weekends instead of fretting about how to make your home more livable (or sell-able). Better Homes and Gardens, a great resource for all things home related, has a great list of easy-to-do projects. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Create symmetry — Arrange your outdoor lighting fixtures and potted plants symmetrically. This instantly and easily adds some beauty to your home.
  • Replace the old hardware — Get a new mailbox, door knob, door knocker, address numbers, etc. All those little things that once shiny, have dulled over the course of time.
  • Dress up the front door — Give it a fresh paint job and hang a nice wreath (they aren’t just for Christmas).
  • Install outdoor lighting — On your porch, along the driveway, bordering the flower gardens in the front. A bit of light seems to add some magic to your exterior!
  • Create an instant garden — Go to your nearest plant nursery and buy container plants. Line them up along the sidewalk to your front door and you’ll look like the green thumb you’ve dreamed of being.
  • Add outdoor art — Find a nice sculpture, bird bath or fountain and add some spunk to your yard. Even something smaller like wind chimes can count!
  • Put fresh bricks along your plant bed — This gives your beds the look of professional landscaping, and can be done in an afternoon.

What things have you done to add curb appeal to your home? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!


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The State of the… Small Business

Now more than ever before small business are getting attention. People are encouraged to shop locally and the “sins” of the big box stores are coming into public light more and more. People want to shop at places that have the same values as them, and small businesses often do that versus the big corporation. Take a look at the graphic below.

Does anything surprise you? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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The Black Hole of Home Organization: The Hall Closet

If you’re anything like us here at Zippy Shell, your hall closet can turn into that place where you throw the things that don’t quite have a permanent home. Then, one day, you open it up to retrieve a winter coat or a vacuum, and a whole house’s worth of junk falls right on top of you.

The good news is that we have help for you! We’ve found this excellent video that will give you a few great tips on getting those hall closets organized. Be warned, however, as it might require you to GET RID of some of that clutter!

Find us Facebook and Twitter and tell us what’s in YOUR hall closet that you don’t want to touch!

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Announcing: A New Marketing Director!

We pleased to announce Ben Taylor as the new Director of Marketing for Zippy Shell USA! Ben will be working at the corporate office and will be spearheading all elements of brand development.

Ben joins us from Tailor Media, where he served as the Chief Marketing Officer and one of the founding members. Prior to founding Tailor Media, Ben served as the Director of Marketing for Jinfonet Software, where he was in charge of their worldwide marketing efforts, including lead generation, social media, search marketing, brand awareness, corporate identity, public relations and event marketing. Before Ben joined Jinfonet, he was with Quantum Coding, a web application development and digital marketing firm, where he served as their Vice President of Internet Marketing. At Q.C, Ben was charged with the strategic planning of all Q.C.’s web development and search marketing campaigns.

“We’re very excited to have Ben join our team. His proven experience in marketing and branding will give us and our franchisees a true edge on our competition,” said Rick Del Sontro, president of Zippy Shell. “He’s a great strategist and brand ambassador. With him on board we’re all ecstatic for the future of our brand.”

Del Sontro continued, “Ben has deep knowledge of interactive design and development, and is enamored with social media and search marketing. By nature and practice, Ben is a serial entrepreneur; he has had his hand in everything; digital media agencies, web application development firms, tech startups, music production, clothing companies and restaurants.”

Also be sure to find us on Facebook and Twitter!

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4 Holiday Networking Strategies

As the holiday parties increase in frequency, so does your potential to interact and network with potential customers, business leaders and partners. You want to take full advantage of these parties because you never know what your next connection will lead to! Here are some tips to get you started:

Ask Questions

A good networker asks great questions. It’s pretty simple – people love talking, especially about themselves. Ask what challenges consumers face, talk about a news item you’ve seen, even ask about a favorite book they’ve read recently. Keep them talking!

Prepare to Pitch

This time of year, every business owner is thinking about 2012, and every consumer is thinking about last-minute Christmas gifts. Try to research some companies and people you know will be at said event, and come up with a few ideas that will give them value. Maybe you bring 5 special coupons for people you might meet, and definitely bring a stack of business cards!

Watch the Drinks

At Holiday parties you don’t have to say “no” to alcohol altogether. You want to be relaxed, but not too relaxed. Stick to one or two drinks, and you’ll be just fine.

Honor the Season

Many holiday parties are just that – parties. They are not necessarily networking events. Yes, you can pitch and set-up future meetings, but don’t go too far. Keep things light and casual, and make a good impression as a person. You’ll have chances to impress them with your business acumen later.

Tell us your holiday networking strategies on Facebook and Twitter!

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Spying (Legally, of course) on Your Competitors

We’ve blogged before a few times about researching competitors and some tips to do so. Well, we’re doing it again because of how important it is when doing business. No matter what you do or what position you are in, knowing your competitors is crucial to success. That fact cannot be overstated.

So, having said that, here are some ways to stay on top of the competition, just short of hiring a spy to infiltrate their ranks.

Read the Newspaper

Simply staying up-to-date with local and national business news will help you keep up with competitors. Take a look at newspapers where your competitors are based out of, and you’ll be even more on top of things. You can even set up Google News alerts so you could get an email anytime that company is mentioned in an article. Invaluable stuff!

Trade Shows

Go to trade shows and do a little bit of snooping at competitors booths. Act like someone who is genuinely interested in their product, and you might get some good answers that you might be looking for. If you’ll be recognized, send an employee or partner.

Take Tours

If you’re in manufacturing or retail, take some tours. If it is a formal plant tour, ask questions. Tour guides like to brag about the company plans and you’ll be able to observe some processes happening and a little bit of their secrets. They obviously won’t give away the farm, but you’ll learn more. Even if it’s just a restaurant or a department store, simply walk in and take a look around. The power of observation will help you tremendously.

Look at Jobs Ads

Take a look at the company website, or search for that company on job-search sites and you’ll learn where the company is heading and some areas they are looking to grow in. If you are super sneaky you could even call and ask a little bit about the position.

How do you research competitors? Tell us your secrets on Facebook and Twitter!

Those are just a couple tips. For even more, read the full article over at Entrepreneur.com.

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Happy Thanksgiving From Zippy Shell!!

How are you celebrating this year? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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Inspiring Your Weekend!

Success Magazine recently picked their favorite inspirational quotes to share. Now, we come across dozens of these per day, whether in our favorite books or simply strolling through our Twitter stream.

So why post them here? The hope is that you’ll take these and actually learn from them. Take these and post them in your office. Write them in a sticky note on your laptop. To come across wisdom and simply ignore and let it not impact you is nearly as bad as not seeking out wisdom at all.

What will YOU do to learn from these great leaders? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter!

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. -Deepak Chopra

If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives. -Vince Lombardi

It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going. -Brian Tracy

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action. -Orison Swett Marden

What are your favorite inspiring words that you live by?

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4 Things a Manager Should Never Say

As a manager, or leader of any sort, people look up to you. That’s just part of the deal. This means you have to be of utmost character in order to lead your company, family, organization, etc. to truly great heights. Here’s a good article from CBS Moneywatch about the 4 things that should never come out of your mouth if you’re in this kind of position. We’ll recap for you here:

1. “That’s impossible.”

First of all, it is inherently negative, and it is usually an impulsive statement. You don’t want to ever trivialize ideas without first exploring them greatly. Another thing to say would be “That’s a terrific idea, we’ll look at it from all possible directions and we’ll see if it’s feasible.”

2. “______ is (a jerk/lazy/etc)”

You don’t want your employees gossiping about you, so do not gossip about them. The character of your employees starts with the pattern you set, just like with parenting. This seems obvious, but perhaps you just need to be aware of the words you’re speaking behind closed doors.

3. “My way of the highway”

One of the biggest mistakes leaders and managers make is sticking to the status quo at all costs. The world changes constantly, and you need to be aware of these things with an open mind. There ARE ways to make your company better that you may not yet know about. Don’t get stuck in your own ways.

4. “I’m always right”

In Jim Collin’s book “How the Mighty Fall” one of the main things he talks about as being the downfall of companies is a pride born out of hubris. This means in layman’s terms that that pride comes before the fall. The realization that you have limitations is one of the most important steps of the maturation process.

What phrases do you avoid at all costs as a manager? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter!

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