In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks with John Parker, Chief Sales Officer for Amway, about leadership, always learning and finding fun in everything you do.
DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the Chief Sales Officer for Amway?
JP: The engagement with our field—Amway Business Owners. At the end of the day, it’s their success that adds up to create Amway’s results. Their passion for helping other people helps make Amway what it is.
DSN: What has been your proudest accomplishment?
JP: Having been a part of teams that have seen our business through some challenging times. It’s easy to lead in good times when all is going well, but I think you add more to the team and organization when times are tough and you’re able to work together. It’s most satisfying. Sometimes the best work is done during times when results don’t show right away, but they follow.
DSN: What’s been the most fun?
JP: I enjoy learning. For me a lot of my learning came while transitioning from a smaller to a larger role. I’ve also enjoyed learning from generations younger than I am. They’re not just different in how they think, but they’re fundamentally different in their personal relationships. I can’t be effective in my role if I don’t understand that. The process of learning and trying new things is really fun and exciting. Also, the adventure of travel has been fun—having a chance to go around the world, experience different cultures, people, customs and food. You either love that or struggle with it. I love it.
DSN: What do you tell Amway Business Owners to lead and inspire them?
JP: The primary message is that our business—our whole industry—is centered around helping other people. The individuals who are the most successful Amway leaders realize at some point in their journey that it’s not about them. It’s about helping others. That’s when it becomes more fun, more rewarding; and it leads to an environment of more success as well.
DSN: You’ve held several key positions at Amway. Which one shaped your management style the most?
JP: When I was President of Amway Japan because it really forced me to reflect on my style, strengths and weaknesses, and adapt my style to be with different people and cultures. As leader it’s sometimes easy to take the mindset that I have one way of leading and communicating. But if you work across geographies and cultures, you need to be more flexible in how you lead and communicate. I think that shaped me more than anything else.
DSN: If you could relive one period of time since you’ve been at Amway, either to enjoy it again or have a do-over, what would it be?
JP: Maybe the first five years of my career, because there’s an excitement around that initial stage of learning. I had such great mentors here in the company. I’d love having the chance to go back and soak up that learning I got from them. It really was fun, too.
DSN: Is there one basic principle that governs your leadership at Amway?
JP: I really think it’s about putting the focus on others, not on yourself. Those leaders who are in it for themselves may have success in the short term, but people see through that. Over the long term you won’t develop real followership unless your focus is on the bigger cause that our businesses stand for.
DSN: Has someone ever given you a bit of really great advice you can share with us?
JP: I’ll point to my wife, who says to listen more than you talk. It’s true. If you spend more time talking and less time listening, you’ll be less effective than if you flip it around.
DSN: What’s something that few people know about you?
JP: I want to retire to Australia someday, mostly for the golf, surfing and beaches.
DSN: What’s on your bucket list?
JP: I want to play golf on every state in the country. I’ve probably got 25 states to go. I also want to surf in every ocean and sea in the world and to get to every baseball stadium in America.