How Success Happened for Stephen Lease of Goodr

This week on How Success Happens, I spoke with Stephen Lease, the CEO and co-founder of sunglasses brand Goodr. He’s had an amazing career, and I was curious to find out about what inspired him to become an entrepreneur, how selling industrial water treatment systems to golf courses taught him to identify what his core consumer base actually cares about, and how he applied the lessons he learned from his time in corporate America to the founding of Goodr.

You can listen to our full conversation above, and below, I’ve pulled out three key takeaways.

Don’t let sunk cost keep you attached to something that’s not working

When you launch a business and feel confident that it’s a great idea, your loved ones will root for you no matter what. Lease founded five businesses prior to finding success with Goodr, and despite feeling confident in all of them at the outset, it eventually became clear that hope was not a solid strategy when a business was simply not working. At the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, it was painful to come to terms with folding a company he had invested energy into, but eventually, he got good at starting companies cheaply and identifying quickly whether or not they would be a success.
Timestamp — 8:50-10:30

When you shift your mindset to celebrate the work over the results, the ups and downs of the day-to-day grind become a gift

Lease started Goodr as a side hustle, which meant that he worked round the clock for several years before running the company full-time. He’s often asked how he found the motivation to put in that time, and the only answer he can think of is that he found joy in the day-to-day. As a leader, he wants to inspire his team to take big swings, and sometimes, that means putting a ton of effort into something that fails. However, he assures them that failure is okay so long as you celebrate the work over the results.
Timestamp — 19:40-20:50

You can’t be a master at everything — identify your north star as a brand and double down on it

When Lease and his co-founders launched Goodr, they weren’t sure if it would be a lifestyle brand or an eyewear brand, but after a few years, they took an honest look at the business and realized that eyewear is what it did best. That opened up a world of possibility, but they also needed to identify what their differentiators were as a brand — those differentiators are function, fun, fashion and “‘ffordability.” Honing in on that has given the brand a clear decision matrix as it expands its product offerings, and Lease is confident that with those differentiators top of mind, Goodr will continue creating products that its customers love.
Timestamp — 21:28-23:35

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