In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks with Aaron Garrity, Founder, Chairman and CEO of XANGO, about leadership, keeping things simple and paving the way for people to change their lives.
DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the CEO of XANGO?
AG: I love watching the development of people from all walks of life all around world. It’s particularly gratifying to see people with no network marketing experience have the same success as others with experience. XANGO is a great leveler.
DSN: What has been your proudest accomplishment?
AG: Surviving the trials of the first 17 days. We could have thrown in the towel. But with every problem, there are solutions. XANGO’s early experience is no different.
DSN: What do you tell XANGO’s distributors to lead and inspire them?
AG: Three things. First, you have to believe in yourself. Winston Churchill said that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Activity is second. Success doesn’t just come to you. You have to work for it. Third, simplicity. Keep things simple. XANGO invented simplicity in this industry. From our compensation plan to our product offering, XANGO truly changed the industry in being so simple. It added to our success.
DSN: What is your vision for XANGO?
AG: To become the company with the greatest value in direct sales and to be a standard for the industry in leadership, responsibility and paving the way for people to change their lives and the lives of others.
DSN: Is there one basic principle which has governed your leadership at XANGO?
AG: XANGO leads. The way we go about business, the way we act and perform, the way we treat distributors, all the way through the way we hold events, we pay attention to the details in every facet of our business, so we lead. I started my career at Nordstrom, and it had a big impact on me. I want to do it right in every facet of the business.
DSN: What advice would you give an executive at a young direct selling company to help them take their company to its 10-year anniversary?
AG: Remember it’s a people business, first and foremost. As a company leader and an executive in this industry, you’re really a servant. I think that what truly distinguishes most great leaders in the world today is who will be most willing to serve, who will put their neck out for those they don’t know. You’re there to help people and help them govern their own businesses responsibly. We all have an inner voice that tells us how to treat people. If we listen to that voice, we’ll do what’s right. Let your heart govern your mind.
DSN: What direct selling company or leader do you especially admire?
AG: You can’t ignore companies like Avon, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Amway. They’ve been around a long time and have built incredible organizations. All of them struggled, but they were pioneers in a new way of thinking. I’m grateful to associate with their leaders.
DSN: In your years in direct selling, what lesson have you learned that has proved to be especially useful?
AG: One of the things I lead with is forgiveness. It’s a crazy world. A lot of people come into a company like XANGO who have been hurt in some way. Personal success starts with the ability to let go of past failures, and sometimes forgiveness has to start with ourselves. When you’re successful, there will be others that will hurt you. As you develop your organization and your leadership, and as you become a successful entrepreneur, forgiveness is an eternal principle.
DSN: You have accomplished a lot in your lifetime. What’s at the top of your “bucket list”?
AG: I really am a person who lives life to the fullest, whether it’s a walk with my kids or helicopter skiing in one of the most beautiful mountainscapes on Earth. Everything is a dream for me. Not a day goes by that I don’t just love life. If I can continue to do that, life will be that much more rich for me, and I’ll invite into my life experiences I can’t even dream of right now. Whenever opportunity comes, I grab it.
DSN: What’s something that few people know about you?
AG: I sang with Lenny Kravitz.