Episode ##015 : Justin Kraudel - Monta Watch
MONTA Watch is a St. Louis-based company manufacturing Swiss-made watches with impeccable finishing and attention to detail. MONTA watches easily flow from the board room to more casual settings and their prices are challenging the competition in the entry-level luxury market. Their first model, a dive watch called the Oceanking is nearly sold out. And their second model, a field watch called the Triumph is available right now on their website: www.montawatch.com. Look for more exciting development from MONTA Watch in 2018.. Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Top Take A Ways: When you do what you love Monday’s don’t matter anymore. Guiding principles: Do cool stuff and have fun doing it. Consistency is key - in everything. Monta is the only American owned Swiss Made watch brand. It’s a greater compliment to be trusted than loved. Our timepieces have fantastic movement, interchangeable straps and a 2 year warranty at a fantastic price point. Q&A 1. Naturally, I would prefer to focus on MONTA since our # 1 goal is to get the name out there. However, I’m happy to discuss my time in wealth management at Morgan Stanley as well as my involvement with The Post Sports Bar & Grill. In addition, from a conceptual standpoint I can discuss the idea of “living your passion.” 2. A passionate guy who loves to chase the dream and will do anything he can to help others. 3. First and foremost, my greatest success is my family. Then, I would say finding the courage to quit a successful 13-year career to follow my passion for watches. Passing the CFP exam was a big one. Helping to grow the Post into the business it is today has been very rewarding. And I’ve always prided myself on the friendships I’ve made in life. Those have served me very well. 4. My journey started with good parents. They instilled in me, as all parents do, the love and zest for life. I’m still trying to replicate their words and actions with my own kids. They helped me focus on education, morals/values, faith, and things that I was passionate about: sports, Legos, the stock market, watches, friends, etc. Even my “Watch journey” started with them. They gave me my first watch in 2nd grade. 5. I think you have to aspire to be the best at your craft otherwise you shouldn’t be doing it. In the finance world it was very hard to differentiate yourself. Within watches you can differentiate yourself immediately and set yourself apart with your designs. 6. My leadership style is very collaborative. I like to have everyone on the team contributing from the get-go. I have a keen ability to judge character and while I’m forming my opinion of someone’s integrity I’m simultaneously helping them to get to know me. I try to be an open book in all aspects of my life and that helps me build rapport. If I have a common ground with someone we usually get along well and I can motivate them the right way. 7. Beyond family/friends and watches, my passions are: music, food/drink, and travel. I’ve played piano since I was 7 and taught myself guitar in college. My parents recently gave me the Baldwin Hamilton from their house that I learned to play on. It now sits in my home office and I try to play at least 15 minutes every day. I listed to music in the car every day and when I exercise in the morning. And I go to at least 3-4 concerts a year, usually with my Dad. We’re concert buddies. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and dining at restaurants. The former because of the creative side and the latter for the camaraderie. I love how food and drink bring people together for spirited conversation. And who doesn’t like to travel? The watch business helps accentuate that passion. I’ve been to Switzerland twice this year and that will be a regular occurrence. Love it there. My wife and I take an anniversary trip every year and then a few other long-weekend getaways. We adore New York City. 8. Philanthropy is very important to me. I once read a quote from a guy in the St. Louis Business Journal who said he wanted to gross $1 million, net $1 million, and then donate $1 million. Probably in that order. I think that’s a great goal. I’ve been involved with Variety the Children’s Charity here in St. Louis for over 10 years. Currently, I sit on the Investment Committee so I can keep those skills sharp. I’m also on the executive board of Fair Saint Louis. My business partner and I have discussed one day starting a MONTA Foundation that would benefit underprivileged children. 9. Biggest influence in my life is without a doubt my father. I’ve had a front row seat for 35 years in watching how he lives. He and my Mom have been happily married for 37 years and he’s had his ups and down in business but always persevered by doing the “right” thing. Even today, the greatest compliment I can receive is: “you’re just like your father.” 10. I think information that can be transferred into knowledge is the most important part of staying on top of your game. Whether that’s examining what you’re competitors are doing or learning a new skill that can be applied, always trying to improve and do better in all aspects of life. Also, by giving yourself the time to explore and enjoy your passions keeps that balance of doing what you love and loving what you do. 11. I go back to my Mom and Dad again and then add my wife, kids, and my close circle of friends, specifically my two best friends from high school who I’m still very close with and my college roommate who ended up being my brother-in-law. These are the people I can trust implicitly and tell them anything. Their feedback is always taken to heart and I yearn for their approval. 12. "Always try to do the right thing" aka “make good choices” to my kids. “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” - one of my Dad’s favorites. “Give up your need to be right” - one that I have adopted and used in a best man’s speech. And two that stuck with me when I made the decision to follow my dreams: “The chance of a lifetime in a lifetime of chances” and “The pain of regret is greater than the pain of failure.” 13. You can ask my wife…I get pretty excited every day going to work. That we actually make something is so fulfilling. The idea of seeing a stranger in a restaurant with a MONTA on their wrist is something I look forward to every day. And then having the business grow to be something my kids could work at some day if they so choose. 14. For my own life it’s really simple: “Live it.” We have one life and one chance to see, hear, smell, feel, and experience as many things as we can. From a business perspective, I always tell my partner that “I just want to make cool stuff and have fun doing it.” And we are succeeding in a huge way in that regard. 15. I don’t have any unusual routines. I get up at the same time (even on the weekends) and take my oldest daughter to school. I’m typically in charge of dinner (my wife handles everything else). And I try to help out around the house as much as I can.
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