This is an interview with Kris Dehnert, co-founder and CEO of Dugout Mugs. He teamed up with Randall Thompson to create fun and quirky baseball bat drinking mugs for baseball fans all over the world. Today, we learn about how he evaluates business deals and how he strives to think ‘one level deeper’ to reach a level of effectiveness that his competition can’t reach!
What kind of interests did you have when you were younger?
Kris Dehnert: My interest in entrepreneurship has been brewing inside me since I was a little kid, that’s for sure! It goes all the way back to at least my middle school years when I would observe the trends amongst my peers to find niches where money could be made. I devoted myself to that kind of thing and learned to get more and more creative over time.
I still remember when the girls in my school started getting into making jewelry and the like out of colorful wire. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could make money out of it. Soon after, I found a telecom store that would throw out their extra wire after work every day. All I had to do was put in some time to bike my way over, pick it up for free, and then strip the wire clean so that I could sell it for some sweet profit.
Do you have any advice on how one can evaluate the value of a business deal?
Kris Dehnert: For deals, I have a motto that I follow: ‘Operate from a place of alignment versus opportunity.’ Which really boils down to three ‘filter-questions’ — as I call it — that I ask myself before accepting any deals.
Question 1: Do I like the people involved in the deal? That might sound superficial to some, but I believe that it is crucial for one to surround themselves with people that they can trust and people that they can work with in a positive and effective way.
Question 2: Can I leverage my existing connections to impact the deal positively? Synergy is the name of the game, and I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying “Network is Net Worth.” If I can leverage my existing connections to boost a business’ success, I know that my work would be already partly done.
And finally, Question 3: Is the deal fun? I always say, that ‘People just want to be entertained.’ And this applies to me as well. Life is way too short to do anything that you don’t enjoy. So, I make sure to pick only business deals that I would actually enjoy working on. There’s no point in doing otherwise!
What are you currently working on?
Kris Dehnert: I’ve been putting a lot of my attention on Dugout Mugs, which I lead with Randall Thompson. We’ve hit several milestones that I’m incredibly proud of, and we’ve been having a ton of fun with the baseball community at large. It’s definitely one of my most quirky and yet, undeniably, successful ventures. So, I’m looking forward to how much further we’ll be able to take it before I officially exit the business to turn my attention back to my consulting company.
What advice would you give to new business owners eager to grow their business?
Kris Dehnert: Think ‘One Level Deeper.’ That’s been the key to my success over the years. Just thinking a little bit deeper, even if it’s just a step more than someone else. That’s how you beat the competition, getting ahead, and reaching a level that they won’t be able to reach. Whether it be through gamification, improving customer experience, interrupting their patterns, etc. Just… delve a little deeper and find opportunity in what’s already there.
What trait do you believe has made you a great leader?
Kris Dehnert: A great leader should know how to delegate. As Peter Drucker (a well-known management consultant) says, “Do what you do best, and outsource the rest!”As a leader, it’s easy to forget that you don’t need to do everything. It’s difficult to remember, but I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make. That and being a boss rather than a leader. The difference being that bosses have no respect for their people, while leaders communicate and support their people in order to make sure that everyone is always working at 100%.