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Fidget Spinners: Are They This Generation’s Doodles?

Child Doodling with Markers

The history of doodling has evolved as the history of writing instruments have progressed. What started as scratching rocks against caves as means for communication has evolved into creative ways people choose to fidget and pass the time when they’re bored or anxious. From writing in the margins of notebooks, on scraps of paper, and nearly anywhere there’s a surface, doodling comes in many forms.

In the 1980s, when Trapper Keepers were all the rage, it would be rare to find a “blank” binder that wasn’t full of stickers and Sharpie doodles. This period of doodling was the result of boredom from teenagers in class, but it was also a way to express feelings about their favorite bands, gossip about their teachers, and share messages of love for their boyfriend/girlfriend. Remember doodling your crush’s initials paired with yours in a heart? Oh, the memories! The doodles of the 80s were a way to pass time until the bell rang, but they also usually meant something personal to the one doodling.

As doodlers transitioned into the grunge era of the 90s, pen marks of circles, hearts, and bubble lettering transferred from paper and onto jeans and shoes; sometimes even making its ways to arm, legs, and hands, as well. For some, these doodles might have been the precursor to first tattoos. Doodles of this decade were a combination of fidgeting and a reflection of the person’s artistic and emotional side.

Enter Fidget Spinners

Do kids today still doodle like they did in decades past? It’s not surprising to see a notebook or two still filled with sketches and scribbles. But in many cases, laptops or iPads have replaced paper notebooks. If pen and paper are no longer the primary or preferred form of note-taking, how do people doodle? The fidget spinner, this year’s toy craze, has taken over schools across the country. What seems like a simple innovation has captured the attention of many.

Child Playing with Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners were created to help kids release stress in a positive way. Some suggest they provide health benefits and soothing side effects. Does this mean we’ve learned to fidget better? Was all the doodling of years past child’s play and the way we fidget now a smarter way to avoid boredom? Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Fidgeting

One of the key points made about fidget spinners being more than just a toy trend,  bringing doodling and fidgeting full circle, is that the body movements used to play with the fidget spinner is part of the expression process. In one Forbes article, where they break down the science of fidget spinners, it says, “fidgeting could actually help you think and express yourself.” Ultimately, the fidgeting tool or medium doesn’t matter, it’s the attempt to relieve stress that’s the common denominator.

Much like the use of worry stones and stress balls in the past, the use of fidget spinners is a comforting habit that helps combat anxiety in a benign way. Whether or not fidget spinners truly provide health benefits is still up for discussion, but what is certain is that humans naturally seek out stress relief, and this generation is no exception. Whether it’s with a pen and notebook, a marker and sneakers, or a fidget spinner, it’s proof that sometimes the simplest things are what can calm us down and help us focus.

How to Reduce Work Stress with a Desk Sanctuary

A stress ball can only go so far. What sights, smells, sounds and small comforts can help turn your desk into a mental and physical place of relaxation?
Reduce Work Stress with a Desk SanctuaryThe statistics are quite revealing – more than 40% of adults report that work stress is “very or extremely stressful.” A professional may have 50-100 unique tasks or projects in play at any given time, and today’s litany of distracting mobile devices and social media streams can inhibit productivity and incite additional stress. Office stress is real, but there is something you can do about it – convert your desk area into a work sanctuary!

Here are the 4 S’s on how to reduce work stress:

Work Stress Tip 1: Sights

One of the easiest ways to minimize stress at work is to create pleasing sightlines for the eyes. Consider spending an hour or two de-cluttering your workspace. You’ll feel lighter, less affected by the “noise” of the office, and you’ll minimize distractions that can quickly derail even the most productive of employees. Make sure to tidy up each night before you go home so you return to a fresh and organized workspace the next morning.

You can also create visual harmony by adding some personal touches from home. Bring your favorite accent pillow and use it as a back support for your desk chair. It’ll remind you of your happy home and can add some life to the office’s décor. Clean up, minimize clutter, and add a few personal touches to enhance the overall look and feel of your work desk.

Work Stress Tip 2: Smells

Instead of relying on an aerosol can of room air freshener to brighten up the smell of your office, consider a natural remedy. Bring in living plants that can naturally freshen the air, while adding a sense of organic beauty to the office. If you’re near a window, consider using natural light to keep your plants or flowers healthy – they’ll thrive and you’ll feel great seeing something alive and green right in front of you each day.

Other stress reducing products include natural air fresheners like teakwood wick sticks that can be soaked in a specially-fragranced oil, or any of a variety of scent diffusers on the market today. Scents that have proven over time to deliver a sense of calm are: lemon, rosemary, cinnamon, lavender, and pine. Just be sure your coworkers aren’t sensitive to any scents before you bring them into the office.

Work Stress Tip 5: Sounds

Isn’t it outrageous to think that office productivity generally increases when some background noise is allowed in the workspace? Background noise generators can help to relax the mind, aid in concentration, and minimize anxiety for some individuals. Something as seemingly basic as streaming music through your phone while working can help hone your focus during the day – just make sure to keep your device properly charged and cradled so it’s always ready to go.

Work Stress Tip 4: Small Comforts

There is a reason why stress balls and other desk gadgets are such popular stress reducing products – they really work to minimize anxiety and enhance productivity. Take a three-minute break each hour to de-stress with a favorite stress reliever or other anxiety-management desk product, then watch as you work more efficiently and concentrate more effectively throughout the day.

Creating a small sanctuary in the workplace isn’t as hard as it sounds. Focus on the aesthetics of your work area, the smells and sounds of your workspace, and the stress-relieving items you choose to keep at arm’s reach. Do so, and you’ll start to feel better almost immediately and kick work stress to the curb!

Top Trade Show Promotional Products

Trade shows are where the connections happen, orders are written and first impressions can be the lasting impression.  Make sure when you are representing your company or business you have these top promotional items to hand out at your booth. Many people will have unique items, but a promotional item that is unique and serves an immediate function will have you coming back to the office with the most business cards and leads!

Pens

Writing order on forms?  Writing info on the back of business cards?  Stylus pens for your touch screen device?  Low cost promotional item?  Someone ask you for a pen?  We cn go on and on about the power of the pen, but the plain fact is promotional pens are a clear and consistent winner for promotional items you need to give away at a trade show.

Bags

At trade shows, people walk around and grab tons of promotional items they get from booth to booth.  How can you stick out from the crowd, well that’s easy, by providing bags for them to carry everything?  Give out enough and you’ll see everyone walking around your tradeshow with your brand logo standing out.

Drinkware

Long trade shows, seminars, and expos can sometimes drag on with few to none breaks.  Handing out water bottles with your logo for people to fill up will make sure they are looking at your logo each day.  And most likely prospects will be asking each other, “hey where did you get that water bottle?”

Portable chargers

Nothing is worse than trying to answer emails, text and phone calls while at a trade show and that dreaded battery indicator starts blinking. We have all been there. Be the super hero to your prospects and clients and hand out portable super chargers.  They’ll be so grateful and will probably use all trip and hold them in their desk for the next time they need a quick boost.

Luggage Tag

Give these out at your booth and when you are at the airport, spot your luggage tags all around you especially if you’re at a big expo.  When handing out trade show promotional products, use big, bright, bold colors so your clients are more inclined to use them sooner rather than later.

60 Days For Small Business Saturday Marketing

If you’ve already worked through the initial planning stages for a successful Small Business Saturday, here’s what you’ll want to accomplish over the next 60 days leading up to the event!

Small Business Saturday (SBS) is one of the most important marketing events for you to leverage over the next few months. After all, you likely already have marketing plans in place for the fall season, winter holidays, and into the new year, but by taking advantage of this retail-driven holiday, you can bring awareness to your brand that simply may not have been there before. More and more people are in the mindset to shop local, so make sure your business is ready with a successful Small Business Saturday marketing plan.

Create Memorable Touchpoints

With any marketing event comes an opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles and engage with your clients in a meaningful and memorable way. If you operate a physical location or retail storefront, create countdown calendars that can be hung in the store and deliver a new message each day. Include small discounts, promotions, or giveaways tied to the countdown. Anything you can do to keep the SBS holiday and your related promotional offerings in mind will pay off down the road. A simple solution is to add some brand swag – a pen, button, or personalized candy wrappers – to their checkout bag.

Use Direct Mail Marketing

To generate buzz and excitement for the upcoming Small Business Saturday holiday, consider creating a direct mail campaign that will target either those in your geographic area and/or those who have a high likelihood to buy. Add a sales incentive to the mailers, create high-quality images that deliver a professional tone, and include coupons or discounts good for SBS. Use whatever asset you design as a flyer, as well, to hang in your window and where allowed on community bulletin boards.

Leverage Social Media

One way to shine a light on the upcoming holiday is by linking SBS to your social media profile and related posts. Start by creating new blogs that tout the value of Small Business Saturday or demonstrate the importance of small businesses to the economy. Twitter and Facebook can also be used to effectively market your business, and you can embed links that will route back to your landing page or promotional site.

Add Value with Cross-Promotion

Now is the time to focus on the cross-promotion part of the equation. Whether that means you’re driving foot traffic into a location near you, or you’re directing clients to a partner’s website or store front, the tighter the networking web the better off you’ll be. A fun idea is to design themed bags with your company’s logo, tagline, or affiliation with what it means to “shop local.” Also, consider hosting an in-store SBS party with other vendors/businesses offering customers home-baked treats and favors for stopping by.

Get Excited

This is your time to shine, so plan events, activities, and promotions that will draw others to your business. Show how excited you are, and don’t be bashful when explaining how your small business helps the local community. You’d be amazed at how much goodwill you can generate when you put a local spin on something. For example, by simply designating 5% of the profits from SBS to a local school or worthy cause, you may drive in significantly greater numbers of shoppers than you ever thought possible. Not to mention getting into the holiday spirit of giving back to the community.

November 26, 2016 represents an incredible opportunity to grow your business and increase awareness of the importance of small business in America. Get creative in your Small Business Saturday marketing approach, leverage social media and traditional media options, offer customized promotional marketing gifts to reward client interest and loyalty, partner with others, and put a plan in place today that you will benefit from later.

National Women’s Equality Day at National Pen

Today, the Country honors the anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting Women the “Right to Vote” on August 26, 1920.  

Here at National Pen on National Women’s Equality Day, we would like to celebrate 4 amazing Women who influence and grow our company in various positive ways.  Each and every one has achieved some exciting accomplishments in their career and have been very gracious to share some insight on how their career has developed from the beginning and a piece of advice for the new generation of Women Leaders.

Melissa NaravalMelissa Naraval – V.P., Ecommerce

5.5 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Manages National Pen’s Web Marketing Efforts

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  My Mom!  From a very young age I saw how hard she worked and it set a great example for me.  It’s something I still hold onto  today.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I was a Hostess at a restaurant, then a Retail associate at Dress Barn and third was Office Intern at an Investment Firm.”

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today? “Definitely, interaction skills.  Especially when I was a hostess, working with people in various departments and how to communicate with them is something I still utilize today.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “I tell my daughter all the time, to work hard.  The World today offers numerous opportunities and possibilities, SEIZE them!”

Sandy Costanzo.jpgSandy Costanzo – Director Human Resources

8 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Oversee Human Resources support for North America.

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “I would say there were a few mentor(s) at the start of my current career.  I was offered a great opportunity to start a new career in human resources and the women I worked with taught me so much about the profession I feel have instilled the foundation of what I am today.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  Specialized Toys Retail Sales, then Administrative Assistant and third, a Corporate Accountant.

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today?  “Work hard and be a good listener!”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?   “Be the one to make a change, only you can make a difference.”

 

kellie jonasKellie Jonas – Director of Customer Retention – North America

21 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Growing National Pens customer base through direct mail and e-mail strategy

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “Amazingly enough, Bonnie Shimrat!  When I walked through the doors here, I saw she was V.P. of Retail at the time.  I knew then, there would be an opportunity for growth here so I tried to model myself after her based on her strong work ethic, positive energy, and daily professionalism.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I joke I’ve been doing direct mailing my whole career but yes, kind of.  I delivered flyers for Sunny Crest Dairy in Orange County as a kid while on my roller skates.  After that, I worked at a Fast Food restaurant called 3 brothers and third as a Gas Station attendant at Texico.”

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “Show up no matter what and integrity matters.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.”

 

Bonnie ShimratBonnie Shimrat – Executive V.P. – Retail

35 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Responsible for Retail Sales Growth and Development

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  Actually, it was both my parents.  My Mom was ‘one of a kind’ for her generation as she was a private pilot in the 60’s.  She really showed me how to grab life by the horns every day.  After she passed away, my Dad continued to encourage me that I could do anything.  It gave me the ability to never see gender as an obstacle I couldn’t overcome.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  I started early at the age of 13 when I became a waitress at a fish fry restaurant.  I eventually moved on to waitress, and be a helping hand, at the Local Swim Club.  After, I always loved to cheer and became a cheer instructor at the local YMCA helping the community’s youth.

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “When I became a cheer instructor, it was the first time I experienced an ‘Entrepreneurship lifestyle’. Getting people to sign up, encouraging retention and making it a positive experience for everyone, from the kid’s participating, to the YMCA that let me teach there. I definitely learned the basic fundamentals of Sales and cultivating relationships to create “win-win” opportunities for key stakeholders.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Get clarity of your goals so you can know what you want.  After that, work hard towards your goals every day.  And finally, understand that there will be times you will need help, so surround yourself with a strong team and know how to work with them in order for everyone to ‘Win with You.”

National Pen continues to celebrate the successes and hard work of all the women who continue to promote our core values, every day at every level in our company globally.

90 Days Until Small Business Saturday – Get Marketing!

This small business-focused holiday can be just the thing to kick-start your company’s sales – what marketing do you have planned?

Whether you’re a fan of Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, small business owners everywhere should tip their collective hats to the latter card issuer, as AMEX created a “holiday” six years ago strictly focused on boosting awareness and engagement with small businesses across the nation. Today, small businesses can now utilize Small Business Saturday marketing to boost foot traffic and sales.

Small Business Saturday (SBS) takes place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday each year, and the goal is simple – let the big box retailers have the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the online sites have the Monday after Turkey Day, but then persuade shoppers to choose local small businesses for their Saturday-after-Thanksgiving shopping needs.

If you own or operate a small business, consider this day as a holiday devoted just to you. To maximize it, you’ll want to keep the following key marketing concepts in mind when November 26th rolls around this year:

1.  Plan Your Small Business Saturday Marketing

Don't Get Caught Without a Plan - Start Today!

Don’t Get Caught Without a Plan – Start Today!

With 90 days to prepare for the holiday, decide how you want to promote your business in conjunction with the holiday. It is important to realize that not all people know about Small Business Saturday, so use the time leading up to the day as an opportunity to fill them in.

Remind your customers of the day by creating flyers and handing out Small Business Saturday promotional items such as pens that can be handed out quickly and easily. A custom batch of postcards, for instance, can (inexpensively) serve this purpose and will remind the customer of your business far beyond November 26th.

Now is the time to start seeing which promotional products you want to use and order in advance for Small Business Saturday.

2.  Cross Promote Your Business

This buzzy-sounding phrase is actually perfectly suited for your Small Business Saturday marketing plan. Find complementary businesses in your area and find a way to boost awareness of both companies by promoting each other!

DoritosLocos-500x229

Picture Provided by Crown Marketers (http://crownmarketers.com/)

For example, if you run an automotive repair business, consider partnering with the car wash down the street to offer discounted washes with each oil change at your shop. You’ll both benefit, and the customers will have an opportunity to learn about both of your businesses.

3.  Prepare Your Social Marketing

Image provided by npo.io

Image provided by npo.io

Clients today are as smart as ever – especially when it comes to using social media tools to add value to their shopping experience. Well in advance of the Small Business Saturday holiday, create Facebook posts or Tweets that encourage others to share information about this special day.

Keep in mind that the Small Business Saturday Facebook page alone has more than 3 million followers. Linking to this site or using hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday or #SmallBizSaturday is a great idea to boost your marketing efforts.

4.  Build upon Small Business Saturday

If you’ve already participated in Small Business Saturday in previous years, make sure you promote it this year to create a snowball effect of new business. Or, if you’re already a vocal supporter of small businesses in your area, use this time to communicate the importance of shopping locally-owned companies by showing the correlation between these businesses and the local economy. Use the holiday as a means to continually remind your local area why “grass roots” is the way to go.

Small Business Saturday is 90 days away, and now is the perfect time to gear up your Small Business Saturday marketing, plan accordingly, and start creating awareness of the importance of shopping locally.

Office Jargon Infographic: Low-Hanging Fruit Meaning & More

“Drill down to the root of any issue with a high-level and outside-the-box look at the proliferation of office jargon in today’s modern workplace.” This sentence contains no fewer than four separate examples of how office jargon has become so pervasive in workplaces across the nation. It is simply too easy to adopt so many of today’s catchy sayings and clever phrases . from low-hanging fruit to top of the funnel. Those who do so are occasionally able to create new, trendy marketing jargon that speaks to the nation. The infographic below provides a high-level look at some of the most common office jargon meanings and insights that have really “moved the needle” in recent times. Oh wow, there we go again!

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When it comes to office jargon, there are those who know how to handle themselves, and there are those who simply cannot hold back on the opportunity to “synergistically drill down” to the “root of the problem.” While marketing jargon and clever workplace sayings are often quite conveniently and accurately used to describe a situation or concern, there is a certain level of moderation that must be used. Otherwise, interactions become a back and forth battle of who can come up with the catchier sayings first. So take some time and really dive into some of the more common office phrases heard today . you may avoid the embarrassment of running an oft-overused saying up the flagpole at your next business meeting.

Keep in mind that there are some benefits to using new phrases to describe activities that are essentially routine tasks around the office. For example, providing your direct reports with a “to-do” list is great, but doesn’t it sound much more powerful to provide an action-item report? Imagine asking your direct reports if they have “completed the to-do list,” versus inquiring whether they’ve “completed the action item report.” The latter simply sounds more powerful and worthy of their attention. In the past you may have answered a request from a supervisor with “I’m not sure, let me find out,” but think of how much more tuned-in you’ll sound when you reply with “I’m not sure, but let me drill down and uncover the answer.”

Office jargon, while often comical in its overuse, can help to create improved communication within the workplace because many of the sayings invoke greater emotion than simply describing a task alone. The next time you decide to ascertain a co-worker’s bandwidth prior to assigning a low-hanging fruit task, you may want to first consider whether they have all of their ducks in a row. Ultimately, office jargon is here to stay . so uncover jargon meaning of both new examples and classic standbys with the Office Jargon Infographic from National Pen.

 The-Landscape-of-Office-Jargon20150414

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