ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST
Earl Kelly is the Northeast Region Manager for the Cutco/Vector Marketing organization. A 29-year veteran with the company, he has served in an Executive leadership role in three different Regions, and is a member of the company’s Hall of Fame. Earl graduated from the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, and is married with three kids.
Q&A WITH EARL KELLY
Q: Tell us how you got started working at Cutco/ Vector.
- I was in college and wanted to get a job with better resume experience than the deli I was working at the time.
Q: What were some of the challenges you experienced as a Cutco rep?
- I had never managed my own schedule before. If you’re not good at something right away, don’t get discouraged by it because it’s a skill and it takes practice.
- We all come to the table with strengths and weaknesses and at first, I was really good with people in person but I was horrible at the phone.
- The real big challenge I had was that I was decent at a lot of things in my life leading up to working with Cutco but selling Cutco was the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t really that good at it naturally. I had to practice to actually get good at it. Talent vs skill development. I had to treat it like a sport and practice.
- I had to get over my fear of asking my manager for help.
Q: You went to one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, Wharton School of Business, when you graduated you decided to stay with Cutco, what was your reasoning for that rather than going to work somewhere else?
- After my first summer with Cutco I started the management training program even though I didn’t think I was going to work with Cutco the following year.
- My guidance counselor was the one that suggested I run as branch office my 2nd summer with Cutco because of the resume experience I would get.
- I was a finance major and I was good with numbers but I got more energy from working with people as a manager with Cutco.
Q: What are some of the moments in your career that you’ve found to be transformational?
- I learned that if I really want to be a leader of people I would need to focus on their goals ahead of my goals.
- I learned that the energy I bring to my team will impact their attitudes.
- “The hardest part of being in business for yourself is that it’s easy to let yourself down.” Earl’s dad
- Earl and his father had a critical conversation in which his father encouraged Earl that he should simply focus on being the best at whatever it is he chooses to do. This conversation has stood out as a transformational moment in Earl’s life.
Q: Who were some people you went to for help and guidance?
- My first manager, Tom Cannon.
- John Kane, a peer of mine at the time, helped to keep each other accountable.
- And Al DiLeonardo from a little further distance.
Q: What are some successes you’re most proud of in your career or life?
- The greatest successes I’ve had aren’t the moments our team came from behind to win the contest or anything like that. The greatest successes are the lives of the people who worked with me and then went on to do amazing things.
- A leader should be in tune with what the dreams and goals of the people he’s leading are.
- Leadership is about providing value and helping people move forward from wherever they are.
Q: What has being a Cutco/ Vector manager taught you about being a parent?
- I am conscious of the values, traits, and habits that I’m creating in my kids and my wife.
- Something as simple as goal setting and goal achievement.
- Teaching my kids how to handle failure. Failure is normal and can actually be good for you because it helps us learn what we need to learn in order to get where we want to go.
- “Did you give it your best?” That’s all that matters.
- I’m not sending you to school so you can get grades, I’m sending you to school so you can grow and become who you want to be.
- I’ve taught my kids that they should want to be a leader. Not someone who bosses people around but someone who adds value and brings positive energy.
- I learned as a leader that it’s ok to be wrong and it’s ok to own up to it.
- It’s not about being perfect, It’s about being genuine.
Q: As you look ahead in your career and in your life, what are some of the ways you aspire to keep changing lives through your work or your influence?
- My personal mission in life is to use the gifts God has given me to help people expand their potential and achieve more in their life.
- If I can develop a group of leaders, whether they stay in the business or not, that buy into these philosophies, and they go teach those to other people and they act it out themselves, that’s how I want to live my life and impact the world.
- Be aggressive about growth.
- The importance of setting goals.
- Everyone can lead.
- “Success is being faced with dozens of decisions every day and always making the tougher one.” Tom Cannon
- Choosing the harder path almost always leads us to a greater place in life.
- Branch Manager: typically a college student who opens a Cutco/ Vector office during the summer months between school semesters.