ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | KYLE LOPES
Kyle Lopes is the first Cutco rep to reach $1 million in Cutco sales while still a full-time college student. He started his Cutco career in the San Jose sales office, then continued to advance while pursuing his hockey dreams for a couple of years. Eventually, Kyle enrolled at West Valley College in the Silicon Valley and became a serious Cutco Sales Professional around classes. He has been the #1 College All-American (student sales rep) in 5 separate Campaigns (4 month-periods) in the past few years. He was ultimately able to transfer from West Valley to Columbia University in NYC, where he has one year left, studying International Relations. His stellar performance in sales while going to school full-time has been truly exemplary, and has earned Kyle the distinction of being the first full-time student inducted into the Cutco/Vector Hall of Fame.
Q&A WITH KYLE LOPES
Q: Tell us a little about how you got started selling Cutco with Vector.
- I was the oldest of 5 boys and I come from a divorced family, so I had to grow up pretty young.
- I heard about the job from a flier handed out at my high school graduation, but my friend told me it was a scam. Sure enough, I also received the same letter at my house and my mom found it and made me go in for an interview. I got the job and when I came back home and told my mom I’d be selling knives, she told me I needed to quit. That only motivated me more to do the job and succeed.
Q: Why don’t you share a little about what you remember about your first year selling Cutco and what were some of the lessons you learned?
- I remember cutting myself on a Table Knife in training on my first day, and was embarrassed, but it made me realize that this stuff was really good.
- I also remember going to my first conference in Vegas and building some real relationships.
- I also remember going away to school and trying to sell Cutco somewhere new, and it being super tough but in that moment of difficulty I had to make a decision to pursue this because I didn’t want someone else determining how much my time was worth at a “normal” job.
Q: Let’s talk a little about hockey and where that’s taken you.
- I started playing when I was 16 years old and was playing against people who had been playing for most of their life, and I’m only about 5’8” so I’m not the biggest guy on the rink, so I had a massive learning curve. But I was willing to put in a ton of work, sustained a lot of injuries, and eventually caught up to, and in some cases surpassed, my peers.
- I was eventually scouted by a semi-professional hockey team in Wisconsin and signed a contract for one year. The next year I was picked up by a team in Montana. The next year I moved to Oregon. And then I got traded to a team in Denver. And then I got traded again to a team in New Hampshire.
- So I played on 5 different teams, in 5 different states, and I sold Cutco in each of those areas and started from scratch each time.
Q: What do you think are some of the lessons from playing hockey that apply to life?
- I learned that working hard and taking ownership are keys to succeeding at anything in life.
- I also learned how to cope with defeat and when things pushed me hard, I learned to bend when others would break. I will not break.
Q: Once your semi-professional hockey career started to wind down, you started to put your focus into Cutco. In 2016 you were #1 in your competitive category and sold $260k+ while going to school full time. What do you think caused a breakthrough in your Cutco career?
- The first breakthrough was when my manager challenged me when I approached him wanting to sell $10k for a sales contest. He had me write him a check for $1,000 that he would cash if I didn’t hit my goal or destroy if I reached my goal. I ended up reaching my goal by the end of my first week and ended up selling $16k for the contest. It showed me what was possible when I stopped giving myself excuses and stopped treating the job like a hobby and started treating it like a job.
Q: What are some of the skills you feel have helped you become so great at selling Cutco?
- Developing the ability of being thoughtful and reflecting on the implications of the things I’m saying which creates confidence in my communication with others.
Q: What advice would you have for newer reps who want to take their business to the next level and sell more?
- First you have to have an understanding that you’re in the right place. There’s nowhere else, in my opinion, where you can work part time around school, have no degree, having no prior work experience, and make an adult income.
- Another thing I learned is time management and valuing your time. If you don’t treat your time as valuable and sacred, no one else will. Sometimes you need to have tough conversations with people you care about so they learn to respect your time too.
- Another key skill I learned is implementing systems. Especially in marketing.
- Lastly would be the importance of a mentor who can hold you accountable to your goals and help encourage you to become a better version of yourself.
Q: Tell us about Columbia and some of your experiences since you’ve been there.
- I grew up a pretty regular kid but always wanted to go to a prestigious school. I applied to Columbia when I was 18 and was denied even though I had a 4.3 GPA in high school. I applied again when I was 19 but was denied again. It wasn’t until I had achieved some pretty significant sales success with Cutco that I decided to apply again and this time they were so intrigued with what I had been able to do selling Cutco that they offered me a spot.
- Now I’m surrounded by some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met.
Q: As you look into the future, the next 5-10 years, what are you most excited about?
- The first thing I’m really excited about is to not have ANY debt when I graduate from Columbia!
- A lot of people use challenging situations as an excuse, while other people use challenging situations as fuel to motivate them.
- It was interesting to hear how Kyle rebuilt his Cutco business in 5 different states.
- Some keys learned from Hockey: how to take defeat and the importance of bending — not breaking.
- The idea of one moment making such a difference in our lives. I call them “Moments of Truth” where a seemingly small decision can lead us in one direction or another and make a compelling impact on the rest of our lives.
- How would the person I want to become act in this situation?
- Taking the Cutco job from being a hobby to being a professional.
- The role of accountability to help take us from where we are to where we want to go.
- Give your best to whatever you are doing. The grass is always greener where you water it.
- Push Period: a 2 week sales contest amongst reps in a given area.
- SC 1/ SC 2- (Summer Conference 1 & 2: a sales conference designed around competition (push period trophies are awarded), education, and inspiration.
- Silver Cup- The trophy award to the #1 rep/ manager in a year in each competitive category. “______ won a Silver Cup” = that person was the #1 performer in their category one year.
- Cutco All American Scholarship: A total of 100 awards/scholarships are given to the top full-time students. 25 are given in the Fall and Spring and 50 are given in the summer campaign.
Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina.
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