Kristin Alli is the Eastern Queens District Manager for the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. After graduating from NYU as the Salutatorian of her class, she explored corporate America for about a year before returning to Vector as a District Manager. In just her first year as a DM, and starting from scratch, her team produced over $1 million in new business sales, one of only 7 teams in the entire company to achieve this mark. In 2021, she just broke the all-time company record for the month of February, and she is poised to compete at the highest levels nationally for many years ahead. Kristin is a brilliant young leader who authentically leads from her core values.
Q&A WITH KRISTIN ALLI
Q: I want to hear a little bit about you. We don’t know each other. We haven’t met and it’s great to be able to connect this way. I would love to hear about your personal background before we get into Cutco.
- I was born in the Bronx in NYC. I moved to Long Island at the age of 2 with my parents.
- I’m an only child from an immigrant family. My parents are from a small country in South America called Guyana.
- They came here and raised me on the concept of hard work and commitment.
- They made sure that academically, I was going to rise within the ranks in high school and college. That was my main focus.
- Throughout my entire childhood, I was a dancer. I love to dance. I also started boxing at an early age. I think that’s where my fighting spirit comes from. I’m super-passionate about theater. I love the musicals, I love acting. I did all that stuff in high school.
- When I graduated high school, I decided to embark on my journey to NYU in Manhattan where I got a full scholarship. I studied applied psychology and got my bachelor’s degree in 2019.
Q: How did you end up working with Cutco?
- When I graduated from high school in 2015, I got a letter in the mail. I was applying for all different kinds of jobs. Normal high school jobs. I got this letter and thought it was interesting.
- I ended up coming for the interview, and like most people, fell in love with a really great opportunity.
- Back to my immigrant family concept, my parents said you can’t work around school. I said, this is a different type of job from what you’re expecting. This is the one I want and I really see it taking me so far in life.
- I was with Cutco/Vector for 4 – 5 years before moving forward. I ran 2 branches after my freshman and sophomore years. When I started my senior year, I wanted to explore some other options and see what’s out there.
Q: Tell us some of the experiences you had as a rep and as a Branch Manager. What are some experiences that stand out for you?
- All my favorite moments come from my circle of influence, the people who impacted me.
- I think of the summer of 2017, winning #1 branch. It was so pivotal in my belief that I could be a great leader.
Q: What do you feel like were the most valuable lessons you learned in those early years with Cutco?
- Something I lived for and still live by to this day was if your goals aren’t going to scare you, they’re just not big enough to grow or change you. I never settled for small goals. I remember thinking I’ve to think big. I have to have a large goal that I’m going after.
- I learned very quickly that culture eats strategy for breakfast. I learned very quicky at 18 -19 years, if you have strong relationships with people, culture would kick your strategy’s butt.
Q: You worked as a pilot manager with David Kirchner for the summer of 2018. You graduated from NYU in 2019. Great credentials. You decided to explore corporate America. How did that turn out?
- When I graduated, I started looking for all types of positions in marketing and sales. I thought I want to be an entrepreneur, let me explore this field a little bit and see what other companies are doing. I knew I was well trained and was going to succeed in any company.
- When I was interviewing, I was looking for Vector in places that weren’t Vector.
- I ended up at a corporation in staffing and recruiting for 6 – 8 months. For 2 ½ campaigns with them, I did extremely well. I succeeded at a high level, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about because I didn’t appreciate the culture.
- I had never quit anything before. This was a defining moment for my life. I walked into my boss’s office and said I need to leave. She exclaimed you want to leave! I said I need to leave I’m not happy here.
- I picked up my stuff, but I didn’t go home right away. I called David Kirchner. He asked me are you okay? I said no I’m not okay. He said you should go home. I answered yeah, I want to come home. He asked me which one? I said the Vector home! Can I come to the office?
- Two months later, I was promoted to be a DM.
Q: What happened in those 2 months? What was the process that led you to leave that job, deciding to come back and opening your new team?
- I told my mom and dad. They tried to be understanding, but were a little angry at first. They always supported my choices. They believed in me. But they asked me are you sure? what are you going to do instead?
- It took me a day or two to get courage to say I’m going to be a DM mom and dad! You’re going to get onboard with it!
- Within a month, I started searching where my office was going to be, what my team was going to look like.
- When I opened, I had to figure out and adapt myself to a change which I think is more valuable than having an easy start.
Q: Not only did you have normal challenges of starting, but then we had this pandemic that came along months after that. What was your experience in going through the early stages of that?
- When I opened up my office, my first training course was the big dance. I recruited 135 people, and rented a hotel room, but only 20 people showed up.
- For the month of January, I sold $27,000.
- Then March came and we shut down again because of the pandemic. I had to keep fighting to rebuild. My office didn’t get any momentum until April.
Q: You did $100,000 in the spring campaign. I don’t know how many offices that do $100,000 in spring and $1 million for the year. It’s not many. You really turned it on. You did $175,000 in May! Wow! What do you feel like were some of the factors you’d attribute to that great success last year?
- Having clarity in what I was building. Also, not being afraid. My faith had to be stronger than my fear. I was so afraid from February to April that I’d made a wrong choice. That I was going to be a failure at Cutco.
- The worst thing you could ever do to yourself is let those negative inner voices talk you out of something you’re so passionate about.
- I decided in April I had to go back to the basics. Recruiting was the answer.
- When I had the right people in front of me, that’s when I was able to become more innovative and figure out how I was going to have the summer that I did.
Q: Your recruiting numbers are big, but not overwhelmingly big. You had 61 people over the month of May when you did over $170,000. That’s amazing success per recruit basis right out of the gate as the summer started. How did that happen for you?
- I had a really great manager who was known for PPR.
- Moving to NYC, very different culture, different territory.
- Recruiting was higher, getting PPR a little harder to do in a large territory like NYC.
- I had to balance out what I’d learned about NYC and what I’d known about Long Island and kind of bring them together.
- I could take all the strengths from both sides of my experiences and bring them into one core piece of experience that I could recruit a ton of people and develop them.
- I had to build strong relationships with people and duplicate that in recruiting.
Q: What were your key strategies for recruiting so successfully?
- Finding people for my staff who were equally passionate about recruiting as I was.
- I love recruiting. I think our titles should be District Recruiter and not District Manager.
- A lot of my success came from trusting the one key person who stuck with as my AM. I told him you and I are going to have a $1 million summer.
Q: What do you feel like is your secret sauce as a leader?
- I lead with clarity and a lot of love.
- I’m unapologetically authentic to myself. For me I needed people to know what that means.
- I made sure I didn’t just talk of the core values I have, I lived them.
- I lead with a lot of integrity. Integrity is my biggest core value. Also, making sure my people were people of integrity and holding themselves accountable to what they said they were going to do.
- My 2nd biggest core value is family. I love my family both inside and outside of business. I treat everyone of them as my future sons and daughters.
Q: Anything else you feel like have been the biggest keys to your success in 2020?
- There’s so much that has contributed to a strong year.
- I had to learn to trust my people and work through them.
- I recently added a 3rd core value which is developing a strong lifestyle for myself. I knew if I worked consistently, I was creating a lifestyle I was promoting to other people.
Q: You just broke the company record for new business in the month of February in the history of Vector. You were #1 in the nation this past week. What’s hot in eastern Queens right now?
- Taking advantage of the fact students can do more than they say they can do.
- You have to show them it’s possible.
Q: I heard you’re doing something in particular with Linkedin to getting recruits. Is there something there that people could hear about?
- It’s a professional network. People are used to been reached out to, unlike Instagram.
- I tie this to all my Assistant Managers. I help develop their resumes, make sure all profiles are public on Linkedin.
Q: What are some of your goals and aspirations?
- My biggest focus is taking advantage of the 2021 summer. It’s going to be an explosive recruiting summer.
- My goal for the year is mission 1,000 recruits and so far we’re just under 300. I want 500 recruits this summer.
- It’s a scary goal, but if your goals don’t scare you, they’re definitely not big enough to grow or change you.
Q: Our podcast theme is changing lives, as you look into the future, how do you aspire to change peoples lives through what you do?
- I know what Vector has done for me. It has changed my life forever. Wherever Vector takes me in the next 10, 20, 30 years of my life, it’s changed me forever.
- I started this job at 17 years old as a high school graduate. If I didn’t meet the people I did at the time I started, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
- Often times, I’ve met 17-19 year-olds who don’t have mentorship or leadership in their lives. So, we pick up where a teacher, parent or guardian leaves off. In my opinion, we nurture them as if they are our own.
- I want to live as a great female manager for women in my organization, but also just a great leader for everyone in my organization.
- One of the favorite things about doing this podcast over the past couple of years is being able to get to know people at a much deeper level throughout Vector. In this particular case with Kristin, we’d never met or spoken like this. This was an incredible opportunity for me to get to now somebody who’s an incredible young leader.
- I was also struck by the similarities that Kristin and I have in our stories. Being 17 years old when we started, immigrant parents background, demanding academic life before Vector and so many other philosophies she shared that really resonate for me as she went along.
- It was interesting to hear her say she went looking for Vector in places that weren’t Vector and she wasn’t finding the culture we offer. This is a good reminder that the grass is greenest where we water it.
- Kristin referenced when she started, she had some struggles which is normal for every new DM that starts in this business. She even had some of those thoughts I made the wrong choice, but her faith had to be stronger than her fear. That’s a great lesson for anyone new as a DM, an entrepreneur or new at any area of life where you’ll naturally struggle at first.
- What she had to do was figure out who she was, what were her core values and bring those strengths to the table so that the people who resonated with her strengths and values would be attracted to the organization and team.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!
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