September 01, 2011
Jeunesse: The Science of Youthful Aging
by Lin Grensing-Pophal
In 2011, the baby boomers—defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those born between Jan. 1, 1946 and Dec. 31, 1964—began to turn 65. In fact, every day for the next 19 years 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65. This is a trend that is not just occurring in the United States. Technological improvements and lifestyle changes are improving life expectancies in developed countries around the world, according to the National Research Council.
And, according to Wendy Lewis and Randy Ray, founders of Jeunesse Global—a company that provides anti-aging product offerings—these people don’t want to age like their parents and grandparents did. They want to age youthfully. Jeunesse was created to help them do just that.
Jeunesse’s tagline is deceptively simple: “The science of youthful aging.” But there are two critical components here. First, the concept of aging youthfully, which few would argue is a desire firmly held by those of the baby boomer era as well as those in the generations that follow them. Second, the concept of science.
Lewis, COO, and Ray, CEO, were first introduced to their now exclusive anti-aging product through Dr. Nathan Newman, a Beverly Hills-based—and world-renowned—cosmetic surgeon. When Ray was contemplating a trip to Singapore for stem cell treatments for his right knee, he had heard about Newman and his work with stem cells and wanted to know if he might be able to receive the treatment he was seeking closer to home.
“While talking to [Newman], he started to tell us about all the wonderful things that can be done and that one of the things he had done was create a serum that can activate your body’s own stem cells and regenerate collagen and renewed elasticity and luminescence for the skin,” Ray recalls.
“I asked him how many bottles he sold, and he said about 40 a month. I said: ‘How would you like to see 40,000 a month?’” Newman was intrigued and soon a relationship was established.
On Sept. 9, 2009 at 9 p.m. (09-09-09 at 9), Jeunesse was born. The numbers are significant. In Chinese, the number nine means longevity. The name Jeunesse is also significant; it’s a French word that means youth. Less than two years later, the company runs offices in 12 countries, counts 50,000 distributors worldwide and has a sales volume near $60 million annually.
Everyone involved seems happy with the results—Jeunesse has paid out millions in distributor commissions in the last two years. Today, Newman serves as a medical advisor to Jeunesse and continues to do ground-breaking work in the area of bio-technology.
Jeunesse’s flagship product was Luminesce, the serum Newman created. The product line now includes the serum, a daily moisturizing complex and a nutritional supplement. Additional anti-aging products are being released in September, based on the work of Dr. Vincent Giampapa, a board-certified plastic reconstructive surgeon and assistant clinical professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Both Newman and Giampapa serve on Jeunesse’s medical advisory board, along with Dr. William Amzallag, who serves as General Manager of the European Union and has decades of medical industry experience, including a background in anesthesiology and intensive care and a degree in Chinese medicine.
It might seem obvious to tie the company’s success to its products, and the science behind them. But, there’s more to it than that. Neither Ray nor Lewis was new to the process of bringing exceptional products to the masses. In fact, their early success was in providing the back-office operations and technology to allow other direct sales organizations to streamline their operations. “Wendy and I had run other companies in the past, and we contracted with several companies over the years to run their back offices and do the compensation plans and the customer support and the shipping, so we had lots of experience,” admits Ray.
Jeunesse Global headquarters in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
They were also able to hit the ground running by bringing staff that they had worked with for a number of years in other settings. This solid infrastructure of technology and people combined, of course, with a science-based youthful aging product and a population around the world aging at a breakneck pace, virtually guaranteed their success.
Ray attributes much of the company’s accomplishments to the staff. “Some have been with us for more than 20 years in other businesses; a lot of them have a lot of seasoning and knowledge of the industry.” Scott Lewis is one of them.
Bench Strength, Commitment and Support
Scott Lewis is Vice President of Global Operations at Jeunesse and is the corporate General Manager for the Pacific Rim. He worked with Ray and Lewis in their office support service company, which gave him contact with a wide variety of companies in the industry, a knowledge of market trends and distributor relations. His strong background in direct sales and international operational processes, combined with experience in legal compliance has, he says, helped him significantly in his current role.
The experience Scott Lewis has and connections he’s made over the years, literally around the world, have also served him—and Jeunesse—well. “I know a lot of good people in the industry and, especially in Asia, we have a lot of capable people we can trust, which allows you to get everything set up more quickly.”
The ability and willingness to be flexible when working with diverse people and cultures has also been a key benefit driving Jeunesse’s rapid success, says Scott Lewis. “I think flexibility is a key benefit that a lot of big companies lack,” he says. That flexibility is critical, he says, when expanding into non-U.S. markets.
Kyle Copeland, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Jeunesse and the corporate General Manager for the Americas, agrees. “What works here in the U.S. does not always work internationally. You have to be able to adapt and understand the local customs and adapt your business to meet local needs. I think we’re extremely good at that.”
In fact, Jeunesse is good at a lot of things and has a solid grasp and years of combined experience working with the broad range of elements that lead to success in direct selling.
Copeland adds, having a product that is unique and that “has a story to it” are foundational elements of success. “Having a product that people can be passionate about creates long-term retention of your team members,” he says. “It allows them to have that interesting story that they can go out and talk about.” It is, he says, like a good movie that you just can’t wait to share with others. Having that in a direct sales product has the same viral effect. It’s just icing on the cake to have a product that is not only interesting but also backed by scientific evidence of its efficacy.
Copeland says that Ray and Lewis are really what drove him to join Jeunesse in February of this year. Their approachability, he says, provides a big benefit for the company. “When they go to events they immediately walk over and start talking to distributors,” he says. “It’s almost a family-like atmosphere. They’re so down-to-earth that people like to be around them.”
Offering a Product That People Want to Buy
In addition to having an experienced staff and generous owners, Jeunesse is not only surviving during a tough economy —it’s thriving. “A huge difference for us, right now, is that we have a product that people want to buy,” says Copeland. “I think our message is very clear with ‘the science of youthful aging’,” he says. “When you explain that message it’s simple, it’s clear and it resonates.”
In fact, he says, he experienced the power of the message himself while attending a neighborhood gathering not long after moving from Utah to Florida to work with Jeunesse. His wife was talking to a group of about 10 women and he walked up to introduce himself. “When I said I work for a company that has anti-aging products every single person in that circle said ‘I want them! Where can I sign up? How can I buy?’ I’ve never had that response before.”
Distributors are really customers too. While an aging international population, a science-based product and exceptional people on staff are critical to Jeunesse’s rapid growth, Wendy Lewis also points to the distributors as a lynchpin for the organization. “We have great distributors—that’s what makes you or breaks you in this industry,” she acknowledges. “We have the infrastructure and customer service in place all around the world; we have the servers and the programmers in-house—all of the things it takes. But, without the distributors we’d have nothing.”
Scott Lewis agrees, noting that the ability to effectively support the distributor network is critical and a best practice for Jeunesse. “We have to serve our distributors and we have to be available to them at any moment,” he says. “We need to make sure they get quick answers if there’s an idea or a question that comes up. We need to be available and flexible.”
He notes that “everyone in the company really has a servant’s heart. … We are tireless in our efforts to help make this company successful—to help make our distributors and their teams successful.”
As an international organization, Scott Lewis notes, Jeunesse runs a 24/7 operation. “Business never stops for us,” he says. “We respect the fact that Asia is awake when most people in the U.S. are asleep.”
And, adds Wendy Lewis, a competitive compensation plan doesn’t hurt. “It allows people to truly become financially independent depending on the amount of time they want to devote to the business opportunity.” Flexibility, she says, allows people to make a few hundred dollars a month or, as some Jeunesse distributors have done, hit the million-dollar mark. “You have to have a compensation plan that’s adaptable to the many goals of the various types of distributors that join your company,” she says.
Then, Ray says, you need to provide materials, training and support and “get out of their way.”
Copeland agrees, saying, “We’ve got science behind us. I moved my family 3,500 miles from Utah down here because I saw that this is what it is all about, and I really believe in it. Everybody says we’re going to be the next billion-dollar company and I really believe that, based on the product, the science and the people involved.”
While Jeunesse is a relatively young company it is taking a long-range view. “We have a 10-year strategic plan in place,” says Scott Lewis. “We’ve laid out the markets and how they’re going to be launched and where we’re going to go with our promotions and marketing platform. We really have a long-term vision of the company and where we want it to be 10 years from now—not just two years from now.”
He says, “We’ve seen companies come and go very quickly, but we’re focused on having a solid foundation for many, many years to come.”