When brothers Joe and Jeff Foster set out to create their own athletic apparel company, they never could’ve imagined the enormous success and longevity the brand would earn. Within years their project Reebok had garnered 5-star reviews, brought in celebrity endorsements, and surpassed bigger, more established brands in revenue. Reebok proved a smashing success, and it’s not just for the way they competed in the market, but rather their ability to maintain a competitive advantage. This week, we spoke with Joe Foster to hear the story of his entrepreneurial journey and the valuable lessons he’s learned along the way.
“It was never about Joe Foster, it was about Reebok.”
Reebok saw enormous success in North America when Jane Fonda began wearing her signature Reebok Freestyles– that she paid for herself. “What’s old is new again,” Joe remarked, noting that neither Fonda nor Reebok intended for her support to sway the masses. Remarkably, Jane Fonda’s involvement helped bring the company’s revenue from 9 million to 900 million in under 5 years. When considering partnerships or working with influencers, keep in mind that while numbers are great, the real success lies in the endorsement being authentic and enthusiastic.
“The enthusiasm you have rubs off on others – people like the idea that we can win” Joe Foster
Look for opportunities in the white space
Identify your business’s competitive edge that others don’t have– and capitalize on it. Reebok found their ‘white space’ and thus their niche and quickly excelled and established themselves on the market. When the Fosters first started Reebok, they intended on producing shoes for soccer, but weren’t ready to compete with Adidas so they pivoted into running and athletic shoes. While other big names in sportswear were playing (and paying!) hard to win in the arena of performance sports like basketball and football, Reebok made shoes for the everyday athlete that was otherwise underrepresented on the market, allowing the brand to become number one in sportswear in the mid 1980s.
Position yourself for the big break
Luck does come but be prepared when the opportunity rises, Joe advised. In Reebok’s case, this meant being able to adapt to and keep up with their rapid-found success. Tripling their revenue in under three years meant that Reebok had to figure out a way to keep up with increasing production before the demand went elsewhere. Fortunately, Nike closed three factories just as they needed a new means for mass production. Distribution is key, Joe pointed out, adding that he and Joe, along with their wives, lived in the factory early on to manage business logistics for a growing business.
If it isn’t working… pivot!
The brand had its fair share of flopped products and business failures, but the owners’ ability to quickly adjust was what really mattered. Joe will be the first one to admit that Reebok has had its fair share of challenges, but entrepreneurs need to be able to view failure as a lesson rather than defeat. His optimistic nature doesn’t allow for him to get caught up wondering what they could’ve done differently and kept his Reebok colleagues focused on progress instead of perfection. “We weren’t governed by strict performance, we were always ready for change, ready to pivot.”
“The most important thing is to have fun. Second most important is making sure you’re having fun. Thirdly, you need to have fun in whatever you do.
If you’re not having fun it’s going to be really tough.”Joe Foster
Listen to the full conversation above and check out this past session with Joe!
Serial Entrepreneur: Secrets Revealed! – EP85
We have Michele Van Tilborg, Ed Nusbaum. We have Jeffrey Sass and myself Colin C Campbell. We are the Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed, and if you’re listening to this in podcast, you may not know this, but this is actually a live show on Clubhouse every Friday at two o’clock.
Um, so if you’re listening to us and you want to join us on stage, you want to come over into our show, we’d be welcome to have you every week. We, we meet at f at two o’clock Eastern on Friday, and we talk about the code, what it, what it is that we do as entrepreneurs or serial entrepreneurs to crack the code to figure out what entrepreneurs do to start scale, exit, repeat.
And I have an announcement to make as well. Very excited about this. [00:01:00] Last year we signed a publishing deal with Forbes for the book start scale, exit, repeat. And today, yesterday we got the date of October 3rd, 2023. The book is going to hit the shelves, and that is called Start Scale exit Repeat. I do wanna emphasize that we.
A lot of authors, experts, serial entrepreneurs, come on the show. And for you to really find out about those authors, you should go to www.startup.club and sign up to that email list every week. We, uh, send only a one email per week, and we usually announce the top speakers of the week on Startup Club.
900,000 members strong. We’re grow growing to a million. We’ll hit a million members, uh, in no time, and we would love to have you join the club today. We have Joe Foster, founder of Reebok and [00:02:00] author of the book Shoemaker. He’s gonna join us in about two or three minutes. Just before he joins us, Jeff or Michele, or Ed or Mimi, any thoughts on today’s show?
Well, I, I’m just gonna say this is just a phenomenal opportunity to hear Joe who just actually joined the stage talk about what it really took. And my gosh, this man is crazy brilliant, creative as well as persistent. So I, I don’t know Colin or Jeff or Ed anywhere else that you could come on a stage and be able to get access and ask questions to someone that has done what Joe has done.
So, I, I’m personally, I’m looking really forward to this and I’m so glad that we’re able to bring this to the members. [00:03:00] Absolutely, Michele. And it’s also an opportunity to, to get behind the scenes of a truly iconic brand. There’s really only a handful or maybe two handfuls of brands in the world, global brands that you would call iconic.
And, and certainly Reebok is up there as one of them. So it’s very exciting to hear from Joe today. So if you’re in the audience or you’re on stage and you think this is going to be an interesting episode, and I do believe it is , um, second, if you look at the very bottom of your screen, the second icon is a share screen.
We have six people who have shared already. I’m gonna share it on Clubhouse right now as I’m speaking. I just see that I saw that this is episode 85. That’s pretty cool. Um, let’s kick it off, Joe. Uh, I, I, I think you’re calling in from the uk. Uh, my fir our first question is how did you start Reebok? I mean, who starts a, a, what was, you didn’t call it back then a unicorn, but who starts a billion [00:04:00] multi-billion dollar branded company.
I just, it’s a phenomenal story and we just want to hear about how you started.
So Joe, you got the, uh, microphone, the bottom left there. Give you a second to, uh, to catch your breath. . And Michael Gilmore is on stage with us as well. Who does the show? Every Friday? They complete entrepreneur. Uh, and his show is, here we go, Joe. Hi. You can hear me now? We can hear you my friend. Oh, okay. I think this is the third time where we get a chance to interview you.
Um, the other time was, was about three months ago, and it was in Fort Lauderdale and it was live and that was really cool. We have one hour today, so let’s just jump into it. How did you start Reebok? Indeed. Well, good evening guys. Yes. How did we start Reebok, Jeff and myself. Oh, we were young, you know, naive, whatever it is, but, uh, our parent company, [00:05:00] we, we worked for a parent company, but it was really, really fading, going down and, uh, we thought we needed to do something and at the same time we, I’d say had to do national service.
We, like conscription. We’re, we’re just sort of still following on from World War ii. So over two years Jeff and I had to leave the company and go do national service and that was a good thing. Jeff is your brother, right? Jeff is my older brother, yes. And, uh, he was my partner when we started. Um, and going to a national service gave us that bit of confidence that you, you, you, you’re not, you’re not at home anymore.
Mother’s not doing this, and dad’s not doing that. And all of a sudden you gotta look after yourself. So looking after yourself, you learn a few things. Like, I’ve gotta do this, I’ve gotta do that. And it gives you some discipline. So, uh, when we came back from the National Service, still seeing that the parent company were not, uh, not, in fact, the biggest problem was my father and [00:06:00] uncle who now run the factory.
The, uh, the business was started by my grandfather we’re back in 1895, but they were now running the company and they didn’t speak to each other. They were at war, like ADD Dassler and Rudy Dassler. They just didn’t get on at all. So the company was going down as a result of this. So Jeff and I decided, They won’t change.
We couldn’t get ’em to change. We’ve gotta do something. So we, uh, we left the company in, uh, November, 1958 to set up our own small company. We called it Mercury. Um, and of course, unfortunately there’s a story there. It’s in the book, but we couldn’t use the name Mercury after 18 months. We had to change our name and we changed it to Reebok.
But that’s how Jeff and I started our company. We left the parent company and we started Reebok.
Well, it’s very, very, very [00:07:00] cool. And um, Michele, uh, I remember we were talking about this interview today and you were thinking about, you know, what would be the next question And it’s really. You know, you, you started this business and in reading the book, I’m, we don’t have a lot of time, so I’m trying to shorten it a little bit here.
Okay. Okay. But basically you spent 20 years to get to 9 million in revenue, and then you decided, you know what, we have to expand into the United States. Um, can you talk a little bit about that decision? Yeah. Well, the decision was that, uh, when we are last parent company, the, the big, the big real, the one big, uh, sport that we should have been in was soccer, uh, football.
They call it football in the, uh, in, in Europe and the uk. But it’s soccer that you know it in America, however, Although my grandfather had been really tops in soccer, by the time Jeff and I left Adidas had come into, uh, the uk and it would’ve [00:08:00] cost a lot of money for us to compete in soccer. So we, we were, we were athletics, we were running, and, uh, we got to, you know, we, we got to a point where we were as big as we could.
We were number one in the running fraternity. We, we, we were big, but compared to soccer, we were small, very tiny. But I knew in, uh, in the USA that, uh, athletics, That’s a big thing in, in athletics, you’ve got 318 million people. You’ve got colleges, every college and every university had coach, and you could actually go to college, uh, on a certifi, on a sports, sports, uh, just, just doing just a sports scholarship.
Yeah. So you could do that. Whereas in the uk I think we had one college. So for me it was like, if we are going to expand our business, we’ve gotta get on the big stage. And the big stage was America. And this was in 1968. And I’m talking to, uh, our new [00:09:00] family. We were now new as Reebok. We changed our name from Mercury and we’re revoking.
Uh, I say, I’m, I’m saying, look guys, we gotta get to America. And they’re saying, mm-hmm. That’s too expensive. Just, that’s just a long trip. And who’s gonna pay for the air and the hotels and whatever. Fortunately the British government. Advertised and they wanted us to export and they would pay, in fact, for the standard, the N S D A show in Chicago and they would pay the er, uh, return and they would also pay, uh, half of our expenditure while we there.
From that point. No problem with the family. You can go. So, 1968, my first trip to America in Chicago in February, which you’re in Fort Lauderdale, that’s always warm. Chicago. Ah, February. It’s so cold. However, that was the start, but uh, it took me until 1979. That’s 11 years. 11 years going [00:10:00] to Chicago. We did get a break and it went to Houston for a couple of, uh, uh, of, of years, but, uh, 1970.
I met Paul Fireman, but you know, that wasn’t the reason that we got into America. The reason was that, uh, running became a big category in America. It got 350 million, uh, people in America, and probably 10% by 1975 were actually running. They were competing. They were doing, uh, five ks, 10 Ks, half marathons, and then joining.
And it, it was really a fitness regime that to everybody loved. So, fortunately for us, Running became something big. And by 1979, uh, we’ll say the magazine Runners, world, runners World, that really helped the uh, uh, running to expand and to grow. And Nike grew very big on that. But we we’re across the pond.
We know, you [00:11:00] know, it’s a little bit difficult and every time I talk to, uh, Americans at the N S G A show is when will he get a distributor? But it was 1979 when we got Paul Fireman. And the reason for that is because London’s world had given us five stars and we got five stars for three shoes, Aztec, which was our trainer, which would be the bulk.
And then we got, uh, Inca, which was a spike shoe, uh, spike Track shoe that also got five stars, minus that was a racing issue, a road racing shoe. So we got three, five stars that got us into America, and that’s where we got to the 9 million. Oh my gosh. So you’re just working away. Your family’s been working at this business for years.
You and your brother pop in. I think if I understood you at least 11 years afterwards where you finally start to see, oh my gosh, maybe there is a really big opportunity here. So you, you [00:12:00] get over here to the us you make this amazing, um, you make it into this amazing rating, by the way, that is still the de facto rating for shoes.
So that you are a pioneer Joe. What, from there, like, so you’re, you’re here and you’re finally here and you’re making some movement. What was the big factors? What like really helped you catch that big break that put Reebok over the edge? Well, to be honest with you, it was women. , yes, of course. Women, , we have to think it was women.
We were the first, uh, sports, uh, footwear brand that, uh, managed that that looked at women. And because we, we found aerobics, it was, uh, Arnold Martin as down in Los Angeles. He, uh, his wife, his wife Frankie was going to these aerobic, uh, [00:13:00] classes coming back and with her friends, they were so thrilled with it.
Brilliant. And Arnold said, uh, what are you doing? Cause Arnold, Arnold was a, a tech rep for Reebok. And I said, what, what are you doing? And she said, we’re doing aerobics. And he said, okay, what’s aerobics? Well, she said, we’re actually exercising to music and we love it. So that was the beginning. Arnold went to see the next, uh, class.
He saw that, uh, The instructor was wearing a pair sneakers. We think there were new balance, but uh, she was wearing a pair of sneakers, half the class wearing the same sneaker, the other half wearing another, no shoes at all. Arnold’s light bulb moment was, why don’t we make shoes specifically for aerobics, but specifically for women on a woman’s last with uh, a nice glove le glove, leather upper, and an a cushion soul.
And he went up to see Paul Fireman in Boston who was sort of [00:14:00] running the operation. And uh, Paul said, just a minute, uh, Arnold, slow down. Slow down. We’re a running company. We we’re doing it very nicely. Um, why do we want to be making shoes for girls dancing? Ah, Arnold didn’t like the, the response that he got.
So he went round to the back door, had a word with Steve Liggett. Steve Liggett was in charge of production and he managed to get 200 pair of samples of what he wanted, the shoe he wanted from Steve. Took them down to, uh, Los Angeles and gave them out to the, uh, instructors and some of the leading girls down there.
And they loved them. They absolutely loved them. We had a few problems with, uh, the leather because it was too thin, but we, we, we got that right. And then James Fonda, James Fonda bought a pair of Reebok and started to use them in our videos, in her exercise videos. And that was it. All of a sudden it took off from a $9 million company.[00:15:00]
We went to a $900 million company in four, four and a half years. So that was the growth. And it was all, all about women. Oh my gosh. Shain. . Think about that. You spent 20 years to get to 9 million and then you catch your big break. And I know Jeffrey Sass calls this the twerking moment. Jane Fonda wears the shoes.
Well, first of all, you, you, you, you, you offered something different in the market, and I think that was key. You offered something that no other shoe manufacturer was doing, which was, uh, women’s aerobic shoes, and then you caught the big break because Jane Fondo wore the shoe. Did you pay her money for that?
How did that No, no. She had to buy them Amazing. Hundreds of millions of dollars for endorsements from, you know, different sports celebrities. You know, you, you, you see the way that sports celebrities have, have really come in and you [00:16:00] didn’t pay a sense. And yet that big break caught, that’s absolutely, absolutely insane.
Well, I, I, I guess I was just saying because up till then the money was being paid, uh, by people like a, this and Nike for performance. But performance was really what we know as men’s, uh, sports, be it soccer, uh, American football or, uh, basketball, baseball. They, they were there with the stars and they were the ones getting money.
Nobody knew anything about aerobics. Uh, and, you know, this is what we call white space, uh, e even when we were a small company, we, we looked for the space because added us was there, PK was there. Uh, Nike was still in the background, but, you know, we had to look for the space where they were not, where they were not working.
And we could, we could make out. This, the biggest white space that we found was aerobics. So, I mean, today, it wasn’t a matter of, we used to call it how do you grow your business? Now it’s pivoting and it’s, uh, scaling. [00:17:00] So we pivoted into aerobics and we scaled in at an incredible pace. And, uh, that is then itself brought a lot of, uh, problems.
But we got there and we overtook Nike, we overtook, added us, and we became number one, uh, sports brand in the mid eighties. Mayor, what, what’s funny you say, you say the, um, uh, we’re gonna open up in a, in a few minutes. Uh, we’ll go round Ron. So just hold off there. We’re gonna come to you. Uh, but, uh, what’s old again, is new again.
Uh, Jane Pondo was one of the first influencers, uh, and you talk about terminology, how they call it. The reality is a lot of these lessons that we’re getting today, you know, we all think that the, you know, the, that it’s just now coming out that we should have influencers or we should get a, build a community or be different with our product design.
But yet we’re going back 50 years and, you know, it’s old again. It’s new again. It’s, it’s fascinating to see. I, I do have, uh, one [00:18:00] more question and then we’ll then we’ll start to go around the room and starting with Jeff. But, um, my last question for you is, we have a lot of startups on this club. We have a lot of startups who listen to this podcast and, you know, what is it a startup?
Actually you spun my, my sons down there on the corner of Quinn Quinn Campbell. We, I asked, I told him you were coming on Joe. And he’s a big fan of your shoes. . Fantastic. So, uh, yeah. So what do we tell Quinn? What do we tell other startups today? Like what kind of advice could you give them? At the beginning of their journey that you’d have loved to give to yourself.
I don’t know, 50 years ago. Yeah. I, I, I think what it is, is whatever you’re doing, number one, you have to believe in it because not a lot of people will actually believe in what you’re doing if they need convince him. But you have to believe in it. And, you know, what is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is an optimist.
What is an optimist? An, an optimist is, [00:19:00] is somebody who can see through all the dark clouds, through all the problems, who can see that there is something there, there’s something extra. Um, I said, you know, that’s where the entrepreneur comes in and a lot of people ask me and say, look, you know, Can somebody who is not, uh, not, uh, sort of optimist, can they become, uh, you know, an honor of a brand?
Can, can, can they become an entrepreneur? And for me it’s difficult. I think you need that almost that focus, which is seeing through the fog, seeing through the brick work. It’s seeing something beyond and believing in it. It’s taking risk. It’s not gambling, it’s taking risk. And that risk is believing in yourself.
And if you’re believing yourself, fantastic. But you know, uh, as much as for whatever you have and whatever. Brilliance, whatever. You, you’ve gotta enjoy it. You’ve gotta have fun. And that is so important because if you’re not having fun and every day becomes a challenge, [00:20:00] then ah, you know, you can enjoy challenges.
You can make the challenges work for you. We, we did that all the time. We, we thought, yeah, well this is a challenge. How can we turn it around? Right? We had to change our name and that became a better name. We had to change our silhouette, and that became a better silhouette. And, and I, and I think if, if you want to really, uh, be an entrepreneur, uh, you have to believe in your product.
When other people, uh, slightly pessimistic, slightly, that you’ve gotta be the one. And you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta show that. So that people, people sort of pick up on your enthusiasm. People, people pick up on, on that energy. And, and if you can do that, you, you then bring people in, people who will work with you because you can’t do things these things on your own.
You need other people. So, you know, it is that, it’s the energy, it’s the belief, and whatever your product is, wherever you’re going, you’ve gotta believe in it and work at it. The only thing I will say about that is if it [00:21:00] isn’t working, change, this is, again, pivot . So if it doesn’t work, pivot. And that’s, you know, those are the sort of lessons I think that, uh, you, anybody trying?
Anybody starting, uh, right. Don’t be worried if you fail on that first door. Even the second attempt get up. Failure is, again, failure is a lesson. Failure means that we’re doing something wrong. You know, we, we had to change from Mercury to Reebok. We were doing something wrong. Maybe, maybe, you know, a better name.
Reebok became a better name. Uh, we have to change our silhouette and, uh, because ADIs said that we were, well, you know, we were sort of, uh, Could say, uh, we weren’t copying the three stripes, but we were infringing the three stripes. Cause we had two stripes and a T bar. Uh, and we, you know, we worried about that when we first got the letter.
But five minutes after reading a letter, we thought, just a minute. This is an opportunity added us. Nor we’re here, you [00:22:00] know, we’re only a small company, but added us now concerned about what we are doing. So it’s looking at the problem saying, how do we, how do we work on those and make it work for us? So, you know, that’s the advice I can give to anybody is that, you know, use your own, be confident and, uh, believe in yourself.
This is such great advice. And coming from. A man who actually did it and experienced that, and we really appreciate you sharing that with us. Um, one other thing I noted that you said is really your strong belief in the team right from the beginning, right? You allowed your team to make the company such a big winner.
That’s that’s so impressive, Joe. So we commend you for that. Um, we wanna go ahead and get to the audience. We have a lot of folks up here that are anxious to ask you a question. So let’s go in order and we’re going to go to Jeffrey next. Jeffrey, what is your question for [00:23:00] Joe? Thanks. Well first of all Joan, thank you so much.
This is literally a masterclass and I wanted to just go back to two things you mentioned, um, and a question related to them. So you talked about looking for the white space, and I just think that’s such an important. Thing for people to remember. So I wanted to highlight that, look for those opportunities in those white spaces around the edges, so to speak.
And then, you know, when, when we talked about earlier Jane Fonda picking up the shoes and using them in her, you know, ridiculously famous aerobics videos back then. Um, my friend, I mean, she literally, she literally is one of, is considered one of the creators of the whole home video market because of the success of, of those, um, tapes of her doing her aerobics.
But someone might look at that and say, you got lucky. Isn’t it lucky that Jane Fonda chose Reebok shoes for that? But she didn’t get lucky. You positioned yourself for that to happen by making that decision to go after, um, women and aerobics to spot that trend. And my question [00:24:00] really is what gave you the confide.
to go after that trend when even people on your team were telling you, you know, why would we target women? Why, what is this aerobics? You know, why are we, why would we do a special shoe just for that? Yet you persisted in that persistence is what led to Jane Fonda, um, doing it. Not luck. Well, , hi, Jeff. I, I can agree with what you’re saying, but you know, you need a certain amount of luck when we call it luck, and I know a lot of people say to me, there’s not such singer’s luck.
It’s just being prepared for when the opportunity arises. Um, but, you know, in the first place we needed to be in, uh, sports footwear in, in fact, when we talk about luck as a guy, I, I, it’s forget his name, and he is pink. Huntinger is, he’s in New York and he’s what? Stamp Pink. Stamp Pink. Dan, that’s Dan Pink.
Oh, ju Julie knows more than I do. She , she’s a grandson. But Dan Pink, and we were talking about luck and uh, Dan said, well, yeah, I do [00:25:00] believe in luck because he said, I, I feel I’m lucky to have been born in America, in New York. And, and I think if you bring it down to that basic, you know, if you were born in the, a good place, uh, you’ve got more opportunities than somebody who’s not born in a good place.
So there is, there is a, there’s a space for look and, uh, okay. You know, yes, we had, we were willing, again, we were willing to pivot or in my early days we were willing to change a direction. Uh, but we were willing to pivot because that’s a $9 million company. That’s not a big company. But you know, when something comes along and you can see an opportunity, uh, then.
why not pivot? And, and I think that that’s so important in the growth of many companies. It’s finding, it’s finding that want thing. And it, you know, we, we both said it’s white space. It’s, it’s something this, this is normally there. And women [00:26:00] just didn’t have a sport of their own. That was remarkable.
Aerobics became that, uh, that sport. So I do believe in, in luck, but I also believe in the fact that you’ve gotta be prepared and you’ve gotta be ready. And an entrepreneur has to be ready to pivot, has to be ready. It’s a scale when they can do. And, uh, it gave us an, an enormous opportunity. And the, the thing is though, and I was talking about this earlier, and that is that enthusiasm that you have rubs off on other people.
But people like the idea that we can win. And when you get a winning culture and people are looking and saying, well we can do this, we can do that. You know, even if it doesn’t work, you tried it. You, you did something and you learned a lesson, and the lesson was, okay, that one didn’t work, but we can do something else.
And it, it is that willingness to, as I say these days, pivot that willingness. You’ve gotta have that, that is optimism. [00:27:00] That is being an entrepreneur. So, uh, Yes, I, we were very fortunate that at the time we were ready, we had a base to make the product and along came aerobics. So, yeah, for us that was wonderful.
And, uh, we weren’t looking for white spaces all the time. And you know, even, even today, I look for white spaces. We , I meet an awful lot of people. And the things that are going on today, you’d be amazed there’s a lot of new things going on and a lot of people should be looking forward to saying, well, what next?
Covid was terrible. But what Covid did is that it brought Zoom out, it brought these clubhouse, it brought everything out it,
oops. Oh well,
uh, he’ll join back in, in a minute. And it’s just fascinating to hear about these white [00:28:00] spaces, Jeff and. You know how paul.com, we didn’t. We are. And, and Meows Michele, how we’re always inventing new products that don’t exist. This whole concept of be different, be unique, find the white space. I, and that’s pretty cool, ed.
Uh, I know you, you had your mic there. Um, do you have any thoughts about today’s show as we wait for, uh, for um, him to come back on, get his power back on whatever it is? Oh, thanks. I was just prepared for a follow-up question, but yeah. I just have to wait for him to come back for that to happen. Yeah. Well you know how it is.
We’re all, he’s overseas. Um, and uh, he’s uh, here he is. He’s back. He’s back. Don’t panic. He’s everyone . Oh my gosh. So good to see you again, Joe. And we have Ed next. Ed has a question, um, for Joe. Hey Joe. Uh, welcome back. And it was just a follow up question. We’re. After 20 years of building that solo foundation to be ready to get lucky.
You talk, you mentioned like [00:29:00] once that luck hit the scale up, uh, era of Reebok began. And so I was curious when you, you talked about some of the challenges maybe to share a little bit more about what it was like to go through that whirlwind of scaling up and, and uh, after the 20 years of building our foundation, were you quite ready or what were the surprises and how you overcame them
and the reminder your microphone’s in the bottom right of the screen to still can.
We definitely can see you there, but we cannot hear you. There he is. He’s back. I think you’re back on again. You hit the mic. All right. Julie’s there. We, we love Julie, by the way. Say hi. Hi, Julie. Julie, what you say? Hi. Hi guys. Hello. I’m, heres the tech support. She is Technical support. Yeah, she is. She, and, and it’s very, it’s obvious we need her[00:30:00]
Okay. So, uh, can you hear me now? Yeah, we hear you. We wanna hear about the whirlwind, the scaling whirlwind. Right? Well, uh, you know, it, it’s, uh, I, I think that if you are an entrepreneur and if you’re looking for the opportunities, um, when something comes your way, you, you. You just take it, you know, you just start to say, wow, why not?
And, uh, you look at everything, okay. You know, uh, we, we could have said, no, no, no, we wanna stay pure, we wanna stay performance. But, uh, you know, you, you’re a company and, um, you know, you’re, you’re in, uh, we were in athletics, but when wants, again, to sport. And in fact, the biggest problem with aerobics was that it, it, uh, it did challenge us as to whether we were a performance sports company.
And, uh, you know, we, we did sort of think Mm, you know, this is, this is specific to women. Will it last. And I think fortunately for us, it did last because ADIs and [00:31:00] uh, and, and Nike just didn’t pick up on it. They just thought, no, no, no. This is, this is temporary. This is something which will come and go. Uh, but for us, it actually became global.
It, and it took us, it really took us, uh, above value and above Nike. So, you know, when we became number one, we became number one because, you know, we, we persisted and we, we sort of worked on this with women. And the biggest problem, cuz you did mention what is the biggest problem. The biggest problem was that the growth was immense.
We, you know, we, we were 9 million in 12 months. We were, uh, we were actually 30 million and then 12 months beyond that, we were 90 million, then 300 million, then 900 million. And you. . Okay. How do you finance that? Well, once it starts rolling, finance wasn’t really the problem. We got the answer to finance.
What was the problem is how to, how to get the product because, uh, you [00:32:00] know, you, you’re looking at these factories and these factors, they can’t build new factories overnight. Um, factories can’t increase production beyond about 10 or 20%. And we wanted, 300%. So, uh, we were lucky, again, we bring in luck.
Lucky because, uh, Nike who’d been going like, like a steam strand, they’d been really, really growing very fast. They, they got to the point where they had too much inventory and they had to pull back. They closed about three factories just when we needed that production. So call that luck, call it whatever.
But, uh, you know, these are the problems. If we hadn’t have had that factor space, we would’ve probably starved the, uh, the, the brand, the demand. And if you starved the demand, it goes somewhere else. So, you know, we, we were very fortunate in doing that. But again, you know, we’re optimistic, we are optimist and we, we look for the, [00:33:00] you know, that white space, that opportunity.
So opportunities came our way and we took advantage.
it’s amazing. And you know, that belief that you and your team had in that persistence, it’s, it’s just really outstanding that you persisted again. Like I think there’s probably everybody in the room here has either owned a pair of Reeb Box or wanted one, so that says it all. So yes, yes. Next on the stage we have Michael Gilmore.
Michael is joining us from Melbourne, Australia. He actually hosts a regular show on Thursdays at 5:00 PM called The Complete Entrepreneur. Michael, thanks for joining us so early. What is your question for Joe? Hi Michael. Yes, it’s great to talk to you, Joe. Um, it really is. And, um, and to hear your story is absolutely amazing.
So the, [00:34:00] the, the question I have for you, Joe, is this, is that you and your brother founded the company, and I would imagine, like brothers, you may find yourself wanting to go in one direction. Well, he went in there, wanted to go in a different direction. How did you manage that potential conflict between you both, uh, when you have a situation, when you have two, two founders?
Well, I, I, I, I think for us, again, it was fairly lucky. I was probably the one that was most outspoken, the one that was most willing to drive things. But Jeff, he was brilliant. Jeff loved the factory. And I can remember Jeff said to me, Luke, Joe, uh, leave the factory to me. Album in the factory, you’d wear everything else.
And, and whilst that’s a sort of a, a short statement, really what he did was the fact that, uh, okay, Jeff ran the factory. He loved making shoes. I didn’t particularly love making [00:35:00] shoes. And if you’ve, uh, read my book , you’ll find that I didn’t like running and I did not like making shoes and that, so my, uh, my particular skills were in other places.
And so that, that means that I could do everything. I did a lot of designing, so, and I designed the, uh, Aztec shoe to Guar five stars. So I did designing, I did the marketing, uh, I, I did all the rest. So fortunate for us, as you say, in fact, my father and uncle were a good example of what you’re saying. They did not get on together, and that was, that drove the foster business, uh, into, well drove the motor business.
Um, whereas with Jeff, he just looked after a factory and uh, I looked after everything else and. Of course when, when we really got into the big numbers, the factory was only small and the factory could not cope with that. But unfortunately, and as a disaster at that particular moment of time, uh, [00:36:00] Jeff, unfortunately, he, he got cancer and he died.
Um, and so the whole thing was upside down. Uh, and I had to change a few things. And, and, and it was such a, a shame that he didn’t, he, he didn’t live to see what we achieved. Uh, it would’ve been great, but those early days were really important that I could do, I could get on and do things and, you know, I’m pretty sure I did some stupid things, some really dumb things.
But Jeff never, he, he never criticized. He, I, I think he probably recognized that, uh, you know, you try something, it doesn’t work. That’s what happens, but uh, you try something else. And, uh, so we, we never had, we never had a bad word. So for me, and I guess again, that was lucky that we, we managed to have such a, a good relationship.
But I, I do agree with you that families can be very difficult and, uh, well, I, I guess the a [00:37:00] is family and in fact, uh, my father and uncle are very good examples of that.
Thank you for your question. Like it’s, uh, it’s fascinating here. Um, just the, the, the dynamics when you have two founders in a situation like that, and my guess would’ve been quite a high pressure environment as well. So over to you. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s amazing. And how close we all become, our founders, our family.
When we’re building these things, everyone is so criti critical, so we appreciate you sharing that story. Yeah. The funny thing about though, I, I may, may answer that is there was a time when we, we all lived, uh, on the actual, within the factory building, Jeff and myself, we both married and we both married a gene.
So all our male was coming in. Jeff was a jw, I’m a jw, and both our wives were j So there [00:38:00] were all the male coming in for four people were j j Foster, j w Foster, sorry. That was really confusing, and particularly when the, uh, tax man was looking for who, who needs to pay this money and J w j, we, we, we had a lot of fun actually at laughing at that.
It it became quite amusing. I bet, I bet that is fun. Right. Well, let’s get over to Samantha. Samantha, what is your question for Joe? Hey, Michele calling and, uh, everyone in the Startup Club family, thank you so much for having me today. Uh, Joe is such an honor to hear, um, all of your advice. Um, I love, uh, the piece that you mentioned about confidence.
I think that’s super important. The question that I have for you, sir, um, I did see a few articles regarding how, uh, Reebok is entering into the metaverse space with, uh, red Fox Labs and Rox [00:39:00] Games, and I’d love to know your thoughts on footwear transitioning into the web three and metaverse space. In other words, uh, what white space, uh, do you foresee in the web?
Three? Sorry, off that mic. Well, uh, uh, what white space do you foresee in the web three and metaverse realms for footwear? My apologies, sir.
That’s great. You know, I’m, I’m still working out on, on how we can, uh, how we can, how, how we can value this, uh, metaverse. And, uh, we, we are, we are involved in some NFTs, uh, and, you know, Reebok as an operation as against me being a founder. It’s different. It’s now with, uh, abg, which is Authentic Brands Group.
They don’t consult me. They don’t say we, how are we gonna go into Metaverse? They do whatever they’re doing. So, uh, so it, it’s interesting that I think everybody wants to take [00:40:00] some space there because we don’t know exactly where it’s going, but it’s better than sort of take, you know, get a bit of space and let’s see what will happen.
You know, it’s a bit like crypto, crypto, you know, where’s he going? You know, it, it came really went big and now it’s sort of in, in its own metaverse. It’s like, we’re now with this, I think, I think Metaverse, it’s, uh, it, it’s something that’s come outta gaming. You know, so many youngsters have gone into gaming that now they, they, they live in this gaming, uh, arena and metaverse is very similar.
It’s like, well, where, where’s it going? Uh, . To be honest, I really don’t know. I wish, I wish I did know where he is going. I think it’s, you know, if, if you are, uh, if you’re under 30 years of age, you probably know a lot more than I do about the metaverse, and you probably believe in it a lot more. Um, but at my age, uh, eight to seven now, it’s sometimes for somebody to tell me, [00:41:00] you know, what, what is happening in, in this world?
Because all I can say is I love it. It’s entertaining and, you know, if it’s the future, great. I’m, I’m ready for it. Joe. Always ready for the opportunity. Um, I love it. So let’s move over to Quinn. Quinn, this is your chance. What is your question for. Well, I just had to start off by, uh, you can hear me right?
Yes, I can hear you. Okay. Well, I just wanna say I’m really happy for this opportunity, um, to be here speaking with you and, and learning from your experience as you do have, have much of it. Um, but with your experiences, uh, I could, I could ask, you know, how did you do this? How did you do that? But instead, I think, I want to ask about some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way in order to me, for me to learn from that.
all mistakes mis when, when you make a mistake, it’s, um, [00:42:00] I, I think with any mistake, and I, I, I did make a mistake in way back in the early days. I, uh, I was approached by a good friend and they had a very nice company and, uh, they were willing to do the, uh, distribution for, for a Reebok in the uk. They would handle that, which I thought was great because that meant that, uh, well, you know, I could concentrate on other markets such as America, um, which, which was wonderful, but I didn’t, uh, I didn’t foresee the fact that the owner would, uh, decide to retire, bring his, uh, son-in-law in that his son-in-law would, uh, create an awful lot of problems.
Um, and my friend who, who, uh, who brought me in the, he left the company as well and went to Barta, which is doing a different job. Um, so yeah, I, I, I think, was that a mistake? Well, at the time it didn’t seem like a mistake. And I think this is the problem that we have mistakes, [00:43:00] you know, it’s something happens after your decision, uh, to change the, uh, whatever’s going on.
And, uh, and, and I think what you gotta do with mistakes is accept them and. Change. The, the thing you have to do with a mistake is to acknowledge it. The worst thing you can do with a mistake is to try and make it work. To try and try to think, no, no, no, no, it should work. It’s, it, it should, no, you know, recognize when something goes wrong.
And, and, and I think that’s one of the things that I’m, I’m grateful that, that, uh, we Reebok could recognize that no, that’s wrong. And today it’s, uh, a, a again, you know, it’s pivoting, , you know, we get, we we’ve gotta change and then be willing to acknowledge it. You know, even if you do something that fails, which it probably probably mistake that makes it fail if it fails, take that as a lesson and just [00:44:00] say, no, I’m not gonna do that again.
I’m not going to commit Reebok totally to one distribution. They, I, I’ve gotta have a, a backup on that. I’ve gotta have something better than, uh, just that decision. So, Every mistake is a lesson. And, and I think again, being an entrepreneur, being an optimist, you take it as a lesson. You don’t take it as defeat.
Thank you so much. I really, I agree with you there, uh, on how, how you view the mistakes and acknowledging them. For sure. So thank you so much. You’re welcome. Take them head on, right, Joe? Right, right. Absolutely forward. I think that could be some of the best advice you ever get. Young qu . All right. On to Ron.
You’ve been patient. Ron , what is your question? Thank you. I don’t get accused of being patient every day. Thank you. Oh, hello Ron . Uh, great story Joe, which is [00:45:00] so full of learning and provocative hints. Um, I would like to ask, with all the benefit of hindsight, Can you think of any strategic moves that you might have made?
I’m talking to sort of the companion of Quinn’s question, not a, not a problem orientation, but an opportunity orientation. What strategic opportunities might you have taken on that you missed at the time? Well, you know, I mean we we’re talking 2020 hindsight, and, uh, well, that’s okay. We still get a great lesson.
Yeah. . Yeah. Being an optimist, I don’t believe very much in hindsight, um, I, we, uh, you know, we did what we did. Uh, and I could have changed a number of things, but you know, we overtook additive, we overtook Nike, we became number one, and no matter what decisions I’m thinking, [00:46:00] not too sure about that, whatever we became number one.
So, you know, what’s the change? And, and, and that, that for me is like, it’s almost like regrets. You know, people say, you know what? Regrets have you got? Well, there’s only two regrets for me, and one is that my brother died and my daughter died. And if I could have changed that, I would’ve done beyond that. E Every decision I made, I, I made it.
Maybe, maybe life could have been different, but had I, had I made those different changes, had I, had I done something, would rebunk it become number one? Would we have had that incredible growth with aerobics? I don’t know. Yeah, it’s like, you know, if I wanted to keep all in the company as again saying, no, I’ve gotta let go to give opportunity to the company.
This was not about Joel Foster. This was about the company and what the decisions I made [00:47:00] resulted in the company, became a number one. And, uh, you know, it, so it’s hard to have regrets. It’s hard to say, what would you change? And, uh, because it is almost admitting you’ve got regrets. So I don’t have regrets.
Um, I have some thoughts and I wonder, but I, it’s better off left. Just as wondering about what might have happened than thinking that what did happen was wrong or what I could have changed. I don’t think I could have. Well, when you become number one, you become number one, Don. Great . So we were so happy to get there.
And uh, and all I can say is that, uh, you know, yeah, I, I may have thought of things, but uh, I, I, I couldn’t, you know, the company and got bigger and, uh, maybe more people would’ve known Joe Foster, but this wasn’t about Joe Foster. This was about a brand. Our passion was the brand. The brand was Reebok. So everything was about what’s [00:48:00] best for Reebok.
And as I say, we became number one
and don’t live in regret. Right. That, that’s, that’s what holds us back. So thank you for sharing your own personal story for us in such a real and emotional way. It’s very inspiring. So let’s get over to Dean. Dean, what is your question for Joe? Hi Dean. Um, how you doing? I didn’t have a question. I just wanted to say thank you to Joe.
I worked at Reebok from March of 2019 to December of 2020, um, where I worked on projects like the Cardi B collaboration and many other things. Of course, heritage and legacy stuff like Alan Iverson. Um, great. And, and, and upon me leaving out the door, Joe sent me an autograph copy of his book, the Shoemaker, and I just wanted to say thank you again.
Um, and thank you for what you created and which eventually [00:49:00] gave me an opportunity to work there, you know, years later. Um, and I just wanted to say thank you. That was all. Well, thank you, because that’s incredible. Uh, you know, I appreciate everybody that’s, uh, has, has made anything, put any effort into Reebok because, you know, I value that so much.
The, so many people are our team, so many people, and we talk to them now and, uh, they, they love Reebok. They love their experience with the Reebok. You know, not everything is great, but really, you know, Reebok has that sort of feeling, that love, that enthusiasm and uh, you know, when I talk to people, they, they just value that time.
Definitely. Definitely. That’s so amazing, Dean, that you had that experience. I think a lot of us here would be a little envious. So good for you that you worked your way to that. So let’s pop over to Jared. Jared’s a regular moderator here on Startup Club. , he has [00:50:00] contributed amazingly to our members. So, Jared, what is your question for Joe?
Hey, what’s up everybody? And, uh, if you haven’t done so already, make sure you click the Greenhouse and follow the Startup Club. Only place that you’ll find this kind of quality conversation, in my humble opinion. So make sure to follow Call and Michele and everybody on stage. But, um, Joe, just curious, um, as you know, hip hop was born in the eighties, um, and Reebok was, you know, a brand that was mentioned in, sorry, I got a phone call and then in the nineties and two thousands, hip hop became Right.
Even more integrated in Reebok. Um, yeah. What was Reebok’s, uh, reaction to, you know, hip hop kind of, um, increasing the brand and then, you know, how did you utilize that and future strategies after, uh, maybe you departed. Well, I, I think with Reebok, we were, we were outside of, uh, governed by strict [00:51:00] performance.
We, we, we were looking because we’d moved into aerobics. We, we’d moved out from, uh, just, uh, won’t say performance sports that we knew there. There was something else that was coming along. Everything that was coming along was going to change, and we were ready for change. You know, we were, we were ready to do this.
We were ready to pivot. And, and I think the wonderful thing is that, uh, you know, I think that we got first started again using, uh, um, you know, the, the stars, film stars and, and then music, you know, whatever. So whatever we thought influenced people, we thought we could use this to influence our product. So our product just didn’t become something you, you, you played the soccer with, or you, you know, basketball or, or whatever, whatever sport.
No, our product was there for the people. You know, people could enjoy our product, they could enjoy it on the street, it will perform. Um, And we are, we are [00:52:00] a sports brand. We, but also we are, we’re an exciting brand. We, you know, we, we, we love life and we’re, we’re el we’re, life leads us, we we’re so willing to go with that and, uh, whether it was hip hop in those early days.
Uh, and I, I don’t know. I mean, we, we have so many people now that, uh, we call influencers and, uh, I, I think, uh, our strategy changed to be what, how can we influence people? And, you know, Reebok became street, I think Reebok at one time during the, the late eighties. We, we were supposed about 60% of Americans had bought a pair of Reebok, which is an incredible, an incredible story as far as I’m concerned.
And hopefully we’ll get back to that now. But yeah, I think you, you have to, you have to look at influence. Just like we looked at Whitespace. Whitespace is somewhere we can go to create more influence for the brand. , and it could be in people, it could be in [00:53:00] different, you know, there will be something different.
We were just talking about the Metaverse and, uh, NFTs, you know, is this, is this an area for influencing for brands? Maybe it is, you know, let’s, let’s go with it. And for me it’s, uh, you know, there are no barriers. You go wherever you think that, uh, your brand should go and, uh, influencing people and people’s lives.
Yeah. That kind of says it all, Joe, right? I mean, you really did a brilliant job, you and your team of connecting those dots and supporting each other, and that’s pretty amazing. So let’s get over to Amit. Amit, welcome back to Startup Club. Thanks, Michele. Hey Joe, this is Amit speaking. I’m in, I’m in Chicago, so shout out.
Thanks sir. It’s not too cold yet, but do come by in February. We’ll, well we were, yeah, we were there earlier this year, [00:54:00] but, uh, we, we, and it wasn’t quite so cold. Oh wait, were there, we were there in April, so it was a bit, a bit better than February . Absolutely. Well, still a bit we’ll on for you, . Alright, regarding the 3.8 billion, was it, um, acquisition by Adidas in 2005.
I’m curious, um, where the control was over that decision. Um, how the decision was made and then like, if you felt like, uh, I don’t know, if like, look like you, um, like giving, giving up the company was something, if that was difficult or what it was like after. ? Well, uh, I had, I had stepped back from the company in 1990, so I didn’t make any of that decision.
That decision was made by other people. Um, I, I think of the, but the, the problem was that rebook plateaued. Now, why is it plateaued and the, the problems for that? Uh, I, I think it’s a [00:55:00] question of, you know, the, the possibly the, uh, there were too many presidents, you know, we changed, we changed an awful lot.
We couldn’t find the rhythm. I don’t think we could find a rhythm at that point. And I had stepped back. It, I had nothing to do with the brand at that point. I am, you know, it’s, it was a decision made by somebody else for me, unfortunately, because people say to me, uh, was it wrong to, uh, for Aus to buy the brand?
Well, for Aus to buy the brand? That was Aus decision and they paid a lot of money. And then, then people say, well, no, ais didn’t do Reebok, uh, any good, but I don’t think Aus bought Reebok to do Reebok good. Which is real shame. So really it’s why did the people who sold Reebok decide to sell Reebok to Adi?
And, and that again, uh, eludes me. Um, it was not a good, uh, a good choice for Reebok because Adidas, of course, [00:56:00] they, they, they were the big boys then. They, they, they, they owned Reebok and they could. Take Reebok where they wanted to. And I don’t blame Reebok, I don’t blame Aus for that because when you pay three point, uh, $6 billion for a company, I think you are entitled to do whatever you want with it.
In a way, a shame for Reebok. And I think it was a shame and uh, I don’t think Aus knew what to do because Aus and Reebok almost sort of covered the same areas. Uh, uh, Aus tried to, uh, make, uh, Reebok a fitness company whilst AED has stayed a performance company. Unfortunately, they, they didn’t do it right.
Uh, you almost maybe, uh, and, and I can only speculate, you know, maybe Aus and I think Aus now have, uh, I think Tailormade was added us. I think they’ve, they’ve now sold off the brands they bought, and I think the reason they sold that is because they’re not really set up to be [00:57:00] a multi-brand company now with a b G that is different.
Authentic brands. They have over 40 brands and they’re set up to franchise the brands so that each brand can look after itself and run separate. So it’s one thing that AIS didn’t have, but I, I think now with a b g, we have a totally different situation. They, they bought, uh, they bought Reebok now for, I think it’s, uh, two and a half billion, which most people said is at least a billion more than you should have paid for it.
But the plans are brilliant because they now have over 20 global distribution, uh, partners with. Thousands of outlets. And I think what we’re going to see now is a Reebok, well, I think Reebok in Panama. We were those shortly said. Now Reebok is unleashed. Uh, we, we think it’s Reebok are coming out from the shadows.
So, uh, what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna see much more Reebok. [00:58:00] So visibility for Reebok is going, is, is going to multiply by an incredible amount by the end of 23. Uh, I think that a b g expect Reebok will be back to 5 billion and growing to 10 billion by 2030. So, you know, the addest, uh, the ADU times not good for Reebok.
Ais did what they wanted to do and that they, they grew on the fact that Reebok was so big in America that this gave them a, a better footage in America. They, they, and they grew on that. So, uh, Now that Reebok away from that, I think Reebok are gonna be much, much better. And, uh, you know, for, for Aus you can’t blame Aus for what they did.
They, they did it, but, uh, Reebok survived and Reebok went bigger. That’s great news. Um, I, I didn’t realize that. So that’s [00:59:00] something that we all learned, you know, it’s just a lesson, right? When you can try to go with a strategic buyer, especially if you have a company like Joe’s where it really is a legacy of Joe and his family and his team.
So that’s exciting news. We’ll look forward to seeing how they move forward. Indeed. So, yes, and I’m, and I’m sure you will be, um, an amazing contributor as you always are. So we have three more people on the stage. We tried to end at exactly three o’clock. I think Joe will go about 15 minutes or more, um, so that we can do a proper wrap up.
Okay. If that’s okay with you. I’m with you. No problem. Carry on. Okay, excellent. So let’s go to doctor. Doctor, you’ve been down here patiently waiting. What is your question or comment for Joe? Doctor, [01:00:00] you’re on mute. . Okay. Right. Let’s go over to Greg. Greg? Yes. Thank you Michele. Uh, thank you. Hi, Greg. How, how are you doing Mr.
Uh, Mr. Foster? Um, I’m, I’m doing fine. Thank you. Yes. Awesome. Thank you. I, I do one will say thank you for your, your wisdom. Thank you for your time. Um, I know you could be doing a million other things in the world, so we do thank you, uh, for, for being here in the startup club. Uh, my question for you is, um, as I’m listening to you speak, you know, I, I can tell you, uh, you have a competitive spirit cuz I, I, you often mentioned, you know, taking over as number one, um, you know, the number one spot to, to Nike.
Um, I, I gotta ask, you know, when, when that happened, when that, you know, when, when you guys took that number one spot, um, what was your language like to your executive teams, your board members? What was your language like, um, to them, to when you, when, when you guys took [01:01:00] that number one? Well, you know, number one spot to that point, I probably wasn’t anything to do with the executive.
I was more, uh, retired and, you know, watching things happen. But the great thing, the great thing for me was the fact that, uh, number one, when we got, uh, five star shoe and, and my well got three, five statues, which actually got us into America. That was, that was the time to, to really feel we’ve made it, we’ve done it.
Fantastic. But, you know, you, you, you get to the, the top of one hill and this question, where’s the next one? You know where, where, where we go next, we gotta climb again. So we, we kept climbing and, uh, And, and it was fantastic to become number one. Uh, it was like, uh, we didn’t expect this. We just wanted it, but we didn’t expect it.
It was like, it was like achieving something that, uh, you know, you, you think people don’t achieve. Number one, it was like, how do we do this? But, you know, when you’ve got that enthusiasm and that really started that feeling [01:02:00] in, in a company that we can achieve anything. Um, when, when you do actually get there, the feeling is so incredible.
So for me, when I, I was speaking to people and it was like, wow, you know, this, this is incredible. You know, this, you know, it is almost a pinnacle, but then you’re gonna say, where’s the next one? . And, you know, how, how do you, how do you beat being number one? Well, I, I guess the problem is retaining that position to retain number one.
And unfortunately for Reebok, it didn’t retain number one. But, uh, you know, those achievements were, were incredible. And, uh, and, and I think the enthusiasm is making sure that, uh, when the team. Achieve those things. You, you, you’re all together, you’re, you’re all actually sharing that, uh, that goal. And, uh, you know, for me, uh, I’ve said this earlier, it was nothing to do with Joel Foster.
It was always to do with, uh, with Reebok, you know, to get Reebok to become a number one. [01:03:00] And don’t confuse people by saying, no, you know, Joe Foster is this Joe Fa no, it to, to me it was, uh, it was fabulous. Uh, I just wish my brother could have been around at the time to see what we did achieve. Uh, and, you know, those achievements, it really is.
You, you don’t wanna share this with an executive. You share it with the whole company. And, uh, I, I loved it that, uh, people wanted be, feel part of a Reebok. And for me, that, that I think is, uh, is so important in any company. People have to feel part of it. They have to feel that they, uh, they belong. And, uh, so for me it was always that, how, how do we all belong?
How do I all share this, uh, this achievement? And, you know, I still today feel it is such a, a great honor that we actually achieved that number one position. And I feel we’re all lucky to have you [01:04:00] here today on Clubhouse. We’re so grateful, Joe. Um, really you are a blessing. So last but not least, we have Jack who actually introduced us to Joe.
Uh, Jack. We’re looking forward to your question for Joe. Hi Jack. How are you doing? Joe, my brother. It’s good to, good to see you here in the startup club. And, you know, shout out to the startup club. Shout out to Colin. Shout out to Michele, Jeffrey, ed, the whole gang here. Guys. If you’re not following the startup club, make sure you do that.
And as well, make sure you follow Joe, uh, follow Joe here on, start on, uh, on the app as well. You know, make sure you click over and go to his Instagram, follow him, follow his journey. I mean, one thing that really inspires me, uh, so much actually inspires me about Joe and his story. And, but what I would, my question would be to you with, you know, today we have the power of the internet, right?
And Yes, you know, back then you didn’t have the power of the internet. And so it’s like you were, but, but yet you didn’t let that stop you, you didn’t let that hold your back. And you, you mentioned something earlier that really stood out to [01:05:00] me. You mentioned, uh, no Barriers. You know, and I think sometimes we get, we look at maybe our market.
We look at where we’re at, we look at maybe our geographic location and we’re like, this is where I’m at. This is what I do. And how did you expand your identity than just your. Well, I, I, I, I think for me, and I, I’m sure for you, Jackie, is the fact that, uh, you know, if you have a mission, you’ve gotta say, where does, uh, you know, where does this end, how does it end?
You know, the, the mission could be anything. It’s uh, uh, and, and, and I think that’s what keeps you driving. You know, the, the anus, you said, look, uh, you know, my parental company, J Fosters, they actually did business with Yale University. They were selling 200 pairs of, uh, HandsOn uh, running shoes every month to, uh, to Frank Ryan and Bob G and Jack were the head cultures at, uh, Yale.
And, uh, I, I think that inspired me a little bit in sort of saying, well, if they could do it, I can do it. And, [01:06:00] and then when you start expanding and, uh, we got to usa I got, yeah. And for me, Paul Fireman was the gem, you know, he was, he was really good. He, I, I found one of the, the difficulties that if we put somebody in from another country into a, a different country and they try and run it, what they don’t understand is the culture.
So I never wanted to. The, the American business per se. It was a question of, nope. The Americans know what to do in that place. Let them run it. Let, let me give them as much as I can to let me give them five stars. Let me give them, uh, the advantage of what we’ve known for a hundred years, um, and let them go.
And so, you know, this is, this is an incredible thing. It is. And you need a lot of people, and you need them to believe. And if they believe, they feel like you. Uh, and it’s not ownership for me, it’s never been ownership. Ownership is a bit too much. Ego [01:07:00] ownership is like, you know, this, this is mine, this is whatever.
No ownership has gotta be between all the people who want to be belong to your operation. So is is there any limit? Uh, I don’t think there’s any limit. You know, we’re, we’re, we’re now, we’re now on a, on a new mission. Our new mission, unfortunately, means selling Joel Foster because we’re selling the book Shoemaker.
Um, but we get an awful amount of, um, you know, incredible feelings from people who, who write it and say, wow, love that book. You know it. Yeah. In fact, we had one today, he’d read it four times, and now he’s just actually sent for another signed copy because he wants to, uh, keep that for his son, who is only two years old.
And, uh, And when, uh, when when he gets old enough, he’s going to give it to him. You know, we feel so humble at that, you know, you know, that, that is incredible. But, uh, that he would feel that our book is so, um, influential in his life that he could keep it for his son. So, you know, I, I think [01:08:00] being humble is, is, uh, is what, uh, and I That’s good.
I I think it’s like being in awe of what has happened to Reebok and being in awe of, uh, you know, where the future is for anything. And so, you know, we travel, as you know, we travel a lot. And, uh, it, it’s great to talk to people. Uh, you know, if people have got any confusion, any problems, it’s like, believe, believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing.
And we got that lucky that Reaper became so big, uh, that it gives us this opportunity. So nice to talk to you, Jack. That’s awesome, Joe. And, uh, I have one more question, Joe. I just wanted to sort of try to summarize, uh, I don’t know if you know this Joe, but Mimi in the audience there, she writes a blog after every show.
So Mimi, I think, I think I’m gonna be able to help you with this, this, this one, but you’re listening today to really a legend, Joe Foster, who is the author of the book, Shoemaker. [01:09:00] I can attest. It’s a great read, uh, very flows very quickly. It’s such, it’s a fun read, you know, if you’re a startup or you’re thinking of launching a business.
I, I just think it’s such a great book to read and your story about the, the son there. I had, I’d invited Quinn in. I said, Quinn, there’s a moment in time when you can come in. He came and he asked a great question about, you know, what were your biggest mistakes? And so I thought it was really cool. If you’ve come in late, uh, to this, to this show, you can listen to it on replay, on Clubhouse or on your favorite podcast network.
Um, the name of the podcast is Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed. Uh, you can simply just ask Alexa to play it. We post them every Wednesday. So, uh, get, uh, this episode will be posted next Wednesday at noon. Uh, so a few lessons, a few lessons that sort of picked up on this in this show here today.
Influencers work. What’s Old again, is new again. I think that’s absolutely fascinating. Looking for opportunities in the white [01:10:00] spaces where nobody’s there. Be different and it’s interesting, be different cuz I think Reebok lives up to that. I, before even knowing you, Joe, I was searching on the internet for a pair of CrossFit shoes and I came across, um, one, uh, created by Reebok and I’ve ordered a second pair for my home up north.
But uh, I just, I just found it interesting that they really, you know, specialized in that. But ba ba but be different. Position yourself for the big break. And that does take, no luck does come, but if you’re prepared when the opportunity arises, so that can actually, um, that can actually make a big difference for your startup.
What’s interesting, Joe, you don’t know this, but we have a chapter in the book Start Scale, exit Repeat, which I mentioned earlier on in the show, which is publishing October 3rd, 2023. And there’s a chapter in the book called Position for the Big Break. And, and given all our conversations, hopefully we articulated your story pretty well in that chapter.
I hope so. Yeah. The next is reviews Matter. [01:11:00] I mean, think about that. Three shoes got five stars and that makes a difference. I mean, you know, everything today is about reviews, even Airbnbs or whatever it is. Reviews matter. What’s old again, is new again, distribution is key. And your patience and tenacity to take over 10 years to get there, it was pretty, it was a pretty awesome story.
Energy and belief. You gotta have those two things as an entrepreneur. If it isn’t working, pivot and change. Trust the team. Don’t live in regret. And I’m gonna ask you one last thing and you, you ended it when you came here in Fort Lauderdale and you talked to the Entrepreneur’s organization. You mentioned three words and they were the same word, three letter words, uh, and uh, it was all about what Jo?
Joe, if you want, I can remind, remind you of the word, but. If you remember the speech, three letter words, I can remember the words indeed. I can remember the speech. I can remember being there in Fort Lauderdale. We loved it. . Alright, [01:12:00] we really did love it. Michael Know the thing is that, um, if you’re gonna be a success, the, the one one, the most important thing is to have fun.
And, uh, as you said, these three words are the same because the best thing, the second best thing is having more fun. And thirdly, you gotta have. Whatever you do, really have fun. And those are the three most important things. Fun. Because if you’re not having fun, it’s tough. And you know, if you’re having fun, it come becomes a lot easier, uh, because you are enjoying it and the people around you are enjoying it also.
So fun, fun, fun. Those are my three words. That’s awesome. It’s been a great show. We’ll see everybody next Friday, two o’clock Eastern. Can’t say how thankful we are to those who came on stage. Michael, Samantha, Quinn, Ron, Dean, Jarrett, you’re like the biggest supporter of Startup Club. We love you, uh, Amit, Dr.
Yang, Greg, and Jack. Of course. We love you too. So what a great show. Thank you everyone. We’ll see you next week. Thank you, Colleen. Thank you [01:13:00] guys. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend. Thank you. Be well. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, bye then. Bye.