March 06, 2014
The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling
by Beth Douglass Silcox
Ten years in the field building a successful direct selling business became a masterful lesson in balance for Meredith Berkich. “It’s all about the time/value proposition,” she says. “Taking all the things that are important in your life and making sure that your priorities remain your priorities.
“Obviously, the more passionate you are and the more committed you are to your career, the easier it is to get caught up in it and really take your eye off what’s incredibly important, which is your family.”
Realizing her susceptibility, Berkich began running decisions through what she calls a “regret filter” years ago and schedules everything, so that short-term decision-making doesn’t mean trading happiness for success. “Am I going to be sorry that I made this decision a year from now, five years from now?” she perpetually asks herself.
Friends and family appointments hold equal weight on Berkich’s calendar. Like their corporate counterparts, she doesn’t miss them, she’s not late and she prioritizes taking the time. “I’m happy in life, and I have a great 30-year marriage and two beautiful children that are off at college, and I think it’s worked out living that regret-free mindset,” she says.
What you see is what you get with Berkich, who is “extremely transparent” and admits being prone to over-communicating. The advantage: No second-guessing or searches for hidden innuendo are necessary. Hers is a servant leadership philosophy based on integrity, listening and respect, which fosters a culture of open communication among everyone at Viridian Energy.
“That dialogue is not always easy. But you’ve got to make sure as a leader that you’re always open to hearing those truths. You’ve got to understand that life is a journey for all of us and it’s all about personal and business development. The moment you think you’ve arrived and you shouldn’t be looking to improve yourself and your business every day, that’s when you stop growing. That’s the beginning of the end in my mind, and I don’t want to ever find myself in that place,” she says.
All people are works in progress, and Berkich believes leaders should be life coaches for the men and the women in their organizations. But some challenges, often self-inflicted, are unique to women and, reflecting on her past, she aims to help Viridian’s young females avoid gender pitfalls.
“I think as women, we have habits we fall into that cause us to not get taken seriously,” Berkich says. She sees women yield to male counterparts of equal stature because men are more aggressive about going after what they want. That, Berkich says, is a coachable moment where she can make an impact on a young woman’s career, especially within Viridian Energy’s male-dominated field.
But beyond the women at Viridian Energy, Berkich aims at a broader collective impact on people and the planet. The company runs “mean and lean,” and in so doing they focus efforts in 2014 on empowering and compensating the sales field for effectively communicating the impact Viridian has on the environment by avoiding billions of pounds of carbon emissions each year. “We really feel connected to our vision. We are passionate about the environment. Viridian Energy is known as the ‘green company,’ and everything we do is about social responsibility,” Berkich says. Raising the level of awareness in the community by connecting with people through stories and videos is a big 2014 focus. Viridian Energy is about balancing three things, she says. “It’s about profit. It’s about people. It’s about planet.”
Meredith Berkich on personal development…
“I still read personal development books once a month—20 pages a day—and listen to CDs and inspirational speakers. I make sure that I’m infusing myself with positive energy from great music, and I avoid junk television and things that show you the negative side of humanity and the uglier side of life.”
Meredith Berkich on being green…
“We like to say that we didn’t inherit this planet from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our descendants. We take that extremely seriously in education and again in promoting global change.”
In just five short years, Viridian Energy has made a name for itself by offering environmentally friendly and affordable energy options. The company’s vision is to change the way Americans buy and consume energy in order to ensure a better and greener future.
The company more than doubled the renewable content in their Everyday Green electricity, created a more responsible natural gas product and launched the Clean & Simple solar program through an affiliation with SolarCity in 2013. Two billion pounds of carbon emissions were avoided last year thanks to hundreds of thousands of Viridian customers.
Initially launching service in Connecticut in 2009, Viridian now offers residential and commercial electricity and/or natural gas service in nine states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia) and the District of Columbia, with plans to expand. Solar is also available in six of Viridian’s current markets. Viridian’s parent, Crius Energy Trust, is publicly traded on the TSX.
Domestic and international giving is a company focus and includes a Residual Fundraiser Program for 501(c) nonprofits, as well as annual reforestation missions to the Brazilian rainforest.
Viridian Energy posted $182 million in revenue in 2012 and ranked 63rd on the Direct Selling News Global 100 for 2013.
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