Get Out from Behind the Desk

by Dallin Larsen, Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, MonaVie

Top DeskIt is ironic that I am writing for “Top Desk,” or any desk at all. My philosophy as the leader of MonaVie is to get out from behind the desk and get into the sales field organization. You have a far better view of how your business is working if you observe it from the other side of the desk.

The mindset that can result from sitting behind the desk often allows us to believe that we, as CEOs, are the best at making all business decisions—decisions that I’ve now come to find are better delegated to the managers and directors within our companies whose job it is to manage and direct.

At MonaVie, I’ve also come to believe that my job is to get out from behind the desk and join the distributors in their journey of success.

The Heart of Every Business: The Distributor

A focus on the distributor experience and a respect for the entrepreneurial spirit have always been at the core of MonaVie. I understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur out there on the front lines. In fact, I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I put myself through college at Brigham Young by selling shaved ice. How is that for Direct Selling 101? My brother and I had about 20 shaved-ice shacks throughout Utah. Then, in the 1980s, when I was in my early 20s, my family bought some weight-loss franchises. I talked my dad into co-signing on a loan to buy my first Diet Center franchise. It did pretty well, and I opened up four more. That entrepreneurial experience taught me that business success comes from the people you hire and, hopefully, inspire to join you in your dream. It sure doesn’t come from sitting behind a desk.

In the late ’80s, a friend of mine introduced me to network marketing, and I never turned back. I have walked the journey of being an independent distributor, and I learned what it takes: courage, smarts, faith, and lots and lots of hard work. Through my own experience as a distributor, and then as a corporate executive, I came to believe that I have a distributor’s heart—their journey is where my passion lies.

So, when my brother Randy, Henry Marsh and I founded MonaVie, we dreamed of having the most distributor-focused company in the industry—a company where you didn’t have to be Superman or Superwoman to achieve success. In our company, the average person who sponsors just two people can earn some money. Some of our people are earning an extra $1,000 a month, some earning an extra $1,000 a year. Some are earning a whole lot more!

From the very beginning at MonaVie, I was always a little desk-averse. In fact, early on, I moved my home from our corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City to Florida, just so I wouldn’t be tempted to be in the office every single day of the week. I wanted to be out there in the field, helping distributors build their businesses at least part of the time. I had, however, created either the reality or the perception that I had to have the final say on everything that was done at corporate headquarters. As I traveled the globe meeting with our distributors, I thought I had left the desk behind, but I found I was just dragging that desk right along with me. There it was, in the palm of my hand, in the form of a BlackBerry. Rolling into bed, having been in five or six countries in two weeks, I would look at my phone and find that there were hundreds of e-mails waiting to be answered. From every segment of the business, there were questions awaiting my response. I knew that something had to change, and change fast.

Unchained from E-mails

I knew I needed to reassess my role. I needed to refocus on where I personally spend my time. I knew I had to make some personal changes in order to meet the challenges of a growing global business. I needed to become even more distributor-focused. I needed to leave the e-mails behind, too.

A few weeks ago, I terminated my personal e-mail account. The only e-mails that I receive now are answered by my assistant. Rather than being asked about every aspect of the business, I have given the authority and responsibility to those whose job it is to lead. I don’t expect these managers and directors to make perfect decisions. I do expect them, however, to make educated decisions and to take ownership of the decisions they make.

I have asked them to fully consider the return on investment of each decision that they make and to treat corporate dollars as though each dollar were their own. Of course, as founders of MonaVie, Randy, Henry and I may override things from time to time when we feel it is in the best interest of the company. Dell Brown, President of MonaVie, also may override things, but 99 percent of the time, we expect our managers and directors to make decisions for their respective areas and to take full responsibility for the results.

Instead of spending six to eight hours a day on e-mails, as I did in the past, I am now able to focus my energy completely on our sales field leaders. They are our future. I have come to believe that my highest calling is to work side by side with them to help them build their businesses. My primary role is to carry the vision of MonaVie around the world. Of course, I am able to stay in the loop on high-level issues affecting each department by attending key staff meetings each week via videoconference.

The “E” in MonaVie stands for “exceptional.” I expect our whole team to be exceptional. I believe I have more of an opportunity to be exceptional doing distributor meetings and taking the MonaVie vision around the world than I do by sitting behind a desk, or responding to 300-plus e-mails every day! On my tombstone, I’d rather the words not be: He was good at e-mails.

Dallin Larsen is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MonaVie.


Strategic Presence: The Power that Fuels Leadership!

by Tony Jeary

leadershipThe goal of leadership is to produce superior results on purpose, making leadership a results contest. The challenge of leadership is to persuade and motivate those being led to produce the leader’s desired results. When people voluntarily and enthusiastically do what their leaders ask them to do, achieving the desired results, leaders are considered effective and successful! The question is, How do leaders really get others to voluntarily and enthusiastically produce the desired results? There are many parts to this puzzle, but there is none greater than a condition I describe as strategic presence.

Here is a great story that illustrates strategic presence and illuminates its effect. A student from a foreign country was enrolled in a new school during the middle of the school year. During the first day of class, the other kids in the class were doing what kids do. There was a lot of giggling and staring and posturing for the new arrival. The new student was dressed in a way that did not meet the expectations of a few of the children, and eventually one of them (the class clown) began to make jokes about the new student’s appearance.

As the scene was progressing toward chaos, the teacher was about to intervene when a girl stood up and told everyone to stop picking on the new classmate. The girl reminded them that it was scary to be new in a school and that they needed to be kind to the student and make them feel welcome. She reminded them they should treat this new person as they would want to be treated if they were in a new country and a new school. After class, the teacher called the girl aside and said, “That was a very brave thing you did. Why did you do that?” The girl replied, “Because that is what my mom and dad would expect me to do.”

This story powerfully illustrates the essence and the effect of strategic presence. The girl had merely done what she knew her parents would want her to do. Her parents had succeeded in creating a positive presence in her mind, giving her the willingness and courage to do what she did. Most important, the presence of her parents was so authentic that they did not have to be physically present to inspire their daughter’s good behavior.

Leaders create impressions that exist in the mind of every person they lead. It is a presence that defines the perceptions people have of their leaders and what they believe about them. It is this overall persona that I am referring to when I use the term strategic presence, and there are two types: positive and negative. Leaders are constantly creating and presenting images of influence that produce both types of results.

The most important fact about strategic presence is that it evokes two possible reactions in others, either voluntary cooperation or various forms of resistance. If leaders generate a positive strategic presence, people will be more likely to support what they want most of the time. However, if perceptions of leadership are negative, people will substitute resistance for cooperation. The possibilities of how people will respond to strategic presence are limited to cooperation or resistance. There is not much middle ground between them. As someone once said, “You are either for us or against us!” It is easy to see why creating an authentic, positive strategic presence is critical for the execution of a vision.

Creating positive strategic presence is not a strategy of manipulation. The positive strategic presence leaders project must be authentic. Failing the test of authenticity means that the very image leadership hopes to establish will be perceived as deceptive and disingenuous—or worse. People are very perceptive and will see through efforts to project a phony persona simply for the purpose of manipulating their behavior. So why shouldn’t a leader’s strategic presence just be allowed to be what it is? That is a great question, and the answer is simple. Many leaders are misunderstood and create perceptions that really don’t match their intent. Understanding how strategic presence is created will minimize the possibility of being misunderstood.

So, how is strategic presence created? What are the things about leadership that speak the loudest about it? What creates the perceptions that combine to produce strategic presence? There are two components that contribute to strategic presence: values and behavior.

Our values are established by what we believe to be right, wrong, true, false, acceptable, unacceptable, appropriate and inappropriate. Let’s face it: We have all developed deep, strong opinions about many things as we live our lives. Opinions spring forth from your values, and your values influence what you do.

Our values and beliefs impact five categories that drive our behavior, and it is our behavior that creates strategic presence. The five categories are:

  1. Work ethic
  2. Integrity
  3. Judgment
  4. Courage
  5. Willingness to help others

So, if you want to be a great leader, you need to have great values, which must be demonstrated in the actions you take. This is the essence of strategic presence, and it is truly the power that fuels leadership.


Tony Jeary—“Coach to the World’s Top CEOs”—is a prolific author, presentation strategist and executive coach known for helping others create better and faster results. Reach him at