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June 01, 2012

U.S. News

VideoPlus University and SUCCESS University: Prosperity Is Back!

by Jenna Lang

Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.

The industry’s most unique events, VideoPlus University and SUCCESS University, attracted more than 500 executives to 2012 Right Ideas Right Now, two full days of sharing and learning in downtown Dallas April 16-17. The event—this is the 10th year for VPU and the second year for SU—was offered to executives at no charge and provided a new format, with 18-minute “power talks” presented by more than 28 speakers. Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS, served as emcee for the events, which were supported by electronic polling to get immediate feedback on each speaker as well as on issues the audience thought important. In one poll, 49 percent of the audience thought image was still one of the most important issues in the industry. The industry also celebrated the Direct Selling News Global 100 with an Awards Ceremony and dinner during the evening of the first day.

Stuart Johnson, CEO of VideoPlus and SUCCESS, welcomes executives to the event.
Stuart Johnson, CEO of VideoPlus and SUCCESS, welcomes executives to the event.

Stuart Johnson set the tone of optimism that was evident throughout the two days. As CEO of VideoPlus and SUCCESS his observation of the industry has been from a unique vantage point of having worked with many companies over a 25-year span. “I believe we’re a leading indicator for the economy,” he said. “The cloud of hopelessness has lifted. People are getting their hope and confidence back. And people are beginning to hope again in starting their own businesses. [I believe now] we’re a leading indicator, and that we’re leading this recovery.”

The first quarter results many companies posted would certainly support that statement. Johnson also pointed out that while traditional businesses are scrambling to master the “social” trend that is all the rage, they are simply doing what direct sellers have been doing all along. “This industry is the original social business model; we were social before social was cool”—connecting people, building relationships and promoting both products and hope through personal communication.

Speaker after speaker representing companies that are experiencing the best of times shared their stories and their insights with attendees. These included Organo Gold’s Vice President of Sales Holton Buggs, Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, USANA CEO David Wentz, and Rob Snyder, the Co-Founder of Stream Energy (parent company of Ignite), who said it was the relationships of representatives with customers, coupled with the savings those customers find, that helped build Ignite’s success in five states to over $900 million.

SUCCESS University was a day full of truly uplifting messages. Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS magazine, opened the SUCCESS University portion of the conference with a statistic that put personal development in perspective.

“In the direct selling industry, there is an attrition rate of 70-80 percent. Smallpox’s mortality rate was only 20-60 percent.”

Although humorous, he made the point that personal development is the antidote to the negative viewpoints and input distributors face every day.

Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS.
Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS.
Gloria Mayfield Banks, National Sales Director for Mary Kay.
Gloria Mayfield Banks, National Sales Director for Mary Kay.
Mark Pentecost, CEO of It Works! Global.
Mark Pentecost, CEO of It Works! Global.

The industry, he asserted, is different from most others because it requires self-confidence. When people don’t buy a home or a car, it’s clearly because it wasn’t right for them. But, he continued, when the product is an opportunity, the rejection is more personal. And the personal rejection means that 70-80 percent of people will quit before they start.

Solutions to the above-mentioned challenge were shared by the speakers of the day. These included Jeff Olson, CEO of Nerium and author of The Slight Edge; Angela Chrysler, President and CEO of Team National; one of the event’s most enthusiastic speakers, Magnus Brännström, President and CEO of Luxembourg’s Oriflame; Dr. Martin Seligman, President of the American Psychological Association and considered the father of Positive Psychology; Heidi Thompson, President of Scentsy; and Denis Waitley, one of the pillars of the personal-development community, who took the SUCCESS University stage to a standing ovation.

One speaker on the program represented a perspective from the field sales organization. Quite simply Gloria Mayfield Banks, Mary Kay National Sales Director “Extraordinaire,” rocked the house! Banks was the reminder to all of what every direct selling company does: grow people! People from all walks of life truly have an opportunity to live and work in accordance to their values and time and grow to become as successful as their minds allow. Banks served to represent an entire industry in a marvelous manner for all the executives who attended.

Gloria Mayfield Banks, National Sales Director for Mary Kay, was the reminder to all of what every direct selling company does: grow people!

To summarize the importance and value of VPU and SU, Mark Pentecost, CEO of It Works! Global, served as an example of what the event has become to industry leaders who attend. He had received an invitation to VideoPlus University for years. Finally, in 2011, he told Kerri Scarbrough of Video Plus, “I don’t know if we can afford to go.” He was shocked to learn that the ticket price to hear specific how-tos and how-not-tos from this gathering of the industry’s top corporate leaders was absolutely free.

Deciding that the caliber of the speakers—and the fact that they were going to be sharing information he was unlikely to hear anywhere else—was worth the investment of a plane ticket and hotel room, Pentecost agreed to attend.

As he sat among his peers at the 2011 VideoPlus University, his company’s revenue was right at $1.8 million a month, with a goal of $3 million for the upcoming month.

Returning home reinvigorated and inspired by the speakers, he and his team determined that they wouldn’t wait for chance; they would choose success. They asked themselves, “What can we do to be bold and take a stance?” Then they became unified on a single vision and made a plan to reach it. Next, they branded the plan, “2012 One Team. One Mission: $100 Million.” They launched that plan in January 2012.

A year after being inspired by his first VPU conference, and just three months into the resulting plan, the company is up from $1.8 to $15 million a month.

Pentecost’s top tips on creating a plan for success include:

  • Be an innovator, willing to take risks.
  • Don’t just be better, be different.
  • Let tools tell your story.
  • Make a plan.
  • Brand your plan.
  • Stay the course.

And of course, attend VPU: The ticket isn’t just free, it’s priceless.