ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST
Jon Vroman is an award-winning National speaker, and author of an amazing book, “The Front Row Factor.” He founded the Front Row Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps people with life-threatening illnesses experience the event of their dreams from the front row. His experiences in leading that organization have led him to develop a clear understanding of how to “live life in the Front Row,” and he explains the facets of that in this interview. More recently, Jon is the Founder of Front Row Dads, a group of entrepreneurial men from all over North America, who collaborate around the goal of being better fathers, husbands, and men of influence in their communities. Jon is well-known as one of the all-time most respected and admired Cutco/Vector alums.
Q&A WITH JON VROMAN
Q: I think it would help our audience to learn a little bit about your experience in Cutco. Take us back to when you got started with the company and how that unfolded.
- 1994 in Virginia Beach my friend’s mom saw a sign advertising work and I went in for an interview and I was drawn to the unlimited income potential and controlling my schedule and I was all in.
- In fact, I was so interested in freedom that I was a little taken back by the regular phone calls during my first week so I left the company. But as the summer progressed I realized the opportunity I had passed up so I begged for my job back and my manager, Rich Plaskon, told me I could join the team again if I sold 1000 a week for 10 weeks. I did and I was quickly brought up into management.
Q: That’s so cool that you worked so closely with Rich Plaskon. He’s one of the all-time greats in the Vector/ Cutco company. What stood out about Rich when you were brand new that you liked?
- Rich is a disciplined pro.
- At the time I met Rich I was not on a good path and when I say he saved my life, I don’t know if I mean that literally or simply in the spirit of living more fully.
- My dad even wrote a letter to Rich saying that working with Vector/ Cutco was the turning point for me in my life and I would agree with that 100%.
Q: Your path in upwards in Vector/ Cutco was an interesting one. Tell us about how you ended up in the Sales Promotion Manager (SPM) role and what that was like.
- Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a moment-maker for other people.
- When I was a District Manager I looked at the Sales Promotion Manager role, which is a role of service and support for other people and helping other people to have great experiences through the contests and rewards and creating an environment where people can thrive. That role was much better suited for me.
- John Kane was so good at recognizing talent and pulling it out of people and I respected him so much that when he suggested I take the role of SPM I jumped at the chance.
Q: So as the SPM you got to create experiences for people through incentives, contests, trips, recognition and making people feel like a rock star.
- Yes. And I recognized that that’s part of why I was put on this planet.
- And that’s why the Front Row Foundation came to be. This idea of, “how do I make this person feel like a rock star? How do I shine light on somebody else?”
- But not to get ahead of myself… I started off as the SPM for my region and a few years later I was recruited again by John Kane to be the SPM for the whole company and I did that for about 5 years.
Q: And at the end of that 5 years it was time for you to branch out and do something on your own and become a professional speaker. Can you tell us a little about why you made the decision to leave the company and a little about that story?
- Yeah, and that was a hard decision too because I love my Cutco/ Vector family.
- The more we get clear with ourselves and the more we get clear on why we were put on this Earth and what we’re supposed to do, we recognize that life is often about chapters.
- Some people go to a university and then they take that training and move on to apply those talents somewhere else and other people finish school and then become professors. District Managers in Cutco/ Vector are like the professors.
- And I knew that my calling was the Front Row Foundation (FRF) and I couldn’t grow that charity at the level I wanted to unless I focused on it more full time.
- I needed to figure out a profession that would align completely and could earn the money I needed to allow me to focus on FRF and speaking and writing was one of those paths.
- So I took the leap and it was a real struggle at first but eventually it took off.
Q: And now you’ve become an award-winning professional speaker and recognized for your excellent contributions.
- Yeah, gratefully! About 3 years in I received the College Speaker of the Year Award and when I won the award that’s really when my business really took off.
Q: So you’ve referenced the Front Row Foundation, let’s take it back to when you started FRF, how did that evolve?
- It started by asking myself deep questions about what I really wanted to do to contribute to the world and when I put it all together in a Venn diagram the Front Row Foundation was at the center of it.
- It really came about when I was at a concert and I was in the back row noticing everyone in the front row having a completely different experience than everyone in the back row. Everyone in the front row was really engaged in the moment and it seemed everyone in the back row were kinda checked out.
- Life is different when you get close to the people, places, thoughts and things that light you up.
- It was the same moment in life but 2 drastically different experiences and I thought, “life is different in the front row.”
- When I thought about my life I thought about maximizing my experiences so I didn’t get to the end and say, “I wish I would have…” and then I thought I could help people fighting for their life have the best day of their life.
Q: You’ve referenced the book Front Row Factor and in the book you offer a great vision about what it means to live a Front Row life. What are some elements of that that stand out to you? What does it mean to live a Front Row life?
- The spirit of living a Front Row life is when you show up, you step up, and you speak up with your current abilities.
- The showing up part is huge! Showing up for people in the most important times in their life, showing up for your team, for your family, for your friends when they need you most. There is no Front Row experience if you don’t show up.
- The other part is when you’re willing to live in a way where you’re stepping up and speaking up where you’re boldly expressing what’s within you to the world with courage, that is a front row life.
- Living Life in the Front Row becomes this metaphor for life and there are 3 forces:
- hope for the future- sometimes looking forward to an event is as exciting as being at the event itself
- celebrating the past
- being in the moment
- There are 3 factors or areas of focus when you live a Front Row life: relationships, mindset, and environment.
- Who are the people you’re around?
- What environment have you created and what is that nurturing within you?
- And what is the mindset you bring with you into those relationships and into those environments?
- It’s important to celebrate the past and learn from it.
- Living in the moment.
- I view it like a pendulum. Life is like the pendulum swinging through the future and into the past and through present moments.
- No one lives fully in the moment in all times, you can’t.
Q: You referenced relationships, mindset, and environment which was something that really hit me was that we create our environment and then our environment help to make us.
- Part of what makes a Front Row experience for people is changing the environment they’re in. From the hospital and into a concert.
- You don’t always get to choose to be in the Front Row but can always choose to have a Front Row experience.
Q: In the time we have remaining, let’s talk about Front Row Dads.
- We’re of service to the world when we help solve a problem.
- I had a 6 year old at the time and I was realizing I was not being the dad I wanted to be so I thought, “how have I made progress in other areas in my life if I wanted to improve?”
- I would read and write and attend conferences and I would get coaching and I would get in the right environment.
- People aren’t hungry for content. They’re not even hungry for information. We are all hungry for learning with and from amazing people.
- So I gathered some of my friends who were fathers too and we learned so much from each other and when we all left each other to go back to our lives we were all better for it and we implemented things that we learned and we all improved.
- So we decided to do it again.
Q: How can people who want to follow you or learn more about Front Row Dads or Front Row Foundation connect with you?
- 2 podcasts: 1) Facing Life 2) Front Row Dads Podcast
- Instagram and Facebook: @jonvroman
Q: As you look to the future over the next 5-10 years, what are you most excited about?
- I believe everyone on this planet needs to rally together to protect the Earth for future generations.
- Moment making- getting close to the people, places, thoughts, and things that light you up.
- We all have super powers. What are your super powers?
- Front Row Dads evolved out of Jon paying attention to his own needs.
- Life is about chapters. Sometimes it’s time to turn the page on one chapter and enter the next.
- Life is bigger than me. Give selflessly to others.
- As you enter the rest of your day, show up, step up, speak up.
- Live a Front Row day; live a Front Row life.
- Sales Promotion Manager- is in charge of helping reward and recognize top sales performers across an entire Region or for the entire company on a national level.
- Pilot Sales Manager- right hand to the Division Manager. Responsible for day to day operations in the Pilot office.
- Branch Manager- a Vector/ Cutco manager, often a college student, who runs a sales office during the summer months.
- District Manager: a Cutco/ Vector manager who runs an office full time, year-round.
- Push period: a 2 week sales contest amongst reps in a given area.
- Conference of Champions- a conference with training and recognition provided for the top reps of the summer months.