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October 02, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, October 2011

John FlemingI must admit, I became so involved in the process of bringing together many good topics for the October issue that I had a hard time determining how I would approach this month’s “From the Publisher.” At one moment, I actually thought about forgoing a publisher’s note—for only the second time in five years—but instead took an approach of simply highlighting the richness of the subjects we included in this month’s issue.

Our October cover design—by Karla Garcia our graphic artist—tells you in a few words what our Cover Story is all about. This month is about the Pink Economy and the role women play in an industry that is, perhaps, more important than it has ever been. As I say the previous words, I can distinctly remember having said them on many other occasions over my career in this industry. Having worked, in the past, for a company that prides itself—as many others do—on being a company for women in particular, I have grown to appreciate the value of women, not only in direct selling terms but also in terms of economic impact. Direct selling is a Pink Economy but that does not mean there is not room for good men. In fact, it can easily be argued: The current state of the economy and the loss of so many jobs, amongst men in particular, have driven and attracted more men to direct selling than in recent years. This is a very good phenomenon as men are now able to see what women saw many years ago. … There is no better way to control one’s time, effort and reward than by working in direct selling!

Women gave this industry—and way of selling and servicing customers—credibility when men were often accused of being salesmen versus service providers of the products or services they represented. Women brought to our industry the care and concern for consumers that was missing when reflecting historically on how products and services were made available to the public. Women actually engaged in direct selling opportunities before they were allowed to vote in this country.

The Direct Selling Association provides stats every year on the make-up of the direct selling industry and, for as long as I can remember, women have composed better than 85 percent of all direct selling participants. Some of my colleagues will be quick to point out companies that use some of the newer identification labels (which still fall within the context of direct selling) are attracting more men than women. If this is indeed true, the entire industry should be shouting with joy because men are finally getting it! One might also argue that men do not succeed alone within the direct selling industry and … behind every good man that has made the decision to join a direct selling company, there is usually a woman who endorsed and encouraged the decision. And this is where I will close the conversation.

The economic impact of women on the direct selling industry and the impact on the world today are indisputable! In a world where equal rights have often been challenged, how proud we can be as an industry for having been a pathway for the personal development of women. Those that have started with virtually nothing and built businesses to achievement levels of full-time or part-time income and even wealth accumulation and riches, saw more than the opportunity to sell and service consumers. I would be one to argue that the success of women in direct selling may have given women overall the confidence needed to shatter the glass ceilings of corporate America. Mary Kay Ash certainly had an impact on the confidence of women everywhere as did the success of other women who pioneered the direct selling industry.

Our articles on the Pink Economy reveal that women do, in fact, influence over 85 percent of all decisions made relative to purchasing power and therefore are a continuing factor in world economies. I know you will enjoy the articles.

We have also made another decision that is a first for Direct Selling News. We are not doing Company Spotlight in this issue. We are devoting all of the editorial space typically allocated to Company Spotlight to the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF). Over many years, I have observed the work of DSEF from the personal perspective of being a meeting attendee as well as a member of its Board of Directors, and I cannot say enough about the importance of the foundation’s work. While the DSA strives to protect our industry from unfair legislation and supports the industry in so many ways, DSEF supports the industry through education and public service, which serves to change public perceptions. This has everything to do with whether or not we have a favorable marketplace for direct selling today and well into our future.

DSEF is a foundation formed out of the brilliance of DSA company executives many years ago. We hope you find our story about how DSEF supports your objectives, as individual companies and individual executives for the betterment of a global direct selling community, to be informative and worth your further inquiry, time and investment. Our future is our most precious asset!

Until next month … enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief