The people there at the end won’t be all the same people at the beginning. Finding your niche of success is really hard and takes time. Sometimes great people have to part ways. Early on, we had a very talented designer + strategic brand thinker. She had a kid and life obligations and other opportunities. Microsoft offered her a lot more than we could for years to come. She had to bounce. Luckily, we hired her partner. So we get her on the cheap now in her spare time 😉
Ihad the pleasure of interviewing John Cascarano, founder of Team Beast. He is an entrepreneur with a history of successful ventures — he was a founding team member of Mental Floss while in college at Duke University, built the online beauty product retailer Lock & Mane, and served as E-Commerce Director for ABLE, a women’s apparel and accessories retailer with the social mission of ending generational poverty; he helped triple the company’s online revenue in twelve months. John sees the opportunity to build an iconic, global consumer brand, with products better for the environment and “Beasts of all kinds.”
Thank you so much for joining us John! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Iwas in my late 30s when my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. That led me to pump the brakes on lollygagging through life and switch to doing that, which got me excited to wake up every morning. Out of that emerged a brand about energy, intensity and maximizing life enjoyment and impact on the world for Beasts of all kinds.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
The hardest challenge early on is building a great team with little money. At first, I focused a lot on convincing people on the compensation side, that in the future they could make a lot if this thing blows up. It’s a hard argument. I’ve learned through experience what people want more than money is purpose, and as the mission of the company has unfolded to something more elevated and moving, more talented people like Jay Wilkison and Kelley O’Hara have joined Team Beast.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I am fortunate to have good people around me who self-examine. I do get angry when someone calls me out on me being wrong, and I am a stubborn SOB who likes winning. However, I’ve learned that if you show people that you can admit being wrong and give people credit for their idea (and that the mission controls, not your ego), you can really deepen relationships.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
(1) It will take longer than you think. We planned on raising $__ 2 years ago and raised $__ minus A LOT just last month.
(2) It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Team Beast has pitched totally disinterested, overly questioning individuals in over 15 cities (folks love to play Shark Tank over a free dinner). We have been rejected more times than I care to add up. While trying to grow a business. People will waste your time for fun. They will blow you off. Reviews will unjustifiably slam you. Competitors will play dirty. You gotta keep grinding.
(3) The people there at the end won’t be all the same people at the beginning. Finding your niche of success is really hard and takes time. Sometimes great people have to part ways. Early on, we had a very talented designer + strategic brand thinker. She had a kid and life obligations and other opportunities. Microsoft offered her a lot more than we could for years to come. She had to bounce. Luckily, we hired her partner. So we get her on the cheap now in her spare time 😉
(4) You are you. When I sold my last company, there was a period of high that followed the closing. It faded and I returned to my baseline of how I feel and got the itch again to grind away at something. Eventually, it occurred to me that I should find a way to be happy amidst the grind and not live life waiting for moments that may or may not come. I still love the HBO show The Wire. Lester Freamon has some great lines, like ““Tell me something, Jimmy. How do you think it all ends?” Gotta keep balanced.
(5) Life is about people. I worked at a big law firm for a while. I felt like this Dickens character that would get more and more uptight and feel more clenched every day on his walk to his office. Some things never change. My grandfather told me, “John, life is about people! Stop focusing on corporations. Focus on people!” He loved exclamatory statements.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do exercise that you love to do. I love to play basketball. So I do it regularly. Who cares if you’re good. With my headphones on, I make it rain from beyond the arc in my mind.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My grandfather is the greatest man I’ve known. He was a tough man who pushed people hard to do what they love to do every day. You must do that which you jump out of bed to work on. Every. Damn. Day. Then work hard at it.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I am still chasing the creation of a brand that achieves global status. You know the brands that are like that. However, I also want to do so with balance. How do I balance being a competitive achiever with being a person who wants to be a great father, husband, brother, friend, fun AF human, etc.?
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want a bunch of people at my funeral saying “he was a good dude.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
As a right of passage into adulthood, like the military is in some cultures, everyone must grow something they eat, compost something, and see their trash fill up a landfill.
How can our readers follow you on social media?