March 06, 2014
The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling
by Beth Douglass Silcox
Jill Blashack Strahan
Founder and CEO, Tastefully Simple
Smiles, laughter, stress and heartache have filled Jill Blashack Strahan’s life over the last 18 years, and as a result, she’s concluded, “There’s no extracting our personal life from our business life. When we’re happy and fulfilled in our personal life, it flows into our work. When we’re miserable and unhappy in our work, it spews into our personal life.”
Strahan’s greatest challenge and also greatest blessing has been personal tragedy. Her two brothers, Mike and Patrick, died at the age of 28, and her husband Steve passed away just eight months after Patrick in 1998. “There were moments when I questioned how I would be able to keep the company alive and raise my son, Zach, who was 5 years old when his father died,” she says.
But fear is a great motivator, and she refused to be consumed by it—instead, she used it as fuel. “During those times, I came to understand that the best way to let go was to think about something else, and I began living my life one minute at a time and living it with more intention,” Strahan says. “You always have a choice. You can get better or get bitter.”
Developed over time and ever evolving as the sum of her experience increases, Strahan’s leadership as CEO is based on three principles, which are the distillation of Tastefully Simple’s core values:
- The Law of Abundancy – fostering peace of mind through win/win attitudes
- The Law of Magic – creating positive energy through celebration and excellence
- The Law of Realness – building trust through humbleness
As Tastefully Simple advances their opportunities and continues to utilize their strengths this year, these principles will drive every decision Strahan makes. Changes in her role at the company allow her to spend more time in the field, where she is working to engage consultants by providing extraordinary service and connecting and binding them more closely to the corporate team. Simplification is key, and the company is working hard to streamline their processes to help consultants grow in their strengths and succeed.
“I believe everyone has the capacity to shine. It just takes the right spark to stir that fire,” she says. Here is where Strahan excels. “My greatest strengths and the aspects of my work that I find most rewarding involve creating and inspiring.” She loves the creativity of brainstorming, finding synergy and building on each other’s thoughts and ideas, then taking the finished work to the people, sharing it and creating relationships that help others shine.
Decades ago, Strahan hired Mike Haynie, a personal coach who taught her she was allowed to shine. The relationship changed her life. “He helped me realize that I did not feel worthy of having a life I loved. He was the catalyst that helped me change my thoughts and, most importantly, my actions,” she says. “I’ve definitely found that hanging out with the ‘motors,’ instead of the ‘anchors’ makes a big difference in how satisfied and productive I am.”
It’s vital to Strahan’s continued development as a woman and leader to retreat alone for a few days each year to consider her future and her past. “I review my goals, paying special attention to my victories and achievements. I think about what I’ve learned and how I can apply those lessons in the future. I take the time to feel, whether it’s a heart full of gratitude or healing tears. I dream big dreams and little ones. I let myself really see my perfect life. I thank God for the gifts and blessings I’ve been given and for all the people who’ve been put in my life. I leave feeling whole and totally filled.”
Jill Blashack Strahan on company culture…
“The culture of any company is driven by our personal life, our personal beliefs and our personal values.”
Jill Blashack Strahan on accountability and networking…
“Since 1994, I’ve been part of an accountability group of women called InterQuest (IQ). Over the years they’ve supported me, challenged me, filled my bucket. In addition, I am eternally grateful for my participation in Vistage (a CEO and executive coaching company), which I consider the best investment you can make in yourself and your company.”
Tastefully Simple, an easy-to-prepare foods direct seller based in Alexandria, Minn., refreshed their brand this year with a new logo, product packaging and a “Simple. Delicious. Fun.™” tagline, while still maintaining their mission to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the rest of their lives.
The company offers a wide range of goods and products from assorted beverages to breads, soups, sides, desserts, dip mixes, spices, oils, and dressings with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. In 2013, Tastefully Simple launched a gluten-free line, which will expand in 2014.
All of Tastefully Simple’s foods and gifts are available through nearly 24,000 independent consultants online or at home tasting parties that encourage “trying before buying.”
Tastefully Simple proudly partners with Share Our Strength®, a national non-profit working to end child hunger in America, and has donated over $1 million to their No Kid Hungry program. The company’s national corporate team has raised over $1 million since 2009 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Tastefully Simple ranked 90th in Direct Selling News’s 2013 Global 100 and reported company sales of $96 million in 2012.
Cover Story | Women’s History | Sheryl Adkins-Green | Claire Bancino | Meredith Berkich | Lori Bush | Dr. Oi-Lin Chen | Doris Christopher | Angela Loehr Chrysler | Kathy Coover | Shelli Gardner | Jessica Herrin | Wendy Lewis | Candace Matthews | Sheri McCoy | Cindy Monroe | Kay Napier | Joani Nielson | Meg Sheetz | Pam Sowder | Jill Blashack Strahan | Connie Tang | Heidi Thompson