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February 01, 2013

Top Desk

Decision, Vision and Adaptability: Provenzano’s Basics

Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.

Editor’s Note: DSN recently spoke with Greg Provenzano, a founder and the President of our featured company, ACN, about his experiences over the last 20 years and his views for the future. Here’s what he had to say.

DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the top executive of ACN?

GP: There have been so many successes over the years, so many memorable moments. But there are two things that come to mind that make all the challenges, all the uphill battles worthwhile: Seeing how ACN has positively impacted people’s lives and watching new leaders emerge—and knowing with incredible pride and satisfaction that in some small way we had a hand in their journeys.

DSN: As you think back over the last 20 years, what do you consider the most important decision you made that contributed to ACN’s success and longevity?

GP: The most important decision we as co-founders made was our first decision—the decision to start ACN. We didn’t like what we saw in the industry; we weren’t satisfied with the other opportunities out there, so we made a decision to do something. See, every great success is the result of someone just deciding to do something—to take action. Had we waited for someone else to come along and create the kind of company we wanted to be a part of, there would be no ACN today. And the single most important decision we made that helped ensure not only that there was an ACN, but also that we were around for the long term was to put others first in every decision we made since that very first one. It’s never been about us as individuals—but about doing something that would help change the lives of countless others.

DSN: In your years in direct selling, what lesson have you learned that has proven to be especially useful?

GP: We are fortunate enough to be a part of one of the most dynamic and exciting industries in the entire world, but along with that comes an incredible amount of change. Regardless of the product or service being offered, the demands of consumers change every day and the needs of our Independent Business Owners (IBOs) change every day. As individual companies, we too have to be flexible to change. We have to constantly look at our business models, our tools and even our products to ensure we are adapting with the marketplace. Avoid the pitfall of becoming content with your success; instead constantly ask yourself how you can become better and exceed the expectations of your target audience.

DSN: What is your vision for ACN?

GP: For us, it’s about being the best at what we do. There are so many companies out there, and consumers are inundated with choices. So we want to ensure we are always providing the best opportunity for our IBOs and the most robust product line for our customers. That’s been our vision since Day One—and it’s what will continue to drive us for our next 20 years. Ultimately, by focusing on being the best in every area, it’s only a matter of time until we also become the biggest. One absolutely impacts the other.

DSN: Is there one basic principle which governs your leadership at ACN?

GP: Integrity always has and always will be the governing principle for our company—treating people the way we would want to be treated and placing what’s best for the people, our IBOs, customers and employees, above what’s best for us as individual co-founders. It’s what guides every decision we make at ACN every day. On the IBO side, we understand that our company consists of a volunteer army, people who take time away from their families and other aspects of their personal lives to build their company within our company, so the single most important thing we can do is to treat our people well.

DSN: Leaders often draw on something or someone for inspiration, guidance and direction. Do you have a hero or heroine?

GP: There is such a vast and diverse group of great leaders. Certainly there are countless mentors in and out of the industry, both past and present, who continue to inspire me, but I draw the majority of my inspiration and guidance from biblical teachings. I take what I read and formulate it in such a way that is applicable to advance our IBOs and ultimately our business. Perhaps it sounds simple-minded, but I’ve found that we can learn everything we need to know about living a truly good, blessed life by following biblical principles.

DSN: Which other direct selling company or person do you admire the most and why?

GP: This may sound cliché, but I admire all the leaders and companies that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today. I can relate to these individuals and companies because they had a mindset similar to ours—a willingness and a desire to make the tough choices and do what it takes to be around for the long haul.

DSN: What advice would you give an executive at a young direct selling company to help them take their company to its 20-year anniversary?

GP: One word: clarity! You must have a clear vision of where you want your company to go and don’t waver from that vision. Without a clear roadmap for your company’s future, you will never get there. If you look back at the early days of ACN and the vision we had 20 years ago, the roadmap for success is still the same. We’ve tweaked and perfected it through the years, but our core vision is the same. Secondly, expect the best, but be prepared for the worst. Every success we’ve had as a company has come with incredible challenges. If you are expecting easy, you will fail. Nothing worth doing comes easy, but if you remain true to who you are and stay focused on your vision, it will be an incredible ride—and will be well worth it in the end.

DSN: What’s at the top of your “bucket list”?

GP: Through ACN, I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to travel the world, to see and do things that I wouldn’t have otherwise dreamed possible. So for me, my bucket list is simple. I want to be around to watch my children grow up and become parents themselves. My life will have been a success if I could impart something on their lives—if in some small way I could help them become strong, productive adults. For me, time spent with family and friends are the moments that truly make life worth living. The legacy I leave will be the true test of my time here on this earth.

Company SpotlightClick here to read this issue’s Company Spotlight on ACN.