scott dennis

011: Becoming An Engineer of People with Scott Dennis

Podcast

ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST

Scott Dennis is the Eastern Region Manager for Cutco / Vector Marketing. Scott has been one of the most prolific achievers in the company throughout his 29-year career. While attending the University of Notre Dame, he was one of the top college-student sales reps in the company. He was National Champion Branch Manager, set all-time records as a District Manager, and advanced to Division Manager, then Region Executive. He’s married with 3 kids, and a fourth on the way. Scott has been an amazing example of all-around excellence, both professionally and personally. His episode here is FILLED with valuable nuggets for people either in or out of the Cutco business.

Q&A WITH SCOTT DENNIS

Q: Let’s get started by talking about how you got started with Cutco/ Vector and some lessons from your early days.

  • I had just graduated high school and I wanted a better job than the grocery store and when I saw the product, the pay, and the professionalism I got very excited.
  • My mom was not as enthusiastic as I was but she let me do it so I could learn.
  • People in my office were succeeding so I had hope, my manager didn’t give up on me, I was a workhorse, I kept learning, and I just got better at the job.

Q: You graduated from Notre Dame as a Chemical Engineering Major and upon entering the working world you received more job offers than anyone else in your class.  Can you tell us how that occurred?

  • My GPA was middle of the road but the reason I got more job offers was because of this remarkable resume including sales and management experience.
  • During interviews I was able to draw from real life working experience that most of my class mates didn’t have.

Q: So, among all these offers you chose Vector Marketing/ Cutco as your first career out of college.  At what point did you know this was going to be your first career?

  • I never closed the door with Vector/ Cutco but I did start looking for jobs in the chemical engineering field. I had all these great applicable stories from my experience with Vector that really impressed the people interviewing me.
  • I couldn’t find anything that I could get excited about so I just kept interviewing.
  • One day a recruiter asked about my Vector experience and at one point he stops me and asks, “Scott, why are you even here? What we have to offer doesn’t come close to what you have at Vector/ Cutco. And you light up like a Christmas tree when you talk about it and you’re obviously good at it. Why don’t you just work for them for a while?”

Q: What did your parents think by this point?

  • My mom was pretty supportive but my dad was an engineer and my whole life I was pushed down that path because my dad felt it was the most secure living.
  • When discussing the final 2 options I was considering, Vector and an engineering company, my dad went over the pros and cons of working with the two companies.One of the pros for the engineering company was “SECURE” and one of the cons for Vector/ Cutco was “RISK”.
  • My view of the world had changed because of Vector/ Cutco. Vector had shown me the value of chasing an unlimited upside where I can chase my own destiny and I discussed that with my dad. Finally he put a con under the engineering company; “SAD.”  And a pro under Vector/ Cutco; “HAPPY.”
  • Several years later my parents attended their first Year End Banquet because our team had won a few Silver Cups. I pulled my dad aside and said, “Dad, I hope you’re not disappointed that I’m not an engineer.” He said, “Son, you are an engineer… you’re engineering something far more valuable than a bridge or a chemical plant or a building. Scott, you’re engineering people!”

Q: What were some keys to your fast success so early in your career?

  • I got to work under Kevin Gardenier and was able to observe and shadow him and I really made the most of that opportunity.
  • The learning didn’t stop once I became a manager. I always had 2 or 3 key programs I focused on mastering in the fall and spring so that I was ready by the next summer.
  • There’s power in who you choose to associate with.
  • I also had a strong conviction in the sales rep opportunity. I mean really strong! I paid most of my college tuition from selling Cutco throughout college. Because of that, I didn’t give up on my reps.
  • I eventually developed that same conviction in the Branch Manager opportunity. In my opinion there’s no better experience that a college student can have than run a Branch office for one summer.
  • Another key was commitment. I had to ask myself, “are you going to choose pleasing methods or pleasing results?” I chose pleasing results.

Q: You’re working with some incredible individuals on your team. What are some of their strengths, habits, or anything we could learn from? Let’s start with Larry Manley.

  • When you talk to Larry you can tell he actually cares. He treats people with respect and dignity.
  • If you take care of people, the business will take care of you.
  • He’s humble and looks at others like they’re a human being.
  • He sees people not for who they are now but who they could be. He recognizes talent in people early and he’s willing to help grow and develop his people.
  • He also just loves to have fun!

Q: Another incredible individual on your team is Andrew Evans. What are some of the qualities that make Andrew such a great young leader?

  • What gets lost in his story is the tremendous amount of work he’s put into his training. It starts with the time and energy he’s put into mastering the basics.
  • Once he mastered the basics he was then able to innovate effectively because he started with a strong foundation.
  • One word that always comes to mind is curiosity. He always wants to know why.
  • Andrew has a tremendous hunger as well. He’s always the most engaged, the one taking the most notes, and the one asking the most questions.
  • He’s always pushing his capacity so he can take on more.
  • He thinks bigger.
  • And he works really hard.

Q: What are some other valuable lessons you’ve learned from your Vector experience that you’ve tried to impart upon the people you’re working with?

  • Do a little more than you have to. That extra 5-10% repeated over and over again becomes a big difference maker.
  • You have to get out of your comfort zone to grow.
  • We talk about the concept of failing forward.
  • I talk about overcoming adversity. “Will you let adversity define you or will you let your response to adversity refine you?”
  • Fireproof your mindset.

Q: As you look ahead in your career and your life, are there any other ways you aspire to change lives through your work or your influence?

  • Purpose/ Mission statement: “Build and develop great people.”
  • We give young adults an opportunity to learn and grow in an environment like no other.
  • I want to help people achieve their dreams in and out of the business.
  • My #1 core value is my faith and as a Christian leader I get to live out my and model my faith.
  • As a leader, it’s my duty to create opportunity for my people which leads to progress and innovation.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Scott’s view of the world changed; how he viewed risk vs. security.
  • Do a little more than you have to.
  • Pleasing methods or pleasing results.
  • Engineering people.
  • Play like a champion today.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Positive Intelligence by Shirazad Chamine

CUTCO/VECTOR TERMS

  • All American Scholarship- a scholarship given by Vector/ Cutco to 100 Cutco representatives each year who are also full-time college students.
  • 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.
  • Division Manager- a Cutco/ Vector manager who runs a team of District and Branch Managers as well as their own “Pilot Office.”
  • Region Manager- a Cutco/ Vector manager who runs a team of Division Managers.
  • Pilot Sales Manager- right hand to the Division Manager.  Responsible for day to day operations in the Pilot office.
  • Fast Start Contest- a contest new Cutco reps get for their first 10 days on the job.
  • Silver Cup- The trophy award to the #1 rep/ manager in a given competitive category.
  • Year End Banquet
  • Training Pop- the collective sales made from a group of new sales reps.
  • PDI (Personal Daily Interaction)- a daily dose of influence for newer reps on the team via phone calls, meeting, training, etc.
  • FSM (Field Sales Manager)- the premier sales rep opportunity in Vector/ Cutco.

 

Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina
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