Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Podcast: How This Entrepreneur and Shoe Designer Went From Cold Calls to 500 Percent Growth

In the latest episode of 'How Success Happens', a decathlete-turned-shoe-mogul shares how he was able to push through obstacles to find success.


How Success Happens is a podcast featuring polar explorers, authors, ultra marathoners, artists and more to better understand what connects dreaming and doing. Linda Lacina,'s managing editor, guides these chats so anyone can understand the traits that underpin achievement and what fuels the decisions to push us forward. Listen below or click here to read more shownotes. 

Wolf & Shepherd

“You can do more.”

Not long ago, Justin Schneider found himself sitting on the floor of an empty factory in Mexico, in the shoe capital of Central America. He thought he was on the cusp of launching his performance shoe company, Wolf & Shepherd. Backers expected that their long-awaited first pairs would be overnighted from the factory

Except there was a problem. A big problem. Thanks to a mishap at the factory, his finished shoes -- the Italian calfskin ones his customers had waited four months for -- were covered in blue, foamy dish soap. 

Related: Podcast: Why This Leadership Expert and Former Aviator Says 'Courage is Just Fear That Held On One Minute Longer'

For a lot of young entrepreneurs, this would be the end of the company. But not for Schneider. Before he was a founder or a designer for New Balance or Adidas, he was a college decathlete, pushing through 40 hours of training a week to find a new personal best -- to run a sprint just a hair faster or throw a javelin an inch further.  Each competition was a test to show that training was worth it. 

“I’ve only jumped 6’10” in the high jump. Could I jump 7 feet?” he recalls. “You’ve already spent 40 hours in true physical training. Are you really going to waste those 40 hours? You have to believe you can go higher.”

That mentality -- that he could push further, that there was more to do -- helped him get on his feet and start looking for supplies as well as people who could help.  Soon he was talking to the floor manager to find workers and the factory owners to find materials to rebuild the shoes. 

Related: Podcast: When PowerPoints Weren't Working, This Powerful Exec Passed Out Comic Books Instead 

“When you’re in a position like that, and it seems like all is lost and all you might as well throw in the towel, you say ‘what can i do?’” says Schneider. “You just start asking questions.”

That ability to push through helped in those tough early days. And it was instrumental in going from cold-calling friends and family for pre-orders to experiencing 500 percent year-over-year growth for the past two years.

“A limiting factor is someone’s mentality to say, ‘this is all I can do, this is all I’m capable of,’” says Schneider.  “You push through and you see way more opportunities.”

Related: Kathryn Minshew of The Muse: Decide Who You Are, or Have it Decided for You (Podcast)

In this episode of our podcast How Success Happens, he’ll talk to us about how he practiced pushing forward throughout his life and how that background has shaped him even today as an entrepreneur. He’ll also share how this mindset could help anyone -- and how we can train for how we face the challenges in our lives.

To subscribe to this podcast, find us on the following platforms: SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play.

Linda Lacina

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Linda Lacina is the former managing editor at Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Family Circle. Email her at Follow her at @lindalacina on Twitter.