Startup Club was joined by a very special guest today, Joe Foster– co-founder of Reebok and author of Shoemaker! Joe and his brother Jeff built an iconic brand worth billions– and he shared with us how they competed with existing big names.
They didn’t doubt the potential of their company, instead, they viewed doubt as an exciting challenge.
“Scaling your business is a matter of enthusiasm– you need to believe in it”Joe Foster
Their story starts with their grandfather’s shoe company, J.W. Foster and Sons, where the first spiked track shoe was invented. Their sneakers were worn by gold-medal Olympians and world-record setters and that was just the beginning of the family’s long career in sports shoes. The brothers worked in the family business, getting hands-on experience in cobbling and entrepreneurship, and took this with them to start their own footwear business.
Joe and his brother were fearless, not anticipating anything going awry, which he said was their greatest advantage. They didn’t doubt the potential of their company, instead, they viewed doubt as an exciting challenge. But with brands like Adidas and Puma famous around Europe for their soccer shoes, Reebok had to do what no one else was doing. They found their niche in fitness, making gym and running shoes for the everyday athlete.
In 1979, they earned 5-star ratings for three of their shoes and though it took the brand 11 years to get on the American market, Reebok became acclaimed for their functionality and fashion purposes by sports pros and beginners alike. When aerobics took off in the 80s, Reebok was the first on the scene with womens’ shoes worn by none other than Jane Fonda. With the help of their “original influencer,” they reached an entirely new market and established themselves in the big leagues.
“The greatest question you’ll ever ask yourself is why– why do they need you and your solution?”Joe Foster
In their case, people needed Reebok for… well, everything. They were for casual gym-goers and serious marathon runners. By starting small and perfecting their craft, in addition to catering to underserved markets like young adults, women, and fitness newbies, the brand steadily garnered loyalty from the masses.
The brothers led Reebok to over a billion dollars in sales in less than five years, and credit a lot of their growth to the people they worked with. “It’s not 9-5, it’s 24 hours and you can’t do it on your own,” Joe said about the importance of hiring great employees and giving them the right place to work and grow. They fostered a work culture that encouraged employees to make mistakes in order to do what other brands didn’t, and through this, they revolutionized the sneaker street-fashion industry. Leading with their enthusiasm and passion for the brand, they became equally loved around the world.
So, to bring it down to applicable advice, let’s point out the three main takeaways:
- Instead of trying to compete with the big brands, find their weaknesses, or underserved customers.
- Figure out how to make your customers need your product, not just want them, and make it clear!
- Build a loyal team by providing a career path and opportunity for growth.
Be sure to check out the full session above to hear even more of his incredible story and entrepreneurial advice!
- Read the Transcript
Featured: Joe Foster on Founding Reebok
[00:00:00] Welcome, everybody.
Guys, we are so grateful that you have tuned in to this very special episode.
We’re about to bring in the founder of Reebok. Okay. Reebok needs no introduction. Reebok is an amazing shoe company. And we’re just so grateful for every single person that is here right now. I met Joe about a year ago I met Joe and I had the privilege of interviewing him and talking to him and really learning from now and built this athletic apparel into a billion dollar company.
And what I love about Joe, we have a lot in common and his, he was named after his grandpa. I was named after my grandpa. He’s an entrepreneur, I’m an entrepreneur. And I really was blown away at the way that he poured in just so much to people and really shared his story with really, total transparency.
And to me, I think that is when we really learned guys. I think we really learn when we can get in an environment where people, that number one think bigger than us, right? If you’re a smart person in the room, you need to get a new room. And so the fact that we’re here today and there he is, Mr. Joe Foster [00:01:00] guys, the fact that we have Mr.
Joe Foster in the room today, Make sure. Number one, you follow Joe, make sure that you follow yo, just the fact that he took time out of his night, his day, wherever he is in the world. I think right now he’s in the United Kingdom. And so wherever he is right now, he’s taking time out to be here with us guys.
And I want you as well to pink. Some people in this room that you know, would enjoy this room today because this room is going to be absolutely phenomenal. And we have Tatiana, we have Colin, we have Michelle and we have Mr. Joe Foster here on the stage guys. And later on in this show as well, guys, one of the things that we’re going to allow you guys to be able to do is to be able to ask questions.
And so if you’re in this room and you’ve always wanted to ask, Hey, I want to ask a founder of a billion dollar brand. I’m going to ask them a question. I want you to raise your hand, come up on the stage. We will be bringing you guys up on the stage during this event. And so with that said, this man really needs no introduction, but I’m going to introduce him to.
Like I said, he’s just near and dear to my heart. And really somebody that I look up to and I would actually classify him as one of my mentors. [00:02:00] And this is Mr. He goes by Joe Foster, but this is Joseph William Foster guys. And this man is absolutely when I say it, this man is absolutely. What I love about Joe is he’s just like us.
He is just like us. And he’s chosen to be here today to share the story, to share the fact that as well, when you have a business and you say, you know what, I’m going to do this, right? There’s going to be obstacles. There’s going to be roadblocks. It’s not always going to be just peaches and cream, right?
And hopefully today in this story and through him sharing what he’s went through in his life, the hopefully today that you’ll be impacted and you’ll be touched and you’ll know that you too can go out and start that business. And then it can become a great success. So without further ado, guys, I want to give a warm one.
So Mr. Joe Foster joke, my friend, are you there, buddy? Hi. It’s good evening for me. Hi Jack. Thank you for the introduction. Full title. Joseph William Foster. Wow. Hi, wait. We are in the UK and this is now [00:03:00] 6:00 PM here in the UK. What am I saying that in the states? You, so we’re down here in Florida. Oh, nice.
Oh, nice. It’s freezing here at the moment. I don’t know why we’ve gone down to about five degrees centigrade, which is cold coming over. Unfortunately.
I think we’re in Florida. I can give you a data actually, almost on that one where we were down there in July. We’re in Miami. No, I’m going to meet up with Joe he’s in Miami guys. I don’t know about you, but Joe, I’m just really grateful to have you here, man. And there’s a lot of people out there in the crowd today, Joe, and maybe they started up a business and, can you just share with them, your story and really inspire them and touch them?
It’s it’s a long story and it’s in the book. I don’t know if you’ve read the book, but the book is a Shoemaker. And I got down to writing the book because I retired oh, a long time ago on 1990, before 1990. And I sitting on in the song trying to rave very nice looking at my computer and looking [00:04:00] at Wikipedia and Google.
And they’re telling me how Reebok began. I started. And they also had a photograph of Joe Foster, the, from Reebok and Nope, that’s not him. So that inspired me. I had to write a book. So get this story straight. So the story starts really with my family, my grandfather in 1895 at the age of 15 he actually.
Invented the spike run issue. And that’s a long time ago, goes a long time ago and there’s only 15, but by the time he was 20, he had a business because he was part of his local running club. And we’re in those spikes. Yes, it did better than he should have done. And so all his fellow teammates were looking at him and saying, what are these special shoes?
So of course you have to make them all these special shoes. And that was the beginning of his business. So my 1,940 at world records in his shoes by [00:05:00] 1,980 at gold medals. And this went on all the way through and through the twenties, 1920s, that was his belly park. I don’t know if you ever remember the film chariots of fire, but the athletes there those athletes, they actually wore my grandfather’s shoes to get their their gold medals.
It was low burden. Abrams and they were all athletes who won gold medals in the 1920s. How about my grandfather died in 1933 and I was more on until 1935, but I actually was born on his birthday. So my grandmother insisted that I had brought my name with him. My grandfather was Joseph William. And so as you told everybody else, I became a Joseph William, and that is 1935 and we’re just four years away from world war two.
So my upbringing was during world war II for six years until of course it ended in 90, 45. And yeah, you have normal life as a kid. [00:06:00] You get your education and mine was a little bit slower than usual because of world war two, but then. I joined the founder business when I’m 17, I’ve been going to college.
But in those days we have to do national service. It’s still near, not too long after world war two sort of national service was still there in the UK. And my brother, Jeff and myself, we both went away for two years. Jeff went to Germany, he saw Adidas. He saw Puma. I stayed in the UK, but I enjoy myself because when you’re in the forces, they love sport.
And that was reasonable at badminton. So I managed to spend most of my two years playing badminton. However, we come back to the family company and we come back and now of course my father and uncle, they are looking after that business and we come back, Jeff and I come back from doing our national service and we come back to a failing company.
We were looking at this company. They do nothing. [00:07:00] In fact, my father and my uncle they’re fighting. They’re just arguing day in there. You probably remember Addie Dassler and Rudy Dassler. They were the same. The testers were the same, but Rudy he got a bit of sense when he moved out and set up his company Puma.
But of course, unfortunately my uncle and father, they didn’t do that. They just fought and the company was going down. So Jeff and I had really no option. We tried to get them to see sense and to say, look, the business has to grow because it was a tremendously successful business that my grandfather had built, but they wouldn’t listen.
So in 1958, Jeff and myself, we upped sticks, set up our own little factory, six miles away from the parents factory. And and that was the beginning. And we set this up as America sports for. Which we were happy with that name, but only 18 months into our business, our accountant. [00:08:00] We said, you’re doing for your nice, it’s nice.
You’re making a bit of money. And they had a nice product. You better register that name. And we’re only young. I’m 24 at the time. Jeff is 26. Wait, we need to do that. One was something that comes along and thinks that America here very nice shoes. Let’s start making them you’re going to have a problem.
So we tried to register the name. We couldn’t because somebody else had the name. So I went to see an agent on the agent. He pointed through the window. It’s a nice day. And he pointed to Kodak and he said look, if you need to change your name, Kodak boss with Kodak, they made the name up.
It’s up to you, but bring me 10 names. Don’t bring me one. And you just set up at a company where we’re, now we now have a nice small sports footwear company and we’re enthusiastic. We’re in love for their name and now we have to change it. So we’re sitting down and we’re thinking new names Fulton, sports.
That could be [00:09:00] a nice name, but Cougar sports. But let me take you back to 1943. I am eight years old and like COVID, we couldn’t go anywhere because this was in the middle of world war two. Okay. I’m entered into a race, a 60 yard sprint and I win the race. Of course I’m wearing my grandfather’s spiked shoes, which probably helped.
Yeah. I win the race and okay. I go up to get my prize. I get a dictionary I’m eight years old and I’m saying guys, where’s the football, come on, a dictionary a little disgusted at the time, but it was a Webster’s dictionary. And most of you guys in America you’ll know a Webster’s dictionary is an American dictionary, much different in many ways from an English dictionary of things are spelled differently.
However, was set in there and there were 19 six. They were trying to change our name. [00:10:00] And I don’t my dictionary at the letter R I loved the letter. Oh, I thought it was a nice strong letter. And so you start with the letter and I’m thumbing through, and I came across R E B O K. Reebok was that it’s a small south African gazelle.
Wow. We’re running company gazelle. That’s gotta be it. That’s good. Okay. Take this back to the agent and with the other nine names, he checks them all out and he came back and said, a little last minute, you’ve got your wish. This is the only one that came out. Absolutely clean. You can use it just one caveat.
Yes. Why is that? If somebody comes along and say, we’re making shoes, Reebok skin, you can’t stop them. I looked at Jeff and Jeff Luton beam resent. That’s never going to happen as snap. So that’s how we became Reebok. So that’s our first part of the story. Wow. And I love that. I love that [00:11:00] Joe.
That’s all original and you know what? I love it. What I love most is that, it’s, there was a lot of going on, and just like right now in the world, there’s a lot going on. Can you maybe speak to that? Can you maybe speak to just when there’s a lot going on? What, how did you.
How’d you find your way, Joe? We we’ve part of a family company and you come back and you find that the company is failing you. You just think we need a future. We w we, we need to do something. And so with everything that was going on, it was necessary for us to get out of that company.
And you’re young when you’re young. I think I said, if you are to be an entrepreneur, it’s a very good to be young memories is that you’re a bit fearless. What can go wrong? Nothing can go wrong. So we didn’t foresee all the little pitfalls and problems. So being innocent. And like you say, with lots of things going on in the world, we had to make our own way.
And so setting up our own company and thinking, yeah, this is. That was, [00:12:00] and that was it. We’d started our company. And the problem that we had at that time, when we set up were with mercury, we eventually became Reebok. Is it added us? We’re already in the UK with soccer. That was the big sport in the UK soccer.
And so we couldn’t go that. So we went with athletics and that’s good. We were good at athletics. We made some really good shoes and we picked up a lot of sales, athletics in the UK was just a small business compared to soccer. And so we’ve got to think about where do we go with this?
And that’s when I looked at America because for me. Fosters it additive in selling shoes to Yale university, they were selling 200 pairs of hands-on shoes a month to a guy called Frank Ryan. And his his was called Chad culture to Yale and pub G and Jack both head coaches. And so I knew that everybody, every university, every college had a culture and [00:13:00] culture is a bit of a guard at that time.
And you could go to you could go to college on a sports scholarship in the UK. No, that didn’t happen. So I had to think of how do I get to America? I got. Because I’m leading a magazine and this magazine, the British government saying that we’d love you to export. And what we would do is we’ll pay for you a stand at the NSG Aisha, which is a national sporting goods show.
And that was in Chicago in February. And you’ll guys will hold it February and Chicago don’t go together very well because very cold. And that was probably the coldest I’d ever known at the time when I did go there. But the government said we’ll pay for Stan. We’ll pay for your return airfare.
And we’ll pay for your 50% of your hotel bill and the food that you need whilst you’re over there. So I went with a friend now. Great. Yes. We took a trip to New York first. I will look, I was looking at sports stores. My friend [00:14:00] was looking at the outdoor stores, then went on to Chicago and the guys loved it.
Now I got a lot of people come up saying, where did we get these shoes from a setting? England. Is that new England? No. It’s not new. England is England across the world. Oh, London. Yeah, London. And then I did realize at that point, people were not going to import from the UK. I had to find a distributor.
Oh, okay. And this took me until 1979 that’s 11 years. I had at least six failed attempts. I think it was hard pushing into the market was hot. We couldn’t get there, but we had, you need luck if you’re gonna start your business and you’re going to get on your way, you’ve got to be willing to take the problems and with the problems also a bit of.
Yeah. You learn to look at a problem and say, now, how can I make this into an advantage? And quite often what happens? We were only four years into our business when I added a sentence of the letter. We had for our silhouette [00:15:00] two stripes on the T-bar and they said that just don’t know that doesn’t know what, without three stripes it’s, we were going to call you out on that one.
So we didn’t go off to do we thought five minutes, then we thought just a minute, I did this added as normal. We’re here for a small company and added as a Senator, the letter. Wow. That’s great. So we changed our silhouette. We changed it to the vector that you see today on Reebok. And we thought that was.
Much more distinctive. These things happen. But the luck we had is that during the Sam does it started actually right at the end of the 96, 69 is running and became a big category. All of a sudden, everybody in America, where they were buying shoes and they were running. And Nike grew very much on this this sudden increase in the interest in running.
And this was fueled by runner’s world. I don’t know if anybody of you, any of you heard about runner’s world, but Ronnie’s world grew with the running boom started off as a single a four page. And by [00:16:00] 1975, it was a full glossy magazine. Everybody was running Reddit because it told you who won different events where the next 10 K events were.
So everybody was buying this magazine. Fantastic. And Bob Anderson, who was a post. He decided that because he was doing so well, he could tell everybody which was the number one shooter behind. Okay. Yes. Nike of course. And if you think of in 50 million Americans, 10% were probably running, then that’s 35 million and probably 10% of the world’s would love to have the number one shoe.
That’s 3.5 million probably. And unfortunately Phil Knight is important issues from Japan at that time. And could he get this shoes to meet the demand? No, couldn’t get them a year later by balancing changes, the number one shoe. And I think it was probably a new balance. Could do a balance reach those numbers?
No. So fortunately things [00:17:00] changed and Bob Anderson decided, instead of saying number one, We’ll do five stars. We’ll do star ratings, five stars being the top. And I knew we could do a five-star shoe. I knew that we were in the business. That’s what you do. And we did. We produced a five star shoe. So in 1979, this is 11 years after I had first gone over there in 1979.
I am at the NSDA show, Chicago and along come, came out, would have loved a five star shoe, but this was just before six months before the shoe ratings came out, but they wanted 25,000 purse. And we only had a little factory back there in the United Kingdom. And 25,000 pairs would be six months work, we were going to do this and we were going for a five-star shoot.
So I had an arrangement with a friend of mine, part of barter, big shoe company. They would help if we got some orders, but then Kmart said, but we want a better price. A better price meant [00:18:00] going to the far east might go into South Korea. Fortunately I had also made arrangements with an agent for a South Korea company.
They were going to make samples, so we’re covered, the next real bit of luck was that Paul fireman, when he may have heard of Paul fireman, I don’t know, Paul fireman came along. He was running company called Boston camping. Now they have tents, Fisher mountain only on cellular equipment.
And he was a bit fed up with doing what he’d been doing for 10 years with his brother and his brother-in-law small company. And he said, Joel, he said you get a five-star shoe and I’d love to be a distributor asset Polk, come have a look at our Aztec heartless shoe we designed. I said, this is going to be a faster ship now.
Okay, Joel, maybe it is, but it’s not there yet. So is that. I’m your man, but of course we’re still in February and the shoe doesn’t come out till the end of the shoe edition of runner’s world and gradually end of July. [00:19:00] So when I take a trip after I’m back to the UK and then back into to visit Kmart and visit Paul up in Boston, and I’m thinking it came out.
Yeah, pull camera. It’s a twenty-five thousand per great order, but it might be my last, because you’ve just got to step up and do the financials that they want. And if you don’t meet that, you’re in trouble. But Paul was about my size a guy. And we could talk, we go down. Okay.
And so we’re waiting and it was the last week in July and I phoned Paul. I said, Paul, Good answer the local kiosk and see if the runner’s world edition is out shoe edition. An hour later, he came back and said, Joel, you got five stars, Aztec. But not only that, we had two other shoes as well. One was a race at spike shoe and one was a road race in shoe spike.
She was got linker. And so tack up five styles. And also my, I got five stars so that we were we hit the ground running, we had [00:20:00] three, five star shoes and that was the hook. And you will know that being an American, you need the hook and that brought us into the market fantastically. So that said, we came to get onto the American market.
Beautiful. Joe, I just want to say, man you said so much there and I want to just unpack it a little bit because you said so much and it was so beautiful and you know what I loved and what really stood out to me, Joe, is you said you got to make your. When you said you asked yourself a question where do we go from here?
Where to go with this. You knew you had to go to Chicago, you had to go to that show. You had to get a shake and bake, right? New cities you had to get out of your comfort zone AKA, right? Absolutely. I love as well. What you said here, you said how can I make it, how can I take this?
The quote unquote, problems, how can I make them my advantage? And you said, and I love what you said, because I think, you said, you need luck. You need a little luck on your side. And I think sometimes people always, when people hear that word, Joe, so if you were like, whoa, man, look, man, do you know whatever they have that comes to their mind when they think about luck, but it’s real.
And so you put yourself the way that you. [00:21:00] You created your own luck, right? Was about you, you got out of your comfort zone, you went you shake baked you met new people, you use the mastermind principle and you met other people. And I think, man, that is amazing, Joe. And I don’t know if anybody on the stage right here wants to add anything to what he said there, but that was just absolutely amazing.
Hey, Colin here from Florida as well. Wow, Joe, this is amazing. Great to have you on I love to hear the story here. I woke up this morning and checked out my CrossFit shoes and they were Reebok by the way. So I like what you said about five stars and it reminded me the story of Samuel Adams who tried to get the best beer in America as well.
I think going for that recognition, did that make a really big impact on the company when you. Absolutely. That was the turning point. Wow. That was the thing that, as I said, it became the hook that, that actually drew us into America. Before that we’d been pushing hard knocking on doors, trying to get our product in there.
But of course now all of a sudden 30 million or 30 million we’re buying run as [00:22:00] well. We’re seeing that we had a five star shoe. There was demand once there was that demand, and th this little structure luck, we talk about luck, 11 years trying to go into America, people say is this an overnight success?
No, it means a lot of hard graft, a lot of going on. And most people, if you really look around, you’ll find that there’s luck of the there’s something waiting for it. What’s the timing, whatever it is. And the way what you really need to do is to make sure it doesn’t pass you by is make sure you don’t look at it and think I’m not sure.
I’m not sure then. Yeah, you have to be pretty sure you have to see something and go for it. Being an entrepreneur means taking risks. It means can now learn just having a goat or something. And if you have a go at something enough, it will work. It will happen. You’ll find on the route, the things you’re doing wrong.
You’ll find that because it’ll speak to you and you have to change that. But that again, that is being an entrepreneur that is going for something. You have a dream, don’t lose it, [00:23:00] keep home with that dream because eventually something will come sooner or later for us. It was a little bit late.
I must admit 11 years, but we got in there and then it became, something big. The thing is once we done in the American market, it wasn’t running. That really became the success story for Reebok. W we, we had to pivot, we have to do something else and that was a robot.
Aerobics and women, that, that was the thing. We became a woman’s company, a woman’s sports shoe company. We’re not that big when , who was a tech rep down in LA, his wife, Frankie, she’s going to these aerobic classes and I’ll say, What’s happening most aerobics. And she told him it’s exercise to music. Oh, we sit, I’m coming down to your next class and I’ll have a look at this, which he did instructor.
There isn’t a person acres. And half of the class were also wearing sneakers. The [00:24:00] other half were no footwear at all. And that was a light bulb moment for Arnaud. And so he immediately took a red-eye up to Boston to see Paul Farmer. And they sent a Paul, we’ve got this wonderful thing happening in LA and Paul say, whoa, hold on, slow down.
We’re running company, wait a minute. We’re making dancing shoes for women. And I don’t say yeah. And I’ll poke her says, look, keep your eye on it. If it does anything, if it seems to be, we’ll probably get involved, but Anna, wasn’t happy with that. He went round to the back door to see Steve Liggett and Steve Lee.
It was in, he was in charge of production. He persuaded Steve to get him 200 pairs of shoes. Split specifically for women on a woman’s last may have from glove, leather and nice cushion. So he got those, any gambler to the instructors. And that really was how rebar started because once once Jane Fonda [00:25:00] went out and bought a pair of those shoes to use in a videos, they sales went crazy.
Girls weren’t just wearing them for the aerobics. They were wearing them all the time, putting the heels in the bag and going to work in the in the Reeboks and just putting the heels on when they got to work. And we were $9 million company at that point, not big then, coming along year later, we were $13 million.
And a year after that we were nine, $10 million, then $300 million, then $900 million. And in five years, we’re billions. So from zero to a billion in four to five years, that’s what grew Reebok because we saw art or certainly saw an opportunity with women. And these are all your women’s sizes. And the men really got hungry.
They wanted that shoe and eventually we got it in extra fit and into fitness, but that’s where Reebok again, no piece of luck, Arnold seeing that opportunity. [00:26:00] And then we bought, been able to take advantage of it. Wow, am so in awe, like you’re making it sound so easy, Joe, but you and your brother, like you guys are real visionaries, like I’m really enamored with hearing your story.
I had no idea that it went so deep and I might say also it’s a part of real, American probably European to culture. When you talk about Jane Fonda and the different folks, but something that really stands out for me, I also run a retail e-commerce store is the story of distribution. I would love to hear any suggestions you have for us here and the room that are starting with.
That are trying to get our brand, our products that we create out into, the general masses, because what I understand from you as you designed this amazing product, you got other people to acknowledge it, [00:27:00] right? Your influencer, which we didn’t call influencers at that time, but then you really took it.
And you got this gentleman who was a massive distributor. And I think if I understand what you’re saying, that really took you into a different level of profitability and obviously into this iconic brand that you built. So what suggestions might you have for us who, no, we need to get distribution.
What would you suggest. In today’s world. When I started, we didn’t have any computers. We didn’t have smartphones. We didn’t have zoom. We didn’t have clubhouse. We had none of this. There wasn’t this communication right now, media is king and the somewhat job it. And yeah, I had to just jump on an airplane with a handful of American express travelers checks and go to the NSG shows to go and meet people.
Now it’s technology and you’re into e-commerce and technology. You’ve got to be at the top of technology. You’ve got to be [00:28:00] almost looking for something different in technology. It will come along. I. I’m not there. My wife, Julie, she’s pretty good at technology, but I’m absolutely useless. Now at my age, just goes straight in at one end and out the other, but technology now is driving so much business and social media.
So it’s really it’s looking around and trying to find that little bit of difference from somebody else and making a difference is it doesn’t need to be tremendous, but it needs to be something that you’re just going to keep looking for it, searching for it and being part of everything else that doesn’t work.
You’ve got to find something and in any e-commerce that you’re in now, and I don’t know the detail of what you’re in, but it’s looking fine. And influencers, we talked about Jane Fonda. Big influencer. And my grandfather and his day, he found a guy called Al shrub in 1904.
And he presented him with a pair of shoes and Al shrub broke three world [00:29:00] records in those shoes. So it’s doing something different, finding that leverage, whatever it is. And as I say, you got to look around and think who’s going to influence. What’s going to influence my customers and who are my customers.
I had identified my customers, one of my first problems. I used to go down to retail stores and try and sell my product. And I would walk in and the manager, the buyer would say, who’s Reebok. And I said I’m Reba. Listen, my product. And yeah, nice product booster. I’ve got ADIs and I’ve got Don Dunlop.
Why do I need, why do I need. And that was a very important question for me. He didn’t need Reebok mighty, I had to make him need Reebok. And so it is finding something that people need you, that’s something different and it’s not something, if I could tell you exactly what you do today, then it would be very simple for everybody [00:30:00] to be a winner.
You can’t, you’ve got to search for that and having the patients, having the dream yeah. And finding something different, working something different. That’s to me that’s the way that you will expand your business, Joe. I love it. The greatest question you can ever ask yourself, why man, Joe, you are amazing.
And you said, so you say it so much and one of the things I want to point out too is what you said and just reiterate it. The fact that today, technology has changed. Right now days, we, you gotta be where the people are, where the people at they’re online. Everybody’s got a smartphone and I love what you said and you just demonstrated it with Jane and it’s you gotta there’s influencers all around us.
So it’s you might have a product or your product is great, but like, how about you reach out to that influencer, right? How about you say, Hey, you know what, I gotta, I got a product I want to put you in. And then come to find out, like your grandfather with the, given him the shoes and the guy one, three, wow.
Just, wow. And I want to, I just want to say that you are amazing and [00:31:00] men I over here it’s just an honor to be able to hear your story and have you this the way that your, the way that you’re laying it out, Joe is so beautiful though. And so I really encourage people, man, to really listen what Joe is saying, because he’s saying it so much.
And the greatest question you can ever ask yourself, Why do they need your product? Why do they need you? I love you, Joe. You’re amazing. It’s old again. What’s old again is new again, right? This is why we need to look at history. This is why you coming on here as amazing influencers.
We’re not something built in the last 10 years. We all think it is, but what’s old again is new. Oh, that’s absolutely. That’s beautiful because it really, you look at what drives decisions, right? That emotion, the feelings what makes a swipe? What makes us press that button purchase or get that cash and say here, cash register, it’s the feeling.
Absolutely. And so you see somebody you admire, or somebody that’s putting in that work, winning championships. And now they’re wearing the product and that’s really just the gateway, right? That influences is the gateway to knowing, Hey, this is who we are. [00:32:00] This is what we do and what we provide.
But the product is so good that it keeps the relationship going in. That’s what really turns it into a billion dollar brand. And so it’s beautiful. Absolutely amazing. Thank you for saying that it’s you do get these opportunities in life. And I think, when you’re in business and you’re an entrepreneur, it’s not nine to five, it’s 24 hours.
It’s and you know it, and it’s building a family and you can’t do it on your own. That that we found out very quickly. You need people with you and you need to have, you need to give them the right space to work in. They need, you don’t need to be the person who’s telling them every day, what to do.
You want people who can be telling you what you should be doing, showing you something new, something different than you want to get them excited, because if they are excited and they feel like you, your company will go, yeah, yes, yeah. On your own, you can’t do this. You need people around you.
You need them to share the excitement to share the. We bought, had to be in everybody’s soul. They went home with Reebok and [00:33:00] that was it. And it was part of a family. And that is so essential when you’re setting something in motion and you’re doing whatever you’re trying to do with your business is you’ve got to have a lot of people shouting the same message so that, we’re winners, we’re absolute winners.
We might suffer a few setbacks, but that raises not over until we have one. And if you’ve got that determination and people also feel that then as a team and as a right team, your chances are improving all the time. And Joe, I would agree with you especially on one thing, even though we’re in the technology.
For example, Colin and I run several businesses together. I can tell you it still works and it still needed to get out there and meet people face to face, even though we’re in a digital world. It’s you discover things, you create bonds that transcend, the digital realm. So we still find that extremely valuable.
Thank you for sharing. It was a pleasure really is, [00:34:00] but we can’t let Jack, we can’t let Joe get away with saying he scaled his business within a five-year period to a billion dollars, without telling us a few tips on how we can scale our businesses. But I think in scaling your business, it really is a matter of that enthusiasm.
You’ve got to believe in it. And we knew with the sports footwear brand that you know, to influence people. Performance. And if you’ve got people who who perform any issues and that it’s gone good, then it goes straight. Because right now I did a prima Reebok under armor. You name them, we’re now fashion companies.
And you’ve got to recognize that. I once remember reading that Nike wouldn’t allow anybody just say we’re a fashion company. We’re really all on now, fashion companies. So you’ve got to be able to trend over to whatever we’ll expand your business. If you just on a straight line, a narrow straight line, it, your business, won’t expand.
It’s got to be able to bring in [00:35:00] so many so many other aspects. And and I think that once, once we started really as a, as an aerobics company and a woman’s company, and men started looking at this product because all of the women were wearing this wonderful Reebok shoe. We were only a small running company, so we hadn’t taken on the the label as Nike and added us of being a male and being sweaty.
We have taken that on. We were just a very small English company and we were. Just treating these girls with this beautiful shoe. So you’ve got to find something which makes you a little bit different from your competitor. Oh, the, we never really thought of added as our pre-image competitors. We thought we’ve got a plan and this is what we’re doing.
We’re not really too bothered. We’ll keep our eye on these people, but it’s really our plan. What do we want to do? And it’s not, what are they doing? What can we change? No. [00:36:00] What can we do? So if you’re going to scale up, again, it’s looking at where the opportunities are coming and there’s something around the corner, which is not happening today, but it will happen because of technology, whether the Bitcoins, whether it’s so crap, crap, crypto growth, whether that’s fading something.
We’ll be there and you can probably create it. And if you think you can do something different. You can create something different, then, you will scale up. I love it. I love it. And joke, my question to you is because you talk a lot about, you got to believe in yourself, and so how did Joe Foster, cause I know that nugget and there was many roadblocks. And how do you remove the doubts Joe? The first thing is not to have doubt. I think the first thing is to say these are challenges and challenges are not dos challenges are the in fact challenges can actually inspire you because something comes up and you’ve got to think, wow. I’m doing something [00:37:00] wrong. If there’s a challenge, if there’s a problem here and I’m doing something wrong, what am I changing? How do to make it? I don’t make it to my advantage. So I don’t think at least maybe time has made things a lot easier for me to say that I don’t remember being with any doubts.
I think you get, you do get to the point where really, yes. You, your question, what is it, if it’s not working, what is it’s not working. And but you do have to, you do have to keep on looking and change it. Self-doubt. Not a good thing to have. And I think it’s to do with being an optimist.
If you’re an optimist, you’re the guy who’s lashes half full all the time. You get a lot of people who only see the the downsides. And I don’t think I really looked at the downsides of anything. It was a question saying, come on, you got to encourage your team the same way.
Okay. Not every day is a good day and some of the days you hit with a real bad problem, but again, yeah. If you look at it and think what can I do? And we had [00:38:00] we had a product. We were selling in the UK and the UK is very wet, a bit like Seattle implies area. It’s very wet. People were running in our shoes and they were coming back and they were coming back and the socks were blue and that’s because the shoes we were selling them, they, it was a blue suede shoe.
And we wondered what we’d been done for a long time. All of a sudden this dye was going into the bronzes, the athletes, their socks. And of course the wives were not very happy about this. My husband is coming back with blue socks and blue feet as well. We talked with our tannery and said, what’s going on?
What’s happening? And they apologized. They said, we didn’t wash out all the excess dye, which we’d always been doing on this law. They didn’t wash it out. So what could we do? Okay. What we did is that everybody wrote in, we just sent them a new pair of shoes of leather, which hadn’t been w whether the dye had been washed out.
So it wouldn’t get blue for [00:39:00] you to get, and then we sent them all. So half a dozen socks or half a dozen pair of socks and. We sent them blue socks and they loved it. Know everybody came here. Oh, great. That’s wonderful. That’s just a little sort of problem. Not a big one, but it was something that you’ve got to be sensitive to.
Hello? Are you Joe? Sorry about that, buddy. We’re just bringing people up here. Let’s go. That’s okay. But it said, so trying to scale up planted, it’s really looking at your businesses right in front of you and unless you can change it and make it and take it forward, you will just end up in a, re-ups doing just the same thing day in, day out.
But like Paul Feinman before we met, he’d been doing his his wholesale trade and any outdoor trade. And if he was tired of doing that. We came up and we got the opportunity working together to [00:40:00] think, how can we really make a difference and keep making a difference? And that’s it, when I don’t know who actually came up with the idea of the pump.
When the pump took off, it was absolutely incredible. And when was it Dee brown, Pete, he started from the halfway land he’s Dunkin, and then he’s bends down and pumps up his shoes. This was something different and it’s no sort of differences in your business. You’ve got to find, just think about it.
And you’ll be surprised or you’ll find something different that that you can do that will just make people think, wow, that’s great. I love that, Joe. I love that. And you are just amazing and really just pouring so much out today in our cup. And we’re just so thankful for that, Joe.
And I really just can’t say it enough of how thankful I am that you’re here with us right now. There’s almost a real every time we get together, just the way that you show up, Joe, I gotta just, I got to give you any flowers real quick, Joe, because the way that you show up and the way that you pour out and you share your stories that you share your.
It’s rare. [00:41:00] And I just want to just say everybody that’s in this room guys. Make sure you follow Joe Foster. Don’t just follow them here on clubhouse, follow me Globus, but also follow them on all the other social media platforms. Follow up, check out what he’s got going on today, guys, man is amazing.
And what I want to do now, guys, we have about 15 or so. Minutes left in the room today with Joseph Joe’s in the room. And so if you’ve got a question, I know that some of you guys have came up to the stage. I know you got some questions you want to ask Mr. Joe Foster, if you have a question, what we want to do is we want to go popcorn style and we do want to just, let’s keep it short and sweet because I know that, like I said, we’re time sensitive and we want to give everybody an opportunity to ask questions if they have one.
So with that said Joel, if you’re free, we want to allow people to ask some questions. Okay, we’re ready? Yes. Off you go. Whoever would like to go first. If it’s popcorn style, this is Jeremiah. Can I speak? I’ll go first. Take it away. Jeremiah, you got a buddy. Thank you so much, Joe. Absolute pleasure. Thank you for being here with us today.
And Jack to all the mods today, everyone. [00:42:00] Thank you very much for hosting this as well. I’m a fellow entrepreneur product designer. I’ve designed products around the world lived in seven different countries. I’ve read your book, Shoemaker. It’s phenomenal. It’s stuff that keeps me going. I think when I was in college in 2005, I invented a new sport.
I never took it seriously. But as I traveled the world for my industrial design career, I started testing it and I started having events sponsored by Budweiser Asahi, Heineken Coca-Cola and they brought it back here to United States to basically build it here in the greatest sports market in the world.
And one of the things I’ve always hoped to achieve is some type of connection with Reebok, which is right here in our backyard. We are one of those things that you talk about when you mentioned being different and showing the world in the market, a different perspective, a different shade or filter as to how you can be better yourself and how our products can touch your heart.
So I just wanted to share what we do. We are positioning the sport. It’s called tribal three teams at the same time. So make sure of rugby, basketball, [00:43:00] soccer, and football, and we’re positioning with sport to become the world’s leading example of mixed gender competition for gender equality, equal pay and equity.
So I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to share that with you and my question I, with all due respect, I’ve really do not mean to pry at all. If I’d never get a shot like this, did you know anyone I can reach out to at Reebok and try and just get them to take a look at what. You have arrived at a time when I can ask the same question.
Who do I know Reebok I’m beginning to get to know one or two of the new people, because ABG have just bought this, of course from Adidas and and the big thing that they’re doing, the big thing they’re doing, which is the first thing they’re doing, they’re going to make Reebok visible again, because with the ADIs when they were with additives they took away the visibility.
Now they’ve given us visibility, but I’m trying to find out who the, who are the people. And I, when we were coming over, we’ll be in Canada in two [00:44:00] weeks time, we’ll be in America as well. We’ll be in Boston, but they’re going to, and then Chicago we’ll go onto the Toronto and the new Canadian people want to speak.
So I would meet in somebody that at this moment of time, As I say, ABG, or give him Reebok a lot of visibility that we’ll be doing it. Cause they put retailers on isle globally, but I’m not too sure what the strategy is. And I don’t think that either. And I don’t think that’s a problem, I think that licensing people and that’s the, that’s what they do well.
But they now picked up a Reebok and they’ve got to decide whether the they’re actually selling your name or building a brand. And I’m hopeful that we can come together. I Shack or Neil, he is big, a big piece of ABG and he loves the brand. So at this moment of time, I’m a bit with you. I’m not too sure who I talked to because they only to over the company on the 1st of March.[00:45:00]
So right now, It’s less than a month that they’d been working in the company. So it was a lot of new people people from France in touch with us earlier today as well. They are also now taken on a different role in France. So I’m learning well, congratulations. That’s amazing. And if anybody else has a question, we’ll take a few more.
We have 10 minutes left. You have Joe here, and we want to ask him some questions. Let’s get him give everybody some time as well. T I’d love to come up on stage if that’s okay and ask the question, feel free. Hi, I’m Sharon cognac. I am. Work with Colin and a couple of other people here and run a couple of rooms called lead with your story as a brand strategist and a storytelling coach.
I love the story that you told about the blue shoes. And I was wondering what advice you could give other entrepreneurs about reframing the [00:46:00] narrative. Cause that was a really excellent example of reframing narrative, taking a client problem or a customer problem and showing it to be a strength of your company.
So I was wondering what advice you could give to other entrepreneurs about how to choose wisely, which ones to reframe and how to do it and how to do it in the way that you turned that negative into a positive. Yeah, I think that whatever you are, you’ve got to believe in your business. You’ve got number one, you’ve got to be really into it.
It’s not, as I said, you can’t go into an office at nine o’clock in the morning and pick up it’s 24 hours. If you want your business to really expand, to grow, to to be able to see and see the future then in the afternoon, just every little problem that comes up. And if that problem comes up twice, then you really got to look at it.
And then you got to say why are we getting this problem? What is this problem? And figure away as we did with blue shoes and blue socks, [00:47:00] we figured a way that, it’s customer service and customer service is something which is a let down by a lot of people. A lot of people do that. Yeah.
When I was running the company and if a problem came in because we were global and problems come in and sometimes it will come to me and say, I’ve been talking to whatever person and I’m getting no answers. And to me that was wrong because, if you are running a certain part of your company and somebody comes to you and say, look, I’ve got this and this.
You’ve got to go back to them. In other words, customer services, you’ve got to answer, even if you don’t, even if it’s nothing to tell them, if you can, they give you a problem. And obviously you may have to go deeper into your company to find out what that is. But the guy or the person has given me that question needs to know what you’re doing.
And yeah, at all points respond, even if it’s on the say, thank you [00:48:00] for the question. Thank you for the problem. Leave it with me. I’ll be back to you within 24 hours. And even in 24 hours, if you’ve not got the answer, go back. Cause that’s your customer relations and say, look, we’re working on.
So you’ve got to keep them very way much in your mind. You’ve got to keep them their attention and that way with your customers, you build that then word of mouth, that customer relationship will just spread. And, your company will grow through many different ways, you’ve got to be a person you’re not just going to be an answering machine and don’t want people, and you’ve got to do that.
Whatever you’re doing, whatever problems you may have it’s look at it and try and analyze it. And okay. Maybe it was easier for us cause we had a product that turned fever people’s feet blue and w we just figured out a way around that. And, no matter what you do, you’ve got to be available, or certainly somebody has to be available at all times to answer questions and to give.
Answers, if you can give answers or to [00:49:00] say that we’re working on it. It’s I think that the practice is something that you need, that somebody needs to be the, to collect the problems. The, some deal is really chasing the problems and answering them. And, you build a team around this and you can watch it once you get into it, you can become enthusiastic about it.
So it’s, just take these things head on.
It was going on, Joe. Okay. I would like to ask a question. Yeah. I currently have a company it’s a boutique. We carry different brands of CBD and Delta eight products. And we also have it. We carry clothing as well. We carry some shoes. I actually have some Reeboks on my feet, which is crazy.
But also I wanted to say, I appreciate you guys for starting this Roman. It’s a blessing to be here. And with that being said, my question for you is currently, we’re in going like you said, and just the steady path of linear growth rather than exponential. And my [00:50:00] question was, do you believe that.
Is to scale that big and to create that big of a company, you have to have your own product. You have to start from scratch and design your products because currently we don’t have a product, we don’t have our own product. And yeah, I just, w I was just wondering if if you think that is the only way to get that big is to have your own product.
Not necessarily. I think as you grow, you might find yourself having a product, but I think you can grow retail, which, you’re providing a service and you look at ABG itself, ABG, they have 30 brands, they have lots of brands, but they’re growing as a company, as a licensing company.
And, retail is retail has been hit these days by social media and by online selling, th this is where a lot of things are going, but retail now, and I was asked in not too long ago, do you think that retail is dying out and, or, being in retail is a bad thing?
And I said, no, because reasonably there’s entertainment and people want entertainment more and more work [00:51:00] becoming automated. AI has taken over a lot of things that happen. So people know how much more time they want to go shopping. They want to go to retail, but retail has. It has to build for itself a different dimension.
We went to a place in Dubai called amongst few and there, they had a wall of shoes. They had someone play music. They had a library that also just that, and you could also get a cup of coffee. So whatever it is that makes people, draws people into your business, you’ve got to develop a style.
Some of the people said, oh, go to this because you can spend half an hour in there and you can. And joy and that’s part of it. Having fun, make it fun for people, is it’s not just something that you serve over a counter in Sunday boss to buy something. You give it to them, you take the money and say goodbye.
Now you want them to come back. And if you can develop that the name of your store, whatever it is that starts to grow. And you’ve got to work at that who got work at [00:52:00] it. And and these political people, amongst few, they did a collaboration with Reebok and I do some narration for them, but they’re sold out within minutes of launching this collaboration.
And just because there were community store there, they re. Yeah, and then not take, but they will grow will definitely grow. And that will depend again upon people on whatever. So it’s your enthusiasm. You don’t need your own brand. You will probably find though that as you grow and as people come to you, you will make a t-shirt with your name on it.
You will do things and your name will become your brand. I appreciate that so much. They get, Hey Joe, this is Enrique. Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about your story and your brand. You mentioned the use of tech a couple of times. I’m wondering, I would love to get your perspective on what you think in terms of what is happening digitally with the metaverse and you’re seeing brands hopping onto the metaverse.
I’d be interested for you, as a founder of this this brand what is your take on [00:53:00] things being transitioned into a digital format? And what advice would you give for people that have brands on just keeping up with the technology and keeping up with the transition and potentially different audiences.
We’d love to hear your take. I think you probably better at telling me about that, and then I’m telling you about it because, okay. Yeah. Everything that I’ve done in my life, all of the physical. Right now we are going into the virtual’s arena and yes, I have been to one or two conferences where they’ve talked about metaverse and what’s the future of shopping, all these things and the future is changing.
It really is changing. And if we talk about now, you’re young, if you’re young enough, you should be knowing everything that’s on with technology, you should be having a look at it, trying it people are, we know the metaverse and you think of the metaverse and he’s what is that? How does it work?
But it’s for the young people. And I’m probably too old to give you a great deal of advice on that. Except, technology is leading us into different spaces. I just [00:54:00] have to be there. Beautiful Joe, this guys has just not just been absolutely phenomenal. Can we all amen. Today this has been phenomenal,
amazing room, and I really just want to say a big shout out to Joe Foster for, taking the time to come in there with us today, guys. We we are, we do have to end the room now because Joe has other things that he’s, this is a busy man. And we want to be mindful of his time. He’s been more than generous. He came in here for us guys. And so maybe he might be back, that’s the thing we might even be bringing back. Let’s be mindful of his time now. And I’m just grateful for. You Joe, thank you so much for the way that you, the way that you laid things out today. Just man, you poured so much into our cup, Joe and I really am so grateful for just you coming in and sharing your insight, your wisdom and really can’t say thank you enough.
And I want to also give a big shout out to [00:55:00] Michelle and Collin for making this room possible, for making that possible for us to be able to host this space in the startup club. And we’re just so grateful for every single person that’s in this room today that came in to be a part of this room.
We want to give a big shout out to you guys as well. Cause none of this, listen, we can bring in anybody, but if you guys don’t come, then you know, it just falls on deaf ears. And so the fact that you showed up in this room to learn, to grow, to expand, to get some new information in right to re realize, Hey, you mean you heard Joe story?
He went to a billion dollars and a matter of short years now, obviously there was years up to that leading up to that, but you must understand that you to, whatever in. It’s in you, if you’re willing to step up, if you’re willing to, like he said, you’re willing to believe in yourself, right?
Whatever you want it, whatever it is you want in life. And your business, your startup, wherever you are, you’ve got a belief. And so take that guys. One of the things as well, when you have this type of information that you’re exposed to, one of the things that I do, and I recommend every single person that’s in here, do it, go back and listen to the replay of the room.
Because sometimes when you’re taking somebody’s [00:56:00] story in, you, you pick in that moment, wherever you’re at in that moment, you pick and choose what you’re really grab, grab onto. And so I like to go back and I like to really relisten over and over.
And I find that you’ll find more clues. And so I, that would be my one word of advice is go to back and listen to the replay of this. Also reach out to Joe, send Joel a message, let him know how much this meant to you. Let him know how much that you appreciated him coming in and, being able to learn and grow from him.
So reach out to him. I love you. I love you all. And I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, Joe, any fame, any final, last words. Thank you for that Jacqueline. Yes. Reach out by all means. Reaching out to this is a pleasure and anytime we’re here and we’ve got the total, where’s the best place we don’t to travel anywhere.
Pardon? Where’s the best place for people to reach out to. And we’re on all platforms. We’re on every platform rebuilt the founder. I think jewel is probably Instagram, Twitter. We’re only evidence. Yeah. LinkedIn will be out there in Miami [00:57:00] and not, we’ll definitely meet up Joe and within, yeah.
Get yourself. I’ll get you out by your dinner. Cause I want to, I love to get around people like you, Joe, and just learn and grow and it just, you’re amazing. You’ve really today. You’ve just blessed us all so much and I’m forever grateful for you, Joe. So I just want to get a big shout out to you guys.
One more time. Give it up Joe Foster.
Absolute pleasure. Thank you very much. Thank you. We’ll do a count down in five. 4 3, 2, 1, let’s go.