ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | JOSH GOODMAN
Q&A WITH JOSH GOODMAN
Q: Why don’t we jump in and start with how you got started selling Cutco?
- My dad had a company that ripped off carpets out of nasty homes that needed to be renovated and after doing that for a few summers, I realized I didn’t want to do that anymore. I’d also done other jobs like bartending and waiting tables, but thought I’ve got to get real experience.
- I applied, went in for the interview and crushed the interview process. I literally thought I’d won the lottery when he said, we’re going to offer you the position and start with training. I went home fired up. Started out that summer and had a decent fast start.
- That summer was my first exposure to doing anything where you could make money based off your performance vs. showing up and clocking a few hours.
Q: You graduated from college a year later and as your first sort of stepping stone as a manager, you worked directly with Rich Plaskon.
- Yea we were in Fairfax and were neck and neck with the San Jose office every week all summer.
- That summer I remember Rich said, we’re going to do $800,000 this summer. That’s a lot of knives. I was excited to be a part of a team that had proven success. I was really excited with the opportunity to live and work in Fairfax and be part of a winning team.
Q: What were some of the lessons you learned from either your sales rep days or from that time working closely with Rich?
- Listening to what your managers tell you about the closing, how you present the product, your enthusiasm, and building rapport. For me, it was such an empowering feeling to get that feedback by customers buying.
- Everyone has a little bit of skepticism when coming out of the interview and training, but once you start selling to people that you aren’t close with means that either the product is way better than I thought or I’m a pretty good sales representative.
- Getting the positive feedback and letting the manager to mold you a little bit. You’re doing this well, try this next time, talk to this more senior rep and get some feedback from them. The manager provides the outlet for the team to grow. There’s key staff that helps you when you get to rough spots.
Q: You referenced you were really great at playing football. I’ve had a chance to work with a number of college athletes over the years and I’ve always found there is an extra special trait that college athletes bring to the table when they work in a job like this. Do you find those experiences in football help you to succeed here?
- I think it’s the grit factor. You get used to doing the reps because in sports, more reps equate to better performance. When you’re studying for a big test and you’ve actually put in the effort prior, the test isn’t that hard. It’s the same thing in sports. When you put in 100% during practice and show up on game day, you’re able to perform and have fun.
- This is very similar to the reps’ experience. You put in the work during the phone time and showing up for the demo is like a party. You’re having a good time in a very relaxed environment because you put the work in so you can have fun.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the influence of Rich Plaskon and Jeff Gamboa in your career and life.
- If you’re fortunate enough to spend any time with either of those two gentlemen, they’re just great people. I was so lucky and fortunate to have such mentors at the age of 23-24. They’re legitimately all-around good people and they walked the walk.
- There was a common theme of caring. They wanted to see you do well. When things were tough, they were there, but they weren’t there to fix it for you. They were there to let you experience the pain of growing. To support you, but not do it for you.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your career journey after Cutco.
- I was curious about other industries. During and after college, all I had ever done was Cutco and management, so I wanted to test the waters with some other careers.
- I got into working with AT&T Wireless. I was a Business Account Manager and sold Blackberries to law offices and different businesses, but I really wasn’t feeling it. I remember I went on my honeymoon and missed my quota. They told me that I was on performance improvement until I improved, or they’d cut me loose. I thought, I wasn’t going to work for a place like that, that’s not fun.
- I went to another career where I was in IT staffing for six years. I enjoyed that I got to work directly with the CEO of a publicly traded company. I was making good money, golfing 3 days a week, but it wasn’t something I woke up thinking this is awesome.
- One of the things I learned from Cutco was finding people that are doing better than you and learning from them. I remember going to the owner of the company and asking what activities I should be doing on a daily basis to be the number one salesperson in the company. He said, first you have to find out who’s hiring the most contingent labor.
- He specifically told me to go around the HR Department and get to know the managers. I did what he suggested, even though it violated what a client had permitted me to do.
- We got a massive deal that I worked on, but I was excluded because I had gone against the client company’s HR Manager. I ended up losing probably a quarter of a million in commissions because of that conversation. I thought, I don’t ever want to have this feeling again. That was a tough time in my life. It also restored my excitement around business ownership and entrepreneurship.
- One of my bigger failures was selling carpets to college students when they’re moving into their dorms. I set up three colleges to sell carpets and spent $8,000 on the carpets. I sold $1,000 of carpet at the first college. The 2nd one, same thing, sold about $1,000, but didn’t make it to the last college because of poor weather. I ended up putting them on consignment with some dealers around the area.
- I thought I’ve got to be more strategic on the next venture I do. I read from a book you can’t start a business until you find a problem big enough to be solved.
- I met up with some friends of mine from college in downtown Baltimore to have some drinks and I couldn’t get a drink after being there for 30 mins. They suggested to go somewhere else and I said let’s stay here a little bit longer. We finally got a drink, but we weren’t the only ones that were unhappy. There were probably dozens of people who couldn’t get a drink.
- I thought, what if you could pour your own drink kind of like pumping your own gas? That was the aha! moment. I went home and started putting the business plan together. That was in 2008.
Q: There are just so many unexpected twists of how this came about for you. How has your specific vision for the company evolved as well?
- When I first started, it was like I really wasn’t listening to what the market wanted. I just thought I knew what the market wanted, and I’m going to sell thousands of beer tables. Everybody wants a beer table, but after going through the pain of deploying 180 of them, I realized it wasn’t a very scalable business. It wasn’t really what the market wanted. The market wanted choices.
- The evolution ended up being taps on the wall. It’s a far cry from what we were doing back then when we were offering two products at a table. That’s only two groups who could use the self-pour technology versus now.
- The fact our technology kills lines puts a smile on my face every time I go to a location with our technology. We’ve doubled every year since 2015 and have 20 full-time people that are working with the company.
Q: You’ve been featured on CNBC as well. Tell me about that.
- It was 2016 and they called me up because self-serve beer was at the Baseball All-Star game. They said we’d love to have you on the show to talk about self-serve beer and how it’s impacting the hospitality industry. I ended up flying to New York City and they did a piece of news on it.
Q: For young entrepreneurs, who are starting their own businesses, what are some of the pitfalls they can watch out for that you’ve learned about going through this process of growing your company?
- Anyone who’s worked for Cutco, they can sell. Learn the psychology of selling. I don’t want to say sales solves all problems, but it definitely helps.
Q: As I referenced earlier, Coca-Cola has invested in your company taking up a 25% stake to help you build this bigger and bigger. That’s a pretty amazing step which has happened, right?
- Yea and then COVID-19 happened. There’s a lot of similarities about how Cutco responded and how we responded. You guys adapted and crushed it and we had a similar experience.
- We went into March and was having the best year ever. We were right about to close the deal with Coca-Cola and then COVID-19 hit. We kept a positive attitude, our team sucked it up, and worked through the lean months (April and May). After that, we’ve had stellar months. We’re actually ahead this year than we were last year. Coca-Cola has come back to the table and the deal closed in September.
- I couldn’t ask for a better, more strategic partner to grow in the business. It’s definitely been a wild ride for 2020, but there’s been a lot really good highs along the way.
Q: So, I understand you’re now writing a book about this whole journey of growing your company. What can you tell us about that?
- The goal is to publish it in mid-2021. It takes people through the journey, but also shares valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way. There is a section about my time with Cutco because it was such an instrumental part of my professional life.
- The opening chapter talks about one of my near-death experiences. Right at the beginning of this I almost died and I cover how it impacted my perspective in business and life.
Q: What do you feel you are most excited about now as you look into the future?
- We’re on pace to have our best year ever. There are so much endless opportunities. My partnership with Coca-Cola has brought these opportunities with national chains. It would have taken me months or years to get in front of them. I’m excited of what we can do together with a company like Coca-Cola.
- I’m excited to travel. We have customers in Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Australia, Vietnam. We’re getting requests from Russia and China.
- That’s something I wanted to do more. I want to be able to take my kids places and just experience the world.
- The aspect of mental conditioning as a result of being involved in sports. The time he spent practicing and preparing and how it plays a role in your eventual success.
- His mentors let him experience the pain of growing and how it’s a part of the process of seeking success.
- The organic development of Josh’s company through realizing an opportunity in a problem he and others were experiencing. Every day we are seeing opportunities and it’s important to be in tune to recognizing them as they come up. Thinking about how you can solve those problems is the essence of entrepreneurship.
- If you work in Cutco your superpower is selling. If you’ve succeeded, it’s something you know how to do and it’s a key part of why Josh has succeeded.
- The skill of selling, influencing others, getting people enrolled in a vision are all a huge part of success in any aspect of business.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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