ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | MARK LOVAS
Mark Lovas is truly one of the most legendary figures in Cutco/Vector Marketing history. As a Branch Manager in Tacoma WA, Mark was #1 in the Nation, winning his first Silver Cup. As a Division Manager, Mark’s team was #1 in the Nation an unprecedented 4 years in a row. His leadership in the Western Region set that organization on a path of 12 consecutive Silver Cups. After leaving Cutco/Vector, Mark went on to found and develop Trumaker, a custom clothing company & brand. Now pursuing new challenges and opportunities, Mark Lovas continues to be a student of life, a mentor to many, and dynamic source of inspiration for all.
Q&A WITH MARK LOVAS
Q: Tell us about Mark Lovas before Cutco.
- “Socially challenged”
- The first 4 jobs I had in high school I was fired from all of them.
- Cutco was really the only place that would have me at this point.
- I was one of those kids who had social anxiety. I didn’t have a ton of friends at school.
- At my job at Taco Bell, I showed up on time. The only problem was I made up my nametags every day. That got me fired.
- I also got fired from my next job making sandwiches because I was eating most of what I was making.
- I just wasn’t great at working.
Q: You were lucky to encounter Brad Britton when you came to Cutco. To have a chance to work with somebody who’d be patient and nurturing for you. It helped you along.
- I was super-fortunate.
- When I first met Brad, I was a new sales rep.
- He was a lot of fun to work with. I was so impressed by him.
- He was just always so positive.
- I didn’t know people like that who gave you time and attention.
- He was interested in investing time into me.
- It was the first time someone outside my family believed in me.
- He was a spectacular leader. It was a good summer 1991.
Q: How did you hear about Cutco?
- I saw a job listing and answered the call just like everyone.
- I showed up and went for this interview. It was the first interview where I wasn’t wasting my time.
- I was excited about the idea I could make money, but didn’t have to show up when they wanted me to.
- At first, I took that up seriously, and didn’t show up at all.
- Then eventually, something caught my eye. What caught my eye was somebody was recognized for a $1,000 day.
- I was thinking, why that person? What’s the deal with that person? I think I’m good as that person.
- I decided I needed to have a $1,000 day
- Once I decided to do that, and did it, it was the first time maybe in my life I’d set a goal in a job and achieved it.
Q: What other key moments stand out from your career?
- The other key moment was when I started making phone calls and being semi-rejected.
- Rejection at school was hard enough and as I mentioned I didn’t have self-confidence.
- I also remember people I became friends with … John Avila, Janak Ramachandran, …
- This was the first time in my life where friendships were based on what we wanted to achieve in life.
- Cutco attracts young people who want to do something different and are looking for more than the usual.
- I found out I had uniquely high-quality friendships developing that I’d never yet had in my life.
Q: So, you were a rep in 1991. You were an assistant manager in 1992 and then you ran branch in 1993. You had a chance to go to Tacoma where you ran your branch and ended up being #1 in the company. How did you flip the switch from the old Mark Lovas into this champion manager and dynamic leader you became?
- Working with Brad. He was the most nurturing manager out there.
- But he is also honest because he’s invested in you and put a lot of trust in you.
- I remember a moment when I wanted to be an assistant manager.Brad was clear about the ways in which I needed to develop.
- I was leagues away from branch. There was no way that could happen in 1992.
- I decided I needed to learn how to talk with people, how to be social.
- I’m going to start listening more, paying attention and when I write things down, I’m going to do them.
- The 2nd moment was when I saw you (Dan) speak. You gave a message in Oregon and it stood out for me. I said I want to be that kind of person who can give that kind of talk.
- Those were the moments that propelled me to learn the things I needed to learn.
Q: After that summer, I know you went back to school and graduated. You went back to Washington and became a District Manager. I can remember visiting you in 1997 in Seattle and just observing you because you were doing so well. Then you became Division Manager and your team was #1 four years in a row, and in one of those years, you were also building a 2nd division. What were some of the keys to building a perennial national champion division?
- There was only myself and one other person when I started as DVM.
- The business was going to be built on the Branch Manager opportunity.
- I thought if I can be a successful branch, I can teach anyone to do it because these people have talents I didn’t have.
- I came into it with a deep-seated belief anybody could do this if they execute the right things.
- I also had a tremendous responsibility for my people’s success.
- I relate DVM closest to being a college coach.
- You identify talent, build the relationship early over a 4-year span, then you really go for a season (Summer).
- You have this preparation period with young people, a talent identification and recruiting period, and then the period of execution.
- I made sure we had a clear vision. Everybody collaborating in it which was becoming #1 division.
- We had really clear focus skillsets which we all understood.
- When you put that together, year over year, you’re going to end up with pretty dynamic results.
Q: You developed other real champions during your time building the division. How does that work? how did you flip that switch for them?
- We had a winning program.
- It said, if you do these things and follow this program, you’ll have your best shot at success.
- We focused on skill development, but also mental development in our preparation process.
- If you were in our process, you were loved and believed in.
Q: Does anything else stand out as some of the key roles and responsibilities of a great leader?
- Sometimes when you think you know it all, you don’t know anything at all.
- Coming out of Cutco, I felt I knew all about leadership.
- Once I started a business with new types of pressures, financial pressures, like raising tens of millions of dollars of capital, having a board of directors, it revealed more about myself.
- You need to recruit tons of people in leadership, and make sure your process is transparent enough.
- The 2nd part is creating a place where people get their job done.
- That’s the most important thing I’ve learned as a leader in business.
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about Trumaker because I think people could gain a lot from hearing about your experience. Tell us about that journey.
- I decided I wanted to start a company.
- I had several offers after business school.
- One job offer was paying nothing, but I’d be around a really dynamic startup team, at Bonobos.
- I went for it because if I wanted to run a company, this was probably the right move.
- I was going to be around the right kind of people and be learning how to start a company.
- When I started dressing well and people complimented me, it impacted me.
- I thought that’s creating a level of confidence and I became a fan of clothing.
- I started Trumaker. We raised money from these people I was always impressed by.
- We got started in New York City and moved to San Francisco.
- We made $4 million in our 2nd year and got a bit under $10 million in our 3rd
- We ended up selling the company after 5 years.
Q: What’s next? What are you most excited about right now?
- I’m working with Dave Durand, at Best Version Media, and I’m running all things digital.
- We have a couple of projects right now.
- We have BVM Sports which is a place where local sports is celebrated, something like ESPN.
- I’m also the CEO of a software platform for small businesses called Myopolis, which leverages all forms of communication and puts them in one inbox.
- It allows a small business to have the tools that big businesses utilize to convert leads or generate reorders.
- I also have a side project which is my passion.I love wine.
- Over the years, I’ve learned I love wine that’s at the right price and the right health profile.
- I started a wine club called Good Weather Wine that will soft-launch next week.
Q: Is there any other advice you would have or insights you want to share?
- If you’re going to be somewhere, be there.
- Decide what you want.
- So, no matter what part of your work experience you are in Cutco, to exist without having made a decision of what you want to have, will be to discount yourself in time.
- When Mark became a leader, he felt a sense of responsibility for others’ success.
- If you’re a leader of any sort, I’d encourage you to think about why are your people working.
- Well, we work so we can have the life, the lifestyle we want.
- The experiences and opportunities we want outside work, that’s why we work.
- A great leader shouldn’t just be helping people with their jobs, but also help them in their lives and their visions.
- Mark talked about teaching people, whether it’s skills development and also mental conditioning.
- I loved the last advice Mark gave, wherever you are, be there and decide what you want.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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