March 06, 2014
The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling
by Beth Douglass Silcox
President and CEO, Princess House
Expectations can be tough to manage and, as women, “we tend to overthink,” Connie Tang says. “Every time you take on a role, you act on your own assumptions.” She remembers coming into Princess House as the first female president and CEO of a 50-year-old company and drawing her own conclusions of what people expected.
“That can be extremely overwhelming and daunting, so setting expectations for yourself and meeting and managing them is key.”
Strong women leaders, no matter the title on the business card, tend to be independent free thinkers, but often they struggle to exhibit the same levels of confidence and independence in the boardroom that they do within their personal lives. Tang says, “I have learned that independence is not a sign that you are not a collaborator. It doesn’t mean you are not a team builder. Independence is a sign of strength. It takes courage and confidence to exercise independence and free thinking when it is necessary.”
Tang considers herself a “diplomatically candid” leader that shares the vision and shows the way without pushing. “You might feel that you could make more progress if you push, but pushing is hard and doesn’t engage. Pushing repels and doesn’t foster ownership and accountability,” she says. Ultimately, she wants everyone to own the success and be able to identify exactly what has been accomplished. To Tang’s way of thinking, this is a very good way for leaders to bring people along.
As a steward of a company and a brand, as well as the thousands of Princess House businesses that independent business owners run, Tang understands her fiduciary responsibilities and the importance of managing both the person and the professional during times of transition, evolution and innovation. “Popularity is not what defines you in terms of your effectiveness or your ability to lead or your productivity,” she says.
Tang’s goals for Princess House in 2014 revolve around consistency. “It’s very hard to stay the course, to not be distracted and stray. But the foundation of the business is about the building blocks of developing a sales field and opening up the opportunity even more,” she says. Princess House set out to expand three years ago by re-instilling a recruiting culture. “That’s the lifeblood of our business!”
It’s with deep appreciation that Tang speaks about the opportunities she’s been afforded on the corporate development track within the direct selling industry, and the ability as a female executive to help such a resilient gender continually craft who they are. A gratified and humbled Tang says, “A very positive transformation goes on emotionally, mentally and physically within our sales field members. They look and stand differently, they talk differently, and they walk into the room differently. That’s what’s brilliant about what we do.”
Tang believes that moving up the executive track changes the look and feel of personal development. She says it becomes more about people development and management mixed with good practical skills. About cultivating future female executives she says, “We have to work more intentionally on the development of skills in managing and influencing people as part of the team, as well as leadership development.”
While Tang encourages female growth, she says Princess House is a gender-neutral company. “I develop mentors here, offer advice, listen to, and advise equally across the board. As the CEO, I feel responsible for the success of both genders.”
Connie Tang on personal development…
“I have a voracious curiosity to know things, to learn things. I stay up on the beauty and personal-care side, as well as nutritional supplement development because that’s my history. I read a lot—international relations and regulatory, omni-channel consumerism, CEO strategy and Harvard Business Review. I’m constantly reading.”
Connie Tang on leadership…
“A leader offers opportunities for individuals to draw their own conclusions from information and helps them weave through the minefield of distractions. Projects come up, and when you look at them piecemeal it might seem like just another thing to do, but leaders help others understand how projects line up toward achieving strategic goals.”
It’s been 51 years since Charles Collis founded Princess House, a direct selling pioneer offering hand-blown, cut-glass crystal and collectibles. Today, the company is a leading provider of quality home and entertainment products, including its line of Princess Heritage Stainless Steel Cookware.
Leveraging its strength and honoring its heritage and traditions, while revitalizing and refreshing its business going forward, is the company’s priority. Last July, Princess House hosted the company’s first bilingual national leader summit for all top U.S. leaders. It was the first national business conference of any kind in over a decade. The event, which was a stepping-stone to an inaugural national convention slated for July 2014, provided networking and sharing opportunities as well as integration of learning and company synergy.
About 25,000 consultants, two-thirds of whom are of Hispanic descent, market Princess House products in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. To better serve them, the company is in the first stages of new back-end technologies and a third-party logistics facility on the West Coast.
Princess House ranked 73rd on the Direct Selling News Global 100 for 2013 with revenue of $148 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