Where is everybody?

Quixtar is in the middle of a major renovation of its headquarters near Ada, Michigan.  IT and Finance have already moved into new digs, Sales and Marketing are displaced while their new departments are being built, and we’re…..well, we’re waiting.

Communications will be the last to go because we’re spreading into an area formerly occupied by IT.  So everyone else has to be in their new location before things even get started for us.  At first we were told it would be July-August (what we affectionately called “Julaugust.”)  But now we’re looking at the “ber” months — Soctober or Optember.

Finding anybody right now is tough.  You might try their old office, but the old office might just be an outline on the old carpeting. Or you might think you know where they are but they might have moved.  And, a lot of our conference rooms are shut down during the renovation as well — so meeting space is scarce.

I recently picked stuff for my new office — I’m getting eggplant carpet and one eggplant wall.  Very cool.  I called it purple but it’s a deep, rich shade that’s so dark it’s bordering on black.   It’s my inner Prince coming out. Now I’ll just have to wait for someone to get out of that office so I can move in.

I view this kind of change as fun and exciting.  Others are less enthusiastic.  Some people don’t like any change to their workspace and assign huge importance to how much square footage they get, if their chair is the same as their neighbor’s, and whether an aisle in one area is inches wider than another.  Things that I’d never notice are a big deal to somebody else.  That’s because people’s personal space is incredibly important to them, and having a degree of control over their surroundings gives them a feeling of power and security.

So I listen patiently to a diatribe about one team’s aisle being wider than the others.  I explain, for the umpteenth time, why an art director needs more desktop space than an editor.  I tell people why they’re seated where they area (typically because they need to work more closely with someone else or in some cases, be moved away from someone!)

But it’s all good.  And in a matter of months it will be all over.  And I’ll be ensconced in my own little corporate version of Paisley Park.


A picture is worth a thousand words….

There's been lots of praise and "attaboys" coming our way for our June publications of Achieve and What You Want.

A few months ago we changed the look and feel of our Achieve cover stories, relying more heavily on high-impact photography that shows the personalities and lives behind the men and women we're featuring.  We took a different tack with the recent cover of Dean Kosage.  A single dad, his cover features him playing with his daughter.  The inside spread includes shots of him and his band and around a campfire with a close friend.  It's a far cry from the shots of the smiling couple propped in front of their house, flowers, and trees.  And its recognition that while the business is a big part of life for these top leaders, there's more to their lives than their businesses.   Another recent cover featuring Larry and Pam Winters showcased Pam's passion for riding and horses. 

And the cover of What You Want this month features the new iCook Grill Pan, set over a sizzling charcoal grill. It's a mouthwatering image that's a far cry from what happens on my Weber, but it's gotten a lot of attention and kudos for the art director who conceptualized the shot (and literally and figuratively sweated through the photo shoot.)  It's also redemption for our miscue on the March What You Want cover.

Photography is incredibly subjective.  I personally like the depth and dimension of black and white, the moodiness and the shadows.  Others find black and white or single-tones like sepia bland and unimaginative.  So sometimes I like, rather than love, some of our photography.  But I recognize that it isn't about what I think — it's about what's right for the brand, product, or message.  And ultimately, what works for IBOs.

So this was a good month from a publication standpoint.  We always swing for the fences but we don't always hit a home run.  We have the help of retouching and imaging to perfect the imperfect or conceal some flaws.   But sometimes the work is so good that you don't need that kind of help.  





Over the weekend Quixtar hosted more than 4,000 IBOs who traveled to West Michigan for Quixtar Connections – an event especially for IBOs who aren't associated with a line of affiliation.

About double the number of IBOs expected showed up on Saturday  — about 2,000 tickets had been sold so we were expecting about that many IBOs.  But there were thousands waiting for the 4 p.m. opening of an expo featuring products and programs to support IBO businesses.

iCook celebrity chef Jason Roberts was there and more than a dozen booths offered information and insights about the health and beauty products that power IBO businesses.  There were also booths promoting and Success from Home and others offering a chance to meet and greet the Sales team.

But the highlight was the evening with Rich DeVos…and a few of his friends.  Quixtar Vice President of Sales & Marketing Rob Davidson (my boss) hosted the session, which also featured talks by Alticor Chairman Steve Van Andel,  President Doug DeVos and Quixtar Managing Director Jim Payne.

Rich, who turned 80 in March, was in fine form.  He joked about his age and the fact that he made it all the way to the podium, but his message was timeless.  Rich reminisced about when he and Jay Van Andel started their Nutrilite business and had to have 25 retail customers before they could share the Nutrilite business opportunity with others — and how important having a retail customer base was in their success.   There wasn't an empty seat in the house, but you could have heard a pin drop when Rich was speaking.

A man sat on the floor near the stage when Rich was talking.  I'd met him in the Expo earlier.  He traveled from Denver because he wanted to hear and see Rich DeVos speak.  This man had been in the business 22 years, in Amway prior to Quixtar's launch. He  hoped the experience would help him move his business from a hobby to something much more.  He came for inspiration and to affirm his decision to build his business.  Judging by the look on his face as he listened to Rich, I think he got that and a whole lot more.

I also met a couple who traveled from India and a woman who came to Grand Rapids from Japan to hear Amway's remaining co-founder speak.   They came to listen and learn from a legend.

I came to Amway in 1989, when Rich and Jay were still at the helm of the company.  I worked in PR and had the good fortune to work on many of their U.S. speaking engagements.  Which meant that I had many opportunities to hear them speak to a variety of audiences, from Econ Clubs to university commencements to national media.   Now that Jay is gone, many people have realized how precious time with Rich is.  Which is why there were a lot of Amway, Alticor, and Quixtar employees in the crowd on Saturday evening — because no one wants to pass up a chance to hear Rich speak.  And Rich didn't disappoint — he inspired.



The Dreammakers

I’m just back from the Direct Selling Association Annual Meeting in Boca Raton.  It was a gathering of more than 1,000 management and staff of U.S. direct selling companies representing everything from the pioneers that invented the industry to newcomers.  To give you an idea of the contrast, during one day I spent some time talking to the chairmen of Creative Memories and Pampered Chef and chatted over lunch with the CEO of a company founded a few months ago that has 10 representatives who sell casual clothing.

Direct selling in the U.S. is a nearly $30 billion industry involving some 13.6 million people.  Most direct sellers, like Quixtar, do face-to-face selling — 73 percent compared to 27 percent who do party plans.  Most also offer multilevel compensation plans (84 percent versus nearly 16 percent that have single-level structures.)  Products range pretty widely but are primarily in the personal care, home, and wellness categories.  And the vast majority of reps conduct their businesses on a part-time basis (85 percent.)

The session was called “The Dreammakers”, recognizing the role of direct sellers and multilevel marketing companies in helping people achieve their goals through their own businesses and efforts.  One of the general sessions was a keynote speech by Tom Peters and others focused on specific company programs and initiatives.  It was a good meeting and great to hear and learn from others in our industry.

But, Boca Raton is a better destination in January than in June.  It was hot when I left Michigan and hotter still in Florida. Since meetings went from morning through evening, most of my time was spent in climate-controlled comfort!