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The Direct Selling Association held its 2014 Annual Meeting this past June 1–3. More than 1,000 executives from direct selling and vendor partner companies gathered in Orlando to celebrate achievements and to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the industry.
Underscoring the meeting’s theme of ONE, the first two general sessions on Monday delivered a clear message about the importance of the industry presenting a united front and sharing the same message for those outside the industry: that direct selling offers a better life for 16 million Americans in addition to providing economic independence, a sense of fulfillment and a quality of life others cannot achieve through traditional workplace environments.
In the morning session, keynote speaker and acclaimed author of Good to Great and Great by Choice, Jim Collins, shared his extensive research on what produces great, enduring companies. “Whether we fail or thrive depends more on what we do to ourselves than what the world ‘out there’ does to us,” he told the crowd.
That sentiment was echoed in the afternoon session by the seven direct selling CEOs who took the stage to discuss unity across the entire industry. The panel, led by Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt, included Natura CEO Alessandro Carlucci, Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson, The Pampered Chef Founder, Interim CEO and Chairman Doris Christopher, Amway President Doug DeVos and Thirty-One Gifts Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe.
The group encouraged industry action to ensure companies can continue to thrive despite outside forces, such as the calculated attacks by short sellers and the regulatory challenges around the world, and affirmed the need to unite in securing vital political influence.
“This is a moment we should be thinking about unification more than ever before,” said Johnson, whose company has spent the past 18 months weathering attacks by Herbalife short seller Bill Ackman—a campaign Johnson described as “selfish, self-righteous and egregious in ways you don’t even know.”
New Officers, Directors for DSA Board
During the DSA’s 2014 Annual Meeting, the DSA Board of Directors nominated and approved Truman Hunt, CEO of Nu Skin Enterprises, as Chairman. In addition, the following executives will also serve for the 2015 term:
- Vice Chairman: David Holl (Mary Kay)
- Vice Chairman: Lori Bush (Rodan + Fields)
- Treasurer: Matt Blok (Amway)
- Immediate Past Chairman: Orville Thompson (Scentsy)
- Past Chairman: Brett Chapman (Herbalife)
Eight new Directors will help form the class of 2017. They will serve three-year terms:
- Doris Christopher (The Pampered Chef)
- Jonathan Gelfand (Team Beachbody)
- Erik Johnson (Hy Cite)
- Allison Levy (AdvoCare)
- Raymond Mily Jr. (The Kirby Company)
- Doug Robinson (LifeVantage)
- Frank VanderSloot (Melaleuca)
- John Wyckoff (Dove Chocolate Discoveries)
The attacks aimed at Herbalife affect the entire industry, said Monroe. Party-plan companies like Thirty-One Gifts have a mutual interest in protecting the independent status of their salespeople, which is why the company has worked to ensure their earnings opportunity extends to all levels of the organization.
“With everything we do at Thirty-One, we try to make sure we’re helping the salesperson make as much money as possible,” she said. “As an industry, we have to show the statistics that our sales reps are making income, and they are making it regardless of whether they have to invest in tools.”
DeVos encouraged executives to actively support initiatives that give direct selling a greater voice in Washington. “We have to have a purpose, a plan and the financial and human resources necessary to stand up and be counted,” he said.
Christopher emphasized participation in the DSA and its initiatives as a key to furthering the conversation in Washington. “As a part of it, we all share reputation, responsibility and a love of the opportunity we offer to our independent contractors,” she said. “The most effective way to fight challenges is to do it together.”
During the three-day event DSA’s Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting. Among a number of items of business for the session, the group elected new executives and directors to the Board and unanimously approved a number of changes to the Code of Ethics.
“The most significant changes are to the explanatory provisions,” DSA President Joe Mariano noted. “The changes relate to how the Code defines a pyramid scheme, the buyback policy and inventory loading, and are the result of some self-examination of the industry due to the attacks we’ve been facing.”
The Code of Ethics is regularly evaluated to ensure it meets the demands of the current marketplace environment. Changes are considered continuously as challenges arise, and as the Code of Ethics Administrator indicates, they are necessary to continue the sales channel’s exemplary history of self-regulation.
The Board Directors were also introduced to the new executive director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation, Gary Huggins.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Gary to the Foundation,” said Amway Chief Sales Officer and DSEF Chairman John Parker. “Gary comes to us with a great deal of experience in advocacy roles for nonprofits in the education arena in particular. He’s here with us throughout the meeting, and I’d love for him to have the opportunity to talk to and learn from all the great leaders in this room about the industry.”
The Board was also briefed about ongoing and upcoming government relations activities in response to current marketplace challenges. Incoming Government Relations Committee Chairman Michael Lunceford of Mary Kay briefed the body about his expectation of industry activity at the federal level to respond to current events, either involving passing legislation friendly to direct selling or killing legislation that is harmful to it.
|DSA Immediate Past Chairman Orville Thompson passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Truman Hunt.
“There are steps that need to be taken right now,” Lunceford advised the Board. “Get to know your Member of Congress—DSA can help you with this… and survey your field and ask them who they know. You’ll be surprised at the contacts they have…. Introducing a piece of legislation and passing it is arduous. It is far harder than trying to kill one. Do these small things to help yourselves.”
“To move the things we’re talking about takes a lot of time, money and effort,” noted DSA Executive Vice President Adolfo Franco. “It takes years… we need the commitment now for the long haul.”
Since 1910, DSA has worked to promote the impact of direct sellers and ensure a fair and open marketplace. The Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for industry executives to unite in the interest of their shared vision, message and future.
This year’s event featured an adjusted schedule from the previous years, including enhanced time in the exhibit hall for learning opportunities on Sunday afternoon, before the Grand Opening Reception. Express Learning Sessions featured more than 30 mini-workshops by vendor partners and a 90-minute interactive Perfecting Partnerships Roundtable helped executives and vendor partners forge deeper, strategic working relationships.
From innovative uses of technology to marketing tactics to international expansion fundamentals, the more than 40 speakers at this year’s DSA Annual Meeting offered a closer look at today’s crucial business-building topics.
The 2015 Annual Meeting will be held in San Antonio, Texas, from Sunday, May 31 through Tuesday, June 2.
Exclusive Coverage | Shaklee’s Marjorie Fine Inducted into DSA Hall of Fame | DSEF Circle of Honor Welcomes Elizabeth Owen |2014 Direct Selling Association ETHOS Award Winners | Roundtable with Direct Selling’s Female CEOs