July 01, 2011
Executive Connection with Kay Napier, CEO, Arbonne
In this month’s Executive Connection, Direct Selling News Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming speaks with Kay Napier, CEO of Arbonne, about leadership, persistence and the unique opportunities found in direct selling.
DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the CEO of Arbonne?
KN: Getting to make decisions that I have to live with. I always wanted to run a company. Our Board of Directors lets me make the decisions, and I have to live with the results. But I have a track record that lets me make decisions. Sometimes a little scary, but I really like it.
DSN: As an executive whose background wasn’t in direct selling, what was your biggest surprise when you joined Arbonne almost two years ago?
KN: That what I really joined was a company with an incredible opportunity, as opposed to a premium product that happened to be sold by independent consultants.
DSN: What has been your proudest accomplishment?
KN: Turning the business around to the degree we’ve done. At the end of the day, that’s what will ensure that our consultant base continues to thrive. It’s been job one for me.
DSN: What do you tell Arbonne’s distributors to lead and inspire them?
KN: The same thing I told my son when he was growing up: That they’re special. I really mean it when I say we have the most special consultants in the business. They are the secret sauce to our future.
DSN: What is your vision for Arbonne?
KN: To make it the absolute best network marketing company in the world. I have some good competition, though! I have a lot of respect for the leaders in this business.
DSN: What’s been the most fun?
KN: Being with our consultants on trips. I love being with them for extended periods of time so I can really listen to them.
DSN: Is there one basic principle which has governed your leadership at Arbonne?
KN: I always think we need to be getting better all the time—push ourselves beyond where we think we need to go. The most important attribute is persistence.
DSN: What do you see as the direct selling industry’s greatest challenge?
KN: Particularly in the U.S., there still is a misunderstanding of what a great opportunity it is. There’s still a stigma attached to entering this business. Part of our story is to talk about how legitimate a business it is. I’ve never seen any employment where people talk about it in such a positive way as they do at Arbonne.
DSN: If you could give a single piece of advice to the CEO of a young direct selling company that would help the company reach its 30-year anniversary, what would you say?
KN: Figure out a way to recruit high-quality people with great potential. They don’t need to be where they need to go yet, but they need to have potential and a positive attitude and good fundamental values. Then have a product that people want and need.
DSN: What do you like to do when you just want to relax?
KN: I like to walk. There are hills in Laguna Beach near here, and the view is great.