February 01, 2014
Nerium: Making People Better—Together
by Karyn Reagan and DSN Staff
Photo above: Nerium Brand Partners celebrate during a recent incentive trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in 2013.
Nerium’s rapid growth and success is also activating a commitment and responsibility to serve. The company is still young—two full years in business—and already becoming a significant force in mentoring and changing lives.
What nobler mission could there be than to better the life of another? When the founders of Nerium International were pouring the philosophical foundation of their new company they were influenced by their own life experiences. They had learned that lifting others up often results in one’s own life becoming richer, and they desired to transfer that concept to all aspects of their new company.
It is this philosophy and unwavering belief in the importance of people to the success of the entity that brought the founders together to form, not only a solid company, but also a community of entrepreneurs who would embrace such a culture.
Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO, had written a very popular book—The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success—that laid the groundwork for the principles and values upon which to build the company. Renee Olson, Co-Founder and Corporate Liaison, would take on the responsibility of ensuring that this philosophy would be communicated to the field where relationships could grow and the concept could be cultivated. Dennis Windsor, Co-Founder and President, would integrate these values into the sales plan designed to attract people from every walk of life possible. To complete the team, Amber Olson Rourke, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Culture, would take on the responsibilities associated with the marketing of the products, and most important, the Nerium Culture. The mission of the company became quite simple: Make People Better.
Nerium markets two products focused on anti-aging. The marketing philosophy is built upon simplicity and results. Rourke explained the two-prong strategy: “Simplicity is addressed by offering one product for night use and one product for day use instead of a regimen of products. We share results actually through the excitement of Nerium customers. We knew this product worked and decided that the best way to share its impact is by showing before and after photos.”
Instead of providing pictures from the corporate office produced by a professional photographer, Nerium’s leadership asked users to provide their own photos, taken on their phones. This bold marketing tactic, in conjunction with the company philosophy of Nerium Gives Back, has played a major role in the company’s extraordinary success.
Windsor does not speak in traditional sales language when he discusses how Nerium Brand Partners actually build their businesses. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the value of serving, giving of one’s self, and making a positive impact on someone else’s life, family, neighbors and community. The company becomes a role model for giving and serving by making it possible for all Brand Partners to qualify for free product through performance. This ignites company giving, which in turn allows Brand Partners to “give through sampling” via their interactions with potential customers and prospective Brand Partners. Active customers who are purchasing regularly also have the opportunity to earn free product when they refer other customers who become active users. Rarely do Brand Partners have to invest in product to build their businesses. Their performance can qualify them for free product, which is the foundation of the sampling strategy.
|Amber Olson Rourke|
The company consistently looks for more and more ways to give and demonstrate their commitment to their people. Olson personally created a unique way to communicate this commitment by starting what he believes will evolve into a worldwide movement. The purpose of a newly introduced “Live Happy” project is to share with others the importance of personal responsibility, especially in the area of purposefully living a happy life. Live Happy magazine is completely separate from Nerium marketing material. The magazine is approximately 80 pages and does not contain Nerium branding or advertisement. It is entirely devoted to editorial that supports turning positive psychology into applicable life steps and why happiness should be thought of as a choice rather than a result. Scientific research has proven that happiness is a precursor to success, great relationships, health and more. The magazine is on newsstands and is unique in that it contains nothing of a negative nature. Most unique is that it is given free to all active Brand Partners and all active Nerium customers of Brand Partners.
Olson speaks with enormous pride and unflappable enthusiasm when he speaks about Live Happy. He sponsored The Positive Education Summit recently held at 10 Downing Street in London, which attracted some of the most notable thought leaders, educators and scientists on the subject of happiness. International Day of Happiness, sponsored by the United Nations, is March 20, and Live Happy staff is a participant in the planning.
|As part of its Nerium Ripple movement, the company recently donated $300,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters with the help of employees, Brand Partners and customers.||During the BBBS signature fundraising event, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, people rallied at local bowling centers across the nation raising awareness of the challenges some children face.||A Nerium workshop for young people based on the book SUCCESS for Teens.|
Growing with a Heart
In 2012, Nerium closed its first full year with $100 million in revenues, achieving the Direct Selling News Bravo Award for Growth that year, and it is on track to have another record-breaking year when 2013 numbers are released. “We always knew we would be a great skincare company and a great financial opportunity, but our real goal has always been around making people better,” Olson says.
He reveals that a vast majority of Nerium Brand Partners have never been involved in direct selling. For Nerium’s leadership team this fact presents an opportunity to provide training to individuals hungry to learn the best way to build a Nerium business. “Our training is comprehensive, with resources for every level of knowledge,” Olson says.
As part of the training program there is a Fast Start Kit, online training for both new and experienced Brand Partners, monthly regional training meetings, corporate seasonal events, weekly corporate and field leadership conference calls, and an entire Nerium University in the form of topic-specific webinars. Most unique is the fact that 50 percent of all content is focused on personal development of the individual—and now on Live Happy. In support of this, Renee Olson ensures that the field sales organization experiences a feeling of having joined a family—one that believes in each other and believes a spirit of sharing is critical and essential to mutual success. She is admired by the sales organization and, along with the Brand Partner Relationship Team, devotes a lot of her time to interaction with Nerium Brand Partners and customers.
Nerium also retained an esteemed leadership coach for its leaders. The coaching is not just about business building but most importantly about how to achieve life goals and work-life balance.
Jeff Olson says, “The focus on the importance personal happiness has on one’s life is simply smart business, and there is a predicted impact on both recruitment and retention. The concept of personal development is usually understood, but it often takes time to experience the personal benefit. However, when one understands that they can take control of their personal level of happiness, benefits can be derived in less than 30 days.”
In the midst of record-breaking growth, the leadership of Nerium implemented its plan to give back to the community—a concept dear to the hearts of those at the helm. Olson says: “We know we have a responsibility as a successful company to give back, so we searched for an organization with the same core values and mission as ours. A few key considerations rose to the top of our list, such as a focus on mentorship, dreaming big, the power of relationships and the importance of focusing on one person at a time. All of these concepts are at the core of the relationship-building philosophy we encourage while training Brand Partners. These principles and values that we teach and stress are very important to us.”
The organization that rose to the top was Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). For more than a century BBBS has been partnering children and teens (Littles), ages 6 through 18, with adult volunteers (Bigs) for the purpose of offering positive relationships that have a direct effect on these young lives. According to BBBS’s website, the Big Brothers Association was formed in 1904, and many years later it partnered with Big Sisters International, an organization of Catholic Sisters following the same plan as Big Brothers. Eventually, the partnership formed what is now BBBS. “Their philosophy of helping make people’s lives better perfectly matches what we strive to achieve at Nerium,” Olson says. “Their mission statement is essentially the same as ours.” At BBBS the mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Nerium’s commitment to the national Big Brothers Big Sisters movement earned them the prestigious Big Brothers Big Sisters Community Impact Award in June 2013 for the great energy and generosity the company demonstrated. The award is given annually to a company whose generosity greatly impacts the community of the mentoring organization. Every day Nerium Brand Partners reach out through Big Brothers Big Sisters to offer their support in hometowns across the United States. Olson explains that most of the children in the BBBS program come from single-parent or low-income households or from families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military. Once they are paired with an adult mentor, or Big, that relationship is for their entire childhood. The results have been proven to be extremely positive. A national research study of BBBS conducted by Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, found that after spending 18 months with Bigs, children were:
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip a class
- 33% less likely to hit someone
“[Big Brothers Big Sisters’] philosophy of helping make people’s lives better perfectly matches what we strive to achieve at Nerium. Their mission statement is essentially the same as ours.”
The Nerium Effect
Hundreds of Brand Partners have become Bigs, according to Nerium. Big candidates are vetted by BBBS and then selected based on completion of the application process. “Brand Partners are excited to be involved with an organization that makes such a positive impact on individuals and communities. It’s what we call the Nerium Ripple in action,” Rourke says. The Nerium Ripple was introduced at the 2013 annual conference as Brand Partners were encouraged to individually take responsibility and collectively change the world. At its core, the movement strives to create positive ripples in everyday life. She continues, “Partnering with BBBS is a very real way that we encourage Brand Partners and Nerium employees to create ripples in their communities. If one positive act can create a ripple effect that can change a life, imagine the impact that hundreds and thousands of positive actions can make on future generations.”
In addition to becoming Bigs to the BBBS Littles, Nerium employees and Brand Partners raise funds throughout the year to donate to the organization. Fundraisers are held at local, regional and national events. “Our partners have raised over $400,000 in just one year,” Rourke says. “Over $100,000 of that amount was raised at the BBBS signature fundraising event, Bowl for Kids’ Sake.” Half a million people rally at local bowling centers across the nation raising awareness of the challenges some children face.
“From the very first day that we announced Nerium’s support of BBBS, the Brand Partners have embraced the cause,” Rourke says. “They easily recognize the value of changing lives for the better.” In addition to becoming Bigs and participating in corporately sponsored fundraisers, the Brand Partners have creatively raised funds on their own and truly taken ownership of the cause. “Giving to this cause is part of our corporate culture. That’s very exciting because every $1,000 raised basically supports another Big and Little match,” she says.
Each Nerium starter kit contains information about BBBS and prepares new Brand Partners for fundraisers included at regional and corporate training events under the direction of BBBS Vice President of Corporate Sponsorship Lowell Perry. “It is very exciting when two organizations committed to personal enrichment lock arms around a common cause,” Perry says. BBBS provides a vehicle for Nerium Brand Partners to make a huge “ripple” that will support the mentorship children need regardless of current socioeconomic status or family situation. BBBS’s CEO Charles Pierson also took the opportunity to comment on Nerium’s impact. He says, “Nerium’s support and creativity are transforming how we carry out the service to our youth in communities around this country.”
Nerium’s workshops, based on the book SUCCESS for Teens, teach children how to get where they want to go in life, how to bolster their own self-esteem and how to develop the kind of leadership skills that will help them recognize opportunities and meet their goals.
|Kids learn about self-esteem, life goals and leadership during a Nerium workshop.
Nerium International also brings personal development to young people. Based on the book SUCCESS for Teens, workshops are conducted in conjunction with all major events. Brand Partners bring their children along with their friends. “It’s a very special workshop because it shows kids that every day you can get 1 percent better,” says Victor Palomares, a high school literature teacher who leads the workshops. The workshops teach children how to get where they want to go in life, how to bolster their own self-esteem and how to develop the kind of leadership skills that will help them recognize opportunities and meet their goals.
Return on Giving
Nerium International falls into the new company category when looking at years in business. However, the company’s impact on lives appears to measure beyond its chronological age. The company commitment to give goes beyond dollars and cents and represents another example of why the culture of a direct selling company can have such a positive impact on lives.
So where does a company that has made such an impact go from here? Nerium’s plans for the future include creating a global presence, continuing to be a major corporate sponsor and provider of Bigs in support of BBBS, and growing their business by adhering to the three words of the mission statement: Make People Better.