Dave Powders is the Bay Area Division Manager for Cutco/Vector Marketing. A veteran of over 2 decades with the company, Dave is responsible for over $50 million in sales, and is a long-time member of the Cutco/Vector Hall of Fame. Dave has had a unique opportunity to establish meaningful relationships in 3 different Regions of the company, and to learn from key mentors all across the country. Now, as a mentor to many others, Dave sets an impeccable example of achievement in business, strong personal and professional relationships, and enjoying the process. He understands what his values are, and he lives in alignment with those values every day. Dave’s stories and lessons can challenge and inspire you to become your best self.

Q&A with Dave Powders:

Q: How did you get started with Cutco?

  • It was in December 1998, and I was back home for the winter break after my 2nd year at the University of Virginia.
  • My Mom was saying you should get a job over the winter break. She had seen a sign on the road and wrote down the phone number.
  • I called the number and the next thing you know, I was in training.

Q: Tell us some of the experiences you had that made you feel helped to develop you, some of the lessons that came from those experiences

  • I credit a lot to Rich Plaskon. Rich used to say Cutco was a truth serum. Like you would find out what you were good at and what you were not so good at right off the bat.
  • Asking for the order, that was one thing I learned. You don’t get what you won’t ask for.
  • Also, I think of time management that was another big thing I realized. I was bad at managing time. What’s great with Vector is I learned how to manage my time.
  • Another thing that really sticks out for me in my early lessons was understanding how much control business owners have. Understanding you might not be able to control everything, but I realized at an early age selling Cutco, business owners have a lot more control than they might think.

Q: You mention Jon Vroman and Rich Plaskon. Beyond those 2 guys, I know you’ve had an opportunity to work in several regions and to build a lot of meaningful relationships with different colleagues, different mentors. You are just really well known for connecting with people, pretty much everywhere you go. I would like you to speak about some of the meaningful relationships you’ve established and what you feel you learned from them.

  • I’m pretty fortunate to have worked in so many different regions … Joe Cardillo talked about being the luckiest man in the business and I feel that same way.
  • When I was a pilot manager under Rich, Albert Dileonardo (our CEO) visited Rich’s office for a day. He took me out for a meal and he said this new assistant division manager position has just been created, and he asked me what I thought of it.
  • I said it was awesome, something I aspired to. He then said, you know Dave, you could be the first ADVM in Virginia! I said to myself I haven’t even opened my office yet. He went on if you’re running the business the right way, and you’re getting the results, as long as you have good relationships with people, they are going to look to you and trust what you say and they will need your advice. I will never forget that.
  • I just felt I was in the right place at the right time. So, I was fortunate that way with Albert, and one year after, I opened my office and eventually became the 1st Assistant Division Manager in the region.
  • When I think about Rich, Rich loved the business and loved life too and he let everybody know it. It was so easy to see. Rich always talked about the things he was doing in and out of business. It was easy to see what Rich had, and I wanted that too. When I became a district manager, one of my goals was to be a DVM, and Rich has always been a big mentor to me.
  • Another thing I learned was the culture of growth he created. I remember a division meeting where he talked about a book he’d read recently and was saying you’ve got to read this! There are so many insights in it.
  • I also credit all my financial acumen to Vector people including Amar Dave. He is very clear about his goals too.
  • When I think of Scott Dennis, one of the biggest things I learned from Scott was “being in the know as a leader.” So, instead of finding something out at the end of the week, there is still time to course-correct it and take it higher. That was just huge.
  • I also had time working with Jeff Bry, who I believe is a consummate professional. Something simple I got from Jeff was saying “please,” and “thank you.” This might seem trivial, but when I used to reach out to people, if I was asking for things, I’m not sure how many times I said please or thank you. I remember hearing Jeff say that, and I realized I wasn’t. Since then, if I make a request, I’m going to say please and I’m going to say thank you.
  • I learned something from you too Dan (Casetta). One of the biggest things I’ve taken from you is the idea of “strong beliefs, but loosely held.” This has played out this summer in so many different ways.
  • For example, I like to think I’m a great trainer. This summer, 3 of our top Cutco sales professionals became managers. They would bring things to me after training. They would say hey! What about doing this or that? At first, I just wanted to resist and was like don’t mess with me! I’m a great trainer! But I would sit back and say alright.
  • What’s interesting is in almost all cases they did this, I would say they are right and we would make a change. It’s all an idea of strong beliefs, loosely held that you’ve ingrained in me, and it proved to be quite important this summer.
  • Lastly, another thing I need to mention from Bruce Goodman. Something that Bruce has said to me and many others is if you could run our business in alignment with how you live your life, you wouldn’t want to leave. It’s the concept of “signature” experiences. I think it’s cool being in a business where you could sit down with another Vector manager and they say what’s your #1 dream you want to accomplish from your dreams list? I think it’s some of the things I’ve been fortunate to do.

Q: You’ve shared some cool moments from your life. How about some more transformational moments along with the way that really helped to make your career?

  • My dad helped me shape my positive mental attitude. He was in the military, and we would move from one place to the other about every 4 – 5 years. After my sophomore year at high school, we moved from Virginia to South Florida, and lost much of our stuff during that move. My dad just said, we have our home, we have each other and it’s just stuff anyway.
  • 2/3 of people’s self-talk is negative, but I don’t think someone has to be that way.
  • Another transformational moment would be when I was a branch manager. It was my 2nd summer in the business. We didn’t have a great start that summer, but in the 1st week of July, we had our 1st 10k week. I remember Rich called me and asked me to tell him what happened.
  • I said to him, I just made the decision I wasn’t going to let Vector beat me. He laughed and then said, Vector doesn’t beat you, it’s you beating yourself.
  • I think another one was “soft on people, hard on results.” Some people say to be an effective leader, you’ve got to be mean and hard on people. But you could be soft on people and still get the results and you could do it in an appreciative way.
  • The final thing was something going back to Amar, and its simple, “Celebrate Struggle.” He would do talks about celebrating struggle and when things are hard it’s good because you would be forced to learn and grow.

Q:  Talk about your family and kids. Tell us about becoming a dad and how that has changed you

  • It’s so many things. I was recently thinking about the importance of patience, celebrating struggle. I remember Maeve (my daughter) there were times she’d ask daddy can you help me put on my shoes? I could either put them on and she doesn’t learn a thing or I could be like you’ve got to celebrate struggle. I’m not always perfect with that, but I just remained patient, and let her figure it out.
  • It’s funny now, she’ll just put on her shoes and go, but I think that has to do with me and my wife being patient.
  • I also think about the importance of schedule. Schedule became really important after getting married and having kids. I want to be home 6 nights a week. My kids know I’ll be at dinner with them and I want them to see I work hard because I love what I do. But I also want them to know I’ll be home for the night because that matters too.

Q: Tell me more of what you’ve learned parenting.

  • At a Front Row Dads retreat, I remember hearing the importance of taking a deep breath to increase your IQ. When things are happening around you and your heart rate is going up and your blood pressure is boiling, just the importance of how you can see it happening and you’re aware of your emotions, take a deep breath. So that you can respond the way you want vs. reacting. Am I perfect with this? No, I don’t think anyone is, but I’ve gotten better with that.
  • Also, your calendar reflects your priorities. Planning family dinner conversations, planning things out for my wife and kids. Not just work. we do a lot of planning from a business standpoint, but little for the family.
  • I think of being aligned with my wife on our parenting style and what to say “yes” to. For example, it’s OK to say that’s a great question, mommy and I are going to talk about it. Just thinking in line with my wife.
  • I’ve also learned there are numerous resources out there, podcasts to listen to, books to read, and it shouldn’t be business all the time.
  • Vector is a great platform to learn leadership skills, and just to help someone become a better husband, wife, or parent. I think that has helped with having a healthy marriage.

Q: You’re known by a lot of people as a very principled person with impeccable integrity. I would love to get into your head … what are your values in that regard?

  • I think integrity is about understanding the importance of doing what you’re saying. There is only one way to do things and I really believe in that.
  • All you have is your word plain and simple. It’s OK not to be perfect, but just acknowledge it, apologize for it, and be genuine about it.
  • It’s important to know what your values are, and if you can align them with family and work, you really can have it all.

Q: I’m interested to hear your take on the future and how you aspire to change people’s lives by what you’re doing.

  • A friend of mine once said he wanted to leave a better world for his kids.
  • What I’ve realized by helping people grow, by teaching Cutco sales reps what we teach them, they will eventually have kids, and they will be teaching their kids to celebrate struggle. We will leave better kids in the world.
  • That’s a ripple effect I get excited about.



  • I liked what Dave said that Cutco is a truth serum. There are so many life insights one gains by working in a job like selling Cutco.
  • There are so many things that are revealed in terms of your skills level and your opportunities.
  • Dave also offered great insights on parenting too, including your calendar reflects your priorities, teaching kids to celebrate struggle, and the importance of integrity both in business and personally.
  • He also mentioned his core values of fun, relationships, and competence.
  • Not to mention leaving a better world for our kids. We are here to contribute something, to add value, to contribute our gifts and strengths.


Book Recommendation: Bury My Heart At Conference Room B


Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.

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