Embrace sharing ideas with your team to flush them out and bring them to market.
Charles Michael Vaughn is the President and Founder of LeSin Vodka. LeSin Vodka is an ultra-premium vodka made in France. The brand came to life as a reflection of his lifestyle. LeSin Vodka represents something new and exciting within the ultra-premium vodka space and Charles Michael Vaughn is proud to bring his offering to the industry.
As a business owner, Charles Michael Vaughn has a uniquely individual approach to how a business should operate than most entrepreneurs. His teams do not have to be in an office at any specific time. The only requirement he has for them is to be available by phone whenever they are needed. He believes in having a team of togetherness and they all share a stake in the brand. Charles Michael Vaughn believes he is responsible for everyone within the organization. In terms of providing them with a challenge, a balanced lifestyle, the ability to feel confident and successful, he is responsible for them. He feels he should deliver them the tools to foster growth and success. Furthermore, as a business owner and leader, Charles Michael Vaughn appreciates and cherishes the teams. The goal is to provide his teams with a very traditional job with an untraditional approach. He believes his approach fosters creativity, excitement, freedom, and flexibility. He believes they should have a good quality of life and family balance.
Charles Michael Vaughn owns two distilled spirit brands: LeSin Vodka (France) and Blue Lava Tequila (Mexico). LeSin Vodka is produced in Cognac, France and has been very successful for the past ten years. It has stood the test of time. Blue Lava Tequila was launched in 2017. Bleu Lava Tequila is produced in Jalisco, Mexico, and imported to the U.S.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I wanted to create an ultra-premium brand vodka. France seemed to be the right place for it to be produced. The atmosphere I wanted to create was one of celebration. It is flirtatious, fun, relevant, and sexy. I wanted to give the feel of a sexy night out or even a black-tie event. After a reflection back on how our circle of personal and professional friends celebrated special times or enjoyed nights out with each other, I let that be the inspiration into the personality of LeSin Vodka. From there it took an amazing team of production and marketing folks to come together to bring LeSin Vodka to the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have encouraged our team to be available by phone. I am up at 3 in the morning. It coincides with my vendors in France. (They are 6-7 hrs. ahead). Then I get into my US zone. We don’t sit behind computers all day. The work comes in spurts throughout the day. You never know when creative people will get ideas. I keep up with my west coast people until about 8 pm. It is a traditional job with an untraditional approach that fosters creativity, excitement, freedom, and flexibility. I am available 7 days a week, I never miss a call. I thoroughly enjoy thinking about this brand.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If I were left to my own devices with ideas, I would just get more and more extravagant. My champagne taste needs to be curtailed a bit. We have a lifestyle of brainstorming. When I have an idea, I conceptualize it and share it with my team. I am excited to have their perspective on the idea. I want them to either validate the idea or have some sort of consensus to see if it is something that we should explore. I have a team who understands the brand. We all take apart in the idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that excites me is the movement of Trends. You never know the next trend and when and where it will take place. Perhaps we will be the next superstar sensation. Our trend would bring the experience of dignity and class, respect, elegance, and grace. That is our definition of sexy. Trends are always evolving and that is exciting in itself.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have a habit of always answering emails, even if it is just to let the person know that I received the email. If I don’t know the answer to the email, I let them know I will research the answer and get back to them. Also, when I have an idea, I don’t let it slip my mind. I stop what I am doing and make sure to write it down.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I knew then what I know now I would tell younger Charles Michael Vaughn to be prepared to embrace the crazy ideas that I come up with. Then make a habit of sharing them with other people. I used to keep those ideas to myself and try to explore them. After I matured, I realized that sharing ideas with others in my circle actually accelerated the growth of those ideas from concept to reality. I would tell younger Charles Michael Vaughn to embrace sharing ideas with your team to flush them out and bring them to market.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I created a vodka that went up against International brands. I believe that there is no such thing as intimidation. If you go after something that you don’t have and you don’t make it, it is a break-even! If I try something and I am able to get it, I am way ahead. I don’t believe there is a loss proposition out there. If you try, you cannot lose. The terminology of “Loss “does not apply to an entrepreneur. Even if there is a loss of money on your journey, it is another form of investment in your education.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing that I would encourage everyone to do is to commit to taking time to not think about your business. Think about your passions and your hobbies. Things that have nothing to do with your business tend to refresh your mindset in a balanced way. Take vacations and get business out of your head. When you come back to it, you’re all fresh. You have to find that balance. You cannot be on 24/7, 365. Find the balance to stay fresh, stay sharp and stay on top of your game.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think my best strategy is to stay personally involved in my business. Many people use the word delegate. Being the Founder of a set of brands and making personal calls and having a dialog with customers and potential accounts, says a lot about the leadership at the top and the commitment to the brands. I think it speaks volumes. Even if you have brilliant “chiefs” on your team, being personally involved lets a customer know I am personally involved in this process. We let them know we will do what we need to do to work with them during this process. Being personally involved has helped us expand our brands. We are a team and we share the whole process.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had brands that did not achieve what was expected. But it was a learning experience. I refined the experience and repurposed the information. You lick your wounds and move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I believe that in this e-commerce world there is some low-lying fruit in shipping and packing. Find a way of working with UPS or FedEx. During the holidays especially. Perhaps you can make your niche as a pickup and wrap and ship service. It would improve the service. I see the potential here to really streamline the pick-up side of things for the major carriers.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best money that I have spent was when my son came to visit and we went fishing. He caught a shark. It was just so much fun and refreshing. We made memories that will last a lifetime.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am always calculating. I love Excel. My iPhone is the other tool I really depend on. It is my calendar. I also bought a label maker that keeps me organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
A Gentleman in Moscow. This book shows a role model and how he maintained his integrity, class, and gentlemanly deportment in the midst of unbelievable adversity.
What is your favorite quote?
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
• Find the balance to stay fresh, stay sharp and stay on top of your game.
• Provide your team with the quality of life and family balance.
• This company provides a traditional job with an untraditional approach, that fosters creativity, excitement, freedom, and flexibility.
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