The September 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!

Cover Story

Keys to Success part 1: Customer Acquisition

by Andrea Tortora

Of all the misinformation about direct selling, perhaps the most often repeated—even by those who work most closely in the field—is the description of direct selling as an industry. Read more…

Celebrating success is a hallmark of direct selling, and we have two opportunities for you to recognize the great work being done by your corporate teams. Read more…

Like the pink Cadillacs it awards to top sellers, today’s Mary Kay retains a classic feel while embracing innovative thinking and design. Read more…

When husband and wife team Mark and Tracy Jarvis set out to launch their own company, they had listened to numerous suggestions for the name until “zurvita” was proposed and immediately touched and won them over. Read more…

In the year 1855, Reverend J.R. Graves started a mail order company selling books, religious tracts and Bibles. Read more…

It’s another year and you’re gearing up for your convention. Read more…

Over the past decade, rapid developments in technology have fundamentally changed how direct selling organizations operate. Read more…

The speculation started immediately. As soon as the news—Herbalife Settles with FTC—began popping up on mobile alerts and news outlets early Friday morning, July 15, observers inside and outside the direct selling channel began scrambling to understand the bigger picture. Read more…

The U.S. Direct Selling Association held its Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 5 to 7, bringing together direct selling company executives, academics, suppliers and global direct selling leaders for collaboration and conversation about the trends shaping the channel. Read more…

The direct selling industry is at a critical juncture in its long history. Read more…

The role of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) has never been more clear: to serve as a “listening post,” a place to collect, analyze and address the aspirations and concerns of the direct selling channel. Read more…

For more great stories, please click on our subscription button and subscribe to DSN


The May 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!!

The May 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!!

Cover Story

Direct Selling: Our Unique Position in the YouEconomy

by Courtney Roush

A seismic shift is occurring right now in the American workplace. This shift is happening; there is no stopping it, and the impacts are not yet fully imaginable. Read more…

Publisher’s Note

Let’s Celebrate!

by Lauren Lawley Head

We’re wrapping up a month of celebrations at Direct Selling News, first with the April 1 publication recognizing our inaugural class of Best Places to Work in Direct Selling honorees and then just a few days later the seventh annual Global 100 Celebration. Read more…

The 17th annual SUCCESS Partners University, held at the Dallas Omni Hotel April 7-8, once again provided a platform from which C-level executives and guest speakers shared insights and information with the more than 600 registered guests. Read more…

It’s an oft-told sidebar in the retelling of the Scentsy story: How the multimillion-dollar international party plan company began in a 40-foot metal shipping container on a sheep farm in Meridian, Idaho. Read more…

A wonder kid of sorts that exploded onto the direct selling scene in 2009, LifeVantage has seen its fair share of exponential growth and powerhouse performance of its products. Read more…

On Jan. 5, Gary Young stood amidst the extreme devastation in Nepal, brought about by a massive earthquake a little over nine months earlier. Read more…

Every salesforce has its traditions, whether it’s a quick ritual to gear up for the week or a unique way of approaching follow-up calls.Read more…

If you ask 100 people “What is big data?” you would likely get 100 different answers. Read more…

I love the University of Georgia football team. I’m a big Bulldogs’ fan and go to every game I can. Like a lot of sports fans, I have some peculiar habits in relation to my team. Read more…

John Addison, now President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group and Leadership Editor for SUCCESS magazine, engages and inspires audiences with his relatable messages. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc., a company he joined more than 35 years ago. DSN Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauren Lawley Head had an opportunity to sit down with him this month to talk about his vision and the future of direct selling. Read more…

The direct selling industry today is at a critical juncture. Read more…

The theme for DSA’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix this year is Reimagine. I’ll provide some context. Read more…

Rodan + Fields: A Prescription for Change

by Karyn Reagan

Left: Student participants in buildOn, an inner-city education and service program, speak during a “Jobstacle Course” led by employees at Rodan + Fields’ headquarters.

Right: BuildOn students from an Oakland, California, high school were treated to a day of learning with workshops on resume writing as well as mock interviews to help them prep for job opportunities.

Click here to order the March 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

At Rodan + Fields, transformation is not just skin deep as they support programs helping educate underprivileged youth.

Company Profile

Founded: 2008
Headquarters: San Francisco
Executives: President and CEO Lori Bush; Co-Founder and Chairman Amnon Rodan
Products: Cosmetics and personal care

Amnon RodanAmnon Rodan
Lori BushLori Bush

While at Stanford University Medical Center in the early 1980s, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields forged a friendship for the same reasons most girls do, but they were also drawn to each other for a practical reason—there just weren’t too many women in the program. After graduation, they each started their own thriving dermatology practices, but the friendship proved lasting and together they have become recognized experts in their field, co-authored two books, and created products and companies that are now household names. “Their goal is to create products that bring the dermatological experience out of medical practice and into the hands of consumers,” says Amnon Rodan, Co-Founder and Chairman of Rodan + Fields as well as Katie’s husband.

The women’s first experience with selling products was the creation of the highly successful acne treatment product, Proactiv Solution™. Since that time, the anti-aging skincare market has grown exponentially, and Katie and Kathy researched and developed a line of products they now market through their company, Rodan + Fields. “In 2002, we created the brand and started selling the skincare line through high-end department stores,” says Rodan. “Within six months, our products caught the eye of Estée Lauder, who offered to purchase our company, so we sold it to them. But in 2007 we felt it was time to buy it back and offer the products through a different channel. Our vision was so much bigger than what traditional retail could offer.”

After studying the various marketing methods available that best served the skincare industry, the distribution channel that rose to the top was direct selling. “We bought the company back in 2007, reopened it in 2008 as a direct selling company, and it has been the best decision we’ve ever made,” says Rodan. “In our first year we did $3 million in business, and now, just six years later, we finished 2014 with $329 million in sales and 75,000 Consultants.” Rodan + Fields also has accumulated five DSA awards since 2008, including the ETHOS award for product innovation in 2014.

Seventy-five high school students from Oakland, California, affiliated with buildOn, took part in Rodan + Fields’ Jobstacle Course, a day of learning their way through the obstacle of job hunting.

A Better Way

Rodan explains that the main reason they chose direct selling was because it was, in their opinion, the best … Click to see the full story at Direct Selling News.




In Memoriam: A Tribute to Harland Stonecipher

by Barbara Seale

The direct selling industry lost an icon on Nov. 10 with the death of Harland Stonecipher, who founded one of the industry’s most unique companies, LegalShield. Stonecipher was 76 years old.

The concept for Stonecipher’s business brainchild was inspired by difficult circumstances. In 1969 he was involved in a head-on auto collision. Though the accident was not his fault, he was sued. The experience cost him thousands of dollars in legal fees and shook his idealistic beliefs about justice. But it caused the teacher-turned-life-insurance-salesman to begin thinking about how others could be protected from the nightmare he endured.

By 1972 he had created LegalShield’s predecessor company, which incorporated as Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. in 1976. Six years later Stonecipher’s old friend John Hail introduced him to the concept of marketing his legal services memberships through network marketing. Stonecipher served as CEO from the company’s inception until 2010, when he relinquished that title, but he continued to be active as Chairman of the Board and Founder. In 2011 MidOcean Partners, a private equity firm, acquired Pre-Paid Legal for $650 million and renamed the company LegalShield.

Today the company provides legal services to some 1.4 million families covering 3.7 million people across North America, and more than 34,000 companies offer the LegalShield plan to their employees as a voluntary benefit. The company has dedicated law firms in 49 states and four provinces in Canada.

LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell, who joined the company in mid-2014, reached out to Stonecipher soon after joining the company. He found that Stonecipher was kind, professional, and generous with his time and advice.

“One of my principles is that you need to find the truth within every business, and that truth resides in its people. I couldn’t imagine speaking to anyone who knew more about this business than Harland Stonecipher and his wife, Shirley,” Bell says. “I wanted to show my respect because he was the company’s founder, but meeting them was a surprise and delight. I only got to spend four months with him, but I treasured the time. He spoke to me like a father would. I valued his counsel about our team in Ada [Oklahoma] as well as our field leadership. He talked about the challenges, what to avoid, and how to motivate a volunteer army. He still spoke with such conviction and passion about free enterprise and access to the justice system. It will stay with me forever.”

Stonecipher’s passion for his business and his conviction that it could change lives may have been at least part of the reason he was so highly regarded. Few people called him by his first name. To most, he was Mr. Stonecipher—it was a term of respect.

John Long, LegalShield’s Vice President of Marketing Operations and spokesperson for the Stonecipher family, knew the company founder for decades. He first encountered Stonecipher in 1987 at their shared alma mater, East Central University in Oklahoma. Long was in the ’87 graduating class, and Stonecipher was being named the University’s Distinguished Alumnus and commencement speaker. Long then worked at Pre-Paid Legal for a short time, left to return to school, and then rejoined Pre-Paid Legal in 1999, working directly for Stonecipher.

“Very few people called him Harland. He was Mr. Stonecipher. I never heard him instruct anyone to call him mister. He just drew that respect everywhere, even from his peer CEOs at other companies.”
—John Long, Vice President of Marketing Operations, LegalShield

“I had a glossy title, but the more heartfelt title would have been Harland’s Assistant,” Long recalls. “I did the things he didn’t have time to do so that he could be in front of the salesforce, traveling and motivating and speaking to them all over North America.” Long confesses, though, that he still feels a little uncomfortable using the first name. “Very few people called him Harland. He was Mr. Stonecipher. I never heard him instruct anyone to call him mister. He just drew that respect everywhere, even from his peer CEOs at other companies.”

He adds, “One of the first things Jeff did was ask to meet with Mr. Stonecipher and Shirley. That resonated with people around the country. I knew it would help Jeff, but I also knew it would help Harland and Shirley. In the last few weeks of his life he had gone back to referencing this company and himself as ‘we’—not that he was ever excluded. I know how important it was to him.”

Stonecipher was passionate about his business for 40 years, and in 2002 he was recognized by Ernst & Young as their Southwest Master Entrepreneur of the Year. He also became a sought-after speaker and addressed a variety of businesses and organizations, including several attorney general associations. He was just as passionate about his community. He and his wife used their wealth and influence to improve the community in numerous ways. His alma mater, ECU, recognized him as Distinguished Alumnus in 1987. He and Shirley later bestowed a gift to the university, which led to the naming of the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, Stonecipher was appointed to three consecutive terms as a Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Two other projects were especially dear to him. Both show his inclination to find ways to help others after tragedy strikes, as he did when he founded Pre-Paid Legal. The first was in 1999 when … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.

Mannatech: Social Entrepreneurship: Helping People Help the World

by Barbara Seale

Click here to order the November 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 1993
Headquarters: Coppell, Texas
Executives: CEO and Chief Science Officer Robert Sinnott
Products: Naturally sourced nutritional supplements and skin care

Robert Sinnott

Robert Sinnott

For a company based on the science of nutrition, Mannatech’s decision to help improve the health of malnourished children around the world through its charitable programs just made sense.

The effort started with Mannatech Founder Sam Caster and his wife, Linda. They were in the process of expanding their personal philanthropic activities as they adopted five children from all over the world. During that time they became involved in supporting a Romanian orphanage. That’s when they learned that in that single organization, 35 to 40 of its children died every year from malnutrition. Their hearts broke, but Caster knew exactly what to do. Mannatech donated a year’s supply of a special blend of its Real Food Technology solutions for every child in the orphanage. At the end of the year the results were astounding. Not one child had died. All were healthy. Mannatech executives made the only possible decision. Get their nutritional powerhouse products, such as PhytoBlend™ powder, into the mouths of as many malnourished children as possible.

Since Mannatech was founded in late 1993 it has been actively involved in children’s philanthropic efforts, and as the company and its product line have matured, Mannatech has aligned its charitable outreach with one of its corporate strengths, the real-food technology at the core of its products. In 1999, the Casters opened MannaRelief, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing life-giving nutrients to children in need around the world. MannaRelief is a separate entity from Mannatech but partners with the company to purchase, donate and deliver Mannatech invention PhytoBlend, a highly concentrated powder of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can be added to any food. The independent associates and employees of Mannatech and MannaRelief wholeheartedly supported the cause for the first 10 years, and with the help of charitable donations, were able to feed thousands of children in more than 80 countries.

By 2013 the process had allowed Mannatech to donate more than 16 million servings of PhytoBlend powder during that year. Since Mannatech began donating to nutritional feeding programs 11 years ago it has distributed more than 80 million servings of PhytoBlend to 252,468 malnourished children around the globe. As impressive as those numbers are, Mannatech executives know they’re just a dent in the staggering numbers of undernourished children. Consider this: According to the World Health Organization, every year some 5 million children die from malnutrition—one child every six seconds.

Through social entrepreneurship, a donation to nutritional feeding programs is made for each and every sale of a Mannatech product.

Reflecting this statistic, Mannatech’s mission to fight global malnutrition became expressed most recently in Mission 5 MillionSM, or M5M, a movement to nourish 5 million malnourished children through the sales of Mannatech products to 5 million people. Every time a Mannatech product is purchased on automatic order, a donation is made to MannaRelief, which distributes PhytoBlend powder to orphanages and relief organizations all over the world.

The effort isn’t simply a philanthropic sidebar for Mannatech. It’s at the company’s very foundation. Injecting its direct selling model with a big dose of social entrepreneurship made both the company and its philanthropy more robust.


Mannatech Inc. headquarters in Coppell, Texas

Social Entrepreneurship, Direct Selling Style

It would be easy to think that social entrepreneurship was just one more moniker adopted by a direct selling company. After all, the industry describes itself in a variety of ways: social sellers, social marketers, direct marketers, just to name three. All the names refer to the one-to-one or—with the advent of social media—one-to-many interactions that result in the sale of merchandise by a distributor to his or her warm market.

But because direct selling companies are also known for their philanthropy, combining that generosity with merchandise sales by an army of enthusiastic and mission-committed direct selling distributors gets you social entrepreneurship, direct selling style.

“Mannatech’s philanthropy through social entrepreneurship is part of our core values,” explains CEO and Chief Science Officer Robert Sinnott. “Our company was built around …” Read the rest of the article on Direct Selling News


USANA: Delivering a Message of Health and Hope

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the September 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 1992
Headquarters: Salt Lake City
Executives: Dr. Myron Wentz, Founder and Chairman; David Wentz, CEO
Products: nutrition, diet and energy, and personal care

Dr. Myron WentzDr. Myron Wentz
David WentzDavid Wentz

Can you imagine a world without disease? Dr. Myron Wentz can. And, in fact, he’s made it his life’s mission to contribute to creating a world free from disease and focused on wellness and health products that have impacted people in countries all over the world.

A microbiologist and immunologist, Dr. Wentz is a pioneer in the development of human cell culture technology and infectious disease diagnoses. From the beginning of his career, his focus on improving people’s lives has been driven by a strong interest in medical science, the development of tests for viral diseases (he developed the first commercially available test for diagnosing infection with the Epstein-Barr virus), and broad humanitarian efforts.

Commitment Leads to Action

Dr. Wentz channeled his personal passion when he founded USANA Health Sciences Inc., because he believes disease prevention is as important as disease detection, and the single most effective way to prevent degenerative diseases is proper nutrition.

“If we can nourish the human body in a comprehensive way on a daily basis with the full spectrum of essential nutrients in the right forms, amounts, and in the proper balance, we can sustain long-term health and effectively avoid degenerative disease,” he says.

USANA’s nutritionals provide the high-quality vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that bodies need for good health, while its diet and energy products provide meal-replacements and snacks for weight loss and energy. The company has also introduced personal-care items to cleanse, refine and replenish skin and hair. USANA’s strong commitment to health and well-being even extends to the specific needs of children, with the creation of Usanimals™, a multivitamin especially designed for children in their formative years.

USANA’s nutritional supplements have found a loyal customer base, and the company has expanded to new markets in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Today, USANA is a high-performing and growing organization with sales of about $718 million in 2013 (compared to about $649 million in 2012 and about $582 million in 2011), with net earnings available to common shareholders of $80 million in 2013. Sales are generated from nutritionals (80 percent), foods (11 percent) and personal-care products (6 percent), with purchases coming from associates and preferred customers. Associates are independent distributors of the company’s products who may also purchase products for their own use, while preferred customers purchase products strictly for their personal use. As of the end of 2013, the company had 265,000 active associates and 78,000 active preferred customers worldwide.

Today, USANA is a high-performing and growing organization with sales of about $718 million in 2013 (compared to about $649 million in 2012 and about $582 million in 2011).

Driving Change through Humanitarian Efforts

Jim Bramble

Jim Bramble

With this success comes more opportunity for the company to expand in an area that is already close to its leaders’ hearts—charitable giving. Jim Bramble, who has been with USANA for 17 years, is Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for USANA Health Sciences and sits on the board of USANA’s foundation: the USANA True Health Foundation (UTHF). During his tenure, he says, the message and commitment to “giving back” has been driven home continuously. “This comes from our founder and his son, David [the company’s CEO]. They have very large hearts, and they’re very concerned with the fact that we’re very blessed but not everybody is.”

This strong personal commitment, says Bramble, led the company to partner early on with the Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF) and to join them in opening hospitals in Malawi, Uganda and Cambodia.

“We have had an amazing partnership with USANA now for 14 years,” says Dave Phillips, President of Children’s Hunger Fund. “Through the contributions of Dr. Wentz, USANA corporate and the USANA True Health Foundation, the USANA family has played a substantial role in our growth and impact over the years with nearly $20 million donated to provide nutrition for children and families in need.”

In 2012 the USANA True Health Foundation was formed with a mission of providing the most critical human necessities—nutrition, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and health education to those who are suffering or in need. The foundation focuses on three areas:

  • Area of Greatest Need: releases funding and aid for worldwide disasters where immediate help is needed.
  • Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF): a nonprofit organization that works to alleviate the suffering of children in impoverished regions across America and around the world.
  • Sanoviv Medical Assistance: provides funding to Sanoviv Medical Institute patients who are otherwise not able to pay for their care.

The foundation is registered in seven countries where donors are able to receive tax benefits for their contributions, and it has received donations from people in 23 countries. Since its inception it has impacted more than 25,000 people, in 12 countries, through disaster relief and providing nutrition to underprivileged children and their families. About 15,000 people were impacted in 2013. One of these efforts involves a relationship with Dr. Mehmet Oz and his charitable foundation HealthCorps, which focuses on nutritional education for inner-city youth in North America.

Contributions to the foundation may be made in a variety of ways. Individuals, distributors and USANA employees may: donate a monthly amount; donate through the foundation’s website at; participate in the annual USANA Champions for Change 5K in August; or donate Usanimals™ vitamins to the Children’s Hunger Fund to help underprivileged children around the world.

In 2013, during USANA’s Success on the High Seas cruise, more than 700 distributors were asked to bring items to make life better for children living in the Foyer de Sion orphanage, when the ship stopped in Haiti. Thirteen children from the orphanage met the associates and received the gifts, which included much needed diapers, formula, nutritional supplements, toothpaste, soap and many other essential items.

There are other individual efforts as well. Teddy bears are sold at USANA’s Asia Pacific convention to benefit the foundation, and Philippine associates recently held a 5k to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Support is also provided to distributors who wish to hold their own fundraisers.

In 2012 the USANA True Health Foundation was formed with a mission of providing the most critical human necessities—nutrition, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and health education to those in need.

Serving the World

On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck and devastated Haiti’s capital city, killing 230,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless. Japan’s epic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami occurred the following year, on March 11, 2011, killing more than 15,000 people. Bramble says the tragedies weighed heavy on the heart of USANA CEO David Wentz.

Wentz went to the management team and asked, “How can we use the incredible power of direct selling, where people network together, to harness that energy to help in situations like these?”

Because of USANA’s global reach these tragedies are very personal. Says Bramble, “We have distributors who are our family in Japan, and we can’t work together as an entire community of USANA to respond to disasters like this because we have nothing in place.”

The USANA True Health Foundation was founded to respond to these types of situations. Through a partnership with International Relief Teams, USANA is now poised to respond when disasters strike throughout the world, especially in areas where USANA has a presence, he says.

“Our partnership with USANA True Health Foundation is invaluable,” says Barry LaForgia, Executive Director of International Relief Teams. “Knowing USANA will provide funding gives us the assurance to quickly apply resources during the critical early days after a disaster when lives are literally in the balance. USANA’s support also allows us to continue helping survivors, by not only enabling us to address their basic needs for temporary shelter, food and medical assistance while they are displaced, but also to help them recover through programs that restore livelihoods and permanent shelter.”

Donations to support the foundation come from multiple channels, including associates, employees and preferred customers. In some countries, participation is close to 100 percent of all employees, says Bramble.

“When I went to Uganda [during our missionary trip]… you just come back with those experiences that make it more personal—you gain a personal understanding of how you are really making a difference.”
—Jim Bramble, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, The Health Foundation board member

Making It Personal

USANA’s efforts around the world are very personal to its employees and distributors. In many cases distributors see firsthand, not through a statistic but through the impact they individually have on others, the power of their commitment to helping those in need.

“One of our most successful markets is the Philippines,” Bramble says. It’s a country that has been through a lot in terms of natural disasters over the past few years, he notes. “Because we have so many distributors on the ground in that country, they’ve been able to participate not only in fundraising but also in donating to help their home.” In addition, he says, distributors have become personally involved by actually going into the cities that have been devastated and helping to rebuild.

“One thing we do is to encourage executives and associates alike, anyone who has a lot of influence in the field, to attend yearly missionary trips that the Children’s Hunger Fund sponsors,” he says. “Those who have donated on their own dime go together as a group with the CHF to different areas of the world and work with their hands in that area.”

Bramble himself has been directly involved in these efforts, and those experiences are very powerful, he says.

“For instance, when I went to Uganda we went to different villages in the inner city and passed out food and medicine. We went to an orphanage, and you just come back with those experiences that make it more personal—you gain a personal understanding of how you are really making a difference.”

In fact, Bramble says, “It really, in a lot of ways, was one of the most defining trips of my life.” That was back in 2008, but “there isn’t a day that I don’t at least dwell on it for a moment because it was so powerful.” It was a country that he says he didn’t know anything about, other than the name. He and his wife went with a group of about 30 people from the Children’s Hunger Fund and other distributors who wanted to participate.

Uganda Medical Centre

Dr. Myron Wentz visits the hospital he founded in Uganda.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Uganda is one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, with 37.7 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. This poverty has contributed significantly to the widespread undernutrition of the country’s people, with 38 percent of children chronically undernourished or stunted, according to Feed the Future, the U.S Government’s Global Hunger & Food Security initiative. “It’s to the extent that it will cause their deaths someday,” Bramble says. “It’s substantial malnourishment.” Most of these children are orphans because Uganda is a country that has been heavily hit by AIDS.

While in Uganda the group went to three locations. They went to the recently founded Wentz Medical Centre and Laboratory to visit and read to people suffering from malaria, to an orphanage on an island in Lake Victoria that was heavily impacted by both AIDS and civil unrest, and to the inner city, which was a place of extreme poverty. During each of these visits the team visited with people and delivered food and vitamins—the Usanimal™ vitamins that USANA produces.

“To me it was life-changing,” Bramble says. “I remember one specific instance, as I think back, of seeing this little girl who was 6–8 years old, and my daughter at the time was the same age. This little girl was wearing this paper dress—literally made of paper. And I thought of my daughter and this huge closet we have full of clothes, and how she never has to wear the same dress to church twice because she has so many. And I just thought ‘I need to be involved somehow to help little girls like this.’ ”

When Bramble returned home he went to CEO David Wentz and asked how he could become involved in more of these activities.

“That’s why it might seem strange to have the General Counsel be the person on the Board of Directors for the Foundation, but that was the experience that gave me the interest and led to my involvement,” he says.

“The truth is that it is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense to involve your salesforce in charitable activities because it creates loyalty.”
—Jim Bramble

How Others Can Make a Difference

Direct selling companies are businesses first and foremost. They and their distributors are interested in sales and business success. Because of that, acknowledges Bramble, there can be a hesitancy to divert the efforts of staff and distributors from selling to other activities—like charitable and humanitarian efforts.

But, he stresses, this fear is misplaced. “The truth is that it is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense to involve your salesforce in charitable activities because it creates loyalty and it creates a feeling that ‘I’m involved with a company that does good things.’ ” That, he says, “helps you with your retention; those are people who are going to stay with you—they are going to sell products longer.

“Don’t be afraid of wasting resources on something other than your bottom line, because the bottom line is not as important anyway. And, in the end and over the long run, it will be better for the bottom line as well.”

In addition, he advises companies to find alignment between their business and their charitable passion. But make sure that the organizations you choose to partner with or support “have a really good infrastructure, are very efficient and already know how to deliver the aid where it is needed.” Direct sales companies shouldn’t attempt to deliver or recreate these systems on their own. “If you try to recreate, that’s a lot of dollars wasted on administration that someone else has already done.” In addition, he says, “It allows you to let your donors know that the help they’re providing goes directly to those who need it.”

Delivering a message of health and wellness to the world is something that resonates not only with employees and distributors, but with USANA’s customer base as well, Bramble says. It is through these collective efforts that Dr. Myron Wentz’s vision of wellness around the globe may someday be achieved.

“Our customers are very interested in health. Their charitable activities can help increase health, and then it’s a natural draw.”

Natura: Building a Better World, One Mind at a Time

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Click here to order the July 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Photo above: Natura Institute’s GENTE program connects students to technology and individualized learning.


Company Profile

Founded: 1969
Headquarters: São Paulo, Brazil
Executive: Alessandro G. Carlucci
Products: Cosmetics and personal care

Natura Impacts Brazilian Education and Latin American Life

Inclusive and equitable education for all, that’s what makes a better world. Nearly two decades ago, Natura, the largest manufacturer and direct seller of cosmetics, hygiene and beauty products in Brazil, mobilized its salesforce and committed to positively impacting public education in Latin America. Its mission was to build a better world, one mind at a time.

“The investment in education is one of the most cross-cutting to our company,” says Gabriela Callil, Manager of the Natura Movement Project. “We understand education as the driving force to make a sustainable, fairer and better world.”

Brazil’s discussions about public education were once dominated by topics related to teacher unions, student movements and government. Gradually, however, it began to change. “In the last few decades, the public education theme has involved more participants, such as the private sector through institutes and foundations,” says Pedro Villares, President of the Natura Institute.

“We understand education as the driving force to make a sustainable, fairer and better world.”
—Gabriela Callil, Manager, Natura Movement Project

Motivated Visionaries

With social entrepreneurship a basic tenet of its corporate culture, Natura welcomed the broadening conversation about Brazil’s public education. As a company, it believes social entrepreneurship is galvanized by motivated visionaries who turn adversity into new opportunities. So Natura put social entrepreneurism to work, looking at the issues confounding Brazil’s public education system and acting in the most impactful way it could.

Natura harnessed its brand—one of the most recognized, valued, reputable and sustainable in Brazil—and empowered a “restless network of resolute men and women doers, concerned with loving and caring for those around them.”

In 1995, Natura consultants began raising money to fund educational projects within Brazil’s public schools through the sale of Crer Para Ver (Believing Is Seeing) products. Each purchase of these non-cosmetic products allowed a child to explore different cultures and better understand the world around him or her.

Last year, more than 800,000 of Natura’s 1.6 million consultants participated in Crer Para Ver. Net revenue from product sales reached a record 17 million Brazilian real (US$7.5 million), with all profits going to public education projects.

Students use technology through one of Natura’s 
sponsored programs to build a remote-controlled car. Students use technology through one of Natura’s sponsored programs to build a remote-controlled car. Maria C. won Acolher support for a community street market.Maria C. won Acolher support for a community street market.

Evolving Commitment

Natura’s contribution and expanding impact to Brazil’s public education system has evolved alongside that of the private sector. In 2010, the then 41-year-old company formalized its philanthropic structure and formed the Natura Institute to autonomously manage its charitable efforts. Today, at the institute’s São Paulo headquarters, 30 dedicated professionals manage the company’s charitable initiatives.

Gabriela CallilGabriela Callil
Pedro VillaresPedro Villares

“We have worked in partnership with other institutes and foundations, companies, government authorities and even schools—people who have come together and believe in the value of education and who know that only collaborative work can lead to lasting and effective change,” Villares says.

To encourage lifelong learning, support excellence in public education management and foster educational technology innovation—that is the Natura Institute’s mission as a member of a cooperative Education Support Network of several partners and agents in the education field. The network brings together the best of the public and private sectors to develop and support educational projects with the potential for replication so they can guide public policy and, at times, become public policy.

For instance, the Trilhas de Leitura (Reading Trail) Project was created in 2009 as a social technology to improve literacy in the reading and writing process for younger elementary students. The project garnered attention in 2011, because teachers began seeing positive results after using the network-developed project materials for download and play in the classroom as well as for their own training, reference, organization and collaboration efforts. The Brazilian Ministry of Education called for Trilhas implementation as public policy in 2012, when the project reached 3 million students. Last year 93 percent of the 1,976 cities invited to participate enrolled. More than 700 teachers chronicled their successes with Trilhas in a publication called Municipio Leitor e Rede que Ensina in 2013. This year’s goal is to expand access to more schools and grant service in greater numbers to those with diverse backgrounds.

Another current Natura initiative is Schools That Innovate, which implements digital platforms to house and manage school activities as well as guide the routines of teachers and students. Other projects include Conviva Educacqo, which helps municipal education directors manage administration offices from a virtual environment; and GENTE, a pilot program that connects students directly to technology for individualized learning. Alice Andrés Ribeiro, GENTE Project Manager, says, “The school body and parents reported student progress in socio-emotional terms, particularly regarding autonomy, collaboration and solidarity.” According to Ribeiro, students have enjoyed being mixed in teams rather than in separate classes.

Of the company’s 17 million Brazilian real raised through the sale of the Crer Para Ver line, Natura invested 11.2 million Brazilian real (US$5.0 million) to fund educational projects in over 4,000 towns and 73,000 schools, benefiting 143 million teachers, coordinators and principals, and impacting the lives of millions of Brazilian and Latin American children. The remaining funds went toward administrative costs at the institute as well as investments in projects for the coming year.

The numbers show an astounding impact from 19 collaborative educational efforts, current and past, like the Chapada Project, a late ’90s training program for public elementary school teachers and the EJA Campaign-Education for Youngsters and Adults, which saw 162,000 people return to the classroom in four years.

Empowering One Another

The Acolher Program recognized librarian Jeferson G. for his social welfare activities. The Acolher Program recognized librarian Jeferson G. for his social welfare activities.

With the help of projects like The Learning Community, which instills the concept of co-responsibility in education and focuses on family and community involvement in Rio de Janeiro’s school activities, the Natura Institute and its partners are transforming social and educational attitudes. And Natura’s 1.6 million consultants are great ambassadors to the effort. “Our consultants have different roles in society, such as fathers, mothers, teachers, students or school employees,” Villares says. “These people are very close to the schools, and their involvement with education can generate a positive effect in the improvement of school quality.”

Callil adds, “We consider our consultants society-changing agents in the communities where they live.” Not only do their efforts through Crer Para Ver fund high-impact educational projects across Latin America and contribute to Natura Institute’s operational and management budget, but they also provide the kind of local change that only a dedicated network of social entrepreneurs can instigate at a grassroots level, she says. It matters little whether these initiatives are educational in scope or not. Where there is a need, Natura’s consultants step up.

“We always knew many of them were already committed with projects in search of improving their communities. However, we did not know who they were, where they were located and what they did, or what stories they had to tell,” Callil says.

Because social entrepreneurism and philanthropy hold such importance in Natura’s corporate culture, it was only natural for the company to create a program to identify, share and reward consultants engaged in social welfare activities. Three years ago, Acolher—which in Portuguese means “welcoming”—was launched to do just that. Since then it has become part of the larger company-wide initiative called Movimento Natura, which invites consultants to tell their philanthropic stories online ( Consultants record lessons learned and challenges met, and open new discussions about social commitment and philanthropy.

“All actions toward the common good are important and valuable, independent of size,” Callil says. “As we received the consultants’ initiatives, we realized they were infinitely more inspiring, particularly because they had a common context as a starting point and were part of the reality of most consultants.”

Since the Acolher Program launched, Natura has considered some 3,000 consultant-recommended philanthropic initiatives. Of those applicants, 36 projects have been recognized with financial and technical support, ranging from recycling and refuse collection and disposable diaper manufacturing to programs for the socialization of the disabled and sheltering of low-income minors.

Acolher prizes the abilities of each consultant, recognizing his or her actions and helping to find the means to achieve objectives by offering personal and project development coaching sessions for 12 months as well as initiative promotion through weekly TV broadcast features on “Aqui Tem Natura.”

Elementary children improve their reading and writing skills through the Trilhas de Leitura (Reading Trail) Project.Elementary children improve their reading and writing skills through the Trilhas de Leitura (Reading Trail) Project. Brazilian students participate in the educational program 
Comunidade de Aprendizagem (The Learning Community).Brazilian students participate in the educational program Comunidade de Aprendizagem (The Learning Community).

Relevance and Reward

For Natura, the scope of the Acolher Program goes beyond quantitative data. The company measures its success through the lives changed by consultants who are incentivized to invest in a network aimed at social change.

In the city of Varzea Grande, in the state of Mato Grosso, Natura consultant Maria C. won support for a family street market initiative called Feira da Familia. As president of the local Street Market Association, Maria led the transformation of a garbage dump into an area that now serves as a meeting point for the whole community. Due to her efforts, 41 families now generate income at that marketplace—and Maria has found the motivation to continue her studies.

Jeferson G., a librarian from Pocos de Caldas, Minas Gerais, fosters a literary culture in his town through children’s storytelling circles, theater performances and a traveling library bus. Since being recognized by Natura with the Acolher distinction, Jeferson has dedicated himself to selling Crer Para Ver products. He says, “I had no idea my work was this relevant, so Natura’s recognition showed that what I did was, indeed, important.”

“On the one hand, we have benefits for the individual, where the consultant is directly affected, has his or her self-esteem increased and is recognized for the work done,” Callil says. “On the other hand, we have collective benefits, since the consultants’ initiatives are enhanced through their improved actions and, consequently, improved conditions for the world.”

The wealth of material presented through Acolher consultant initiatives expanded Natura’s horizons for new types of collaborative efforts, as well as the way consultants function as a network and the opportunities to include other audiences.

Looking ahead, Natura plans to take Acolher beyond the prize stage and create new technical and financial support mechanisms, such as sponsorships of sub-brands, an additional incentive in crowdfunding, digital training programs and support from other companies. “We also have the ambition of building indicators that help us measure and expand our positive impact,” Callil says. Doing so, Natura believes it will enable the company to maximize results and promote better lives.

Scents with Sense: A Strong Commitment to Giving Back Provides a Culture of Sustainability

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the May 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Company Profile

  • Founded: 2004
  • Headquarters: Meridian, Idaho
  • Founders: CEO Orville Thompson and President Heidi Thompson
  • Products: Wickless candles, home décor, kitchenware, and clothing and accessories

Sometimes those closest to financial ruin are those who find a clear path out and, perhaps unexpectedly, also discover along the way an opportunity to contribute to others in a big way. That’s the place that Orville and Heidi Thompson found themselves back in 2004.

“We got into Scentsy and wickless candles because we were desperate and we needed something that could save us from financial ruin,” Orville says. At 35, the Thompsons had been working for a number of years but were not finding success in their work. It was a turning point for them, Heidi says. “That’s when we came together as a couple,” she says. “From then on we’ve been a great team.” They both acknowledge their partnership brings a solid mix of “head and heart” to the company.

They’ve come a long way in 10 years. Back in 2004, they were at the end of their ropes, concerned about where the next house payment would come from and how they would keep themselves and their family clothed and fed. They launched their company in an ocean shipping container—their first home office. They had no money, no credit, no catalog, no software and, perhaps most notably, no experience. What they did have though was a great product, a strong work ethic and the will to succeed. And they had some passionate support from others who believed in what they were doing.

Fast-forward 10 years and it’s hard to believe that these extremely successful entrepreneurs were once near despair. Their wickless candle company, fueled by the direct selling model, has grown to 120,000 consultants worldwide, with global annual sales revenue in 2013 of about $480 million.

Scentsy Inc., fueled by the direct selling model, has grown to 120,000 consultants worldwide with global annual sales revenue in 2013 of about $480 million.

Growth came quickly and challenged the Thompsons’ ability to keep up with the growth through infrastructure, policy and communication. From 2007 through 2013, the company was hiring on average one new employee every day. They grew from a 6,000-square-foot facility to nearly 1 million square feet of space in three states and two countries. There was a technology explosion to keep up with it all.

Despite the success, these were stressful times; growth, however welcomed, can be challenging. Still they persevered. And they learned that all of the space and technology in the world does not a strong company make. What really matters is culture and commitment, and that’s something that Orville and Heidi have a wealth of and something they nurture in both employees and consultants.

They don’t share the wealth of both their financial and cultural success just internally, though. In part because they vividly remember the trying years and the many people who came forward to support them, and in equal part because of their strong personal commitment to giving, the company has a strong commitment to helping others help themselves.

“As a mom I thought, wouldn’t it be beneficial to our employees if we had some programs to make things easier?”
—Heidi Thompson, Co-Owner and President

Orville and Heidi ThompsonOrville and Heidi Thompson Scentsy’s new Commons Kitchen offers meal options for employees as well as the public.Scentsy’s new Commons Kitchen offers meal options for employees as well as the public. Rally for the Ranch 2013 participants stuff backpacks for back to school.Rally for the Ranch 2013 participants stuff backpacks for back to school.

A Philosophy of Helping Others Help Themselves

Summer Giving: A Tradition Since 2009

Since 2009, Scentsy Inc.’s Summer Giving program has impacted a broad range of local organizations and individuals. Here is a summary of these activities:

“Contribute” (2009)

  • Helped 40 small, family-owned businesses in Idaho’s Treasure Valley
  • Each employee got $100 to spend (and kept their purchases)
  • $100,000 was spent in a cash mob in a single day

“Six Pack Give Back” (2010)

    • Susan G. Komen Race
  • 2,200 racers
  • $171,000 donated
    • Paint the Town
  • More than 120 employees, consultants and friends participated
  • 1,000 hours of time donated
    • Vein Ambition
  • Red Cross blood drive
  • 140 pints of usable blood was collected
    • Fashion Forward
  • Clothing drive for Women’s and Children’s Alliance and Dress for Success
  • Several hundred pounds of clothing was donated
    • Change Challenge
  • Spare change for Wednesday’s Child adoption
  • $16,000 was raised
    • Contribute 2010
  • Employees were given $50 to spend at 20 businesses
  • $50,000 was spent in the community

“Halt the Hunger” (2011)

  • Idaho Food Bank matching donation of $300,000
  • The money raised provided 1.9 million meals in Idaho
  • Raised $638,973—exceeding the goal of $600,000

“Spending Spree for Refugees” (2012)

  • Community/Employee/Consultant Cash Mob
  • Consultants in more than 20 states took part
  • Idaho employees shopped at refugee vendor fair
  • Generated $30,000 in sales

“Rally for the Ranch” (2013)

  • Mentoring day with Idaho Youth Ranch YOUTHWORKS! Program—hosted 10 trainees for a day with employees and executives giving them work ideas and skill sets
  • Stuff the Truck—employees donated clothing and household items to IYR
  • Back to school backpacks—employees stuffed 50 backpacks for at-risk youth in transitional housing

The ability to experience both significant financial highs and lows has provided a perspective that shapes the Thompsons’ approach to giving. Unlike many, their focus is not on “giving back.” It is on “contributing more than you take.” As Orville notes: “What if someone had come to me in 2004 when we were $700,000 in debt and feeling broken as businesspeople and given us a winning lottery ticket for $1.5 million, and what if we took that ticket and cashed it in and paid off all of our debts? Would we have had what it took to build Scentsy? How many people would have been hurt because we did not go through the experience that we went through because we were given a handout to solve our problems, instead of a hand up to solve our problems?”

The Thompsons say their experience weighs on them every time they decide how to spend extra resources on others—they ask themselves if what they’re doing is actually contributing to someone’s benefit or forfeiting a better opportunity to get resources or experience that would provide greater gain in the long run.

That philosophy is reflected in the way they give. It’s a philosophy built around the core principles of Simplicity, Authenticity and Generosity, with Generosity meaning “contribute more than you take.” Heidi points to a favorite quote from Thomas S. Monson, an American religious leader and author: “He who gives money gives some, he who gives time gives more, and he who gives of himself gives all.” The Thompsons have all bases covered.

In 2009 they founded the Scentsy Family Foundation and, since that time, have embarked on a strategic, comprehensive and multifaceted approach to giving that involves employees and consultants. The Foundation offers philanthropic support through a combination of scholarships, direct donations toward individual efforts and community-based causes, and charitable cause products.

Each year the Foundation’s charitable cause products involve consultants in the nomination of a charitable cause or organization to support through the creation of a distinctive new product in honor of that cause. In Spring 2014, the “Charitable Cause Buddy” is Roosevelt the Rabbit, created to support the March of Dimes imbornto® campaign; from the sale of each Roosevelt the Rabbit, $6.50 is contributed to the March of Dimes in the United States and $7.50 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Canada.

But, importantly, Orville and Heidi recognize that without strong support from their employees and consultants the success they have achieved and now share would not be possible.

Giving Back from the Inside Out

It all starts from within. From 2004 to 2009 much of the company’s focus was on managing the growth they were experiencing, building an infrastructure to support that growth, and ensuring that employees and consultants had the resources and support they needed.

Importantly, during this time, there was also a strong focus on defining, refining and reinforcing the culture they desired.

“Authenticity is very important,” Orville says. “We are who we are, and we don’t try to be somebody we’re not.”

Perhaps because of their own early struggles, the Thompsons recognize the unique challenges that employees often face as they attempt to navigate both the challenges of work and family life—and they have taken steps to ease some of those challenges.

“Back in the early days,” Heidi says, “when we worked long hours, ate a lot of macaroni and cheese and ramen and things you could microwave, I remember thinking ‘I wish there were some way that you could quickly make dinner and have the time to sit down as a family, because we were missing that.

“As a mom I thought, wouldn’t it be beneficial to our employees if we had some programs to make things easier?” As they celebrate their 10th anniversary, Heidi says: “It’s a dream come true to offer this convenience to help busy families like ours.”

Their new facility includes a kitchen—the Scentsy Commons Kitchen, operated by Guckenheimer, offering staff- and family-friendly food options, including ready-made dinners and sack lunches that parents can pack for their children. The programs are designed for the company’s 750 Idaho-based employees and are also available to the general public.

Besides a prepared dinner option, employees—and the public—also have the ability to visit the cafeteria to create “packed lunches,” choosing from ready-made sandwiches, apples and other nutritious items. For those employees whose children go to schools without hot lunch, or who prefer to bring their own lunches, this is a convenient and cost-effective option. A buffet of child-sized portions of entrees, sides and drinks is set up Monday through Thursday afternoons so that parents can pack their kids’ lunches for the next day at a cost of about $2, depending on the items selected.

In addition to building in-kitchen facilities, the Thompsons took advantage of their new construction to introduce a number of energy efficient options, and they’ve been recognized for their efforts.

Respecting the Environment

The newly constructed Scentsy Campus consists of seven buildings on 73.35 acres in Meridian, Idaho. In addition to the on-site corporate restaurant, the campus includes an outdoor amphitheater, more than 8,000 square feet of outdoor patios and three miles of walking paths.

Construction followed the standards of efficiency, energy conservation and environmental sustainability held by the Green Globes Initiative, including the use of sustainable, recycled products, a high-efficiency HVAC system, low-flow plumbing, drought-tolerant landscaping and an LED lighting system that adjusts based on the availability of natural lighting.

For their efforts, Scentsy was recently awarded “Four Green Globes” for the campus’ office tower—the highest designation possible—by the Green Globes Initiative. They are one of only 12 facilities in the country to achieve this honor. The Scentsy Distribution Center was awarded “Three Green Globes,” and the campus received an American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award for the beautification of the grounds and the use of sustainable design features.

Scentsy’s respect for the environment and initiatives to ensure that it is conserving energy and preserving green space represent just the beginning of the company’s commitment to community and efforts to ensure that it is a good corporate citizen.

Building Community

Scentsy Inc. and its employees are strongly supportive of their local community of Meridian, Idaho, through programs like Summer Giving (established in 2009).

“Authenticity is very important. We are who we are, and we don’t try to be somebody we’re not.”
—Orville Thompson, Co-Owner and CEO

In 2009, the Summer Giving program “Contribute” provided $100 for each employee to spend, positively impacting 40 local, family-owned businesses. In what may have been one of the first-ever “cash mobs,” Scentsy contributed $100,000 to the local community and provided a cash infusion to small businesses during the peak of the recession. Since then, a wide range of activities have connected Scentsy, its employees and the community in creative and impactful ways.

For example, in 2012 Scentsy organized a Spending Spree for Refugees event. Idaho has been a refugee settlement community since 1975 and every year receives hundreds of refugees from many regions of the world. The economic downturn was particularly hard on this population. With this event, Scentsy set up an outdoor market on its campus and encouraged employees and community members to buy from local refugee-owned businesses.

Scentsy Consultants are also engaged in these efforts. Incentive trips incorporate opportunities to interact with various communities while providing services that impact those communities in positive ways. In 2014, Scentsy Consultants will have the opportunity to help out at a school and a senior citizen facility in the Bahamas. These types of activities have been organized since 2008 in settings like Cancún and the Dominican Republic.

While all of these initiatives certainly have a positive impact on the organizations and communities served, Scentsy and its employees and consultants benefit as well, according to the Thompsons.

They say supporting good causes in communities builds camaraderie and reinforces that contributing more than you take is not only part of Scentsy’s culture, but it’s also fun to do and makes life more enjoyable.

As Scentsy celebrates a decade of service to customers, communities, employees and consultants, it can look back on some significant ways that its activities have provided a hand up for literally thousands of people in communities located many miles away from the small community of Meridian, Idaho, where it all started. It was there that the Thompsons, aided by those who offered them a hand up, were able to realize their dreams through hard work, persistence and the commitment to a sustainable philosophy of contributing more than they take.

4Life Research: Hope to See beyond Tomorrow

by Karyn Reagan

Click here to order the April 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Foundation 4Life

Company Profile

  • Founded: 1998
  • Headquarters: Salt Lake City
  • Founders: David and Bianca Lisonbee
  • Products: immune support, general wellness

Foundation 4Life service projects focus on equipping disadvantaged individuals around the world with the tools they need to move beyond bare survival.

David Lisonbee was searching for answers to health issues that were not responding to anything he tried when he stumbled across a scientific finding from 1949. New York University professor Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence, an immunology pioneer, wrote about how immune system experiences from one mammal could be transferred through factors in the body to another mammal. The receiving mammal’s immune system could be educated by those factors, now known as transfer factors. Lisonbee gave his own immune system the boost it needed using clues from the research, and the results were convincing.

According to Calvin Jolley, Vice President of Communications at 4Life Research, when Lisonbee shared the success with his wife, Bianca, she felt that this discovery should be made available to the world. He agreed, and in 1998 they launched the company with a signature product dubbed Transfer Factor Classic.

4Life has grown every year since its formation and now has a presence in over 23 countries around the world.

Lisonbee’s experience in direct selling and publishing in the health and wellness sector supported his decision to use direct selling as the marketing vehicle. 4Life has grown every year since its formation and now has a presence in over 23 countries around the world. And the original signature offering has been joined by a full line of Transfer Factor products that support various body systems.

In addition to the results of the products, 4Life’s growth is due in part to the extensive training offered to its distributors as well as its use of technology. “We are heavily involved in social media, including photos, action items, company news and product updates,” Jolley says. “Our e-news, which has received recognition by the DSA, is sent around the world via email providing current updates and information. We also utilize text messaging, Facebook (with over 70,000 likes on our page), Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to communicate with our distributors regarding company news, product updates and action items for business building. Every medium carries consistent weekly messages.” There is even a mobile app that distributors can utilize to access account information, company news and training materials wherever they have an Internet connection. 4Life also hosts corporate sponsored conference calls, inviting corporate and field leaders in the company as guest speakers to inspire and motivate attendees.

Commitments That Lead to Change

The Lisonbees built 4Life on a three-tiered foundation of Science, Success and Service. “The science of the products has brought the success of the company and its distributors, who are then encouraged to serve those in need,” Jolley says. In 2006, the charitable work that the company had always engaged in was formalized into a nonprofit entity called Foundation 4Life.

“We look for projects where we can enter into a long-term relationship and build a new legacy of hope for otherwise hopeless situations.” —Tracie Kay, Director of 4Life Service

Tracie Kay is the Director of 4Life Service, which includes Foundation 4Life and the 4Life Fortify nutrition program. She explains that the focus of the foundation is to lead a community in need to a place of self-sustainability. “We look for projects where we can enter into a long-term relationship and build a new legacy of hope for otherwise hopeless situations,” she says. “Our focus is to provide the essential needs of children—nutrition, shelter, and education—but the cycle of poverty is most heavily influenced through education on several different levels for both the children and the parents.” The foundation partners with entities already working in the community and commits to getting them to a level where the individuals they are helping can stand on their own feet. “We teach educational skills to kids and parents as well as basic survival skills such as gardening, baking and even managing chicken farms. It depends on the culture,” Kay says. “For example, if a family can grow and manage their own food, we have started them on a path of newfound hope. It’s definitely a long-term commitment.”

Currently, there are philanthropic projects taking place in over 30 countries where 4Life distributors are active. “We encourage distributors to become involved in the projects,” she says. “Some are even drawn to the business by first being involved in what we are doing in their community.”

5-year-old Juanita attends kindergarten in a Honduras community where Foundation 4Life has committed to help families and children. 5-year-old Juanita attends kindergarten in a Honduras community where Foundation 4Life has committed to help families and children. Aneurys Perez, a recipient of Foundation 4Life’s giving in the Dominican Republic, returns the blessing to his aging grandparents.Aneurys Perez, a recipient of Foundation 4Life’s giving in the Dominican Republic, returns the blessing to his aging grandparents.

A Glimpse at the Global Impact

The first country Foundation 4Life reached into with assistance was the Dominican Republic, specifically through La Casa Rosada, an orphanage for children with HIV. “We launched the Foundation in 2006 with a major donation to expand the facility operated by the Catholic Church,” Kay says. “Once there was sufficient shelter for the orphans we went to work on providing educational opportunities.” There was a need for some of the 3- to 5-year-old children to be better prepared for school on a social level. “They had a tendency to act up and get kicked out of regular schools,” she says. “The sisters running the orphanage recommended a Montessori-style preschool. We acted on their suggestion and have seen great results with the social and academic preparedness of the children for mainstream schools, and they are able to learn like their peers.” Montessori teaching is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development. The on-site preschool teachers also work with individuals with special needs. 4Life Fortify and other 4Life Transfer Factor products are also donated to the orphanage to provide better nutrition for all who live and work there.

Aneurys Perez is one of the first two residents at La Casa Rosada to graduate from high school. His mother died of HIV when he was young, and because his grandparents were unable to support him and his younger brother the orphanage became their home. “Foundation 4Life was able to provide Aneurys with a full scholarship, including room and board, to a local Santo Domingo university,” Kay says. “He was also given his first job by a local 4Life distributor who needed administrative support running his 4Life business.” Aneurys later applied to work at the local airport, was hired as an immigration officer and has since received promotions as he continues to work on his bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Through education and hands-on experience, Foundation 4Life hopes to train as many families as possible how to sustain themselves and their community.

Aneurys has learned the power of giving and now returns the blessing to his aging grandparents. He has paid for them to install running water in their modest home, pays their monthly water bill and purchased a washing machine and refrigerator for them. He is also funding extra-curricular classes for his younger brother in preparation for high school graduation this year. “It feels great to have been a part of changing a life and a legacy for Aneurys and his family,” Kay says.

In Honduras, parents send their children into the streets to sell a variety of items or do odd jobs in order to add a dollar or two to the meager family income. Kay says that often education is not a priority; survival is. “In response to the desperation of the people of Jardines del Norte, Honduras, we have made a six-year commitment to reach out through programs at a community center for which we sponsored the construction,” she says. “We are working hard to create a paradigm shift, changing a mindset adopted through years of poverty.”

Through education and hands-on experience, Foundation 4Life hopes to train as many families as possible how to sustain themselves and their community. “Many mothers join their children at the center and are offered classes specifically designed for them,” Kay says. “Lessons in good hygiene and nutrition are at the top of the list. We also teach jewelry-making skills, providing the mothers a way to contribute to the household income.” And there is a huge garden on the property to teach families how to plant and harvest their own food to consume and sell. “The people of this community shop for one meal at a time because that is all they can afford. There is a sense of desperation and day-to-day survival,” she says. “We work to offer them hope to see beyond tomorrow.”

Closer to Home

Through Foundation 4Life’s support, Juanita is able to receive a healthy meal and school materials.Through Foundation 4Life’s support, Juanita is able to receive a healthy meal and school materials.

In the United States, Foundation 4Life implemented a program in 2009 to help less fortunate children at the Guadalupe School in Salt Lake City. “Every year we provide school supplies to those who cannot afford them, and two years ago we began sponsoring the early childhood education program at the school. Additionally, Foundation 4Life was a major contributor for the construction of their new school that is currently on track to open this fall,” Kay says. “Last fall we extended our educational initiatives to three additional cities in the country.” Local 4Life distributors rallied to help in Barberton, Ohio; Miami, Fla.; and Downey, Calif., distributing backpacks and hygiene supplies, depending upon the needs of the students.

“During the holiday season Foundation 4Life also gave follow-up donations to high-risk students in each school,” she says. “For instance, over 200 uniforms were provided to the school in Miami. Two hundred sweatshirts were given to students in Downey to help them through the cooler winter months, and three families were treated to a substitute for Santa by local distributors.” Children at the school in Utah received additional school supplies, and 4Life supported a Christmas store where parents could procure gifts for their children. “When we heard from mothers of the kids who received the gifts, they were overwhelmed by the support of total strangers,” Kay says. “And although some of the projects are small, these four schools know they can count on us to lighten their financial burdens two to three times each year for an indefinite period of time.”

Foundation 4Life is funded by the generous donations of its distributors. The methods of giving include:

  • a one-time donation added to any product order
  • a recurring donation from bonus checks
  • purchasing an autoship pack of products that includes a built-in donation


Another way to give to the charitable arm of the company is by participating in the 4Life Fortify program. “We implemented this program in 2010 as a way for distributors to participate in providing essential nutrition directly to children in need,” Kay says. “4Life Fortify is a separate for-profit arm of the company that focuses specifically on fighting childhood malnutrition. Our Fortify product is made up of a great-tasting blend of red beans, lentils, and long grain white rice, plus a complex of the vitamins and minerals that growing kids’ bodies desperately need.” At any time, distributors may purchase Fortify, which is then sent to a hungry child by the company. She says distributors do earn commission volume for the purchase, providing a great opportunity for them to build their 4Life business while helping service the nutritional needs of children around the world.

At the Top of Their Game

Through the power of networking, some 4Life distributors have shared their nutritional supplements with athletes who have experienced noticeable results. The athletes include world hall-of-famers, a discus thrower in Germany, Denver Broncos team member Manny Ramirez and 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. “Once they become customers, the distributors let us know and we engage in a public relations initiative with the athlete and provide them with products at no charge,” Jolley says. “We do not pay them, but they are invited to join Team 4Life and endorse our products. Once they have joined the Team, we look for ways to incentivize the relationship through opportunities such as speaking at district and national 4Life events.”

“The commitment [of founders David and Bianca Lisonbee] to making life better for as many less-fortunate people as possible is the reason that 100 percent of every dollar donated actually goes to fund one of our projects.” —Tracie Kay

A beautiful picture of giving back can be found in the generosity demonstrated by the athletes on Team 4Life as they are involved in community and youth leagues. “Edgar Renteria has actually opened a baseball academy in Colombia,” Jolley says. “He takes kids off the streets, puts them in a stadium in a baseball uniform, and teaches them teamwork and leadership while they play the game.” His commitment to helping these kids has encouraged other Major League Baseball players to join Team 4Life. The foundation recognizes that Renteria’s mission is in perfect alignment with theirs and donates a sizeable annual contribution to the baseball academy. “He doesn’t want pay,” Jolley says. “But he gladly welcomes financial support as he works to save the lives of as many young people as he can in Colombia.”

With so many needs in the world, choosing which ones to address can be a unique challenge. Kay says, “The strategy implemented by our 4Life Service programs is to look in markets where there is strong 4Life distributor leadership and presence. We also have an outside board of reviews that officially signs off on all projects and spending.”

But both Jolley and Kay desire to make it clear that the generosity that gives life to every 4Life Service program was etched into the culture of the company from the moment it was established by David and Bianca Lisonbee. “Their commitment to making life better for as many less-fortunate people as possible is the reason that 100 percent of every dollar donated actually goes to fund one of our projects. All operating costs incurred by our programs are paid by 4Life,” Kay says. “And as the company continues to grow, so will our service to the needs of the world.”

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.


Company Profile

  • Founded: 2011
  • Headquarters: Addison, Texas
  • Top Executives: Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO; Renee Olson, Co-Founder and Corporate Liaison; Dennis Windsor, Co-Founder and President; and Amber Olson Rourke, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Culture.
  • Products: Anti-aging skincare

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 OlsonJeff Olson

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.

Renee OlsonRenee Olson

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.

Dennis WindsorDennis Windsor

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 RourkeAmber 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.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.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.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.

“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.” —Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO

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.

NeriumNerium 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.”

Matching Missions

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.”
—Jeff Olson

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.”

“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.”
—Amber Olson Rourke, Co-Founder and VP of Marketing and Culture

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.

Success Workshops


Kids learn about self-esteem, life goals and leadership during a Nerium workshop.

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.