ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | CRAIG P. STONE
Craig P. Stone has had an illustrious professional career, spanning roles in investment banking, real estate development, leading multiple companies, performance coaching, and even movie and TV production. His business exploits include:
- Becoming the Managing Director of a major investment banking firm
- Taking over and turning around a failing business with 122 employees
- Founding, developing and selling six other start-ups
- Developing two hi-rise buildings in New York City
- Producing the award-winning documentary “At The Edge Of The World,” which led to the television series “Whale Wars.”
- Consulting with Coach Bob Knight for ESPN’s “Knight School”
- Teaming with Phil Hellmuth to manage and promote a group of the world’s top poker players
Craig has been asked to speak all over the world on a plethora of topics to empower audiences to take action to change their lives and become the best they can be. His tools give people the mental edge to be in the top 1% in their fields.
In this conversation, Craig shares:
• how his experience selling Cutco was a “game-changer” in his life
• a number of insights from his varied and successful career
• his sage view on the opportunities arising right now in our world
• and a whole lot more!
Q&A with Craig P. Stone:
Q: I’d love to hear about your Cutco experience. How did you get involved and what did you learn during those days?
- I got involved when I saw an ad for salesmen.
- At that time, I was 16 years old. I came to a little office and just felt really good.
- It was my first job. So, you can imagine I was ready to go.
- It was in the Long Island area and they said, “hey! You don’t have a license, but this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to teach about the products, and then we’re going to drop you off somewhere.
- I started knocking on doors. Of course, people weren’t excited to see me at first. The great thing about it was it was a game-changer because it taught me we always can overcome a challenge. If these people are selling, then I can sell.
- It was an enormously exciting experience.
Q: After Cutco, you went to college. You went to the University of New Hampshire. Tell us about the evolution of your career from that point.
- I got involved with Wall Street and had the privilege to being involved in different areas., finally ending up with a company where basically small companies could take over big companies (investment banking).
- This opportunity stuck in my head. If small companies could take over big companies, why can’t small people get involved in great companies?
- I decided to be an entrepreneur, and from there, I went on to do the things that I love and am passionate about.
- I always tell people don’t do something to make money. Do something so you can make something. When you make something, you will always be successful.
- I looked for different opportunities to do things in different industries. If you have a goal, you have a duty to execute it.
- When you’re passionate, you can do incredible things because others will feel it.
- Life is about work ethic. If you love what you do, it will resonate with anybody you’re dealing with.
Q: Tell me about the experience you had taking over a company as the CEO. It was struggling with 110+ employees. You were able to turn that around. What happened?
- The great thing about success is it’s not about one person. If you want to move fast, move alone. If you want to move faster, move together.
- The success I’ve had with 6 startups that I spearheaded; I was never the great person. It was a collective effort.
- I brought in 3 people and we sat down with 122 people and did participative leadership. Letting them know we were going to make this successful. We broke down our strategy of how we were going to do it.
- This wasn’t if we’re going to win, but we will win. You inspire and empower people, allow them to make mistakes and collectively have everybody on the same train track. It’s an incredibly wonderful feeling.
Q: You used the words “participative leadership” that you brought to that organization. I love that concept. It’s definitely something we try to implement full-scale in a lot of our teams where we’re gaining the insights of the group and trying to tap in on the collective wisdom and getting more buy-in about the strategy because of that. Could you unpack that a little bit?
- Especially in this pandemic, participative leadership has become a big part of the key to success.
- There are great ideas in getting information from the bottom, if we allow everybody to collectively get involved and have their opinions and strategies heard.
- I tell everybody there is never a stupid question or a stupid idea. Some of the greatest stupid ideas have been ideas that turned out well. They could bring a difference in direction, moving forwards during the pandemic and post-pandemic days.
- Participative leadership will be one of the great themes during this period.
Q: What elements of the current business evolution do you see happening right now during this pandemic? Do you foresee being a part of the “new normal” in the future?
- We’re going to be remote for a long time in my view. Going to the office is going to be a special kind of thing. Maybe conferences and meeting a special client.
- I see business changing so dramatically. Business travel basically stopping. I see a lot of meetings, the opportunity for virtual conferences. So many wonderful things that will help us find relaxation and meditation, and change our whole facility to move forward.
- We were privileged to develop two buildings in New York. We had no idea what we were doing.
- Again to young people, you don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to have all the answers to all questions. It’s important to keep moving forward.
- This is a time when things can level out. The small guy can compete with the big guy with the right ideas.
- People are starting to adjust to the pandemic. The pandemic is bringing about a lot of wonderful things in the context of our collectively working together, sharing information and being able to grow.
Q: Your bio states your goal is to change people’s lives by sharing what you call Stone’s Steps to Success. Obviously, I resonate with this aspiration to change people’s lives. Can you share that a little bit?
- The first one, I’d say, is it’s not what we say and it’s not what we do, but it’s how we make that other person feel that matters most.
- To learn what it means to be somebody else, you have to learn what it feels like to them. In that regard, how can I make that person feel better, positive and upbeat.
- Words are powerful, quotes are powerful. When you give a quote to somebody, they’re either going to say Wow! Or can I write that down? Quotes resonate with people’s potential.
- We have to realize we have between 12,000 to 50,000 thought a day. 70% of these thoughts are negative.
- It’s a very powerful thing. If we’re able to control our thoughts, then we are able to control our destiny and change the world.
Q: Can we talk about how you got into movie and TV production?
- A co-partner and I came up with this idea of … what would you risk your life for?
- We got involved in this project “At the Edge of the World” that turned into the show Whale Wars.
- We knocked on hundreds of doors like I did with Cutco. We got to talk with people who care about the same things we cared about. It was a big team effort.
- We produced a show called The World Away about the story of a person who ended up heading NASA.
- We worked with the smartest, decent and down-to-earth people you could ever meet.
- We also look for the great champions in the world.
Q: I’m fascinated by something in your bio we haven’t talked about yet. I happen to be something of a poker aficionado. I discovered the game 15 – 17 years ago, and I’ve had reasonable success as a pure amateur. During that time, I’ve met Phil Hellmuth and became friends with him. He’s arguably the most famous poker player in the world. I know you connected with Phil and you guys created a partnership to manage the top poker players. Can you tell us about that?
- I got involved with poker. Phil’s an interesting person with a great heart.
- We discussed promoting and managing the top 100 players in poker. That happened in 2003 or so.
- We got them sponsorships, and it was always fun to meet these poker players.
- We had a wonderful experience. That’s what I think business is all about. Creating that wonderful partnership with people you enjoy.
Q: What other words of wisdom would you share with our Cutco audience?
- I’d say go for it and don’t be afraid.
- We live for one moment and then it’s gone. With things like the pandemic coming in, this makes life even shorter.
- Go for your passion and don’t let anyone say no to you. You can do anything you want to do.
- If you don’t have the skillset, you can find someone that does.
- Love what you’re doing. Love what you’re selling, and I guarantee you whether it’s tomorrow, a year from now, 10 years from now, with small or big steps, you’ll get what you want.
Q: What most inspires you about the future?
- In the next few years, we’re going to see companies that are now in basements that will change the world.
- You and I are both interested in helping people. I think this is an exciting time and people are re-inventing themselves and the opportunity to create our destiny is happening now.
- The future is going to be incredible. Yet, there’s this terrible COVID-19, but there is the opportunity to do the impossible if you can see the possible.
- Craig mentioned that selling Cutco was a game-changer in his life.
- Taking the theoretical to the practical. Taking the theoretical of teachings, concepts and academic skills and turning that into practical applications.
- That’s what happens when people are working in sales.
- The concept that investors and venture capitalists buy-in to founders and the teams. It’s important to develop skills in presentation and the confidence to have the conviction in what you’re doing. These are all key elements of success.
- Also, one of the most critical life skills is empathy. Are you able to turn around and put yourself in the place of your customer or the person you’re attempting to influence and understand what they perceive from what you’re saying?
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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