The creators of direct selling companies and their CEOs and executive teams who lead them hold the key to the resurgence of capitalism in America and beyond. Those who have invested in the enterprise of direct selling must always be reminded what an important contribution they make as they teach the free-enterprise system and individual personal development.
It can be easy for the founder or leader of a direct selling company to get caught in the day-to-day activities and lose sight of the value being added to multiple economies as a result of their efforts. Their leadership surpasses the mere economic value of personal and corporate profits, as each day the lives of thousands of distributors are being changed as they form new skills and habits that help them not only in business but also in life.
Several years ago, The Wall Street Journal asked to interview me. At the time, I was a marketing consultant for a major company. It was obvious that the interviewer wanted to present the story with a negative slant when he asked: “What does the average distributor do?” and “Why do so many fail when trying to do the business?” I responded: “It is apparent by your question that you do not have a clear concept of this industry, for this industry goes way beyond personal financial success.” I went on to share that, like most industries—including his own—there are countless reasons very few make it to the top financially. But not readily observable in this industry are the benefits to the millions of people who “pass through.” They come into the business with little understanding and direction in life skills and personal skills, and as a result of this industry, they mature, gain direction and become much stronger. I went on to share that, for the most part, colleges and universities neglect to teach what is learned in direct selling, and where corporate America has failed to look at their people as assets, direct selling companies value their people as their No. 1 asset.
The owners of network marketing companies do an outstanding job of teaching the merits of enterprise over entitlement, the value of working for yourself and understanding the advantage of being an entrepreneur—a lesson not being taught in schools today. The lessons of finding a need and filling it and locating a problem and solving it are taught, as distributors learn to approach business from the position of need vs. greed. We must never forget the added value we are giving to those in our corporate culture: communication skills, listening skills, people skills, collaboration skills and response skills.
Because of our investment, we are teaching goal-setting, vision-planning, time-management, product management and inventory control. If our companies were universities, we would be graduating more people with reasoning skills than any college in America.
I firmly believe that history will someday record the business model of direct selling as one of the top contributors in teaching the free-enterprise system and private ownership. The life lessons from this business model are acknowledged around the globe. Nation after nation, individual after individual, receives a life lesson on fulfilling their dreams through this model. Tell me any other business model that accomplishes this as well as the model created by owners in this industry.
In 1991, I was standing on a stage in Moscow, Russia, sharing the attributes of free enterprise with several thousand people involved in direct selling. This was at a time when the Russian people did not even understand the words profit or loss; the Soviet Union had collapsed, and free enterprise was just beginning to come in. Just a few short years prior to my speaking engagement in this auditorium, the heads of the Communist Party stood on that very stage teaching the wonderful attributes of communism. I asked the writer for The Wall Street Journal to show me any corporation or business model that has done as much to export the goodness of private ownership around the world. He had no response. As owners of this great business model, let us never forget the impact we are having on the world.
At the same time, let us never forget that, 24 hours a day, we are impacting an individual somewhere in the world as a result of our product and marketing plan. As a result of our companies, someone, somewhere, is being given an opportunity at this very moment to expand their financial destiny. As direct selling leaders, we are extending the hand of hope, an opportunity to survive financially, and for some, the possibility of creating the greatest “Horatio Alger story” ever told. Because of our vision and our financial participation, lives are being transformed at the grassroots level, families will see their children going to college, and husbands and wives will have their financial future secured. Again, I asked the writer, “Tell me of any other business model that does so much.”
When we examine this model, it is clear that we are executing our work to satisfy our distributors, staff and customers, rather than just a board of directors. Traditional marketing works mostly toward a strategy aimed at stock share value, where our model works from the position of sharing value. As owners, we realize our success is based on and driven by the people inside (our staff) and the distributor outside; therefore, our value system is much different from those in the Fortune 100.
The question for the critic is simple: Where do you find such a complete business model that helps so many around the world? Do some fail at building success in our industry? Certainly. But during the year or more they are in our corporate culture of hope, what are their take-aways? What have they learned that will add value in their daily lives? I am confident that the thousands of men and women who have tried direct selling and chosen another direction have still become quite successful as a result of the schooling they received while attempting to build a direct selling business. I personally know this to be true, since I have received many emails and letters over the years from those who attribute their success in what they are doing today to the time they spent in this industry.
As you read this column, I ask that you reflect on my words and realize what a major contribution you are making by your decision to own or operate a company in this remarkable industry, what a privilege you have in the opportunity of ownership. Realize that your investment of both time and money will not return to you void but with great blessings. Stand proud of your accomplishments, and watch as history records your name as one who moved capitalism forward around the world.
Bob Goshen is an author, motivational teacher and leadership trainer. For more information, visit www.bobgoshen.com.