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July 02, 2010

Top Desk

Get Out from Behind the Desk

by Dallin Larsen, Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, MonaVie

It is ironic that I am writing for “Top Desk,” or any desk at all. My philosophy as the leader of MonaVie is to get out from behind the desk and get into the sales field organization. You have a far better view of how your business is working if you observe it from the other side of the desk.

The mindset that can result from sitting behind the desk often allows us to believe that we, as CEOs, are the best at making all business decisions—decisions that I’ve now come to find are better delegated to the managers and directors within our companies whose job it is to manage and direct.

At MonaVie, I’ve also come to believe that my job is to get out from behind the desk and join the distributors in their journey of success.

The Heart of Every Business: The Distributor

A focus on the distributor experience and a respect for the entrepreneurial spirit have always been at the core of MonaVie. I understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur out there on the front lines. In fact, I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I put myself through college at Brigham Young by selling shaved ice. How is that for Direct Selling 101? My brother and I had about 20 shaved-ice shacks throughout Utah. Then, in the 1980s, when I was in my early 20s, my family bought some weight-loss franchises. I talked my dad into co-signing on a loan to buy my first Diet Center franchise. It did pretty well, and I opened up four more. That entrepreneurial experience taught me that business success comes from the people you hire and, hopefully, inspire to join you in your dream. It sure doesn’t come from sitting behind a desk.

In the late ’80s, a friend of mine introduced me to network marketing, and I never turned back. I have walked the journey of being an independent distributor, and I learned what it takes: courage, smarts, faith, and lots and lots of hard work. Through my own experience as a distributor, and then as a corporate executive, I came to believe that I have a distributor’s heart—their journey is where my passion lies.

So, when my brother Randy, Henry Marsh and I founded MonaVie, we dreamed of having the most distributor-focused company in the industry—a company where you didn’t have to be Superman or Superwoman to achieve success. In our company, the average person who sponsors just two people can earn some money. Some of our people are earning an extra $1,000 a month, some earning an extra $1,000 a year. Some are earning a whole lot more!

From the very beginning at MonaVie, I was always a little desk-averse. In fact, early on, I moved my home from our corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City to Florida, just so I wouldn’t be tempted to be in the office every single day of the week. I wanted to be out there in the field, helping distributors build their businesses at least part of the time. I had, however, created either the reality or the perception that I had to have the final say on everything that was done at corporate headquarters. As I traveled the globe meeting with our distributors, I thought I had left the desk behind, but I found I was just dragging that desk right along with me. There it was, in the palm of my hand, in the form of a BlackBerry. Rolling into bed, having been in five or six countries in two weeks, I would look at my phone and find that there were hundreds of e-mails waiting to be answered. From every segment of the business, there were questions awaiting my response. I knew that something had to change, and change fast.

Top Desk

Unchained from E-mails

I knew I needed to reassess my role. I needed to refocus on where I personally spend my time. I knew I had to make some personal changes in order to meet the challenges of a growing global business. I needed to become even more distributor-focused. I needed to leave the e-mails behind, too.

A few weeks ago, I terminated my personal e-mail account. The only e-mails that I receive now are answered by my assistant. Rather than being asked about every aspect of the business, I have given the authority and responsibility to those whose job it is to lead. I don’t expect these managers and directors to make perfect decisions. I do expect them, however, to make educated decisions and to take ownership of the decisions they make.

I have asked them to fully consider the return on investment of each decision that they make and to treat corporate dollars as though each dollar were their own. Of course, as founders of MonaVie, Randy, Henry and I may override things from time to time when we feel it is in the best interest of the company. Dell Brown, President of MonaVie, also may override things, but 99 percent of the time, we expect our managers and directors to make decisions for their respective areas and to take full responsibility for the results.

Instead of spending six to eight hours a day on e-mails, as I did in the past, I am now able to focus my energy completely on our sales field leaders. They are our future. I have come to believe that my highest calling is to work side by side with them to help them build their businesses. My primary role is to carry the vision of MonaVie around the world. Of course, I am able to stay in the loop on high-level issues affecting each department by attending key staff meetings each week via videoconference.

The “E” in MonaVie stands for “exceptional.” I expect our whole team to be exceptional. I believe I have more of an opportunity to be exceptional doing distributor meetings and taking the MonaVie vision around the world than I do by sitting behind a desk, or responding to 300-plus e-mails every day! On my tombstone, I’d rather the words not be: He was good at e-mails.

Dallin Larsen is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MonaVie.