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My favorite book as a kid was “The Way Things Work.” Not much has changed in 20 years!
From his very first interview, Alex knew VMG would be the perfect culture in which to satisfy his curiosity and bring together great people and ideas.
I’m still satisfying my curiosity every day. One of the most fascinating parts of my job is the opportunity to observe so many different categories and business models.
This is a group of people who love what they do and who work collaboratively without taking themselves too seriously along the way.
The genuine excitement for consumer brands was palpable even in my earliest conversations with VMG.
Let’s start from the beginning: what kind of kid were you?
I was super curious. My favorite book was “The Way Things Work.” Not much has changed 20 years later.
I’m still satisfying my curiosity every day. One of the most fascinating parts of my job is the opportunity to observe so many different categories and business models. One day I’m researching ways to manufacture non-alcoholic beer and the next I’m assessing the route to market strategy of a salty snack brand. The variety gives me a lot of time to “figure out how things work.”
Any early lessons from your parents remain with you?
My father repeated to my sister and me some version of “all you have in life is your reputation” and “while it takes years to build a good one, it only takes one decision to lose it.” In our industry, reputation can be the difference between winning and losing a deal as entrepreneurs evaluate potential partners.
What was your very first paying job?
My most impactful early job was as a CUTCO cutlery sales representative. Selling door-to-door was hard and I quickly learned to become comfortable with rejection. It made me a better storyteller and a better listener – when you’re trying to sell people a product they already have, you need to unearth a problem of theirs and then communicate how you can solve it. Also, I sliced my finger open in the middle of a presentation (more than once).
Yeah, it was a great life experience, bad health experience.
Great brands also tell stories, so what brands from your past are dear to your heart?
As an Italian American, food was a huge part of my childhood. So were brands and recipes! My mother, who is a phenomenal cook, decided after years of trial and error that she prefers Tuttorosso tomatoes for her meat sauce. I have such a connection to Tuttorosso that I always use their tomatoes when making my mother’s recipe. To help brands engender such emotion and loyalty is what makes my work so meaningful.
Clearly you find that enthusiasm for brands at VMG.
The genuine excitement for consumer brands was palpable even in my earliest conversations with VMG. When team members describe the firm’s successes, they do so enthusiastically and without ego. This is a group of people who love what they do and who work collaboratively without taking themselves too seriously along the way.
And you contribute to this culture how exactly?
I’ve always been good at connecting people and ideas. Listening to new ideas from coworkers or our partners with different backgrounds, facilitating collaboration, solving problems by connecting needs with solutions…
CUTCO trained you well.
Yup. And I don’t slice my fingers open as much these days.