Jon Berghoff epitomizes the “changing lives” theme of this podcast as well as anyone we’ve ever featured. As a Cutco rep, Jon raised the bar of possibility for the entire company through his spectacular and unprecedented achievements, along the way to becoming the youngest ever inductee into the Cutco/Vector Hall of Fame. Now, as a respected business leader with an international following, Jon is teaching leaders how to multiply their influence through use of the “XChange” method of uniting groups of people, facilitating events, and leading others to embrace revolutionary challenges and opportunities. Jon teaches here how to ask the kinds of questions that open up new worlds of possibility, for yourself and for all those who you lead.


Q: Tell us about your early Cutco days and some of your experiences.

  • One thing that I think of is that my experience with Cutco didn’t end when I stopped selling knives.  It’s a gift that has stayed with me even until today.
  • Something that stands out to me is that when I found Cutco, I wasn’t necessarily thriving. I wasn’t thriving socially, mentally, emotionally, or psychologically.  I was really struggling.
  • The Cutco/ Vector culture was really a way out for me.  I could be myself and still fit in.

Q: During your first summer selling Cutco you wanted to break the company record for Summer Conference 2’s Push contest, do you remember that experience?

  • In life, our income will seldom exceed our level of personal development.
  • I remember thinking, “What if there’s a deep truth? What if this is how life really works? Life doesn’t respond to what I want something or if I need something but have I really earned it? Do I really deserve it?
  • The Cutco opportunity was more aligned with how the world works- you get out of it what you put into it.
  • I created a passion for learning, in large part because of the culture in Cutco/ Vector.

Q: What are some other moments that stand out as transformational from your Cutco experience?

  • “When the ‘why’ is strong enough the ‘how’ will present itself.” Mark Lovis
  • Fill out a piece of paper with as many reasons as possible why it is that your goal is important to you.

Q: As one of the greatest Cutco reps of all time, what was it that helped you accomplish all of your goals?

  • I was willing to role play the future in advance (visualization).
  • My motivation came from the other side of a lot of pain. So much of what we eventually do in our lives and in our career is often to heal some part of our soul.
  • I think it was being around such high quality people.  It’s something I take with me today as I protect who do I allow into my space and who do I give my time and energy to?  We become who we spend time with.
  • Find the master then follow the model.
  • “I called the top 10 reps every week and I was surprised how willing they were to share. I’m going to just keep calling these people until I either become one of them or they stop taking my phone calls.”

Q: You eventually became the director of sales at Vitamix and over a 4 year period you helped them to quadruple their sales force and their revenue. What were some of the keys that allowed you to grow that business to that level?

  • I learned to become really clear on my strengths and everywhere else in my life can I become curious and humble and invite in the strengths of others.
  • Being a leader wasn’t about having all the answers.  Being a leader was about figuring out what are the right questions to bring to as many people as possible and to figure out how to engage and include as many intelligent minds as I could in the most important conversations.

Q: You got into the MBA program at Case Western Reserve University without having your undergrad degree. How did that happen?

  • It was a convergence of events- my first week at Vitamix I was called into a meeting that Dr. David Cooperrider was facilitating and I was fascinated with his methodology of helping our organization to create a shared set of guiding principles.
  • How do we learn from the past before we move into an exciting new future? Leverage the strengths, and knowledge, and skills from the past as we create new, innovative, and exciting future?
  • David was leading us through creating the answers on our own through a process called Appreciative Inquiry and I wanted to learn more from David.  I quickly found out that he was the Professor of Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western.
  • I applied to the school, which specialized in leading large-scale change, and I think I got the interview despite not having my undergrad degree because I was working at an organization that I was responsible for making really large-scale change and Case Western was one of the, if not the pioneer in experiential learning.

Q: So you got to get close to David Cooperrider during your MBA, tell us about him and how that relationship evolved into what you’re doing now.

  • We brought David’s methodology into Vitamix to figure out how we were going to tackle large complex opportunities and challenges and we had such a positive experience that I ended up leaving Vitamix to figure out how to bring this method to the world.
  • Over the next few years I stayed in touch with David while using his method to help facilitate large group planning and large group problem solving and that eventually lead to the creation of the Flourishing Leadership Institute (FLI)

Q: How is Flourishing Leadership Institute transforming how leadership is taught; what are some of the methodologies and key concepts?

  • We’re teaching leaders how to design and facilitate conversations that bring out the strengths (individually and collectively) and do so quickly.
  • When we ask a question it changes our future before the answer arrives.
  • The good in human beings always arises even when there’s a lot of tension even when everything is on the line.

Q: How can an individual listening to this podcast apply this to their own life?

  • Be willing to embody curiosity. What FLI is really doing is enabling curiosity at scale and at speed.  
  • As an individual, along with the desire and drive to succeed you have to have an equal balance of curiosity and humility and desire to learn and to wonder.
  • How does the world actually work?
  • What’s motivating me and how can I find joy in what I’m doing?
  • What kind of future would I love to see a year from now?
  • How do I want to show up to work every day?
  • How do I want to be and what would it look like to live out these values?
  • Authentic curiosity truly comes from a place of humility.
  • Not just asking questions but being willing to listen to the answer.
  • When you push pause on a machine, it stops working.  When you push pause on a human, it starts working.
  • When I pause, I ask deep questions, listen to the answers and ask what I want to do about it now.  How do I want to take action differently?

Q: What are you most excited about as you look ahead in the next 5-10 years in business or your personal life?

  • My family gives me the most joy and energy in my life and I’m most excited about growing with them.

Final Thoughts:

  • A good question to ponder when you’re introduced to new thoughts: What if it’s true?  Argue later not as you’re hearing it.
  • Book recommendation from Dan: Ubuntu
  • As a leader, help your people grow personally

Cutco/ Vector Terms:

  • Push period: a 2 week sales contest amongst reps in a given area.
  • Summer Conference (1 & 2): a sales conference designed around competition (push period trophies are awarded), education, and inspiration.


Flourishing Leadership Institute 


Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina

To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!


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