The Transformative Power of Inclusion

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John and Mark Cronin

Inclusion is more than just a buzzword. It’s good business. And, for the father-son founders of John’s Crazy Socks, it’s a lifelong mission. 

We sit down with company founders John and Mark Cronin to discuss the keys to their success, and how their focus on inclusivity and engagement has changed their own lives, and the lives of their employees. They also discuss the importance of hiring differently-abled team members and what it’s like to testify in front of the United Nations with your father.

Key Points

  1. Inclusive Hiring Practices: Emphasize the importance of casting a wide net in your hiring process to include people with differing abilities. This approach not only enriches the workplace with diverse perspectives but also enhances the overall productivity and morale of the team.
  2. Mission and Values-Driven Leadership: Establish a clear, compelling mission that goes beyond profit, one that all employees can rally around. This shared purpose fosters a sense of belonging and commitment, laying the foundation for a happier, more cohesive work environment.
  3. Empowerment through Recognition and Autonomy: Acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of each employee. Offering autonomy and trusting team members to take charge of their roles demonstrates respect for their capabilities and promotes a culture of empowerment and happiness.
  4. Continuous Engagement and Feedback: Create channels for open communication, allowing for continuous feedback and engagement with employees. This practice not only supports a culture of inclusion and happiness but also helps identify and address any barriers to achieving these goals.

Learn more about John, Mark, and John’s Crazy Socks here


Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered a common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0.

You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps here.


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Before we dive in, you are listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness.

I’m your host Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and Management 3. 0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and [00:00:30] thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work, so that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Hello and welcome to Happiness at Work. Our guests today are John and Mark. [00:01:00] Cronin, the father and son team behind a multi million dollar company who are on a mission to spread happiness and promote inclusion all over the world. So super welcome John and Mark.

Mark Cronin: Thank you. So I’m really pretty. I, I, I have on your podcast.

John Cronin: We are very happy to be here.

Elisa Tuijnder: Thank you. I’m so happy to talk to you. So, before we dive into your business and all of these things, the one thing we always ask all our guests is, what does happiness mean to you? And maybe, yeah. John, let’s start with [00:01:30] you. What does happiness mean to you? I

Mark Cronin: happen to me that it, we have a mission called Spirit Happiness.

Pray happiness about is gratitude

John Cronin: ratitude for others, gratitude and do for others. Huh? That’s fantastic. Yeah. It’s um, you know, I think of more contemporary words. We talk about flow, but I, I think it’s, we achieve happiness when we’re aligned [00:02:00] with meaning and purpose, you know, and there’s some choice in there.

It’s connecting with something outside of ourselves. It’s connections. It can be. You know, connecting with our colleagues at work, or it could be wearing a set of headphones and connecting with Bob Dylan singing a song, but it’s, it’s outside of ourselves.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Yeah. That flow state that seems to come back.

Flow and connections. I did a calculation [00:02:30] the other day of how many times this, this keyword comes back and it’s, it’s a lot. Well, thank you for that. Hey, so let’s get into it. So you’re the driving force behind, or you both are the driving force behind the seven figure company, which in my opinion might have the best name of any of the companies we’ve had on the podcast before, and that is John’s Crazy Socks.

So how did this start? What is the, what’s the story? How did it happen?

John Cronin: Well, it starts, uh, seven years ago, back in the fall of 2016, [00:03:00] in a small log cabin in the woods. Wow, that’s a good start of a story. It starts on suburban Long Island outside of New York City. Yeah. And where were you?

Mark Cronin: I was at, um, high school.

I could be my, my last year of school.

John Cronin: Now, something to know about John, in addition to being an entrepreneur and an athlete and a public speaker and a dancer. Yes. John [00:03:30] has Down syndrome. Um, so in the U. S. If you have a disability, you can stay in the public school system until you either graduate or turn 21.

So John was going to be turning 21, and that would be his last year of school. So like everybody else, he’s trying to figure out what comes next, right? Right. And what were you looking at?

Mark Cronin: I was looking at John, program, and school. I can’t find programs [00:04:00] that I don’t like.

John Cronin: And, uh, Lisa, you know, and your audience knows, this is an unfortunate reality.

There just are not enough openings for people with different abilities. Unfortunately, yeah. But John here is a natural entrepreneur.

Mark Cronin: Yes, I am. You

John Cronin: didn’t see a job you wanted. What’d you say?

Mark Cronin: I want a great one. I want to make one. I told my dad I will go business with him. A nice father and son being together.

John Cronin: John had [00:04:30] worked with me before. I’d run other businesses. So this was very cool. My son, me, and saying, Dad, let’s go into business and let’s work together. Now, I’ve listened to your podcast. You’ve got a lot of great leaders and Entrepreneurs on, you work with entrepreneurs, you know, they always have a lot of ideas.

Yeah. It’s not like the right one. Not all of them are good ideas. What was one of your ideas for a business we could run? [00:05:00]

Mark Cronin: Well, the, uh, it’s a food truck. I said, uh, I’m creating a movie, uh, called Chef, uh, John Farrow. I need a neat movie about a father and son.

John Cronin: So a food truck, everybody out there, you’ve eaten from a food truck.

Seemed like great fun. And we’re thinking what could we make and where would we put it? But we ran into a problem. We can’t cook. Yeah, we can’t cook. [00:05:30] It wasn’t going to be a food truck. But then, right before the U. S. Thanksgiving at the end of November, John had his Eureka moment. I did. I went and

Mark Cronin: saw crazy socks.

White socks. Fun and colorful and creative. Always

John Cronin: let me be me. John had worn these crazy socks his whole life. We used to drive around looking for him. So we figured this, if John loved him that much, surely other people would too. Other [00:06:00] people should, yeah. We could find that connection. So, we decided to go the lean startup way.

We didn’t bother with the detailed business plan. We said, let’s get something up and running. And people will let us know. Customers will let us know. So, you already had the name.

Mark Cronin: I got a name, I draw a website, come out here.

John Cronin: He had, he’s, he’s the one who set up the show online. So, we built a simple website.

We got some inventory. We were bootstrapping. [00:06:30] We once had a student ask us, Well, what exactly does bootstrapping mean? It means you have no money. Yeah, you’re just getting by. Making it work. The only marketing we did was to set up a Facebook page. That’s it. And I would make my cell phone and we made videos.

Who do you think was in those videos? John, wearing the socks and

Elisa Tuijnder: promoting the socks.

Mark Cronin: Yes, I am. Um, uh, I can’t say it’s socks, [00:07:00] socks, more socks.

John Cronin: So we opened on Friday, December 9th. So in fact, this past Saturday, we celebrated our 7th anniversary. We had a big pop up shop anniversary party at our warehouse.

Beautiful. Yeah. And we didn’t know what to expect, but that first day we got 42 orders, and most of those orders were local. Um, which made sense. John was in the local schools where we live, we had temporary office space, so [00:07:30] how did we deliver those first orders, offers?

Mark Cronin: Uh, uh, we have, uh, we have our home deliveries.

We get red boxes, uh, put a sock in the box, uh, put a sticky note on the wall, uh, put a rice, uh, put a candy, uh, a hundred kisses.

John Cronin: We loaded up the car with these red boxes and the thank you notes and the candy and the snacks. Yeah. Loaded up the car, drove around, and John knocked on doors delivering the sock and how the customers respond.

Mark Cronin: Um, [00:08:00] customers, uh, customers love the socks. And I take a picture with me, take a picture with the socks, take a picture with the customer. Yeah. And we show them here.

John Cronin: So by the end of that month, really two weeks, we had shipped 452 waters and we, we had, so that was pretty cool. We knew we could develop the [00:08:30] business. We didn’t know how fast, we didn’t know how big it would grow. Here we are seven years later. How many socks do we have?

Mark Cronin: We have four. Which

John Cronin: means John owns the world’s largest socks store, selling all over Oregon, but we have more choice than anybody else.

We’ve shipped over 440, 000 packages [00:09:00] to 88 different countries. We’ve been able to create 34 jobs, 22 of those are held by people with different abilities. And we’ve donated over 700, 000 U. S. dollars to our charity partners. And as you like to say I said kiss. Die. Just kittens.

Elisa Tuijnder: I love that. I love the spirit.

And it was a great time to start. Socks and Christmas and [00:09:30] Thanksgiving, they all go well together as well. You picked your timing. But your success actually really goes far beyond beyond sales. Like you’ve been named Entrepreneurs of the year, you’ve been on TV regularly, you have multiple TEDx talks. I wanna ask first, how is that to do that as a father and son team?

Um, I

Mark Cronin: follow a Father Star team and I, I am very, I am very fortunate working with my dad [00:10:00] and he, I, my dad, uh. became me, uh, I, he believed in me and he always gave me strength and you know, you know, I, I’m learning all, all the time.

John Cronin: This is incredibly fortunate we get to work together and you know, you’re always operating on multiple levels.

Yes. You know, yes, we’ve testified twice before the U. S. Congress. We, we have to add nowadays, we were not subpoenaed, [00:10:30] but

Elisa Tuijnder: it’s important. Yeah.

John Cronin: We’ve spoken twice at the United Nations and this is important, right? We get these opportunities, we got to speak up for others, but you know, there are those moments when I just, I get to sit there and look over at my son and think, how wonderful is this?

How awesome. So the ability to be able to share that with him is really great.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I can [00:11:00] imagine that it’s a very special thing and that you’re, you’re both on this mission to, to change things. I just, so obviously you care a lot about inclusion, but why do you think it’s so important for businesses everywhere to think about these things?

John Cronin: Well, we always make the business work. It is good business to hire people with differing abilities. And, and here’s kind of a simple way to think of it. Every business around the world that is hiring [00:11:30] employees, you want to hire the best possible people for your organization, given what you can afford to pay.

Obviously, yeah. If you artificially exclude people, you can no longer say we’re hiring the best possible people. If you want to hire the best possible people, you have to cash A wide enough net to bring in the right fish and you have to match them. [00:12:00] We’re not talking about lowering standards. We’re talking about bringing more strength into your organization.

So as we told you, we’re celebrating our seventh anniversary. We do our own fulfillment, right? Uh, orders come in, you gotta pick them, pack them, and send them out. What do we call our pickers? Sacrilegious. Sacrilegious. Um, I love that. [00:12:30] Over those 7 years, we have pulled from 3 different labor pools. People with different abilities.

Moms, there are some dads in there, but we schedule people on four hour shifts so that you could put your kid on the bus in the morning, go to school, come and work, and be home in time to pick your kid up in the afternoon. Yeah, important. And then just laborers who want to start at 15 an hour and get treated fairly well.

By far the best labor [00:13:00] pool for us are people with differing abilities. They want to work, they’re enthusiastic, they pay attention, they care, and they do great work. I think it makes sense. Morale is up, productivity is up. In the U. S. we’ve been experiencing something that they’ve begun to call the big wit.

4 million people a month have been quitting their jobs. [00:13:30] Mm hmm. Well, nobody leaves us, and it helps us recruit and attract other people. So there are these business reasons, but also when you look at the person, you get to see such joy because work can give us meaning and purpose and it can be transformative.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Yeah. I love the business argument and I also like to often add, like we are [00:14:00] faced with so many difficult problems, so many problems that are so multifaceted. Having a diverse pool of people to, to put their heads together is so important because otherwise we’re not going to, if we are all in the echo chamber, we’re not going to get to these complex, we’re not going to solve these complex problems.

John Cronin: We are a sock store and we sell socks for everybody. I’m a 65 year old, overweight white guy living in the suburbs of New York City. How am I to pick [00:14:30] socks for everybody? How am I to know what a 13 year old girl outside of, you know, or living in Los Angeles is going to want? Yeah. Or some 35 year old farmer is going to want?

Yeah. Across the world. Right. A diverse workforce. It helps us sing. It helps us connect better. Yeah. We’re so much better.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Do you have any advice there [00:15:00] for, for businesses that. You know, we’re maybe looking to, to be more inclusive and, and looking to, how do you, how do they get started with this?

John Cronin: Well, we start with John, right? Yeah. What do you say?

Mark Cronin: I have Donald Trump. Donald Trump, I love and hold me back.

John Cronin: Never holds him back. And we don’t put John in the back. He’s the face of the business. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But how we got started when we first getting, getting started, right? We didn’t, just the two of us.

We needed [00:15:30] some help picking and packing litters. We got John Slayer’s That’s a lot of socks to pack. and autism, they didn’t slow them down. Yeah. Um, you know, I used to say that we needed to create more jobs. Yeah. I don’t think that’s really the case. I think it’s more we have to recognize that people can do the job.

So part of it starts with Asking yourself, what do I [00:16:00] really need? What does somebody really have to do to be able to perform this work? So here’s, here’s an example of how we hire for our warehouse. First, we don’t start on the day we have an opening. We’re laying the groundwork ahead of time. We’re involved in a community, people know what we do, see how we do it.

We host tours of our operations. We’ve had more than 2, 000 people [00:16:30] come through. They’re students in school programs, we now offer them online. When they come through on the tours, people get to see, oh, this is what these jobs are like. We host work groups from high schools and social service agencies. We work with social service agencies when they’re placehold people.

So they know what we want. When it comes time to hire somebody, say for the Sock Wrangler job. Yeah. [00:17:00] Well, we wanna make sure that, you know, they want to be there and they understand our story and our mission and our values. We provide the training. One of our current sock wranglers will do the training.

You’ve trained people, right?

Mark Cronin: I train. I train a lot of people.

John Cronin: You liked it?

Mark Cronin: I love it. Yeah. Getting to know them and, and

Elisa Tuijnder: teaching them things.

John Cronin: Yeah. Then we have a task. And you have to pass the SOC Wrangler test to pick six orders in 20 minutes or [00:17:30] less. But notice, there’s nothing extraneous there. Show us you can do the job.

And that’s part of the dignity. Everybody who works with us knows he or she earned that. So we spend a good amount of time speaking with other businesses and showing that. It’s show, don’t tell. A lot of people are afraid. They don’t know, [00:18:00] they haven’t worked with people before that have had a different ability.

You know, I had a conversation with one warehouse owner near us who’s struggling to find enough employees. Yeah. So, well, let me help you. You can hire, you know, folks like we do. He says, Oh, but Mark, our situation is different. We have heavy machinery. Right. Well, John crosses the parking lot every day. Right.


Mark Cronin: Yeah, there’s heavy machinery everywhere there. Yeah, I never had a week and [00:18:30] days.

John Cronin: It’s, or here’s an example. You know, some people say, well, you’re a small business. You can do it. So let me tell you about this small software company out of Redmond, Washington. Mm hmm. Probably heard of them. They’re called Microsoft.

It’s just a small one, yeah. So. They’re in fierce competition to hire programmers and technical staff. And they asked themselves, how come we’re not hiring people on the [00:19:00] autism spectrum? Yeah. Well, the answer is easy because so many people on the autism spectrum, at the interview, they may not look you in the eye.

They may not give you a firm handshake. Well those people at Microsoft, they’re pretty smart. Yeah, changed the interview process as well. Yes. Right? What does having a firm handshake have to do with writing good computer code? Exactly. Yeah. Now they hire lots of people on the autism [00:19:30] spectrum and that gives them a competitive advantage.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. That’s very important as well. Like, you know, if you want to include, then you also have to make sure that your processes are there to be inclusive. And that, that starts from even before you start the recruitment, like you just said. Yes. Um, but also during these processes.

John Cronin: But it makes you stronger.

Yeah. You know. We hear often people are worried about the cost of accommodation. Well, 58 [00:20:00] percent of people with a disability need no accommodation at work. But consider this, we know many of our folks, boy, they are rigid about their work processes. So we want to change the process. We have to be very thoughtful about it.

We can’t just do it on the fly and run it past. Monday morning email, everything’s changed. Right. We have to be very thoughtful, and then we have to be able to explain it to people. And some people [00:20:30] are visual learners, and some people are aural, you know, they want to hear it. Some people want to read it. So we have to be thoughtful in how we present it.

So now I ask, is that an accommodation, or does that make us a better business? Haven’t they just helped us raise our game, and that’s one of the reasons we’re so good at what we do.

Elisa Tuijnder: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And actually that goes beyond, right? Like also people who are not differently abled, [00:21:00] they also have different learning styles and different, you know, if you, if you’re keeping this in mind as a, as a general rule, then it’s going to be better for everybody.


John Cronin: Each of those play to people’s strengths, not their weaknesses, but people in a position to succeed. Right.

Elisa Tuijnder: Not set them up for failure.

John Cronin: Yeah,

Elisa Tuijnder: exactly. Hey, so, uh, our podcast is called Happiness at Work and, you know, you’re called John’s Crazy Socks. And as far as what I’ve read is that you’re also on a mission to spread happiness and you said [00:21:30] this right in the beginning as well.

Yeah. Why is happiness such an important part for you guys? Why, why is this a strong core value? Well,

John Cronin: you said it from the beginning.

Mark Cronin: I, I, I, I, I said in the beginning and I want to make this fair happiness and. And, and, I, I, I’m trying to begin with that, uh, are we showing a cry to and to for others?

John Cronin: Let’s, there’s enough misery in the world.

Mark Cronin: Yeah.

John Cronin: Let’s bring some. Yeah. Let’s make some, and right from the [00:22:00] beginning was this, we’ll do this with songs. We will connect with people, we’ll pay attention. You know, we, we could talk about our five pillars. One of them is, let’s make it personal. So we don’t go chasing transactions. Mm. We’re looking to develop relationships with customers.

To this day, every package, just as on day one, gets a thank you note from John and gets some [00:22:30] candy. And you’ll see a sticker on your packing slip with the name and the picture of the person who packed your order.

Elisa Tuijnder: Oh, that’s

John Cronin: cool. Yeah. If you call our office, you’re never going to get boys jail. You’re going to talk to actual people.

And have an actual human conversation. And everybody’s on board. We’re always trying to figure this out. So here, here’s an example. We put [00:23:00] candy in every order. Well, we sell socks for diabetics. These high depression socks. Yeah. Well, one day one of our packers says, you know, we, we’re sending socks to diabetics and we’re sending them candy.

So now we have a supply of. Uh, sugar free candy. Um, it’s just pay attention to the details. Yeah. [00:23:30] And this really all starts with our colleagues. If we want to bring that out to the world, we have to start at home. You have to take care of our people. If we take care of them, they will take care of everything else.

So one of our five pillars is let’s make this a great place to work. Yes. That’s really cool. Let’s take care of our people. And, and we have five components to that. Yeah. I’d love to hear [00:24:00] about those. Yeah. One, offer people a mission worthy of their commitment. Something bigger than ourselves. Something that matters.

And it can’t just be, we want to make money.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Not like a motivator.

John Cronin: We want to make money. We like to live indoors, right? In flaming and cold out. We want to be indoors. Um, but there’s got to be something more than that. Something you take [00:24:30] pride in. Two, make sure everybody knows why his or her job matters.

There’s no cog in the machinery. There’s no, we make work happen. Yeah. I wouldn’t let a, you know, acquaintance who owns a business say to me, Oh, Mark, that’s a bunch of malarkey. How could everybody’s job matter? Well, if their job doesn’t matter, why are they on your payroll? [00:25:00] Yeah, exactly. I think We need to know how they contribute to that mission.

We need that. Ree, we already mentioned this, put people in a position to succeed. Don’t ask them to do what they can’t do. We don’t ask John. We don’t ask you to do our financing.

Mark Cronin: No, no. I give, I give a really great tour. You give great tours.

John Cronin: You’re a great meeting with people person. Yeah. No, I’m not. [00:25:30] We, and some of that means give people what they need to succeed.

Nick our webmaster needs a certain tool. What do we get that for? If Kenny or Lee Packard wants a chair, a particular chair, why don’t we get that? Yeah. We’re a small business. We don’t have endless resources, but give people what they need so they can do a great job. Four. Recognize what people do. You work hard at this [00:26:00] podcast, right, Alyssa?

Yeah. Doesn’t it feel I love

Elisa Tuijnder: it as well.

John Cronin: People say to you, Hey, that was a great lesson. Hey, you did a great job. Sometimes all it takes is saying, thank you. You made a difference. And then the last piece, stay the hell out of the way. Let people do their jobs. Agency. Yeah, absolutely. So we do that. And you know, it’s paying attention.

You know, money matters. You got to [00:26:30] pay people fairly, but that’s not the be all and end all. Um, and you know, treat people well. So, you know, we do things like Bagel Tuesday. Yes, staff lunch Friday. You know, we, we’ll go out, we’ll schedule things out so I don’t work. It’s not family. But it’s a good team. Yeah.

Um. And those are, you know, these are practical things that anybody can do. [00:27:00] There’s no rocket science here. Treating

Elisa Tuijnder: people like people, actually.

John Cronin: Believing and recognizing we succeed because of our

Elisa Tuijnder: own.

What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after doing [00:27:30] extensive research, Management 3point0 founder, Juergen Appelow, discovered the common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our times in pursuit of happiness. Yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 Steps to [00:28:00] Happiness at Management 3point0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 Steps.

and Management 3. 0.

Yeah, absolutely. There is obviously, like you said, money is important, but once that basic needs are met, then it’s these lived values that shared humanity that people are, are, yeah, are a core strength that’s super important. There’s one thing that [00:28:30] we learned throughout the pandemic. It wasn’t the Wall Street bankers.

It was the people in the supermarket and, and, and the nurses, et cetera, that kept society going.

John Cronin: Well, we’ve, you know, one of the things I think we learned in the pandemic, right, and, and it’s happening, you know, particularly here in the U. S. with this big quit, a monolithic group. Now, some people are saying, I’m not going to take your lousy wage anymore.

Pay me a decent wage. But there’s also a significant block that are saying, wait a [00:29:00] second. I’m spending 40 hours a week at work plus traveling transit. What am I doing? What’s it all adding up to? What’s it about? Yeah. Yes. And if you could offer them something. So we’ve had ups and downs in our time. There was a time back in 2019 we had to let people go because our, our revenues were down.

When struggling, we’ve had people come back here. One of our colleagues, [00:29:30] um, She had a great other job. She found out we were hiring. She said, no, I want to come back. I never felt as happy as when I was there. Because you’re working at a larger purpose, you’re valued for what you do, you get to make contributions.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. You’re not just a replaceable tool in the, in the big toolbox, and that’s incredibly important.

John Cronin: Spreadsheet. Um. Yeah. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I bet you have people [00:30:00] actually lining up to, to come in, to come and work for you guys.

John Cronin: You’re

Elisa Tuijnder: very More socks to be sold, so more people can enjoy this as well.

John Cronin: And have that meaningful work. We’re able to fill openings when we have them. Um, and yes, we want to grow so we can create more jobs. There’s nothing as wonderful as seeing many of the people we hire for our warehouse. This is their first job. Ceremony, when they get their first paycheck.

Elisa Tuijnder: Oh, beautiful. [00:30:30] So

John Cronin: here’s, you know, I, I could tell you stories all day about our colleagues.

Yeah. How that makes a difference. Yeah. I’ll tell you about one. We’ll tell that Thomas. So Thomas, his mother called us up in October of 2017. So I went to hire myself. I hear you hire people like him. You have to give him a job. And our colleague said, well, we don’t have any openings, but when we do, we’ll post it on our [00:31:00] website and social media.

Well, she called every day because she’s a mom. Yeah. They want the best for their kids. I said, you know, tell me about Thomas. She said, well, Thomas is a young man, he has autism, and he’s in a bad way. He’s very depressed. We can’t get him to join any programs. We struggle to get him to come out of his room.

He doesn’t want to shower or shave. He hasn’t spoken to his father in over six months. He’s depressed. Oh, sounds like a wonderful employee. [00:31:30] When we had an opening, Thomas came out, and he passed that sock wrangler test, as if he was put on this earth. Today, Thomas is showered and shaved at 6. 30 in the morning, waiting for his father to drive him to work.

And the person who wouldn’t talk to you or look at you, goes around the whole building, shaking everybody’s hand, and wishing them a good morning. [00:32:00] And two months ago, he stood up at his brother’s wedding and gave the best man toast. And I want to be clear. We did nothing.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. He just had meaning to get out there and

John Cronin: to do something.

No government support, no special programs. All we did was give Thomas the opportunity to earn a job.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s really important and you had a great worker. Yeah, and it’s both [00:32:30] sides, right? It wasn’t just purely altruism. You also had the business argument like you made in the beginning.

John Cronin: Yes, well, if you, if you got to know us, you’d find out that John here, you’re a very nice guy.

Yeah, yeah. You are. I am not. You

Elisa Tuijnder: and you keep each other in check, you ask,

John Cronin: you know, and everybody does.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Hey, you mentioned it, um, briefly in the beginning, like talking about nice guys, right? You also do a bunch of, uh, charitable projects and, and, and charitable [00:33:00] giving manage to raise at least already 650,000 for charitable costs.

That is an incredible amount. Congratulations on that. Tell us about it.

John Cronin: It’s built into the experience that we share with Doug. So we start by pledging 5 percent of our earnings to Special Olympics. And why the Special Olympics? I am a Special Olympic athlete. John’s been competing Fantastic. Special Olympics for 22 years.

If there was no Special Olympics, [00:33:30] there’d be no John’s Crazy Socks. But we’ve gone on to create products that celebrate causes and raise awareness for those causes, and raise money for them as well. So what were the first awareness socks we created?

Mark Cronin: The very first sock that we created is a Down Syndrome Awareness Sock.

John Cronin: Down Syndrome Awareness.

Mark Cronin: Made

John Cronin: those when we called up the National Down Syndrome Society and said, Hey, we want to give you money from every pair we sell. [00:34:00] And they said, who are you? You know, we were just starting. Some random people.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Hello.

John Cronin: But now we have a line of down syndrome products and autism awareness.

So we work with. a local pet rescue that actually is the largest in the U. S., uh, North Shore Animal League America. And we design socks around these things so people can celebrate, support us, and they know when you buy [00:34:30] this, money from that is going to go to this charity. So that’s part of the experience.

And we do other things. We sponsor an autism, can do scholarship. And yes, we make donations, but it’s not, It’s not the old patriarchy of, well, let’s wait till the end of the year and see what money we have. And I decide where it goes. Our community gets to decide.

Elisa Tuijnder: The customers get to decide as well. Yeah.

John Cronin: Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s fantastic. Hey, I believe the [00:35:00] Special Olympics were in Berlin this year, right? So if they’re here again next time, then you have to call me. I’m not going to say hi and support you.

John Cronin: Well, we’ve got to get John on the national team. Yeah. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Heh. Heh. Miro, that’s beautiful. And also, you know, again, that’s the same thing.

That’s a, including everybody, including the narrative and the agency. It’s not just you sitting there. Yeah. At the end. Okay. Well, there it goes there. Yep.

John Cronin: You know, think about what we share with [00:35:30] our customers. First, you’re going to get great sales. We have what you want. You have the product. Yeah.

Personalize it. As you like to say, you can always express yourself with our socks. Right. And they’re great socks. We have over 30, 000 five star retailers. But it’s more than that. Yeah. When you buy from us, you’re helping us employ people with different abilities. Yeah. You’re helping us give back. You’re helping us spread happiness.

Absolutely. So, at the end of the day, [00:36:00] we may be the world’s largest sock store, but we’re not really a sock store. Yeah. Socks become the physical manifestation. But the story and the mission.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that was beautiful. I’d love to hear more stories, but, um, we have to kind of sort of start to get to the last question.

And that is, you know, every, every episode we like to end on some tangible practices, so things that our listeners can start implementing as soon as possible. As soon as they, as soon as [00:36:30] the podcast has ended. We’ve mentioned a few things already, but is there anything you would like to leave our listeners with to either lead, to either spread more happiness, to be more diverse, to be more inclusive?

You get to pick which, which thing.

John Cronin: Well, let’s talk about diversity. And when you go to hire people, look at how you do that. Right down to the job descriptions and where you share, where you post. Are you [00:37:00] being inclusive? And it’s not just for the sake of doing something that sounds right. It’s to help you reason this.

Are you truly looking for the best possible read? Are there biases in your descriptions? Or limitations? Unconscious or not. Yeah. You know, send that job. Um, you know, here’s an example. We recognized at one point that we were [00:37:30] doing a pretty good job and with a diverse population, We were not hiring many African Americans, so we looked and said, what, what are we doing here?

Oh, if you walk in and everybody’s white, well, maybe that’s not attracting to you. So what did we do? We reached out to the NAACP and said, can you help us? We reached out to, and we said, let’s make sure. That we reach out to high schools [00:38:00] in black communities to make, to see, you know, make sure their students are coming in for tours and seeing what, we reached out to social service agencies and said, let’s make sure there’s diverse groups coming in for work groups.

And we were able to address that issue, but we had to be aware of it and we had to make a commitment. Identify. Yeah. Again, we didn’t set quotas and we didn’t, you know, hire anybody who wasn’t qualified. Oh, it doesn’t [00:38:30] contribute to a great job, but you have to be conscious about what you’re doing. You know, if you look at something, here’s an example, the New York City Fire Department, one point it was all male and the good men that run it decided, well, we should hire some women.

So they said, well, we’ll, we’ll try that now to get on the New York City Fire Department, you have to pass a written test and you score, you know, you get it invited, [00:39:00] you get invited to take a physical test. Well, no woman could pass the physical test and the good men running it said, you see, no women are qualified.

Yeah. Until a court looked at the physical test and found it had nothing to do with the job. And once they tailored a test to what the job demanded, plenty of women passed it. Yeah. I think that’s a challenge for all of them. Are we, you know, are we asking for a [00:39:30] college degree at a job that doesn’t need a college degree?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, out of, just out of purely because that’s the way it’s been done before, reexamining these things. Yeah.

John Cronin: Those are some practical things, but I think it starts with a mindset. Are willing to let’s get a diverse population and see why that benefits.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what, what we’re all about and what you’re all about.

So just trying to spread it as far and wide as possible.

John Cronin: Yeah. Very neat. [00:40:00]

Elisa Tuijnder: John Mark, thank you so much for sharing your, you know, your story and for all the great work that you guys do. Uh, I’m, uh, I do wanna say, keep going. What did you say again earlier, John? Uh, it’s only just the beginning. We just, I Diet.

John Cronin: You wanna put in a plug?

Mark Cronin: Yes. Uh, find

John Cronin: and we’re on all the social media platforms. And, and do you have advice? For [00:40:30] the post loosening.

Mark Cronin: Yes. Follow your heart, follow your dreams, work hard so you can do.

John Cronin: Pretty good, Pio.

Mark Cronin: And I want to, I want to tell people, and now, now you’re leading to Fabian Edward Harker.

Elisa Tuijnder: Fantastic. I think that’s the perfect way to end it. And obviously we’ll be sharing your URL in our show notes as well. Guys, thank you again. [00:41:00] And hopefully see you soon at some point.

John Cronin: All right. Well, thank you very much.

Elisa Tuijnder: Thanks so much.

You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review, share the happiness [00:41:30] with your colleagues, family, or friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management 3.0.

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