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December 01, 2009

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, December 2009

John FlemingWe end the year with a cover story on something near and dear to me—listening to your field leaders. Many years ago, I was introduced to the direct selling business model. However, I didn’t recognize it as a business model, only as an opportunity for people to sell something until they found something better to do, simply a reflection of my narrow thinking at the time. My limited research on the company I joined was also narrow and biased. I could not believe that a business based on learning a few basic skills like selling and servicing customers and coaching others to learn to do the same could be anything other than a good dream that I needed to wake up from.

Because of the sincerity of the person who introduced me to my first direct selling opportunity and his commitment to teaching/coaching others on this unique business model, I joined my first company. I was no instant success. It took time for me to shed my false ego and learn the value of commitment to basic concepts, such as goal-setting and planning. I later found this focus on goal-setting, planning, skill-building and discipline to be some of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned. I’d spent five and a half years in architectural school learning the process of designing buildings, and it never occurred to me that the same concepts could be applied to life. The construction of a building is never started before completing the blueprints. Life should be treated the same way, but a process for achieving success in life is not really taught in the traditional educational process. For many, the first lessons in how to succeed in life really come through the training of a direct selling company. Staff personnel may write the training, create the policy and produce the manuals, books, etc., without ever having the experience of actually having been in the field. However, those who apply the training—who actually practice business skills based on personal enthusiasm, vision and belief in oneself—become the heart, soul and lifeblood of the companies they represent!

I will always be an advocate for the opportunities created by the companies we support and write about in this publication. There is no greater opportunity for people from all walks of life to participate in the free-enterprise system—to go from ordinary to extraordinary—if their goals are matched by a commitment to learning and doing. When this happens, companies can expect a growing and expanding channel of distribution that will take its products and services into the hands of people living in every city, town and hamlet virtually anywhere in the world. There is no other channel of distribution that allows for the inclusion of people in what is actually a massive and unlimited distribution system.

Industry pioneers like Stanley Beveridge and Catherine O’Brien (Stanley Home Products), Alfred C. Fuller (Fuller Brush Products), David McConnell (Avon Products), Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics), Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel (Amway), Art Williams (Primerica), and Mary Crowley (Home Interiors) all understood the power in the previous paragraph. They all understood that the success of the distribution channel—the company—would always be the result of the success of the people within the channel. I still remain fascinated with the words of all those direct selling industry pioneers, because they always discussed in their writings and reflections the importance of the people.

Our cover story shares how some companies keep their field included in the process of building the company. There are many different approaches on how best to create an atmosphere of “inclusion” within the company’s salesforce, and all are proving to be quite effective. Companies use many different labels in reference to their salesforce (consultant, representative, distributor, independent business owner, etc.), but all are independent contractors who are building businesses for themselves, whether part or full time. The courage that these business builders exhibit when learning to become successful within their company of choice should be recognized and honored with a seat at the table—inclusion in the company’s decision-making process. Independent business builders who succeed are the true experts of how to build businesses supported by the company’s business model and compensation plan. When these leaders are included in the decision-making process, company executives gain not only the respect and admiration of the field salesforce, but also insight and information that can never be matched by anyone who has never been in the field.

This month’s cover story is dedicated to ensuring that those who actually build the businesses are always included, in some form or fashion, in corporate decision making. If we are on our way to recovery from the recession, it is because of the people who actually make it happen! It is always about them!

Best wishes for a most enjoyable holiday season…. Until next year!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief