40 Work Smarter, Be Happier, Live Better – Actionable Advice from John’s Crazy Socks

Alone With Peter
Alone With Peter
40 Work Smarter, Be Happier, Live Better – Actionable Advice from John’s Crazy Socks

Welcome back to part three of our interview with John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks. In part three, we’re getting actionable and practical tips so that you can aspire to take a similar leap of faith to these two sock tycoons. We’re gonna get a lot of good advice in this episode. So I hope you stay tuned. And if you are enjoying Alone Peter, in these interviews, please rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts because this show cannot exist without your support.

Let’s dive in with John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks

This episode of Alone with Peter is brought to you by Sagebrush Coffee

Sagebrush is an online coffee roastery with a wide variety of single-origin coffees you can order from the comfort of your home knowing that your coffee is so fresh, it isn’t roasted until after you order.

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of coffee, Sagebrush is a great place to start. You can find their website online at Sagebrushcoffee.com and for a limited time from now until August, you can save 10% on your next order of coffee beans by visiting sagebrushcoffee.com/awp10 or by using the promo code awp10 at checkout.

39 Creating a platform for positive change… with John’s Crazy Socks

If you want to explore the previous episode or others in the archive, head on over to peterkersting.com/podcast/39. You can check out transcripts for different episodes, links to content mentioned and guests featured in the podcast, as well as stream episodes in their entirety. 

In this episode, John and Mark share actionable, practical advice if you aspire to take a similar leap of faith. There’s some real gold here for business owners, leaders, and those looking to be more conscientious with their buying power.

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Enjoy part 3 of our interview with John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks

*Transcripts may contain a few typos. With interviews ranging from 1-2 hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors.

40 Work Smarter, Be Happier, Live Better – Actionable Advice from John’s Crazy Socks

Peter Kersting: Welcome to Alone with Peter. I’m your host. And on this podcast, you’re going to hear interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, digital nomads, and people seeking personal growth. We’ll dive deep into what set them on their journey, where they are now and how their story can impact you, including any helpful insights. If you aspire to take a similar leap of faith, no matter where you are on the journey. Thank you for spending some quality time Alone. With Peter.

This episode of Alone with Peter is brought to you by Sagebrush coffee roastery. There’s nothing quite like a good cup of coffee. That’s why I’ve always made it a point when traveling to try out the local cuisine and find the best coffee shops from the Instagrammable coffee of east Asia, to the classic cafes of Western Europe. I’ve tried a lot of coffee. And let me tell you something, nothing has quite hit the spot like Sagebrush Coffee.

Peter Kersting: Sagebrush is an online coffee roastery with a wide variety of single-origin coffees. You can order from the comfort of your home, knowing that your coffee is so fresh, it isn’t roasted until after you order. But what makes Sagebrush so special is their dedication to the farmers and producers who make the coffee. Sagebrush’s goal on a fundamental level is to allow the hard work of those producers to shine and to be rewarded for it. And if you’re interested in the process of coffee while becoming a more conscious consumer Sagebrush is a gold mine of information, along with their selection of coffee beans to purchase. Sagebrush has an extensive archive of free educational blog posts that are built into their website to help shed more light on the world of the coffee industry and how your purchasing power impacts that world. You’ll learn the history of specific countries of origin. See breakdowns of various coffee terminology and find quick blurbs about family business updates. If you’re interested in learning more about the world of coffee, Sagebrush is a great place to start. You can find their website online at sagebrushcoffee.com. And for a limited time from now until August, you can save 10% on your next order of coffee beans by visiting Sagebrushcoffee.com/awp10, or by using the promo code AWP10 at checkout.

Peter Kersting: Welcome back to part three of our interview with John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks in part three, we’re getting actionable and practical tips and advice. If you aspire to take a similar leap of faith to these two sock tycoons, we’re gonna get a lot of good advice in this episode. So I hope you stay tuned. And if you are enjoying Alone Peter, in these interviews, please rate, review and subscribe wherever you receive podcast. And don’t forget to check out the full transcript links to content and everything else on Peterkersting.com/podcast/40 for this episode. All right, let’s dive in with John and Mark Cronin

Peter Kersting: John and Mark. I’m gonna kind of hit you with a couple different things that I would like to learn as an entrepreneur. And I think other people maybe would like to learn from your experience. So if we can speak to that, I would love to start with Mark. You were mentioning you have very checkered past, so can you tell me about that? You know, kind of give us the overview of your CV, cuz it is a very interesting CV and how all those different things helped you become the businessman you are today with John’s Crazy Socks.

Mark Cronin: Sure. so let’s start with the framework maybe. And remember I’m old. So there’s lots of years in there when I got out of college in 1980, I taught school for two years. There are anecdotes about, you know, pure happenstance that I wound up doing that I taught at a Catholic grammar school in New York city and then a Catholic high school. I left there, I went to Portland, Oregon to help a friend open a nonprofit grocery store in the Burnside district, which used to be like the Bowery in Manhattan when the Bowery was the Bowery and the Burnside was the Burnside came back and enrolled in a doctoral program for literature spent a year or so in there wound up leaving there, working for a Congressman. And then I went off to the Kennedy school of government at Harvard, got out of there, worked for the city of New York in the Medicaid program, wound up running the Medicaid health services program did that for several years left to write a novel and some short stories went back into healthcare consulting and then led a series of healthcare startups and consulting firms did that for quite a number of years.

Mark Cronin: But along the way, I’m trying to remember in there, somewhere in there left and started a, a software software company called new Gutenberg software. We made baseball for windows 94, got rave reviews, lost every penny we had. We so I did that into the two thousands organized some political campaigns then helped my wife who at a law firm. And I took over the Marketing for that and, and some of the man day to day management and you know, for complicated reasons that shut down and then here we are running the SOC business. Wow. So people will say, you know, what would tell us about your background? Well, you know, I’d never worked in retail, had never run wholesale, but processing claims in healthcare was quite similar to me to processing orders coming in, but you, you learn it every step of the way.

Mark Cronin: So I mean, here’s an example when I was when I was young, when I got right outta high school and, and through college, I did a lot of hit tracking different day and age. So I hitch cross country three times. I hitchhike around Europe you know, carpool over the side of the road you run to get in that car. And the first thing you have to do is you gotta sh you gotta try to size up that driver because you gotta, how you gonna get along. And that ride might be 10 minutes or 10 hours. And you are the entertainment. So you do that a few hundred times and you learn an awful lot. You, so when I was doing that, I wasn’t going off saying, well, I’m going on a learning experience now it’s just a great adventure, but look what you go and learn. I’ve been fortunate over the years to work for some really great people. So you get to learn that and work with some really great folks. You learn it all the time.

Peter Kersting: Well, if I could interrupt really quickly, first of all, I’m, I’m smiling because I actually, you’re making me think of my own hitchhiking experience. I hitchhiked from the Netherlands to Paris during the 2016 presidential election. And it’s one of the craziest memories I have and it’s absolutely you’re right. Some people picked me up. So I, I had this whole, I had this whole thing where I was like, all right, well, I’m an American in the Netherlands traveling to Paris with a German who’s like super tall and really eccentric. How can I get people to pick me up? So I decided to make a sign that said Hillary question, Mark Trump question, Mark Paris exclamation point. And you could not, you could imagine the kinds of responses I got to that sign, or, you know, I was, I just owned the American thing and it was such a fun experience.

Mark Cronin: Signs were important. And what I found was the best sign just said home to mom. , ,

Peter Kersting: That’s a good one.

Mark Cronin: But you know, the people you meet, you know, I immediately comes to mind of, of, I was hit from Paris heading in a general direction of Amsterdam. And I got picked up by these guys who said, don’t go to Amsterdam first, come with us to Den Haag, come to Den Haag. So I went and spent three days with them and what a great time that was, you know, it’s until the one guy’s wife came storming in late at night, what the hell’s going on here, and there’s this party going on,

Peter Kersting: This is a travel podcast in a lot of ways, too. A lot of the people I’ve had on the podcast are people who are digital nomads is the term that’s used now. People who can live in all sorts of different places. So I love that kind of story. And, you know, just picking apart what your, your, your background as a teacher, I’m sure that’s impacted the way that you’ve trained people. And you, we talked about in some of the previous episodes, how you find the right role for someone being a teacher, certainly helped you in that

Mark Cronin: Teaching is very important. And I’ve done a lot of coaching. I coached some schools, but I also coached youth sport. And yeah, I think a job of a manager and, and to a degree, a leader in an organization, there’s always a lot of teaching going on. Mm

Peter Kersting: John was, was your dad kind of like a teacher for you growing up?

John Cronin: Yes. Yes. I, I keep on learning.

Mark Cronin: I’m still trying to teach you, right? Yeah. He is. John asked me questions and I’m breaking it down all along. You asked something this morning and I was walking through, I forget what that was. I don’t know. You asked a lot of questions, which is a good thing. Right, right. And I’m always answering your questions.

John Cronin: Right. He always believes in me.

Mark Cronin: I do believe in you.

Peter Kersting: I love that. I love that. You’re always willing to ask questions too. That’s another big thing. But, but also your background, you know, in, in the Marketing that you said you did for your wife’s law firm, I’m sure that’s coming to play for political campaigning your time in Congress. I can’t imagine that didn’t affect your ability to actually speak when you were given that platform, the story you told us before being able to speak at Congress, being a congressional aid in the past.

Mark Cronin: Yes. Then, the speaking you know, John here has never been phased, but, you know, I, I mean, I’ll tell you one time in, when I was in graduate school. So this would’ve been 86, 85. We organized the the regular administration was going to severely cut student aid in student loans. So I’m up in Massachusetts, we ordered a, we organized a statewide campaign letter-writing campaign to protest. And, you know, did one of those conferences where we’re dumping the letters in front of of then-Senator Kerry. And we had a rally on the Boston common. And, you know, I don’t know, few hundred people showed up, but let’s say there were tens of thousands. Now a few hundred people show up. And I was one of the speakers and I saw a film clip of this, and I’m up there on this podium. I got a rolled-up newspaper and I am living my dream of being like a Baptist minister. I am just going on and on and on. But what you don’t see is I was so nervous that my right leg was shaking uncontrollably. And as a guy who didn’t really know me, who’s sitting on the stage behind me who got up to come and grab me, cuz he had no idea how I was still standing.

Peter Kersting: you come from such a checker background. And I wonder if looking back at it, you can say this, this, this, and this is what’s helped me be successful and what I’m doing right now, not that it’s gonna be all-encompassing, but some things that you pick out, I learned this,

Mark Cronin: I can point to a lot learning how to write and being able to communicate is critically important. One thing which I realize that I go back to school, learning how to read poetry has been critically important and they’ll call it close, doing a close reading, and this will sound may be overly simplistic. But if you’re going to read a document, the first thing you have to do is see what the words on the page are actually saying. So this has fueled me as I’ve worked in, you know, with regulations and with contracts, you have to see what the word say. And so many people don’t do that. They gloss over. They immediately start summarizing without seeing what it actually says on the page that matters a lot. You, you get to see different forms of leadership and that all can feed your own particular style. So that’s important learning how to be organized. Well, I got that from two particular bosses because I don’t think that comes naturally to you, how to, you know, so I think you pick up stuff yeah. All the way, but you have to be open to it. You gotta be willing to have thing to internalize things.

Peter Kersting: Yeah. It makes me think of you know, even what, what you were just saying to, to John about like, that’s a good thing that you’re asking questions sometimes. You know,, I told you a little bit about my background in teaching both English as a foreign language, but also I taught sixth grade ELA for a little while as well. And teaching people how to think is honestly the biggest thing and teaching people how to ask questions is really important. And I even just thinking about what you’re saying about learning, how to read poetry, something that’s really helped me in my voiceover business is you have to see the image from the text before you ever read it. And that does a couple different things. One, it informs the way that you narrate, if you’re doing a book for example, but it also forces you to be engaged enough with the text that you can actually visualize.

Peter Kersting: And that gives people the amount of time that they would need. Hopefully, while listening to you read also do the same thing. Cause if you’re listening to an audiobook or reading a book yourself, the intent should be to understand and engage with the text actively rather than to, just to like curse over it. You know, we’re talking about utilizing your previous experience basically to leverage success. You, told me an interesting anecdote between episodes about speaking with somebody. If I’m remembering correctly, didn’t work for Under Armour, but knew someone who worked in arm under Armour. And it seemed like a really good example of this, this phrase, I’ll call standing on the shoulders of giants. I’m borrowing it from Jon Acuff, but something he says in, in that book Start that I was just telling about earlier is if you wanna get good at something, if you wanna mask or something, one of the ways you can accelerate that process is by standing on the shoulders of giants. And, and it seems to me, something you’ve become really good at is asking questions from people who know how to do something. You don’t know how to do. So perhaps you could share that anecdote from yesterday or another one that you feel like really helps people drive home that story.

Mark Cronin: Well, I think it starts. And we, I think we mentioned earlier in a conversation about my oldest son coming home one day and saying, you know, once I learned I was an idiot, life became easier because then you’re willing to ask questions. Then you’re willing to learn. I’m always looking to learn from other people. And a key thing I think to get that help is by signaling that you really mean it. You’re not just you’re, you’re not just asking an ID question. You want to know the answer and you do that by acting on the advice, you know, that’s how you show appreciation. And it also ties what it’s, it’s why you’re asking what you’re doing it for.

Mark Cronin: You know, here’s an easy one of you know, how did we find our strategic partner? I met, we had lots of potential investors come in here and offer deals that, you know, mainly wanted to buy the brand and shut us down. They didn’t understand. So, you know, I had to kiss a lot of toes, but we were speaking at a networking event and somebody came up and said, you know, you gotta meet my friend Lewis, my friend Lewis, his family, their manufacture socks. They wound up becoming our strategic partner. So last night I’m, I’m, I’m part of a group called the entrepreneur’s organization. Our long island chapter had a learning event last night with a gentleman named Mark Moses, who has been a successful entrepreneur. And he also owns a business. He’s the founder of CEO coaching, the author of books that make big happen.

Mark Cronin: He’s pretty inspiring, but, but in very tangible ways. So after he spoke we had a brief conversation and some of it was me telling him of what I had learned from him in the past and, and sharing that, yes, we had our quarterly meeting yesterday, man, quarterly management meeting. And we would check in our, our, our measurables and our metrics, the same way that this guy advocates. But I asked him a question about metrics and, you know, look for some advice. And he looks at me and says, ah, I don’t really know the answer, but I know somebody who does, and it was the former president of under armor. And they said, let me connect you to him. And so this morning I got an email introduction to Mark Shera, the former president of, because I think if you show a curiosity, a curiosity and appreciation, willing to learn, you’re gonna get those introductions. And some of it’s based on what are you doing for others? How are you helping for others? And they’ll introduce you to people.

Peter Kersting: Sure. So the fact that John’s Crazy Socks is philanthropic in nature. It’s a social enterprise you’ve shown through your actions that you’re wanting to give back. That’s usually reciprocated. Well, it seems like to me,

Mark Cronin: Yes, yes. People we’ve been very fortunate and people want to help us, you know, they, they look and say, that’s something I want to be part of.

Peter Kersting: And that, that leads me to my next question though, because what something that you have done particularly well, from what I can tell is you, haven’t just built a brand. You’ve built a community. People want to support you, whether it be by buying socks from you or helping you with legislation. I see how often, for example, you’re meeting with different lawmakers or lawyers or people in, you know, different parts of civil society or be, you know, the, the previous owner of under armor. So, you know, I wonder if you can help us, if somebody who’s starting their own business right now, or maybe in the early phases of their entrepreneurial journey as owner of a business, what are some ways that they can think about brand and, you know, finding that niche, for example, that’s something you’ve done maybe accidentally, but you’ve definitely laser focused it after stumbling into it. If nothing else

Mark Cronin: Okay. To me to be successful, your brand is not some separate entity or asset. Your brand is a reflection of who you are. It’s, it’s gotta be in your nature, in your character, in the fiber of what you are. So I think just share my experience here, but also elsewhere, you have to start by knowing what is that purpose? What are you about and what are your clear values? What are you going to live? And they have to be made manifest in everything you do. And when that happens, then your brand becomes this living, breathing entity that people can relate to when they believe it’s not, I’ll give you an easy kind of way and see if this makes sense. It’s not like you can sit around a meeting and decide we’re going to commit to customer service. And we’re gonna start that next January. And this is what I’ll mean. We’re gonna tell everybody, we, we are about customer service. Now, if that’s what you are really about, then it starts right now and it’s everything you are about. And no, you’re not doing everything right away. You’re gonna just keep learning and committing to it and it gets deeper. And now it’s, it’s part of the very fiber it’s part of the way everybody in the organization thinks and looks at the world. Now you have a brand. Now you have something people can

Peter Kersting: Believe. Yeah. But that sounds like it begins with a necessary element that’s perhaps overlooked, which is to understand what your own core values are. There’s, there’s an author. His name is Dr. Jim lore. Who’s a performance coach, but also an author that I first heard him on the Tim Ferris podcast, the Tim Ferris show. And I, I like, I resonated so much with what he had to say that I ended up picking up his book, which is called building a personal credo, I believe. And it’s this pretty in depth, you know, like I wanna say it was like 20 week process of going through daily journaling to kind of understand what my core values and virtues are as a person and ultimately how that should be impacting every decision I make, as well as the legacy that I wanna leave behind it’s intensely introspective process. And one of the things he mentions in the book is most people are living by a sort of credo, but they haven’t necessarily taken the time to consider what it is. So with that concept in mind, I wonder if you have any advice for somebody who’s just trying to discover whether it’s on a personal level or on a brand level, what their core value should be

Peter Kersting: If you’re feeling inspired by this episode of John’s Crazy Socks, and you’re hoping to get a pair you’re in luck, because for a special period of time, we have a promo code. If you enter PETER22 on your checkout, you can get 10% off your next pair of John’s Crazy Socks, a great business with a great cause, spreading happiness. And if you’ve been getting a little joy from listening to Alone with Peter, I ask that you take the time to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get podcast and follow us on Instagram at Alone with Peter, we’ll be doing a giveaway with John’s Crazy Socks in the next week or two. And I don’t want you to miss out on this amazing prize. So follow along and until then, let’s get back to our show. I wonder if you have any advice for somebody who’s just trying to discover whether it’s on a personal level or on a brand level, what their core values should be.

Mark Cronin: Well, you have to decide what your core values are, but part of it is I, I, I think not only do you have to believe, you have to be able articulate. And one way that happens is you just keep repeating it. You keep telling the story you keep talking about it and that will help you understand more exactly what matters and hone that down.

Peter Kersting: It’s like the five pillars of, of John’s Crazy Socks we talked about earlier.

Mark Cronin: Yeah. You have to know what they are and you have to keep telling the story. I mean, I, I think I mentioned it earlier yesterday, I was talking to a friend and his partner that wanna open these juice bars at higher ex-cons and they have these operational plans, financial plans. And that was part of it of you guys gotta be really clear. What are you about, what is that mission? What is that purpose? And you, I don’t think that’s something you can sit down and write, right? I think you gotta start there and you have to keep telling it. I mean, part of, part of what I think effective leaders do, they don’t just say something once, you know, you do it all the time and you have to keep reminding of people of that. But when you do that, then it becomes manifest in everything you do, but you have to hold that criteria to it. And here’s one way, you’ll know if you’re willing to sacrifice money for it

Peter Kersting: Or time, which is another currency, right? You gotta put the time into the business as well, or the, you know, value, cuz it, like you said, it doesn’t happen overnight. Understanding where you come from, what you’re trying to do requires a lot of thought,

Mark Cronin: Right? But at the same time, that’s what helps make you resilient. Give you the example along comes this pandemic who plans for a pandemic and it was awful for our business. It cause those hundreds of thousands of dollars in the spring of 2020. And if all we did was sell socks, we’d be in real trouble, but that’s not all we did. Right. We knew what our mission was. We knew what our character and our values were about. So what did we do? Well, the first thing is you gotta make sure that you take care of people. You gotta make sure you take care of people in that case, their health, that people will be safe. Remember in 2020, we didn’t have a vaccine. What were we gonna do to keep people safe? And then how do we adapt? What, what do you do?

Mark Cronin: So here’s an example. We do tours. Well now we’re not doing in person tours, but we can move those online. And then it opens possibilities for us. You move them online. And now we’ve had school groups from around the world, come and take tours of our business. That, but that was important to us because it’s part of the mission of showing what’s possible. We moved our speaking engagements online. What can we do? How can we adapt? We make socks. What’s that gonna do well? So we made healthcare superhero socks, that to say, thank you to the frontline workers. And those have raised over $50,000 for the American nurses association and a local hospital, good Samaritan hospital and their COVID 19 funds. And then you look and say, what opportunities are there and how do we fill this? So what’s our mission bill. I spread happiness. How can we spread happiness? How can we, you know, what, what can we do? Well, some things were easy. We should sell mask. So we designed particular type of mask that we sold. But how do you spread happiness? People are, are now isolated or at home. Yeah. So that’s when you started your dance party,

John Cronin: Right?

Mark Cronin: So at three o’clock, every Tuesday, John host an online dance party and we started that in the pandemic. How could we spread happiness? Let’s have a dance party. How can we reach people? We started doing a Facebook live show, the Spreading Happiness Show, just to be able to connect with people. We’d get 40,000 people watching those videos.

Peter Kersting: Yes. I wanna touch on that really quickly though, too, because you just mentioned the Spreading Happiness Show and I did not realize it started out as a Facebook live, but I’m assuming that iteration is what has transformed into your new podcast, the Spreading Happiness Podcast.

Mark Cronin: Yes. We still do the Facebook live show, but now we’ve started our own podcast. I, I think half of the people in America are

Peter Kersting: Doing their own podcast. It’s hard to differentiate yourself sometimes. Yeah.

Mark Cronin: We’ve started our own podcast. What’s it called?

John Cronin: I spring a harmony podcast with John aMark,

Mark Cronin: It’s the springing happiness podcast. And it’s just designed to do exactly what it says. We wanna make you feel good. We wanna share a little happiness a half hour each week, but some of this comes back to what are we about? We’re not at the end of the day of so store we’re about that mission. So the socks become the physical manifestation of the story and the mission. But also it allows us to do other things like creating content down the road. I see us creating a lot more content to go with the physical things. We,

Peter Kersting: On that note, I’d love to hear a little bit about the podcast. I was, I was listening to it a little bit earlier and John, you love to tell jokes, right? And you tell a joke on every podcast.

John Cronin: Yeah. Yeah, I do.

Peter Kersting: Would you be willing to share a joke for the audience of Loma Peter?

John Cronin: I’m sure I’d love to . What lights up a soccer stadium,

Mark Cronin: What lights up a soccer stadium?

John Cronin: A soccer match.

Mark Cronin: A soccer match

John Cronin: Why did a tree go to the dentist?

Mark Cronin: Why did the tree go to the dentist?

John Cronin: It needed a root canal.

Peter Kersting: A root canal.

Mark Cronin: you can see the level of humor we get here.

John Cronin: Why did the witches team lose the baseball game?

Mark Cronin: Why did the witches team lose the baseball game?

John Cronin: Their bats flew away.

Peter Kersting:

John Cronin: Flew away.

Mark Cronin: Damn back.

Peter Kersting: John,

John Cronin: What is the difference between a teacher a teacher and a train? One says, spit out your gum. And the author

Mark Cronin: Says chew chew.

Peter Kersting: Oh, that’s so good.

Mark Cronin: So yeah, the here, here’s what we do on our, and, and it will evolve. But what we do is the, the first half of it, or so is just John and I talking, John, bring you up to date, you know, on what he’s been up to, what he is been doing what’s going on in his life, right? Yes. And that may send us off in some tangents. And then we have some regular features. John tells we, we both tell some jokes. Right? Right. We now give a shout out to other businesses that are owned by people with different abilities. We share an update on our efforts to get in shape and lose weight which is somewhat comical sometimes. Yeah. We share some good news stories. John does a lot of research and he finds that’s awesome stories each week. Right. And we get an update on John’s love life.

Peter Kersting: Is it going well, John

John Cronin: yes.

Mark Cronin: Yeah. The girlfriend. And you were together this week. We’ll see what happens next

Peter Kersting: Week.

Mark Cronin: Lot of drama, lot of drama.

John Cronin: Oh my God.

Mark Cronin: And then we talk about what’s coming up.

John Cronin: Right?

Mark Cronin: Right. What’s coming up this weekend.

John Cronin: This weekend. I’m really excited. Tomorrow I I’m going a helicopter tour

Mark Cronin: For Christmas. I gave, you know, we’re big on experiences. So big gift for John was a helicopter tour around Manhattan. So tomorrow night that’s what we we’re doing.

Peter Kersting: That’s so that’s cool. John. I’m jealous. well,

Mark Cronin: But that’s the, that that’s the podcast. It’s I don’t know the field, so, but we’re getting, I think it’s 200 downloads an episode and we’ve only done a few. The guy we’re working with says who’s producing. It says that’s really good. We’ll see, we’ll learn. It’s just another way of carrying out our mission. We’re not selling anything we’re just sharing.

John Cronin: Right. But glad that,

Peter Kersting: You know, there’s a lot of different directions. We could go with this moving forward. But one thing you, you mentioned to me, you’ve shown it throughout the whole podcast is that you guys like to have fun. And so I wonder John and Mark, if you can share some ways with me that you make your workforce a place to be, and so that you enjoy working there more and your employees do too.

Mark Cronin: Yeah. Let’s be clear. Everybody’s got work to do, but it’s a place that’s relaxed is, you know, no screaming, it’s not a stressful place. You know, we walked through earlier, you know what we do to, to make it a great place to work. We make sure that we share what’s going on with folks. So everybody gets to share in that we do have a lot of things that happen here. Visitors coming in elected officials coming in newscasts, coming in, like everybody who’s worked here has been on TV. Everybody who works here has, you know, has been on other people’s videos and things. Some of it is we make videos all the time and everybody’s in it. If you’re gonna work here, you’re gonna be in a video. It’s doing communal things like bagel, Tuesday and staff on Friday. We like to do a few things after work.

Mark Cronin: So for example, last week we got two tables and took everybody off to a dinner, a the annual dinner for a local youth agency. So it’s a good thing. It’s part of the community. We support ’em, but it also meant our folks all got dressed up and came out for a night. Many of them never get to go out or they only go out with their family. So this was a fun night and it was hilarious. We, they had they were raffling off gift baskets and the way they did it, you put a little bag in front of each one and you could buy raffle tickets. And if you wanted to win bag, you know, the first bag, you know, it might have been a sports team thing. You would put a raffle ticket in the bag in front. And if you really wanted it, you might put a lot of raffle tickets in.

Mark Cronin: So we’d buy a sheet of tickets for all of our folks, go and win some prizes. So now they’re calling the numbers and we tell everybody, get your numbers out. Listen carefully. First thing I noticed is Mark B. Yeah. He says, oh, I got my number. And he reaches in his jacket. He takes it out. He’s got the entire sheet. He hasn’t put any tickets in, but he is listening so carefully to see if any of them match the number they call. And then very early on, there are lots of people won prizes, assume they call it his number. He wins. He goes up and he comes back with this huge basket. It was a dance, it was a ballet dance team basket. He gets back to the table. Ando is just sitting there with this in front of him. One of our colleagues looked him, says, do you really like the ballet?

Mark Cronin: He says, no, but assume the basket you just won has a two, two ballet slippers, four hours of ballet lessons, you know, or, or Andrew N or head of fulfillment. They, one of the prizes was a golf set of golf clubs. It’s right there. The golf clubs. It’s like, you know I don’t play golf, but I think I want to take it up. I’m gonna see if I can win the golf clubs. And he does but they’re children’s golf clubs. And not only that, he’s a lefty and of course they’re righty clubs. Yeah. So fun Wells. Good. Right, right. And our webmaster, Nick, he won three different trips. I was like, Nick, you’re going away for a month. You know, so I don’t know you do, you do things we celebrate people’s birthdays. We look for excuses to do things. Yeah. Together. We

Peter Kersting: Could talk about all sorts of things when it comes to email Marketing and, and problem solving and stuff like that. But something that you’ve done particularly well, it seems to me is building a community and in that being a force for change. So I guess if you were to give advice to other entrepreneurs about nos, about how to, to go about doing that, how how to make sure that they’re a, a force for change in the way that they’re doing their work,

Mark Cronin: This comes back to what’s your purpose? What are you doing? I’m not saying everybody’s gotta have a great social purpose, but I think that the idea of the social enterprise is very powerful because it can attract people to work for you. It is we’re in this age, they’re calling the big quit or the big resignation, 4 million of people a month, going back to last August have been quitting their jobs in part. And there’s a bunch of different reasons in part, because they’re asking, what am I doing? What am I working for? Well, if you have a social enterprise, you can answer that question. And the same thing with the consumer, we talk about conscious capitalism. If you have the cheapest item, you’re always gonna have a customer, but it’s really hard to have the cheapest item. Otherwise you gotta give them a compelling reason. If you have a social enterprise, you give them more reasons because people are increasingly asking before I give you my money, who are you?

Mark Cronin: What do you do with my money? How do you treat your workers? How do you treat the environment? How do you treat the community? Right? If you’re a social enterprise and we answer those and, and what I think, you know, in that sense of what are you doing comes down to a pretty fundamental issue. Milton treatment, the Chicago economist very famously said, you only owe your, a company. Your corporation only owes its responsibility to its shareholders, to its owners, to the shareholders. I beg to differ. I would tell you, and I’m not alone. The business council now agrees with this. You have to serve all your stakeholders, your colleagues, your employees, your customers, your community, your environment, and your owners. And, and here’s the thing I think when you do that, your owners are better off because you’re more sustainable and it’s going to last longer.

Mark Cronin: So now when it comes to working with our customers, we don’t reduce them to merely a set of transactions. We’re looking to build a connection, a way that’s gonna bind us together. And the way we do that, or try to do that is we engage with them. We share our mission with them and therefore they become part of it. So, you know, what are the tangible ways of doing that? I, I think we spoke before. So take your email and email is so important. You’re using your email to nurture your relationship, to nurture those connections, respect the fact that that customer has trusted you in given you his or her email. So we never sell it. We never give them away. We’re not gonna send you too many emails. In fact, if you stop opening our emails, we’ll stop sending it to you. We don’t wanna bother you. And then the emails are meant to engage, not to sell. They’re meant to build that connection. So for example, every Friday you get an email from John, right? Here’s what he’s up to. This is what’s going on. And so we get a 40 plus percentage open rate cause people enjoy that. Just

Peter Kersting: Absolutely unheard of. It’s double what the average is

Mark Cronin: On social media. You know, if you look at our Instagram on Facebook, particularly, you know, Facebook or, or TikTok boy, we’re sharing, engaging stories. So we are sharing, you know, we did a post the other day that got a lot of engagement. It was just pictures talking about Thomas, one of our soccer ERs and talking about his journey. People loved it because it’s human and they connect to it, but they see that. And now they’re part of it. We share the advocacy work. We do not beating people over the head, but letting them know, oh, we met with this legislator, oh, you know, two, two weeks ago. And Mar on world down syndrome day, the New York state legislature honored John. He got a standing ovation on the floor of the New York state assembly. But we share that with our customers, cuz they’re part of it. They, we bring them into the experience. It’s not us and them. We’re doing this together.

Peter Kersting: Well, Mark, I appreciate, I appreciate those tangible pieces of advice you’re offering. And it really does all seem to go back to the fact that you have a very defined social enterprise and the fact that you have very defined core values that all lead into your brand and the brand leads to the action and, and everything else that’s behind it. I think that’s really helpful for people. You know, for example, one of the things I notice other entrepreneurs and even myself often run into is like, what are you supposed to share? You know, if, if you’re doing something like an email Marketing list, you need to know how to collect an email list, right? And so what do I have to offer? That’s gonna make somebody wanna join my email list and is, does it need to be aligned like this? And you can very quickly, you know, stop because you don’t know how to do things, but at least if you have that, that the brand and the core values and everything else sorted out, it’s going, it’s gonna point to you how to do those things too. So it’s a really good reminder. I think for, for someone like myself early on in their, in their entrepreneurial career and, and anyone else who’s wherever you are in your journey. So I appreciate that.

Mark Cronin: Well, that’s just let me, you know, share one thing. You’re not going to do it all at once. It’s gonna take some time in the intervening time here, we did an interview with Newsday, the, the long island paper because we now have a we’re now selling through Zappos and they wanna write an article about that. And we spoke about our initiatives this year to enter the wholesale Market and growing our B2B business. And he said, well, Mark, you’ve been around for five years. Why are you, why do you wait till now? Well, we didn’t wait until now, but we didn’t have every, you know, we weren’t able to do it until now. Only now, do we have the manufacturing capability only. Now, do we have the line of socks that we can go and do this? You want to, this is not about waiting until things are perfect, but you, you’re not gonna do everything in one day.

Mark Cronin: You’re going to evolve. Here are fulfillment capabilities. So we have always driven to do, to do same day delivery. Now we’re able to do it. We’ve gotten now 20 months with 100% on time delivery. There was one day in 20 months where five packages didn’t get out on time, but we didn’t start there. You know, we had to learn, you had to come up a learning curve on how to run that warehouse and how to you can look. And our warehouse looks physically different because of the way we organize it. And the workflow was physically different. You you day one, we were trying, but you’ve gotta keep learning. It’s gonna take you some time.

Peter Kersting: Yeah. Well, something that you, you guys have done very well is, is just like you said ready, fire aim. And, and that’s something I’m definitely trying to be better at. It’s ties back into resilience and everything else you’re saying. I wanna ask two final questions cause I’m trying to be respectful of your time. And I appreciate how much you’ve been willing to chat with me. You know, you talked in part two about how you’ve testified in Congress and you have been speakers on, on the news and in TEDx and, and to corporations like Microsoft and Google, and you’re clearly taking the social enterprise into a, into a civil level as well, because you also have that obviously very personal connection, speak to anybody who, who is maybe going to be a future parent of somebody with differing abilities. What would you say to them if they’re currently being presented with this, this gift and maybe some people think of it as challenge, what would you say to them?

Mark Cronin: Take a breath love your child. You know, be grateful, be grateful, what you have. You know, everybody’s circumstances are different. The world is better today than it was 26 years ago when John was born and it was better then than it was 26 years earlier. And a better world is gonna await, you know, a child born today. It’s, don’t underestimate your child, treat your child the way you would, others. I mean, promote their independence, expect their achievement. Don’t at the same time, don’t compare your child to others. And this doesn’t matter if it’s differing ability or not, everybody’s gonna develop at their own pace, told you, John, he couldn’t speak for several years now. I’ve seen this guy stand in front of 22,000 people at Madison square garden and bring them to their feet. Now we would get paid thousands of dollars for a speaking engagement, but he couldn’t talk well, if we panicked, then what good was that gonna do?

Mark Cronin: Let him find his way. I dunno, you know, I’ll share another, just personal story. Next week we’re going to a wedding son of a buddy of mine from high school. And there’s a group of us who we have been friends, good friends ever since high school. Unfortunately we’ve lost a good number of people on the way, but we were at another wedding, I think two years ago, three years ago. And it was a picture of five of, of the five of us together. I was looking at that picture and I was thinking, you know, when we were in high school, nobody was betting on our futures. Nobody knew what was gonna come of us. And you know, many of us were, you know, on shaky ground. And that was true into our twenties. So I’m looking at that group of five and I got thrown outta my high school.

Mark Cronin: They took me back in, I got thrown out for being an entrepreneur. I didn’t call it that. Then I ran junior cut day. but you know, so of that five, one is a cardiothoracic surgeon who runs a a network of cancer centers. One is the executive vice president for a national water company. One is a lawyer down in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and has now multiple businesses running. One’s the executive vice person, operations of a hospital here on long island. And then there’s me. Whatever I, you know, good I am, but I want to take that picture and I want to take it to students in a high school or college and their parents and say, relax, it’s gonna be okay. Everybody’s gonna, you know, you’ll find your way and let people find it at their own pace of that group of five oh cliff.

Mark Cronin: He was gonna, he bounce around a bit before he sort of medical school, Joseph really was, you know, he was playing, playing fast and fun until he got to be about 30. You know, it’s love people, support him, let people find their way. Don’t hold people back with your lower expectations of folks. If we did that with John, he’d never be doing this and we’ve seen people, we’ve seen others and parenting’s very humbling. You can’t criticize others, but we’ve seen others. They so shelter their children that the kids can’t develop. I mean, here’s, here’s a way to think about it, right? Don’t don’t ever be blinded by a person’s limitations, be odd by their possibilities. Ah, so I may have Ramed too much there, but

Peter Kersting: No, no thank you for sharing it. It’s it’s not an easy question and it’s something I wanted to ask, but it’s, it’s also deeply personal question. So I appreciate you being willing to share.

Mark Cronin: We’ve also been very fortunate. You know, we’ve got a great family, John received a great education. We approached it, that we were part of a team with his teachers working together. You know, don’t be looking for adversaries and you don’t have to go it alone. There are other people around that can be there with you. Right,

Peter Kersting: John, is there, is there something you would share with, with anybody who’s who’s trying to do something like you’re doing or any other business owners. Do you have advice for people?

Mark Cronin: You got advice for people.

John Cronin: I, I do follow your heart, follow your dreams, work hard so you can do

Mark Cronin: Sure you can do. Yeah. People frequently ask me, you know, well there’s one thing and you know, yes. I would say you have to believe you have to have conviction, but you know, if I was starting a business and I wanted to be successful, maybe the first thing I’d do is kid trying to get drawn to work. It’s

Peter Kersting: True. He’s he’s gone to your magic. He’s your magic fairy dust. Isn’t he?

Mark Cronin: And it’s all the time, right? I mean here, right? Here’s here’s John at work. So it’s January of 2017. We’re just starting out. We, at that point we only sold other people’s socks and we’re finding out nobody buys anything in January because they spent all their money to holidays. That’s when we discovered that people wear crazy socks to celebrate world down syndrome day. What day is that?

Mark Cronin: March 21st, March 21st. You would’ve thought we knew that ahead of time, but we didn’t. We’re not that smart. So, okay. We go looking for a down syndrome themed sock that we could sound. Nobody made one. What do you do? Well, if nobody made one, what’d you say?

John Cronin: I said, I wanna make one. I want

Mark Cronin: Clear one. I’m sitting there at a computer. I’m doing these searches. I’m trying to find one, John, just like that. Let’s just make our own. And you designed it. I did. And we went and made it right. Just find a way. Yeah, you can make this work and we’ve spoken for a long time. There is not one thing we said that is the proverbial rocket science. It’s all common sense. It’s all easy. And if we can do it, anybody can do

Peter Kersting: It. Well, I’m certainly feeling inspired to, to try to take some of those lessons and use them myself as well. And some of it’s good reminder of what I’m doing, right? And some stuff is, man. Maybe I should really be taking some notes from from John and Mark of John’s Crazy Socks. That’s a wrap on this interview with John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks. I hope you’ve been enjoying these two as much as I have and that you consider helping out their cause. They do so much for the differently abled and they’re so inspiring heading over to John’s Crazy Socks.com. If you’re looking to get a pair and don’t forget to use promo code Peter 22, if you wanna get 10% off while you’re at it Alone with Peter is a podcast made for you. I wanna hear your feedback. So let me know, leave a review on apple, Stitcher, Spotify, wherever you get podcast and follow along on Instagram, send me a DM. Let me know what you think of the show. And I hope to see you next time on, along with Peter.


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