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October 01, 2008

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with David and Bianca Lisonbee and Steve Tew, 4Life

imageIn this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming spoke to David and Bianca Lisonbee, CEO and Co-founders, respectively, and Steve Tew, 4Life President, about 4Life’s inspiration, distributors and much more.

JF: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being a top executive of 4Life?

David Lisonbee: My greatest satisfaction comes from seeing people’s lives change for the better.

Bianca Lisonbee: Witnessing the positive changes brought about in people’s lives because of their involvement with the company and its products.

Steve Tew: Being able to travel to different parts of the world to see the positive impact 4Life has made in the lives of people. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a family whose lives have been changed for the better as a result of being a part of 4Life.

JF: What has been your greatest challenge since assuming this position?

David Lisonbee: Any company has significant challenges which can divert attention from the core focus. Keeping focus on what we do best is always a challenge.

Bianca Lisonbee: I think the biggest challenge came that first year when we were just getting started. We started with an amazing product, a big dream and no distributors! Those are the times that reveal just how much you believe in what you are doing. It is good to always think back on those times because it helps to keep us grateful for all those who have contributed to 4Life’s success and to remember that success, in this industry especially, is a team effort. It is also a good thing to remember how we got started because it is also the way that most distributors start their business. They have to build their organizations the same way we did—one person at a time.

Steve Tew: There is nothing more difficult than trying to keep up with our distributors and their desire to share the 4Life opportunity with people around the world. In just 10 short years, we have opened offices in 14 countries around the world which has provided some extremely unique challenges, as well as rewards.

JF: How would you describe the ideal 4Life distributor?

David Lisonbee: 4Life’s most successful distributors embrace the mission of “Together, Building People” by understanding they are only successful if others are successful.

Bianca Lisonbee: Enthusiastic about making a difference in people’s lives, visionary in seeing the unlimited potential they have as pioneers in the Transferceutical sciences and tireless in their efforts to achieve their goals.

Steve Tew: The ideal 4Life distributor is an individual whose values and goals are aligned with ours in terms of integrity, enthusiasm for the product and opportunity and who especially wants to help others share in this success.

JF: How involved are you with 4Life distributors?

David Lisonbee: We love our association with distributors and look forward being with them at as many events as possible.

Bianca Lisonbee: I feel very connected to the distributors by way of communication through writing, phone calls, trips, and speaking at events—and of course David and I get to dance with them at convention!

Steve Tew: I regularly speak with our distributors about specific challenges and opportunities before them. I also travel to many countries around the world to participate in meetings and events.

JF: What is your vision for 4Life?

David Lisonbee: We will continue to take the mission of 4Life to the world until everyone knows of the benefits of 4Life’s Transferceutical Science.

Bianca Lisonbee: 4Life will continue to establish itself as the company with the most cutting edge science behind its products, the most lucrative opportunity for financial success and distributors who are dedicated to building people. I believe the benefits of 4Life Transfer Factor and our work in the Transferceutical Sciences will become well known throughout the world.

Steve Tew: My vision is to continue to follow the path we are on by continuing to spread the 4Life opportunity around the world with those who share our dreams and our values.

JF: What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make at 4Life?

David Lisonbee: When I understood the power of transfer factors, we had to decide to move forward and bring this product to market. That takes an incredible amount of commitment. Still, I knew the sacrifice would be worth the effort because of this amazing memory molecule’s impact on people around the world.

Bianca Lisonbee: When we were just getting started, someone suggested that we should make a “deal” with an experienced networker in the industry to help us recruit more distributors at a faster rate. We made a conscious decision not to do this. We wanted to grow a culture of distributors who were with us because they shared the vision and dream of what we were doing. Because of that decision, today we now have a very passionate group of distributors who share in our task of taking transfer to the world and or mission of “Together, Building People.”

Steve Tew: I don’t know that there is a single decision that stands out as being the most difficult decision, but one of the most challenging aspects of my job is to decide where to allocate company resources, especially as it relates to opening new markets. This is especially difficult when thinking about the impact such a decision has on the lives of people in these various markets.

JF: Is there one basic principle which has governed your leadership at 4Life?

David Lisonbee: We are in the business of building people, whether in our offices or in the field. Everything we do is focused on improving people.

Bianca Lisonbee: We believe that you need to figure out what you do best—recognize what you have to offer that no one else can, and then offer it with great passion, integrity, and love.

Steve Tew: The underlying philosophy I try to instill into our organization is to be the very best at providing the utmost in service and support to our distributors. Thus, characteristics like dedication, commitment and integrity become fundamental principles of the company.

JF: How do you communicate with your team?

David Lisonbee: We meet regularly as a management team. Our discussions are open and honest and of course lots of emails, text messages and cell phone calls.

Bianca Lisonbee: Lots of good open discussions on a regular basis, both one-on-one and in meetings. Oh yes: plenty of emails, too!

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

David Lisonbee: My parents have set a wonderful example for me. My father taught me the value of work and my mother, as a writer and practitioner in natural health, instilled in me the desire to pursue research in this area.

Bianca Lisonbee: My parents and grandparents set a great example for me. My grandparents immigrated to America from Italy. They had heard that in America the streets were paved with gold. Well, when they got to New Orleans they found out that not only were the streets not paved in gold, but that in many places they didn’t even have streets, but only Mississippi mud! But they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. My grandfather started The Central Grocery in the French Quarter which has become a New Orleans landmark. The sandwich he invented, The Muffaletta was recently voted on the Today Show as one of the five best sandwiches in America. They taught me that one of the greatest things you can give someone is an opportunity – a chance. They didn’t expect a handout, but they were so grateful for an opportunity to better their lives and the lives of others. And isn’t that what this industry is all about?

I also learned from my parents that you need to pursue your dreams even in the face of adversity. My mother gave birth to me on board a ship in the middle of two hurricane strength storms while she and my father were coming to America from Italy. She named me “Bianca” after part of the ship’s name, the Conte Biancamano. My father, who was an obstetrician and could have been of great help to her, was so deathly seasick he was of no use at all! A young steward had to read a first aid manual on how to deliver a baby. My Mother said that even though she had visions of having to get into a lifeboat with her new baby, she felt in her heart that all would be well and that they were meant to come to America. Although my parents and grandparents have passed on, their courage and work-ethic continue to inspire me.

Steve Tew: Abraham Lincoln, but probably not for the same reasons that would normally be thought of. He was able to take people with completely opposing points of view, utilize their various talents and take the best from each of them to accomplish his objectives.

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

David Lisonbee: Companies like Avon, Mary Kay, NuSkin and others have brought a dignity to the industry that I very much appreciate.

Bianca Lisonbee: I appreciate the fact that Nature’s Sunshine was such a pioneer in being the first company to encapsulate herbs.  We all owe them a lot. I also admire the great things that NuSkin is doing with their humanitarian efforts in feeding children.

JF: What do you see as our industry’s greatest challenge?

David Lisonbee: To properly communicate the beauty and advantages of this wonderfully efficient and productive channel we call Direct Selling.

Bianca Lisonbee: Probably negative stereotypes. Because there have been some bad players in this industry I think some people continue to have a perception that this is all about get- rich -quick schemes, and that is unfortunate. At its worst I guess this business model can be abused that way, but at its best, I know of no better business model where so many people can benefit from bringing a product to the marketplace than in network marketing. I have seen the lives of people, many who live in third world countries, dramatically changed for the better through our industry. These are people who would have had no other opportunity for this kind of success. I think that people are beginning to see this business model as a wonderful form of mirco-franchising in which someone can start their own business with very little initial risk or investment. All they really need is a great company and a desire to share their story with people.

Steve Tew: One of the biggest challenges we face on a worldwide basis is the regulatory environment we are currently facing. We face significant challenges that could pose a serious threat to our industry relating to product regulations, product claims, product registrations, direct selling regulations, etc.

JF: What is your favorite way to relax?

David Lisonbee: I enjoy a good round of golf.

Bianca Lisonbee: I like to cook up something to eat, probably something Italian, put on some music, and sit around a table laughing and talking and eating with family and friends. I also love to curl up with a good book.

Steve Tew: The best way for me to relax is to get out on the golf course for a few hours.

JF: When are you happiest?

David Lisonbee: When I am with my wife and children and grandchildren, and when I see my children making good life choices.

Bianca Lisonbee: When my thoughts and actions are most aligned with my personal values and convictions.

Steve Tew: The thing that brings me the greatest happiness is seeing my children achieve their goals and reach their personal dreams.

JF: What is your favorite travel destination and why?

David Lisonbee: Italy. That is where my wife is from. I love the country as well as its history.

Bianca Lisonbee: Home! Because as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz stated, “There’s no place like it!”

Steve Tew: My favorite destination is Europe, specifically Germany. I have had the opportunity to live in Germany six years of my life and I truly enjoy returning there.