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Steven Sashen

CEO

Xero Shoes

Location: Broomfield, CO

Founded: 2009

Industry: Footwear

Steven Sashen is CEO of Xero Shoes, which are barefoot-inspired, lightweight shoes, boots and sandals. “Our mission is helping people discover the comfort, health benefits and fun of letting your body do what’s natural … starting with your foundation, your feet,” the company said.

Xero Shoes continues to grow 35-50% year over year. Sashen said he is at the point in the company’s trajectory where he can focus on management and let go of some details of the business. He brought on a new chief financial officer, chief operating officer, vice president of digital marketing, vice president of product development and vice president of global sales.

“We brought in some organizational geniuses to help manage all our teams and projects,” Sashen said. “Plus, we expanded into the EU with an office in Prague and switched from working with a manufacturing agent to working directly with our factories, giving us more control and cost savings.”

These changes allowed Sashen and his wife to take what he said was their first vacation since the business launched in 2009.

“I’m not naturally a manager,” Sashen said. “I tend to assume that everyone has the same drive, commitment and desire that I do. Nor do I think of myself as a leader because I don’t do anything that feels to me like ‘leading.’ What I do is hold the vision for our brand and communicate that in ways that, I’m told, point everyone in the same direction and make them happy to be part of what we’re all building.”

Sashen prioritizes his employees’ growth and development. The company helped its current accountant, who started in customer service, get an MBA. It took another group and helped them master aspects of internet marketing.

“My favorite thing to say to people at every level in our company is, ‘OK, now that you know what we do here, and since you’re a smart person, what skills and talents do you have that you haven’t deployed yet?’ And then we create a plan for them to do so,” Sashen said. Xero Shoes also launched a unique mentorship program where anyone can be a mentor for something they know and can teach, and it’s not limited to things related to the business.

“It can be about handling stress, relationships, fitness, you name it,” Sashen said. “And anyone can become a mentee with that person.”

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Not surprisingly one of the greatest values is meeting other Titans. Now, sadly, I haven’t been able to do as much of that as I would have liked, in part because of timing issues, and in part because I’m a non-meat-eater and don’t drink or play golf 😉

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