Wayne Moorehead Talks with Ryan Napierski About the New Normal, What Keeps Him Up at Night and More.
Remember when it was easy to network with your peers during impromptu hallway or dinner conversations at industry events and the resulting insights that came out of those conversations? DSN’s new Executive Insights series is the next best thing to those priceless exchanges.
The debut interview brings together Wayne Moorehead, Chief Marketing Officer at Young Living and Ryan Napierski, President at Nu Skin, in a one-on-one discussion about disruption, the New Normal, what keeps Ryan up at night, and so much more. Here is a brief look at parts of their conversation. To watch the entire interview, visit DirectSellingNews.com.
Wayne Moorehead: Thank you, Ryan, for being here today. When Stuart and Direct Selling News reached out to me with this opportunity to be the kickoff episode where one Direct Selling insider gets to interview another—you were the first name that came to my mind. I’ve always seen you as someone who’s able to understand and embrace the dynamics of change, identify those that are going to have the greatest impact and create the greatest change.
We’re all wrestling with this new normal because of the seismic changes that we experienced. We have closed out what was probably one of the most dynamic and challenging years. Trends and changes that were predicted to be decades out accelerated rapidly and are now staring us in the face. So this concept of new normal is something that we’re all still processing.
How much is this concept of the new normal present in your mind, on an individual basis and at Nu Skin?
Ryan Napierski: Great question, Wayne. Funny that you use the term new normal. I just gave a speech last week and used that exact phrase. That this is a perpetually new state of normal, that the change and disruption are prevalent and exciting.
For our leadership team and me, we absolutely have learned to love the disruption. Our industry happens to have been through multiple cycles of disruption. We’re in one now—that is more exciting and transformational in a favorable way than any of the preceding disruptive periods.
This new one, social commerce, is the most exciting transition or disruption that we’re seeing for our industry, largely because of macro trends. When you talk about value creation in any industry, the macro trends that are driving that now with the gig economy, with social commerce, influencer and affiliate marketing—those all feed so nicely together with the traditional or the analog direct sales model. As companies lean into those macro trends, with the right strategy, there’s enormous potential.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we’re not talking about a disruptive force and how Nu Skin is leaning into that disruptive force.
Wayne: Over the last several years, you and the leadership team there have made a big push from a technology standpoint. Obviously, technology was vital to us even being able to stay in business the past 10 or 12 months, to be able to interact and connect with our distributors and members.
Can you talk a little bit about how the focus on technology changed for you?
Ryan: Technology is the scalability element of the whole future-looking model. We initiated a pretty heavy technology transformation. Knowing that we didn’t have the capabilities in-house, I had to partner with some external firms to bring the right technology leadership in. We overhauled our technology. And we’ve been overhauling and going cloud, security, customer-first. We’re rebuilding all our processes internally. It was pretty disruptive, pretty transformational work.
2020 catapulted us forward to the future that we thought was coming, but we projected that to be 2023 to 2025. And so it accelerated the pace of change.
Everyone has talked about the return to normal. For our leadership team, we said, “Absolutely not. This is the new normal. We will continue to lean into this.” And largely, Wayne, because it’s so favorable to our industry, and to the companies that are leaning into the change. It was both—the last 10 months catapulting us in, but then burning the bridges behind us and saying, “We’re here.” Now we’ve got to learn how to win in this new market.
For us, there really is no going back. We have transformed the way we see the world and our own leadership capability as well.
Wayne: I think we’re going to be adopting a fairly similar model. I agree with that approach from kind of the collaboration and a culture standpoint, there needs to be some type of cadence of in-person meetings. There may be more flexibility in a hybrid model where it’s not the 9:00 to 5:00. Or where people are spending two hours of every day in the car, but we’re seeing a lot more efficiency. I think employees are happier with the flexibility. As time goes on, everyone’s getting a little anxious to get back and kind of interact and a little more face to face interaction.
How do you see kind of in-person events? I think a lot of us experimented this year with virtual events and found some success and advantages there and some obvious disadvantages.
Ryan: It is a blended approach. Culture is such a critical part of not only a company, but the entire organism, including our affiliates, members or consultants. I do believe that we will have a blended approach moving forward continuously. What I love about the digital first events are that we can connect much more frequently, and they’re very effective in conveying information. The motivation and aspiration elements of our business that are inherent in the channel growth I think do require some more direct in-person interchanges.
We’ll be experimenting throughout 2021 and beyond with more of a blended hybrid approach.
Wayne: From a work-from-home standpoint, as you look at the employees, the ability that technology lets us connect wherever—as far as talent acquisition or retention, geography isn’t a limiting factor anymore.
How are you and Nu Skin thinking about work-from-home going forward?
Ryan: My assessment of the work remote model is that there have been significantly more pros than cons. If I were to score the various characteristics of the work environment, most have improved. The only con that I’m really worried about, that is collaboration. I think not having that ability to sit in the same room and whiteboard and collaborate on something is one area that we’re struggling with. It’s critical to the strategic work.
When I look to the future, I think absolutely Nu Skin has and will continue to adopt a work remote model for all the good reasons. As we’re scaling that and accessing new capabilities, it is critical and allows us to work much more effectively.
I would anticipate that we will be opening our offices back up for a more shared remote to on-premises work environment. I would imagine it’s going to be a blend moving forward, but I do anticipate a return to the office in partial form, particularly for our collaboration work around the strategy and the mapping side of things.
Wayne: I agree with that approach from a collaboration and a cultural standpoint. There needs to be some type of cadence of in-person meetings. There may be more flexibility and employee satisfaction in a hybrid model. As time goes on, everyone seems to want a little more face-to-face interaction.
I want to talk a little bit about momentum. I remember being at the SUCCESS Partners University event two years ago…interacting and talking to a lot of companies that were down from a revenue and growth standpoint. At that time, there seemed to be an ominous change that was happening, where I think everyone was looking around going, “Whoa, what does this mean?”
And with 2020, we saw increased awareness and demand for a many of our products, which created this tailwind or momentum.
What changes did you see at Nu Skin from a momentum standpoint?
Ryan: The advantages that our model presents of being able to shop online, work remotely with products that help people played the industry’s advantage in our favor. And what I like to say more than anything is we were able to provide solutions to a world that was really true in need—from work, products, opportunity, culture and community.
When people were stuck at home, working remotely, they have an opportunity to connect with a team and be a part of something bigger than the problems they were facing. I think we provided solutions for what people needed.
Now, as far as looking forward to the momentum, citing your specific question. I believe that people have gotten a taste for what life can be. People are realizing human connection, relationships and flexibility matters. We provide all of that. We provide the opportunity for people to interact one-on-one. We provide the opportunity for people to have more flexibility in the way we work, anywhere, anytime. We provide solutions for their actual consumption needs.
The momentum that we started to build in 2020 will continue as we lean in and transform ourselves.
Wayne: When you’re thinking about 2021 and the business landscape, more than anything, are there one or two things that are really keeping you up at night?
Ryan: Internally what keeps me up at night is—are we walking the walk or just talking to talk? Because we’re all getting more proficient technologically and digitally, and we can talk about what we’re doing. A great example, I was on a call this morning with 240 of our top leaders here in the U.S. We’re not meeting the customer need yet. We still have a whole bunch of problems. So, when I look at that, I say, “Well, we can sit around and pat ourselves on the back. The scaling of the business is causing breaks all over the place and the cracks become wider. So, are we as a team, are we patting ourselves on the back and just talking the talk, or are we really walking the walk and making certain that we’re driving the action, everyone throughout the company?
At an industry level, what keeps me up at night is the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of our industry at a regulatory level, at a commercial level and at a human level. I think we have to be very candid with ourselves in that regard—that we have not historically done a great job always. I’m saying collectively as a direct sales unit, we have not done a good job of being truly customer-obsessed.
If we’re serious about being customer-obsessed and about capturing the market opportunities ahead of us, it’s on us to talk the talk, walk the walk, act the way we want to be seen. We need to rebuild or reposition ourselves, not just with a narrative or a storyline, but to truly get into the grassroots behaviors of our channel, of our Salesforce and help them to learn that there’s so much more success when we actually represent ourselves for what we have—amazing products in an easily accessible manner, a trusted person to person relationship, word of mouth and becoming a part of a community or a brand that actually values you instead of seeing you as a transaction.
My worry is that we as a collective industry don’t acknowledge that, or maybe more that we’re going for the short-term gain and win, rather than looking at this long-term and saying, we really have an opportunity as an industry to grow from a $200 billion global industry to a $2 trillion global industry, to a 20 trillion. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be ten times the size we are today with what we have to offer.
Wayne: I agree we need to work to change the perception and positioning of the entire channel. Not just at our own individual company level, but at that industry level. I think we all need to come together, but I believe that we can have real impact and real change on that.
Final question. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are you most excited about for 2021 from a business perspective?
Ryan: Scalable empowerment. What I love most about this industry is that we are an industry of empowerment, right? We provide people with the opportunity to really direct their own future with effort, with work, with a commitment. It’s hard work, but we are an empowerment engine as an industry. What excites me the most is the scalability that a digital-first industry actually provides. So, what I’m really excited about, what wakes me up prematurely, because I need my sleep, is that just, are we moving fast enough? Are we taking advantage of this unique opportunity that’s in front of us?