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January 01, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, January 2011


John FlemingHappy New Year! It is always exhilarating to close a year and start anew. For those who celebrated closing 2010 with growth and positive momentum, we salute you! You are an inspiration for all! To all of you who are part of the direct selling way of doing business, we know that there are more than 16 million independent business owners, and millions of prospective business owners, who will be looking to you and your companies as their vehicles for renewal in 2011.

The stories we wrote this past year will certainly be remembered because they reflected a changing and evolving way of serving consumers and supporting independent contractors. We experienced what has most assuredly been one of the most challenging economic climates of a lifetime. Direct sellers were challenged—and will continue to be challenged—to respond to a very different marketplace. Both the consumer and the prospective distributor are very carefully evaluating the value proposition of our industry. Looking forward, we anticipate bringing you some of the perspectives we are gathering about changes that are taking place, which can fuel growth or be potential barriers to it.

Coming out of the DSA’s Be Connected Conference last month in Las Vegas (attended by approximately 400), one had the feeling that optimism is very high among company leaders for what lies ahead. I thought the content of the conference delivered very valuable information and reminded me of how important it is to attend such events. The networking was superb!

One of the main keynote speakers at the Be Connected Conference, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, delivered a most compelling presentation that told the story of Zappos and its success, which is clearly a result of the company’s focus on providing both customers and employees with an extraordinary value proposition. The research we at DSN have initiated to collect perspectives on what is fueling growth and what behaviors will continue to do so in the future is also revealing the importance of how companies serve and support both of their clientele—customers and distributors. Tony’s presentation encouraged us to complete our work and share our findings, which we will do later in the year.

All of us recognize that technology and its use have certainly become a game changer; however, we may be experiencing other game changers as well (e.g., consumer behaviors, perceptions of the direct selling business model and new e-commerce players who emulate direct selling in much of their behavior without an independent salesforce). These are certainly interesting times, and the pace of change is far greater than any we have experienced before. It all makes for good stories as well as good reporting, and we look forward to bringing you both.

The process of identifying the DSN Global 100 companies for 2010 has now started. This will be our second year of conducting the research and ranking the top 100 companies in the industry globally. Many academics, private equity investors and key players in direct selling companies all agreed that the ranking (never conducted prior to last year) was essential and a great step toward helping all interested entities better understand the magnitude and breadth of the companies’ impacts on lives around the globe. We encourage you to have the appropriate person within your company email pr@ directsellingnews.com and submit your 2010 data instead of waiting for our writers and researchers to make contact.

The DSN Global 100 banquet on April 27, 2011, in Dallas, will reflect information received by April 8. The final DSN Global 100 ranking for 2010 will be published in the June issue of Direct Selling News.
While we celebrated the ups and downs of our industry, we also take time to remember Joan Horner, an industry icon, who passed on December 5. Joan will be long remembered for all the contributions she and her husband/partner Andy Horner made in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over the 25 years they built Premier Designs into a global enterprise. The couple was inducted into the DSA Hall of Fame in 2009, making them the first couple to receive such an honor. The industry will miss her.

Moving into another year, we have many reasons for our high level of optimism. Most important, as we continue to write your stories this year, we always take pride in writing about the decision makers who help all kinds of people enjoy a better quality of life. 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