I’m excited to have Neal Caplowe on the show today. Neal has been in the biz for many years and talks about how he went from retail to starting a graphic T-shirt business in the early days of the Outdoor biz. Plenty of stories and nuggets in here for anyone in the industry or thinking of launching their own gig.
I think I was always drawn to doing something myself. I just wanted to do something on my own that I could go hang up on the bulletin board and say I did that.
I dabbled with a few thoughts with some friends about opening up a bike shop or an outdoor shop because I was definitely into kayaking, especially around here in northern Virginia. It’s a big kayaking area, I did that for years and years and got into climbing because again, a lot of that around here as well. Not like California, but pretty and there’s a lot of it. I made several trips to Seneca rocks and things like that. Then I wound up getting a job at, which I don’t even know how many people remember it, at a place called Herman’s Sporting Goods. Well, not literally my first job, you know, I had some stuff in college and whatever, but yes, it was my first real job.
Things we talked about
American Eagle outfitters
I’ve learned a lot over the years. I think it’s the age old story. I feel like I learn stuff every day, you know, and I think when you stop learning it really starts to get old. I think focus is really important. Whether again, if you want to get into the outdoor business or you’re in it and you want to move forward and grow your career, I think you’ve got to pick a focus. To the extent you can pick a focus and put your energy and efforts behind it. I think that will produce positive results. I just recently had a conversation with somebody, speaking of learning, we were talking about some sales and product and marketing things. He made the comment that it’s product, program, and process. And that was like, damn, that’s good. It says one of those simple things, that if you think about it, reflect about, you can talk about it for an hour and you know, whether you would have chosen those words or not that would have been what you were talking about.
My other advice and it’s tough as a startup thing. You know, if you’re working for somebody, it becomes a little easier because inherently by working for somebody means there’s at least teammates around you. But you need to surround yourself with people who are good at those key junctures that are not your strength. Because nobody’s going to be good at everything. It’s just not realistic.
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