Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Find a gray-haired mentor"

Justin Gold could write a book on being a passionate person. From my initial greeting and throughout his lecture his passion was contagious. He was not only passionate about his business but also about his interests, hobbies and family. My experience with Justin was not limited to the lecture as I was able to be his host throughout the night. The following points are concepts I learned from not only his lecture but also from my interaction with him throughout the night.

Justin Gold, Founder and CEO of Justin's Nut Butter
Know who you are: When I met Justin, he was in a food distributor trade show. I noticed Justin was unique as I walked around the room looking at the different booths and their reps. He was the youngest one in the room but looked comfortable in talking with the other vendors. When I introduced myself he greeted me as one would a good friend. I did not feel any ego or superiority. Throughout the night he stayed true to this character and was comfortable in his skin and with his story.

Let your supply chain feel some ownership: When Justin was trying to get into stores he regularly went to the buyers and asked their opinion of the product. He asked for their feedback on everything from the recipe to the packaging. While he did not always implement the feedback he would later go back to the buyer and ask for their feedback again and again. By doing this, he built a relationship, and the buyer felt he/she had given input to the final product they finally would decide to place on the shelves.

Find a gray-haired mentor: The right mentor is one that has time and is interested in giving back to the next generation. His mentors have been the key to his success as they have unlocked doors to capital, determining strategy and building distribution networks. An interesting experience occurred on our drive to the campus. Justin spent a half hour on the phone with another entrepreneur giving advice on how to get into the market. After the call he said that he has about five of those calls a week and rarely hears again from them. A mentor is someone that is a long-term relationship and not a one-time event like these calls.

Do the things you love now: The life that gives meaning to the rest of life has to be nurtured and scheduled. The activities that you love can all to easily be pushed to the side. He was tempted to live at the office all his waking hours but his mentor told him to keep doing the things he loved because he risked forgetting how to do those things. I recognize this personally because I am doing this now with school. I have not been hiking in far too long. I keep telling myself there is no time and push it off.

Start with the end in mind: Justin has a strategic plan on where he wants to take the company. There are two general plans for his company’s future. He wants to build the company into a national brand and keep running it as long as it is fun. The other plan is to build it to the point that he can have a healthy exit sale. He knows that to have the second exit strategy he needs to currently be in contact with companies that could potentially purchase his company.

- Bryce Huff

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