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December 01, 2015

Top Desk

Memo to a CEO: Listen and Learn, Then Lead

by Kay Napier

Click here to order the December 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


It has been an amazing six years leading what is easily one of the most incredible companies and cultures I have seen in my career: Arbonne. Perhaps I am most proud that we have been able to take the culture from the field and make it seamless with our internal employee culture through an initiative called “Pure Transformation.” This platform encourages our employees to lead active, holistic lives, striving for balance for themselves and their families—and in partnership with our field.

The hard work of coming on board from outside the industry, reinforcing key areas of the business and positioning the company for accelerated growth required a great deal of time and effort during the first few years as CEO. In time, we made great strides, creating our own Arbonne Charitable Foundation, launching innovative new product lines, and growing both sales and sponsoring. By 2014, we were ready to enter our first market in seven years, with the opening of Arbonne Poland. In fact, Arbonne’s growth has exceeded the industry trend, where the statistics are already impressive and positive.

Together with our incredible Arbonne salesforce leaders and internal executive team, we have focused on excellence in execution in every area of the business. This year, Arbonne proudly celebrated its 35th anniversary and we are working toward opening our first country in Asia, with the launch of Arbonne Taiwan, anticipated in 2016.


I always say that our Arbonne Independent Consultants are the smartest people in the room because it is true. They understand the brand, the sales model and the Arbonne culture as well as its incredible potential.


From my first days at Arbonne in 2009, I referred to our sales leaders as the “secret sauce.” I always say that our Arbonne Independent Consultants are the smartest people in the room because it is true. They understand the brand, the sales model and the Arbonne culture as well as its incredible potential. Partnering with them, I learned what has contributed to our positive culture and our longevity: Listen and learn, then lead. Don’t focus on the money—rather focus on improving our Arbonne community through helping others regardless of financial benefit to oneself. This philosophy and partnership helped us grow the existing business and transform our Arbonne community, and it is now shaping a clear and compelling vision for the next 35 years of success.

I genuinely believe there has never been a better time for direct sales. The clear difference in how the new generation of millennials approaches work-life balance is one very positive indicator of the future. Many were raised by working women like myself, and they see the tradeoffs. Yet they are educated, worldly, and want to be part of a culture of self-improvement. Direct selling offers all of those benefits and ultimately greater life balance.


Kay NapierKay Napier is CEO of Arbonne International.