Nick Shucet (00:00)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. I'm your host Nick Shucet. Today we have Steven with us on the call. Steven, I've known you for a while man, back and forth just from MDS and we've worked with companies.

You started on a couple of projects, so it's exciting to get you on and just hear about how it all got started. As I get to know you more and more, you seem like a guy who does a lot of different things.

I think that's interesting because that's what I'm going through right now. I feel like I have some things I can learn from you.

Welcome to the show and I'll let you go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us how you got into all of this, and some of the companies you've started and are working in.

Steven Blustein (00:47)

Absolutely, Nick. Thanks for having me, man. Likewise, always fun. I think tracking down to maybe our first Top Golf event at Prosper from a while back. It's good to always have our legacy friendships.

It's always good. I got started on my entrepreneurial journey when I was in college. I started my first company, PrideBites, which is a custom pet product company in the pet space.

Steven Blustein (01:15)

I started that company when I was in college and really formed as maybe a licensed product company and changed many times over to what we have today. Yes, I'm actually a seller at heart.

We sell in about 3,000 retail stores, a little over 150,000 units a month to retail stores. Definitely understand the pains that you go through from a seller's perspective, and then because of that, starting Gembah to help people fulfill that.

On one platform to help you develop, design, and manufacture products to the shelf.

Being on the other side of that now, and I’m getting to see so many different products being launched, I think it just feels, somebody like us, I think it just fuels your mind and you always wanna do more things.

Super grateful for everything that I've been a part of today.

Nick Shucet (02:08)

Product ideas are dangerous for me. I had to shut that part of my brain off for a little bit. It's like, Nick, you can't, you don't have all this money to launch all these products and stuff. You have to focus on something in one way or another.

Nick Shucet (02:26)

I really enjoy that part of the creative process of coming up with ideas like that. It's great to be in a position to have time for that and work on stuff like that. I know you guys are rolling out some tools soon that can possibly help us.

I'm excited to learn a little bit about that before we wrap up the show. I think that's gonna be interesting to touch on.

I know there’s a lot of experience behind that so why don't you tell us a little bit about what your role is at your company now and what your day-to-day looks like? I'd like to know how you've been able to grow.

What did it look like for you before and what does it look like for you now?

Steven Blustein (03:19)

In different companies, I take on different roles. You know, Gembah, I'm one of the founders of Gembah.

I run all our sales organizations. I'm really focused on new business, focused on our offerings, focused on our messaging and delivery of that and who we partner with in that case as well to get out there.

I think one thing that is nice is we really do partner well with a lot of people because we're agnostic to all the different groups that are out there within either Amazon or supporting different sellers.

We try to complement as much as we can to somebody's supply chain journey or product development journey.

I think in terms of day-to-day, it's always just trying to talk to more experienced sellers, people that are in the business and saying we have a ton of resources.

When I say that, it's because I've developed it on my own from my own business and brought that over in those relationships and resources over with Gembah and have expanded upon that with offices overseas in those locations.

China, Vietnam, India, Mexico, South America, all these places now with boots on the ground to be able to really deliver answers, I think, to people better.

That's what really my day-to-day is, which is a lot of fun talking to people like you, learning your stories, what keeps you up at night, and what problems you're having within your supply chains.

Then almost putting that ninja team on there to not only solve a problem but then run it more efficiently and more timely, creating more value within a supply chain for a business.

That's what I'm super passionate about other than the physical creation process, which is, as you said, always fun, always to get in a room and kick around different ideas and what's possible, helping people realize that value.

Nick Shucet (05:13)

Nice, man. For me, where the position I'm in, the value that it really brings to the table is I don't have to hire someone to do that role. If I partner with this agency or this company, and I use the word agency there because I feel like that's ideally what you want. It does exist.

They are out there, these guys who specialize in some things and they build a business around it. Instead of hiring and building your own department, you could just talk to one person and let them figure out all the behind-the-scenes stuff, and it works.

I try to do that as often as I can. I've got two good relationships right now where it works that way in our business and we're working with PrideBites. We just started working with you guys on something.

If it makes sense, we're gonna move forward. One of our products is in Vietnam. It's hard to beat. It's like hard to go away from that and go to China because they're 25% there. You're just like, hmm.

Steven Blustein (06:27)

You know what, more than ever, if you wanna ask me what I'm seeing on the ground within our space right now, more than anything, people have talked about leaving China. It's been a discussion.

It's all of a sudden, that Q4 of last year picked up, and my discussions have fast-forwarded completely. Maybe more stalemate throughout the year watching, seeing how things are happening.

A lot of pressure can be applied to get somebody to transition. At my business at PrideBites, we run a multi-country supply chain. I always suggest to people to get it set up and do it.

The investment in doing that, if you're willing to go run ads for a month or whatever, and not willing to invest in your supply chain, which could de-risk everything for you, I'm not sure where your mind's at.

Steven Blustein (07:24)

In our case, I strongly suggest that you get started on something like that. I love that you're producing in Vietnam as an option.

It obviously has a little bit higher MOQs for some things, but I think there are ways to negotiate around that with materials and maybe separating that from materials into final goods, etc.

Yes, I would suggest to everybody listening to this, if you are a seller and you're in a single country producing, it doesn't matter what the situation is.

It just makes sense to be able to produce in more than one country, since today it's possible. I think we've learned a lot about Mexico and South America. It's a little bit harder there. Right now they're not as up to speed, but India and Vietnam are making a big splash.

I know obviously Costa Rica and Nicaragua, these areas also doing a tremendous amount of work. My suggestion would just be to go ahead and start looking at that.

Nick Shucet (08:23)

It's nice to have other places to go visit, too, besides just China. Me and my partner might take a trip out to Vietnam this year to try and work on that relationship more. We'll see how that goes. We've got stuff in China, too.

Steven Blustein (08:42)

Cool, that's awesome. I'm not leaving China, just to let you know. We're not leaving China by any means. It just makes sense to have that ability.

Nick Shucet (08:54)

That stuff gets complicated, too. I think that's where having a good partner comes into play as well. There are a lot of other departments that can be impacted if your supply chain's not running right.

Your marketing team, if you have a sales team, depending on how your business is set up, needs to be dialed in. Marketing guys can't be planning some big promotion, sales, bam, we're gonna do all this cool, great stuff.

Oh wait, we're out of stock. Oh man, we just spent a bunch of money expecting this big return.

Nick Shucet (09:35)

We thought we were going to stay in stock and acquire all these new customers. I think it's important for a lot of guys in our network that are still going through that phase.

Steven Blustein (09:40)

Right as the heartburn builds.

Nick Shucet (09:52)

Transforming as an entrepreneur. Maybe they really want to grow their business and now they're an executive and they're like a real executive. You're not just an entrepreneur with a title and it's still just you.

You have a team. You have to lead and they're dependent on you and stuff like that. You have to change. You can't keep all that knowledge in your head

Nick Shucet (10:17)

Man, that's tough. I have found that to be tough as we try to grow our business because, before the supply chain and marketing and sales, it was all right here. I knew what was there. I knew what we could do, could not do.

I've even run into problems as I go more into marketing and sales and leave operations and left being the Amazon guy as well. I'm not as dialed in like that. I can go down my rabbit hole.

I have to check myself and be like, all right, I got to loop everyone else in, get them on-page.

Steven Blustein (10:52)

I think you make a great point. I think it's an awesome point. I think you change so quickly in terms of how your leadership style is. When I first started, I think you touched on the confidence in the sales team.

If something's going on in your supply chain and your sales team catches wind of it, your marketing team catches wind of it, and all those issues are raised. I think it also brings into just general confidence.

Steven Blustein (11:18)

Your sales team is not confident, your marketing is not confident. They're not in the right mindset. That just crushes you.

Maybe that's the unknown of the unknown that you don't even know is crushing you and it's seeping up into you as you get there. I think also to your point is, as you lead, when I first started, I saw my grandfather.

This hub and spoke model, you're going to do it my way or the highway and it worked. I was like, wow.

Steven Blustein (11:46)

Amazing and you walk in the office and people would be scared but they'd execute. I had to find my style. I don't know if that's something that you found too. Who are you as a leader? Who are you as a manager?

How do you become, to me, in my opinion, become a servant leader? That's what I ring true through all my organizations. How does that how does that transition feel? I think that's something that impacts.

Nick Shucet (12:13)

That's tough, man. I feel like I'm still going through it on that front. There's who I wanted to be, who the leader I wanted to be. Now there's who I think the one I think I need to be. It's a little more tough, a little more accountable, a little less casual.

I don't want to say a little less friendly.

Nick Shucet (12:40)

Just so people know what to what to focus on. That's really what it comes down to I think people need to focus and some people need a little bit of pressure to focus and that's what I want to want to help with.

That's what I'm navigating through, which I think it's a good exercise because I can't just type a Slack message and hit send and walk away and not care.

I've got to be like, ah, that might be received wrong or maybe I shouldn't use that word. I don't know what that really means to him, and just trying to communicate in a very clear way that anyone would understand.

I believe that's almost always possible in any interaction. It's tough, but it's good sales.

Nick Shucet (13:36)

Good therapy or something like that. You get presented with some information in a way that's like oh, I need to take this action and just get it. Get it done. That's what I'm struggling with right now working through.

Steven Blustein (13:57)

I don't think there are any clear answers either. You're going to test yourself and ultimately you're going to see how your team responds. I think maybe the clear answer is just your success.

Is the team performing and executing to where they are? If they're not, then maybe the style or where you're messaging. It's funny, especially as you grow across countries.

The way that they want to be reminded or the way that they want to interact with different things is going to impact your business as well, especially in the supply chain business.

Steven Blustein (14:26)

That's always interesting how you meet the factory, how you talk to the factory, how your project managers, how you get the most out of them. How do they see your culture because they're not living in your culture day to day?

I think all those leadership tactics are huge things to focus on as a leader because they get the most out of your team.

Nick Shucet (14:49)

I feel like that topic and a bit broader one of remote work in general. It's something that is happening at such a boom right now, but no one's talking about it. I forget who I was chatting with.

Maybe it was Ro who gets on the podcast with me sometimes, but we read all these books like EOS, and Scaling Up and all these books.

Steven Blustein (15:18)


Nick Shucet (15:18)

Yeah, Traction. They're talking about you're in a building. You're in an office. You're face to face and in all the ways that they run those things, which I think is good.

Let's say it gets you 50%, maybe 80% of the way there, but I think what's important now is you've got to have the confidence to make your own way.

Nick Shucet (15:41)

Figure out this remote working thing and take the time to figure out how to navigate relationships like you said across different countries.

Hell, even the first time you start, remember the first time you started scheduling events across different time zones on your calendar. You’re struggling your way through that. It's like learning a new language for a little while or something.

Steven Blustein (16:01)

Or didn't set your proper, wherever your location was, and you arrive in the place and your schedule, you don't even know where your schedule is at. Nowadays you get there, it's all formatted correctly for you.

Remote work has definitely changed us quite a bit, so we know we're all remote, and traveling quite a bit again, which is great.

Just got back from China and plan to go to India shortly, and I think that maybe the biggest trick is just get in front of people. Get your people in a room.

Nick Shucet (16:35)

I want to just pause and let that echo because that there it's magic.

Steven Blustein (16:38)

Do what it takes. Let them fuel you.

Nick Shucet (16:49)

I had a business before in landscaping and line maintenance, worked a lot of jobs around a lot of people, and sales teams. I realize I took it for granted. The magic that happens when you get people in front of each other.

It's amazing.

Steven Blustein (17:07)

That's why MDS has done so well. There is magic when you get a bunch of awesome sellers in a room who have a ton of experience.

I think going to the events is always something of value to us because I think that brings true value once you start sharing with another, like, okay, I hear what you're going through right now.

Okay, well, here's somebody you can talk to or, hey, what do you have for me? Let's talk about what you're doing on social or podcasting or all these things open your awareness.

Steven Blustein (17:37)

That goes back to feeding into your leadership style. If you're not open, if you're not trying to always educate yourself or learning or getting ahead of it, then there's no way you can believe a team that way either.

It's impossible. Then it comes to the challenge of staying ahead of your team while also having to run strategy and execute as on the team. A lot of pressures as a seller in general come at you quickly.

Those are a lot of challenges.

Nick Shucet (18:04)

This year I've gotten I have gotten precision surgical with my schedule.

Steven Blustein (18:12)

What has changed from last year to this year?

Nick Shucet (18:16)

At first, I was doing a lot of recovery-type stuff in the morning, like breath work, meditation, and preparing for the day type of stuff. Of course, there have also been those times when I would just wake up, and drink coffee.

I don't want anybody to think I'm trying to be Mr. Meditate all the time or something. I have my days too.

This year what I've done so far is this wake up and work thing. I came across this training and there's a lot of science. You can look it up on flow state.

The guy's name is Mikael or something like that, but there are good studies on this stuff with good data. Their thing is to wake up and work.

You get into a flow state faster as you start to wake up and then do the recovery stuff.

Nick Shucet (19:08)

Then try to get back into the flow state. Then they have to make a list, a clear list the day before the things you're gonna work on. I think there are seven properties of flow that are all happening at the same time.

They talk about surfing, which is interesting. Instant feedback is one of them. They talk about the more that you get into a flow state, the more prone you are.

Nick Shucet (19:38)

It really made me think about how I am when I'm surfing a lot and how good I am at work and business and usually just my mindset in general.

Steven Blustein (19:48)

When you obviously get on the surfboard, your mind is at ease.

Nick Shucet (19:52)

You can't really think about anything else. There's that stress there, that little bit of pressure, but you're skilled, at least I am, I'm experienced riding a wave. I'm getting instant feedback from the board.

I feel somewhat confident and I'm in control, but there's this pressure here, and then boom, it's all over, it's done, and you look back and there's nothing there. There's no trace of what just happened.

You're not thinking about anything else.

That's what they're talking about and supposedly you can get into that state faster if you just wake up and work because your sleep state is somewhat similar to that flow state and you're not getting distracted at all.

Man, it's been working. I've done a presentation, I did a presentation in three hours the first time I did it.

Nick Shucet (20:54)

I've just been able to put some good stuff on my list, big things that only I can really do and knock out.

That's been working for me and then I feel good about my morning which leads to me feeling good about my day and then going back to leadership, I'm more receptive to putting out the fires in coaching because now I got my stuff done.

Nick Shucet (21:21)

You don't understand that unless you understand it. It's cool. It's interesting learning. I'm learning a lot of new things, having people working underneath me and having to deal with them on a regular basis and they're managing their own people.

We did executive coaching for a year through this Consilio company and it really helped out a lot, man. That's been good for us.

Steven Blustein (21:47)

That's awesome. I think the focus is so awesome. You don't have your phone on the surfboard. You're in the moment completely. There are a lot of key features where that's intense meditation.

I'm also a guy who meditates every morning. I'm not a guru, but my first thing of the day is meditation. It's helped me because I get crazy migraines. I get really bad ocular migraines.

Steven Blustein (22:16)

The meditations for that quick time period, as soon as I hit the morning and then start my day with work, typically I'm in the right mindset. I get that. It makes sense that right then, your best thinking is right then.

Starting your day off on the right, now just like jumping in completely and then having moments to come down and as some of us with kids and whatnot, come back into life as we have to do the nighttime routines and all the stuff.

Steven Blustein (22:46)

I think from a mindset perspective that makes a ton of sense. It's definitely worth trying. I always love to try other people's techniques. I'll definitely be trying.

Nick Shucet (22:53)

Check it out, man. Wake up and work within 90 seconds. All I did was make coffee. I have a little automatic one, so I woke up, pressed the button, made the coffee, went into the office, and worked.

I'm usually pretty good about getting up, but I was sleeping in a little bit, like the holidays and stuff. I had to shake that off and I just did it.

Nick Shucet (23:20)

It was cool. It's been good. I'm going to keep it up for the most part and try and do it every day and just make that habit. These guys, it was a Steven Kotler.

That's the guys doing some other science, uh, and they have a program too, you can join a community. It seems interesting. I haven't joined though, but they have some good stuff.

Nick Shucet (23:47)

I thought about it. I was like, man, I want to teach that to the team. I was like that, the team should know this stuff. Maybe one day I'll go down that journey.

We also do monthly leadership calls with the team as well, where my partner will bring a topic. I'll bring a topic and we'll talk about some stuff.

We have a fractional CFO. That fractional thing is similar to what Gembah brings to the table is just all that experience at some level to help you get where you need to go, man.

If you're trying to grow, I think there's a lot of us, we got lucky with Amazon. You're not going to keep getting lucky. I know I got lucky on Amazon. Timing, and a lot of things.

Steven Blustein (24:37)

Create your own luck though.

Nick Shucet (24:38)

By working hard for sure, but there was definitely an element there that I couldn't. Better times. There is an element I couldn't control there like the timing.

I want to keep that. I want to keep my lifestyle and grow the business, man, and enjoy what I'm doing. Part of my lifestyle is doing work that I enjoy doing.

Nick Shucet (25:06)

I think that sounds like the position that you've gotten yourself in, Steve. I think that's what allows us to do a lot of stuff.

It's like doing something you enjoy doing because you can produce more of it cause you're going to do it more than the person who doesn't.

Nick Shucet (25:24)

Then if you do things like think strategically about how you work and build a team, you can produce at a high level. The guys I’m talking about are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

The impact of a decision and how it spreads through their organization and how many hours of work he can do in one hour, I can't even come up with a number. It was insane.

Steven Blustein (25:53)

I think that's crucial. I would say what has changed me over time as an entrepreneur is my focus in the time that I have. It's leveraging a lot of time.

I'm so segmented and organized in terms of what I work on, and how much allocation I give to the things that I'm doing. I think you have to be in that sense. I wasn't at the beginning and that hurt me.

It wasn't as effective. I wasn't as strong as a leader.

Steven Blustein (26:21)

Now I'm very, very focused on each business in terms of its needs. From what I'm giving it to start the week and end the week. Also, we keep talking about people. That keeps resonating through our discussion.

I tried as much as possible to thank my people constantly, show them that I would be in the trenches with them, work alongside them, be up those late hours or early mornings, or whatever they needed.

Steven Blustein (26:48)

I think that's been something that's resonated throughout my entire career. Now it's really paying off. I think I have really strong relationships, definitely amongst my companies.

I think when everybody, like you said, you're in the right mindset, you're gonna work better when you know that your goals are aligned with the people you're working alongside, you're gonna work better.

I think that's hugely important for us as well as at Gembah. A lot of people when they meet their product development folks, they think of your sourcing agent like, okay, tell me about you.

Steven Blustein (27:18)

We often head into a conversation with like, Dukes are up man, ready to go. In our case, I think that goes back to the resources. I try to level with people and be like, okay, listen, I've been to China 65 times.

I know how this thing works, okay? Let's just talk through maybe what you're seeing, how you're seeing it in other ways, and then where we can fit in that discussion. It's always interesting from a leadership mindset.

Steven Blustein (27:48)

Definitely something I think we continue to do with the same feeling that we have internally, and we hope to our customers as well. Open doors, always willing to talk through things or any of that mindset.

I think those things are crucial from the change when I started to, now in my career, at least.

Nick Shucet (28:05)

It's interesting. It's like being at this stage and listening to you talk about it as well. It makes me think that almost anyone can be a leader because no matter what you have to change.

It doesn't matter who you are, you're going to have to change because it depends on your environment. To lead, it depends on where you're at, and who's around and that's going to change.

That's going to come and go. What's really the common denominator among leaders?

Nick Shucet (28:40)

I think It's definitely mindset for sure, but just confidence in your ability to figure it out, I think is part of it for sure. It's just cool to see.

Steven Blustein (28:51)

It's amazing on Today. Two of the greatest coaches of our generation are calling it quits and hanging it up.

Two guys that did things very differently, extremely differently, and leaders on all of them could fit in the same hole, or the same square box, so to speak. I was thinking a lot about it last night. I was like, how do they do this?

You've heard stories about Nick Saban as this drill sergeant of a coach.

Steven Blustein (29:20)

Then on the other side, Bill Belichick, which is not like that. Do your job, and focus on the respect of the position. I think it's super interesting on just the different methods to get people to perform.

Nick Shucet (29:34)

It makes me reflect back on that idea of just taking something to get you looking at something, a business, a person, a good example that has the qualities that maybe you would want to be or have in a leader.

That'll get you there. Then just trust that you'll figure the rest out. It's like raising kids. You'll figure it out, man. We're all just figuring it out.

Steven Blustein (30:04)

That's right. One leg at a time. To your surfing, we always say to whoever you are as a person. My friends always joke with me that when I was little, instead of kids' books, I read 10k reports. I've always been in this mindset.

I've always wanted to start businesses. I've always wanted to do something my grandfather got to see him do it. I was always driven there. I also think that we have a guy on our team that surfs, an avid surfer.

Steven Blustein (30:32)

I always tell him to be yourself, do you. I always tell everybody when I’m on a call, no matter who they are, they don't even know him. If they mentioned surfing, I'm like, yeah, Lejend surfs.

I always stop for a second and wonder, but that kind of confidence that he's exuded through our team has left that impact. I think everybody's own personal culture also impacts what you're doing.

I think that's what's fun. You get this group of people in there that you surf, maybe somebody else doesn't, maybe they're a painter.

Steven Blustein (30:59)

They're big in film, outside of work, whatever it is. Those passions also, I think, are really cool to let through. Who knows what that can spark?

In our case, our company, we always wanna see that because it always drives a new idea. It's always good, I think, from a company perspective to have that impact.

Nick Shucet (31:17)

I think ultimately it's those differences that bring you all together in the end. It shares that, just passion. That stuff's important at work too.

If you can get that in there, if you can add that into what you guys got going on, that's when people go above and beyond for each other, because you're building real relationships.

Steven Blustein (31:43)

I want to be on a surfboard, man. You got to take me out.

Nick Shucet (31:46)

Yeah, man. You can come here in the summertime. It's always good for learning. You'll definitely get you on a wave. I'll keep you posted.

There is a good spot in Nicaragua and Costa Rica that isn't hard to get to. El Salvador. I do need to make that happen. I owe MDS a surf trip to everyone. We'll keep you on the list.

Steven Blustein (32:02)

Sounds like an MDS trip is forming.

Steven Blustein (32:10)

Cool. I appreciate that.

Nick Shucet (32:14)

Well, man, it's been good having you. I think we talked about a lot of good stuff, a lot of good leadership-type stuff, and things you can leverage just in business. I think that's what Gembah brings to the table too.

It gives you leverage in that supply chain market because you have to stay up to date. You can't go off the knowledge you had two years ago. You need an expert, someone who's staying up to date has a team has experience.

Nick Shucet (32:43)

If you're looking for that definitely reach out. Let us know if there's anything else you want to say but other than that, thanks for coming on.

Steven Blustein (32:53)

I appreciate that. If you're looking for any product development, obviously just come check us out at I'm happy to help out.

Nick Shucet (33:02)

Actually what about the tools? You mentioned some tools that were going to be coming out. If someone was interested in those, how would they stay in the loop on that? Why don't you mention those tools too?

Probably won't do it justice. What that is going to do for someone?

Steven Blustein (33:21)

I appreciate that. If you go to, you'll see one of the main sections is our marketplace. On the marketplace, what you'll see over the next month is really a bunch of tools that are gonna be able to help sellers.

Identifying new products, and developing product concepts with the research that we're developing for you, is a section that really enhances your decision-making when it comes to new ideas.

If you are an idea guy like Nick and me, I think you'll appreciate it. It will help you identify the next product you can launch.

Nick Shucet (34:00)

That's super cool. I know when you first told me, I was like, man, I need that right now. I think it's a good tool to fill that gap and allow you to get confidence in what you're doing if you're new to that.

We need to redesign a product. I just need a couple of simple things to figure out, man. If I could play with something to model that out, that's a huge time save, a huge money saver. That's a big value add.

I'm excited for that.

Steven Blustein (34:33)

Absolutely, and it will be all self-service. Check back with us at and our marketplace for more updates.

Nick Shucet (34:42)

Alright, thank you.

Steven Blustein (34:44)

Awesome. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate you.

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