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January 01, 2010

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, January 2010

John FlemingHappy New Year! As we kick off 2010, that expression may very well be shared with more heartfelt reflection, optimism, hope and enthusiasm than in any new year in recent history. I am personally pleased to be looking toward the upcoming 12 months and to all the opportunity that’s activated when we wipe the slate clean and begin to paint the masterpiece of another new year!

I would like to start this column this year with a thank-you. We at Direct Selling News are grateful to you for providing us with the stories that kept all concerned informed. The stories you shared also kept our readers believing that even in the most challenging of times, our industry will prevail—that the representatives, consultants and distributors will persevere and that growth is still possible.

Our January issue always provides you with a snapshot of the highlights of the previous 12 months. We were inspired as we began to put together the issue: Executive after executive responded with reflections on the challenges of the past year, but immediately shifted to an outlook for growth and prosperity for 2010 and beyond. Direct Selling Association President and CEO Neil Offen predicts an overall recovery by the third quarter, and I personally think we will witness many companies getting off to a good start immediately. I think you will enjoy the thoughts captured in this issue’s cover story.

I was also anxious to review this month’s “Company Spotlight”—Nu Skin. Nancy Laichas, Managing Editor, covered their recent convention and came back with an exciting report. We here at Direct Selling News were excited about it, because Nu Skin is one of our Billion-Dollar Club members. The company introduced some innovative products and shared some lofty goals with its salesforce. There was no recessionary attitude going on at the Nu Skin convention! We are looking forward to telling the stories you will create this year, not only in the United States but also around the world. Our outstanding Direct Selling News Europe (DSNE) team just celebrated its second successful year and looks forward to covering industry news and stories throughout Europe. DSNE now touches more than 2,000 industry executives in 43 countries. By the end of the first quarter, we will be actively covering Asia-Pacific via our global Web site, and we plan to add coverage of other regions throughout 2010.

The Direct Selling News team is also looking forward to our next big venture as a publication: continuing to build the research capacity to recognize the business results that allow all our readers and industry executives, as well as those outside to the industry, to stay abreast of the companies and best practices associated with the direct selling channel of distribution. Last year we published, for the first time ever, the Billion-Dollar Club. I must admit, we often felt the project to be so large and so risky that we frequently debated whether we could accomplish it credibly. We stayed the course and published our list in February 2009.

We learned a lot from our research on the Billion-Dollar Club and gained confidence in our ability to serve the industry with a list of companies that had surpassed the billion-dollar mark. We were amazed at the positive feedback we received; many comments indicated that the information was not really known, nor did many know so many companies had hit or surpassed the billion-dollar mark. With such confidence now building in terms of our capabilities, we decided to take on the $100 Million Club! If the Billion-Dollar Club had seemed overwhelming, the $100 Million Club project almost killed us! The research was more time-consuming than estimated, and the risk so much greater. We published our list in September 2009, and all of you helped us to get it as accurate as possible. We were not perfect, nor will we ever be, but the response from industry executives and those outside the industry, was, again, very positive! We were given corrections and suggestions, and the list remains one of the most popular features on our Web site.

Both stories fueled our enthusiasm for our work to support you during much of what was a very challenging 2009. And we’re not going to stop setting lofty goals and starting lofty projects as we begin 2010: We’re initiating another “first”—the DSN 100! Just as Fortune magazine has served the business community for many years through its listing of the top corporations in America, we will take on the task and the risk associated with identifying the DSN 100 direct selling companies. We will obviously need your help.

We hope that you will collaborate with us as we take on this project to serve the industry by recognizing those companies that lead and pave the way! Direct selling companies, perhaps more so than ever, serve all those who pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Sometimes that may be to simply earn the needed dollars to make it through the month, but it often becomes a life-changing experience. For these reasons, we look forward to continuing to serve all of you who make this industry possible!

Until next month! Enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief