July 01, 2009

Exclusive Interviews

Executive Connection with Joe Urso, CEO, Aerus


Joe Urso

In this month’s “Executive Connection,” Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks to Aerus CEO Joe Urso about the company’s distributors, his heroes and much more.

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

JU: Unequivocally, it’s helping people help themselves and supporting that process internally and externally in our field.

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

JU: We buy companies in distress. They’re all turnaround opportunities. The challenge is figuring out how to repair and rebuild a company in distress—figuring it out more than doing it. Many areas need attention. Then the toughest challenge is to get everyone on the same page.

DSN: How would you describe the ideal Aerus sales rep?

JU: Someone who has a can-do attitude, a disciplined work ethic and a friendly smile. It’s someone who understands his “why” and looks at the company as a vehicle to allow him to achieve that.

DSN: What is your vision for Aerus?

JU: To become a major privately held company in America that has a reputation for unmatched integrity and for creating opportunities for people across the world to have a better life.

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

JU:Shared values—an alignment of how committed we are and a commitment to the outcome of the organization that transcends what might be in one person’s best interests.

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

JU: My parents are my heroes. I’m from a very humble, blue-collar background. Their parents were immigrants. They always had hope and confidence and love, and I think those nurturing roots have made me who I am today.

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

JU: I would be remiss not to mention several people who are alive today. Look at the accomplishments of the Avon organization and leadership they have had. [Former chairman and CEO] Jim Preston had great vision to designate Andrea Jung. What a fantastic leader she has been! And then there’s Amway and the strength of the DeVos family. I admire how they run their business and live their lives. There’s a lot to be learned from those organizations. I didn’t know Mary Kay. My father-in-law knew her well and spoke of her in that same way. The Longaberger family—I admire the things they stand for and that the values the company projects are the things they believe in.

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

JU: Excessive government interference with the free-market system. It has me very worried.

DSN: What is your favorite travel destination and why?

JU: Italy, because I culturally feel at home there. It’s the most beautiful place on earth. And Venice is most romantic place I’ve ever been.