Michael Athens: Biz Dev tactics from a Top Cutco Sales Rep (Real Sales Talk - S9 E6)

Sean Mitchell:First who you are and what you do. You work for Cutco, But what else?Michael Athens:Yeah, so for anyone who doesn't know, Cutco is essentially the number one rated kitchen cutlery in the U S and Canada. Um, and it's all American made, number one rated, guaranteed forever. So if it ever breaks or chips or anything, it's replaced for free. Um, and then what I do personally now is I work with businesses, salespeople, anyone who has clients that they want to appreciate and rather than giving them a gift basket or a gift card that the like, but it's gone within a couple of weeks. Um, we get them a really nice set of the best cutlery in the world and put your guys's logo and info, whatever you want...the client's info on the blade of the knife engraved in there so they have a lasting, um, touch from you that they see every single day. Um, so it works a little bit better for a lot of the gifting things when you want to appreciate someone. 

Sean Mitchell:I like that. And um, I, I like your tagline as well. I believe it's gifts with an edge, right? 

Michael Athens:Yes. Yeah, that's, that's our company within, um, cause uh, we're all 1099 independent contractors for Cutco. So that's our, um, our little LLC here in Colorado. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. Which we'll get into here in just a second because I think that's a, I think that's going to be an interesting part of our conversation, which is starting from nothing and growing your business, uh, successfully. Uh, but, but you know what, and I've, I've had invested into, into the, the, the, the cutlery and, um, I haven't delivered them yet, but I'm, I'll certainly report back to you, Michael, on, uh, how it goes. But what I love about it is that it's, it's high quality and a American made and it's got a lifetime guarantee. 

Michael Athens:Yeah. Forever actually. Cause it, you, you can pass it down generation to generation. So, um, when I was working with people that owned it for themselves and you know, they bought it for themselves and everything, um, I did, I'd seen people that have passed it down through three generations before. Um, so it's kind of a fun product. 

Sean Mitchell:That's amazing. So it's been around for for at least three decades? 

Michael Athens:Yeah since 1949. 

Sean Mitchell:That's amazing. That's awesome. So what I would love to dive into today over the next 20 minutes with you, Michael, is your story because you are a 1099 employee, you don't have a base salary. Right? And so you're, you're working from ground level up and building this business and, and how long have you been doing the Cutco thing? 

Michael Athens:Uh, just over eight years now. 

Sean Mitchell:That's amazing. Okay. So, so you've got you, you've had some success, uh, if you've been in it for eight years, so you've been able to pay at least the minimum bills that you've got and then hopefully, hopefully and some, but, um, I'd love for you to talk about like when you start from scratch, and I can totally empathize with you because I'm in, I'm in a similar situation in real estate. You, you probably know some people you probably have friends and family were, where did you start growing that business initially? And then kind of that a little bit more as far as where's your niche, where do you focus on that sort of thing. 

Michael Athens:So originally when I started Cutco, so for anyone who doesn't know, it's the, I think the number one, recruiter and trainer of high school and college students in the nation. So I had just gotten out of high school actually and had been looking for a job set up applications all over the place and just didn't hear anything back cause it was 2009. Um, and I, I got a letter in the mail, it's like, Hey, here's an opportunity in sales. Um, and you know, and called him up, went in and saw the product and was like, Hey, my mom's had that for like 20 years. I recognize that stuff. Um, and so just said, you know, I don't really have any other opportunities. I'll give it a shot, expecting it to just be something really short term. Maybe that summer before heading off to college, um, and basically started off with friends and family. So I did about a week and a half of just one on one appointments with them, showing them, with a big focus on getting referrals. And within a week and a half I'd probably built up 200 people that I could call in and go and sit down with and show them knives for their kitchen. Within a really short amount of time I hadn't had built up, more than enough people to fill up my schedule, 

Sean Mitchell:200 people in a week and a half?. That's impressive. Was there a method, did they show you or teach you a method to asking for referrals? I'd love for you to share a little bit of how you approached getting referrals. 

Michael Athens:I think the main thing, and it's, it's, it's funny now working with, you know, people from all different industries, um, you know, doing their gifts is where they, um often the, the biggest thing is people don't ask. So, um, it was right in our script. You know, we had our little manual that we would sit at the table and talk to Mrs. Jones about her knives. Um, and right in there it was all right, the next step is you asked for referrals and say, um. I wonder if I still remember the original one. Uh, Hey Mrs. Jones, thank you so much for sitting down with me today. It helps me out so much, but what's really important to me is that I have more people to see. Um, so if you could just go ahead and drop down the 10 people that are, would you think would be nice enough just to take a look? You don't have to think they would be interested in buying. Just if they would be nice enough to sit down with me and have a little fun. 

Phill Keene:How much of that came off of, even for the, it didn't buy from you, they still gave you the referral because of who you were as a person. 

Michael Athens:There's like that five to 10% of people that will never give you someone, you know, those types of people. And then like the rest of the people, I was at least walking out with like two or three, that would then replace that person in my schedule. And that's kind of what the goal was, is like, how can I at least, you know, on this appointment whether I make a sale or not, if I have more people to see after them, then I still have my business running. So at least getting a few people, but, um, a lot of people, you know, they, they write down 10 people and all right, now, which ones of those would you call first? Who is the person that likes to do blank? And, we would do a lot with thought joggers, of just getting them thinking about other people if they were low on them. So who do you know who loves to golf? Who do you know who loves to blank anyone, you know, who makes the best pie of your friends and they would get thinking about things. and just, you know, keep, keep at it and, and getting more. And then, following up and sharing, Hey, thank you so much for introducing me to Sally. She just got this set. She's super excited about it. Thank you so much for sending me their way. And then they kind of would start getting into even competitions and things where they were so excited about it that now their friends are doing and they're like, wait, how many referrals did they give you? All right, well maybe you should call these other four people. And just kinda creating a really interesting culture and an atmosphere of the, this is what's important. This is how you can help me whether you buy or not, you're helping me by introducing me to friends and family. 

Phill Keene:Yeah. I think for the B2B world, but really the C world, like just asking half the time, like asking if you ask every single time like your success rate is tremendously high. So I think it's one of the things you just got to ask in any type of sale. If you just try, uh, like for SDRs out there that are doing outbound prospecting and B2B, like just ask for the meeting, ask. Like you'd be surprised when people say yes just from asking. 

Michael Athens:Exactly. Yeah. There's so many people and then for some reason a a pain point, they're scared, but what's the worst that can happen? They'll say no, so just have fun with it. 

Sean Mitchell:Would you say that was a fundamental part of you getting your business ramped up? 

Michael Athens:Yeah, we, we knew it was the focus cause I don't have appointments and if I don't have appointments, I'm not making sales and as a hundred percent commission, I don't have a paycheck then. 

Sean Mitchell:I'm curious to know how you balanced, you know, getting into Cutco and paying for some of those bills, that you may have had when you were getting started. So did you have a side hustle or a part time job that you were working kind of in line? Or did you just go cold Turkey and jump jump headfirst? 

Michael Athens:So Cutco is the only job I've ever had. So, I when I didn't get hired anywhere else and walked in there and I did well with it, I was the top rep that summer for my, for my office. And then, um, I've done a couple of other things. They, they have a really great opportunity for people to kind of work in a management and, and do those things. Where I was an assistant manager the next summer after going to school. And then the next summer after that I actually ran an office, for the company. So, um, up in Westminster, Colorado, we were the Westminster Wolfpack and I hired and recruited, um, 70 sales reps and we sold a little bit and had a lot of fun. But, it wasn't really the path for me, but, it's a really fun way where you can kind of work different things. But so yeah, I've never, ever done anything else but the, but sell knives. [Laughing]. 

Sean Mitchell:So, um, so I know that you, you focus on the real estate industry now, so how did you get from getting those 200 referrals to having this kind of core vertical of real estate? Like what happened in between and how did you discover that the real estate industry, your space was one that you wanted to kind of Dominate? 

Michael Athens:Yeah. So, I kind of was getting to the end of my college career and it was kind of, do I want to sell knives for the rest of my life, you know, is this, you know, gonna work after I'm out in the real world. And went to a conference where I had never even heard of the, the realtor program. And, someone that was doing it down in Texas was talking about it and I just kind of fell in love with the idea of rather than walking into someone's home and just saying, Hey, let's find a thousand bucks to spend on a set of knives. I could go into, you know, someone that's spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars every month on their gifts. And the gifts aren't doing that much for them. So I could for one, just take the money they're already spending and put it towards a better use for something that's better in taxes. It's better for retention, all these different things. So I'm helping them and I'm not a pain point of trying to find new money for them. It's something that's already in their budget. They're spending an either way. So I just became really excited about it and just became... So really what I did is at the end of asking for referrals for appointments to go show people in their homes, I said, by the way, who is your real estate agent? Who do you know? Who's a business owner? Who do you know that's blank? And started building it that way until that got me to connections inside the industry. And then that's led me to, you know, just building a network of people that can get me in front of the most amount of people within a shortest amount of time. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. So you're not at this point going one to one with real estate agents. I mean, when I saw you, in fact, I think I've seen you a couple of times in Denver, you were at a real estate office. It was a real estate meeting or this last time, uh, in September, I think it was, uh, you were at a, at a title office. And, and so talk, talk us through that. It's really business development. So you're building relationships with these, with these people who are basically the gatekeepers. How do you do that? Where do you, where do you go? Are you at networking events? Do you just cold call them? Do you cold email them? Uh, how does that work? 

Michael Athens:Um, for some of those, it started off with cold calling, but I'm just, that's, it doesn't work with me as great. So there's a lot of times where I would just be, I would, you know, find a real estate agent at an office and help them out. And then I'd say, by the way, who's your managing broker? So then I would come in and speak at their sales meeting and there's a title rep there that's promoting their business to just, Hey, you know, I'm sure you have a bunch of classes and events and things that you need sponsors for. Like how can we be of service? How can we add value? Um, and honestly, it's just kind of one of the things, it's just, I try to be the absolute best presenter I can. There's a lot of people that walk up there and they just kind of ramble and go on and we, you know, have something that's really tight. We try to be as value added as possible, as quick as possible so that we can let them get on with what they're there for, and then just the program works on its own. So it, it, as long as I'm in front of people, you know, I'll keep selling.

Sean Mitchell:That's awesome. Um, so we, you get in front of these agents and then what happens, are you, with this last time you, you had a table or there was a table out there and you had some of the cutlery, are you, are you asking for appointments once you get face to face with, with agents, what's the next step in that sales process for you? 

Michael Athens:Having the table thing has been newer in the last couple of years, where we're just being more efficient by letting people pull the trigger right there at the event while they're already captive. But then anyone who can't do it then, or they're not ready, just follow up. And it's a once, you know, one minute call that says, Hey, you gave me your card. Just, you know, checking in, see, you know, if it's a good time for gifts, I'd love to sit down for 10 minutes and go through how the program works and if they're ready, we sit down and we get them helped out, and then if not, then it's like, okay, great. We'll be there for you. And just kind of build the relationship, make sure that they know where to find me. 

Sean Mitchell:You're staying pretty top of mind to, uh, you're, you're connecting on LinkedIn, you're connecting on Facebook. I think you followed my Facebook business page. So do you have a formal strategy there? Like are you just trying to be in all places and, and create as much exposure possible? 

Michael Athens:Yeah, just to try and be as available as possible for people. So I mean, I don't really do any type of, for someone who's like on my Facebook, it's not really about like selling new people, but it's about being there and ready for people and giving new ideas. So trying to share anything that I can, that'll an extra edge. But then when they're ready to place their next order, cause they just ran out of gifts, they can Facebook message me or they can call me or they can respond to a drip message. So trying to be, as everywhere as I can without being annoying [Laughing]. 

Sean Mitchell:Phil, I know you've got to jump off here soon, but do you have a question before... 

Phill Keene:I think its something where, how do you find that balance? I guess between being annoying and we've had this, I've asked this to other people on this show before, like for being annoying and making sure you're following up in a timely enough fashion that you're still helpful. Like where do you, where do you, what do you do to find that balance? 

Michael Athens:A lot of it's just kind of testing and playing with it. So, you know, with our email messages that was, we, you know, went out and looked at what are the best people doing and tried to copy them. And things like that. So we found good rhythms of, you know, how often to be in front of them, how for info, how often be in front of them for specials, things like that. So we can, um, but we always try to do and we are doing, um, Hey buy more, uh, cause no one wants that. Um, and then for a lot of it for us is just um, promotion of new stuff. Um, when someone is giving us a shout out trying to, you know, bring those types of testimonials and things in front of people so that it's other people selling us rather than us doing anything. And then just being a person, um, vacation pics and um, videos, updating people of what's going on, you know, in my life and stuff like that. Trying to be, have a good balance of um, being interesting without, you know, um, being there too much. 

Phill Keene:Yeah. I think one thing that I found from vendors that do very similar things where they do like the gifting stuff that I've some super helpful was coming to me with like unique ideas of how it's been used. So it's, Hey, you've never done this with your prospects or you've never done this with your clients before. Like this is a pretty cool idea. I just went throw this in front of you. Like it's not even me buy it. And even if it's not even your product, it's something else they did. Like sharing that out to your network is a good way to stay in front of them. So I love when it's, it's genuine touch where they're actually trying to add value. Like it makes a lot of sense. 

Michael Athens:Yeah, there's nothing I love better than one of my clients posting on their Facebook like, Hey, check out this gift. And they did it in a really cool way. They put it in a nice basket or they did their special wrapping that they do every time or they have a special way of giving it and then it's like, Oh, that's a great idea. I can give that to everyone else. And it's just more ideas for them to, to make it a better process. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. Cool. Cool. Um, I know, Phil you gotta you gotta check out. So go get your meeting. Um, I wanna I want to talk a little bit about the, the Facebook thing cause cause you were talking about just, just of sharing life. So some sales reps take the approach of Facebook is, you know, for personal friends and I don't use it for business, but it sounds like your, you're kind of co-mingling the two. Sometimes you're posting some personal, sometimes you're posting some professional stuff. So I'd love for you to kind of talk about your strategy there. Um, do you have any, do you have any scheduled posts? Is it just kind of when things are top of mind you post something about business what, what, what's your thought process here? 

Michael Athens:So I kinda cheat on that one. And then I have two Facebooks. So I have my one that I've had since I was, you know, in high school or whatever, and then a while back I started a second one that was just for my realtor clients. And it started off a lot of just business and I've just realized that I get the most interaction with people when it's something about, it's just, I mean, there's only so much interest you're going to have specifically when you're already giving our gifts in more stuff about the gifts. So, um, and we also have our, our company has our, you know, the, the Facebook page and stuff like that. So that's got a little more of that type of contact if someone wants to go to it. But just for engagement and being, um, there for people, it's, it's a little more, engaging too to have it focused on, um, things that are outside the business, um, with that sprinkled in. So now obviously there's the filter of things I wouldn't want my clients to see, but, um, yeah, as I try not to live that way anyways. 

Sean Mitchell:No, I think that's a really interesting strategy and I've never, I've actually, I mean it's sort of a brilliant idea if you're concerned about your professional life bleeding into your personal life to have two accounts. I mean, I had never thought about that. I've always, I've taken it a little bit of different approach. Um, and I mean, I, I'm just, I have this kind of personal rule for Facebook that I don't share anything about politics or religion and I try and, um, I try and keep my opinions to myself, uh, about things. So I try and keep it fun. So family photos, family trips, things that interest me. Um, and then of course, periodically I'll pepper in some photos of some houses, a listing or maybe a showing or something like that. But having two separate accounts, new idea. I think that some people listen to this, make run with that, 

Michael Athens:just something kind of happened. But it's been, it's been a really great way to do things. I, I felt. 

Sean Mitchell:Yep. And do you have any sort of strategy for what, what you post or maybe when you post things or is it just when it, when it's top of mind or when, when things come to mind?

Michael Athens:Mostly top of mind or cool things that happen. Um, so trying to just kind of stay up on things that are interesting, and then I have, you know, occasional things. So like in fact I need to post something just reminding people about holiday stuff coming up. Since we're just started November for anyone who's listening later. Um, now's the time. But yeah, so little things like that. Um, and we'll kind of have some things for holidays and specific things like that, but in general it's kind of, Hey, this cool thing happened, this person's doing this. Um, pull about blank. It's got some great ideas in it. Yeah. Talk, talk about, 

Sean Mitchell:talk about those seasons, those seasonalities for you. Obviously Thanksgiving and Christmas here in the States, uh, are probably some, some times where you're reaching out, but are there some other times of the year where you try and capitalize on, on, uh, seasons? 

Michael Athens:Well, we personally like if you give outside of those traditional gifting times because you just stand out more. So for all our people that want to do holiday stuff, we say, you know, get it there before Thanksgiving because for one we're knives. So it's going to be out when the friends and family are over, both at Thanksgiving and Christmas, you get twice the exposure twice the people saying, ""Hey, what's with that bright red handle knife?" "Oh that's my realtor. They're amazing. That's my landscaper. They're awesome." That type of stuff. When you can do it just randomly, um, throughout the year when they're not expecting it, cause they're getting so many gifts ranging from amazing things to terrible things from both businesses and family, and the flood of cards and things like that, that if you can give it in the middle of the summer or if you can give it for, you know, Valentine's day, that's a weird kind of thing to do, but I'll stand out. Um, we, we're definitely big fans of that. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Um, you, you showed me your, your list of, of products. Are there some that you know are more popular than others, um, that are easy to, to, to, to sell or, or products that, that people gravitate more towards than others? 

Michael Athens:For a lot of it, it's, we've narrowed down cause Cutco, um, has over like a hundred products that we can work with. Um, but we just found that we really wanted to narrow things down to two, things that people can use and that looks great with the engraving on it. So you know, our little steak knives, they're amazing, people rave about them day and night, but if you can only fit, you know, tiny bit of script on there, it's not quite as impactful. Um, you know, our pie servers awesome. It looks amazing what the engraving on there, but they're pulling it out few times a year. So we definitely try and focus on something that's really going to be a value to the client where they're gonna use it all the time. But it also helps out, my client who's giving the gift as something that's going to be an easy spot for retention, and top of mind awareness. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. And maybe I should just kind of explain this tradition for real estate agents to buy, to buy gifts because that's something unique that I realized when I got into the, to the space. Prior to that I had mostly been selling software and you know, not, not big dollar software. And so maybe that's why it wasn't so common then. But you know, for higher ticket clients we would take them out to eat. Um, I can't, I can't think of an instance where we're, I actually bought a gift, but dinners and meals was, is, is pretty traditional. What I like about what you do is that it's going to stick around sort of like what you mentioned before. It's something that they're going to use and be reminded of you on a regular basis. 

Michael Athens:Yeah. Well, and that's, that's something that we found. There was a really great book called Giftology written by one of the top Cutco reps in the nation, who was kind of one of the founders of the program that we do. And, I love something that he talks about is that like when you're working with those really high end clients, you know, whatever field you're in, they can go on and have a nice dinner and they're probably doing it all the time. But when you can get them something that's really nice, it says, "made especially for mr and Mrs. Jones", put the wife's info and put the family info on it, that makes a lot better connection. It's something they can hold and feel and use daily. Um, and especially when you can put it with something that's quality. But, um, yeah, there's a lot of times we're just like, a lot of that stuff kind of gets lost in the mix of it when you're going just on an experience type thing. So, you know, if you can do that and, and something else, something that sticks around that's for, you know, not just the client but you know, the client's family, something that can really make an impact there. Um, lots of ways to do that. And, um, really in any field, 

Sean Mitchell:have you ever had people buy a piece of Cutco as an attention getter for generating business? Like, not even, not even into the sale, but I'm going to send this to this person because I want to get their attention and I would love to earn their business. 

Michael Athens:Yeah, definitely. I use it myself. A lot of people around the nation do it. My favorite tagline is to do a nice knife and I'll do a handwritten thank you note and it says, "I'd love to carve out some time with you." and it's just, you, you know, there's a fun ways to do it and there's a lot of cheap ways to do that too. Like, so just so if anyone listening Cutco is, it's, it's an expensive brand. It's, it's very high quality. So our knives start at about $80 engraved. So it's not not something you can just give to everyone. If you're definitely one of those higher end fields that it works perfectly or if it is a closing gift towards, if you've already been paid on it, it's much easier. Um, but I've had people that, um, for an our business where we're giving them to get like into an office meeting. So if I wanted an introduction with that office manager, if I wanted to meet someone at a title company, send them a pair of funny socks that say, you know, give me five minutes, [I'll blow you socks off], just any type of little pop-bys and things that can get conversation started. And then if you need to, you can move up the chain on what types of things you can do, but try and do something fun and, Personal can make a really big difference if you're having trouble getting in front of the person, if you're not receiving a referral for that person. 

Sean Mitchell:Okay. So if you're trying to get your foot in the door and there's some of that you wanna do business with, there's maybe a whale. You've got, you've got a whale account where you really kind of fishing for those big, big opportunities. What, what do you do to sort of get their attention? Um, do you send them something to ask for, for an appointment so that you can get your foot in the door? 

Michael Athens:I'm a big fan of it. Just is as a way to kind of lead with value. Hey, like I understand that your time is worth something. So I want to start off by recognizing that and giving you something of value first. And hopefully, you know, you'll pay that time back, but if not, that's okay. Like you, you have to be, okay with them not responding because that's just not how being abundant works. So, but I, I've, I've found a lot of value in it. We're just like, here's something to, to appreciate you, and I'd love to see if we can add value for you let me know if we can chat. 

Sean Mitchell:What have you seen work? Have you seen anything work like, like any particular gift? Do you, do you actually buy them a Cutco piece and say, Hey, you know, I'd love to, I'd love to get a slice of your time or something like that. 

Michael Athens:Yeah, exactly, I, I'm a big fan of that is just because I'm such a believer in our product that I know that even if they're not super excited right now, in two years, in three years, in five years, when they're still loving the product and using it daily, they're going to be like, maybe I should talk to this guy. So, um, that's were a nice way where you can, you know, all generally have my info on the back of it and kind of do a message for them, but yeah, and then just with a handwritten note to start it off, 

Sean Mitchell:Are you, are you assessing, are you making any sort of guidelines for, for the size of opportunity? Like, do you do that for everyone that you want to get your foot in the door or is it deals that are a certain size or bigger? Like what's your, what's your approach or philosophy on that?

Michael Athens:I guess I don't really have a specific, like number wise, how much to spend on it. It's usually kind of just a feel thing. Like I, I get introduced to someone, but we don't have time to really do something, you know, set something to chat or to really get into things. So it's just Hey, I think this person, you know, I'm willing to lose 100 bucks if this goes nowhere, but I want to, I want to do something for this person. I'm not doing a ton of it where it's actually, I don't do any of it where it's just like a random one. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, just personally. I haven't, it hasn't been my style, but it's usually, well, I mean, for instance, like one of them was someone that I hadn't met yet. This is the only time and I just, um, so we have a really awesome person here in Colorado called, his name is Tom Kimball. He is the lead, loan sales manager for a big title company here in, um, in Denver. Um, and he used to sell Cutco when he was in college. And so after getting told this like the second or third time by their, you know, just reps from their company. After meeting with them, I was like, all right, I'm, um, it's official, I have to do something for this person. So I went, I got a knife made, um, engraved it and everything "sharpest sales manager in town" or something like that, um, and just went and dropped by and his office, and you know, he was, he was busy and not expecting me to pop in. So, but he, you know, had a letter with it. He called me the next day and said, all right, this is really cool. Like, I love Cutco and I've, you know, back in the day it was so much fun and it really got me started with my kind of sales identity. Let's sit down and, and so we, we had an awesome hour conversation and I don't think I've gotten any business from it specifically, but every time I see him, he's super excited to say, Hey, and I get to tell that story to anyone else at his company that may not be interested in having me come sponsor their class. It just created a great, um, a great relationship and that's, and I, I'm totally happy not getting the money I spent back on that in dollars. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah great relationship, great relationship builder and I think great way to get your foot in the door. And I think that's, I think people understand if, if you're doing something to try and stand out that maybe it doesn't materialize at all or maybe doesn't materialize immediately. But you know, what I'm learning is that, especially in real estate, you have to be about the long game. You know, you have to be comfortable with nurturing a relationship for months, in many years before it ever materializes financially for you. I'm sure it's the same for you. 

Michael Athens:Yeah, exactly. And just, um, you know, a lot of, you know, I have a really quick, you know, sales process for, for what I do, but there are those relationships where it took them five or six times to see it and they're like, okay, uh, I've had people directly say, you know, I liked this idea of the first time I saw it, but I didn't know if you would be around long enough for it to actually pay off. So now that you've been here for five years, I'm ready to get started. Even just that of just that, um, that experience and being around and being there for people on a consistent basis. 

Sean Mitchell:Cool. Okay. So one more question before we jump into rapid fire. What, what's your, what's your approach for meetings and appointments? So you try to set a particular number of appointments per day. What's your strategy there? 

Michael Athens:I'm focused on, um, I try to focus as much on activity I can control. So for me that's uh, phone calls of setting up events and setting up one on one appointments with people. I learned a long time ago, uh, in Costco we do something called a push period, which was two weeks during the summer where you would try and sell as much as possible and then you would all come together for a conference. Everyone would go up on stage for their sales for those last two weeks. I learned after doing a few of them that, I'm a different person when I'm trying to hit a sales goal than I am when I'm just doing my normal business. So I always try and focus on just, just do the, the appointments. I just get, get them set up and then try and add as much value for people as possible and whether I sell nothing or, or a ton, I'm now viewed by that client as someone completely different. 

Sean Mitchell:Yeah. You're not just in it to get their money, but your, as you've said multiple times during this interview, you're about adding value and that makes you memorable because of them. 

Michael Athens:Exactly. 

Sean Mitchell:Awesome. Awesome. Okay, so rapid fire. This is something that we make exclusive to our YouTube subscribers who, if you're listening to the audio version of this, make sure and jump over to our YouTube page where you can get into the mind of Michael Athens and what makes him successful. So, all right, I'm going to start off with a, an easy one for you, Michael. What book or books have influenced your trajectory in Cutco? You had mentioned one already, so you can bring that one up and talk a little bit more in detail or if there's another one that comes to mind, I'm sure. Share with our listeners. What book or books have influenced your professional career? 

Michael Athens:For me, I would say um, two of them. The first being The One Thing by Gary Keller. I was huge in setting priorities and, really just being as effective as possible in your time. So I actually recently was given the opportunity to become a one thing instructor. So I'm really excited about adding that to my business where instead of being the sponsor on a class for someone, I can be the leader of the class, and really step up into that, um, into that role. Is, is something that I'm really excited about. The other one would be Emergence. I think I have it over here one second so I can get the [looks for book] Oh, all right, perfect. So Emergence by Derek Rydall. Really awesome. Kind of on the personal growth, the self identity kind of work. 

Sean Mitchell:Mindset? 

Michael Athens:Even more than that, um, who you are and how that affects your mindset and how you're seeing, really, you know...making a decision of who you are and who you want to be, and what I like about this one is I'll write on the cover. It's got, it's got the, um, an acorn and the Oak tree. And one of the big points is that I find with all these, a lot of these programs for trying to, to Uplevel yourself, it feels like you need something outside of you. And it's now the, all the ingredients are in that acorn and it just needs the nurturement, to grow into that Oak tree, which is one of the strongest, naturally occurring things. So I'm a big fan of that one. 

Sean Mitchell:Cool. Um, what podcast or podcasts are you really enjoying right now that are contributing towards your success at Cutco? 

Michael Athens:I love the Achieve Your Goals podcast. Um, Hal Elrod, which would be another book that, um, has been a huge impact on my life. The miracle morning, uh, the miracle morning for real estate agents for salespeople. There's a few different versions of it, but that has been huge. They bring in great people. Their content is amazing. So I, I really love that one. Let's see who else? Um, the front row factor. it's a, that guy, that was a really great Cutco rep and then worked corporately for us. And then, just kind of, he quit to go, follow his dreams of starting a foundation called the front row foundation where they help people with life threatening illnesses get front row tickets to their favorite sporting event or concert or anything, and just really give them an amazing experience. And, uh, he just came out with another book too. I actually haven't read that one yet, but, he's a wonderful interviewer and gets really great people on there. 

Sean Mitchell:Cool. Because I know you're big into routines. What morning or evening routines do you have that, um, help help you kind of get in that right mindset? 

Michael Athens:So I'm a tinkerer, so I always, I always play with it, but the one that I've found the most effective and this one's, it's, it's gets crazy. But, um, so if you're just starting out on a morning routine, I would definitely suggest checking out the miracle morning morning. Uh, it's absolutely amazing, but off, um, where I, uh, wake up, drink like a full glass of ice cold water, then I go and turn on my shower all the way cold and jump in there, um, to wake up. And then, I do something called SRI, which is somato respiratory integration. It's a Tony Robbins thing where it's kind of like a breathing technique. Looks really crazy. It's, I'm part of a really awesome sales group, called Epic impact (now called Abundant). And so we've had like, we have 20 of us doing this. We're going to be in Guatemala in a week, all 40 of us. And I'm just assuming we're going to... I think we're going to be doing this on a volcano. But it's, it's a really awesome way to just kind of get your body woken up and get blood flowing and oxygen out. 

Sean Mitchell:It's like really quick intervals of breathing. Right? I think I've seen this. 

Michael Athens:Yeah. So it's kind of like Tony Robbins' priming and all those types of things where it's kind of...just picture how you feel after doing jumping jacks. So they're just kind of different movements than that. But yeah, it's, it's been a great, after that I try to do a little bit of exercise then, meditation, reading, affirmations, are the, are the bigger or the next, the last steps. 

Sean Mitchell:I love it. I love it. I don't think we've had anyone on the show that, that has talked about this, the breathing techniques and, and I think we've talked about this once, taking it, taking a cold shower. But I'm, I'm familiar with these things and every time I get into the shower I'm like, ah, should I do a cold shower? Man, I love, I love warm showers, but I totally understand the value.

Michael Athens:And so after the morning routine, I then take my real normal shower, but I just, when I wake up I might as well be a zombie, cause my brain is not functioning on any cylinders, but you're in that cold water, they turn on quickly. 

Sean Mitchell:So we talk in like 10 seconds, 30 seconds? 

Michael Athens:I try to do 30 seconds. Okay. It's rough here in Colorado. 

Sean Mitchell:Yes it is. Especially on a day like today when it's like you're a buyer degrees.'

Michael Athens:It was a, it was a rough one. 

Sean Mitchell:I love it. I think you've just challenged me to do it though. I, I've heard it enough and you know, many mornings I'm waking up pretty early and I think it could help.​ 

Michael Athens:Yeah. I mean, give it a try, you know, won't kill you for 30 days. 

Sean Mitchell:No, I mean, shoot it at the worst it's going to do is wake me up or maybe make me really cold, but only for a moment. Awesome. Well, um, did we get we do the third. Yeah, that was the third question. So really, really cool to have you on. Definitely a different, um, perspective that I, I don't think we've ever had on the show. So I really appreciate your time, Michael. Um, I love the idea of, of gifts. I love the idea of getting someone's attention with something that's really high quality. So where can people get in touch with you if, if they're interested? They like the idea of, of Cutco. It sounds like a great quality product.

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