Forbes: Rodan and Fields among America’s Richest Self-Made Women

Two direct selling entrepreneurs are among the top women in the country blazing their own—very lucrative—trails, according to a new list by Forbes.

A feature on America’s Richest Self-Made Women, appearing in the June issue of Forbes magazine, includes Rodan + Fields Founders Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields. The dermatologist duo tied at No. 42, with respective net worths of $320 million, trailed by the likes of pop mogul Beyoncé Knowles and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Before launching their eponymous skincare brand, the business partners created acne treatment Proactiv, currently licensed to direct marketer Guthy-Renker. They have also co-authored two lifestyle books focused on skincare solutions.

Topping the list of successful, self-made women is Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO of blood testing firm Theranos and the world’s youngest female billionaire, with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Twenty-two of the top 50 hail from the Technology or Fashion & Retail sectors.

An accompanying feature highlights eight businesswomen to watch, including Thirty-One Gifts Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe. Monroe’s net worth is a reported $200 million, matching that of Hollywood leading lady Sandra Bullock and genre-defying music artist Taylor Swift.

“When she was 28 and a young working mother, Monroe had an idea to help women earn extra money by hosting parties selling gifts and accessories,” the piece states. “She held the first in 2003. Since then over 300,000 consultants have held more than 4.5 million parties for her company, Thirty-One Gifts.”


North American Power Terminates Direct Selling Enterprise

North American Power brought its direct selling operations to an unexpected halt last week. In a statement posted to its representative site, the U.S. energy supplier announced the termination of its North American Power and Thrive customer referral programs, although it will continue to operate through its other business channels.

“Effective immediately, Independent Representatives will be unable to refer new customers or representatives to Thrive or North American Power. All referral sites have been disabled,” the notice reads.

Veteran energy executives Kerry Breitbart and Carey Turnbull founded the Connecticut-based company in 2009. Breitbart, a member of the National Energy Marketers Association Executive Committee, has been a key voice behind energy deregulation in New England, where North American Power has signed on a large percentage of its customers.

In 2011, Forbes magazine named the growing company No. 57 on its list of America’s “100 Most Promising Companies.” Last year North American Power reported $256 million in revenue, earning it the No. 47 spot on the DSN Global 100.

North American Power will continue to grow its direct-to-consumer channels, enroll new customers, and serve its existing customer base, a company spokesperson told DSN in an email.

“Although we are no longer accepting new enrollments through our referral network, our Independent Representatives will continue to receive residual commissions on customers that have been referred to date,” the company stated. “We are truly grateful for all of our Representatives’ efforts throughout this memorable journey, and wish them the very best of luck in the future.”

The Changing U.S. Market: A $4 Trillion Opportunity

by DSN Staff

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It’s every marketer’s dream—a growing market, consumers ready to buy, with money in hand. Trillions of dollars, in fact. But are all direct selling companies aware of this growing, ready and willing group? Even more, are their executive teams and salesforces knowledgeable about how to reach them to influence those trillions of dollars they are willing to spend?

Perhaps, the most startling numbers on these graphics are those representing the jump in buying power between 1990 and 2017 among all four of these minority groups. The Asian-American percentage change in buying power shows an increase of nearly 800 percent between 1990 and 2017, increasing from $115 billion to $1 trillion.

Close behind these staggering numbers is the Latino buying power, increasing almost 700 percent in the same years, from $210 billion to $1.7 trillion. Also breaching the trillion-dollar mark, the African-American buying power will climb to $1.3 trillion by 2017. And beyond that? The U.S. Department of Commerce projects steady increases in these numbers, expecting minority purchasing power to exceed $4 trillion in a few short years.

Emergence of the Total Market

America has long been called the melting pot of the world—a term referring to the various ethnic and racial heritages of over 300 million individuals who live here. The truth is that unless one is a Native American, every U.S. citizen has ancestors that have come here from somewhere else.

For the last five or six decades, the term General Market has referred to the group that makes up the largest percentage of customers in the U.S. marketplace. This group has been mostly represented by what the U.S. Census Bureau refers to as “non-Hispanic whites,” also commonly called Caucasians or “Anglos.” This General Market has been mostly constructed of descendants of Eastern, Western and Southern Europeans.

Entire sales and marketing structures have been built over the generations geared toward this General Market. Other segments of the population—large Chinese and other Asian communities, Hispanic families, and African-American populations—in commercial terms have long been considered sub-groups to the General Market. These sub-groups might have been completely overlooked in the construction of sales and marketing budgets, or more likely, allocated dollars in accordance with their population percentage. In other words, a company might have determined a specific amount for their sales and marketing budget and, having checked the U.S. Census Bureau data, had specific percentages of that budget allocated toward Hispanic, African-American, or Asian-targeted marketing. From a company standpoint, this has worked fairly well; however, it won’t for much longer.

The U.S. Department of Commerce projects a steady increase in minority purchasing power, expecting total dollars to exceed $4 trillion in a few short years.

This approach is becoming increasingly outdated because the face of America is literally changing. Through marriage and family building across ethnic and racial lines, as well as continued immigration, the General Market and its sub-groups no longer fit into distinct categories. This is evidenced by the fact that Americans are finding it more difficult to identify themselves within one single category.

In 1977, the U.S. Census form had only five categories of race: Indian, Asian, Black, White or Hispanic. Only one box could be checked. According to an article by Jens Manuel Krogstad and D’Vera Cohn published by the Pew Research Center in March 2014, U.S. Census official Nicholas Jones is quoted as saying, “Increasingly, Americans are saying they cannot find themselves on census forms.”

The Bureau is attempting to address this issue, and its complexity is plainly visible on the form, as there are now 15 options that make up five race categories—white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. A separate question asks whether individuals are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

The Census Bureau statistics simply indicate we have moved into a time in which multi-culturalism isn’t just an idea, or a marketing plan, but the reality of most Americans. And this reality is changing the way companies do business.

To see this graphic larger Click Here.

Language Shifts

The substantial changes in demographic makeup have led many in the marketing world to talk about shifting the language that describes customers. The idea of a dominant General Market with a few sub-segments is no longer a viable marketing description of consumers. Marketers are increasingly looking for new and better ways to reach consumers, and are embracing new labels to more accurately describe the buying public.

The largest contributing group to the multicultural expansion is the Latino population, which will triple in size and account for most of the U.S. population growth through 2050.

In the graphic below, you can see the changing face of the U.S. market by age segment, most clearly indicated by those in the under-40 and youngest categories. These young people will be the customers, consultants and corporate employees of tomorrow. Marketers are increasingly aware that their messaging needs to match up with what these populations consider to be important in order to best leverage their strategic plans. The largest contributing group to the multicultural expansion is the Latino population, which will triple in size and account for most of the U.S. population growth through 2050.

The transition from viewing the consumer landscape in segments to viewing the total landscape as one made up of varied cultures is now so marked that some believe the time has come to dismiss race altogether as a useful social indicator. Instead, companies should focus on strategies that will appeal across the multiple cultures, and layer on strong, engaging and connective ethnic values. In other words, focus on the human elements and find commonalities across all segments, thus delivering marketing content that is engaging and appropriate.

New marketing terms—such as Total Market, New Mainstream and others—are working their way into the lexicon of business executives who are attempting to manage these ideas into workable strategies.

Capturing Market Share through Content

Here at DSN, we’ve been writing about the importance of content marketing for some time. Marketing entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin, along with author and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk and others, has convinced us that outreach to customers in the social network and digital age is all about content, content, content.

But now, the message of that content is ever more important because the audience that is receiving it is changing as well. Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute, says, according to his website, that the content of your message delivers “information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

It will not do a company any good to produce marketing messages and advertising content for their goods and services that do notconnect with the intended audience. Even if those messages have connected in the past, the profile of the customer is changing so much that even that success may no longer count. So what does matter?

According to Cuban-American entrepreneur and author Glenn Llopis, who heads up the Glenn Llopis Group business consultancy,culture is the new universal language of marketing. In a Forbes article on capturing the Hispanic Market segment, Llopis writes, “Cultural intelligence must replace the misguided notion that simply translating English copy into someone’s native language is all you need to do to reach them. Embracing cultural sensitivity has become critically important to the design of new business models, leadership development and the relationships that brands earn with their consumers.” Llopis makes the point that brands don’t necessarily need to communicate in a language to reach ethnic consumers, but they do need to communicate in the language of the group’s culture.

The Messages

Translating existing English copy into various languages has been a common business practice in the past. That practice may never have been the best solution for the targeted market, but the expansion of cultural practices across the broader market is making it more and more outdated, not to mention embarrassing.

Take for example, the translation of the California Dairy Board’s very popular “Got Milk?” campaign into Spanish. Because they didn’t take the time to consider cultural nuances, the Dairy Board created a campaign that asked, “Are you lactating?”

Similarly, General Motors wanted to market the Chevy Nova to Latin American customers. They didn’t pay attention to the fact that “no va” in Spanish means “no go.” After much wasted time and effort, they renamed the car for that market.

Mistakes as blatant as these are not happening every day; however, any misfire created by a lack of understanding is wasted effort. How exactly will all this affect your company’s bottom line in recruiting, sales, and even hiring employees? Well, it’s difficult to draw dramatic conclusions, but it does seem clear that companies seeking to understand the market changes that are occurring will benefit more in the acquisition of customers, consultants, and general brand approvals.

Some of the cultural messages that are moving to the forefront of the total market might seem simple, but including them in your marketing messages can create a deep resonance in the market. For example, the number of households containing extended family—whether that is two or more generations living together, or includes cousins and aunts and uncles—is growing rapidly. Those companies whose marketing messages value these family relationships are more likely to engage these consumers.

Securing a place among these multiple trillions is, or should be, the goal of any modern marketer. Though the cultural messages and nuances are vital to any successful campaign, it is useful to remember that everyone, regardless of background or heritage, seeks quality and authenticity in the goods and services they utilize. With that as the starting point, those companies who strategically plan to reach the total market and all of its diversity will certainly gain a competitive edge.

North American Power Users Donate $1 Million through Energy Bills

In April 2011, North American Power overhauled its business plan to incorporate charitable giving at the core of the company’s sales model. Dubbed Mission to Millions (M2M), the initiative has now raised donations totaling $1 million in support of partner organizations worldwide.

The Mission to Millions program transforms a monthly energy bill into an opportunity to effect positive change. Each customer that signs up with North American Power selects one of the company’s featured charities—which include Save the Children, Heifer International, Homes for Our Troops, Hope for Haiti, Dress for Success Worldwide and many others. With each monthly payment, their organization of choice receives a $1 donation from North American Power.

“North American Power’s innovative Mission to Millions program is about doing well by doing good,” Marleen New, Senior Director of Global Partnerships and Alliances at Heifer International, said in a statement. “For North American Power, it isn’t enough to be your power company; it’s about using that power for social change and innovation.”

At No. 47 on the DSN Global 100, North American Power is one of the nation’s fastest-growing retail energy suppliers. The company seeks to provide sustainable energy at competitive rates by supplementing its green products with carbon offsets and investing in renewable energy development. After launching its Mission to Millions program in 2011, North American Power earned the No. 57 spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

Breathing New Life into the American Dream

by Amy M. Robinson

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

The American Dream is no doubt evolving. Gone may be the days when a house, two and a half children, a dog and a white picket fence were universally accepted as the be-all and end-all. But, the founding principle of this nation’s vision—the opportunity for prosperity, success and upward social mobility—remains highly sought-after, even as technological advancements, rising costs of education and economic challenges have changed the way many of us define success.

For those of us long familiar with direct selling, we understand wholeheartedly the many ways in which this industry touches the lives of millions each day. We see firsthand how mothers, recent college graduates, military spouses and post-retirement individuals pursue economic success, social networking and career advancement by way of the business opportunity. We take pride in direct selling’s ability to provide much-needed support to social causes around the world, and we experience the direct selling difference ourselves each time we stop to listen to a distributor’s success story.

While this industry presents a truly equal opportunity for both men and women, it is no secret that women have played an active role in transforming direct selling into what it is today: an industry that changes lives for the better.

Of the 15.9 million direct sellers in the United States, roughly 77 percent are women. What’s more, these 12.2 million women comprise a diverse group, not simply in terms of age or race, but also in terms of education, career experience, skills and interests. In fact, according to the DSA’s National Salesforce Study, more than half of all direct sellers have a bachelor’s or advanced degree. And, still, more than half of direct sellers have children under 18 at home.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that these numbers reveal an overlap between the two groups. Even as women in the direct sales channel pursue higher levels of education, many still balance family responsibilities and career aspirations simultaneously. These numbers not only reflect similar trends in the U.S. national workforce, but they also support recent findings regarding women’s perceptions of the American Dream.

According to a recent Forbes survey, 84 percent of working women say that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury to which they aspire either temporarily or long-term. This number is particularly astounding when one takes into consideration how the rising cost of living has made this dream more difficult to achieve.

In 2010, the Department of Commerce issued a study revealing what it would take for families to achieve the aspirations of the middle class—which it defined as home and car ownership, opportunities for vacations, access to health care and enough savings to retire and contribute to the children’s college education. The study concluded that even two-earner families today would have more difficulty achieving middle-class status than they had two decades ago.

Direct selling certainly offers a solution, which no other industry can match. Even more, countless women stand as mentors to those who follow in their footsteps, looking to provide much-needed support at home without sacrificing the opportunity to build a successful business.

These women not only serve as leaders in the field, but also at the executive level. The female perspective of the direct selling industry is widely represented by women so inspired by the opportunity that they have risen to top-level positions in efforts to provide guidance to those who look to the sales channel as a source for supplemental income, social empowerment and personal growth. These women give selflessly of their time to spark a passion for social causes, raise funding for charitable organizations and drive more people to channel their creative energy to give back to others. These women also work tirelessly to remind key policymakers and regulators about the impact of direct selling on the national economy and otherwise slow-to-improve employment rates.

Perhaps most importantly of all, they inspire us each and every day to establish our own definition of the American Dream—such that we might carve our own paths for achieving it.

Amy M. RobinsonAmy M. Robinson is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Direct Selling Association.

Forbes: Why Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence

Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Skill and intelligence are important leadership tools, but these alone do not a leader make. As Forbes Contributor Meghan M. Biro writes, effective leaders go beyond the rational and intellectual in connecting with others. Like all other human relationships, leading requires engagement on an emotional level.

To cultivate that emotional connection, a leader must actively focus the relationship on his team members rather than himself. A good leader is one who has created an environment where others can confidently and creatively exercise their talents. That seamless dynamic arises when a leader has come to know his team members as human beings—recognizing their abilities, apprehensions and aspirations.

Leaders, too, are human beings who are learning and growing. Some innately possess greater emotional intelligence than others; however, all can—to a degree—hone the ability to inspire others on an emotional level. Biro highlights important tools such as honesty, kindness and respect, as well as the ability to contextualize a situation and to know when to let go and get out of the way.

Read the full feature from Forbes.

Smart Leadership Spurs Growth at Rodan+Fields


“Entrepreneur” and “CEO” are titles that go hand-in-hand in business, but their close association has been known to give rise to another kind of leader entirely: the entrepreneurial CEO. That’s what Forbes Contributor Robert Sher calls a leader whose penchant for “strategy tinkering”—however well intentioned—can have an adverse effect on organizational growth.

The temptation to pursue new strategies or other shiny objects can cripple a management team’s ability to execute and distract from the company’s core mission. Sher points to the rapid growth achieved by skincare company Rodan+Fields as a case study in balancing new and existing strategies.

In 2010, Rodan+Fields was experiencing disparate success rates among the company’s growth programs across various regions. CEO Lori Bush could focus on ramping up the compensation plan to attract new distributors or invest in developing the company’s current sellers and identifying potential high-performers.

Rather than a comprehensive overhaul at either end, Bush created a behavioral training pilot program to determine the optimal strategy for the company. The program enabled Bush’s team to experiment and glean wisdom with minimal participation from or risk to the wider organization.

By channeling and vetting new strategies while sustaining organizational momentum, Rodan+Fields has experienced what Dan Chard refers to as The Power of Alignment. Chard, President of Sales and Operations at Nu Skin, underscores the need for a clear, consistent strategy flowing from the management team to distributors in his recent Working Smart feature for DSN.

Read the full story from Forbes.

Infographic: Measuring Social Media ROI

Whatever the product, person or promotion, social media has provided a platform to market it. The ubiquity and constant evolution of social media tools combine to test the fortitude of marketing departments everywhere. Individuals and organizations have refined the art of social media marketing, but the science behind it remains relatively abstract.

The challenge of measuring social media marketing effectiveness has prompted case studies by outlets such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, whose findings are the subject of a useful infographic from social media software company Psoshul. The data reveals how 10 companies have connected to online communities to bypass traditional research and test marketing, generate buzz through discount promotions and—most importantly—increase overall sales.Other studies have found big ROI on little social media interactions, but among these 10 companies a common practice may be a narrowed approach to using social tools. Measuring effectiveness requires concentrating marketing energy on a specific narrative or function. Some brands focused on building community, others on developing a direct ordering channel, yet others on generating viral promotions. The ideal use of social platforms may prove as unique as the entity behind them, but the key to generating a healthy ROI may be identifying that ideal use.Click through to view the infographic.

Compliance Is Key to Industry Growth


When Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management launched his attack against Herbalife at the close of 2012, he apparently hoped to make a fortune and at the same time take down a very large, very successful company that he alleged was using a questionable business model. As a result of his actions, he may have accomplished just the opposite, thanks to the direct selling industry itself and its supporters.

In the first half of 2013, Herbalife has proven itself stronger than the $1 billion short sell of one activist investor. In March, Herbalife’s stock rose with the announcement that Ackman rival Carl Icahn had bought a 13.6 percent stake in the company. Following record first quarter earnings, Herbalife saw its shares rise above pre-allegation prices in May.

In the wake of Ackman’s accusations, Wall Street embraced not only Herbalife but other direct selling companies as well. USANA initially rose 107 percent and Nu Skin 70 percent—with both companies reaching all-time highs despite starting the year at depressed prices following Ackman’s short.

Forbes contributor Richard Levick asserts that the key to Herbalife’s stability goes beyond the company and its financial backers to the direct selling industry itself. The standard of transparency and compliance permeating the industry makes these companies secure buys as well as financially appealing ones.

The Direct Selling Association sets the tone of the industry with its stated mission 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.”

We have shared the perspective of DSA leadership about the industry’s response to those who attempt to discredit it. You can find examples here and here. In its efforts to educate the public about the industry, the DSA also recently launched, a site featuring industry facts and stats as well as video messages from both government officials and academics who share their knowledge and perceptions of the direct sales channel.

The industry’s efforts to regulate itself have caused government regulators to take notice. Levick quotes one such regulator, Bob Paul, who claims the DSA Code of Ethics is “one of the best that I have seen.” According to Paul, any company that abides by such a code “should never have a problem with the Federal Trade Commission.” It seems that the industry’s investors would agree.

Read the full piece from Forbes.