Some of the industry’s most powerful and esteemed leaders came together to share their proven business strategies and cast vision for the future of the channel.
It was a record-breaking year for the direct selling industry, with the top ten companies on the DSN Global 100 list alone growing more than $3 billion in 2020. So, it was fitting that this year’s all-virtual Direct Selling University matched that energy and enthusiasm with a record number of participants and more than 3,000 views during the initial broadcast.
But this year was not without challenges, and in what felt like a behind-the-scenes masterclass, more than 40 speakers shared powerful data-backed presentations with Direct Selling University participants, offering insight into how some of the biggest brands and most respected names in the channel drove growth and identified new opportunities while navigating uncertainty.
“2020, for all its challenges and volatility, ultimately proved itself to be a year of opportunity, transformation and growth for direct selling,” said Stuart Johnson, Founder and CEO of Direct Selling News, NOW Technologies and Direct Selling Capital Advisors. “I believe the channel has an immediate and permanent opportunity to become more mainstream if we can continue to tell our story of powerful exclusive products and a part-time, flexible opportunity in an honest, compelling and relatable way—a way that is both aspirational and attainable.”
The challenges of leading during a pandemic are surely not over, but as the channel continues to outperform many categories within the retail market and its own revenue history, many leaders see continued growth and security on the horizon.
“I’ve been a partner of this channel for over 35 years, and I am more optimistic about the future today than ever before,” Johnson said. “Direct selling ticks all the boxes for today’s aspiring entrepreneurs, and if we continue to move toward the innovations that have allowed us to grow and discard the practices that have held us back, our future really does look bright.”
Executives and Thought Leaders: Leading by Example
More than their pandemic response, direct selling executives and leaders are being called to address important societal issues through their companies and brand messaging. To offer insight into how Amway—the industry’s long-time leader—is tackling important social justice issues and addressing racism, as well as enhancing its sustainability initiatives, Amway’s Chief Reputation Officer Candace Matthews kicked off the event with practical and timely guidance for leaders.
“When we all become comfortable with being uncomfortable, that is when we can further important yet difficult conversations,” Matthews said in her presentation. “And it will take all of us to impact change. [We] must include all people and all perspectives to create a culture where we learn and grow from each other.”
In the presentations that followed, speakers sought to meet that goal by not shying away from the lessons learned through failures or complicated histories and sharing the strategies they’ve used to develop brands built on transparency, honesty and opportunity that serve those seeking an entrepreneurial path.
- Candace Matthews, Chief Reputation Officer, Amway, pointed to the ways the company is taking social justice seriously to create a more inclusive, compassionate future. Matthews also highlighted how sustainability initiatives are becoming a deciding factor for consumers.
- Orville & Heidi Thompson, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Scentsy, discussed how they designed a succession plan as they prepare for a three-year absence from Scentsy and how a “culture audit” can create context and understanding for companies seeking a similar, seamless transition.
- Logan Stout, Founder and CEO, IDLife, talked about the five stages we all go through, from the honeymoon phase to success, and explained why leading by example and preparing teams for adversity are crucial steps for leaders.
- Katy Holt-Larsen, President, Kyäni, shared how the company’s history of resilience and adaptability served them well amid the uncertainty of 2020 and how a partnership with the field built on mutual respect can develop an unwavering stability that allows companies to ride out volatility.
- Jason Dorsey, Gen Z & Millennials Speaker, Expert & Researcher, shared his Gen Z research and busted generational myths to help executives make data-driven decisions and adapt messaging to attract new distributors.
- Stuart Johnson, Founder & CEO, Direct Selling News, NOW Technologies, Direct Selling Capital Advisors, delivered the event’s keynote message, analyzing the industry’s successes and challenges and how to leverage the opportunities of the industry’s momentum to create a successful future grounded in integrity and honesty.
- Glenn Sanford, Founder and CEO, eXp Realty & CEO, SUCCESS, in an interview with Josh Ellis, Editor-in-Chief of SUCCESS magazine, shared his vision for how he plans to steward the assets of the SUCCESS brand and the power of personal development in the life of entrepreneurs.
- Noah Westerlund, SVP Business Development, NOW Technologies, described how to use technology, digital tools and sampling to create a rhythm of core behaviors for distributors that drives engagement, growth and sales.
- John Sanders, Founding Partner, Winston & Strawn, LLP, taught a detailed and in-depth class on the five key elements executives must focus on to protect themselves and their brands from civil litigation and FTC scrutiny.
- Suze Orman, New York Times #1 Best-Selling Personal Finance Expert, Author and Speaker, taught how people can regain control of their money, erase the shame associated with debt and build a powerful financial future.
- Kindra Hall, Author, Speaker and Chief Storytelling Officer, SUCCESS, shared how learning to uncover the negative stories we tell ourselves can provide the empowerment necessary to bust limiting beliefs and instill motivation to build a pathway to success.
- Wayne Moorehead, Marketing, Strategy & Branding Direct-to-Consumer Industry Expert, explained how leaders can update and control their company’s narrative through relevant brand messaging and strategic campaigns that engage customers.
- Amber Olson Rourke, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Neora, detailed how Neora’s leadership navigated their complex legal history with the FTC and how sticking to their core values and delivering on their promises to customers and distributors has helped them weather the storm.
- Rayner Urdaneta, CEO, MONAT, detailed the three “C’s” of continued growth—culture, customers and consistency—and explained how confusion is the enemy of growth.
- Michele Gay, Co-Founder & Chairwoman, LimeLife by Alcone, shared her experience helping female distributors stop sabotaging their businesses by embracing empowerment, tackling their negative financial thoughts and developing a growth mindset.
- David Vanderveen, Senior Executive, International Strategy, It Works!, outlined how the industry can blend the value of the direct-to-consumer model with direct selling to support distributors, build a loyal customer base and transform how the world views the industry.
- Amelia Warren, CEO, Epicure, explained how her company’s pandemic pivot to online cooking classes and product launches combined with increased engagement with their sales force resulted in exponential growth.
- Garrett McGrath, President, ANMP, illustrated how to collaborate with the field in a way that creates a synergistic approach to new ideas, generates more enthusiasm and greater buy-in, and accounts for the generational preferences that impact communication.
- Gloria Mayfield Banks, #1 Elite Executive National Sales Director, Mary Kay, talked about the ten principles she used to create the number one team in Mary Kay while helping women become confident, loyal and ambitious.
- Sinan Tuna, CEO, Farmasi, described the lessons he learned as the company expanded from Turkey into the United States, and how Farmasi became one of the fastest-growing direct selling startups in the country.
- Travis Garza, President, Sales & Marketing, Plexus, pointed out the industry’s natural gifting for adaptation and why staying focused on innovation is essential for direct selling companies to continue to evolve and grow post-pandemic.
- Lynne Coté, President & CEO, Princess House, explained the process of realigning the company’s vision and how decisively taking action in the midst of the chaos and crisis of 2020 led to the company’s most successful year to date.
- Ami Perry, VP of Business Development, NOW Technologies, shared the findings from the company’s recent in-depth behavioral psychology study and demonstrated how the NOW platform leverages rewards, connection and a personalized e-commerce experience to create lasting, positive habits for distributors.
- Mauricio Domenzain, CEO, Immunotec, was interviewed by Heather Chastain, CEO & Founder, Bridgehead Collective and explained how Immunotec accommodates constant adaptation to prepare for sustainable growth while staying focused on the company’s goals.
- Alexy Goldstein, Founder & CEO, New U Life, interviewed by Steve Perkins, VP of Sales, New U Life, shared how the direct selling industry proved to be the most efficient line of communication to share New U Life product and testimonial stories that he believes can change lives.
- Randy Mathews, VP Global Compliance & Service Centers, Juice Plus, outlined the three elements that Juice Plus has leveraged to bolster its success and ensure its longevity: timing, clinical research and a narrow product focus.
- Debbie Bolton, Co-Founder, Norwex, shared her passion for a commitment to the Norwex core values and how companies can develop their own clear purpose to attract and retain the best people.
- Rita Davenport, Award-Winning Speaker, Author and Former President of Arbonne, explained how developing a culture of recognition and appreciation through gifts, personal connection and extravagant kindness are essential for a healthy business.
- Nathan Moore, President, North America, Mary Kay, shared how Mary Kay’s digital resources and virtual events have instigated a renewed energy and optimism within its sales force and how direct selling can leverage its strengths to become more relevant than traditional retail in this unique time.
- Melodie Nakhle, Managing Director Europe, Southern Africa, Australia & New Zealand, Amway, offered the findings from the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report and explained how the company is using that data to design its strategies for success, including creating digitization solutions, driving social commerce, focusing on health and wellness, and providing supplemental income opportunities for entrepreneurs.
- Ray Higdon, CEO & Best-Selling Author, Higdon Group, gave executives advice on how to simplify social media training, build their online brand by generating good press and design incentives that engage even inactive distributors.
- Russ Fletcher, CEO, Xyngular, talked about how to choose and articulate the right core values and then lead an organization that authentically abides by them in both good times and bad.
- Jill Blashack Strahan, Founder & CEO, Tastefully Simple, talked about how to lead throughout the highs and lows of business, including making painful decisions and leaps of faith to drive profits and help employees and distributors thrive.
- Michael “Hutch” Hutchison, Founder & CEO, inCruises, shared his journey to creating an affordable vacation movement and how inCruises weathered the challenges of the worst year on record for travel through focusing on progress, ingenuity and determination.
- Miguel Fernandez, CEO, Tupperware, explained how technology has been a game-changer for Tupperware and how they are concentrating on the company’s founding commitments to drive its plans and nurture its relevance in the future.
This year DSU debuted an exclusive interview series featuring six industry LEGENDS, each with more than 50 years of experience in the channel—they have seen (and accomplished) it all! The Legends shared all their knowledge, insights and hopes for the future in a series of exclusive videos produced by Direct Selling News and hosted by Legends honoree John Fleming.
Videos and Podcasts of the LEGENDS series can be found under Listen & Watch.
- Jerry Brassfield, Direct Selling LEGEND, NeoLife International, shared how he implemented the philosophy of “love your neighbor, and that means everybody” over the course of his more than five-decade career, and why more regulations can help the industry be an even greater “force for good.”
- John Fleming, Direct Selling LEGEND, Avon & Direct Selling News, turned to his more than five decades of experience in the industry, and his research within the gig economy, to cast vision for ways the industry can reduce complexity and make the opportunity more appealing than ever.
- Stan Fredrick, Direct Selling LEGEND, Mannatech, Wine Shop, Saladmaster & Colesce Couture, reflected on more than 50 years of experience in the industry and how he views direct selling as a teacher that instructs people to develop the fundamental skills of influence, persuasion and leadership that are necessary for success.
- Rick Goings, Direct Selling LEGEND, Avon & Tupperware, shared lessons learned from his more than 50 years of experience in the industry and how it was his face plants and flops, rather than his accomplishments, that proved to be his most valuable drivers of success.
- Rudy Revak, Direct Selling LEGEND, Xyngular & PUREhaven, reflected on the opportunity he saw in direct selling when he began more than 50 years ago and how that opportunity is still vibrant today.
- Larry Thompson, Direct Selling LEGEND, Herbalife & PM-International, reflected on the ways he has seen the industry adapt over the last five decades and how making quick decisions to stay ahead of the curve will be key to staying relevant and competitive.
SAVE THE DATE: Direct Selling University Fall 2021 will be a hybrid event, featuring an in-person conference at the Renaissance Legacy West in Plano, Texas, October 14-15!
From the June 2021 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.