ABOUT TODAY’S EPISODE | DANNY LEWIS
Danny Lewis is the North Shore (IL-WI) Division Manager for the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. His career has been marked by challenges and difficulties that sharpened his skills and honed his mental attitude. During the unprecedented pandemic year of 2020, Danny made a committed decision to find and bring his A-game. His North Shore sales team thrived, finishing the year as the #1 team in the company in New Business sales. By hearing Danny’s story and lessons, we hope that you can find the inner strength and outer guidance to overcome your own challenges and make this your greatest season in business and in life.
Q&A WITH DANNY LEWIS
Q: How did you get started with Cutco and Vector?
- Born and raised in Chicago, when I was 18 I was looking to retire from my career with McDonalds and Baskin Robbins. I saw an ad in the Chicago Tribune, I did not have a car, so I rode my bicycle to the interview in a shirt and tie, and was offered a position. I rode my bicycle for my first four years in Cutco. (He later attended the University of Illinois, as an Education Major.)
Q: What were some experiences you had and the lessons you learned as a rep in those early years?
- I was never the best at anything, I was a very average rep, my first summer I sold $9,500 worth of Cutco. I was a very average Assistant Manager, Branch Manager, and District Manager.
- As far as lessons, I’ve learned that it really doesn’t matter where you start. Most people are not a professional at something in the beginning, focus less on comparing yourself to the number ones, and instead focus on reaching out to them and asking them questions. One thing I love about our company is that people are genuinely willing to help and share and teach you the things that helped them become successful.
- If you’re willing to put in the effort, and talk to your teacher or mentor or the person who you’re aspiring to work with; they will gladly help you and guide you, but you have to be willing to put in the effort. Just be yourself, and don’t quit.
Q: How do you feel like your belief in yourself has evolved over the years?
- I have found that I was lucky to have had people who believed in me, and I listened to what they encouraged me to do, at every level in the business. I would execute and listen to the guidance I received by mentors like Jeff Bry and Mike Muriel.
- When you are willing to listen to the people that you respect, and you start to get better results and create habits and rituals of success, you begin to put together little bits of confidence that become stronger and stronger.
- One of the secrets to why I have withstood some of the tremendous challenges is maybe I was too stubborn to quit, and I wanted to find a way to figure it out. I believe that if other people were able to do it and were willing to share, I could find a way to do the same results.
Q: Can you think of any rituals or habits for success that sort of became a part of who you are and what you would do?
- On every appointment I ever did on a bicycle, I would literally recite the close verbatim, have the customer give me objections, solve the objections, and I would do the same thing with recommendations.
- I would visualize the success that I wanted to do before I would accomplish it. I did that forever. To this day every time I go into a training, interview, or big conference or meeting I want to run, I have rituals and habits. One of the things I say to myself in a confident way, is “I am going to run the greatest interview of my life this is going to be my masterpiece.” “ I am going to run the greatest training I’ve ever run, this is going to be my masterpiece.” I learned this from Jerry Otteson years ago.
- I put myself in the right mental state so that I am ready to execute and give the people who I’m serving the value that they really deserve. This is the only interview or training that these people are going to get, so I have to perform at my highest level, because they deserve it, because this may be the only time in which they actually see me live, so go all out. This is the only today you have.
Q: Your career has been marked by a great deal of successes and challenges. Take us into the moments of difficulty or challenge that stand out for you, and let’s talk about some of the good that came out of those experiences.
- My first three months as a District Manager, I had tremendously sub-par results. I realized that in times of struggle, I wasn’t reaching out for help, I was “too scared” to call my manager because I felt ashamed. It’s easy to be doubtful when things are not going the way you want, but whatever you focus on is going to grow and expand. If you focus on problems, you’re going to be really amazing at attracting problems. If you focus on results that you want, you’re going to be really great at attracting the results and things that you desire. If you want to do well, reach out, ask for help, ask lots of good questions.
Q: What was the mindset that made you isolate yourself when you were struggling?
- I think I was just ashamed. I think I just had a scarcity mindset, I didn’t have the self- confidence. I questioned whether I was worth it and worth enough, and did I “deserve” the success. It became habitual, I would be too “scared” to go for that next level of success. I failed to look at the benefit of what can be created when you are reaching “your full potential” and the impact that you can make on others when you are performing at the level that you can.
Q: How do you feel like going through these experiences have prepared you for this particular year, and the challenges of this particular year?
- My wife asked me what was going to happen with Cutco and my office this summer, and I said “I don’t know”, I’ve lived through recessions, but not a pandemic. She asked me what I was going to do, and at that point I knew that running interviews would be no problem, but the question I asked myself was “was I going to be good?, how successful could I be running training?” I knew that I needed to figure that out.
- Anthony Robbins says “decide what you really want, take massive action, notice what’s working, and continue to take massive action until you get the results that you want.” My first two trainings were awful, my third training was better. I studied a new presentation, and I executed it. I realized that I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have an obligation to the assistant managers I work with, the division we oversee, the region, the company, and I have tremendous loyalty and gratitude for the company, and I was going to figure this out.
- We made a verbal pact that we would go all out to win the silver cup. I wanted to figure this thing out, we worked hard to focus on and care about the person we were serving. Once I knew that I found a training that I could execute, every interview and training I was determined that we were going to make this happen. Every day I focus on what I want, and do my habits and rituals, and it has worked out really well so far.
Q: How are you driving recruiting, and making sure that recruiting is healthy and strong and that you’re getting the recruits that you want to get?
- I am very intentional about surrounding myself with people who I genuinely care about, and people who I really want to thrive. We found that the sweet spot of number of assistant managers is seven. I would want at least one assistant manager at each of the top most influential high schools, and help drive recruiting. Step one: find the people you care about, who you want to build the business with.
- When a representative achieves multiple promotions in their first ten days, and sees immediate success, they’re very excited organically, to share that opportunity with somebody who they care about. Start with the people you want to work with, the high schools you want to serve, assistant managers that go there, and then you build.
Q: What is happening with training, and why has that been so successful?
- What creates representative success? Belief in the manager and program in which they’re working with, and belief in the product. When they have confidence in the manager and the program, and they believe in the product, they’re going to be genuinely excited to share it with people who they know, and with referrals with people who they don’t know.
- Our training revolves around product conviction, through stories, we show them Cutco.com, and we do a lot of role-playing. I think there needs to be confidence in the program, and confidence comes from comfortability. I am very passionate about helping them win a lot of Cutco in their first ten days. We work with the person and help them accomplish what they want to accomplish.
- These communication skills and presentation skills, especially on zoom, are critical life skills. One of the gifts in this whole pandemic is that we’re learning that we have to be more effective in terms of communication. Our job is to empower people with the skills in life that they need, to help them live the life of their dreams and inspire others to do the same. It is our responsibility as leaders to hone their skills, so that after Cutco they can become these amazing human beings in society and they can help change the world in the most positive way.
Q: How would you address a manager that hasn’t had great success or they don’t have a track record of creating top reps, and they struggled with that, how does that person pick themselves up to be able to have that belief and conviction that they can develop a team like you are?
- The question I would start with is What is it that you want? What vision do you have for your organization? What is the vision that you have for the people that you are leading and the people that you are serving? How do we help those individuals? In our office, we are passionate about helping 100% of the people earn a Presidents Club Letter. One of my goals and dreams is that if they choose to move on from Cutco, I want them to be equipped to go into a future interview and to say “I picked up this job from Cutco/Vector, and I earned this recommendation letter from the CEO of the company.” I think there is something incredibly powerful about a young person earning a letter of recommendation from the CEO of the company that they can use as a cover letter for their resume forever, I think that is one of the greatest gifts and tools we have as leaders to empower the people we are serving.
- After you think about what it is you want, instead of just making a decision, make a committed decision. Find out who you want to build your business with. Your supporting cast matters, who you choose to surround yourself with and build your business with matters. Who are the people you are inspired to work with?
- Just smile. The biggest difference between 2020 and 2019, I am smiling a lot more. Having fun and enjoying the moment.
Q: What are you most excited about for the future?
- The people that I’m serving and working with. To help them finish the summer the right way, ending on a yes, inducting them into our leadership academy, and helping them elevate their life to the next level, whatever that might be. I’m excited to build a bigger organization and division, make a bigger impact on our region and our company, and help people attain the goals that they want and serve them. We’re so lucky to work at a company where people care so much more about the human being. “If you treat a person as they are they’re going to stay as they are, but if you treat a person as what they ought to become and could become, they will become what they ought to become and could become.” The best is yet to come.
- The development and belief in self, grappling self-doubt. A big factor that causes this is attributions. Attributions are how we explain our successes or our failures. To what do you attribute your success?
- Internal qualities, mindset, work ethic, persistence, and the actions that you can control. Inventory those qualities, if you can learn to attribute success to those things, then you build this feeling of deserving more.
- To what do we attribute our failures? successful people attribute failures to non-permanent causes of struggles, challenges, and failures. Look at controllable actions that they can change. What’s something new that I could learn that can help me to overcome or avoid this failure in the future? What’s a new action that I can take that will help me to avoid this failure in the future?
- Attributions are key. If you can learn this art of attributions, failures in your life will foster change, and successes in your life will build your confidence. That can create an upward spiral of success and achievement for you.
- You also have to be too stubborn to quit, and have persistence. That comes from the value of what you’re doing, is what you’re doing worth hanging in there to figure out how to get good and how to succeed?
- Ask yourself what is it that you want, then make a committed decision.
- In all the goals that we’re striving for, it’s people that make the difference. It’s investing in relationships that matters most.
- Rep – Cutco Sales and Service Representative, the entry level position of new Cutco/Vector salespeople.
- Branch Manager – a Vector/ Cutco manager, often a college student, who runs a sales office during the summer months.
- District Office / District Manager: a Cutco/Vector office/manager that runs a year-round office full time.
- Silver Cup – Awarded to the number one office each year
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!
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