Goodr CEO Stephen Lease on Mentors, Spirit Animals, and Harnessing FOMO

???? Episode 82 of Yes, and Marketing

Stephen Lease is the CEO of Goodr, which you may know for their really good-looking sunglasses, ridiculous product names, and hilariously irreverent marketing. Since 2015, he and his team have built a viral product while filling a desperate need for fashionable and functional eyewear.

Stephen came on the show to explain how Goodr came to be and how they’re harnessing FOMO in their marketing, in addition to discussing his and Steve’s shared passions for fun brands, activism, and the power of mentorship.

Listen to the full episode above or read on for our highlights from the conversation. You can also watch video snippets of all our episodes at our podcast page.

???? Guest-at-a-Glance

Name: Stephen Lease

What he does: CEO of Goodr.

Find Stephen on the web: Goodr | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram

Get smart: “Avoiding failure is impossible. Avoiding failure twice should be the expectation.”

???? Top Takeaway

How Goodr harnessed FOMO to build a viral brand

It started out unintentionally. In Goodr’s early days, they waited until they sold out of their inventory of sunglasses before placing a new order, and then had to wait for that new order to come in, sell them, and do it again. “So the first two years, it was really hard to get a pair of Goodrs,” Stephen explains. “There was a lot of FOMO out in the world, which was great—also really stressful, and hard to run a business that way.” 

Whatever the business difficulties may have been, the fact that Goodr sunglasses were a hard item to get only made people want them more. Creating a sense of scarcity—despite being one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book—still works, if you do it right.

As the company grew and began offering new colors and patterns, they continued to capitalize on that same sense of FOMO:

“Every time we would drop a new color, people would flock to it,” Stephen says. “So now our business model is, we have 70 or 80 inline SKUs that never leave, and then we’ll drop 130 new colors, patterns a year, but when they’re gone, they’re gone. When they’re sold out, they’re sold out.”

“We just stumbled onto it and got lucky, recognized it, and really use that as an energy point,” he adds.

????Episode Highlights

Read verbatim excerpts from our interview with Goodr CEO Stephen Lease.

Learn instead of blame.

“If you’re leading a team or initiative or company, it’s your fault. So everything at Goodr that doesn’t work is my fault, and if you take that mindset, it helps you to start to learn everywhere instead of blame.”

Three reasons there aren’t more fun brands

  1. “People are scared to be themselves.”
  2. “The bigger you get and the more you want it, the more conservative you get.”
  3. “Since there’s not a lot of people doing it, I think people don’t think it works when it does.”

What fun means at Goodr

“If you train for a marathon and you start six months in advance and you’re getting up every Saturday at five and you’re running 8 miles, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20 22—you’re doing this every week, doing speed work on Tuesdays, you’re doing a mid-week run. 

You’re doing all this work for four hours, six months in the future, so when you show up on race day, you can fucking beat your chest because you tried as hard as you can, because you were prepared. That’s fun. That’s what fun is here. Being good at something, taking pride, taking risks—that is what we mean by fun.”

Celebrate the work over the results

“What I try and do inside the building here is teach celebrating the work over the results, because at the end of the day, the work is everything. I could work 24 hours a day and never finish everything.”

How he became Chief Executive Octopus

“You get to make up your title at Goodr, and also we’re big on spirit animals. My spirit animal is an octopus.

…Some people have wild titles, you would never know what it is. For me, since I am so outward facing, I need to have a title that people understand—CEO is pretty important. If I were just like ‘Captain of the flamingos,’ they’ll be like, ‘Wha- what the fuck is that?’ I’m just very lucky that there’s an O in CEO, and so Chief Executive Octopus is what I landed on because of my spirit animal.”

Collect mentors when things are good

“Collect as many mentors as you can. And here’s the thing: collect them when things are going great, because you don’t need to when they’re going great. It’s actually easy to make friends with people then.

You need them when things are going bad. So you collect them while things are going great, so that you have people to lean on when you need that support.”

How to give authentic feedback

“Authentic feedback is not being an asshole. That’s just being an asshole. That’s you not taking care of the craft. And so, it’s asking way more questions—I mean, if you’re a really good mentor, you’re actually just a therapist where you just ask somebody a question where they find out the answer.”

On Goodr’s environmental activism

“We are an escapism brand. And what I mean by that is, for $25, we can put smiles on people’s faces. For $25, you can feel good. You can open one of our emails and you can laugh. 

And we spend a lot of money on all these causes and we donate a lot of money to different campaigns, but for us, we do that because we believe it’s right. We also have a duty to our customers to create that escapism.

I think certain brands, their brand is to be overtly political and that’s awesome. That’s not ours because I’m mindful of the promise we’ve made over the past six years to our customers, and that is to show up with authenticity and fun and not create divisiveness.”

????️Stephen Lease Quotes

“Although I believe you should forget about failures pretty quickly, you need to understand why things failed and learn from it.”

“Avoiding failure is impossible. Avoiding failure twice should be the expectation.”

“All of the amazing marketing in the world doesn’t matter if you have a shitty product or service.”

“There’s a difference between celebrating or partying for no reason, and thinking hard work is fun.”

“I think being a good mentor and being authentic is understanding you don’t know everything.”

“A mentor isn’t somebody you have to agree with universally on everything. That’s actually probably a cult leader—that should never happen.”

“We’re in such a divisive world right now where we can’t separate people’s good skills from their bad and we need everybody to be perfect at everything, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

“Everybody fetishizes the entrepreneur CEO and there’s a lot of amazingness to it, but if you don’t love the work, please don’t do it.”

???? Learn More

Check out Goodr’s golf anthem, Stephen’s favorite example of their approach to marketing.


This post was written, as well as any other posts with the author "Verblio," by one of our 3,000+ U.S.-based writers who write for thousands of clients monthly, across 38 different industries. Only the top 4% of writers who apply with Verblio get accepted, so our standards for writers (and content) are high.

Questions? Check out our FAQs or contact us.