March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after semi- nar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is presently an indepen- dent consultant to various apparel decorating busi- nesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER B Y V I N C E D I C E C C O I was born into a blue-collar, middle-class Italian family in New Jersey. I consider myself the luckiest person in the world on account of the support and guidance I received from my parents. For as long as I could remember, Dad worked two jobs to provide a roof over our heads and food on the table. He wasn't much for conversation, except when I screwed up and deserved a "life lesson." But, my mother was different. I would hang around while she cooked or ironed, and she would share her "old country" wisdom. She was born in a small mountainside village in Southern Italy and came to this country in her mid-teens. To this day, I still don't know how she ever became so well-versed about the workings of the business world. She has always worked for "the man." First, as a seamstress in a children's clothing factory that could best be described as a sweat shop, then on an assembly line packaging pills for a pharmaceuti- cal company until she retired at age 74. She's now 84. I suspect she knows more about how to run a successful business than any of her former employers, so I would like to share some of her classic pearls of wisdom with you. SIT STILL, SHUT YOUR MOUTH, AND EAT! Ah, those words rolled off her tongue. I still can't quite figure out how I'm supposed to shut my mouth and put food into it at the same time, but it was great advice nonetheless. In today's hectic world, we don't just sit still and observe things around us. We are forever rushing here and there, trying to do too much, and not taking the time to do any one thing to the best of our ability. Many times, we miss the subtle clues that could make all the difference and win us a customer's or employee's delight and respect. The "shut your mouth" part taught me to be quiet and listen more. Anyone who knows me, though, will tell you this is still something of a work-in-progress. If I only listen to certain things I want others to say, I'll miss the big picture. I find I serve my customers and colleagues much better when I ask more questions, confirm my understanding of what was said by paraphrasing back, and express empathy for others, when appropriate. And as for the eating part, well, naturally, the meals prepared and served at our dinner table were both appealing and nutritious. Earning a client's trust and business, or gaining an employee's respect and loyalty, can be as tempting and delicious as a dish of homemade manicotti and a big bowl of meatballs and sausage—my Mom's spe- cialty. It's that type of nourishment that can sustain a business for a long, long time. WORK LIKE YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO DIE… But, think you'll die tomorrow. This is an old Italian expression that is the first cousin to, "Plan for the worst and hope for the best." As All I really need to know about running a business, I learned from my Italian Mother Mother Knows Best 14 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 7

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