VideoPlus University: Raise the Bar!

Stuart Johnson, Founder and CEO of VideoPlus, hosts industry executives for the 12th year of VideoPlus University.

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On April 3-4, more than 500 direct selling executives from around the world gathered at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, for what has become one of the industry’s most unique events. Now in its 12th year, VideoPlus University (VPU) provides a forum for the sharing of ideas, challenges and best practices among industry executives.

This year the format once again mirrored the popular TED Talks—short and concise messages from many speakers—avoiding the more common practice of long presentations by just a few. The overall effect is a sort of “group huddle” for the entire industry that lifts and benefits all involved with the plentiful flow and interchange of ideas.

Throughout the two-day period, a remarkable total of 24 speakers gave their 18-minute “power talks” centered on the event’s challenge to “Raise the Bar.” Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

Host Stuart Johnson welcomed the record crowd by voicing his commitment to continuing to provide a forum for discussion and exploration of best practices for direct sellers. Having served as Founder and CEO of VideoPlus for more than 25 years, Johnson has cultivated a unique and comprehensive understanding of the direct selling industry. He observed that “the most successful companies in the marketplace today are companies who are clearly more customer and product focused, whose products and services are unique and effective, and who have simple messages that cut through the clutter in the marketplace.”

It is Johnson’s desire that VPU continue to offer industry leaders the knowledge and tools to cut through that clutter and engage in what he terms “disruptive thinking” in order to move their businesses forward.

Among those who shared a wealth of industry experience, best practices, and challenges were several female executives, including Amway Vice President of Sales Sandy Spielmaker; Princess House President and CEO Connie Tang; Miche Executive Vice President Jayma Woods; Tastefully Simple Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan; Primerica Chief Marketing Officer Julie Seman; and Viridian Senior Vice President Meredith Berkich.

Always favorites among audiences interested in personal development, best-selling author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell and Primerica Co-CEO John Addison also made appearances.

Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, serves as master of ceremonies.Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, serves as master of ceremonies. VideoPlus University: Raise the BarVideoPlus University: Raise the Bar. VideoPlus University draws a record crowd.VideoPlus University draws a record crowd.

The power-packed event embodied the spirit of “leadership completing each other, not competing with each other”—a principle Mark Pentecost, CEO and President of It Works! Global, emphasized during his talk.

From Solavei—a newcomer to the cell phone services market working with provider T-Mobile—CEO Ryan Wuerch presented four themes that recurred often throughout the event: the economy, social media, mobile and social selling. In economic conditions that drive people to new business opportunities, direct selling offers independence and encourages innovation. Today’s direct sellers can also reap the considerable benefits of a consumer base attuned to all things social.

The social connection inherent to direct selling facilitates what Tastefully Simple’s Blashack Strahan referred to as connecting through stories. “Creating deep human connection is the key to building trust,” she said. One company actively developing a social culture from the top down is ViSalus. Co-Founder and CMO Blake Mallen, who interacts regularly with his 70,000+ Facebook fans, shared insights into how companies can foster social interaction. Mallen emphasized the importance of including everyone, rather than appealing solely to distributors, consumers or any other sector of the business. Using social platforms as a means of starting conversations requires, in Mallen’s terms, “a simple, social selling message.” 

Other speakers echoed Mallen’s call for simplicity in building brands and products or services. According to Pentecost, who led his team at It Works! Global to over 400 percent revenue growth in 2012, “Anyone can complicate this business. The real genius is making it simple.”

That is precisely what Co-Founder and CMO Chris Chambless and his team have successfully accomplished at Ambit Energy. Chambless shared his tips for creating momentum through a simple, focused message and product, and most importantly, delivering on what’s promised. “I love this industry and the opportunities it offers,” Chambless said. “I think it’s the best hope in entrepreneurship.”

In conjunction with VPU, participants had the opportunity to attend the DSN Global 100 Celebration. The event unveiled the results of research and ranking conducted to identify the top 100 companies in the industry globally. The DSN Global 100 list, which will appear in the June 2013 issue of Direct Selling News, profiles these companies and their impact on lives around the world. In addition to revealing this year’s rankings, the event celebrated the recipients of three Bravo Awards for outstanding achievements in 2012.

VideoPlus University is already scheduled for 2014. Again to be held at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, the event will take place April 23-24. Registration opens Nov. 1, 2013. Find out more at

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