April 01, 2015
Every Experience Has Something to Teach Us
by Lauren Lawley Head
Experience is an unusual word. When you hear it, odds are good that your first thought is of something positive: The trip will be the experience of a lifetime. She has the experience we’re looking for in our next hire. You have to experience this amazing product. But, of course, all experiences aren’t pleasant. While we may wish to forget them, we’ve all experienced disappointment or loss, difficult economic times and even outright mistakes. Though our tendency may be to block those sorts of experiences from our minds, we would do well to study them, at least long enough to extract the valuable lessons they contain.
Our cover story this month, “Don’t Forget the Basics,” does just that. Writer Andrea Tortora researched the experiences of companies that have opted to close their direct selling businesses in recent years and interviewed industry experts and business leaders in search of commonalities. The insights she shares in the piece provide opportunities for companies of all sizes and at all stages of development to learn the valuable lessons without paying the price of first-hand experience. Among them is this gem from former Direct Selling Association President and CEO Neil Offen: “There has to be a synergy between the efforts of the corporation and the efforts of the field to work together as partners. You have to always respect the field and care about them and love them to be truly successful.”
While it is important to look at lessons from the past, there also is great value in looking to the future. This is a dynamic time for direct selling as new generations of entrepreneurs begin to carve their own path and, in doing so, begin to shape new paradigms for the channel. On Page 58, writer Courtney Roush will introduce you to one of our community’s rising leaders: Ava Anderson. At just 15 years old, Anderson launched her eponymous skincare company, Ava Anderson Non Toxic. Today, she is juggling her responsibilities as CEO of the company while completing her business degree at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She is committed to staying true to her original mission of educating today’s consumers about the importance of knowing what goes into their personal-care products. But as the granddaughter of Princess House Founder Charlie Collis, Anderson also brings to her company a deep understanding and appreciation for direct selling’s legacy in the United States.
“We created our products to become a platform for the message,” Anderson says. “Changing people’s health and financial lives is our focus. This has never been about profit for our family. We don’t have shareholders or investors to satisfy. If our Consultants change lives and make a good income doing something worthwhile, something they can feel really good about, that’s success for us.”
Also in this issue, the Direct Selling News team takes you inside two established direct selling companies: England-based Utility Warehouse and California-based Youngevity. Each one is pursuing a unique approach to growth in today’s marketplace, just as each of you are doing inside your organizations. If you’re ready to share your story, please let us know. With the first quarter of 2015 behind us, there is still plenty of time to make this year an extraordinary experience.
All the best,
Lauren Lawley Head