In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks with Randall White, Founder, President and CEO of Usborne Books & More, about the difference between management and leadership, making bold decisions and staying true to a company’s vision.
DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the CEO of Usborne Books & More?
RW: Witnessing our sales consultants’ passion about literacy translate into having a successful business.
DSN: What has been your proudest accomplishment?
RW: Making a bold decision to discontinue selling to outlets that discounted our products and then watching our company respond with record sales.
DSN: What do you tell Usborne Books & More consultants to lead and inspire them?
RW: They can impact our nation’s literacy problem while building a successful business. Also, a message I always attempt to remind them of is that we want them to do this business for their family, not to their family.
DSN: If you could give a single bit of advice to the CEO of a young direct selling company that would help the company reach the 25-year mark, what would you say?
RW: Keep true to your vision and never waiver. And value your salesforce.
DSN: If you could relive one period of time—a year, a week, whatever—since you founded Usborne Books & More, what would it be? You could choose a great time to relive or a period where you’d change something.
RW: In looking back over 25 years, there have been many things I probably would like to have done differently. However, the obstacles and difficulties we overcame molded our philosophy and were instrumental in the success we are experiencing today.
DSN: Is there one basic principle that has governed your leadership at Usborne Books & More?
RW: Know the difference between management and leadership, and communicate. If you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.
DSN: What do you see as the direct selling industry’s greatest challenge?
RW: I believe the greatest challenge is that the Internet has the potential to make every product a commodity and eliminate personal selling.
DSN: What’s on your bucket list?
RW: To continue to develop a strong team at the home office so we can maintain continuity and growth.
DSN: When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?
RW: My life revolves around my family and Usborne Books & More. My family understands, so I am never “not at work.” I have been known to communicate with the field salesforce at 3 a.m. because they are the ones who have made this company. However, I do enjoy my summer lake house with the grandchildren making memories.
DSN: What is your long-term vision for Usborne Books & More?
RW: My long-term vision is to continue the current sales growth and reach the milestone of $100 million in annual sales.