Direct Selling News Honors Oriflame Chief with 2016 Bravo Leadership Award

Photo: Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, addresses his direct selling peers at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration. (Jason Kindig)

Direct Selling News on Thursday named Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, the recipient of the 2016 DSN Bravo Leadership Award.

Each year, the award goes to one direct selling executive who embodies exceptional leadership qualities—providing inspirational vision for their company, motivating their teams toward a common goal, serving others by equipping them to do the best job possible, and especially by empowering them to reach new heights.

Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News, and John Fleming, the publication’s Ambassador, presented the award to Brännström at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration, held Thursday evening in Dallas. Brännström delivered the keynote address at the event, which marked the unveiling of the DSN Global 100, a list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world, as well as a regional subset of the list known as the North America 50.

This year’s Global 100, led by Ada, Michigan-based Amway, hail from 17 different countries and represent aggregate revenue of $82 billion. Under Brännström’s leadership, Oriflame has perennially ranked among the top companies on the list, and this year is no exception. The Swiss beauty company came in at No. 14 with annual revenue of $1.35 billion.

Brännström began his direct selling career in 1997, serving in executive posts in Russia, the Baltics and Asia as he worked his way up the corporate ladder. He became CEO of Oriflame, a legacy direct selling company, in 2005 and has continued to lead the business through a dynamic period of technological and geopolitical change. Oriflame now operates in 60 countries—Russia being its biggest market—through a network of more than 3 million consultants.

Like all Bravo Leadership honorees, among them Ambit Energy’s Jere Thompson and Amway’s Doug DeVos, Brännström has exhibited a vision for the future that extends beyond any one company. He is a fierce advocate for the direct selling channel as a whole, and former Chairman of the Board for Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association.


Do You Have Enough Gen Xers in Your Succession Plan?

by Judy Stubbs

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

When it comes to the U.S. working population, all age groups are not created equal. There are significant differences in the fundamental values and predominant work styles of different generations. That raises a wide range of talent-related issues for direct selling organizations, including how to attract, develop and retain executives at different stages of their careers. However, there is one overarching challenge today: finding and hiring executives in their mid-30s and 40s with the potential to become tomorrow’s CEOs, CFOs and other C-suite executives to lead direct selling organizations into the future.

Three Generations in the Workforce

Today, the U.S. talent pool is substantially larger at the top and the bottom of the working-age demographic groups than in the middle, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center, Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘Middle Child.’ The Pew report outlines the clear differences between the three generations now in the workforce.

By 2015, over one-third of our work force will be retiring.

At the top are the 77 million members of the baby boom generation, who are now in their 50s and 60s. In most organizations, the senior leadership team consists largely of boomers who have accumulated decades of on-the-job knowledge and experience, but are steadily leaving their careers behind. In fact, more than 10,000 baby boomers retire every single day. By 2015, over one-third of our work force will be retiring, according to a 2013 Social Security Administration report.

An even larger demographic group is now entering the nation’s workforce: the approximately 83 million millennials, including a large percentage now in their 20s and early 30s. Because these millennials are beginning their careers, few of them have developed the experience necessary for the responsibilities that come with a position in the C-suite.

In between these two generations are the 65 million Gen Xers, who range in age from 34 to 49. Gen X executives are in mid-career, developing skills and experience that can be groomed to prepare them to ascend to the C-suite. However, based on demographics, direct selling organizations will face a shortfall in talent in the next decade unless they make succession planning a top priority.

Fresh Perspective in the C-suite

Even as the relative scarcity of Gen Xers creates talent gaps, it also creates new opportunities for farsighted organizations to remain close to their customers as consumer habits evolve. For example, giving Gen Xers a significant presence in the C-suite can spur the development of new sales and marketing strategies, including innovative tactics based on the growing confluence of digital, mobile and social media. It can also provide organizations with fresh ideas and perspectives on changing customer values, attitudes and behaviors.

Direct selling organizations are not the only entities facing a transition in demographics—virtually all consumer and B2B markets are undergoing similar changes. Companies whose succession plans are aimed at moving Gen Xers into leadership roles are likely to have an edge on their competitors in serving their steadily evolving markets.

Understanding Gen X

The different perspectives, viewpoints and motivators of each generation can often result in misunderstandings and missed opportunities—especially in the workplace—and can be a recipe for disaster. Yet for all the media focus on the differences between the work styles of boomers and millennials, Gen Xers have received far less attention. Direct selling organizations need to take into account the values, motivations and drivers for mid-career executives in this age band, because there are some distinct generational differences in their work styles and motivators.

As the Pew report observed, “In most of the ways we take stock of generations, Gen Xers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths. From everything we know about them, Xers are savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering.”

There are some common factors to consider in recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining these mid-career executives. In many cases, Gen Xers value freedom and autonomy to a greater extent than either the boomers or millennials. Like the boomers, they are hard workers while still valuing family and personal time, and like the millennials, they appreciate an enjoyable workplace along with flexible work hours and location. All three generations share the value of trust and respect.

Also common among Gen Xers is a desire for self-sufficiency. Having grown up during a time of corporate downsizing and economic and political instability, they can be less attached to their employers—particularly companies that fail to engage them on a personal level. That makes it imperative for recruiters to highlight the company’s highest values and point out opportunities for senior executives to become involved in community, charitable and other causes that can make a positive difference in the world. Once onboard, these Xers need to continue to feel personally engaged and enriched in order to feel satisfied in their career.

Fortunately, most direct selling organizations have a readily available source of information about what drives Gen Xers today—their internal talent pool of managers and sales professionals in their late 30s and 40s. Online surveys, focus groups and individual interviews—as well as participation in various organizational activities—can provide invaluable insight into Gen Xers’ attitudes and behaviors and play a key role in developing an effective succession planning program.


Strategies for Succession Planning

One of the first steps in succession planning for direct selling organizations is … Click here to read the full article at Direct Selling News.


Judy StubbsJudy Stubbs is Vice President and a retained executive search consultant with Pearson Partners International. With previous experience as the chief human resources officer of Mary Kay Cosmetics, she has been helping her direct selling industry clients build strategic leadership teams for more than 25 years.

Industry Voices

by DSN Staff

John Parker, Chief Sales Officer for Amway

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

Direct Selling News Publisher John Fleming recently spoke with John Parker, Chief Sales Officer for Amway, about leadership, always learning and finding fun in everything you do.

DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the Chief Sales Officer for Amway?

JP: The engagement with our field—Amway Business Owners. At the end of the day, it’s their success that adds up to create Amway’s results. Their passion for helping other people helps make Amway what it is.

DSN: What has been your proudest accomplishment?

JP: Having been a part of teams that have seen our business through some challenging times. It’s easy to lead in good times when all is going well, but I think you add more to the team and organization when times are tough and you’re able to work together. It’s most satisfying. Sometimes the best work is done during times when results don’t show right away, but they follow.

DSN: What’s been the most fun?

JP: I enjoy learning. For me a lot of my learning came while transitioning from a smaller to a larger role. I’ve also enjoyed learning from generations younger than I am. They’re not just different in how they think, but they’re fundamentally different in their personal relationships. I can’t be effective in my role if I don’t understand that. The process of learning and trying new things is really fun and exciting. Also, the adventure of travel has been fun—having a chance to go around the world, experience different cultures, people, customs and food. You either love that or struggle with it. I love it.

DSN: What do you tell Amway Business Owners to lead and inspire them?

JP: The primary message is that our business—our whole industry—is centered around…      Click here to read the rest of the story.

90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 13(2)


Direct Selling NewsAs a part of our 90 Days of Direct Selling Celebration, we are sharing short interviews we’ve conducted with executives in the industry. Here are a couple of questions that Nu Skin’s CEO Truman Hunt answered for us.


DSN: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being the CEO of Nu Skin?

TH: I love being part of a global family of like-minded, positive people. And I get to see how Nu Skin has changed the lives of so many people in different ways. For some this change has been financial, for others it has been a change in their appearance or health, and for many Nu Skin has given them empowering and wonderful ways to help make the world a better place.

DSN: If you could hit “replay” on any part of your own Nu Skin journey, either to enjoy the moment or to do something different, what would it be?

TH: That’s a tough question since we’ve had so many incredible moments at Nu Skin. I guess I would have to say I’d love to relive the moment when we first hit $1 billion in annual revenue. Why? Because when Blake, Steve and Sandie were first building the company, there were so many people who doubted their ability to make Nu Skin—and their vision—a success. It was really gratifying to prove to ourselves and to the world that Nu Skin was growing and thriving and making a real difference in millions of people’s lives.

DSN: What’s one piece of advice that you’ve found especially useful?

TH: One bit of advice that has stuck with me perhaps like no other was the definition of leadership offered by Jim Collins at our recent DSA annual meeting. He defined leadership as “the art of getting people to want to do the things that must be done.” I think the definition hits the nail on the head. And it’s why leadership of a business is probably the most challenging job in the world. It’s one thing to dictate to people what to do. But real leadership is the ability to get people to want to do critical things. That’s when the magic happens.


Truman Hunt’s Leadership Inspires Change

by Barbara Seale

Photo above: Truman Hunt, President and CEO of Nu Skin, accepts the Bravo Leadership Award from John Fleming.

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


• The BIG HISTORY of Direct Selling • 10 Things to Know • The List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration
• Leadership • Growth Based on Percentage • Growth Based on Revenue •Humanitarian

Nu Skin

Truman Hunt, President and CEO of Nu Skin Enterprises, is the recipient of the 2014 Direct Selling News Bravo Leadership Award. This award was presented to Hunt because of his leadership and commitment to Nu Skin employees, independent representatives and the industry as a whole. Hunt has demonstrated the qualities embodied in the Bravo Leadership Award—guiding those around him toward greater good, progress and achievement, while also earning the respect and admiration of those he leads.

Bravo AwardsThroughout Hunt’s career he has displayed his considerable leadership skills both within Nu Skin and in the direct selling industry worldwide. In addition to his top position at Nu Skin Enterprises, he serves on the executive board for the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation.

He served as Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) from 2005 to 2008 and is currently a member of the organization’s operating group. He will become Chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association this month. In 2012 Hunt was named CEO of the Year by Utah Business magazine.
As he spoke with Direct Selling News, Hunt expressed enormous pride in both his company and the industry. His conversation was peppered with references to the company’s culture and its commitment to the business principles that have brought it so much success. Hunt is focused on the company’s mission to be a force for good throughout the world by empowering people to improve lives with rewarding business opportunities, innovative products and an enriching, uplifting culture. He believes that the same principles that are so foundational for Nu Skin in the United States have also made it a success in the 52 other countries in which it operates.

“While there are certainly differences culturally between countries that can lead a company to customize or tailor its product offering for a given geography, the principles that dictate success play across borders,” Hunt says. “In our case, when we have tried to over-customize our product or business opportunity, it hasn’t been constructive. We go back to the principles that work everywhere.”


Great Expectations

Those four principles: people, products, culture and opportunity. Nu Skin regularly evaluates its own performance on each of those principles. For example, it asks itself whether it is doing a good job of hiring and training the right people—those who already share its values when they join the company.

“We seek like-minded people who can rally around and share the desire to pursue our corporate mission to do good around the world. Our business is built on the examples and character of its people,” Hunt says. “When we get the right people internally and externally, magic can happen.”

Nu Skin’s products are just as important. Hunt emphasizes that direct selling is an ideal channel for differentiating product characteristics and educating consumers.

“We have the luxury of being able to sit down with consumers and spend hours if we want to, versus 30 seconds on TV or on a page in a magazine. We’re able to be innovative and build products that work.”

“We don’t articulate our mission as maximizing shareholder value, but as being a force for good in the world. We want people’s lives to stand for more than the size of their bank accounts.”
—Truman Hunt, President and CEO, Nu Skin Enterprises

He also points to the company’s culture—one he believes it shares with many companies in the global industry. “Direct selling is an industry comprised of people who tend to see the glass half full instead of half empty,” he observes. “I like the fact that we’re surrounded by entrepreneurial people who think positively and aren’t afraid to dream and take action to make those dreams a reality. At Nu Skin we’re committed to being a force for good in the world—to making a positive impression through our products and opportunity—even through the vendors with whom we partner.”

He adds, “It’s a rare environment when a corporation’s mission is really not profit-based. For a public company, especially, that might be particularly unusual. [Nu Skin is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NUS]. We don’t articulate our mission as maximizing shareholder value, but as being a force for good in the world. We want people’s lives to stand for more than the size of their bank accounts.”

Top Opportunity

Hunt does want Nu Skin’s opportunity to enhance sales leaders’ bank accounts, though, and one of the company’s focuses is on providing the best sales leader compensation possible. He says that from the time the company was launched, its philosophy has always been that if someone is going to do the hard work necessary to build a successful direct selling business, they should be rewarded as generously as possible. In 2009 Hunt articulated a new goal for Nu Skin. He called it Nu Skin 2.0. The initiative was designed to help the company achieve its vision of paying more to its salesforce than any other direct selling company. He established specific revenue and sales compensation targets and then rallied the business behind this vision, providing clear and unapologetic leadership as the company moved steadily toward its goal. Nu Skin now pays about 45 percent of every revenue dollar as sales compensation and incentives—a number he says is on the high end of the industry scale.

One of the personal ways Hunt measures the value of the company’s business opportunity is by watching his own children, who are now in their 20s, graduating from college and figuring out what to do with their careers. Hunt notices that direct selling measures up well in his kids’ eyes when they compare it with more traditional career options.

“It’s reassuring to me, and one of the reasons I continue to believe in direct selling’s future,” he says. “It isn’t getting easier for anyone to create economic independence through traditional career mechanisms. It’s almost impossible today to save your way to financial security, no matter what your income is. The realities of starting a business are daunting and not getting easier. The fact that we make it easier to start a business with modest risk and offer the luxury of product-return policies—where else in the real world is that kind of business platform available?”

International Success

The Nu Skin Innovation Center and expanded U.S. headquarters in Provo, Utah, which opened in October 2013, encompasses more than 300,000 total square feet and includes this spacious lobby area.The Nu Skin Innovation Center and expanded U.S. headquarters in Provo, Utah, which opened in October 2013, encompasses more than 300,000 total square feet and includes this spacious lobby area.

Since Nu Skin operates around the globe and Hunt is active in WFDSA, he has a rare view of the way current events and culture in any given location may affect his company’s business. For example, in Venezuela, political turmoil has resulted in protests, crushing inflation rates, food shortages and consumers queuing up to purchase basic goods. But Nu Skin’s business has continued to be healthy there. Hunt notes that evidence exists to support the notion that when economies struggle, people turn to low-risk opportunities for supplemental income, and direct selling meets that need.

He also points to China, a global direct selling behemoth with a unique regulatory framework, as a very robust marketplace with a huge pent-up entrepreneurial appetite. The company’s recent regulatory challenges there have given it rare insights.

Under Hunt’s leadership, Nu Skin cooperated with regulatory reviews conducted by the Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) in Shanghai, where its China business is headquartered, and the AIC in Beijing, where the company maintains a branch office.

As a result of the reviews, Nu Skin China was penalized in the amount of $524,000 for the sale of certain products by individual direct sellers that, while permitted for sale in Nu Skin China’s retail stores, were not registered for the direct selling channel. Nu Skin China was also fined $16,000 for product claims that were deemed to lack sufficient documentary support. Nu Skin reported that six of its sales employees were fined a total of $241,000 for unauthorized promotional activities. In addition, Nu Skin China was asked to enhance the education and supervision of sales representatives and has already taken steps to correct the issues raised in the AIC reviews. It voluntarily suspended business promotional meetings and applications for new sales representatives to fully cooperate with the regulatory reviews. The company in China recently resumed corporate-hosted business meetings and began accepting applications for new salespeople.

Record Growth

Despite the regulatory challenges, Nu Skin’s business in China has been robust. In Greater China, fourth-quarter revenue increased 248 percent to $481.6 million, compared to $138.3 million in the prior-year period. The sales leader count in the region improved 232 percent, while the number of actives increased 127 percent compared to the prior year.

Truman Hunt predicts that China will become the world’s largest direct selling market in the next five to 10 years.

Hunt predicts that China will become the world’s largest direct selling market in the next five to 10 years. The country already consumes more than half of the products made by European luxury companies. He also notes that the baby boomer population, which is 10 years behind the U.S. demographic, is larger than the entire population of the United States.

“It’s an enormous marketplace that is developing economically very quickly,” he explains. “People have a real desire to be in business for themselves and to control their own destiny.”

Regulatory reviews in China have offered Hunt an opportunity to exercise his usual determination to do what’s best for his company, even when decisions have been difficult. One of the toughest was when Nu Skin went through its business transformation process in 2005 and 2006.

At the time, the company operated three distinct opportunities: Nu Skin, Pharmanex and Big Planet. Different management teams ran each of those three divisions, and all of them competed for the attention of the salesforce. Revenues had begun to contract a bit. Hunt led the initiative to reconfigure the company’s strategy, allowing it to offer a focused presentation to the salesforce rather than sending them down multiple paths. It was a difficult time as management trimmed the corporate staff, but this change in strategy is actually when the tide turned. The success can be attributed to Hunt’s ability to combine humility with strong leadership to engage and inspire his executive team to lead the way to change.

“We took advantage of that moment in time to evaluate all business issues,” Hunt recalls. “There were no sacred cows that we weren’t willing to evaluate in terms of their impact on the business, and it resulted in an overhaul of our organization and strategy. The process was not without pain, but it was also clearly a key point in the growth of our company.”

Since then, Nu Skin Enterprises has produced impressive growth. In March it reported record fourth-quarter results with revenue of $1.06 billion, an 82 percent improvement over the prior-year period. In addition, full-year 2013 revenue was $3.18 billion, a 49 percent year-over-year improvement, placing it in the No. 7 spot on the Direct Selling News Global 100 list. As a reflection of this growth, the company also expanded its corporate headquarters in Provo, Utah, in 2013 by opening a more than $100 million Innovation Center that includes five world-class research labs and a state-of-the-art data center, as well as a gym facility for employees, eight installations of original art and a restaurant open to the public, all inclosed in a sleek and modern building that is environmentally friendly, having achieved a LEED Silver certification upon opening.

Future Focus

As gratifying as those results are, they are just the next step on the journey to even greater success, Hunt believes.

Nu Skin’s goal:
to be a $10 billion company by the year 2020, which will enable it to pay between $4 billion and $5 billion to its salesforce.

“We at Nu Skin don’t feel we’ve arrived yet where we want to be, even though we’ve enjoyed record levels of growth, commissions paid to the salesforce, and the good we’re doing for society through our corporate social responsibility initiatives,” he says. “Our ambition is to be the world’s leading direct selling company by generating more income for our sales leaders. We have the goal of being a $10 billion company by the year 2020. That will enable us to pay between $4 billion and $5 billion to our salesforce. As we look at the environment, we believe that we can generate that level of success.”

Even though he discusses his business in terms of financial success and is totally devoted to Nu Skin’s vision and mission, Hunt emphasizes that it’s the individual stories of transformation that keep him excited to come to work every day.

“I think of the people in Colombia who literally had no hope for a bright economic future, but now send their kids to private school and live in a home with windows,” Hunt says. “Those kinds of stories keep all of us working diligently to make those opportunities available to as many people as possible. Before joining Nu Skin Enterprises, I ran a company that sold products to the big-box retailers of the world, just selling widgets but having no connection with human lives. Here, the lives we touch create a dynamic that Wall Street may never understand.”

Natura Ranks among ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’

Natura, the largest player in Brazil’s cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries industry, has been named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” in the annual ranking by Ethisphere magazine.

Ethisphere spotlights companies that not only incorporate rigorous compliance and ethics programs internally, but also lead their respective industries in developing best practices. The evaluation process determines each company’s corporate Ethics Quotient (EQTM), according toEthisphere’s proprietary rating system. The ranking reflects Natura’s performance in five core categories:

  • Ethics and Compliance Program
  • Reputation, Leadership and Innovation
  • Governance
  • Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility
  • Culture of Ethics

Natura’s new sub-brand Sou, launched last year, provides a glimpse into the company’s ethical standards with regard to its products. The line of 27 hair and skincare products was designed to consume the least possible amount of materials and ingredients, while retaining quality and affordability. Even the packaging production uses 70 percent less plastic and produces 60 percent less pollutant gases. Natura is taking the practices learned through the creation of Sou and adopting them companywide.

Last month, Natura completed construction on a production facility in Ecopark, an industrial complex located in northern Brazil. Built with sustainable business practices in mind, Ecopark provides space and infrastructure where participating companies can use sub-products generated by the others. Natura’s soap production facility was the first installation at the site.

That spirit of collaboration and innovation carries over into all aspects of Natura’s business. For example, the company’s research and development team operates through an open innovation platform, with a network of some 180 partners. Natura’s policy also advocates benefit sharing with its wide community of suppliers.

View the full “World’s Most Ethical Companies” ranking.

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 Shelli Gardner’s profile here.

Stampin' Up! Products

Stampin' Up! Products

Shelli Gardner
CEO and Co-Founder, Stampin’ Up!

Shelli Gardner takes her cues as a leader from her experiences as a mother. “I remember when I was teaching my girls to make their beds; I could teach and show, but at some point, I had to step back and let them make the beds by themselves,” she says.

“That’s the philosophy I have about leadership—as long as our employees are remaining true to our values, I try to let them do their jobs. I know mistakes will be made, but lessons will also be learned.”

Like everyone, Gardner’s faced challenges in her 25 years at Stampin’ Up! In the early days, her lack of a college education and business experience weighed heavily on her. “I occasionally felt that people sometimes judged me on that. I was certainly conscious of it, and maybe wasn’t as confident as I might have been—but clearly it didn’t stop me!” It’s not so much that Gardner overcame the challenge, she says. “It’s simply something that time and experience have taken care of.”

Shelli Gardner, CEO and Co-Founder, Stampin’ Up!In fact, it’s amazing how time changes things. Gardner says, “The first time I walked into a bank looking for a loan, the loan officer looked around and asked me where my husband was! That was 20 years ago, and I doubt—or certainly hope—that wouldn’t happen today!” It’s the only incident that she remembers when she ran into an obstacle simply because she was a female businesswoman.

Today, she is thrilled to mentor her own daughter Sara, who is now part of the Stampin’ Up! corporate team. “I love working alongside her, discussing business opportunities and challenges. Envisioning the future of the company and making decisions together has been a rewarding, fulfilling experience,” Gardner says.

The company takes personal development of all its employees seriously and provides companywide training and incentive programs in communications, physical fitness, emotional health, and education. More and more, Gardner finds herself drawn to her colleagues at Stampin’ Up! for her own personal development, rather than outside leadership conferences and classes. “I trust the people in our organization to understand our vision and values and to do their jobs. I learn from and am inspired by them every day!” she says.

Admittedly, Gardner is not captivated by the entirety of her job—she is grateful for people who are drawn to logistics, operations and order fulfillment. “I recognize that each of those pieces are incredibly important, and I certainly have a high-level understanding of those things, but because I trust the people who are overseeing those areas, I don’t have to worry about them,” she says. What she is passionate about is the creativity associated with Stampin’ Up! “I naturally gravitate toward the look and feel of our products, the projects that can be made from them, and the creativity we explore and express when we use them.”

Growing, stretching and innovating are what 2014 is all about at Stampin’ Up! After an economically challenging past few years with flat-line and declining numbers, Gardner says, “We’ve worked hard to stay viable where we could be positioned for exciting growth when the time was right. We feel like we’re moving forward toward stronger economic growth. We’ve discovered lots of challenges and opportunities as we’ve looked at how we can find the new—new customers, new demonstrators, new leaders—and we’re committed to supporting our existing demonstrators in their efforts to grow and strengthen their businesses in every way we can.”

Shelli Gardner on executive challenge No. 1…

“To find the right people and make sure they’re in the right place at the right time.”

Shelli Gardner on her personal development wish…

“To spend more time reading books and eating Rocky Road ice cream!”

Stampin’ Up!

In 1988, two sisters had a dream to enjoy meaningful relationships and express creativity. Stampin’ Up! fulfilled that dream, and 25 years later thousands of demonstrators around the world use Stampin’ Up! products to create handmade cards, scrapbook pages, craft projects and home décor, while making their own dreams come true.

Stampin’ Up! celebrated its 25th anniversary last year with a yearlong campaign aimed at renewing the company’s mission to make a difference. Service projects were woven into Stampin’ Up! Events, and the company increased its philanthropic efforts with Ronald McDonald House Charities from a national to an international sponsorship.

Stampin’ Up!, headquartered in Riverton, Utah, is an international company with distributors in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria and the Netherlands. Most recent revenue numbers indicate in excess of $100 million in annual sales.

Order reprints of Shelli Gardner’s profile here.

We Don’t Need to Change Or Do We?

by John Parker

We’ve all heard that it’s lonely at the top, or that leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness. Many have embraced this notion, but I would invite them to closely study—and experience—how direct selling really works. It just might change their minds.

Entrepreneurship in our industry is far from a lonely proposition. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As insiders, we know that. But when a well-respected business professor and author on global entrepreneurship recently asked me about it, I realized we still have a lot of work to do to prove it. She said, “I spend every day with students, both in the U.S. and abroad. If there is one thing they seem to have in common, it is a desire for work that is meaningful above and beyond what it pays them. They want their careers to leave a positive impact on society. How is your industry changing to prepare for them?”

My first thought was: Changing? But we don’t need to.

Direct selling companies are unique in how we create an environment where communities naturally form. If we were a sport, we would be a team, not an individual sport.

But here’s what I think is tough for us to grasp as industry executives: Lasting communities form around causes or values—not products or brands. In fact, some of the most successful organizations at Amway have discovered that what identifies them as a team is not the dietary supplements or anti-aging creams they offer. It’s about a shared value system and the “something bigger—achieved together” the professor was asking about.

In 2013, two legendary Amway leaders passed away. As we mourned, we also reflected on this very concept. We focused on the legacies they left in the world, not as entrepreneurs, but as people. Their legacies were about helping others, whether it was building orphanages together, ensuring no one who needed a wheelchair in one country went without, eradicating hunger in a rural school system, or raising millions of dollars for Easter Seals families.

They are two reflections of the many real and powerful stories that prove what direct selling—communities with a common purpose—can do. These stories have little to do with product or compensation plans.

Lasting communities form around causes or values—not products or brands.

The opportunity we have as leaders in this industry is to respond to and state our support for the desire that people—especially young people—have to leave a mark on the world. It’s an opportunity to meet their needs as a community without attempting to define and manage them at every turn.

We have the ability to do that. We can talk to prospects about their aspirations to leave a legacy, and about the platform direct selling gives them to do it. We can teach them to find others with similar passions. We can give people an opportunity to dip their toes in the water of entrepreneurship and economic freedom—all while building lasting relationships, developing others, and providing hope and change on a very large scale.

What better foundation than direct selling is there to make a lasting difference like this in the world?

The opportunity we have as leaders in this industry is to respond to and state our support for the desire that people—especially young people—have to leave a mark on the world.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this might make us uncomfortable because, as corporate employees, we exist outside of these naturally formed communities. We help them via our unique products, compensation plans, and support, but they live and breathe for each other, not for us. We’re not shy when it comes to talking to the media, or other influencers, about the unique “product + people + plan” equation that makes direct selling tick, but have we done our job describing our communities—and their passions—as fully as possible?

I believe the answer is “no.” Otherwise, questions like the one I was asked by that professor, and those by other outsiders, wouldn’t come our way.

We can start by reminding ourselves that “people” and “social networks” are not the same thing as “community.” Much like teams in sports, communities have a goal in mind and will not rest until it’s met. People are still individuals. Social networks allow people to communicate, but they don’t always inspire people to act on a common purpose or passion.

Communities share a common belief. Our industry community exists with the shared belief that individuals can control their futures and that raising up entrepreneurs is an important contribution to society. So we are a community, and we provide community. Great, but how do we help our next generation of independent representatives understand and embrace this?

Maybe it starts with less focus on independence. Perhaps our message should be: If you’re looking for a community in which you can make a difference, direct selling is already here! We allow and support you to make your mark on the world.

We need to use our time, treasure and talent to talk about the common-purpose communities that live within our businesses. Yes, it’s a little scary because those are the very communities we don’t always directly control. But it proves to others that direct selling is one very exciting, very doable, very legitimate route to working with others to achieve that “something bigger.”

In 2014, I challenge all of us to find the communities of direct sellers within our businesses making an impact that resonates with the next generation of entrepreneurs—to show prospects that we’re businesses that don’t exist for selfish reasons, but who work to solve the problems of one person, or one community, or one country.

Speak out about how direct selling communities are a unique way to pay it forward, and how direct selling embodies optimism, which is the first thing a person needs to change the world.

Modify the conversation about direct selling. Focus on how we have and how we will serve and better entire communities.

Show people that direct selling will help them make a difference in ways they can’t even imagine because of the sheer number of people they would be able to meet and energize around any cause they choose.

In other words, modify the conversation about direct selling. Focus on how wehave and how we will serve and better entire communities. Use a new communications formula that every time includes product + people + plan, just as before, but adds “passionate purpose.”

Let’s prove that no one understands people’s desires to start socially conscious businesses better than we do, and let’s remind everyone that with a career in direct selling it’s never lonely at the top—or in any position along the way.

Before we know it, smart people won’t be asking us if we’re doing anything to prepare for a new wave of worker. They’ll be asking how they can follow in direct selling’s footsteps.

John Parker is Chief Sales Officer at Amway.John Parker is Chief Sales Officer at Amway.

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.