90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 77b

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Tastefully Simple Inc.

2013 Net Sales: $79 million

Country: USA

Tastefully Simple offers more than 80 simple and delicious foods and gifts. Products are available through consultants, primarily at fun tasting parties where guests sample food and share recipes and entertaining tips, plus more.

 

2012 Rank: 90
2012 Net Sales: $96 million
Sales Method: Party plan and group sales
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Food and beverage
Markets: 1
Salespeople: 23,789
Employees: 285
Headquarters: Alexandria, Minnesota
Executive: Jill Blashack Strahan
Year Founded: 1995
Website: www.tastefullysimple.com

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The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Order reprints of Joani Nielson’s profile here.


Tastefully Simple Products


Joani Nielson 
Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Tastefully Simple

Over time, Joani Nielson has learned to trust her intuition because it is derived from her personal passions and strengths. She is a woman who strives to live a life in which she gives more than she takes, allowing others to shine and be successful as a result of her leadership.

Serving as a model, Nielson says, is a key component to leadership, and every challenge faced is an opportunity for the leader to grow personally and professionally. For her, no person defines leadership better than Mother Teresa. “She was a woman of enormous power and influence, yet exemplified total humility; leading by example,” Nielson says. “I believe that we were all created equal, and although as leaders we need to make many decisions, the voices of others are equally important. To succeed, you must have a team around you that is supportive and trusts you.”

“Our primary goal,” she says, “is to focus on our leaders. We have strong, passionate consultant leaders, and we need to ensure we are supporting them even better.”

Last year, Nielson took on a greater company-wide leadership role, allowing CEO Jill Blashack Strahan to spend more time with consultants. “In taking on a closer day-to-day role with team members here at HQ, it’s been valuable to me to seek input and feedback from across the company,” Nielson says. She is excited about the intensive strategic work the corporate team has been doing to identify priorities, opportunities and goals. “As an organization, we’re focusing on innovation and simplification of our brand and processes, which will benefit our consultants, HQ team and clients,” she says.

Joani Nielson, Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Tastefully SimpleThe field in direct selling, especially among home party companies, tends to be predominately female, something Nielson is mindful of when interviewing candidates for positions in Tastefully Simple’s corporate office. “While we always choose the candidate best qualified for the position, regardless of gender, I’m pleased that Tastefully Simple has been able to fill several key organizational roles with women,” she says.

What Tastefully Simple wants above all else is to supply simplicity “for our clients, who are looking for simple and delicious foods; for our consultants, who want clear direction and support for their businesses; and for our team members, to enhance their satisfaction and productivity.” After all, Nielson says, “The word ‘simple’ is part of our name.”

Joani Nielson on success…

“I believe many in my generation have challenged themselves to redefine what it means to be successful—as executives, parents and human beings. My own definition of success, which helps balance the professional and personal areas of my life, is to live and model a faith-filled life.”

Joani Nielson on personal development…

“At the end of the day I always ask myself, ‘What did I learn today that can make me a better person tomorrow?’ In the past few years I have worked with a life coach, served as a director on the DSA Board, and been involved in our local legislative committee and a Vistage group (executive coaching). I learn from my team and my children. We learn so much by our interactions with others we admire.”

Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple, an easy-to-prepare foods direct seller based in Alexandria, Minn., refreshed their brand this year with a new logo, product packaging and a “Simple. Delicious. Fun.™” tagline, while still maintaining their mission to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the rest of their lives.

The company offers a wide range of goods and products from assorted beverages to breads, soups, sides, desserts, dip mixes, spices, oils, and dressings with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. In 2013, Tastefully Simple launched a gluten-free line, which will expand in 2014.

All of Tastefully Simple’s foods and gifts are available through nearly 24,000 independent consultants online or at home tasting parties that encourage “trying before buying.”

Tastefully Simple proudly partners with Share Our Strength®, a national non-profit working to end child hunger in America, and has donated over $1 million to their No Kid Hungry program. The company’s national corporate team has raised over $1 million since 2009 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Tastefully Simple ranked 90th in Direct Selling News’ 2013 Global 100 and reported company sales of $96 million in 2012.

Order reprints of Joani Nielson’s profile here.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Order reprints of Jill Blashack Strahan’s profile here.


Tastefully Simple Products


Jill Blashack Strahan
Founder and CEO, Tastefully Simple

Smiles, laughter, stress and heartache have filled Jill Blashack Strahan’s life over the last 18 years, and as a result, she’s concluded, “There’s no extracting our personal life from our business life. When we’re happy and fulfilled in our personal life, it flows into our work. When we’re miserable and unhappy in our work, it spews into our personal life.”

Strahan’s greatest challenge and also greatest blessing has been personal tragedy. Her two brothers, Mike and Patrick, died at the age of 28, and her husband Steve passed away just eight months after Patrick in 1998. “There were moments when I questioned how I would be able to keep the company alive and raise my son, Zach, who was 5 years old when his father died,” she says.

But fear is a great motivator, and she refused to be consumed by it—instead, she used it as fuel. “During those times, I came to understand that the best way to let go was to think about something else, and I began living my life one minute at a time and living it with more intention,” Strahan says. “You always have a choice. You can get better or get bitter.”

Jill Blashack Strahan, Founder and CEO, Tastefully SimpleDeveloped over time and ever evolving as the sum of her experience increases, Strahan’s leadership as CEO is based on three principles, which are the distillation of Tastefully Simple’s core values:

  • The Law of Abundancy – fostering peace of mind through win/win attitudes
  • The Law of Magic – creating positive energy through celebration and excellence
  • The Law of Realness – building trust through humbleness

As Tastefully Simple advances their opportunities and continues to utilize their strengths this year, these principles will drive every decision Strahan makes. Changes in her role at the company allow her to spend more time in the field, where she is working to engage consultants by providing extraordinary service and connecting and binding them more closely to the corporate team. Simplification is key, and the company is working hard to streamline their processes to help consultants grow in their strengths and succeed.

“I believe everyone has the capacity to shine. It just takes the right spark to stir that fire,” she says. Here is where Strahan excels. “My greatest strengths and the aspects of my work that I find most rewarding involve creating and inspiring.” She loves the creativity of brainstorming, finding synergy and building on each other’s thoughts and ideas, then taking the finished work to the people, sharing it and creating relationships that help others shine.

Decades ago, Strahan hired Mike Haynie, a personal coach who taught her she was allowed to shine. The relationship changed her life. “He helped me realize that I did not feel worthy of having a life I loved. He was the catalyst that helped me change my thoughts and, most importantly, my actions,” she says. “I’ve definitely found that hanging out with the ‘motors,’ instead of the ‘anchors’ makes a big difference in how satisfied and productive I am.”

It’s vital to Strahan’s continued development as a woman and leader to retreat alone for a few days each year to consider her future and her past. “I review my goals, paying special attention to my victories and achievements. I think about what I’ve learned and how I can apply those lessons in the future. I take the time to feel, whether it’s a heart full of gratitude or healing tears. I dream big dreams and little ones. I let myself really see my perfect life. I thank God for the gifts and blessings I’ve been given and for all the people who’ve been put in my life. I leave feeling whole and totally filled.”

Jill Blashack Strahan on company culture…

“The culture of any company is driven by our personal life, our personal beliefs and our personal values.”

Jill Blashack Strahan on accountability and networking…

“Since 1994, I’ve been part of an accountability group of women called InterQuest (IQ). Over the years they’ve supported me, challenged me, filled my bucket. In addition, I am eternally grateful for my participation in Vistage (a CEO and executive coaching company), which I consider the best investment you can make in yourself and your company.”

Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple, an easy-to-prepare foods direct seller based in Alexandria, Minn., refreshed their brand this year with a new logo, product packaging and a “Simple. Delicious. Fun.™” tagline, while still maintaining their mission to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the rest of their lives.

The company offers a wide range of goods and products from assorted beverages to breads, soups, sides, desserts, dip mixes, spices, oils, and dressings with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. In 2013, Tastefully Simple launched a gluten-free line, which will expand in 2014.

All of Tastefully Simple’s foods and gifts are available through nearly 24,000 independent consultants online or at home tasting parties that encourage “trying before buying.”

Tastefully Simple proudly partners with Share Our Strength®, a national non-profit working to end child hunger in America, and has donated over $1 million to their No Kid Hungry program. The company’s national corporate team has raised over $1 million since 2009 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Tastefully Simple ranked 90th in Direct Selling News’s 2013 Global 100 and reported company sales of $96 million in 2012.

Order reprints of Jill Blashack Strahan’s profile here.

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.


IN THIS ISSUE:

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

BRAVO AWARDS: 
• 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.”

VideoPlus University: Raise the Bar!

by Emily Reagan

Stuart Johnson, Founder and CEO of VideoPlus, hosts industry executives for the 12th year of VideoPlus University.


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


VPU

On April 3-4, more than 500 direct selling executives from around the world gathered at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, for what has become one of the industry’s most unique events. Now in its 12th year, VideoPlus University (VPU) provides a forum for the sharing of ideas, challenges and best practices among industry executives.

This year the format once again mirrored the popular TED Talks—short and concise messages from many speakers—avoiding the more common practice of long presentations by just a few. The overall effect is a sort of “group huddle” for the entire industry that lifts and benefits all involved with the plentiful flow and interchange of ideas.

Throughout the two-day period, a remarkable total of 24 speakers gave their 18-minute “power talks” centered on the event’s challenge to “Raise the Bar.” Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

Host Stuart Johnson welcomed the record crowd by voicing his commitment to continuing to provide a forum for discussion and exploration of best practices for direct sellers. Having served as Founder and CEO of VideoPlus for more than 25 years, Johnson has cultivated a unique and comprehensive understanding of the direct selling industry. He observed that “the most successful companies in the marketplace today are companies who are clearly more customer and product focused, whose products and services are unique and effective, and who have simple messages that cut through the clutter in the marketplace.”

It is Johnson’s desire that VPU continue to offer industry leaders the knowledge and tools to cut through that clutter and engage in what he terms “disruptive thinking” in order to move their businesses forward.

Among those who shared a wealth of industry experience, best practices, and challenges were several female executives, including Amway Vice President of Sales Sandy Spielmaker; Princess House President and CEO Connie Tang; Miche Executive Vice President Jayma Woods; Tastefully Simple Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan; Primerica Chief Marketing Officer Julie Seman; and Viridian Senior Vice President Meredith Berkich.

Always favorites among audiences interested in personal development, best-selling author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell and Primerica Co-CEO John Addison also made appearances.


Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, serves as master of ceremonies.Darren Hardy, Publisher and Founding Editor of SUCCESS magazine, serves as master of ceremonies. VideoPlus University: Raise the BarVideoPlus University: Raise the Bar. VideoPlus University draws a record crowd.VideoPlus University draws a record crowd.

The power-packed event embodied the spirit of “leadership completing each other, not competing with each other”—a principle Mark Pentecost, CEO and President of It Works! Global, emphasized during his talk.

From Solavei—a newcomer to the cell phone services market working with provider T-Mobile—CEO Ryan Wuerch presented four themes that recurred often throughout the event: the economy, social media, mobile and social selling. In economic conditions that drive people to new business opportunities, direct selling offers independence and encourages innovation. Today’s direct sellers can also reap the considerable benefits of a consumer base attuned to all things social.

The social connection inherent to direct selling facilitates what Tastefully Simple’s Blashack Strahan referred to as connecting through stories. “Creating deep human connection is the key to building trust,” she said. One company actively developing a social culture from the top down is ViSalus. Co-Founder and CMO Blake Mallen, who interacts regularly with his 70,000+ Facebook fans, shared insights into how companies can foster social interaction. Mallen emphasized the importance of including everyone, rather than appealing solely to distributors, consumers or any other sector of the business. Using social platforms as a means of starting conversations requires, in Mallen’s terms, “a simple, social selling message.”

Other speakers echoed Mallen’s call for simplicity in building brands and products or services. According to Pentecost, who led his team at It Works! Global to over 400 percent revenue growth in 2012, “Anyone can complicate this business. The real genius is making it simple.”

That is precisely what Co-Founder and CMO Chris Chambless and his team have successfully accomplished at Ambit Energy. Chambless shared his tips for creating momentum through a simple, focused message and product, and most importantly, delivering on what’s promised. “I love this industry and the opportunities it offers,” Chambless said. “I think it’s the best hope in entrepreneurship.”

In conjunction with VPU, participants had the opportunity to attend the DSN Global 100 Celebration. The event unveiled the results of research and ranking conducted to identify the top 100 companies in the industry globally. The DSN Global 100 list, which will appear in the June 2013 issue of Direct Selling News, profiles these companies and their impact on lives around the world. In addition to revealing this year’s rankings, the event celebrated the recipients of three Bravo Awards for outstanding achievements in 2012.

VideoPlus University is already scheduled for 2014. Again to be held at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, the event will take place April 23-24. Registration opens Nov. 1, 2013. Find out more at www.videoplusuniversity.com.

Tastefully Simple Founder Starts New Company

Jill Blashack Strahan, Founder of Tastefully Simple, has started a new company, Inspirada Dreams, which takes members and visitors on a unique online journey through personal development and inspiration.

Inspirada Dreams offers members the opportunity to “reflect on where you are in life, imagine new possibilities and create your action plans.” The experience is designed to enhance lives, providing how-to information on goal-setting, accountability and opportunities for self-reflection through Dream Escapes. Products and gifts are also available. Strahan started the program within Tastefully Simple in another format previously to help leaders achieve work-life balance, and it is now accessible to the public online.

Membership includes access to the Dream Online self-discovery and goal-setting tool; customized, printable Dream Illustrations™; confidential and secure storage of personal information; action plan reminders via text or e-mail; participation in the community; and special sales/promotions in Shop Inspirada.

Founded in 1995, Tastefully Simple offers over 60 easy-to-prepare gourmet foods and gifts. Products are available primarily at home taste-testing parties through consultants who offer samples, recipes, entertaining tips and more across the United States.

Jill Blashack Strahan-Founder and CEO, Tastefully Simple – One of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

Tastefully Simple

Jill Blashack Strahan

Jill Blashack Strahan thinks of herself as an entrepreneur, not an executive. During Tastefully Simple’s journey to the top of the direct selling industry, she saw the never-ending string of leadership lessons, the chaos of startup, the first-time decisions, and the insanity of doing $100 million in business in five years through entrepreneurial eyes.

Now as the intensity of the business mellows with maturity, Strahan works to make the best decisions as a leader—“best for me as an entrepreneur and the best for the company,” she says.

Often that translates to brainstorming with her team in the search for marketing and sales synergy. Strahan confesses her perfectionism for communication—selecting just the right words, video clips and music to “stir someone’s soul, to inspire them to do something different, and help them see why.

“It’s cool to see growth in people’s lives and the impact to families. Money is almost secondary to their emotional and psychological growth and the ripple effect,” Strahan says. It’s a personal motivator she didn’t foresee when Tastefully Simple began, but she says, “Just flow with it. You’re meant to learn something. Take it, wring it out. It’s not going to fall in your lap.”

For the median age—a 37-year-old mom—staying home with children and being challenged with a direct sales field opportunity is appealing. The lifestyle of a CEO is attainable too, but Strahan asks, “Do they want it? Because it is a sacrifice. Whatever we say yes to, we’re saying no to something else. As women I believe we struggle with that more. That’s changing, but you don’t want it to change entirely. That’s why we give birth.”

Admiration for…

Margaret Thatcher: “Her conviction—she was true to her belief in adversarial position and people. She made tough decisions. You’re not always going to be liked. It’s difficult to find that balance. You have to have the heart of the business and the consultant. You have to be wired with that emotion, but you have to have the left-brain decision-making too.”

Working Motto…

“We reserve the right to get smarter.”

“You build trust when you are humble enough to admit mistakes. People’s natural tendency is to candy-coat it, but from the beginning we used the motto—we told them when we screwed up.”

Tastefully Simple: Culture Club

Tastefully SimpleMinnesota-based easy-to-prepare foods direct seller Tastefully Simple grew out of Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan’s gift-basket business.

Nestled in the baskets she sold to business clients in the early 1990s was a collection of gourmet foods. But when the gourmet foods sales shot past her baskets’ results, she had an epiphany: Getting together in homes, eating and talking could turn into a great business. Tastefully Simple was born in 1995.

Strahan intentionally started small so she could remain debt-free. But once the company’s early leaders developed their vision for Tastefully Simple, it grew quickly. Last year its line of easy-to-prepare foods—sold by its 28,000 consultants—led to $110 million in net sales.

Tastefully Simple’s products and consultants are fed by its culture, which is focused on teamwork, passion and helping people reach their full potential. The combination has led to recognition for the company and its founder from Inc. magazine, the Stevie Awards, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company magazine. For eight years in a row, Tastefully Simple has ranked in the top 5 percent of companies nationwide in employee satisfaction, according to the Center for Values Research (CVR), an employee relations consulting group.

Joani Nielson-Founding Partner and COO, Tastefully Simple – One of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

Tastefully Simple

Joani Nielson

Age was no deterrent for Joani Nielson’s first boss, who focused on the leadership potential of the 15-year-old, rather than her limitations. Decades after working at Burger King, she’s thankful and consistently pays those lessons forward through mentoring, giving people hope to believe in themselves, and helping them discover personal passions and inner strengths.

“I believe there are times when people get overwhelmed with where they are and with where they want to be and only see obstacles. They may think they need to make giant leaps of change, however incremental steps a person does every day may have a greater impact,” Nielson says.

She encourages women to embrace their powerful, female intuition and not be afraid to step toward something they want for themselves. “I encourage women to believe their strengths come from within and not to wait for external affirmations,” Nielson says.

“As humans it is important to reflect upon and understand our personal definition of success; it makes everyday decisions clearer. During the ages of 25–35, people are generally growing in career advancement, that’s also when women are typically building their families. Some women choose one over the other. They think they must make a choice and haven’t recognized they can do both successfully,” Nielson says.

“Many women in my generation still struggle with the fact they can’t work a 10-hour day and still magically have a special St. Patrick’s Day dinner on the table,” she says. “Our daughters are really fortunate because they will see that their mom was a great mom and a great businessperson. Our daughters have a better perspective of what life could be going forward.”

Admiration for…

Mother Teresa: “She led by example and lived her life in a way that others wanted to follow, but she didn’t grandstand it. She did it in a quiet, humble way. I think that’s an important reminder in leadership. Are you modeling the behavior that you want others to have? You can’t ask people to be genuine and giving if you aren’t modeling that yourself.”

Final Words…

“Upon my death I hope being a successful business owner is at the bottom of my list of accomplishments. I don’t ever want that to define who I am. The reality is success comes from living the life that you desire to live and leaving the legacy you desire to leave.”

Tastefully Simple: Culture Club

Tastefully Simple productsJoani Nielson has a long history of entrepreneurship, having started her career as owner and operator of Salon Alexis in Alexandria, Minn. In 1995 she became a silent founding partner in Tastefully Simple, Inc., and since 2000 has served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she oversees all operational aspects of the enterprise, including legal, finance, distribution, inventory, team relations, strategic initiatives and technology.

In addition, she is responsible for leading and strengthening banking, legal and key vendor relationships and partners with Founder and CEO Jill Blashack Strahan to direct the long-term vision, goals and mission of the company. Last year its line of easy-to-prepare foods—sold by its 28,000 consultants—led to $110 million in net sales.

Tastefully Simple’s products and consultants are fed by its culture, which is focused on teamwork, passion and helping people reach their full potential. The combination has led to recognition for the company from Inc. magazine, the Stevie Awards, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company magazine. For eight years in a row, Tastefully Simple has ranked in the top 5 percent of companies nationwide in employee satisfaction, according to the Center for Values Research (CVR), an employee relations consulting group.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox and Barbara Seale


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


CONTENTS
Page 1 Mona Ameli,
Belcorp
Dr. Oi-Lin Chen,
Sunrider International
Angela Loehr Chrysler,
Team National
Kathy Coover,
Isagenix
Marjorie Fine,
Shaklee
Page 2 Shelli Gardner,
Stampin’ Up!
Marla Gottschalk,
The Pampered Chef
Jessica Herrin,
Stella & Dot
Andrea Jung,
Avon
Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh,
Silpada
Page 3 Wendy Lewis,
Jeunesse Global
Tami Longaberger,
Longaberger
Candace Matthews,
Amway
Cindy Monroe,
Thirty-One Gifts
Kay Napier,
Arbonne
Page 4 Joani Nielson,
Tastefully Simple
Jill Blashack Strahan,
Tastefully Simple
Connie Tang,
Princess House
Heidi Thompson,
Scentsy
Page 5 The Icons of our Industry

October 2012

Throughout the world, more than 65 million women find direct selling to be the answer to gaining control of their own time, often while working in other full- or part-time careers and while being wives and mothers—managers of households. All 65 million, and the hundreds of millions who have gone before, demonstrate the special skills and attributes women bring to an industry built upon the power of relationships.

In celebration of their efforts, along with the celebration of all women in the corporate home offices, Direct Selling News asked 20 of the most influential executive women in direct selling questions about motivation, inspiration, leadership, career advice, opportunity and mentorship.

The path each woman took to the heights of direct selling corporate management is as unique as the individual. Yet all 20 are inextricably linked by the influence they have on the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of women across the globe who work in direct sales to enrich their families, make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others, and reach for their own dreams.

Direct Selling News selected this group of women based upon their executive leadership roles in companies that achieved the DSN Global 100 list and $100M Club. It comprises women who help guide our industry through their leadership and vision. There are many women hard at work in far more companies than we’ve listed here. But by proudly honoring these 20, Direct Selling News salutes every female leader—corporate or field—who strives for more, respects those who blazed the trail, and reaches out to those on the way up.

For a detailed list of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling click here: