ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | JAKE MEISER
Jake Meiser is the Buckeye (OH) Division Manager for the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. Now 15 years into his career with the company, Jake has produced over $24 million in sales and is a member of the company’s Hall of Fame. From his background playing competitive soccer and throughout his Vector career, Jake has been known as someone with a powerful internal drive to succeed, coupled with a strong work ethic. Through consistent effort and a winner’s mindset, Jake has been able to achieve great success, and has helped many others to do the same. He has many great insights on how to think like a winner.
Q&A WITH JAKE MEISER
Q: Let’s start by getting a little into your personal background. Have our audience get to know you.
- I’m originally from the Cleveland area. I’m the oldest of 3 and have a younger brother and sister.
- I was a “sports is life” kind of kid growing up. It was soccer/basketball my whole life. Sport teams, travel, club soccer, all that kind of stuff.
Q: Did you find there was a lot of valuable skills you gained from sports that tie in directly over to Cutco?
- The competitive nature was a big thing.
- Going through high school, I was on the varsity team for soccer. We were growing, the team was looking good. Then our coach left. He was a great coach. This created a lot of question marks on our team. All the best players switched over to football. I had aspiration to play at college. This was a really big deal for me. We were basically going to start the season with no coach.
- It really fostered inside me stay true to the path, focus on what you can control.
- I ended up recruiting a bunch of my buddies back on to the team. My junior/senior year, our trainer called me Coach Jake.
- At that point I learned a lot about handling challenges. I was forced into a leadership that I hadn’t asked for.
Q: How did start selling Cutco?
- Cutco kind of found me. A college friend referred me.
- The funny thing about my story with Cutco was I wasn’t very good when I got started.
- I kept figuring things out and found things that really motivated me.
- I pursued the management opportunities a couple of times.
Q: What were some of the key experiences and lessons you had in the earlier part of your career?
- Not being good was a lesson as a sales rep and even as a branch manager.
- My first branch office did over $90,000, but the month of May I did $4,000, $3,000 was from my college roommate.
- One lesson I learned was the importance of perseverance and staying true to the cause.
- For me, the position was very much outside my comfort zone.
- The main lesson that came from that was personal growth.
- I also found the big driver wasn’t anything outside me.
- I had to lean on introspection to find internal motivators.
- Those really shined as I developed as a sales rep and a manager.
Q: You branched twice and almost tripled the result the 2nd time. What do you think made the difference?
- Once I went through my first experience in management and gained that personal confidence in myself, it became all about laying out the vision for myself and my people.
- I had a strong personal vision which resonated with people and more importantly, resonated with myself.
Q: You became a District Manager when you graduated and moved pretty quickly from DM to DVM in about 3 years or so. What do you feel were the top factors in your success?
- Consistent performance, week in week out, month in month out, year in year out.
- One-on-one relationships were also a key strength of mine.
- I felt strong about my vision. It galvanized from the individual level and tied in to what we were building as a team.
- It led to district success which helped me earn a promotion pretty quickly.
Q: As you got into becoming a Division Manager, I’m wondering about how your leadership style evolved. How did you figure out what made you great and learn to leverage those strengths in the leadership role?
- I learned early on as DVM, there’s only so much time. I wasn’t able to get that one-on-one with people much because there were many people demanding my time.
- I had to learn how to become more open with who I was and sharing more of myself with my team so they could get tied into my vision.
- The biggest thing I learned was teaching people to think about their challenges and opportunities. It created a greater capacity for them and also allowed me to connect with them at a deeper level.
Q: I love what you said about teaching people to think about their challenges. Could you unpack that a little bit?
- Allowing them to see the full picture and giving them permission and space to explore.
- Creating the perspective of here is what this means in the bigger picture.
- Teaching them to think a little bit longer term.
- That’s something I’ve continued to evolve and work on.
Q: You’ve described yourself as being reserved, introverted and a lot of times people don’t associate that with somebody who’s a high powered leader of an organization. But in reality, there are many strengths that you have. How did you adapt your personality as you leading a bigger and bigger organization?
- Being open to share little things about myself.
- As someone who’s more relaxed and having a calm personality, it actually serves as a great strength for me.
- It makes people really comfortable. They know what they’re going to get all the time. There’s never that walking on eggshells type of feeling.
Q: How do you feel like you’ve learned to keep your attitude steady when working in this environment that’s hyper-competitive and can sometimes be stressful?
- The best part of our business is the competition. The worst part of our business is the competition.
- The thing that’s been a great strength for me is having a strong internal belief system in the fact that over time, consistent work ethic always works itself out.
Q: How do you feel this developed?
- Some of it was inherent. My mom said when I was 6, my sister who was 4 would throw a tantrum, and my mom would come over to me and say “Jake can you calm her down?”
- I try to instill this in my people and just remind myself of this perspective.
- We have bad days in sales. I try to remind myself about this consistently.
- Not taking myself too seriously, being humble and committed to my goals.
Q: You’ve referenced one of your anchors is work ethic always wins. Any other key anchors in your business?
- Being intentional. Never going through the motions. That’s so hard to do.
- Recruiting the best intentionally, going after the best.
- The other is our division motto which is building dreams.
- For me, it’s having a vision. It’s not just our vision, but using our Cutco opportunities as a vehicle to build dreams.
Q: Regardless of who you’re, how old you’re, we are working so we can live. We’re working towards dreams when we grow old. The better a leader is helping people when they’re working. Is that something you bring to the table with people you’re working with?
- You shouldn’t take any action without any intent for a longer term vision, longer term future.
- Frankly, that doesn’t sound very fun. We’re all here to enjoy what we do.
Q: Anything else that stands out you feel it would be important for people to hear about?
- My car was stolen in July, and it was 3 hours before our biggest meeting of the summer during our SC2 push contest.
- The things that I teach came full circle at the moment. I had to bring my best to the situation. I got the car back and the meeting went exceptionally well.
- It’s constant practice. We always go through situations whether we like it or not.
Q: You’re having your best year in 2020 which is pretty cool. How have you viewed the challenges and opportunities that have come out this year?
- There’s always an answer if you’re willing to search for it. If there’s a market and the means to deliver your product or service to that market, then there is always an answer.
- The way my team approached the challenge was that concept; we know we have demand for our product. We’ve got to be willing to change. We’ve got to be innovative. We’ve got to implement right away.
- To be honest, the challenges have produced greater opportunities.
Q: What’s next for Jake Meiser and the Buckeye Division?
- You’re going to see exciting breakout performances in the Buckeye Division in 2021 and beyond.
- We’ve got a great nucleus of future leaders. They are hungry, they are excited for the future. They challenge the status quo.
Q: How about for you personally. As you look ahead, how do you aspire to change peoples’ lives through what you do?
- The only way I’m able to do that is to continue focusing on growing myself.
- Hopefully, that will result in continuing to provide a platform for people to grow.
- Jake talked about not being good at Cutco when he first got started.
- Something that came to mind is we’re not supposed to be good.
- It’s actually the normal course of events to be bad at anything which you are new with. it’s normal.
- What helped Jake was he had an internal drive to succeed.
- He had a great work ethic and believed if he could learn, he could grow.
- When you put those things together, the you inevitably going to reach success at anything you do.
- Jake has been able to have tremendous success by learning to run his own race.
- He said consistency was the key to success, never being flashy, but always getting the job done.
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