Infuse confidence and meaning into people’s lives.
For several years as an executive of Young Living, I’ve had a front-row seat to witness what this amazing industry can do for people. Prior to that, as an international business attorney, my time was spent on the consummation of big business deals. Today, like all of you, my time is spent helping to infuse purpose and meaning in people’s lives, empower communities, and in Young Living’s case—which is why I joined—connect people to the earth.
Today I would like to share with you an avalanche of ah-hah moments that has allowed us to stoke the flames and go from $200 million Ma and Pa Shop to a billiondollar multi-national corporation in less than three years.
We Focused On The Founders
Prior executive management teams had attempted to sterilize and root this out from our story. As we all know–emotion and energy are a currency exchange in this business. Founders are the glue that keeps that emotion together for the company.
So what did we do? We repositioned Gary Young and his farming story as the centerpiece of our company. We took our Seed to Seal process, an underused marketing term, and made it the centerpiece of our marketing. We talked about our vertically-integrated farming process. We didn’t talk about the company as a business–we talked about it as a movement. Everyone on earth wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. When you talk about and invoke a movement–people connect to you, and they want to be a part of your tribe.
We also connected people to that authentic story of our founders. We wanted them to get to our farms, plant, harvest and distill lavender and take a bottle of lavender home to their families. It’s amazing what that does to create loyalty and gratitude. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard one of our members say after spending time at our farms along with the executive team, “You should charge more for your oils because that process was so rigorous.”
See yourselves as emissaries of your founders and their mission. Align to it in every way, and get your members involved with the production process of your products. If you have manufacturing facilities, warehouses, labs, get your members in there. Get them on the pick line so they can understand and appreciate what it takes to make their products come to life.
We Obsessively Focused On Enrollment
Thanks to Success Partners we developed our kit, I consider the best in the industry. We brought the authentic story of our founders, and we plastered it on the marketing collateral on the inside, and the vivid farm imagery on the outside. It showcased our lavender farm in Mona, Utah. And inside the kit, we included some key essential oils and sharing samples. We wanted our members to immediately have an immersive experiential experience–a wow experience–and immediately begin to share those oils with their friends.
We Retro-Branded The Whole Company
I didn’t want to create something that didn’t connect with our members–something new and fancy–just to appeal to a younger demographic. We went back to our roots and took elements of our story and put them together with beautiful marketing. Essential Oils magazine is one of those pieces of marketing collateral that’s allowed us to be successful. It includes do-it-yourself recipes to add validation for an essential oilinfused lifestyle. We include these magazines with every one of our starter kits.
Importance Of Talent Acquisition
This is not your grandma’s Young Living essential oils company. It is hip and fun. The number one element that emerged from that refiner’s fire of growth during that 3-year period was the importance of talent acquisition. Find passionate, culturally-aligned people who believe in your mission, who believe in your purpose, who also want to infuse meaning and purpose in people’s lives.
As we all know, as companies grow the bureaucracy, levels of management and process can smother the very spark and fire that got you to where you are. So the question is–how do you maintain your innovative, entrepreneurial soul without smothering it as you implement all of the layers of management that are necessary for growth? You hire the right people. You hire unicorns. These mythical beasts of fairy tales from days, years old, are a term of art used in the IT industry to denote that rare programmer who has the ability— not only are they brilliant but they have the ability to program in multiple languages. In Silicon Valley, they fight for these unicorns. I’d like to expand that definition for our industry to include not only people who are brilliant who can dominate multiple disciplines, align with founders and culture, but most importantly have a flaming entrepreneurial spirit.
Separating Truth From Stereotype About Entrepreneurs
The question is–when you’re trying to find these unicorns–how do you separate true entrepreneurs from otherwise talented people, without falling back on broad stereotypes of what an entrepreneur is?
Some interesting research came out of Harvard Business School, a professor there named Timothy Butler. He did a research study of 4,000 self-described entrepreneurs in corporate America and crossreferenced that with another few thousand managers who did not consider themselves entrepreneurs. Out of that came a list of attributes and stereotypes and antistereotypes of what they were.
First, entrepreneurs are unusually creative. It’s one of those stereotypes, right? The subtle truth is that entrepreneurs are curious seekers of adventure, learning and opportunity. They crave adventure. They have an openness to new ideas and new initiatives.
Another stereotype: Entrepreneurs enjoy and seek risk. This is probably the number one stereotype you think of when you think of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are more comfortable with risk. What’s interesting about this research, entrepreneurs are able to manage anxiety. They’re able to keep that under control when they need to make a risky decision that could potentially in their mind harm the company.
They are also driven by ambiguous environments, by uncertainty. It’s motivation for them. And what more ambiguous and uncertain environment is there than network marketing, with regulatory authorities?
Entrepreneurs are more personally ambitious than other leaders. You’ve probably heard this too. The truth? Entrepreneurs are driven by a need to own products, projects and initiatives. They want to know that what they create will see the light of day–that their initiative will see new revenue.
Entrepreneurs are natural salespeople. This stereotype is true. Think about it–you need to be able to persuade your board to follow your vision, to do what’s right for the company and persuade your department heads to follow your strategic objectives for the year.
Power Of Persuasion Can’t Be Underestimated
Lee Iacocca, one of the greatest CEOs in American history in the 1960s successfully convinced an otherwise conservative Ford Motor Company board to invest in a low-cost sports car, the Ford Mustang. Twenty years later he was able to convince the United States government—Henry Ford II had fired him, and he was with Chrysler—to bail out Chrysler. The power of persuasion cannot be underestimated in these unicorns you seek.
Unicorns align with the owners in every way. You need them to feel passionate about what you stand for. They have lots of different hobbies and interests and seek challenges. Why do they seek a challenge? Because they want to provide solutions. They also require trust to know that even if they make a mistake that you’ll still back them up, and know that maybe the next idea will be better than the previous one.
In their soul, they yearn to create. It’s what they care about more than anything. They are the artists of the business world, and they will never stop thinking of how to improve things–ever! They’re not linear thinkers in terms of time. At 5 pm they don’t check out mentally, and their minds are processing at night and on the weekends. Who can relate to this? Can you turn it off, ever? You
can’t. You won’t be able to –so don’t try, because you’re a unicorn.
What resulted in us hiring Unicorns?
• We implemented a new ERP system in one year because of a unicorn.
• We removed the Social Security Number requirement at enrollment to mainstream our brand. This required herculean changes in process and mindset internally to allow for this.
• We launched the 95 Percent Plan to align with our founders’ vision of getting oils in every home, not just rich Western homes, but shacks and shantytowns.
How do we tap into the 95 percent of people on theglobe who can’t afford this opportunity but should be involved in it? We hired unicorns who are amazingly adept at extreme field engagement. They run for mayor in every interaction with our field. They bridge the gap between corporate and the field, building genuine, authentic relationships with people.
How To Find Your Own Unicorns
Talk to your management team about the attributes you are looking for—alignment with culture, alignment with founders, entrepreneurial spirit – define those and bake it into the process and company culture. Your job postings should ask for entrepreneurial attributes we just discussed.
A few Interview questions could be:
• Have you ever owned a business, a nonprofit?
• Have you created something you’re proud of?
• Are you adventuresome in your private life?
• Have they traveled to interesting, unique or even dangerous places?
• Did they take a major in college that’s off the beaten path?
• Do they walk to the beat of a different drummer?
Find these people. Yes, they are out there, and they want to work for you and help take you to a billion and beyond.
Taking Care Of Unicorns
What’s the environment unicorns need to flourish? Allow them to explore ideas—all ideas— even if it’s not part of your corporate strategy for the year. I often hear people say it’s the number of NOs you say that make you more powerful. I don’t think that’s true. I think saying yes is needed more. Your team or field leaders need to know that if they have an amazing epiphany regarding an
idea you’re willing to entertain it, even though it’s not in your company’s objectives for that year.
You also must trust them to test out the hypothesis of that idea. Nine times out of 10 they’ll come back to you and say, “It didn’t work, it wasn’t feasible.” But that one idea could turn into a best-selling product, DIY kit, a new oil-infused product blend that can make all the difference in the world.
Give them recognition. Every creator wants to know you honor and cherish their creation. This is an amazing business and industry, and it’s the best part of my life and of 100 million people’s lives
around the world.
Consider the role of your Founders’ Legacy and company mission. It’s the glue that keeps both employees and customers connected.
Create a ‘WOW’ enrollment experience in order to best engage your new distributors.
Hire Unicorns. Look for those with an entrepreneurial mindset who are curious adventure-seekers with a passion for learning and the ability to manage risk.