Joe Foster – Founder of Reebok and Author of Shoe Maker

Episode 219

Joe Foster is a runaway success story in the world of athletic footwear. Hear how the co-founder of Reebok went from working for his dad’s shoe company to breaking out in brother and launching what would become one of the leading global shoe brands. Tune in to learn more about Joe’s amazing journey on this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be,

I want to just make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So

your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show, though, join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go.

Hi, everyone. It’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest here. I mean, I’m really excited to have my next guest here. He also just wrote an incredible book that I just finished. It’s called the shoemaker. I have it here if you can see it, if you’re watching on YouTube, but we have Joe Foster with us who is the founder of Reebok and we are thrilled to have this legendary creator of an incredible shoe brand with us. Today we’re going to learn a little bit more about the brand and his journey. Overall. Joe comes from a family of shoemakers, with his grandfather pioneering the spiked running shoe back in the early 20th century, his grandfather shoes received worldwide recognition when two UK athletes won the Olympic gold medals while wearing his shoes with shoemaking in his blood. Joe founded Reebok in 1958. With his late brother, Jeff, and they followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, we’ll hear a lot more about that. And just last year, as I just mentioned, Joe wrote an incredible book called Shoemaker The Untold Story of the British family firm that became a global brand, which documents his incredible story. So we are so excited to have Joe with us here today to talk to us a little bit more about growing the business creating the business challenges and everything in between. So thank you, Joe, for coming on Okada. What an introduction. Absolutely fantastic. You make me sound design. Yeah. I did something good.

Joe Foster 2:34
We we tried. But thank you for the invitation.

Kara Goldin 2:36
You absolutely did it. Let’s talk a little bit about small Joe. So who was Joe as a little kid

Joe Foster 2:42
who was Joe as a little kid well he was born in 1935. And of course, four years after I was born, we had World War Two. So really, as a young boy, I grew up during the war years, but you know, you when you’re a kid, that’s what, that’s what life is. So it didn’t make any difference to myself and my older brother, Jeff, we we sort of just enjoyed it. You know, when you change the clock round for summertime, we had double summertime, which meant that it was light all the way through to about 11pm at night so we could be able to playing and enjoying ourselves. Yes, we could see, we could see when the bombs are dropped on Manchester because Bolton, where we live was just a bit higher up than Manchester so we could see the red glow of bombs dropping. So yeah. Okay, during during the warriors, we are six years of war, and it was 10. Before that was over. But you know, why am I called Joe? As the reason why am I called your you mentioned my grandfather. He was born in 1880. A long time ago that now mania, I suppose 1935 is a long time ago now. But and he was born way back there in 1880. And by 1885. It was only 15. But he made as you alluded to, we made first pair of Spike run issues for athletes. And he wore his back running shoes in his next event. And he came second when he usually was halfway down the field. So he then had a business. And by 1900 he was he had his JD with us to visit, make him run issues, tattoos for all the local athletes, which was great. And you said he and he did he got athletes to wear his shoes for Olympic gold medals. And during the first decade of the 20th century, he had three world records, where a man called Al shrub broke three world records. He had gold medals from the London Olympics in 1908. Then we had World War Two. So we will want World War One. Nobody wanted running shoes then. So they turned the business into repairing army boots. So the army boots coming back from Flanders, and my father used to tell his story, which was the use of scrub all the mud off. And instead of the water being sort of Brown, it was red because of all the blood and whatever, that have sort of ties into why they’re in France. However, by the 1920s grandfather again, this was his belly pot. This was his, his decayed. We have a letterhead. And on the letterhead right at the bottom there, and he actually writes that Jade woo Foster’s supplied all the shoes to the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. Well, I don’t know how many more that just the English team who’s talking about British deep, but I mean, you know, that was pretty good for those days. Yeah. So, of course, he picked up a lot of gold medals. But is, I think, possibly his biggest claim to fame was, have you heard of the film Chariots of Fire? Absolutely. Chariots of Fire immortals. immortalizes. Three athletes, Eric Liddell, Harold Abraham, and Lord Burley. They all won gold medals, that one, I think one of the events was in Amsterdam, the old one in Paris, the Olympic Games. And, of course, they made a film, but my grandfather had made the shoes. So we had planned to make the shoes for those. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in 1933. And I wasn’t born until 1935. But I was born on his birthday. That’s wild. And my grandmother, she was absolutely insisted, insisted I reckon, Joe Foster. So I took on my grandfather’s name and job. Mother didn’t like that idea. But mother was a bit friend of my grandmother. So grandmother, one out of nine called Joe. So this is where Young Joe came from, and why I got my name.

Kara Goldin 6:57
I love it. So did your dad then take over your grandfather’s business?

Joe Foster 7:01
Well, my dad and my uncle. They were brothers. They took over the business, there was five years difference between the my father was younger than my uncle. But they didn’t get on. They, in fact, not they didn’t get on. They had a feud, whatever the feud was about, we don’t know, we don’t know, even to this day, but they hardly spoke to each other. And in fact, Jeff and myself when we were at the factory, we had to bring them apart. But they were fighting. And that’s not good for business. And it was okay. It’s okay when I’m my grandmother’s there. But when my grandmother died, that was when the trouble started. And they just didn’t speak. I didn’t get to the business until I was 17 years old. When I got in the business, I only had one year, when I was 18. We had to do national service. So Jack and myself, we had to go away. Jeff went to Germany to do national service. He was in the Army. I was in the RAF and I went onto radar. But Jeff, he was he saw Adidas. We saw Puma and saw what they were doing. So when we when we came back, and we came back to a failing company JW Foster’s than JW trusted and sons. It was a failing company. It had a had a wonderful history, and on some marvelous things, but because father and uncle didn’t get on, the business was failing. I mean, you know, you can imagine two people who own the business 50% each, and all you do is fight. The loser is the business. What we tried, we tried to persuade my father, look, you’ve got to change. You have to change. But no, it was when when bills gone, that was my uncle. He was John William with old J W’s. By the way. My father was James William, uncle, John William, my grandfather had been Joseph William. I was Joseph when my brother was Jeffrey William, and had a younger brother, John William. So but my father said look, when when your Uncle Bill goes on, I go that way your business you can do with it what you want that say like, Dad, this, we don’t want you to go. That’s not the plan, you know, not the band at all. But this business will be gone long before you will be will be dead. It will go took us a couple of years to prepare ourselves, I suppose for not taking over the business but leaving the business. And Jeff and myself we we went to college at night to learn more about the business or more about shoemaking because what we knew was how to make running shoes, but you need to know a lot more than just how to make running shoes, because we needed to know where you get your materials from. What the new techniques were, we needed to know all that. But in November of 1958, I think we’d had enough. And so we left the business. And we set up our own small business called Mercury sports footwear, in the next town, in a very old building.

Kara Goldin 10:19
Very, very interesting. And so what was the idea behind Reebok? I mean, with you and your brother, you were trying to solve a problem. So how did this come about?

Joe Foster 10:33
Well, I mean, the problem was that the business JD foster business was going nowhere. It was going out of business. Neither my father and uncle were really that interested in taking the business forward. They supplied or live in a very nice living at the time, but that live in was going down. We had a future where we’re young, we were 2325, Jeff are 2520. We were young, we was our future. That was the problem. Our future was that this business wouldn’t be that we would go. And you know, when you’re that young. So you set up our business, you become an entrepreneur, you you do something, you know, what can go wrong? Young? Doesn’t matter. You’re 2523 and 25. We were young people, you know, what could go wrong? Well, we didn’t think anything could go wrong. And so we we decided that the best thing we could do, if we wanted to develop a business was to actually leave the Foster’s business and set up on our own. So that was it on this November. And November day, it was Friday. When I told my father, we were leaving, we’re going to set up our own business. He wasn’t very happy. In fact, he got up out of his chair in the office. And he picked up a letter opener. And he walked towards me, but he gave it to me and said, stab me now. And you know. And all I could say, Look, we you know, we tried, tried to get you to come with us to build a business for the future. But he wasn’t going to do it. He wasn’t going to do it. So we had to leave when we set up and say we set up as America sports footwear. And you know, what can go wrong? Well, lots of things go wrong. Lots of things happen. Because we were only American sports footwork for 18 months. Wow. And after 18 months, our accountant was saying, Look, boys, you’re doing pretty well. You know, you’re making some money. And that’s okay. You’d better register that name, mercury, when we were young, fairly naive still, and say, Why do we need to do that? Well, they said, look, a lot of people will see your, your product is nice, as good. And if they think is that good to copy it. And they can also start making Mercury shoes unless you register the name. Oh, so I tried to register the name. And I found out that it was already pre registered another company, a shoe company, part of British shoe Corporation, big company, they had the name. And we found out that, yeah, they would sell it to us for 1000 pounds. When in those days, we’re talking about 1960 We’d set up our factory for 250 pounds, which you know, in today’s money is about $300 We’d set all factory up for that. So 1000 pounds is just out of sight. We didn’t have that sort of money. So I was told to go and see a Patent Agent who would help us to get a new name and a patent and say well, okay, but you need to bring me 10 or 12 names. And I’m saying we’re just a minute, you know, this is our company, we’ve got to believe in it. It’s about to get your name registered. You need enough and we need to test those to the registrar. And he pointed to the window. He said a name like that. That was Kodak. And I said well, what’s the Kodak? He said, Well, that’s their own name. They made it up. They invented the name. So nobody else can have that. It’s not not a name you can find anywhere. Oh, okay. So we got back and we’re sitting around the table. And we’re trying to think of names and wedding. Cougar Cougar sports. I will be good Google. Yes. Nice name. Polkan. Falcons. Yeah, put those on the list. But let me take you back to 1943 I’m eight years old. And just like COVID Nobody could normal. Middle of the war. The war is on. So we’re not going anywhere. No holidays at the seaside No, those things didn’t happen that So, okay, I am entered into a running race 60 yards, a 60 yard race. And when the race Oh, great. I had foster spikes on or not spank shoes in those days. Very, very few of my competitors had spiked shoes. In fact, I don’t think anybody, I think it was only me with Spike, and I win the race. And I go up to like my price

on my lucuma price, and it’s a dictionary. They gave me a dictionary. I’m eight years old. And I’m saying, where’s the football? Come on, you know? surely know. It’s a dictionary. I didn’t know it at the time, it took me a bit of time to recognize the fact that it was an American Dictionary. It was a Webster’s American Dictionary. And the spelling’s are somewhat different than the Oxford English Dictionary. term. In America, you don’t put a colon in Cllr we spell it CLL. Or you are a few times like that. So I didn’t know that at the time. But we’re now back in 1960. And my dictionary next to me when I America dictionary, and I like the letter R. Right? And I want my dictionary or letter R, and I start fumbling through. And I get to R E. B, okay, which is pretty soon, soon get to that. And I said, Oh, he be Reebok. What’s that? And I read over is a small, South African gazelle. Gazelle. We’re running company, gazelle. And just yet, top of the list. Yeah, had not been an English dictionary. It would have been R H, E, B or C K. Now, it would take me a long time to get to our age. But and I don’t think that would have been as attractive either. So thank goodness Ireland, American American Dictionary.

Kara Goldin 17:04
What was the thing that you really wanted? When you decided that you wanted to create Reebok? What what problem were you really solving? Well,

Joe Foster 17:15
I think the problem we were solving was how are we going to make a living? Are we going to Okay, some money. Now natural thing is we need a job. Because we know the judge, we foster company is going out of business.

Kara Goldin 17:32
What were the choices for running shoes?

Joe Foster 17:36
Well, I mean, we’re talking about athletic footwear, which is more than running shoes, it’s a soccer boots and rugby, rugby is a big thing in the north of England, rugby was quite big. So we could we could make specialist shoes. And the demand was there. Foster’s had been making those sorts of products, and they were losing the business. They were losing it to people like added us and quite a few small English footwear companies. Whereas a few small ones, were making the product we we thought we could we could make good product, we thought we need a business, we need to be continued. We feel like the family tradition, it’s in our DNA. So we hope we’re losing. This is a job we know. This is something what we know about. So if we, if we set up on our own, we can do the things that JD were faster isn’t doing. They were not looking, they were not moving forward. They were not looking to the future. They were just looking to the past and the present. And we were the future. Jeff and I were the future. And so, you know, our problem was the future. Just as simple as that we and if if the parent company wouldn’t want to continue growing and inventing and developing just like grandfather done in his day. He was obviously quite a pioneer. And to be able to have some say invented despite traction, we got the idea from his grandfather. His grandfather was a cobbler used to repair shoes, but he also repaired cricket boots. You don’t know much about cricket and on

Kara Goldin 19:20
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Joe Foster 22:58
What they turned out to be probably the biggest mistake of my life? Definitely yes. I’ve probably been many others. But that was a big mistake. But it wasn’t at the time. At the time. The sales manager, the sales director, he, he was a good friend, because you meet people within in the business when you’re traveling to meet these people. And he was a good friend of mine, Derek Shackleton. I knew that he would do a good job so I could let them be my distributor, while I concentrated on design changing, looking for new ideas and propolis going to America in those days. I I wasn’t really, I knew I wanted to get the American market, but I had no idea how to at that point. So I appointed them as a distributor. And the problem was that the say the the owner of the business, the owner of Lawrence sports, he was he was in his 70s then and he retired. And he retired. And he he asked put his son in law in to manage the business. So his son in law can’t manage the business. And unfortunately, he had no idea. And my friend who was the sales manager, he just did not get on with the son in law at all. So he left and when he left the company and if you lose your salesman, you’re really good. You lose your salesman, you lose a lot of business, and they lost a lot of business. And the problem is that they’re lost so much. i The story. It’s absolutely incredible how they did this. They were trying to change they made soccer boots on the soccer boots and soccer boots. The you can sell them in about August because the season is just starting. And then you can read you can have more sales in December, just before the Christmas break, and the holiday break so you can do better During the rest of the year, they’re just making boots they just make in the shoes. And they decided they wanted to upgrade. The son in law decided he wanted to go from the method that we’re using to attach the soles and the studs to the boots. He was going to go with a nice big fancy machine, which would inject them. That was okay, the idea was okay, the problem is that the machine was late arriving, they had to build a new building to put the machine in, and they built it too small. So by the time they had this machine to make the boots, the season had gone crazy. And they were out of business. They just just, the business just fell apart. And I had had to dash down to there were about 60 miles away from our factory, I had to hire a van and go and pick up all my shoes, which they hadn’t sold because they stopped paying me. So I picked them all up. We brought them all back to to Barry, which was next to Bolton where we and we had to put a plan together. But unfortunately, I had to lay off half of the staff, because we know we had nobody buying our shoes. The distributor was about 75% of our production, either 25% with different things that we were doing and on brands different. I was making climbing boots for story Manchester’s. So we had about 25%. But when you lose 75% of your business, it means I had to lose a lot of employees had to let him up.

Kara Goldin 26:44
How did you ultimately recover from that? Well,

Joe Foster 26:47
as I say, I think it’s about 2000 pairs of shoes. We’re only a small company 2000. But I brought back from Lauren sports. And we put together a plan to go to all the schools, all the secondary schools within our area, probably hundreds of them. And we went there we we made deals with the the instructors, the coaches, and we we were selling the shoes at a very heavily discounted price to the coaches that could sell them to all the children. But that price was better than we were getting from the distributor. So we was making more money. And it took about less than three months. And we sold the whole stock and we got the money in and we survived

Kara Goldin 27:35
going direct you’re ultimately able to make more money and and, and recover. And then how did you ultimately get to the US then?

Joe Foster 27:46
Well, the US that was a different story because that I wanted to get to the USA look. Foster’s had been selling 200 pairs of Spanx shoes Hanzhong to Yale University, to Bob Jane, Jacqueline Frank Ryan, they were they were head coaches. And they were taking them and they were selling those to other universities in America. So they’ve been supplying, yeah. And I knew that every Well, every college, every university had coach and coach was a god. And you could actually go to university on a sports scholarship. So this, I knew this market was so big, so fast compared to the British market, which is not a bad market, but relatively small. And I was reading a magazine, it was called Euro sport, and as a advertisement in the, from our government from the British government. And they wanted us to export and they were willing to pay for a stand at the NSGA show in Chicago, the power returner fair, and also half of our hotel bill. Well, really, there was no reason why I shouldn’t go. So I didn’t this is 1968 1968 was my first attempt to get into America. And it was rather interesting. People love the product. Oh, this is great. What do we buy this from? And I was saying you’re buying from England. And they’re saying is that New England? No, not not New England. England was right. No, there wasn’t any appetite there to to import, which is always a bit difficult to import product. Do you have to go through different things? So I didn’t sell any shoes. However. Anyway, 1968 and by the time it got into America, it was 19 7911 years. It took 11 years of knocking on the door trying 11 years. Wow. 11 years. It’s a long time, isn’t it? But you know, America is a nice place to go to Chicago isn’t you know Chicago? Chicago is a nice place but in in February, that’s not a nice place to be in February in Chicago is it’s full of snow and ice, and it’s very cold. The coldest I’ve ever known those, it was really cold. But 11 years, but I think every every third year, they used to go down to Houston, in Texas, and I don’t know why that was, but they every third year, two years in Chicago, one year in Houston, it was great going down to use them because so warm by compressions in Chicago. But it took me 11 years but really, to get in. This is where we had a lot of luck. Running, running started to become a big category in America. A lot of people in the late 60s and all the way through the 70s running group. And with it of course Nike, Nike grew with that running boom. And also Runner’s World Runner’s World magazine that I think he’s still going and Runner’s World Magazine,

Kara Goldin 30:56
I remember Runner’s World very well,

Joe Foster 30:59
it’s it started as a very small a4 page. But it ended up by 1975. It’s a magazine, color color magazine, telling you everything we we should go the races the results. So it was like a Bible. People used to buy it and they loved it. And Bob Anderson, who probably some magazine, while well, he knew all about running, and he decided he could tell everybody, what was the number one shoe to buy? Well, you know, 360 million Americans 10% of them were now running 36 million wanted to run. And about, we’ll say 10% of those 3.53 point 6 million would want to buy that number one shoe. And Phil Knight couldn’t produce that. I mean, he was he was producing them in out of Japan. And there was no, absolutely no chance of turning up the production to that level. And of course, by the time the production was coming in, and the retailers were now they were stocking up with this number one shoe, Bob Anderson, after 12 months decided we need another number one shoe, why you can imagine these shoes are just coming in last year, she was just coming in. And now he changes to another one. So the retail trade all the retail sports outlets. They were they were up in arms. So Bob Anderson change the change of strategy instead of having a number one shoe. And then number two and whenever they would do a star rating. So the top best shoes with five stars, four stars, three stars. And I knew we could make a five star shoe. It was really difficult to try and become number one, particularly with Nike just been down the road from Runner’s World. But I knew we couldn’t make a five star shoe. And in 1978, we had as tech as Tate was our five star shoe. That was our offering. We tested out it was part of the gold rage. We had a gold range, you know, product, anchor anchor was a spike shoe. The Midas Midas was a road racing shoe. And Aztec was the training shoe that was the one everybody would buy as take. And I had that in Chicago in 1979. And I got came up came up came because when it was growing so much, they’d heard about us, and they said we want 25,000 purse. All right. But for our factory that was about six months work. We were we weren’t only a small factory, we’re obviously we’re obviously punching above our weight. Sure. But we were thought in well, we were considered in the UK to be the leader. When it came to athletic shoes, we would really our name had really grown. But my friend Shackleton, who had left Lauren sports, he’d gone to barter. Barter, in those days were the biggest shoemaking company in the world. And he was so he said, Look, Joe, if you get orders, we’ll we’ll help you. We’ll make them for you. Right. But then Kmart said, but we want a better price.

Best Price meant going, going to Asia. Man we had to go. And in those days it was South Korea. And so what year was this? 1979. Okay, but we also we also thought about that. And I had made contact with the agent for a large Korean factory. They had an agent in London, so I’d make contact there. So we asked if we didn’t get a faster shoe. We could get it to the right price. And we could go out to Korea to make them and so I thought well, okay, came out fine. 25,000 pairs. But you know, there’s such a big big outfit, so I thought well, yeah, maybe that were my first 25,000 pairs and last 25,000 posts because if if they didn’t itself, the square footage that they were they were going to use for the product they would just get. But also pour firemen came along, or firemen came along. And he, his company was Boston Campion. And Boston campaign were a smallish wholesale company with tents, fishing rods, all you need for if you’re going camping and hunting and fishing. But it was only a small company. He was running that with his brother, Steve, his brother in law. There were three of them that were doing that. And I could tell when Paul came along, he was prayed what fed up of doing the same, I think for 10 years that had this business and they were just sort of, we go in over, we just keep on selling the same stuff year round. And we said, John, I’d love to be your distributor. I’d love to take on Reebok. He said, but we need a five star shoe. I said, Paul, come on. Have a look at this. This is it. As tight. Yeah. Yes. Okay, job like it. But it’s not a five star shoe yet, is it? Not always not? Because I think it was July when the running issue came out and the shoe issue came out. And we’re only in we’re only in February. Okay, so I said look, though, if you get a five star shoe, I’m your man. Right? So it’s a bit of time between February and July. And the end of June. The issue of the July or the shoe issue comes at a bad time I’ve been to over to Boston had a look at their operation. Very nice. Good salesman. Yeah, this would be a nice bolt on business. Fantastic. This looks like the best option. Because during my 11 years, I had had at least six attempts and six failures to get on the market. Well, it was, for whatever reason, there was no penetration. But we were trying to push, if we could get a five star shoe, it’d be different. That would be the hook that would get us into the mark, as people would love to buy a five star shoe. So that was the challenge. And so we I’ve been to America, and I look at the operation. In fact, Paul Feynman came over to the UK and looked at, you know, well, how, you know, how big is Reebok? You know what’s on the market. And he wanted to see some of the races. But you know, we knew what to take him. We knew the racism, we knew who would win. And we had at least 50% of the runners were been running in Reebok. So that was great.

Kara Goldin 37:35
One of the things that I know that you did you release the Reebok freestyle in 1982, which was the first athletic shoe designed for women. Incredible. What was the response initially on that shoe?

Joe Foster 37:51
Well, I mean, first of all, how did we get there? We got the we came in as a Running Company. And we’re doing nicely. And we had distribution all over us. And we had representatives. And one of our tech reps are home. Martinez is his wife, his wife was going to these aerobics classes and coming back and absolutely follow. It is fantastic. And I said, Well, just a minute. What are you doing one on one or a robic classes? Well, it’s exercise to music, and it’s fantastic. So Anil went down to the next next class, and you saw the instructor in the sneakers, half the class and sneakers, the other half no shoes. He had a good lightbulb moment that why don’t we make them a shoe? Glove leather, very soft, very cushioned. And he went out to Paul fireman. And Paul said, Look, we’re a Running Company. You know what we want to do make a dancing shoes. But Steve didn’t, didn’t work. He went around the back in the other word with our Holden where he went to see Stu SEEBURGER stably. It was our production man. And he persuaded Steve to get him 200 pairs of this shoe, which he did. gave them to the girls. They love them. Problem is that were made with glove leather, and a glove leather. They only lasted about four or five weeks. But the girls I mean, we’re talking about America, we’re talking about California. The girls had the money to sport. They had loved them so much. They didn’t just use them. And the classes, they went to work in them. They they wore them all the time. And when they fell apart, they went out and bought another pair. So that was great. We soon answered that problem. And we got more of a garment leather. So now we have aerobics. All of a sudden, it was a woman’s company. Um, we’re only a small Running Company. So when aerobics to golf, and it took off because Jane Fonda, she bought a pair of our freestyle and she wore them in videos or exercise videos or fitness videos. So this thing just absolutely exploded in. In California, we were 9 million as a running company. We’re a $9 million company. Wow big but you know in those days yeah. Nice. The year after we were worth $30 million company, year after that a $90 million company, then a $300 million and $900 million. So that was the explosion. I love it. I love it. And, and it was a woman’s company. Well,

Kara Goldin 40:16
I think like the key things that I’ve heard you talk about Joe, and so many lessons learned in here. But first of all, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Because you never know when a salesperson is is going to be leaving and and somebody that you’re a distributor that you’ve depended on might not be working out so well. And I think also just all constantly watching trends along the way. And then also influencers influencers have always been here, right and Jane Fonda was the influencer then and and definitely helped you really get on the map for a lot of people. So I think it’s incredible what what you built and what year did you actually step down to,

Joe Foster 41:07
I stepped down in Nigeria at the end of 1989. Okay, that’s when I stepped out. By that time, when we were growing so big, that we were near for a $4 billion company then. And the company had become corporate. We have so many lawyers, so many accountants and a lot of people in between. And I was looking after international because I put on Paul Phelan as the the American distributor. And then after that, I put another 30 distributors on around the world. So I was just traveling around the world. I was also hosting the pro celebrity tennis in Monte Carlo. And we had a lot of celebrities that came down for cycling into Evans. As John Collins, Frank Sinatra, we actually got that on one occasion, and Sean Connery and Roger Moore, there were just all these people without where people, but it was a, it was a life I was I was going around the world, three times a year, globally, I was just traveling three times, yeah. And I would I would arrive be picked up by a limousine. Go to the best hotels and eat at the best restaurants. But you know, it was like a bit of an artificial world. It didn’t feel quite right for me. And the challenge wasn’t there anymore. So once the challenge had gone, I thought better to just step back and retire.

Kara Goldin 42:27
I absolutely loved. I love your story. You are clearly Joe the true embodiment of entrepreneurship and talking, I mean, your book, The shoemaker. As I mentioned before, it’s right here. So so interesting, and coming from, you know, an entrepreneur, that I am, I just I really appreciated so many of the challenges that you went through, and the tenacity, the creativity, the ability to just figure it out. And at times when things are hard think, you know, what can I do in order to move forward, I read all of that, and, and felt all of that in this book. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing a little bit about your journey. And everybody needs to pick up this book, The shoemaker by Joe Foster, the founder of Reebok. And thank you so much, Joe. Thank you everybody, for listening. And definitely, if you like this podcast, please give it five stars. Subscribe. And you can also follow Joe and Joe Foster, I know you’re on Twitter, and what other social platforms are you on?

Joe Foster 43:46
We’re on Instagram, we’re on Facebook, we’re on all you’re on all of them social media, we’re on social media. Because you know, we’ve just one more objective left in life. And that’s guess, again, to book the book to be a best seller.

Kara Goldin 43:59
I love it. I love it. And definitely pick up a copy of the book. And hopefully everybody will get a chance to pick up a copy of my book as well and daunted and to entrepreneurial books together. It’ll keep your weekend interesting, for sure. And I hope everybody has has a great rest of the week. So thank you so much, Joe, and thanks, everyone for listening.

Joe Foster 44:26
Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure and an absolute delight. Thank you very much.

Kara Goldin 44:31
Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little and daunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time, you’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight? Send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening