Socci Network Circle
Can you believe I haven’t posted an entry to the Creative Idea Gal blog since mid-July and today is already September 7? To put it mildly, I’ve been very busy with a 10-month writing project! As of October 31, that project will be completed. Today, I’m truly delighted to begin a new circle, the Socci Network Circle, that has been floating around in my mind for many years, way before I started blogging formally.
I will tell you all in detail the special story about my inspiration for creating the Socci Network circle later on. For now, I’d like to skip ahead to the good stuff and jump in to our first entry, featuring Jim Socci!
The Socci Network Circle is all about features of the relatives on the side of my husband, Laurence, – the Soccis. Now that the Olympics are coming to Sochi, Russia (note the “h”) in 2014, people all over the world will finally be able to say my last name correctly. Yay! Enter the Socci Network – - a little spot on my blog dedicated to the creative and interesting Italian folks that are part of my husband’s family. Without further ado, let’s go to town!
Jim Socci – The First Person to be Featured on the Socci Network
Today, I am featuring Jim Socci, Laurence’s cousin. Today is Jim’s birthday and a fantastic day to talk about him personally and professionally. Jim is one of eight children of Laurence’s beloved uncle, who we all fondly refer to as Uncle Emilio. The following is a series of questions and answers pertaining to Jim’s personal life as well as his business, Artistic Toy Manufacturing Co., which is based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Personal Questions for Jim Socci
As a new father, you have surely learned a lot from your boys. Can you share some tips?
They always remind me how little it takes to have fun and enjoy life. They are happy just living and breathing.
What advice would you give to other new fathers?
Play with your children.
How would you describe your personality at home?
I am working on this. I would like to tell you it’s the same as work; however, my energy is lower, so my kids don’t always get my best.
What is one characteristic about you that would surprise people?
I have been eating at the same sandwich place for 4 years and always order the same thing.
You have advocated the power of prayer as a means of fixing what is wrong in the world of politics. Would you like to comment on that?
We all have a choice to make in terms of what we believe to be true. The more I study in the area of the truth claims of God, the more I find that many of our founding fathers held a deep faith and connection to God. I believe as much as we have “evolved,” we are still the same people with the same basic needs. We just have different ways to try and meet those needs. God’s love is among all other things a consistent example of perfect freedom. A nation of people that look to God for answers to solve problems in their own lives first will surely surpass a nation looking to a government to solve their problems.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 This statement encourages my spirit like no other.
What exactly is “Big Brother Cubbs?”
Douglas Cubberly and I went to Muhlenberg College together. We played football and are fraternity brothers. In the fraternity system, you select an older guy to be your “Big” brother who looks out for you. Cubbs was my Big Brother
You recently wrote a very personal statement regarding being free from alcohol for 3 years. Mind discussing this experience? What happened before and how have you changed?
I never saw anything wrong with drinking and actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I encouraged my younger brother Emilio in college to enjoy drinking alcohol to extremes. Unfortunately, for him, he was not as lucky as I to escape alcohol without too many blemishes.
Three years ago, Emilio received his second DUI which ended him in prison for a week. Beyond the counseling, legal fees, and embarrassment, he had an important decision to make. Was he going to drink alcohol again? We made a pact one morning that we would say goodbye to alcohol in our lives together forever. To this day, we both do not drink alcohol.
I thought this statement was very interesting: “146 years ago, 3 young men set out with a common purpose to bind men together for eternity. Today, there are 146,000 living brothers sharing that same vision — with Garrett Gallinot.” What does that mean?
The founders of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) Fraternity is what I am referring to in this post. ATO is America’s leadership fraternity. It is a fraternity routed in Christianity; however, as you might imagine, it has its challenges in our culture today. There are many bad boy images of fraternity men like the Animal House portrayal. It is alluring to many young men, as it was to me from when I was 19-22.
As I matured in the brotherhood, I was inspired to be a part of something greater than the best party on campus. Currently, I reside on the alumni Board of Trustees for the chapter and hold the office of Member Education Chair. A year ago in August, I traveled to St. Louis with Matt Frank, Chapter President and Garrett Gallinot, Chapter VP to attend the national fraternity’s 80th bi-annual congress. It was an inspiring week.
Business questions for Jim Socci
Please give a quick rundown on the basics of Artistic Toy.
-Years in business: 8
-Names of current owners: Jim and Betsy Socci
-Number of employees: 16
How would you describe your personality at work?
I think you would need to ask my wife Betsy and my employees. Hanging on my wall in my office are handwritten comments from my each of our 14 employees from a team-building exercise we did over two years ago.
2. Great Leader
3. Highly Motivated
4. Lots of Great Ideas
5. There are no words – too many qualities
6. Idea Man
8. Good Sense of Humor
9. Strong Willed
11. Honest and Good Listener
13. Passionate and Selfless
14. So nice and very helpful, and love that he is always positive.
Can you provide some examples of your innovation within the plush toy industry?
The biggest innovation for us is the development of our purpose and mission that is summarized in one simple sentence: “Helping You Build Character.” We look beyond the stuffed toy to understand the significant role that it represents in organizations as it portrays their brand character.
Can you provide some feedback on your sentiments and philosophy of favoring China manufacturing versus U.S. manufacturing?
It is simple economics and political landscape.
What is the “interactive plush toy?”
The Interactive Toy is a technology that gets people at tradeshows or events to interact with the toy to receive additional offers to do business with you.
Has Artistic Toy ever provided plush to home-based businesses or single entrepreneurs who wanted less than 10 of a particular plush?
Our minimum order size is 100 pieces. Economies of scale are necessary to maintain profitability. Since everything we do is personalized with a logo, the cost to process orders needs to be covered. Again, it comes back to economics. If you want 10 toys we would need to charge you $50 per toy or you could have 100 pieces at $5.00 each. Which would you prefer?
Bonus Feature on Artistic Toy
I’ve admired Jim’s business for a long time and am so happy to find a spot to feature Artistic Toy on Write Nonfiction in November this month. Every single Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll be talking about a successful non-writing marketing story.
So far, we’ve discussed:
Please join us!