Confidence: Confidence is earned and created by doing hard things. Start somewhere and believe in yourself. When issues arise, face them, make a decision, fix them, learn from them and move on. Continue to challenge yourself in the process and you will earn the faith you need to have in you.
As a part of my series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Krista Woods. Krista was in the Sales, Training & Management Industry for 27 years. While raising three kids, she was promoted from sales to management quickly. Although being a female in a male dominated field wasn’t always easy, she found repeated success in her ability to effectively communicate with her coworkers and customers. Krista wanted to grow as a leader and positive role model, so she invested in herself by taking a course to become a Certified Color Code Instructor and in 2016 she added award winning inventor to her resume with her company GloveStix. Krista and her company GloveStix have been honored to receive over 15 awards the last 3 years including The Today Show’s “Next Big Thing” and this past year her Shark Tank episode aired where she pitched her product to some of America’s toughest Investors and closed a deal with not one, but two of the Sharks, on National Television.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?
I grew up in a very successful family, my father was a business owner and always made sure we knew that you don’t get anything in life without hard work. I am the youngest of 4 so when I was in High School my older siblings were already off and gone to college, but I had no clue what I wanted to do or who I wanted to “be”. All I knew at the time, is that I could make people laugh so I usually got into trouble doing a bunch of silly stuff and I had a hard time following the rules. I ended up going to Community College to try and figure things out but during my first year I became a single mom, so I ended up dropping out. Needless to say, when I held my beautiful daughter in my arms, I knew it was time to finally get my act together.
Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?
Fast Forward 21 years, a husband and 2 more kids later, as a working mother of 3 I was always very busy especially during their sports seasons. I spent more time in the car running from event to event and I had less time at home. I had spent years trying different products to help with the odor in their gear and wasted so much money, time and effort trying to get the odor out. Especially from those athletic gloves and cleats. It wasn’t only my problem, every parent of an athlete I knew also had the same odor issues.
So 5 years ago, on the way home from a Lacrosse Tournament, my youngest sons gear bag was making me want to puke… again… and I looked at my husband and said, “That’s it! I am going to invent something!” With absolutely no experience in manufacturing, e-commerce, logistics or marketing, or actually anything I do now, and with the help of my husband and friends I went from idea to prototype then to having an actual product for sale in 1 year.
The actual design of the Stix just popped in my head. I wanted to create a product that not only was “cool” looking, so the athlete would actually want to use it, but after several months of research I also knew…
-They HAD to work
-They HAD to be affordable
-They HAD to be non-toxic
-They HAD to be easy to use, to help out us moms always on the go
That’s when GloveStix and StankStix were born!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Thankfully I have a lot of stories, it sure has been an incredible few years and I have managed to do so many things I never thought possible. Everyone knows I have been on different TV Shows, but I think one of the most gratifying and interesting things I have done was not publicized. I have been volunteering in my local schools for a few years, speaking to students in the classroom as well as their Marketing and Deca Departments and because of that, I was recommended to VAME (Virginia Association of Marketing Educators) to be a closing speaker for their summer conference last year. I was extremely nervous, here I was going to speak to my state of Virginia’s Marketing Teachers, yet I had never taken a Marketing class so I wasn’t sure how well I would be received. It went awesome, more than awesome actually and because of that I was invited to be part of the Virginia Department of Education’s Marketing and Entrepreneurship Curriculum Team. That means, I sat on a board with only 14 others including some Middle School Teachers, High School Teachers, College Professors and another Business Owner and we spent the entire day rewriting the curriculum for the State of Virginia and changed what they will teach in our Schools.
I found it so interesting watching all the different perspectives coming together at one table to work together, unify and solve real world teaching strategies. I love how they had a few of us from each category. Teachers shared what they currently taught, the College Professors shared what they currently taught (which was surprisingly different from the Teachers) and us Entrepreneurs, we shared what actually happens. Despite our initial differences in opinion, we learned from each other and came together to create some awesome new curriculum for our young marketing students.
When you have an open mind, and say yes to yourself, you can do and learn some amazing things that will create change for years to come.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
One of the funniest things from the beginning days was when I was trying to find a manufacturer. After months of calling plastic factories within 300 miles of my house, getting hung up on, leaving messages over and over again and never getting any return calls or emails, one day I finally got this guy on the phone to listen to what I wanted to make. I was probably talking 100 miles per hour (I was just so excited I actually got someone to listen to me) and when I was done he said, “I am sorry mam, we don’t work with Entrepreneurs” well I wasn’t sure who he was talking to because I responded, “Excuse me, I am NOT an Entrepreneur; I am just a mom trying to invent something!”
I still laugh at that and share that story. It just goes to show you that I really knew NOTHING. I didn’t even know that I was trying to be an Entrepreneur and I definitely did not think I was capable of being one. I learned that Entrepreneurship is one of the hardest but most rewarding professions and any one is capable of it if you have a drive and passion to see it through. There are a lot of ups and downs, it’s like a roller coaster ride that is never ending so it takes a certain mindset to keep convincing yourself to keep pushing forward.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Prior to GloveStix, I ran Color Code Team Building Workshops for Companies, so I got my people fix doing that and I absolutely loved it. Making the transition over the last few years to full time GloveStix, one of the hardest challenges for me is all the time I now have to spend in my office… by myself. However, starting GloveStix has opened up a lot of doors in other areas I wasn’t expecting, and I also have been doing a lot of public speaking. Giving my time to help inspire others is actually what fuels me so I have been doing a lot of it on the side. There is nothing better than being inspired, by inspiring someone else. The feedback I get from the audience, and the messages sent to me after I speak are what I carry with me through my hard days and I am so grateful that my story, can make someone else feel like they can do anything. That’s the point I try to make, if I can do it, so can YOU! There will be a lot more of that in my future, the more I speak, the more I get asked to speak and I absolutely love it!
Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?
I applied for Shark Tank at an open casting call in April 2017 in NYC. The crazy thing was, I actually really did not want to go on Shark Tank, I was way too scared but everywhere I went and everyone I talked to would always ask if I was going to try. I got asked by The Today Show to come back for a one year follow up of The Today Show’s “Next Big Thing” Contest I won and this little birdy in my head kept telling me to check when a Shark Tank Casting Call was so I finally listened to the voice in my head and I hopped on their website. That is when I found out that the open casting call date was the day after I was going on the Today Show and only 2 blocks from where I was going to be in NYC. All I had to do was stay one more night. All the stars were aligning, and I no longer had any excuses, so I decided to go for it! I had about 2 weeks to prepare my pitch and I practiced every day. When I did my pitch I thought it was “Ok” so I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it past that round or not but it wasn’t too long after that I received a call from a Producer telling me that I made it to the next round. Of course, still with no guarantees, I was then assigned another producer who basically interviewed me every week for the next 6 weeks. She would ask me to send in certain paperwork or for me to send my sample pitch or even one time I had to do a 10 min video talking about myself and my business. I did it in 2 takes, I wanted it to be as authentic as possible! Every time I had about 5 days until I had to get them what they were asking for and I dropped everything and got them everything they asked for, even before they needed it. Once I made a decision to go for it, there was no stopping me and I wanted to show them I was reliable, and they could count on me in the process as well. I think that is a very important piece that a lot of people forget about. Will you be easy to work with?
I know that Producers have tons of people to pick from, you have to make sure they know that you will do your part and that they can be confident in their choice if they choose to pick you. I eventually got a call and heard the words I was waiting for, “Krista, we would like to offer you an opportunity to pitch your product in the Tank!” OMG, I FREAKED OUT! Seriously, I couldn’t believe I had done it, I couldn’t believe it was happening and I just screamed and cried and screamed some more. Several of my family members came running to my office to check on me and my producer, who I loved, just giggled on the other end of the phone. She said that was one of the best reactions she had ever heard.
I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?
I calmed myself the same way I do anything challenging. Before I went in, I first said lots of prayers and then second, I put in headphones and listened to some angry girl power music, then right before I pray again! Mindset matters and nothing gets my mindset in the right place then when I am all jacked up on Pink, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Jesus! LOL
Once you are in the Tank though all that was out the window. You don’t see cameras; you just see 5 people and an opportunity of a lifetime. After your initial 1 min and 30 second pitch, it’s a free for all and I am a firm believer that you never rise to the occasion, but you fall back to your preparation. I was confident that I prepared more for this moment, then I had ever prepared for anything in my life and that I could hold my own, that helps with nerves a lot. For 3 months prior I studied every single day. I watched every Shark Tank Episode, wrote down every question asked, then would write them on a 3x5 index card with the answers that pertained to my business on the back. I added new cards every night to my pile and brought those cards in my purse everywhere I went and those times that I used to pull up Facebook while in the carpool line or a line at the store, or where ever, I brought out my index cards instead. I studied hard and didn’t stop until the morning of my taping. Preparation produces confidence and confidence helps you do anything!
So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?
When my Shark Tank episode first aired, I did more business in the next 2 months then I had done the entire previous year before so financially it was a huge success right away. My episode was very well received by the audience, and I am so thankful for that, and I got hundreds of emails from strangers telling me that I inspired them. It was the most incredible feeling. I will never forget the kind words that were shared with me in those emails and the personal stories of struggle from some. Since then, I have made it a priority to give back, volunteer more, and continue to inspire as many people as I can.
What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
It just so happens when I speak, I talk about the 5 C’s. These are the 5 things I have learned and by practicing these 5 C’s it has helped me grow as a business owner and leader.
- Courage: You must have the courage to step out, try something new and challenge yourself. By accepting new challenges, you force yourself to grow! You must get uncomfortable intentionally.
- Calculated: You must have a plan of attack. What is your WHY, your WHO and your WHEN? Research, gain knowledge, ask questions and GROW.
- Conservative: If I would have listened to the advice of some of the entrepreneurs of the world that have Podcasts, or that I read about on the internet, I never would have started. Some of them give outlandish advice in my opinion. You don’t have to invest all your money or buy way too much product to get started. You just have to start. You can tip your toe into the hot water and test it before you take a bath. Don’t let those people scare you away from following a dream. You can be conservative in your mission.
- Comparison: Never compare yourself or your business with others. Don’t try to do what they do. Everyone is blessed with different gifts, your job is to find out what yours are, and use them.
- Confidence: Confidence is earned and created by doing hard things. Start somewhere and believe in yourself. When issues arise, face them, make a decision, fix them, learn from them and move on. Continue to challenge yourself in the process and you will earn the faith you need to have in you.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout?
I like challenge, I need it to keep me going. I have a what’s next type of personality. However, in teaching my Team Building Workshops I have learned that although most people need something to look forward to or work towards, they are not always financial goals. I highly recommend if you are working in a team environment to make sure you fully understand who your teammates are and what they need. Everyone’s needs and wants are different and recognizing what they are, will help them enjoy their jobs. If you are always pushing your own agenda, and your own needs and wants on to your people, burn out is almost inevitable. Proper communication, understanding and acceptance of who your people are, are key.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could inspire a movement it would be a “Stop believing everything you see on Social Media” movement. Social media is awesome in so many ways but we need to understand it has its downsides too. I know so many people that can go on it and depending on the day it makes them feel really bad about themselves or their life. That makes me sad because on Social Media, people usually only share the good stuff that happens to them, very rarely do you see a “I sure sucked today” post. Well, even if people don’t post about it, we all have sucky days, yes, even the most successful people you know make mistakes and have challenges and struggles both personally and professionally. There is no such thing as perfect and even if there was… how boring!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Be real and be vulnerable. You may not fit in but you were designed to stand out!
Some people follow the yellow brick road to get to their OZ while I have always been one to swing from the trees and branches to get to mine. It has served me well in life to follow my own path, not the path that others set for me. Your path may be different, and it may not be the easy path but as long as you are being true to yourself, you will succeed!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Yes, lots of them but Kevin Plank who owns Under Armour needs to meet me. His headquarters are in Maryland, which is right across the bridge from where I live, and he started his business out of the trunk of his car. His story is amazing, and I think about what an incredible business he has all the time. I think one day there is a possibility we could do business together, I know I am reaching, but I am supposed to reach… right?! ☺