A Teddy Bear Story
How I Made 13 Million Dollars in One Day
I am the founder and was the original CEO of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company for 15 years. The ride was really fun; it consisted of a lot of hard work and was full of great stories.
In 1993, the 13th year of my leadership, we went public; I sold 20% of the company for 10 million dollars. We were the third most success IPO on NASDAQ in 1993. The share I created when I started the company was worth one cent.
The day I went public, I sold that same share for 10 dollars. By the end of the day, that penny stock had climbed to over 20 dollars. The Teddy Bear Company was worth 100 million. I had 1,300,000 shares. In one day, I made 13 million dollars.
The Teddy Bear Story is about stock, and all the stories of this entrepreneur, CEO, and founder.
If you are going to become an entrepreneur and start a company, you will someday have great stories too.
Being A CEO is the Best Job in the World
I loved being the CEO of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I liked making the decisions. The CEO of a company is a very powerful person.
Let’s define power of a CEO or founder in a successful company:
“Power is and means one person the CEO (or Chairman of the Board) can make any decision they want. They are supreme rulers over: all the rules, all the decisions, all the hiring, all the firing, how much people get paid, what the employees wear, really all decisions.”
Being a CEO is not the same as an elected official. A business is not run like a democracy; it is run like a dictatorship or royalty. If the CEO has control of the stock, it is truly like a royalty. If the CEO does not have control of the stock, they can be fired and lose all their power.
The CEO, Is A Very Powerful Person To The Lives Of The People Who Work for Them
CEO has to approve the rules of the employee handbook. I remember the day at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company; I was reviewing the suggested company handbook, (which is really the rules of the company and what the employee gets from the company for doing their job), how they get fired, benefits, etc. The suggested rule I was reviewing was for: reasons why someone would get fired. I could make up any rule I wanted. The problem with making up rules is that you, the CEO, have to enforce them. One rule I would not agree with was if someone was drinking during their lunch break. I did not care if someone drank; I only cared if they did a good job. In fact, I might have a glass of wine or beer during my lunch break, so if I could do it why not everybody. I love a glass of wine for lunch. Who doesn’t like a beer and burger for lunch? Eventually, I made it very hard for someone to get fired if they did a good job. The only two real rules cared most about was stealing and lying. People kept their own time cards, if they were late, they would work later to make up the time. Many of the people that worked with me were mothers, who had families they had to do things for like go to school meetings, or deal with sick kids. I felt like the rules were good, I had to do very little or no enforcement. I mean the thought of firing someone bothered me a lot, most people live pay check to pay check, and if they get fired, all hell breaks loose in their lives.
When I left the Vermont Teddy Bear company all the rules changed.
Our Shipping Label
I loved our shipping label and was very proud of it, because I believe it was the coolest label in the world.
The label changed maybe once or twice a year, because I wanted every name of every teddy bear person who worked with me on the label. This label was one of our earlier ones. It shows all the cities we advertised in, like New York, Chicago, Boston, Philly, and San Francisco. It also has a Vermont scene so when someone got the bear, they could see a little bit about Vermont, where the bear was made.
The teddy bear crew names on this label: Ronald, Suzanne, Roberta, Kris, Jeff, Keith, Tracey, Kim, Marsha, Lisa, Nancy, Mark, Sherry, Mabel, Jacqueline, Debbie, Steve, Betty Ronda, Scott, Stacy, Lilian, Gina, Dan, Ann, Gerry, Lori, Laurie, Heidi, Ann, Betsy, Jamie, Dana, Mary Jane, Arthur, Ruth, Robin, Jerri, Jill, Clara, Marie, Tricia, Lisa, Charlene, Beth, Gemma, Anita, Sandi, Heidi, Arlene, Nini, Sarah, Jennifer, Matt, Deb, Nykky, Jim, Joe,. Linda, Sandi, Linda, Lisa, Betty, Ted, Andy, Kelly, Justin, Peter, Tina, Dan, Amy, Amy, Daphne, D.T., Clair, Scott, Lily, Amy, Allison, Beth, Judy, Paula, Susan, Tini, Nancy, Amber, Barbara, Jane, Barb, Megan, Fred, Spence, Tom, Kathleen, Stephen, Lori, Nancy, Linda, Shirley, Corrine, Joana, Laura, Lori, Beth, Rose, Adrianna, Angie, Christa, Cindy, Callie, Lisa, Matty, Patty, Cheryl, Lisa, Melissa, Nancy, Laura, and John.
I love the bear standing on top of the world with the words “Best Bears on Earth”
Thanks Jamie, you really made a great label!
The Creative Comedy Team: Ted & Matt
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company had very few guys working there, like 15-18 out of 250 people. Two of the guys who worked there were Ted and Matt, they worked for Babs in the marketing dept. Babs had a great sense of humor…
Ted and Matt did an underground newspaper; I forgot the name of the paper. It came out I think every week. I loved that newspaper because it was funny and well written. Anyone they wrote about in the company had a mysterious funny nick name.
Anything that made work more fun was ok with me, as long as we got the job done.
I could count on Ted and Matt to support me in any crazy idea I came up with, like the Cartoon Cavalcade. The cost of the cartoon festival came out of the marketing budget, so Babs had to support it too. Our idea was to show Looney Tune cartoons on the big screen in the best and largest place in Burlington, The Flynn theatre. The Cartoon event was so much fun, and it is worthy on its own blog.
Everyone loved these guys; their sense of humor was not offensive, just funny.
When I came up with the idea to have a bocce tournament, it was Ted and Matt who came up with the odds of winning for every team. The odds were listed in the lunch room so everyone could see them. Just thinking about how teams would react to being a very low favorite still puts a smile on my face. It caused those teams to practice more, the completion was fierce.
Of course those guys would write about the bocce tournament and anything else that happened in the company. Their newspaper was very entertaining.
When I stepped down as the CEO, the underground newspaper stopped. The new CEO did not like it. When I asked him why he stopped the paper, he said he did not think the newspaper was productive. He was wrong, because it added to the whole work atmosphere. It allowed the employees to laugh and have a good time while getting the job done right.
Thank you for reading my Teddy Bear Story!
I am very proud of what I did as CEO of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
Understanding company stock is a key part of our academy: How to create it, how to structure it, and how to make it grow in value.
Now how did I lose my power? Well, I sold stock in the company to keep it running, during the very hard years of the late 80’s. I kept selling my own stock to fund the company. Eventually by 1990, the year we figured out how to make money, I had sold off 87% of the company I founded, the company I started from a teddy bear cart. I was so happy the company was successful, that that we could make payroll, all the time, I really did not care about my percent, huge mistake on part. I trusted my board and the people who funded us. Most of the stock I sold went to one woman, Joan. Joan, when she saw that we were finally a good company, she gave me back 10% of the company, which she bought for $25,000.
Next post meet Jimmy the Weasel, the guy who took us public…