ABOUT TODAY’S EPISODE | CHRIS GEHRING
Chris Gehring is one of the most dynamic leaders in the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. Responsible for over $26 million in Cutco sales, he is a member of the company’s Hall of Fame. As leader of the Washington/Alaska Division and also the Pacific Islands Division, Chris helps everyone under his guidance to establish a greater vision for themselves, develop the confidence to act on that vision, and sustain the energy to follow through. Chris Gehring’s motto is “Life’s a 10!” and his concepts will inspire you to bring your best to live life to the fullest each day.
Q&A WITH CHRIS GEHRING
Q: Take us back to 2003 and tell us a little bit about how you got started selling Cutco.
- Back in 2003, I was working at a part-time job folding clothes at this retail store in a mall. I was making minimum wage at the time and was looking for more opportunities.
- My buddy referred me to Cutco. I came in for an interview and what stood out for me was the penny cutting demo.
- I didn’t have a breakthrough fast start and actually produced less than $1,000 in sales in my first 10 days.
Q: What were some of the challenges that came up for you in those early days?
- I think I was questioning if this was the right fit for me.
- I was uncertain about how successful I could be at selling knives.
- I looked at the position as more of a job than an opportunity.
Q: What turned the tide for you? What were some of the experiences that stood out as you became more successful with the job?
- After a couple of weeks in the position, I sat down with my original DM Jason Schilperoort. He believed in me and shared with me what was possible here in Cutco. He helped me realize this was beyond selling knives.
- After Jason sat me down and encouraged me to work with him one-on-one and get on the program, I went 11 weeks in a row for $1,000. I pretty much never looked back after that.
- I grew tremendously over those following weeks after meeting with Jason. It was extremely eye-opening.
- I was able to quit my other position and go fulltime with Cutco.
Q: What do you feel like were some of the key lessons that came out of those early days, early years with the company?
- When I went in to meet with Jason, I had excuse after excuse on how this wasn’t going to work out for me.
- Jason shared with that I really had to show my true potential. He shared a vision that it was possible for me not just to be good, but great in this business.
- I learned that my results were 100% reflection of my effort. My attitude towards the position and towards life changed. I’ve implemented that throughout my entire life since then.
- Whatever I put my energy in multiplies. When I put my energy in things I’m passionate about, things in my life tend to become more and more exciting.
- I focus on the importance of having a positive attitude. Focusing on the things I can control. Instead of focusing on the negative, I look at the negative as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow, to overcome, to become greater. To have more depth and knowledge about life.
- I wasn’t always the biggest sales rep week after week, but I was consistent. That was something I learned young in the business that I still use to this day.
Q: What made you decide to be a DM in 2007?
- My original DM gave me the opportunity to work with Cutco. He believed in me and didn’t give up on me. He shared that everything was possible in this opportunity. It really gave me a lot of confidence and changed my whole perspective on life. I’m super-grateful for that.
- I saw what my original DVM did for me as well, Isaac Tolpin. He made a profound impact in my life. As far as my professional life, Isaac made more profound impact in me than my family.
- I wanted to give back that same opportunity to everybody that came through my door.
Q: Did you work with Isaac as a Division Office Manager for a little while during that time?
- I first became an Assistant Manager with Isaac. He started doing PDI with me, started doing coaching.
- He had this confidence about him and a way with people that I admired.
- I eventually worked with him as a Division Office Manager. He allowed me to work very independently. He put me in a position to grow constantly.
- I’m super-grateful for that because it taught me about strength, discipline and accountability.
Q: So many great examples of leadership that were a part of this organization. You went to Seattle and became a DM. You had a nice run there and the NorPac Division went on to become truly the greatest division team in the history of Cutco. 4 consecutive National Championships. What lessons stand out from being a part of the NorPac team in terms of creating a division culture and the things you’re trying to implement now?
- One thing that stands out for me that Isaac did very well is that he led through everybody.
- He never made you feel like he was the boss. He always made you feel like you were a part of the decisions that were been made within the division. That gave people a sense of ownership.
- He was such a profound servant-leader that gave people the opportunity to advance.
Q: As we fast-forward in your career, Isaac left the business. There was a change in leadership up there and you had a chance to go to Southern California and you had a great run for a number of years there. You’ve promoted a lot of great managers. You’ve promoted 30 Branch and District Managers over the course of your career. Your skill in promoting managers isn’t just about getting people to sell a lot. Your skill is painting a vision for people very early on so they become interested in producing more and advancing. You’re very good at this sort of vision casting. Talk to me a little bit about how you do that with your people?
- One of my favorite quotes is don’t look at the organization as it is but how it can become. I put that in my organization when I look at people. I visualize who they can be, what’s possible for them.
- I believe more in them than they believe in themselves.
- How would you feel if you could do that for others? How would you feel if you could make that impact on other lives? To be able to give back and show others what’s possible.
- When I think about vision, I’m helping people visualize what’s possible for them.
Q: Are there other ways or strategies you feel you have for helping people build confidence?
- It’s important people understand that confidence isn’t something you wake up with the next day. It’s a process. Confidence comes from experience.
- Progress is what creates confidence. Making sure you’re focusing on doing better day after day.
Q: You’re also known for your energy. What role do you feel energy plays in your ability to inspire people?
- One of my favorite quotes is do it with passion or not at all.
- If I believe in something, then I bring energy behind it.
- That energy transfers into others which brings others up.
- Gives them more energy to take action in whatever it is they’re working on.
Q: Your signature motto is “Life’s a 10,” right? Why is life a 10 for Chris Gehring?
- Life’s a 10 every single day because I make it that.
- It’s living to the fullest every single day. It’s getting the most out of every experience.
- I genuinely believe we’ve been put on this earth to make a positive difference. My responsibility as a leader is to ultimately make the biggest impact I can.
- Living life at level 10 just means I’m doing my best to be the best version of me so ultimately, I can show others what’s possible.
- If there’s a challenge in your life, I’d look at it in a different way. Like an opportunity to grow, to develop yourself, to create more depth, more strength.
- Ultimately, when it comes to living life at level 10, It’s just having 100% control of your attitude.
Q: Take a look into the future, 5, 10 years down the road, what’s the vision for Washington, Alaska, Hawaii for you in terms of what you want to see happen and how you want to continue changing people’s lives through what you do?
- I think about just keep working on myself.
- Better myself to ultimately be somebody that can make a big difference.
- I want to inspire as many people as possible.
- The lesson Chris learned early in his Cutco selling days is that life is a reflection of his own attitude, his own effort, his own skills level. That’s a valuable and important lesson to take to heart and apply in your own life.
- I loved hearing insights about Isaac Tolpin, one of the greatest leaders the Cutco/Vector organization has ever seen.
- Chris talked about vision; helping people to have a vision. Confidence; building confidence and energy, bringing energy to the people around you. These are signature concepts that have helped Chris succeed.
- I loved when he talked about pointing out what you recognize in people, the growth you see, the progress you see and also helping people take time to reflect, to look back and see how they’ve grown.
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Show notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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