ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | JAKE MEISER
Jake Meiser is the Buckeye (OH) Division Manager for the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. Now 13 years into his career with the company, Jake is approaching $20 million in sales, which will qualify him for 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 offers insights in this conversation 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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