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January 01, 2010

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with Blake Roney, Chairman of the Board, Nu Skin

Blake RoneyIn this month’s “Executive Connection,” Direct Selling News Managing Editor Nancy Laichas speaks to Nu Skin’s Chairman of the Board Blake Roney about the company’s challenges, its distributors and much more.


DSN: What has been your greatest challenge since earning your position?

BR: Well, my greatest challenge early on was just being too young. I looked too young. I wasn’t believable. That was slowly resolved as I got gray hair. Until then, I’d wear glasses so I looked older, so people wouldn’t ask for my father when they came. People had trouble believing that we were really going to turn into something because we do things differently than other companies, and because I looked 14. So what could I possibly know? And, frankly, I didn’t know much.

DSN: What is the most fun thing about your job?

BR: A really, really fun thing about my job is helping save the lives of starving children, and I’ve been able to make a couple of those trips and take my family down and look into the faces of them as we deliver food. You feel like you actually accomplished something of great value instead of just making a living.

DSN: Who do you think would make the ideal Nu Skin distributor?

BR: They would have a few important attributes. One would be a level of patience; they must have patience and be willing to persevere. And I prefer that they be people who genuinely want to do good with their life. They have a perspective of doing good with the products, doing good with their success and doing good with the opportunity. People with all those attributes make ideal distributors, because we get longevity there. They enjoy what they’re doing. They get satisfaction from accomplishing more than making a living, and they make good long-term partners. Frankly, they’re our most successful distributors because they build with a different attitude.

DSN: What guiding principle do you use in your leadership of Nu Skin?

BR: It’s simple. I think that everything has to be life-improving. If we introduce a product that doesn’t improve life, it gets thrown to the side. Decisions concerning training meetings or initiatives must be life-improving in some manner, and fit in with what we do. We think that we make good leaders as long as we’re leading people toward improving other people’s lives, because then they’re satisfied and happy and they go to bed at night feeling like their time was well spent, especially after they’re successful. I think it’s really hard to hold people if they’re not getting a high level of satisfaction from their work. So it’s simple: Everything we do needs to be life-improving to fit with our program, and we need to lead people toward improving other people’s lives, and that’s what makes us successful.

DSN: Who is your hero?

BR: I’ve never had one or two heroes or heroines that I look to. I’ve found that pretty much every person I meet is a hero to me in some aspect. They’ll be really good in the way they treat people and I’ll decide, okay, I want to be like them in that regard, or they’ll be really smart, or they’ll be someone who likes to improve the world. So, I’ve found a little bit of hero in almost every person I meet. I’ve had lots of people who had certain components, but no one person that I thought, okay, I’m going to be that guy when I grow up. I just tend to create a hero in my mind who maybe I want to be like.

DSN: Is there anybody in the direct selling industry living or dead you admire?

BR: I don’t know. I haven’t paid enough attention to individuals. I’ve noticed what other companies do and which ones, you know, kind of parallel us culturally and which ones don’t, and some I have admired the way they do business. But I really haven’t personalized it very much.

DSN: What do you see as the direct selling industry’s greatest challenge?

BR: We always have a steady supply of companies in our industry, some that don’t live up to their promises or aren’t selling a real product that matters. They affect all of us. So our challenge is to rise above that and give people enough time and reasons to see we don’t match with that. As an industry we have a tarnished reputation, and probably deservedly so, because some companies don’t really care what they’re doing, or it’s just about money with them, and the rest of us have to patiently try to live above reproach as much as we can, until people can see that we’re different. But that has always been our challenge, and I think always will be, as long there are companies that act poorly.

DSN: What do you like to do for fun?

BR: I’m a family guy. I like to do anything where I have fun with my kids. In the winter, I’m a snow ski guy because all my kids—my whole family—we can all ski at the same time. Everybody in the family has fun. I end up spending a lot of my time going to my kids’ football, basketball, baseball and soccer games, and everything else on the planet. But that’s fun to me. I always pretend I’m a photographer, so I can go on the sideline with a video camera so nobody says anything to me so I can get close and watch them. I do any fun family things that I can dream up. I like scuba diving. It’s not very good in Utah, but I like to scuba dive where it’s good.

DSN: Are you happier with your career choice than you would have been if you were a rodeo clown?

BR: Yeah, I think I probably have been able to make more people smile here than I would have there. When you get 30,000 people in a room in Japan, if you can make most of them smile, I think you’ve got the rodeo experience beat.