DSN Makes Its Global 100 Celebration an Event to Remember

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the June 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


2017 DSN Global 100 List
2017 Profiles
DSN Makes its Global 100 Celebration an Event to Remember
Frequently Asked Questions about the Global 100 Ranking
By The Numbers


Leadership: It Works! CEO Mark Pentecost: On the Road to Legendary
Leadership: Isagenix’s Jim & Kathy Coover: Agents of Change
Growth: Jeunesse: Forging an Uncharted Path to Billion-Dollar Growth

In appreciation of those companies that lead the way in offering an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to start their own businesses through shared connections, Direct Selling News honored the group during its eighth annual DSN Global 100 Celebration. The awards ceremony and dinner, held April 19 at the InterContinental in Dallas, served as the backdrop for the unveiling of our exclusive ranking of the top revenue-generating companies in direct selling.

DSN’s Lauren Lawley Head and John Fleming hosted nearly 400 executives from around the world. In fact, the Global 100 list represents companies based in 17 countries this year and is a collective effort to show the impact and potential of the $183.7 billion direct selling industry.

“Each year, the DSN Global 100 gives us an opportunity to recognize the leading companies in direct selling today,” said Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News. “The companies on the list represent a wide range of products and services, but they share a passion for developing a community of independent business owners who share those products and services with customers in their personal networks. It is a unique and powerful distribution channel.”

Fleming added, “The announcement and reveal of the top 100 Direct Selling Companies in the world is a most exciting moment in our year! Congratulations are always extended to those companies who are listed.”  He continued, “The DSN Global 100 is not a competition, it is a listing. The privately held companies who voluntarily submitted their certified revenue for the previous year contribute to the transparency needed to constantly inform a global audience of the impact direct selling companies are making on economies and individual lives around the world.”

For the fifth consecutive year, Ada, Michigan-based Amway claimed the top spot as the No. 1 direct seller in the world, with $8.8 billion in revenue in 2016. The company is truly a global giant, with a large portfolio of brands—including the best-selling nutritional brand in the world, Nutrilite, skincare brand Artistry, as well as the XL Energy Drink business. Amway does business in over 100 markets through more than 3 million independent Amway business owners.

In attendance and accepting the award on behalf of Amway was Jackie Nickel, Chief Marketing Officer of the Americas.

“We’re truly honored to be recognized as a leader in this great industry,” Nickel said. “We credit such a privilege to our millions of Amway Business Owners worldwide, who are at the heart of our business.”

Special Guests

DSN welcomed very special guests to the dinner, esteemed members of Direct Selling Association’s Hall of Fame and the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s Circle of Honor: Charlie Orr, CEO of Canada’s Immunotec; Brian Connolly, CEO of AdvoCare; Stan Fredrick, Chairman of the Board, Mannatech Inc.; and our own John Fleming.

Also in the audience was President of the Direct Sellers Association of Canada James Smith and Chairman of the Direct Selling Education Foundation Dave Wentz.

DSN Global 100

In all, the Global 100 companies achieved more than $82 billion in net sales in 2016, up a fraction from 2015.

The Top 10 companies achieved $40.53 billion in revenue, with the total number of salespeople at about 24 million. It is also a testimony to the power and strength of the direct selling channel that a number of companies reached milestones in 2016. Ten companies grew $100 million or more last year, and 22 companies each reported annual revenue of $1 billion or more.

TextJackie Nickel, Chief Marketing Officer of the Americas at Amway, accepts the night’s top prize for the company, which placed No. 1 on the Global 100.

By region, there were 46 companies from North America in the Global 100; five from South America; nine from Europe/Africa; and 40 from Asia/ Asia-Pacific. A total of 17 countries were represented on the list—Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Companies appearing in the ranking for the first time included Quanjian from China (No. 8); Marketing Personal from Colombia (No. 81); Global Ventures Partners from the U.S. (No. 92); and Shinsei from China (No. 99). Companies returning to the list were JoyMain from China (No. 13); SUN HOPE from China (No. 23); LegalShield from the U.S. (No. 43); Faberlic from Russia (No. 48); Merro International from China (No. 56); KK Assuran from Japan (No. 64); New Image Group from New Zealand (No. 86); Vestige Marketing from India (No. 91); Immunotec Research from Canada (No. 96); Nefful from Singapore (No. 97); and Captain Tortue Group from France (No. 98).

The Bravo Awards

Each year, the DSN Global 100 celebration endeavors to recognize an industry executive who embodies exceptional leadership qualities that have propelled his or her company to extraordinary new heights. Whether it is inspirational vision that has built solid corporate cultures, innovation that has strengthened the company infrastructure, or creativity that has created new opportunities for independent business owners, our Bravo Leadership Award aims to acknowledge such achievements of a direct selling leader.

This year, one recipient for the Bravo Leadership Award was simply not enough, for there were two remarkable stories that unfolded. The first Bravo Leadership Award was presented to Jim and Kathy Coover, co-founders of Isagenix and a leadership team that has grown their business 247 percent over the past five years, propelling the company into the Top 30 of the DSN Global 100 with $924.3 million in annual revenue. The team recently celebrated their 15th year in business

“As leaders, I think we have an incredible opportunity to step up and demonstrate to the world what a powerful distribution channel we are, and more importantly, what a powerful agent of change we can be,” Jim said. “We have always tried to stay true to our motto of ‘if it isn’t right for our associates and customers, it isn’t right for the company.’ ”

The second recipient of this year’s Bravo Leadership Award was Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO of It Works! His wellness company did not enter the Global 100 ranking until 2012, when it debuted at $200 million, but over the past four years, the team at this company has grown its revenue 274 percent, reaching No. 33 with $686 million.

TextDebbie Coffey, who accepted Avon Products’ award for its No. 2 ranking on the Global 100, reinforced the importance of companies helping people change their lives.

Leading It Works! to exponential growth during the past few years was reason enough to recognize Pentecost; however, the way in which this former math teacher and basketball coach has taught his team to “live on the offensive” is truly inspirational. As he shares with the audience his personal—and victorious—battle with cancer, he tells a very compelling story of the individual courage to face life’s toughest challenges head on, while doing so with an abundance of integrity and grace

“My team had big plans for 2016, having to deal with cancer wasn’t one of them,” he said. “We can’t plan for every obstacle that is thrown our way, but we can put the team in place and surround ourselves with the best people. When something is thrown your way, you have the support to handle it.”

Pentecost still has big plans for It Works! and for how he and his team can impact the world by being positive change makers. “Good is having a strong company. Great is increasing profits or opening new markets. But legendary is changing the lives of people who need it the most,” he said.

Youth enhancement brand Jeunesse received the Bravo Growth Award for its increase in annual sales by $1 billion over a two-year period—from approximately $400 million in 2014 to $1.4 billion in 2016. It debuted on the Global 100 in 2012 with $65 million in sales, breaking into the top 20 of the Direct Selling News Global 100 list in 2015 and advancing to the No. 14 spot this year with $1.41 billion in net sales. Based in Lake Mary, Florida, the company sells its anti-aging products and nutritional supplements in 140 global markets.

Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis accepted the award and commented, “We are pleased to have been chosen by Direct Selling News as their 2017 Bravo Growth Award recipient and appreciate this meaningful recognition. In addition, it is truly an honor to be listed among the top 15 companies in our industry, and we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Jeunesse family from across the globe, who we congratulate for making this accomplishment possible.”

Direct Selling News’ Lauren Lawley Head and John Fleming toast the Global 100 honorees.

Impacting Lives for Better World

Debbie Coffey, Vice President, Corporate Communications, New Avon LLC, who accepted Avon Products’ award for its No. 2 ranking on the Global 100 with sales of $5.70 billion in 2016, reinforced the importance of companies helping people change their lives. She is also an Avon Foundation board member.

“Thank you Direct Selling News for this recognition of Avon Products, Inc. performance in 2016. We owe our success to our 6 million Avon Representatives around the world who are changing their lives and the lives of those around them through the Avon opportunity. They are our greatest motivation and inspiration,” said Coffey.

TextMarily Penttinen accepts Mary Kay’s award for placing No. 5 on the Global 100.

“2016 was an exciting year for us at Avon, It was our 130th anniversary, and, as an Avon Foundation Board Member, I am very proud to share that it was the year we reached $1 billion raised globally for women’s causes,” added Coffey, who is also an Avon Foundation board member. “We are so proud to give women living with breast cancer and domestic violence help for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Jackie Nickel, who accepted Amway’s award for No. 1 direct seller in the world, spoke too about purpose and the efforts the company takes to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“This award is a testament to the work we do each and every day to help people live better lives, discover their potential and achieve their goals,” she said.

The following companies sponsored tables at the DSN Global 100 Celebration:

Platinum Table Sponsors – ACN, Amway, Isagenix, It Works!, Jeunesse, New Avon, Total Life Changes and World Global Network; Gold Table Sponsors – AdvoCare, Ambit Energy, Mannatech, Mary Kay, MONAT, Oriflame, Plexus Worldwide, SeneGence, Stream, WorldVentures, Young Living and Zurvita.

This year, six special suppliers also chose to support Direct Selling News in sponsorship of the banquet: SUCCESS Partners, Avalara, Exigo, Hyperwallet, InfoTrax and Multi Image Group.


DSN Celebrates the Global 100 Companies

by J.M. Emmert

Amway was recognized as this year’s new No. 1 direct selling company in the DSN Global 100 ranking.


• Cover Story • 10 Things to Know • The List
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

• Leadership • Growth • Momentum

DSN Global 100

Direct Selling News celebrated the DSN Global 100 ranking on April 3 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, with a dinner and awards ceremony. The event marked the fourth consecutive year that DSN has recognized the achievements of the global direct selling leaders.

The event was hosted by DSN Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming. Brian Connolly, Chairman of the Board of Miche Bag and former Executive Vice President of Avon Products Inc., served as master of ceremonies.

More than 300 direct selling executives attended the event, including Cindy Monroe, CEO of Thirty-One Gifts; Jim and Kathy Coover, Co-Founders of Isagenix; Wayne Coupland, Network Director of Telecom Plus; Jerry Brassfield, Executive Chairman of GNLD; John Addison, Co-CEO of Primerica; Rob Snyder, Chairman of Stream Energy (Ignite); Connie Tang, CEO of Princess House; Chris Chambliss, a Co-Founder of Ambit Energy; Dave Wentz, CEO of USANA; Robert Goergen Jr., President of PartyLite; Keith Harding, CEO of Sportron; Robert Sinnott, CEO of Mannatech; Ryan Blair, CEO of ViSalus; Jill Blashack Strahan, CEO of Tastefully Simple; Mike Azcue, CEO of WorldVentures; and Orville and Heidi Thompson, Co-Owners of Scentsy.

Special guests included Joseph Mariano, President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association; Charlie Orr, Executive Director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF); and two DSEF Circle of Honor winners: J. Stanley Fredrick, Chairman of Mannatech; and Michael Lunceford, Senior Vice President of Mary Kay. Malou Caluza, Chief Marketing Officer of QNET, traveled from Hong Kong to attend the event.

The Bravo Awards

The evening began with the presentation of two DSN Bravo Awards for excellence.

Momentum Award

It Works! Global was honored with the Bravo Momentum Award, which was created for this year’s celebration to recognize a previously unranked company that had demonstrated not only significant growth in 2012, but also the most significant first-time ranking on the DSN Global 100 list.

“It just shows any company in here that if you really focus and persevere you can do this—you can be a 10-year overnight success.”
—Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO, It Works! Global

Founder and CEO Mark Pentecost had attended last year’s event and decided then that he wanted It Works! to be a Global 100 company. He and his team put together a strategic and operational plan to achieve that goal. In 2011, It Works! had revenue of $45 million; in 2012, revenue jumped to $200 million, placing the company in the 56th position in the 2012 ranking.

“We started from the bottom, and now we’re here,” said Pentecost. “It just shows any company in here that if you really focus and persevere you can do this—you can be a 10-year overnight success.”

Growth Award

Nerium International won the Bravo Growth Award, which is presented to the company achieving the highest percentage of growth over the prior year.

Last year’s winner, ViSalus, won the award for its 600 percent growth, going from $34 million in 2010 to $231 million in 2011. Nerium achieved an astounding 3,900 percent growth, going from $2.5 million in revenue in 2011 to $100 million in 2012. The company, which was founded in the fall of 2011 with only one product in the anti-aging category, placed 86th in the ranking.

Nerium’s founders—CEO Jeff Olson, President Dennis Windsor, Corporate Liaison Renee Olson and Vice President of Marketing and Culture Amber Olson—accepted the award.

“It’s been a fun year,” said Jeff Olson. “We’ve really enjoyed the growth and look forward to a great year coming up.”

Leadership Award

The third award in this category, presented later in the evening, was the Bravo Leadership Award, which was given to Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of São Paolo, Brazil-based Natura and Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations.

The Leadership Award is presented to an individual who personifies leadership, guiding those around him toward greater good, progress and achievement all while earning the respect and admiration of those he leads. Previous winners in this category include John Addison of Primerica (2009); Greg Provenzano, Robert Stevanovski, Mike Cupisz and Tony Cupisz of ACN (2010); and Doug DeVos of Amway (2011).

Carlucci was recognized for embodying those traits. He joined his company in 1989 as a member of the sales and marketing team. In 2005, he was named CEO, becoming the company’s first top executive from outside its controlling stockholders. Under his guidance, Natura has grown to be the largest cosmetics company in Brazil.

In October 2011, Carlucci assumed the Chair of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, where he now helps guide the industry on a global scale. He believes his responsibility as a leader is to “show to the world our transformation and entrepreneurship capacity,” which will increase business opportunities and the positive impact direct selling has on the lives of millions of people.

“I am very deeply honored to receive this,” said Carlucci upon receiving the Leadership Award. “I am happy to be here because every time I can be together with friends in direct selling, it makes me feel better about the decision I made many years ago to join this industry. It’s a moment to see good friends and the opportunity to make new good friends. This is one of the most important characteristics of our industry—we make friends for life. It is an amazing industry.”

Brian Connolly, Chairman of the Board of Miche Bag, served as master of ceremonies.Brian Connolly, Chairman of the Board of Miche Bag, served as master of ceremonies. Over 300 industry executives attended the Global 100 Celebration.Over 300 industry executives attended the Global 100 Celebration. Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Natura and Chairman of the WFDSA, gave the keynote address.Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Natura and Chairman of the WFDSA, gave the keynote address.

Keynote Address

Carlucci was also the keynote speaker for the evening. He spoke of the interconnectedness of direct selling companies, distributors and consumers, and the impact the industry has on the world at large.

“Relationships are the foundation of our company and our business. In the end, relationships move the world; relationships move the business; relationships move people,” he said.

“There is nothing more contemporary than direct selling, and the world is calling for us to help people, to be better leaders, to do the right thing, to transform lives, to generate economic health.”
—Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Natura and Chairman of the WFDSA

“We see people trying to really produce positive impact,” Carlucci continued. “At the same time we see a huge change in consumer behavior. And when we see all these things together, and we look for the fundamentals of our industry, there is a call for us—a call for our industry because we transform people’s lives, we affect their social aspects, we can do good things for the environment and, economically, we can offer opportunities for people. There is nothing more contemporary than direct selling, and the world is calling for us to help people, to be better leaders, to do the right thing, to transform lives, to generate economic health.”

As Chairman of the World Federation, Carlucci re-emphasized the relevance and importance for direct selling companies to be examples of trust, transparency and good business—“Business that can really change the quality of life on this planet,” he said.

The DSN Global 100

The most anticipated segment of the evening was the announcement of the DSN Global 100.

Before announcing the list in reverse order, Emcee Connolly shared some statistics about the 2012 ranking. A total of 16 countries were represented—including Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Luxembourg, Peru, Russia, South Korea and Switzerland—with 24 newcomers to the list, hailing from Japan, Malaysia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, China and Cyprus.

By region, there were 57 companies from North America, four from South America, 14 from Europe/Africa and 24 from the Asia-Pacific arena.

In all, the DSN Global 100 companies achieved over $72 billion in net sales in 2012, up from $63 billion one year ago. The Top 10 companies, which collectively represented 625 years of direct selling business across the globe, achieved $44 billion in revenue.

Representatives from nine of the Top 10 companies were present at the event.

“We want to dedicate this distinction to our amazing independent beauty advisors because without their passion, their commitment and their hard work on a daily basis… this would never have been possible.”
—Mona Ameli, General Manager, Belcorp USA

Mona Ameli, General Manager of Belcorp USA, accepted for Peru-based Belcorp Ltd., which placed 10th. “This is a very special year for us as we celebrate our 45th anniversary. This acknowledgment reflects the extraordinary efforts of our 9,000 employees. We want to dedicate this distinction to our amazing independent beauty advisors because without their passion, their commitment and their hard work on a daily basis, from the outskirts of the Amazon to the streets of San Francisco, this would never have been possible.”

Oriflame Senior Vice President Michael Cervell accepted for the Luxembourg-based company, which placed 9th. “On behalf of Oriflame, we are very proud to be in this [ranking], but we are not satisfied. We want to be higher than we are now.”

Greg Darlington, Vice President of Nu Skin, accepted for his company, which placed 8th. “On behalf of our 900,000 distributors and our customers around the world, we thank you for the opportunity to receive this award.”

No. 6 Mary Kay was represented by Senior Vice President Nathan Moore. “Mary Kay always said that if you aim for the moon and you miss, you land amongst the stars. It’s an honor to be among all of you stars tonight.”

Keynote speaker and Bravo Leadership Award winner Carlucci accepted for No. 5, Natura. “On behalf of our 1.5 million consultants around Latin America, we would like to say ‘thank you.’ ”

Hans ter Pelle, Chief Financial Officer of JAFRA Cosmetics, accepted for Germany-based Vorwerk, the No. 4 direct seller. “On behalf of the owner family of Vorwerk and the managing partners, I will gladly take this award and pass it on to them. We aim for higher goals, and we aim for touching many more people on this globe, so let’s put in some healthy competition and see where we end up next year.”

“With leadership comes responsibility, and as such, we will continue to support the industry and its interests going forward.”
—Sandy Spielmaker, Vice President of Sales, Amway North America

The No. 3 direct seller in the world, Herbalife, was represented by Brian McKinley, Senior Director of Corporate Alliances. “Don’t believe everything you read,” McKinley said in reference to recent scrutiny of the company. “Our company is fantastic, our industry is amazing and the future is very bright.”

Angelo Rossi, Avon Group Vice President, accepted for the No. 2 direct seller. “We are honored to be here and accept on behalf of the over 30,000 associates and 6 million independent contractors around the world. I would also say we are honored and humbled tonight to recognize the new top direct selling company in the world.”

AmwayThe new No. 1 direct seller was Ada, Michigan-based Amway, which achieved $11.3 billion in revenue for 2012. Sandy Spielmaker, Vice President of Sales for Amway North America, accepted for the company. “It is really an honor to be a leader in an industry of such great, reputable companies. With leadership comes responsibility, and as such, we will continue to support the industry and its interests going forward,” said Spielmaker. “We also know that, as an industry, we are being attacked by outsiders, but we are not in this alone. We are in it together and we will continue to support each and every one of you and this entire industry.”

Immunotec Names New CEO Charles Orr


Health and wellness company Immunotec today announced the appointment of Charles L. Orr as its new CEO. After four years serving as Executive Director at the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), Orr is stepping back into a familiar role as CEO of a major direct selling company. The DSEF stated that it will continue to work closely with Orr through the adjournment of the Direct Selling Association’s (DSA) Annual Meeting in June.

“Charlie’s leadership of and dedication to DSEF have been unwavering and we want to thank him for his years of service,” said DSEF Chairman and Amway Chief Sales Officer John Parker in a statement. “He has served as CEO of a major direct selling company before, and we’re fortunate that he remains in this industry, one he cares so passionately about.”

Orr joined the DSEF in March 2009 as Executive Director over all its programs and activities. His extensive direct selling experience spans 23 years. Orr has served as a director of Quebec, Canada-based Immunotec since 2006.

Orr has formerly taken on various leadership responsibilities across the financial services and computer industries, in addition to serving in board or advisory roles for a range of public and privately held companies. He has been the recipient of both the DSEF Circle of Honor Award (2005) and the DSA Hall of Fame Award (2007). The DSEF Executive Committee will provide full guidance to the Foundation’s staff until the organization names a successor.

Read the full press release here.

Direct Sales Professionals: The DSA Has Your Back

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

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


Concerned about how California Representative Darrell Issa’s proposed legislation impacting disclosure requirements is related to documentation of independent contractors? Interested in staying on top of recent court cases and legislation that impact your success in the direct selling industry? Wondering whether your state legislature is considering a law that could affect your business? Need to know the legal definitions of direct selling terms? Curious about industry trends and research? The Direct Selling Association (DSA) has you covered.

The DSA’s mission: “To protect, serve and promote the effectiveness of member companies and the independent business people they represent. To ensure that the marketing by member companies of products and/or the direct sales opportunity is conducted with the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers.” Many company executives may not realize the wealth of information and resources made available by the DSA.

Joseph MarianoJoseph Mariano

Their goal is simple and simply stated. “The whole point of the organization is to demonstrate and deliver value to our members,” says Joseph Mariano, President of the DSA. If he and his colleagues had one big wish it would be that direct selling company executives were more aware of the wide range of benefits and services they have at their disposal. “We have the benefit of having a number of people who have worked many, many years here and have really devoted their lives and their careers to direct selling.”

“The whole point of the organization is to demonstrate and deliver value to our members.”
—Joseph Mariano, President

Importantly, Mariano points out, the DSA is not a company—it’s a trade association, which is not-for-profit and is engaged in representing the entire industry, providing significant benefit to its members and the direct selling industry at large. Mariano believes that many members and potential members may not be fully aware of the value DSA provides.

He credits the strong and long-term staff members of the organization for providing the exceptional value that the DSA has been able to offer over the years. And it has been many years that the DSA has actively represented the interests of sales professionals—over a century in fact. The organization was formed in 1910 and was originally called the Agents Credit Association. Its first 10 members included the California Perfume Co., which is now Avon Products Inc. After growing in membership and focus—and following a few name changes—the group now known as the Direct Selling Association was named in 1968 and moved to Washington D.C., where it remains today.

Big Benefits

Membership in the DSA provides a wide variety of benefits for direct selling executives, ranging from research services to education and professional development programs to peer networking councils to salesforce support. Some benefits are available to the general public, such as DSA’s informational website, http://www.directselling411.com, which provides factual information and addresses common myths about direct selling.

“We use research primarily, although not exclusively, to support our industry advocacy efforts, with the participation of our member companies.”
—Joseph Mariano

Mariano points out that membership in the DSA has significant benefits, especially in the areas of research and data collection. He says, “We use research primarily, although not exclusively, to support our industry advocacy efforts, with the participation of our member companies. The data in and of itself can be an extraordinarily valuable tool for larger companies, but certainly for the smaller companies trying to figure out how they compare to the rest of the direct selling marketplace.” The data can provide insights for direct selling professionals into:

  • Where they should be focusing their resources for growth
  • What other companies are doing and how they’re succeeding or not succeeding
  • Whether their downturn or their upswing is a result of their own skill or is a factor, as it typically is, of trends that are affecting the entire industry

In addition to this targeted research, the DSA’s website, dsa.org, holds a vast storehouse of information that members can access to serve their needs, including such items as guidance on taxes for independent contractors and other IRS issues, information on the differences between legitimate direct selling companies and illegal pyramid schemes, as well as guidelines for offering prizes and gifts to both salespeople and end consumers.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is the latest recipient of DSA’s Champion of Free Enterprise Award. The award was presented in September 2012 by DSA President Joseph Mariano (left) and the current Chairman of the DSA, Brent Chapman (right), Herbalife’s General Counsel.Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is the latest recipient of DSA’s Champion of Free Enterprise Award. The award was presented in September 2012 by DSA President Joseph Mariano (left) and the current Chairman of the DSA, Brent Chapman (right), Herbalife’s General Counsel. DSA President Joseph Mariano (right) speaks with Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler at DSA’s largest educational and professional development event, the DSA Annual Meeting in June 2012. DSA President Joseph Mariano (right) speaks with Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler at DSA’s largest educational and professional development event, the DSA Annual Meeting in June 2012.

Government, Legal and Regulatory

Government relations is another significant focus of the organization, notes Mariano, and something that he feels members are not as fully aware of as they could be. While he recognizes and understands the tendency of many companies, especially smaller ones, to be not particularly interested in politics or government, he believes that the companies that don’t participate “are missing a great opportunity to develop relationships and a rapport with their own officials.” Those relationships, he says, “can ultimately really rebound to the benefit of that company tremendously in the local community.” Mariano encourages companies to reach out to the DSA for assistance in helping them forge these relationships.

In the last year the DSA has provided resources to voters and the general public that publicize the voting histories of politicians at national and state levels, and identify those “champions of direct selling” who support legislation and are regulation friendly to direct sellers. On the website www.legislativerecognition.dsa.org, DSA writes, “Promoting legislation is not a simple task, and often requires a great deal of time, effort and dedication to ultimately craft good policy. The DSA Government Relations staff and executives from member companies reach out to legislators and elected officials from both political parties. These individuals then engage and educate their fellow lawmakers on the benefits of direct selling, and the critical nature of laws that encourage entrepreneurship and economic growth.”

Visitors can click on an interactive map of the United States to see short profiles of the champion and what legislation or efforts they have supported.

Truly, the impact of DSA’s lobbying and legislative activities is chief among the benefits for the entire industry.

Truly, the impact of DSA’s lobbying and legislative activities is chief among the benefits for the entire industry. There are a multitude of governmental, legal and regulatory issues that impact those in the direct selling industry, from independent contractor tax issues to the regulation of door-to-door sales to a significant number of bills introduced in Congress. In fact, the DSA is currently monitoring dozens of issues and proposed legislation across the country. DSA keeps an updated listing of these issues; but even more important, the DSA’s Political Action Committee (DSAPAC) lobbies actively on members’ behalf to influence the outcome of these issues.

The DSA takes a position on each and every item—they could be Neutral, meaning there appears to be no impact on the industry; they could Support the item, or they could Oppose/Amend the item. When an item is opposed or needs to be amended, the staff works with lawmakers and others to help them understand the impact, sometimes unintended, of the proposed item.

Adolfo FrancoAdolfo Franco

“A great deal of our activities has to do with educational issues, market access and a continually changing marketplace,” says Adolfo Franco, Vice President, Global Affairs, for DSA.

A lot of the challenges of regulatory work will always be ongoing, he says. Despite what may be good intentions at the federal or state level, a lot of regulatory activity has negative consequences for direct sellers. “We need to point those things out, correct them and promote the industry to show how we’re making a huge impact on the American economy.”

Franco also points out that some legislative or regulatory efforts may be honest attempts by lawmakers to accomplish other agendas, but will have a detrimental effect on direct sellers. “Then it’s incumbent upon us,” he says, “to step to the plate and take the leadership as the trade association speaking on behalf of our nearly 200 member companies and getting them behind us.”

It’s truly a never-ending process. Bills that would negatively impact the industry are constantly being introduced at both the national and state levels, and the DSA monitors each and every one of them for potentially adverse effects. There is a bill, for example, currently in the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means (MA H 4118) that would provide municipalities with authority to require an annual licensing fee of $50 from every “residential commercial seller.” The DSA opposes this bill as it is written, as it would add undue burdens on all direct sellers.

“Appropriately defining independent contractor status is paramount.”
—Adolfo Franco, Vice President, Global Affairs

Franco also says that the association is constantly facing challenges related to the definition of independent contractors, which has a significant impact on the industry. “Appropriately defining independent contractor status is paramount.”

Franco points out that there are some who believe independent contractors should be treated as employees. He believes that while this would not destroy the model, it would certainly impact it in areas ranging from withholding to unemployment compensation to benefits. The staff at DSA evaluates all legislation that touches on these issues and actively works through lobbying efforts, personal relationships and education to protect the independent contractor status.

The DSA has its eyes and ears attuned to any legislation that could have negative effects on the industry. In another example, WA HB 1440, a bill sponsored by Representative John McCoy (D-Wash.), has been introduced that would create a presumption that an employer-employee relationship exists when a person performs services for remuneration. The DSA has opposed this bill and has actively worked to raise awareness and support against it, because it could require that all direct selling companies treat independent contractors as employees until they prove to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries otherwise. Until that occurs this bill could require the companies to complete paperwork and withhold taxes and even collect worker’s comp and unemployment monies from their salespeople. Clearly this would impede or even cripple companies.

In contrast, the DSA supports House Assembly bill US H 6653—the Independent Contractor Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2012, which seeks to create a new safe harbor for companies using independent contractors and was sent to the House Ways & Means Committee in December 2012.

These are the kinds of issues that all direct sales professionals need to be aware of, but few if any have the time, resources or clout to successfully monitor—let alone influence—the outcomes of such actions. Fortunately, for DSA members and the entire industry, DSA does.

In addition to remaining up to date and working to influence policy and regulations, the association has a major focus on education—of members and markets—and most notably a focus on molding industry perceptions.

Molding Industry Perceptions

When an industry is represented by over 50 million independent contractors worldwide, and each has a personal touch incorporated into their selling methods, issues can develop that uniform brands such as General Motors or Coca-Cola don’t face. The fact that individuals from all walks of life can build independent businesses is one of direct selling’s greatest strengths. It can also create challenges with misinformation and misperceptions. The DSA plays a key role in the process of shaping industry perceptions; in fact, it is a major area of focus.

“Over the last five years, and particularly over the last two or three, I think there is an unprecedented understanding on the part of our members and certainly among company leaders that the industry as a whole has to get out there and aggressively address the perception of the industry,” says Mariano. “We’ve devoted more resources as an association to that than ever before in so many ways.”

Amy RobinsonAmy Robinson

Amy Robinson has a significant impact here in her role as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the DSA. She makes an important distinction between the initiatives and actions that members take to promote their companies and what the DSA does to promote the industry. While member companies all have their own unique products, programs and selling mechanisms, there are certain key issues that unite them. She says, “What we try to do as an association is to identify those things that unite all direct sellers on common ground. We focus on these things to help the public understand what direct selling is fundamentally all about. This allows the companies and their independent contractors to focus on their specific company and products, without having to explain the entire industry.”

“What we try to do as an association is to identify those things that unite all direct sellers on common ground.”
—Amy Robinson, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

That difference in focus is not always clearly understood, acknowledges Mariano. But, as he, Franco and Robinson stress, as a trade association the DSA is focused on industry issues, not individual company issues. It doesn’t lobby on the behalf of individual organizations, but on behalf of the direct selling industry as a whole. However, through those efforts, individual companies ultimately benefit.

From an individual company standpoint, says Robinson, the goal is to help them focus on what they know best—their own products—rather than needing to be industry spokespeople or supporters.

Mariano adds, “We provide a fulcrum, a focus if you will, for company executives to come together, share information and make decisions.” Indeed, events over the last year have highlighted the value of the DSA’s work even more. From attacks in magazine articles to short sellers impacting stock prices by spreading misinformation, those opposed to the industry are seeking ways to be heard. The DSA’s efforts to strengthen public understanding of the industry and its many benefits have never been more necessary than now. “I think it’s clear that there are misunderstandings about the channel,” he says. “That hurts everybody and is a disadvantage to us in the marketplace.”

Franco says, “There is a difference between a company being under attack and the model being under attack. The role the association can play is by speaking as the trade association, as the entity charged with explaining not a company’s particular challenge, be it regulatory or otherwise, but exactly what direct selling is and why it’s legitimate.” That role, he says, is uniquely DSA’s as a trade association.

It’s an important role because laying the foundation for the industry as a whole ultimately benefits all. Mariano adds, “No matter how good your individual company brand may be and how much progress you’ve made in promoting your own company, if there is a question about the underlying business method then the industry really has to answer that cohesively and uniformly.” And that is what DSA is continually striving to do.

Global Impact

Over 58 countries have established a direct selling trade association within their borders.

Though this article has focused on the efforts of the U.S. DSA, trade associations for direct selling are established all over the world. There are actually two groups that represent the various DSAs: the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, and Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association. Over 58 countries have established a direct selling trade association within their borders to accomplish the same work that has been described here.

The staff at these associations, along with the member company executives who carry out much of the work and effort with them, take seriously their responsibility to protect and defend an entrepreneurial opportunity and way of life that we call direct selling.

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF)

DSEFThe DSA would be remiss, says DSA President Joseph Mariano, if it did not note the significant contributions that have been made by the Direct Selling Education Foundation, which was created by DSA 40 years ago as a charitable, not-for-profit arm. DSEF engages the academic community, the consumer protection community and the entrepreneurial community about direct selling, but also about other issues to build credibility with those audiences so they have a better understanding of direct selling.

Charlie OrrCharlie Orr

DSEF’s board of directors comprises representatives from institutes of higher learning and consumer advocacy organizations, as well as corporate leaders in the direct selling industry. Executive Director Charlie Orr oversees the daily operations of the DSEF, and communicates regularly with its board. DSEF’s focus is on helping its supporters, and DSA members, by building relationships with key collaborators, including the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Community Colleges. These relationships help to combat pervasive stereotypes that DSEF and DSA continue to work to overcome.

The different focuses of the two organizations can be summed up like this: DSA is focused on promoting and protecting the industry. DSEF is focused on engaging and educating outside stakeholders, the public—and direct sellers.

Letter from John Fleming, December 2012

John Fleming

Reflections have already started to fill our minds even though the year is not over as we go to press with the final issue for 2012. We have witnessed the phenomena of new company successes, constant growth among many companies and of course some challenges. We have come through that special moment in time when the nation elects many of its leaders for new terms. We continue to marvel at how technology is impacting the way our business model works, resulting in increased speed in just about everything direct sellers do. And, with the ongoing concern and discussion about jobs—and where they will come from today and tomorrow—direct selling, as a viable solution, continues to be well positioned.

A very significant highlight and accomplishment for the industry in 2012 has been the creation, and now implementation, of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program. The program was developed by the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). It was rolled out to a few select community colleges in November and will be available to NACCE member colleges across the country in 2013.

It is quite a feat to have gained the interest and collaboration of NACCE and their affiliated colleges (approximately 400) in teaching direct selling as a critical component of entrepreneurship at a time when the nation and its people are searching to find pathways to recovery and prosperity. What better place to learn about the direct selling industry than in the atmosphere of the college classroom? There are 1,167 community colleges in the nation and they are becoming the sweet spot of higher education. They are generally affordable, more entrepreneurial, flexible and responsive. DSEF’s Executive Director, Charlie Orr, had this to say: “The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is an acknowledgement from the higher education community of the important entrepreneurial contribution of direct selling.”

We have often heard of a particular school or professor devoting some classroom time to a discussion on direct selling. However, this is the first time in history that a curriculum has been developed by the Direct Selling Education Foundation. The curriculum is considered a huge step along the pathway to image enhancement, education and improved public perception of the direct selling business model. All of the preceding are often impacted or developed by what is taught in the classroom. The curriculum is thorough. Modules emphasize the fundamental components of small business management including: marketing, finance, business ethics, and planning, as well as other proficiencies that are important to the success of a small enterprise. In addition, course participants gain a deep understanding of the wide variety of direct selling business strategies including individual sales efforts, party plan and network marketing scenarios, online sales, and salesforce recruitment and training, which is designed to be delivered in an educational manner that is both positive and inspirational. The instructors and students who participated in the pilot phase were very enthusiastic about the outcome.

NACCE hopes that direct selling companies will be proud of how a sector of the academic community is embracing and teaching direct selling as a viable form of entrepreneurship. “Today’s growing ranks of direct selling professionals are nearly 16 million strong, proving that direct selling is an excellent way for many individuals to create their own jobs,” says NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle.

The public will benefit from the availability of the course, which strives to strengthen business and entrepreneurship skills. Companies will benefit from the third-party credibility and the fact that the course is being taught in community colleges. Companies and their independent contractors can serve their local communities by promoting the existence of the course as a public service thus driving more of those who need to get “all of the facts” to a neutral environment where the facts are taught in a pedagogical manner. More about this great new course can be found on the program’s website (www.directsellingentrepreneur.com), along with a listing of the first colleges involved.

Now it is time to say thank you! Thanks to all of you, our subscribers, especially those of you who have contributed to the articles in this publication throughout the year, and a special thank you to our advertising partners! Thanks also to those who have given us the feedback we cherish and given us the accolades when we have done well. Both serve to motivate, inspire and commit our entire staff to bring you the stories that need to be told.

May the blessings of peace and goodwill for mankind be shared by all of us!

This year has been a joy! Until next month… enjoy the issue!
John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Changing the Game: Community Colleges Embrace DSEF’s Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program

Changing the Game: Community Colleges Embrace DSEF’s Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program

by Charlie Orr, Executive Director, Direct Selling Education Foundation


Imagine members of your field organization sitting in a college classroom learning the entrepreneurial skills that are both universal to small-business owners and specific to direct selling—skills that complement and strengthen the excellent training programs your companies have in place to teach your field about your unique cultures, products and business opportunities.

Sound too good to be true?

This fall, the scenario above will play out in community college classrooms across the country as the Direct Selling Education Foundation launches its Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program, a 30-hour, 10-module, non-credit course that introduces direct sellers to the fundamental components of small business management and entrepreneurship, including marketing, finance, legal issues, planning, ethical business practices—all skills crucial to the success of any direct selling small business.

The country’s 16 million direct sellers come to the industry with a wide range of experiences and goals. The creation of a dedicated curriculum aimed at this broad range of independent business owners—from those who are new to the industry to those with years of direct sales experience—will give them the confidence in their ability to succeed as direct selling professionals while they put what they learned into action.

While course participants may enter thinking of themselves as direct sellers, they complete the course as small-business owners capable of incorporating solid entrepreneurial skills to maximize the full range of opportunities offered by the world of direct selling.

It’s a game changer.

The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program curriculum is the result of more than two years of hard work and the dedication of a talented group of individuals. DSEF Program Director Robin Diamond assembled an incredible team of staff, industry executives, curriculum experts and other volunteers to take this program from a kernel of an idea to a successful pilot phase, and now a national rollout.

At DSEF, one of the ways we stand up for consumers and champion ethical entrepreneurship on behalf of the industry is by nurturing relationships with consumer advocates, educators and students, public policy officials, and members of the small business and entrepreneurship communities.

The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is a testament to that work and demonstrates how a conversation we have today might result in a groundbreaking partnership and program tomorrow. This project would never have gotten off the ground without DSEF’s years of relationship-building and trusted programming. These cumulative efforts resulted in a partnership with the National Association of Community Colleges for Entrepreneurship (NACCE), an organization that helps community colleges nationwide link their traditional role of workforce development with entrepreneurship.

The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is also a testament to you: the industry executives and companies that fund the foundation’s critical efforts through voluntary financial contributions. Without your support, none of our work would be possible.

All of us at the foundation extend a special thank-you to Jerry and Bonnie Kelly of Silpada Designs. Their belief in the potential of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program and their generous financial support gave us the resources to accelerate the curriculum development and ensure the end result is world-class.

When I think about DSEF’s mission to engage and educate the public on the ways direct selling empowers individuals, supports communities and strengthens economies worldwide, I can’t help but be struck by how the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program so beautifully aligns with every word. Through this program, DSEF is not only educating direct sellers, but raising awareness about the entire industry and its role in shaping people, communities and economies.

The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program will roll out in a dozen community colleges beginning in September and will reach even more communities in 2013.

For more information, contact Director of Marketing & Communication Nancy Laichas at nlaichas@dsef.org. To help fund the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program and other DSEF initiatives, visit www.dsef.org to make a contribution.

Charlie OrrCharlie Orr is Executive Director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.