Our Favorite White Wine for Summer

Welcome to the Friday Wine Down! What a week it’s been – doesn’t a glass of wine sound perfect right about now? Here at GiftTree, we’re collectors, sippers and enthusiasts. And when we find a very special bottle, we just can’t keep ourselves from sharing! From white wine on a casual night out to a rare Pinot Noir for special occasions, every week we’ll feature a fantastic wine available in our gifts. Onward!

This Week’s Friday Wine Down: Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier

About This Wine

Napa Valley’s Pine Ridge Vineyards was “just experimenting” when they blended two varietals together, creating the easy-to-love masterpiece (and this Author’s favorite white), Chenin Blanc + Viognier.

Tasting Notes

Crisp, bright, and vivacious, CB+V is an aromatic white blend boasting a bouquet of honeysuckle and orange blossoms along with tropical fruit aromas, green apple, lemon, and grapefruit. The entry is bright and fresh, exhibiting flavors of fresh lemon curd and Granny Smith apples. While this is a juicy wine, it has an incredible mid-palate weight with acidity carrying the flavors to the lengthy finish.

Serving, Pairing & Gifting

This medium-bodied blend should be served chilled. It makes a great companion for a variety of dishes, from light salads to seafood. Most notably, we recommend foods with a hint of spiciness, like Thai curry or Asian-inspired dishes, because the wine’s subtle sweetness provides balance.

Want to order Pine Ridge, or give it as a gift? Great! It’s in California White Wine Trio and also our Fine Wine Tote.

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Have you had a chance to try the Pine Ridge CB+V? What did you think? What’s your favorite Pinot Noir?

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Private Label Product: Competition on Amazon

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Selling private label on Amazon has its rewards. But what if you could build a scalable PL sales model with only a couple of software tools and a few tweaks? Learn how to outsmart your competition on Amazon today.
Last week, we started talking about selling private label on Amazon. More specifically, we discussed sourcing for PL sellers. We also briefly talked about ways to defend your brand on Amazon. This week, let’s see what it takes to find and outsmart your competition on Amazon.

The PL Seller’s Competitors

1. Amazon PL Brands and Exclusives

Type “Amazon Brand” into your Amazon.com search box. Or click here to see the dedicated Amazon UK Private Label page. TJI research claims there are 135 such PL brands and 330 Amazon Exclusives or Own Brands. And the number keeps rising suddenly every Q1 and Q3, so right after the sales season.

As it streams shopping data from sales, Amazon can spot “unmet market needs” better than any seller. And what better time to learn about market trends than Prime Day or the winter holidays? And all the while, it’s promoting its existing PL Brands in the Top Rated section of a query result.

Top rated Amazon PL

Example of Top Rated Amazon PL offers

Analyst Keith Anderson of Profitero claims Amazon’s own PL strategy focuses on big market trends like sustainability and eco-friendliness. Being able to tap into these market needs led to last year’s PL sales. They were estimated at $7.5 billion. And analysts believe this figure will more than triple by 2022.

2. Top Search Results

But PL sellers don’t compete with Amazon only. They also face off with Amazon’s recommendations. The most eye-catching products are the ones with badges, such as Best Sellers, Amazon’s Choice, and BOGOF items. And some BOGOF badges are very similar to the ones Amazon uses.

Best Seller, Amazon Choice

Top query result featuring Best Seller, Amazon’s Choice, and BOGOF item

3. Other PL Sellers

Aside from Amazon’s own offers and other top search results, you should keep an eye out for paid ads. Headline Search Ads and Sponsored Products feature not only on the search result page, but also on your product page, and all over a buyer’s home page. Of course, it’s always a good idea to use the tools in our competitive analysis post to pin-point your main competitors too.

How To Stay Competitive on Amazon

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how to find and sort your competition on Amazon, how do you set yourself apart and keep your edge? You can promote your products using social media, paid Amazon ads, and the Amazon Vine Program. But only after you tick these boxes:

1. Optimize Your Listing

To outrank other PL sellers, you also need perfect listings. It all starts with finding good keywords for your SEO strategy and writing high-converting copy. You’ll find plenty of listing optimization tips and best practices on our blog.

You should also have engaging photos. The Amazon Imaging or Product Photography may be of help. If you’d also like to upload a compelling video, first check the Video Shorts page for inspiration.

Before anything goes live, you should carry out some A/B or Split testing first using special software. This enables you to run two tests for similar listings simultaneously and see which changes are the most effective.

2. Price it Right

You need smart tools to keep an eye on your sales and other PL sellers. With Sellery, you can keep tabs on the competition, designate the products you want to compete with, and reprice in tandem.

It’s a customizable “set it and forget it” kind of tool, and the only one that reprices in real-time. It can spot market changes and counteract their effect, so that sales and profits stay up. Simply look up some keywords and let Sellery know what product or PL seller you’d like to compete with.

Sellery competition

Designating and monitoring competitors with Sellery

One thing to keep in mind is that the higher your search rank, the more you sell on Amazon. But your search rank depends on your sales velocity. If you’re new to Amazon, you may need to bid more on PPC campaigns and sell at a loss for a while, just to build up that sales volume.

3. Keep Metrics Up

If you’ve registered your own brand, you’re probably not that bothered about the Buy Box. But the same performance metrics that increase Buy Box percentage for third-party sellers will drive sales for you, raise your IPI, and reduce your storage fees. So, take a few minutes to read up on them.

4. Rehash and Rewind

Amazon likes to mix it up and see what catches on. Take its Happy Belly trail mixes, for example. But two can play at that game. Repromote your product with new variations, product bundles, or with frustration-free packaging.

You may not compete with Amazon or other PL sellers for these new ASINS; at least not at first. But you can still use Amazon’s price as reference. Or check the top selected products page to find new potential competitors.

5. Build a Website

If you don’t already have a website of your own to help sell your product, don’t waste any time building one. Whether you’ve registered your brand on Amazon or not, there’s no reason to sell exclusively on Amazon. Unless you signed up for Own Brands, of course.

As more and more people sign up to Own Brands, Amazon’s brand family grows. So, more PL sellers will go toe-to-toe with Amazon. To outlast your competitors, you need a strategy for scalable sales. But you can’t have it if Amazon is your only sales channel and source of income.

In the meantime, make sure your customer service can cope with a rise in queries as sales pick up, without compromising on quality of service. Luckily, the Voice of the Customer dashboard can help pinpoint buyer issues in a flash.

That’s it for today, but please follow our blog for our next post in the series, where we’ll go into a bit more detail about pricing and advertising for private label on Amazon. Until then, stay tuned for our Prime Day Prep post with last-minute tips to boost your PL sales.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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Elevate Your Gift Giving with Towers

It seems that the “unboxing” is all the rage these days. We have to admit, it is so fun watching someone open up a box to the surprises inside. That’s part of the reason we love gift towers! When a gift basket feels a bit too buttoned-up, many gift-givers opt for our gift towers. Most of them are five (yes – FIVE!) boxes tall, and super fun to unpack one by one. Here at GiftTree, our collection of gift towers is awesome.  Here are just a few of our customer-favorites – see for yourself!

Five Fan Favorite Gift Towers

The Winchester Savory Tower

 Definitively savory, crunchy, chewy and sweet, this collection of cheese, crackers, snacks and candies is a celebration of tastes and textures in a tower of six gift boxes designed exclusively by GiftTree. A special occasion will be made all the better when they enjoy opening one box of delicious fare after another.

Good Times Candy Tower

Which candies do you remember loving as a child? From Pop Rocks to Big League Chew, Fun Dip to Bottle Caps, it’s all here in a tower of five colorful boxes, ready to surprise and transport them back to the good old days at the roller rink.

The Sweet Life

Sweets and treats abound in this beautiful gift tower that’s ready to uplift any special occasion. Tied up with a gold satin ribbon, your recipient will absolutely love opening each and every box to see what gourmet delight awaits them inside.

The Bear Hug Tower

Welcome the new baby and congratulate the new parents! Four adorable boxes (that spell B-A-B-Y) they’ll want to repurpose in the nursery are filled with gourmet snacks, cookies and candies for grown-ups, plus a super soft plush bear for the little one.

24K Gold Gratitude

Caramel and white cheddar popcorn, chocolate creme cookies, Almond Roca and zesty red chili peanuts are just a few of the delicious delights waiting inside this tower of thanks.

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What kinds of yummy treats would you like to see inside GiftTree’s tower collection?

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The Iconic (& Woman-Owned) Champagne Veuve Clicquot

Welcome to the Friday Wine Down! What a week it’s been – doesn’t a glass of wine sound perfect right about now? Here at GiftTree, we’re collectors, sippers and enthusiasts, and when we find a very special bottle, we just can’t keep ourselves from sharing! From Chardonnay on a casual night out to a rare Pinot Noir for special occasions, every week we’ll feature a fantastic wine available in our gifts. Onward!

This Week’s Friday Wine Down: Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne

About This Wine

Clicquot’s signature non-vintage Brut is loved all over the world for its crisp, full flavors, consistent quality, and celebratory yellow label.  But did you know that this iconic and loved French Champagnes, came to its fame by one very business-saavvy lady of great taste? Read all about the fascinating story of Madame Clicquot here.

Tasting Notes

Medium straw, yellow color; complex aromas of ripe apple and light cream, excellent depth and persistence; layered on the palate; dry, medium acidity, well balanced; bright and beautiful ripe fruit and cream in the flavors; medium finish, lasting impression in the aftertaste.

Blend

Predominantly Pinot Noir, with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

Serving, Pairing & Gifting

A toasty Champagne like Veuve Clicquot has all the perfect depth and smokiness for fish and shellfish, such as raw oysters, poached prawns or Petrale sole in a sauce full of fresh herbs. At a mid-level price point, Veuve Clicquot makes a wonderful gift for so many occasions!

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Have you had a chance to try Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne? What did you think? What’s your favorite Champagne?

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Prime Day Prep with Sellery on Independence Day

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As we mark 243 years since the USA claimed its independence, let’s not forget that Amazon turns 25 tomorrow. And it’s pulling out all the stops for Prime Day 2019. Here are some last-minute Prime Day Prep tips for the two-day birthday bonanza.

When it comes to cost and convenience, Amazon is the first choice for many. It’s the ecommerce leader, as this Visual Capitalist’s giant infographic puts it. But with Prime Day 2019 inching closer, the retail giant is ramping up even more awareness this 4th of July.

Trying to outdo itself once again this Amazon Prime Day, it’s been reaching out to a wider audience. For one thing, the Amazon News channel posted several new videos this month. Most show how technology goes hand-in-hand with happy entrepreneurs, customers, pets, and employees.

Then there’s the celebs. As this press release slash Prime Day invite shows, Amazon enlisted the help of A-listers to promote off-to-college and Prime Day deals. And just as the sales kick off, there’s a Prime Day concert in N.Y. headlined by Taylor Swift, and a Prime Day Party in London featuring Rita Ora.

Amazon also extended its pickup network with the Amazon Hub Counter service. Now Prime members can collect their orders not only from a locker, but also from their nearest Rite Aid store. And while they’re there, they can do some shopping. Over a hundred of these stores are primed for Prime Day 2019, with thousands to follow.

Never before has the retail giant put so much effort into promoting Amazon Prime Day. And as sales pick up momentum, the race is bound to get ugly. But not if you heed our advice and apply these last-minute Prime Day Prep tips:

  • Monitor your competitor’s stock and raise your prices as soon as they run out. Sellery does it in real time with a simple setting, so you never skip a beat.
  • Offload anything you don’t want to pay long-term storage fees for. You have until the 15th of July before monthly LTSF fees apply.
  • Consider making a modest loss on slow-moving items to avoid paying overage fees if your IPI score drops suddenly.
  • Check your Lightning Deals dashboard for recommendations on qualifying products. If you missed your deadline, at least you know what products your competitor is likely to promote.
  • Make sure that you have at least five feedback ratings this month and your score is at least 3.5 if you’re a seller or 3 if you’re a vendor. Otherwise, you can’t submit a Lightning Deal.
  • Remind people on social media to download the app, watch the deals they like, and join Lightning Deals waitlists.
  • If you’re a vendor paying for a ‘Deal of the Day’ promotion, time it right for a workday.
  • Set a reminder for your coupons, since they become active at least 2 days after you create them.
  • Prime Rewards Visa cards come with $80 credit on approval. If you’re selling an add-on item, make sure your product’s price doesn’t take buyers above that.
  • Look for Prime Day deals that qualify for tax-deductible expenses. That way, even if you fail to resell them, you can recover some of the cost.

Speaking of resale, it’s important to know that Amazon doesn’t tolerate every type of arbitrage. Also, eBay banned drop-shipping. So, don’t buy anything with Prime delivery thinking you can flip it in a couple of days. It’s against Amazon rules, as seen below. You’re free to resell on eBay, if it goes through your warehouse first.

Amazon Limitations

That’s the last of our Prime Day Prep tips for the year. We’ll leave you to your Fourth of July celebrations now with a friendly reminder to follow our blog. We’ll soon be sharing Amazon Prime Day results, as well as the latest news and more private label tips. Happy Independence Day!

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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Friday Wine Down: Bridlemile Pinot Noir

Welcome to the Friday Wine Down! What a week it’s been – doesn’t a glass of wine sound perfect right about now? Here at GiftTree, we’re collectors, sippers and enthusiasts, and when we find a very special bottle, we just can’t keep ourselves from sharing! From Chardonnay on a casual night out to a rare Pinot Noir for special occasions, every week we’ll feature a fantastic wine available in our gifts. Onward!

This Week’s Friday Wine Down: Bridlemile Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

About This Wine

Fed by cool winds from the Columbia Gorge, Dundee Hills AVA is the perfect climate for this cuvee, produced in collaboration with renowned Oregon Pinot Noir maker Archery Summit. Expansive and expressive, this Willamette Valley Pinot Noir shows a completeness – a stylish comfort in its own skin.

Tasting Notes

Aged in new French oak, this premium Pinot opens with wood violet and cocoa aromas, uncovering flavors of black cherry and spice.

Blend

100% Pinot Noir

Serving, Pairing & Gifting

Framed by chewy tannins and lingering impressively, this Pinot Noir pairs exceptionally well with grilled vegetables, herb roasted pork tenderloin, blackened chicken or oven baked salmon filets. Bridlemile should be decanted for at least 30 minutes before tasting, and cellaring will reward the collector. Give Bridlemile Dundee Hills Pinot Noir as a gift, in a number of gorgeous presentations! (Our favorite is the Burl Wood box).

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Have you had a chance to try the Bridlemile? What did you think? What’s your favorite Pinot Noir?

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Pack the Perfect Picnic Basket

It’s SUMMER! The sun is out, the breeze is perfect and since we’re not in the dog days of summer quite yet, it’s not too hot or buggy yet. Therefore: it is picnic season! Picnics are so awesome – what a great way to relax and enjoy nature! But a fun picnic can go south quickly, when it’s discovered that some key equipment or ingredients were missed. To help avoid that, we’ve come up with the Picnic Basket Checklist! It’s a great way to learn how to pack the perfect picnic basket.

The Ultimate Picnic Basket Checklist

⬜ Lightweight Basket, Tote, or Cooler Make sure it is easy to carry, waterproof and durable.

⬜ Blanket to Spread Out You’ll need it if there are no picnic tables at your destination. A table cloth will work, too!

⬜ Low-Seated Beach Chairs Not needed – only if you prefer, but we love having a backrest!

⬜ A Trash Bag or Two Makes cleanup SO much easier!

⬜ Paper Towels Double duty – cleaning up and mealtime napkin use.

⬜ Moist Towellettes / Baby Wipes If there are kids, sauces or both in the picture, you’ll need these.

Plates Lightweight and eco-friendly are the way to go! If you must get disposable, try compostable bamboo!

Utensils Depending on what you’re having, you may need serving ware, too. The link above might be perfect!

Cutting Knife, Small Cutting Board You can pre-chop everything if you’d like, but you may want it for cheese and salami.

Corkscrew or Bottle Opener If your picnic destination allows alcohol, these are essential!

Shatterproof Glasses or Cups Glass is heavy to transport and dangerously delicate.

Ice Packs or a Bag of Ice Line these on the bottom of your basket or cooler and you’re good to go.

Drinks Avoid carrying too much glass if you can – and remember to bring plenty of water.

Salt & Pepper, Condiments Hint, hint – it’s the perfect use for all those packets in the miscellaneous kitchen drawer!

An Easy-to-Eat Menu of Foods in Resealable Containers & Jars Here are a few ideas…

  • Sandwiches or Wraps (Chicken or Tuna Salad, Turkey, Veggie, PB & J – just keep those sammies cool.)
  • Pre-Made Green Salads (Jars are perfect for this!)
  • Fresh Fruit & Veggies
  • Cheese, Salami and Crackers
  • Chips or Pretzels
  • Cole Slaw, Pasta, Potato, Bean or Macaroni Salads
  • Cookies or Bars

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What’s your favorite thing to eat on a picnic?

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ASIN Crackdown – Bad Product Titles Beware

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With all this talk of an ASIN crackdown on Amazon, it’s easy to overreact. But there’s no reason to push the panic button. Amazon is simply shushing loud and obnoxious product titles. Here’s how to fix ASIN violations and protect your listings.

With only weeks to Prime Day 2019, Amazon is cracking down on listings with bad product titles. The announcement has had mixed reactions. Some sellers welcome the ASIN crackdown, while others think it’s a heavy-handed approach. 

Posted on the Seller Forums, the notice says Amazon’s research found a link between poor customer experience and bad titles. So, Amazon is giving sellers an ultimatum: clean up your act by July 22, 2019, or your listings will fall off the radar.

ASIN Crackdown

Seller Forums post announcing ASIN crackdown

But there isn’t a consensus among sellers over what an ASIN violation is. Those who resort to “keyword spam” are the most troubled by this change. They believe using keywords in titles makes a great deal of difference to the product’s visibility. They fear their sales will suffer.

And sellers who comply are also puzzled. Those who sell books, for instance, have no control over their product titles. Also, third-party sellers who add their offer to a pre-existing listing can’t change the title. So, Amazon suppressing listings left, right, and center is their worst nightmare.

ASIN Crackdown 2

Screenshot of moderator post explaining common title issues

Luckily, Amazon soon clarified, as seen above. And it’s not all doom and gloom. The ASIN crackdown will only apply to a selection of product titles. Anything with over 200 characters, non-readable symbols, promotional keywords, or no real information about the product is an ASIN violation.

The FBA Product Title Requirements page spells it out. You should capitalize the first letter of each word, except for conjunctions and prepositions less than 5 letters long. Emojis, abbreviations for units of measurement (e.g. ’ for foot or ” for inch), and virtually all characters outside the English alphabet (e.g. -, &, ©) are not allowed.

The Dos and Don’ts of Amazon product titles

So, all non-compliant sellers will see their titles suppressed from search results starting July 22. Some will be able to review any ASIN violation using the “Suppressed” tab on their Inventory page in Seller Central. The rest will simply notice a sharp drop in sales.

You may not have time to check your listings before Prime Day. But as soon as you have a moment, update your product pages. A sales slump coupled with Prime Day returns and refunds could spell disaster for your business, especially with the Q3 IPI evaluation period starting mid-August.  

If you find it challenging, reach out to other sellers on the forum and let people know. For instance, one seller there claims their private label listings are locked. To make any changes, they need to open a case with Amazon. That’s clearly something Amazon should look into.

Are you having a hard time spotting your ASIN violations and fixing your product titles? We’d love to hear your take on this, the challenges you face, and your workaround. Just drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to help raise awareness.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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12 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Do you manage a team of employees? Being in a position of authority, management or leadership comes with a lot of responsibility. You are ultimately accountable for the performance, efficiency, success and morale of your team. It is easy to be “in charge”, but it takes a lot to be a good leader. So here are 12 ways that you can be a better leader in your position – starting today.

12 Ways to Become a Better Leader

1. Listen More, Speak Less

First and foremost, your team wants to know that their ideas and opinions are heard and valued. The more you listen, the more you will find that your team listens when you speak.

2. Know Potential When You See It

In a leadership role, it’s fairly safe to assume that you’re also in the hiring position. Therefore, pay attention to your employees’ potential. Don’t just scan the resume looking for a needed set of skills. Build a team that can grow, encourage growth, and you’ll see so much more engagement.

3. Be Liberal with Positive Feedback, Frugal with Criticism

In this great article, the author writes, “It sounds corny, and maybe you can overdo this one, but I honestly believe many employees in young companies need constant encouragement. We live in complex, competitive times and people are inundated with too many tasks and not enough time. Technology and business life can be overwhelming, so it’s important to point out any “wins” no matter how small. And, if you do have to criticize, think seriously about the impact first.”

4. Avoid Gossip

You would think that we wouldn’t need to put this one on the list, but you would be amazed at how many managers end up venting about members of their team to other members of their team. This must stop if you want to be considered a voice of positivity. Here is what gossiping does: it shows your employees that you are not trustworthy. It shows your employees that you show favoritism. And it also shows your employees that you cannot deal with confrontation face-to-face.

5. It’s OK to Say “I Don’t Know”

Be confident in not knowing everything. You show your team that learning is encouraged. And you also encourage your team to reach out for help when they don’t know something, either.

6. Celebrate Success, Evaluate Failure

In an upper-management position, it’s important to have the right attitude about success and failure. Knowing what success requires – patience, efficiency, productivity and more – will help you see what went wrong when failure does occur. Both success and failure require one very important key: humility. Humbly celebrate success, and accept where things went wrong when failure occurs.

7. Let Your Team Know You’re a Human

One thing you can be certain of: you and every member of your team has a life outside of their job (we hope). Take the time to get to know your team on a more personal level, and let them know who you are, too. There’s definitely a line you should draw in the sand about how personal you get with your employees, but letting them in on a little bit of who you are makes you more approachable.

8. Be Flexible with How Each Employee Works

Be patient! Every single person has a different set of needs which will enable them to work to their full potential. It’s important that your employees know they can be trusted to work efficiently and independently. Micro-management has never worked for anyone, so don’t burden yourself with the task! Showing employees that you’re confident in their skills makes them feel confident, too.

9. Make Yourself Approachable

When your employees feel overwhelmed, overloaded or out of their depth, make sure they know it’s ok to reach out for help! It’s never ok to suffer alone silently – you’re a team! Another very important part of being approachable is to watch your tone. How you say something is every bit as important as what you say.

10. Control Your Emotions

This is probably a lifelong practice. We’re not saying you’re not allowed to ever be upset, here. But set the example – when your employees see that you keep your emotions in check, it will encourage them to do the same.

11. Apologize When You Need To

There is not enough time for all the effort it takes to hide all your weaknesses. Leadership does not include pretending there was a misunderstanding or finding someone or something else at fault. It looks much worse when you try to insulate yourself from admitting mistakes. Don’t hesitate to apologize! It’s honest, and it’s humble, and those are two things that can never fail.

12. Recognize and Reward Ingenuity

If someone on your team comes up with a great idea that leads to positive change, give them credit! It takes guts to share new ideas, find workarounds, and think outside the box. Reveling a little bit in a team member’s smart thinking will help them push even harder on their next project!

Celebrate Your Team with Awesome Business Gifts

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If you’re a leader, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

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