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August 01, 2010

U.S. News

100 Years of Achievement

by Rebecca Larson

Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products Inc., and Marjorie Fine, Chair of the 2011 DSA Annual Meeting and Shaklee Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, toasting the DSA’s next 100 years.

Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products Inc., and Marjorie Fine, Chair of the 2011 DSA Annual Meeting and Shaklee Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, toasting the DSA’s next 100 years.

The DSA honors its living legends, recipients of the Hall of Fame award. 

One hundred years in the making, the 2010 Direct Selling Association’s (DSA) Annual Meeting commenced June 5 with board and committee meetings, ending June 8 with a red-carpet gala celebrating this achievement and the industry.

This year’s Annual Meeting garnered record attendance, as more than 1100 industry executives gathered in San Francisco, Calif., at the Hilton Union Square. Attendees learned from more than 20 CEOs from all types of companies about industry trends and successes, learning from each other and contributing to the common knowledge base that makes this industry great. The DSA focused the meeting on the century of achievement and education the Association fosters, and created a museum that celebrated the momentous events throughout the century.

Participants were treated to a Taste of San Francisco on Sunday evening, which included such notable areas as the Fisherman’s Wharf and, of course, Ghirardelli. All took advantage of the time to network with vendors and catch up with old friends.

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) participated in the meeting with Sunday morning’s DSEF Ocean Beach Clean Up, focusing on the cleanup effort at Ocean Beach. The Foundation also sought to help women fulfill their dreams of a better future by partnering with Career Closet to outfit local women in professional attire that they’ll need to attain their career goals. The DSEF displayed the donated garments throughout the Annual Meeting, illustrating the meeting’s theme of connecting people, product and opportunity and helping it come alive for needy women in San Francisco.

The General Session, emceed by Marjorie Fine, incoming DSA Annual Meeting Chairperson and Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Shaklee Corp., opened Monday morning with a keynote speech by Roger Barnett, Chairman and CEO of Shaklee Corp., discussing his introduction to direct selling and the power of personal development. Doug DeVos, CEO of Amway, also spoke, addressing how powerful direct selling is as a channel of distribution. Later, five concurrent workshops addressed issues within the industry. Monday’s workshops discussed field motivation and training, including such topics as influencing your salesforce, using social media, and tapping into the Hispanic market.

The DSA’s Annual Awards were presented throughout the General Sessions, with the first two awards, Excellence in Salesforce Development and Technology Innovation, were given to Rodan + Fields and Amway, respectively. Rodan + Fields received its award for the company’s customer relationship management system that helps get new consultants off to a “fast start,” and Amway was recognized for its platform that allows the salesforce to “go mobile.”

Although relatively new to the world of direct selling, Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson’s message in the second General Session conveyed his passion for and understanding of this industry. DSEF Executive Director Charlie Orr also spoke in the second session, giving attendees updates on the Foundation.

Afternoon workshops covered such topics as taking the business overseas, led by Jacques Mizrahi, CEO of SwissJust North America; connecting with female teams through training and building specific skills, led by Susan Duffy, Asst. Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Simmons College, and Kathleen Earl, Executive Director of Avon West; and keeping a personal touch with the salesforce through effective field communications, directed by 4Life Research’s VP of Communications, Calvin Jolley.

Monday culminated in the Celebration of a Century, a costume party that saw attendees dressed as the decade of their choice. Costumes ranged from ’60s go-go girl to ’80s-inspired glam rock.

The last General Session, on Tuesday, June 8,opened with Kay Napier, CEO of Arbonne International, speaking on the company’s restructuring efforts, followed by Connie Tang, President of JAFRA Cosmetics; and Heidi and Orville Thompson, President and CEO, respectively, of Scentsy Inc., all sharing their insights on the past century and their hopes for the future.

Neil Offen, CEO of the DSA, shared how the Association has helped both the industry and its member companies throughout the years. The DSA protects the industry by dealing with government regulators and legislators on the federal, state and local levels; promotes it by telling the story of direct selling, enhancing its image and building its reputation; and polices the industry through the development and maintenance of the Code of Ethics, which illustrates the DSA and member companies’ commitment to the highest standards. He noted how far the Association has come in the last 100 years and spoke on how he hopes it will continue to evolve in the next 100 years.

The final three Awards were given during Tuesday’s General Session; recipients included Rodan + Fields, Scentsy Inc. and Grimes & Reese. Rodan + Fields was again in the spotlight for the Rising Star Award, which honors up-and-coming direct selling companies. Scentsy earned the Success Award for its use of social media to rebuild trust with and engage its salesforce. Marking the first time a law firm has received this award, Grimes & Reese was honored with the DSA’s Partnership Award, which honors supplier member companies with a measurable impact on the growth or development of an active member company.

Attendees moved from the General Session to the Workshops, where they heard from industry executives on growth, online training, field motivation, blended sales programs and designing a great career path. After lunch, attendees learned from each other at several networking roundtables, including discussions on current issues, party plan companies, communications/marketing, regulations, salesforce development and publicly held companies. These discussions allowed CEOs to sit across from each other, learning firsthand what worked, what didn’t and what each learned in the process.

Tuesday evening’s Centennial Gala saw attendees dressed in their finest for the DSA’s formal, black-and-white ball that paid tribute to the companies that made the DSA what it is today and enabled the Association to assist its members in bringing their products to the marketplace every year.

During the celebration, the DSA recognized those companies that have been in direct selling for at least 100 years. These companies include such industry giants as Avon Products Inc., The Fuller Brush Company, Regal Ware and The Southwestern Company. Avon’s Andrea Jung, CEO, accepted the Founder’s Award on behalf of the company, given in recognition of its role in the DSA since the Association’s inception.

Throughout the meeting, the DSA honored its heritage, with brief video messages from various executives in the industry, each discussing a different moment in DSA history. An onsite museum offered a glimpse of other momentous events within the industry, including the birth of Mary Kay Inc. and the first Electrolux vacuum placed in the Smithsonian Museum.

The 2010 DSA Annual Meeting highlighted the strength and history of this exceptional industry. We at Direct Selling News congratulate the DSA on 100 years of achievement and look forward to reporting on the next 100 years.