March 01, 2009
Executive Connection with Chris Domhoff, Founder, Ignite
In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming spoke to Chris Domhoff, Founder of Ignite, about his heroes, Ignite’s distributors and much more.
DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being a top executive of Ignite?
CD: I am most pleased by the positive impact our company has had in the lives of our associates. It is humbling and very gratifying to hear that we have played a part in helping people create a better way of life for their families, not just through financial means but also through time freedom. I have always appreciated the fact that network marketing is about people helping people, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
DSN: What has been your greatest challenge since assuming this position?
CD: In 2005, the energy sector felt in a very significant way the dual brunt of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It was an extremely difficult and volatile time for the energy market, and as a very young company, it was especially trying. Dealing with these catastrophic events while balancing the needs and demands of our independent associates and coming through this period with flying colors was our finest moment.
DSN: How would you describe the ideal Ignite distributor?
CD: I am very proud of the quality of people we have attracted to our business. Many of them have never tried a network marketing company before, but at the same time they embrace the American dream and their sense of entrepreneurship. People who are motivated and excited to make a difference in their lives can be very successful here. We take great pride in offering an opportunity where people from all walks of life can thrive when given the proper training and skills to be successful.
DSN: What is your vision for Ignite?
CD: To continue to provide an opportunity for our independent associates that is innovative and forward-thinking yet fundamentally sound. I believe we have been on the cutting edge, with respect to our products and services in the energy sector, combined with a residual compensation plan that has truly differentiated us in the marketplace. I would like to see us stay close to these core principals while, at the same time, growing this opportunity into new markets and other products that can supplement our existing business model.
DSN: What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make at Ignite?
CD: Every day, I have to safeguard the Ignite opportunity. It is important that we maintain the strictest of ethics in the network marketing sector so that we can protect this opportunity for the future.
DSN. Is there one basic principle that has governed your leadership at Ignite?
CD: For me, attitude is everything. I have always said at our company meetings, I don’t care so much what you know as what your attitude is. I would rather have somebody with a great attitude and a lean résumé, than somebody with a Harvard MBA and a bad attitude. I’ve always taken the position that we will teach you how to do the business. If you have the right attitude, you can accomplish anything.
DSN: Leaders usually draw on something or someone for inspiration, guidance and direction. Do you have a hero or heroine?
CD: One of my heroes who I talk about in public settings is my mom. I come from a family of sports enthusiasts, but of all the competitors in the Domhoff clan, my mom was our most inspiring and dedicated coach. In fact, she coached me and my brother in basketball when we were kids. She even refereed and umpired baseball games as well. Of course, like most young men, we struggled with the tendency to be “ball hogs.” All I wanted to do was dunk the basketball. But my mom, in her wisdom, focused her coaching efforts on teaching us the value of the assist. She taught us that, as a team, we would be much more successful if we shaped our mindset around getting the ball into the hands of the player best positioned to make the shot, rather than to try to force the shot on our own. I can tell you, it has been a lesson I have carried with me my entire life, and I see it as the basis of the relationship between the Ignite corporate team and our field leaders. Our job at corporate is to pass the ball and-or assist our independent business owners so that they can make the basket. And we all win.
DSN: Which other direct selling company or person do you admire the most and why?
CD: There are two people that I have great admiration for in our industry. One, unfortunately is not with us any longer, however, growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and seeing her company firsthand, I have great admiration for Mary Kay Ash and the company that bears her name. She was a true pioneer for network marketing, and for businesspeople in general, and I have always felt that she was a terrific role model in how to lift people up and treat them with respect. Additionally, John Addison of Primerica, in my estimation, is perhaps one of our industry’s greatest leaders. His story in coming up through the ranks and working side by side with the independent business owners, embracing their ideals and now leading that same company, is something I respect and admire.
DSN: What is your favorite way to relax?
CD: Something that not a lot of people know about me is that I love to grill or cook out for people, especially tailgating at a sporting events. Put me behind a grill before a college football game so I can watch my friends and their kids throw the ball around—there is no better way for me to relax!
DSN: When are you happiest?
CD: I’m at my happiest when I’m with my wife and son and we’re doing something as a family. Obviously, family vacations are great and skiing is one of our greatest pleasures, but even downtimes at home, just the three of us playing a board game or taking a swim together, are special.
DSN: What is your favorite travel destination and why?
CD: Maine. I am fortunate to have a cottage on the coast of Maine where we as a family can really get away. Leading Ignite is very intense. The demands on my time as well as the demands from our independent associates are quite extraordinary, so when I can carve out some time, I love to head to Maine for family time, fly-fishing and, most important, to clear my head. Believe it or not, some of my greatest ideas for our business have been born with a fly rod in my hand.