Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner, and this is Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. I know that most of the audience here is in the tech space. You’re probably creating software companies, maybe even content companies, maybe, maybe hardware but it’s tech related. But occasionally I like to go outside of our tech world and bring in a guest who has nothing to do with it or didn’t have anything to do with it so we can bring in fresh ideas. And that’s what I am doing here today.
I invited Peter Voogd to come on and talk about his time selling CUTCO knives. That’s right, knives. He used to sell knives, not at stores but sell it one on one, often to strangers, and I figured that if he could do that, if we can learn how he sold to strangers one on one knives, then we can bring back some of his ideas and use them to sell membership site, software, maybe a new hardware.
That’s the goal of this interview, and one of the things that I especially like about Peter is he didn’t just sell knives, but he was one of the top managers at CUTCO which means that he got others to sell. And very often that’s a lot harder, to do something directly compared to getting other people to do it. And keeping them motivated and fired up harder, and I want to learn how he did that.
Today, I should say, Peter is the founder of RealVIPSuccess and is a personal coach and mentor for entrepreneurs, and I’ll find out about that and the membership site that he has there. But my main focus is how did he get people to sell knives to strangers.
And this interview is sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. There’s the mug where I hold up his logo, and I keep telling you guys about Scott because Scott is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. If you need a lawyer check out WalkerCorporateLaw.com.
Peter: Welcome, Andrew. Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
Andrew: I want to hear about how you got others to sell, but you started out for a short period of time actually selling yourself, and there was a time when you called a woman to talk to her about buying knives. And she said what to you?
Peter: She said, “Peter, there’s no way I’m buying anything. You can come over because I know your parents. I can help you out, but there’s no way I’m going to buy anything. I’m not even going to have my credit card out. So come on over, but you’re probably going to waste your time.”
Well, I said, “I just need experience. I just want to get in the door so I can kind of show you and really practice.” She’s like, “No problem” but I think she said it, Andrew, four or five times that she’s not going to buy anything. And she was pretty adamant and confident, and that’s kind of what she said on the phone.
Andrew: And what did she end up doing when you walked in?
Peter: She bought about $1300 or $1400 worth of stuff, and what’s crazy is it was only a 30 minute presentation so it was actually cut short so she bought pretty quick. And she actually referred two of her friends. They both bought the same thing that she did. So it was about a $3500 swing right there from one phone call saying I’m not going to buy anything. Pretty interesting.
Andrew: What did you do? And I know that asking this kind of question is an over simplification of your process, but if you can give me an understanding of one thing that you did that got a customer who didn’t want to buy who reluctantly invited you over to her house, I think you’ll give me right away something that my audience can use when they’re out selling. So what’s one thing that you did that helped close that sale?
Peter: Good question. I think starting out I actually fully believed in the product that it could make their life easier and help them. So I just expressed that enthusiasm to them in a very genuine and authentic way. And then I connected my personal goals to it. So I think she not only really saw me as someone that’s trying to better my future but she also said, “Ooh, Peter, he has goals, but, wow, this product actually is good. This product is actually good.”
Andrew: Let me pause on that for a moment. I’m sorry to interrupt, but Hal Elrod who is one of the top CUTCO salesmen did a great interview on Mixergy here, one of the most popular. He said the same thing to me. He said that he would share his goals, and that stands out because I wouldn’t expect that a salesman who shares his goals would get my business. I would think that if you’re sharing your goals you’re talking about yourself. If you’re talking about where you want to go, you’re not talking about me as a customer. And so I wouldn’t be interested.
Why does a salesman who share his goals increase his likelihood of closing a sale?
Peter: I think people like people who have a mission or have drive. I just think they’re attracted to it, especially when you’re younger and you share your goals and dreams. And you share how this could be a catalyst to something else and you believe in it. I think there’s so many people that taking the normal roles as young adults, that I think it’s something different and it differentiates people. Would you agree? It just differentiates them from others that they may have talked to or seen.
Andrew: You know, there’s another interesting thing that you just did there that I caught. You said what you believe in your experience and you said, “Would you agree?” I notice sales people do that. They say, “I think this is a really great package, etc.” And they talk it up and they say, “Would you agree?” Because why? Why do you do it?
Peter: Just that, I think it’s my convictions so I want to make sure it’s your conviction too.
Andrew: But is it also the way that you phrased it? In natural conversation when I’m out at a bar with a friend or having a dinner conversation, they don’t say would you agree. But by saying would you agree, you’re almost encouraging me, I think, to say yes. And by encouraging me to say yes, you’re getting me to buy into and to agree and be in harmony with what you just said. Isn’t that true?
Andrew: Okay. And so there’s another sales tactic that maybe I want to make sure I pay attention to and file away.
Peter: Definitely. And I’ll tell you, even if they’re not, even if they’re sold on the product, Andrew, but they’re not sold on you, that’s going to be a stopper for a lot of people. Because they buy from people they trust and people they can obviously relate to.
Andrew: I see. And so when you said to her what your goal was, what did you mean? Did you mean I want to become a top salesman here? Were you talking that generically? Did you talk about your life in general? Or did you say, “My sales goal is…”Whatever?
Peter: So I related to her emotions. At that point I was off record for the first ten days, so I just said, “My goal is to break the office record. I’m excited, Sue, but I’m a little bit nervous as well. And even if I don’t break the record, I just want to make sure I gave my absolute best and I gave myself a chance to break the record. So if you buy anything, fine. If not, fine. I just want to let you know that if you do buy something, It’d really help me out because I really do want to break this record.”
Andrew: I see.
Peter: So it was kind of like tying them in.
Andrew: And so she wants to help you break the record. Now you guys are working together to help you beat everyone else. Or to help you do well. Got it.
Andrew: Alright. How well did you do? You moved on to become a salesman. Give me a number that helps me to understand how well you did.
Peter: Well, the first ten day, actually nine days because I couldn’t sell the last one, I sold about $11,900. So $12,000 of [??]. And this is all directly from people I knew and their recommendations and stuff like that.
Andrew: And then overall when you were in management?
Peter: Close to eight million. So a little jump.
Andrew: Eight million?
Andrew: How much of that per year?
Peter: About a million, a million two per year.
Andrew: Wow. Alright. What I want to understand is how you got it by teaching other people. By motivating other people. By the way, people might have noticed that my eyes went over to the right monitor here. It’s because I know that there was a software company that’s doing this. That’s getting people to buy into their goal. And I just wanted to make sure that I had the right one. It’s Groove. These guys on Groove are saying, “We’re trying to get to…” I think it’s a hundred thousand dollars in business every month.
And they show what their progress is toward that goal every month. It’s just interesting to watch them grow. And I think a lot of us are now buying into it and are eager to help them do well. Groovehq.com So I’m bringing in an idea outside the tech space, but it’s already starting to get used in the tech space. And that’s my goal. To see if we can bring more of your ideas and use them. But let me understand a little bit more about your background before we continue with your experience selling knives and motivating others to do it. You first got into sales through eBay. Why? What was it about eBay?
Peter: I thought it was just amazing that I could take something and I could put it online and people from all around the U. S. and world could see that and bid on it. And I was from a small town. I actually went from Oakland, California, which is a big city, to a small town in Oregon. To think about that, Andrew, was amazing to me. At first I was fascinated and I was excited that I could take something and sell it to somebody for a profit around the world. That’s exciting when you’re 15. Alright?
Andrew: And do you remember how well you did with that?
Peter: I didn’t, to be honest, I didn’t keep track of the exact, I’m like 15. I just remember loving buying something overseas or buying it in bulk and selling individually for profit. I just remember always having income when I was 15 and 16. I always earned it myself. I don’t remember the numbers, but I do remember for a year or two when I was a junior in high school, a senior in high school, I made good money. A couple thousand a month maybe. Maybe a thousand or two a month.
Andrew: I heard you sold your mom’s hubcaps on eBay. Did she know that you sold them?
Peter: Oh man, funny story. So I remember selling some stuff and I was walking out to the garage and my mom had a Cadillac [??], a bigger SUV and escalate. My dad got her rims for Christmas because she wanted those, not huge ones cause she wasn’t like bumping in stuff, just better tires and they were sitting there for like a couple months. I thought these have to be worth something.
So I look online. You can look online how much things are worth and I am like oh wow, eight or nine hundred dollars, this is amazing. So I took pictures of them, threw them on eBay. I wasn’t sure i was going to get a ton. I think they went for $815 plus shipping. The funniest part was I had my first person help me which is my dad. He literally had to wheel in tires to the post office to send them for me and that is kind of how it went down. My mom found out literally like one year later which shows that she wouldn’t have noticed. I said something and she said, ‘oh my gosh, you sold my tires’. I am like, ‘mom, that was a long time ago and I already spent that money sorry’.
Andrew: Was your dad wheeling them down the road hand over hand letting them go down?
Peter: They were wrapped but he had to wheel them from the back of the car into the post office. It was like rolling them in on paper.
Andrew: Got you. I see.
Peter: Fine. Yeah.
Andrew: And your mom though, she didn’t want you doing this. She wasn’t encouraging. What did she want you to do instead?
Peter: Well, luckily I had a mom that always let me be who I want to be. I was such an intense kind and I am just glad [??] just saved me from just how hyper I was. But she wanted a part of my childhood to go just try out the average [?] of getting a job, working your way up, starting at minimum wage going up and I just knew because of the eBay experience, because of seeing my friends work for my dad making $10 an hour and working all week shoveling sand. We have a property where we have a rage [??] where there is sand and stuff, there is a beach and they would work for a whole two weeks and I would make the same from two transactions on eBay with no hard labor.
Peter: So that was stuck in my head. I just said, ‘Mom, I am not going to work an average job. I don’t know. I am not doing that’. I realized there is more out there and I realized that there are opportunities for big income by using my mind versus my body and she agreed and believed in me but she wanted me to try the work your way up from the bottom and stuff like that.
Andrew: So then why did you end up selling knives? Why didn’t you go into more online sales or something more tech related? Why not?
Peter: Good question. So I got kind of bored with eBay and what is funny is at my junior year end, I was from a small town like six or seven thousand people. I transferred high schools at the end of my junior year, not many people know this. I grew up with these kids my whole life and I am transferred school in my senior year just to go to a more bigger school which was five times the size.
And that is where I got a chance to go to [sp]Yuho and that is where I heard of CUTCO. I got into it because it was very intriguing when I heard about it. That’s really it. It said flexible schedule, great pay, good resume experience. My mom has done sales she is in real estate. My dad is kind of worked from self and this is something where I can actually use my potential and it is endless. So I got excited about it. That is kind of how I got into it.
Andrew: Alright. I could see how you used our potential and your energy and you did well and you sold. Why then go into management instead of continuing to sell?
Peter: Well, It started when I broke that record. A lot of people were asking me how I did it and literally my manager would say, ‘Hey guys, if you have any questions this is the person you want to talk to because he broke the record’. So people kept asking question about how i do it and I just told them. I didn’t think about like leadership, I just told them.
When I did and it helped some other people succeed, I started hearing people saying, “Thank you so much, Peter, you helped me, what you told me really changed my perspective.” I have had kids say, “You really changed my life by what you taught me from what you did.”
And then I am thinking I am helping this office on lot more CUTCO I started getting my manager fired up. To be honest, my manager was more laid back he said, “Guys, we are doing well, we are like fifth in the region” and i said, “You don’t want to be on top?” He said, “Oh, we are doing well.” I was getting everyone fired up and said, “Guys, we got to be number one there are teams beating us.” So after helping people and seeing that I could create kind of a rally cry around a mission. I thought sales was exciting and I got to go into leadership and build a team.
Andrew: You wanted to fire people up like that.
Peter: I wanted to build my own team.
Andrew: I thought the way what your manager did with you, there is something which we should pay attention to. He gave you a reputation to live up to. He said, ‘this is the guy who broke the record, he is the guy you can go and talk to, he is someone who is doing well’ and how did this influence you? How did it motivate you beyond just what you were, obviously it turned you into a manager but while you were still selling, did it make you into a better sales person? Did you want to kind of prove him right and to live up to expectations that he set for you?
Peter: Definitely. It gave me more influence and I think with influence comes a little bit of pressure, which I liked. So it just caused me to research a little more about sales and reach some of the top up and comers in the region so I could call outside of my division and say, “Hey, what are you doing to get successful results?” So, yeah, definitely.
Andrew: I see.
Peter: His expectations of me raised and he had high standards for me so I kind of lived up to those.
Andrew: What about this? At the time you were in your early twenties, pretty young, fresh out of school, new in sales and you become a manager. Can you then say to someone who’s working under you, “I’m proud of you.”? Can you say to someone working under you, “You are one of the best and I’d like you to be more of a leader here.”? Or did you ever feel internally, like, “Who am I to say that I’m proud of this guy? He’s maybe older than me. Who am I to foster this person? He’s maybe more experienced. I’m just a kid.” Did you ever feel any of that?
Peter: Definitely. I work with some old people that are a lot older than me. Like in their thirties, forties, fifties. And I almost felt weird even offering the help because they have so much experience, but I realized I had something that they hadn’t yet gotten, which was perspective on sales and perspective on time management motivation. Because sometimes they were in different fields. So I guess it took me a while, Andrew, to kind of have the confidence to where whether I’m 22 or 27 or 28, I can help people who want to get to where I was at in that company.
Andrew: What did you tell yourself that allowed you to do that?
Peter: I think I just said that I have results that other people want to get to and…
Andrew: But you barely had results. You were a salesman for weeks. It’s not like you were a lifetime salesman. It’s not like you were doing even a million dollars in sales. You were a salesman for weeks. But you still said to yourself, “I had the results that they want.” Because you felt in those short few days…
Peter: Good question.
Andrew: Tell me.
Peter: So it really was my manager believing in me that I had the capability to actually help others. Sometimes you have to believe in other’s belief they have in you until your belief catches up.
Peter: So my belief kind of caught up to his belief in me. And once I started seeing results and seeing progress, that’s the motivation. I saw the office results go up. I saw us have higher productivity. I saw the culture increase. So that’s what gave me the confidence. So I didn’t have it at first, but my manager believing in me, started to at least have a little bit of it. And then I kind of build off that. And it just kept going up.
Andrew: Jeremy Bell was an inspiration for you. Who is Jeremy?
Peter: Jeremy was a manager when I started. He was one of the younger managers. He was like 24, 25 when I started. He owned two houses. Just super cool guy, young, family man. But it looked like he had an amazing lifestyle. He wasn’t always in the office. He was travelling a ton, different countries. Owned two houses. And I went to a conference and saw him get a 40 thousand dollar bonus. I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” A lot of my friends parents complained about money, they’re struggling, they can’t pay their mortgage and this 25 year old just made 40 grand. I’ll never forget that feeling of I want to do that. Like, are you kidding me? He’s 25, making six figures, buying houses, and loving what he does.
Andrew: You know what? I always wanted Mixergy to do that for my audience and I’ve noticed that the response has been mostly one of two different responses. One group of people will watch and interview and say, “If he can do it, I can do it. If he’s out there as a possibility, then I want to reach for that possibility.” But there’s some people who hear it and say, “That’s just not me. Why is Andrew profiling people who are so far ahead? I need someone who’s much more accessible. Much more in the thousand dollar range.”
Why weren’t you intimidated by the 40 thousand? Why didn’t you say, “You know what? That’s so much. I can’t even begin to think of owning one house. Let alone, owning two houses and making 40 thousand and travelling. I should find a hero who only is doing a thousand a week and then build from there.”?
Peter: Yeah, good question. I think to answer your question, a part of me felt that. But there was a part of me that, I just had this hunger inside of me that I knew I wasn’t accomplishing all that I could. And I realize a lot of it was, some of my past limitations was getting in the way. Like, “Wait. How am I thinking I can make that much by the age of 25?” And a part of me was like, “Of course I can.” So it was like a struggle. It was half and half.
So to those people, I think you just have to, once you continue to bump up your standards, a little bit each day each week, raise the level of who you hang out and talk to, I think it becomes more evident. And I was raising the circle of influence I had. I was hanging out with my manager more, looking at other top reps. So I started seeing the possibility, Andrew, once I elevated my peer group. I didn’t have it when I had the peer group I had before. That wasn’t a possibility.
Peter: They were talking about the next party, literally. Not buying a house or anything.
Andrew: It’s so strange to hear people talk about going to the next party and get excited about it and to think, “I just don’t care about it.” And to accept that, “I don’t care about it, but it’s still okay. It doesn’t make me a dork or a loser for not wanting to go to yet another party. It makes me just different. And how do I go and figure out what’s right for me based on that?”
Andrew: That was a challenge for me. Alright, before we started I said to you, “Peter, what did you do to help someone become a better salesman?” And one of the things you told me was you would ask him, and it seems like it was mostly him, but you would ask him, the salesman, what he wanted. How would you do that and why would you do that?
Peter: Well, I think once you dig deep on what they want and you make it about them, I think they will open up a little more. And once you tie, this was big for us, I always tried to figure out their hot buttons, what motivated them, and once you tie their goals and what they want into how this opportunity can help them be a catalyst to get to the next opportunity, that’s when they’ll do everything they can for you. And another think I did is I was very tough on their results, but I was soft on them as people.
So I was soft on them as people, tough on their results. And they knew that I expected a lot out of them and if they didn’t have the confidence, I would be there for them. So to answer your question, I think it was just I made sure that I really believed in them and the reason why I ask them what they want is because that’s the ultimate drive for anybody is having someone help you get what you want. What you truly want, not outside, but what you truly want.
Andrew: So if they say, “Hey, you know, Peter, what I really would like is I’d like a new BMW X5. A lot of space, feels comfortable and I feel inspired driving it.” What would you do with that? How would you use that to make them a better sales person?
Peter: Why do you want that?
Andrew: I want it because I want to impress people. I guess no one says that. It just seems like a fun car to have. It feels like it would be a good reminder of who I want to be and what I want to do. I don’t know. I’m trying to make something up, trying to anticipate what they see.
Peter: I’d ask, what else do you want out of life?
Andrew: What else do I want out of life? Oh, I see.
Andrew: I guess many of them, judging from the fact that I’ve interviewed people who are successful startups who in their background were cut cold sales people. I imagine that many of them wanted to be entrepreneurs. Is that right?
Peter: Yep. And they want to start their own business. Then I dig deeper, though Andrew, I get past the surface stuff. Then I ask, “Does everybody around you believe in you and think you’re going to hit that?” And nine out of ten times they pick someone that doesn’t or they’d say, “No. My mom doesn’t think this job’s for me.” Does that motivate you or demotivate you? Actually it motivates me. It does? How come? Well, I want to prove them wrong. There’s their hot button.
Andrew: Okay. So now you know they want to prove someone wrong and what do you do with that hot button?
Peter: That’s an emotional trigger.
Andrew: You’re not looking for the car, you’re looking for the emotional trigger.
Andrew: Why is proving someone wrong an emotional trigger and owning a BMW is not an emotional trigger?
Peter: Because it’s external versus internal.
Andrew: I see. Okay. So how do you use it without looking like you’re being manipulative?
Peter: I just say imagine, so what are some of your goals [??] wise? Okay, cool. Now imagine how good it’s going to feel, Andrew, to hit those goals. Make your first thousand dollar paycheck. And show people really what you’re made of and that you can do this. I want you to imagine how good that’s going to feel to show your parents a thousand dollar paycheck. When you get them to imagine and visualize, it gets them excited.
Andrew: I see.
Peter: Then I say, “Do you mind if I hold you to a higher standard? Just because I believe in you and know you can do this?” And they go, “Of course. Awesome.” Then I give them an action plan. You know what I mean? That’s sort of how…
Andrew: Why would you say do you mind if I hold you to a higher standard? Why wouldn’t you just hold them to a higher standard?
Peter: Because I want to get their permission. Once they give you permission, then they are going to be more apt to follow through and listen to you.
Andrew: Okay. And of course they are going to say yes, I’d like for you to hold me to a higher standard. No one ever comes back with…
Peter: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a no. No actually, hold me to lower ones, please.
Andrew: So what about this that for some people if they have a relative that says they’re going to fail, for some people just the thought of that is a depressing thought that makes them feel worse and demotivates them. And for other people, they want to punch back. What do you do with the person who’s demotivated by that thought? Do you just brush it aside and look for something else or do you turn them around?
Peter: I try to turn them around. You can’t help everybody. Something I learned early on from Jim Roan [sp] is I used to try and inspire everybody, Andrew, and make everybody the best. Some people are not ready to see it. Some people just won’t listen and won’t follow through. I just have to give my absolute best and make sure I always keep the same standards and the right people will catch on. So I couldn’t motivate everybody. I tried to and I lost sleep at night.
Once I actually had a culture congruent with my vision and I help people to the standards that were congruent with who I was, that’s when I started developing superstars. The people that didn’t catch on, we made them feel good, hey, it’s not for you, and they moved on. We always wanted to make people feel good when they left so they realized that it was a good opportunity, it just wasn’t for them. So that’s a big…
Andrew: How do you make someone feel good when they leave?
Peter: Just say, “Hey, man. I know this isn’t for everybody. I really appreciate your willingness to work hard.” You always build them up. “Hey, you’re always welcome back. And I know you want to be a great lawyer. I would love to help you with that. If you have any questions or anything later on in life.” So you just make them feel good.
Andrew: Another thing you told me was that you want to figure out people’s strengths and then play off their strengths. What’s an example of a strength that a sales person would have that maybe is unexpected, but something that’s useful for them?
Peter: Persistence, I think and eagerness to learn is one of the most important things. What I always look for was someone that was humble and ready to learn and a good listener. See, what’s crazy is I had people that really nobody believed in them. They didn’t have any people to start out with, but they were so hungry to learn and to implement what they learned. They succeeded. I also had some kids that had multi-million dollar parents. They had five hundred plus people to show. They could have broken every company record, but they wouldn’t listen.
Andrew: They wouldn’t call up their friends and family and say what you did, which is, “I just want to present this to you and have you hear me out.”
Andrew: And why wouldn’t they do that?
Peter: I’m not sure. I think maybe things were handed to them and they don’t want to work extremely hard because they have the things they want already. So I always, here’s the key. I had so many different people in those six or seven years. I had kids from the worst part of town break records and crush it. I’ve had kids from the best part of town break records and crush it and fail. One thing I did was I always had third person stories in my training.
I said, “Guys, I had a girl named Blank, whose parents were super wealthy, went to a private school, had 70 or 80 of the most amazing clients and she came up to me the second day of training and said, “You know, this isn’t for me. I don’t really need to do this. I don’t need to work. I’m just going to quit. ” And I said to her, I don’t want to say her name, I said, “Really? You know what I’m thinking? I really think that you’ve had a lot of things given to you and this would be a great chance to prove that you can do things on your own. I think that this is a really good chance to show people that you can create the future you want. I know you want to be a sports agent, right?
Do you want to be an average one or an amazing one? Well, I challenge you to take this opportunity by storm. I will help you, but you need to start showing people what you’re capable of and get [??].” She did over 10 thousand in her first ten days.
Andrew: And then this woman did take your advice. You just broke off for a moment there. But you were saying that this person did take your advice and ended up doing 10 thousand in a month, in a month.
Peter: Yes. And it was the most uncomfortable she ever been, she said. She goes, “It was the most exhilarating, yet scary experience.” Because she’s never really pushed herself at that level. So I challenged her to push herself.
Andrew: So what you’re doing there is you’re remembering these stories that you can pull out when you need to use them with someone who’s in a similar situation.
Peter: Hundred percent.
Andrew: Why can’t you just do for anyone who comes in what you did for her and say, “I challenge you to take responsibility for once in your life and live up to a higher standard and if you can do this then you can achieve your goals too.”? Why is it more powerful to tell a story about a third person than to come right out and give advice to this person?
Peter: Because you have to connect deeply with who they are and it’s hard to do that with the same story for one person. So that’s why I kind of cater it to who they are.
Andrew: But why tell a story at all? Why not just say, “Hey, look. Dude, you want to achieve something big. I think that if you can do well here, then you can do well anywhere.” Or whatever it is. Why go back and say, “I have a girl in a similar situation.” And tell her story. What’s the advantage in persuasion of telling someone else’s story as opposed to just giving instructions or direct motivation?
Peter: I think in a deep level, people relate to stories more versus just telling them what to do. I try to kind of pull them towards success versus push them. So that is why tell the story [?] because it connects with people really well. So I need to have stories for the different types of people in my training classes that relates to different groups of people based on their past experience and who they are.
Andrew: I see and where did you get these stories? I like the idea of having stories file the way, I’m imagining that you didn’t think of them on spot, right? They were there. They were practiced. They were remembered so that when you had a similar situation you can pull it out.
Peter: I carefully crafted them from my past experience.
Peter: I used them from my old office. If I didn’t have a story I would call another manager and say what is the story of a kid who didn’t have anyone to show, no one believed in him and then he succeeded. So I got one and then eventually I created all my own stories then I kept tweaking them. So I was just doing it off my training and I realized that when they first step foot in my office the culture I created started in training. So I had to get everything I wanted out in training so they understood what we were about as a company, as a business and as an office.
Andrew: Okay. So someone who is in, maybe enterprise sales, software listening to us right now. One way they can use is what we just talked about is just to say, what are the different situations I have with my sales people? What are the ones that are going to come up over and over, I should come up with stories to address them, stories to inspire them? Do you just write them in a Word document or Google document or something?
Peter: Yeah, obviously I get memorized after a while. Yeah, I wrote in the training manual that I created. Here is what that is cool, what I realized is anytime I had an objection come up or anything that ever frustrated me, someone [?] in business or something that didn’t work out how I wanted, I would turn that into a strength. I would figure out a story of how to take care of that objection before it comes up so no one would have that issue in training. Does that make sense?
Andrew: Yes. Tell me if I am understanding this right? Someone comes to you and says, I called my aunt and she said that she is going to be travelling and doesn’t have much time so I didn’t want to bother her. That frustrates you because you know that there is a way to talk to the aunt before she goes away, there is a way to talk to the aunt after she goes away. There is something that this person could have done. Instead of being bothered, you’d say if this ever comes up again what is the story that I can use in reaction to it or what else can I do to handle this well the next time?
Peter: We go even further. I would then put in their script in training and what to say if that happens. If I got that couple of times from somebody, I would go back to training and put in the manual how to take care of that if it comes up and I give an example in training so I never got that issue. They never bring it up to me.
Andrew: So the next person who comes to training or in fact everyone will have a guide to this. So we have been doing that here internally in Mixergy. We are creating a guide to handling all the big issues that come up over and over again. There are so many issues Peter, that come up over and over again and there are so many different steps for handling them that at sometimes feel it’s overwhelming and we then want to avoid the guide completely because there is too many things in there.
If you handle every situation by going back to the manual and creating a way to handle it, don’t you overwhelm people with so many ways that they can’t remember any of them and they feel that is it just too bureaucratic and too hard to get to?
Mel: Good question. I think yes. We try to simplify in the stories and here is a big key, I try to teach them how to think versus what to do. So I try to teach them. I said guys, I’m serious about your success and I know whether you guys are here for two days, seven months or ten years I want this to be a catalyst for your future.
So when issues come up I challenge you to come up with two solutions, don’t just bring us problems anyone can do that. People who want to be successful bring us solutions. So I took all the issues into like a manual and simplified into philosophies and taught them how to think so they can handle it versus telling 409 stories about every possible objection.
Andrew: And then they have both, they have manual for the steps for individual situations and the philosophy that guides them even if the manual isn’t there.
Andrew: I see. Do you still have that manual?
Andrew: You do. Where are you from, what part of the country?
Peter: San Diego.
Andrew: San Diego, I was hoping you were nearby. I would like to stop in and take a look at this manual at some point.
Peter: Are you at San Francisco?
Andrew: I am.
Peter: I have a ton of family in San Francisco, Oakland and all around the bay area cause that is where my parents grew up. So yeah, definitely we will figure something out.
Andrew: Bring the manual, this is going to be the dorkiest thing, but I would like you to bring the manual. Come to dinner with the manual, and I would like to get a few other people who have processes for running their company, like Alex from Voice Bunny who I went into his home, actually home office too. And he showed me how he works with all of his developers to keep them on the same page and to keep them from creating their own individual processes that no one else gets it.
I love how organized a thinker he is and a few other people. I’d love to just geek out on the processes for managing companies. We all get excited about where ideas come from for creating companies, but once it’s created you have to find a way to manage it. And I think that we in our space have a different management need than college professors understand.
I took a management class at NYU and it was helpful, but it was really aimed at someone who was working at IBM or Xerox, not someone who’s working at a startup, not someone who’s working at a company with a handful of people and trying to invent the future.
Peter: Oh, it’s different. Yeah.
Andrew: Much different. I mean, you really have to go in and write the manual as opposed to the bigger companies where they just have to enforce the manual.
Andrew: That’s why they call this the hot fire management tactic which was the management philosophy. Just like if you touch a hot fire you get burned right away, when someone makes a mistake at the company you need to give them feedback right away or else they disconnect the feedback from the incident. Anyway, that doesn’t apply to us necessarily.
Peter: Okay. You sparked a thought from me, too.
Andrew: Hit me!
Peter: One thing I learned early on was to hire slow, fire fast, right? A lot of people hire fast, fire slow because the best thing I could have done was find the right people with the right core strengths and define the positions in my company that I needed to fill and find the right people for them.
But one thing with systems that I created that I love is it’s all about giving the right expectations to your people. I’ve seen so many companies that I’ve worked with and consulted and helped and just have reached out that they give sugar coated expectations or “You can make a million.” That works in network marketing sometimes. “You can make a million.” “You can do this. You’re going to have freedom.”
Andrew: And you can get tons of stock options.
Peter: Oh yeah. Of course. And what happens is it’s false. It’s kind of exaggerated, and the sharp people and the A players and the super stars don’t like that so they disconnect and they find another company. Because if you give them false expectations just to get them in the door, they can see through that, especially these up and coming entrepreneurs and the new generation.
So I think you have to give proper expectations of how it is to get to the level that they want to get to. And for me I always gave three things. When I wanted to create a system, Andrew, I did three things. I gave expectations. I gave accountability along the way, so I put accountability in my schedule for the systems, and then feedback because once you set the expectation, you’ve got obviously to have accountability along the way to make sure it gets done correctly.
And then here’s where most entrepreneurs or companies fail is they don’t give feedback. They just mad if it’s not right or they yell or they say, “Hey, try this.” That’s a little bit of feedback, but you want to have feedback where you teach them how to reach out to other people or teach them how to find the answers that they need to make that system work at a higher level or get better results. Does that make sense?
Andrew: It does. I thought you were just going to burn through people there though. I thought, you know what? It’s all sales. They all get commission only, right? There’s no salary plus commission at CUTCO. Why wouldn’t you just want as many people to come in and start selling as possible? And if they can’t cut it, you don’t have to cut them a commission check.
Peter: You want to know the real deal?
Peter: That’s kind of how it’s promoted where you want a lot of people, and that’s how I started. That is the biggest culture killer is to have the wrong people. So I took a totally different approach. I was like the opposite of everybody else, and, you know, you’ve heard this a ton of time. If you want to be really successful, look at what everybody else is doing and do what?
Peter: Yes. Opposite. So I’m like, I’m going to be way more selective. I’m going to find the right people. I’m going to build the right culture so the culture takes care of everything else. And I’m going to find people that are congruent with our culture and not hire anybody. So we had a little bit more stricter process, and we made sure that we really screened out people that we didn’t feel were the right people. So, yeah, that’s what we did and it helped.
Andrew: I’m going to do a quick plug here for my man, my sponsor, my friend, Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. I hold up this mug all the time to remind me and to remind that if you need a lawyer and you’re a startup entrepreneur Scott’s the guy to talk to. I’m not even going to tell you go in and sign up with him because I think you should, but even though I think you should.
Say, look, if you’re considering a lawyer I think he should be one of the law firms… Well, I think his should be one of the law firms that you talk to because Scott gives you all the high touch, high help, big connections that you get from a Silicon Valley law firm without the expense. He’s not costing you an arm and a leg. He’s not trying to take a piece of your business. He’s trying to help you grow. And so go to WalkerCorporateLaw.com if you’re looking for a lawyer.
You know what just occurred to me, Peter? If you were to do that promo, you would probably tell a story. I keep forgetting to write down those stories ahead of time. It takes work to sit down and write down those stories ahead of time, right?
Peter: Definitely. I’ll work it.
Andrew: speaking of time, one of the things that I’ve learned about you is that you’re a big time management person. You actually wake up at five like our mutual friend, Hal. What’s the deal with waking up at five?
Peter: I think you can’t go to legacy and you can’t create an amazing life working nine to five like everybody else does. So I learned this from Gary Vaynerchuk actually which I just had a conversation with a month ago. He said, “It’s not what you do in the hours obviously. You can get some good sleep. You can wake up at four or five, but it’s what you do in the hours that you’re up. And obviously if you give yourself an advantage by working early mornings and late nights you can advance ahead of your competition.
So I think for me it’s a habit now, Andrew, but I get so much done. In the morning I’m super productive. It’s kind of like a prize fighter routine where I wake up, drink my water. I make sure I spark my mind, spark my body, and I think I approach the day with a sense of strength and a sense of courage and excitement versus just another day. And if you make the most of your days the weeks will take care of themselves. You make the most of the weeks the months will take care of themselves.
Andrew: You know what? I’ve done that. I now wake up at 6:15. It’s incredibly helpful. I have some time in the morning to write. I have some time in the morning to read, to clear my mind. Sometimes I answer emails or do things that are more work related, but mostly it’s a thinking time for me. The challenge with waking up that early is a lot of the world happens late at night, and thankfully now I don’t need as much sleep. But it’s still a challenge. If I’m going out until one or two in the morning, it’s a challenge to stay up and be high energy. And that’s when frankly I do for a coffee or a soda or something that will pep me up even though during the day I try not to rely on caffeine.
Do you find that that you disconnect from the things that happen in the evening because you’re so tired from waking up in the morning?
Peter: Sometimes and I think the best thing you can do is give yourself the best advantage by putting the best stuff in your body – water, greens, healthy food – because you won’t believe it, Andrew, when you just put food in your body that is actually good for you, your energy skyrockets. So you can actually have a lot longer stamina versus eating food that’s thick [??] or eating late at night. Then you’re super tired all the time. So I just try to give myself an advantage because what I always say is nothing tastes as good as health feels. Does that make sense?
Peter: And it’s true. Nothing tastes as good as health feels when you have vitality and you’re excited. so that’s…
Andrew: But when you’re up late after woken up at five in the morning, that carrot juice is not going to help you stay up. It sounds like what you’re saying is, Andrew, I accept that as a loss but it’s worth it.
Andrew: And to be tired.
Peter: You can take naps. You can take a 20 minute nap in the day. Robin Sharma talks about that where you take a 20 minute nap, and that gives you the energy to fight for the rest of the night or what I’ve learned well, Andrew, is work out for 20-25 minutes in the morning. And you work out one more time or go for a jog or a nature walk or a nap at five or six. It kind of gives you a re-jolt of energy. I’ve done that a few times.
Andrew: Let me give you a few different names. One of the things that helped you finally get going, not finally, one of the things that helped you get going was mentors.
Andrew: How did you get your first mentor?
Peter: I didn’t. I was so stressed out and struggling and I really… This is a funny story. I was just so fed up in my results. I was working 60-70 hours a week. I’m like, what is going on? So I got to a point where I was so frustrated. I was at a conference, and I heard the quote that just changed the game for me. It said, “If you want to be a millionaire, talk to billionaires because you’ll get there quicker.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, how can I relate that to me?
I only need to talk to people that are playing the game at a higher level than me. I need to hire a mentor, and from that point on I found my first mentor through one of my managers. They kind of guided me. It was actually Hal and one other person was my first mentor. And from then on I was addicted to making sure that I’m reaching out to those playing the game at a higher level. So people always ask me, Andrew, because I was the quickest manager in CUTCO history to go from signing my rep contract to doing a million annually. It was only a year and a half, and the reason was I stopped talking to average managers. not like disrespecting them, like “I don’t talk to you.”
I was only communicating with the managers that already had the success and results I wanted. That’s it. So my standards raised, my intelligence raised, how I treated my team raised, my leadership raised because I was doing everything that the people already there were doing. That’s a big step for a lot of people in entrepreneurship that they need to do more of.
Andrew: You said that you paid some. Some of them were colleagues and so they had an interest in working with you. Did you ever get a mentor who you didn’t pay for, who wasn’t a colleague, who maybe you had to win over as a mentor?
Peter: Yes. Well, I paid for a majority of them, and then there’s some people in the company that helped me obviously for free. But, yeah, Hal was my mentor and we started… I grew so much and he helped me so much that we started becoming friends. And then I obviously didn’t pay him. We helped each other back and forth, and I helped him with stuff. He helped me, and then what’s crazy is I stopped getting a mentor, Andrew. It was the peak of my success.
We did $132,000 in one week. That is what some people do all summer, and we were crushing it. Income was coming in, and I stopped growing. And I started to get, not complacent, but just, I guess, complacent. And my results kind of stayed the same and weren’t growing for like six or seven months.
I’m like, what got me successful? A mentor that challenged me, that made me think bigger. So then I hired another mentor which was a multi-millionaire, Jordan Wiers, who made such an amazing difference on my life that I paid for him good money. But when you pay for a mentor, what’s crazy is something inside you tells you that you’re investing yourself. You have more skin in the game. So you want to take more action, and that’s what happened with me the first time. I paid money I didn’t even have. I couldn’t afford it, but that helped me make an extra 30, 40, 50 grand that year.
Andrew: As a manager, if you’re in charge of a team that makes a million dollars in sales, how much of that goes into your pocket? How much of that goes into your pocket?
Peter: Well, net profit, obviously gross is different. A decent year about $320,000 and then net is about $180-200,000, but I maximize my profits and minimize my expenses. So I really spent some time studying how to really make sure every outcome and everything I paid for was getting a result. So, yeah, it’s about 17 to 20 percent, I think.
Andrew: So you were $200-300,000 some years.
Peter: Over three.
Andrew: Really. Over three?
Andrew: Selling knives?
Peter: I can’t believe I’m saying this.
Andrew: Do it.
Peter: It was about 318.
Andrew: 318? Why did you leave?
Peter: Good question. To be honest, my magnitude of mission was growing and it couldn’t scale how I wanted it to. I could not impact the people I wanted to impact. I was sitting in a conference or in a key stock meeting with my best 20 people. And I was really spitting fire. I was getting them excited and I was sharing the vision and I realized, wow, with the Internet and with video like you’re going it’s like I could be impacting thousands not 20. And I could be impacting hungry entrepreneurs around the world and helping them thrive versus just 20.
I read a Forbes article that same week that I had thoughts about leaving, and it said, “It’s been the toughest time in human history for young entrepreneurs and our youth to succeed” which is weird. Some people say it’s a great opportunity, but here’s why. They say there’s so many distractions, so much technology, so much information overload. There’s entitlement mindsets and there’s not much guidance.
So I felt a calling, Andrew, for me that if there’s an issue with not much guidance out there and there’s so much information, I want to be the person that bridges the gap for young entrepreneurs. And I knew that with the platforms that are created with obviously membership sites, with interview websites, with Skype, with the world at my fingertips on the Internet my mission was growing.
What’s crazy is I had most things delegated where I could make an easy six figures, like just hanging out by the beach. But that’s not going to keep me alive and it’s not going to kind of spark me.
So that’s kind of why I left. My mission was growing, and I love the company. I just wanted to do bigger things.
Andrew And so you started RealVIPSuccess. What’s RealVIPSuccess?
Peter: It’s an online site dedicated to helping some of our brightest young entrepreneurs figure out what they want to do, give them the tools and strategy they need to really change the game in their industry and become the best at what they do. So I do guest speakers, and there’s a lot of articles on there that helped me. I wish I had something like that when I was growing up, because I would go to YouTube and then read a book and do all these things.
I wanted one site where the young entrepreneur could stay inspired. It’s a free site that people can go to to get the inspiration, encouragement, and training they need to really become the best at what they do.
Andrew: I’m going to it right now. The revenue comes from where?
Peter: From me. I saved a lot, luckily, at a young age. And, luckily, my mom’s taught me to invest in real estate. So, I invest a lot in real estate. I just bought a property up in Oregon and I rent it out. My membership site as well generates a good amount. We have about 175 very dedicated, hungry, and driven professionals, young professionals, too.
Andrew: What do they get out of being in a membership site?
Peter: Oh, they get a lot.
Andrew: By the way, doesn’t that drive you crazy that you have all those sounds come up for Skype? I meant to tell you to put it on do not disturb, but I’ve gotten to see that you have the clock tell you the time on the hour. You have Skype make those noises. Doesn’t that drive you nuts?
Peter: You know, what’s funny is I’ve learned to ignore it. I was going to put it on do not disturb, but I didn’t think you could call me then.
Andrew: Yeah, I know. We had to keep calling each other back and forth, and I actually appreciate that you didn’t…
Peter: Learn something new every time. Should I put do not disturb now?
Andrew: Sure, it never hurts. Just remember to undo it if you want people to be able to call you. What do they get for being part of the membership site?
Peter: They get in depth training. We’re focused on mastery versus information overload. What they get is a live mastermind call with me once a month where we brainstorm, share ideas, mastermind together.
They also get a guest speaker who they can ask them live Q and A. So, anyone from Eric Thomas to Gary Vaynerchuk. I’m actually trying to get John Maxwell who I know a friend and, yeah, anyways. And, from Jordan Wiers to Hal Elrod. They can ask questions.
They get that, and they also get a results guide for each module. What’s cool about it, Andrew, is it’s focused on… Every 21 days a module comes out. We’ve taken hundreds of hours of information, let’s say, for example, time management. We’ve dissected it and put it into a 45 minute module. Then, we give them a game changers action plan attached so they can take that and implement it in their schedule.
We meet up once a month so they can ask questions if they have any questions. There’s also a private Facebook group.
What I did is I brought my CUTCO experience of creating a community and a culture of excellence into it. So, they have a mastermind forum. They can get ideas from each other and build relationships and stuff like that.
Andrew: You know, you mentioned CUTCO. One of the cool things that happened when I did an interview with Hal is the CUTCO community found it, and they started to come to it. Actually, one of the reasons why it took off the way it did is the CUTCO community went to the site and became fans of it.
Andrew: I know that they’re listening to this interview. If someone’s out there who says you know what, I want to make the kind of money that Peter did, and I want to develop the kind of mastery at management and training other people that he has, what advice would you give them?
Peter: I would say I remember struggling and the toughest times. I had no money. I couldn’t eat.
But, I remember just having a hunger and reaching out to people that were playing the game at a higher level than me. The biggest thing I would tell them is if you really want to develop a great lifestyle with CUTCO as a district manager, branch manager, whatever, you need to figure out the price you’re willing to pay and what you’re willing to give up for a while to get what you want. Because I gave up a lot when I was 22, 23.
Andrew: Like what?
Peter: Like I never went out for a while. I didn’t have a ton of friends outside the business. I wasn’t seeing my family a lot. I missed a lot of family gatherings.
But, I had such a strong conviction, Andrew, that I never wanted to work for somebody. I wanted to build my future and be an entrepreneur forever and be able to fund that.
So, it takes some sacrifice. You can’t want to see your family all the time, and want to go out and party, and watch football, and be the best at what you do. It doesn’t work that way.
I would tell them to work as hard as they can and to think like a millionaire but live like a broke college student until the income catches up and until you can learn how to leverage, find superstars, and create systems so you can step away like I did. But, it takes a year or two of building, and grinding, and getting up early, and reading, and studying, and being just a vivid student.
Anything’s possible. I went from broke and stressed out to 6 figures in 11 months, then double that because I was reaching out to people that were playing the game at a higher level than me, and I was staying consistent. So, anything’s possible.
Andrew: Good advice. How about one book that you could recommend?
Peter: “Maximum Achievement.”
Peter: Because that’s the book that changed the game for me back in 2008. What’s funny is I don’t know if…
Andrew: It’s by Brian Tracy.
Peter: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s how good the book is or what I needed to hear at that moment. All it talked about for, like, seven chapters straight… I feel like it was like a sentence every chapter and that’s it. Obviously, it’s a lot longer.
It talked about the only limitations people have are in their own mind. The only reason they’re not accomplishing the success they want is their past limitations and the beliefs that are holding them back.
That got me. I’m like, oh my gosh. I can do a million dollars. No one’s ever done it this fast. No one’s ever got close to it this fast.
But the only reason I’m thinking I can’t do it is because of my limitations. So, every day I sparked my mind and I strengthened my mindset. Once you strengthen your mindset your limitations lower. So, it’s like this. Eventually, I had no limitations… Well, I still, of course, have some fears, but I had no limitations and all confidence from that book. That book changed the game for me, man. It really helped.
Andrew: All right, great advice right there. The website is RealVIPSuccess.com. You can check it out. By the way, Hal is the guy who introduced us. Hal did this fantastic interview on Mixergy about how he sold knives. He walked people through the process. It was, even if you never want to sell knives, even if you’ve never touched a knife, you’re still going to want to watch that interview because of the way…
Andrew: …he sold. Just listen to how he got referrals, and if that doesn’t inspire you, if that doesn’t trigger some ideas in you then I don’t think anything here that I have to offer will. Try it out. I think you’ll love it. Go to Mixergy and type in Hal’s name.
FealVIPSuccess.com is the site to see to follow up with Peter, and I like the layout of this site. I like how you’ve got that big image at the top…
Peter: Appreciate it.
Andrew: …and Pinterest like, how they’re images that you can just flow through and see all the articles.
Peter: [?? feedback.
Andrew: Thank you so much for doing this interview.
Peter: No problem. It’s been my pleasure, man. I love what you’re doing. Much respect to you, and I’ll definitely share it. I look forward to connecting in the future. We definitely should meet up in the Bay Area.
Andrew: I’d love it. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.