ABOUT TODAY’S EPISODE | ALBERT DILEONARDO
Albert Dileonardo has been an important part of the soul of the Vector Family for the past 43 years, since his days running the 3rd sales office in Vector Marketing history to his years as the CEO and President of Vector East. After graduating from Temple University, Al became a District Manager in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He later advanced to Division Manager, then Zone/Regional Executive, winning multiple National Championships along the way. Since 2002, Al has been the co-CEO of Vector Sales and President of Vector East, and has had a profound effect on the family culture which is so prevalent in the Vector/Cutco organization. At home, Al’s family includes his wife Madeleine and their 4 children, ranging in age from 23 to 33.
Q&A WITH ALBERT DILEONARDO
Q: Tell us a little about how your life before you got started selling Cutco/ Vector.
- I grew up in a row home in Philadelphia with 2 brothers. My dad’s line of work was intermittent so we didn’t have much money at times. We were on food stamps and had holes in our clothes before holes in your clothes were cool.
- My mom had a massive stroke when I was 12 and my 2 younger siblings needed help, so that was the first time I was exposed to learning leadership.
Q: Tell us a little about how you got started selling Cutco with Vector.
- I got my degree in accounting but I didn’t really like accounting. While in school my friend from college was selling Cutco and he personally recruited me to sell Cutco with him. Once I got my degree I was planning on becoming an accountant, so I went for an interview and when he asked me about my experience selling Cutco I talked and talked and talked. Eventually, the person interviewing me said, “I think you should stay with Cutco” because he could tell I really loved it.
Q: What were some of the early experiences you had selling Cutco and what were some lessons you learned?
- What attracted me to the business was that there were very successful and energetic people in the company and I was attracted to that, especially because they were willing to share their knowledge with me. As an insecure young adult that came from a relatively poor family, that was very attractive to me.
- I learned that in most companies young people don’t matter. In our company, young people do matter!
Q: You were truly part of the foundation of Vector Marketing. Can you speak to how the culture we’re talking about took hold in Vector so that it now has this family feel to it?
- Don Freda and Mike Lancellot had the early vision to do something different than just selling knives, and wanted to become a people development company. The more we helped to grow and develop people, we noticed, the more they tended to sell.
- All companies have a soul and the soul of Vector Marketing is to help people become the best version of themselves.
Q: Who have been some key mentors in your life?
- I worked with Mike Lancelot from the very beginning. In fact, he ran my first interview.
- He taught me commitment, work ethic, responsibility, perseverance, and other skills like that that make one a champion.
- John Kane taught me about second chances and the power of relationships.
- My wife, Madeleine, has been a mentor of mine too, and is frequently a sounding board for my ideas today.
Q: Tell us about some skills it takes to build a championship team.
- Well first you need to build yourself, because a championship team begin with a championship leader at the helm.
- One trait that I have I got from my mom, which was being loving and caring.
- Realize the power of yourself and the power of human potential and how do you motivate and inspire people and bring out the best in your direct reports.
- The power of a goal, having fun, and bringing things out of people that they didn’t even realize was there.
- All development begins with self-development.
Q: What do you feel are some of your most important core philosophies?
- You really have to really love and enjoy people.
- I think you also have to really believe in people.
- Vector is the kind of place that you can come in and be yourself and there’s a place for you. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are and I celebrate their differences.
Q: Since 2002 you’ve had a partnership with Bruce Goodman as co-CEOs of Vector Sales. Tell us a little about the journey over the last 17 years.
- What I’ve realized is that as you move up into a new position, you have to learn everything all over again.
- I love that Bruce and I look at the world differently and because of that, we see things differently. What ends up happening is we always end up with a better result because of that.
- We’re two people with the same objective but different ideas of how to achieve that objective.
Q: As you look ahead to the next 5-10 years, what are you most excited about for Vector?
- I’m excited about the programs that will bring more people into the business because when I meet people who worked with Vector and I run into them years later, they tell me how Cutco was the foundation for them. I want to do for others, what Vector did for me. The more people we can impact, the better the world will be.
Q: I’d love to hear about some of your favorite experiences or lessons you’ve had as a father.
- How you do one thing is how you do everything.
- You work when you can work because you never know when you can’t.
- It’s important to teach your kids how to handle adversity and keep on going.
- If you want a big life and you want to excel, you’ll need to take risks. With taking risks comes the chance of not succeeding at it. But if you keep taking shots at it, you’ll eventually succeed. Learn how to take risks and handle challenges.
Q: How about as a husband? Can you share any experiences or lessons?
- Commitment frees you up. Most people think that commitment ties you down but commitment frees you up to other things in life.
- Another thing to point out is the importance of the feeling that someone has your back.
Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina.
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