BLOG ARCHIVE FOR: January, 2007


Looking for the Opportunity Zone?

Well, you're almost there.

Some Quixtar Independent Business Owners (IBOs) were sent a link last week to the Opportunity Zone and asked to come visit on January 31 – the soft launch of the Zone.

But we had a glitch and needed to do a fix that could have affected end-of-month ordering, so we're now flipping the switch tomorrow.

Hope you'll come back and see what this is about, and visit often over the coming weeks as more blogs join the Zone!



The Wiz

You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things he does.

– We’re off to see the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz (Source:

What’s wrong with the lyric above?  See the answer below, the result of a rather unusual conversation we had here today about a wiz.  And a whiz.

Such is the world of those who work with words.

You see, someone was writing a piece that referenced someone being a “wiz” at something.  And someone else thought that was wrong and demanded that the spelling be changed to “whiz.”

Communications has a style guide that governs our use of language and style across all communications and all media.  We use the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook as the primary source for our style and use the same dictionary AP uses as a backup, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.  Our Quixtar Communications Style Guide covers language not included in AP plus variations and clarifications on AP style particular to our business.  When there’s a question, we go first to the Quixtar Style Guide, then to the AP stylebook, then to the dictionary.  Scrabble fans and crossword puzzlers always have a specific reference guide identified to resolve disputes about spelling, and we’re no different — we have our defining resources to guide matters of spelling, grammar, style, and usage.

It’s probably not a surprise that the Quixtar Style Guide doesn’t have a reference to wiz or whiz.  That’s not one of our recognition levels.  AP doesn’t cover it either.  But Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, says that ”wiz” is the appropriate term to describe someone very clever or skillful in a particular area (computer wiz, Scrabble wiz, etc.)  “Whiz” as a noun describes a hissing, buzzing, or whirring sound.  So if you’re describing a “computer whiz,” it means your PC is making a scary sound and you’d better call IT.  And, of course, there’s a third description of “whiz” described as “sometimes vulgar” that has no place in this post nor in our other communications.

There is, however, the oddity of whiz kid….which describes someone with unusual skills or cleverness, especially at a young age.

But when I have a question, I usually don’t go to the books, I call Marsha, our copy editor and arbiter of style.  In our world, she has the last word on style — not what to wear, but what we say and how we say it.   And she can usually tell you what’s right without cracking open any reference guide.  But she is always armed with her style guide, AP stylebook and dictionary to verify and confirm all matters of usage and style.

So, what’s wrong with the lyric?  If he was a “whiz of a wiz” he would be a hissing or buzzing wiz rather than what he should be — a wiz of a wiz!


Pointing fingers in the wrong places

As anyone who reads this blog knows by now, when I make a mistake, I admit it.  And I try to fix it.

So I have no problem with taking responsibility for mistakes or errors I or my team make.  I do, however, have a problem with taking responsibility for mistakes we didn’t make.

An  anti-Amway and Quixtar blogger apparently launched what he called a Google bomb against Amway and Quixtar in December 2005, as a way to drive eyeballs to Web sites and blogs critical of our businesses.  This is one of many such “bombings” this individual has orchestrated.

This blogger sent a note to the QuixtarPR e-mail account last week, calling us names and making some threats.  Problem is, his anger was misdirected.

This blogger assumed that any pro-Quixtar or Amway blog had to be operated by Quixtar, its sister company Amway, or parent company Alticor.  The Web site in question is not operated by nor does it have any affiliation with our company (or companies.)  Now, if you’ve got a problem with or, by all means, your comments and complaints belong here.  But we have no involvement with the site referenced and in fact do not know (but are extremely curious about) who’s behind it.

As hard as this may be to believe, there are actually people out there who aren’t associated with the company who have sites or blogs supportive of our business.  But we don’t support the kind of manipulation either Web site suggests.  Which is also why I’m not linking to either site or blog.

You can bring it on…but just bring it to the right place!


From the back to the front of the house

I’ve always been back-of-the-house.

That’s a hospitality industry term for those who work behind-the-scenes and do work that’s largely invisible to others.  For example, using the hospitality industry analogy, you don’t think much about the dishwashers if you’re eating in a restaurant — unless you have a smudgy glass or some strange crusty matter on your fork.

And I’ve always been a big believer that the best PR work is invisible.  I used to work with someone who described PR as building a stage for others to dance upon.  So, I’ve viewed myself as a stagehand, leaving the big show to others.

I sit in plenty of video sessions, helping craft some of the messages we send or coaching our spokespersons.  I’m usually the one pointing out where hair needs to be smoothed or shirts straightened.  I remember one photo session in which I kept duct-taping my boss’ shirt to the back of his pants so he wouldn’t look lumpy.

Today, I was on the other side.  I videotaped a brief intro for this blog, along with a few others who will be writing or posting to blogs in the Opportunity Zone.  We did these as unscripted introductions and tried to do them in one take.   So it was my nose and cheeks powdered to reduce hot spots, my shirt with a lavalier mike taped to the inside, and my hair patted into submission.

So when we launch the Opportunity Zone, you’ll get a video welcome from me.  And you’ll see if my head really is that big.  But don’t look for a lonelygirl style running dialogue…I still prefer to be at the back of the house and behind the scenes supporting others.



I have some rules that I apply to the workplace.  I don’t dance or swim with co-workers.  I don’t allow people to stand on office furniture (there are a shocking number of people who stand on chairs with wheels to reach things).  I also don’t allow those on my team to go on roofs or stand on ledges (yes, there was a situation where I had to tell people to get off the roof and off ledges when hanging banners for an event.)

I don’t let people tell callers I’m in a meeting when I’m not.

When people are sick, I want them to stay home and get better instead of trying to be heroes and work through the pain (and infecting others as a result.)

And, in my position here at Quixtar, I enforce the company’s employee rules and policies.

Here at Inside Quixtar, and elsewhere in the Opportunity Zone, there are rules as well.


Frozen in time

I just realized that if I start a blog post, put it in draft and finish and post it later, the post time and date are when I saved, not when I posted.

Sharing this for fellow Ozone bloggers and as something we need to fix.


I could tell you, but then I’d have to…..


You've heard the joke before.  Someone asks a sensitive question and the response is, "Oh, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

My approach in life and work is the same — tell the truth.  If I can tell you, I generally do.  If I can't tell you now but can tell you later, I may tell you I'll tell you later.  And if I can't tell you later, I'll tell you I can't tell you.

I don't let anyone say I'm in a meeting when I'm not.  If I can't or don't want to talk, I say so.  Part of this comes from being a former reporter, dealing with facts rather than perceptions, and expecting honesty in  


I have a confession to make…

I don't use Artistry foundation.

I just did a videotaping for a clip for this blog and confessed to one of our marketers that I don't use our foundation and instead had brought something else to use.  

You see, I have rosacea and over time have found our foundation doesn't do my skin any favors or cover the ravages of the disorder.  Until I got rosacea, I did use our makeup and still use our mascara, eye and lip colors (I'm a big fan of the NAO lip glosses.)  But the foundation just doesn't work for me anymore.

I love Artistry Time Defiance face wash and treatment products and I'm a daily user of Nutrilite Double X, Concentrated Fruits and Vegetables, Cholesterol Health, and CoQ10.  I wash my clothes in SA8 and my house with LOC.

Before you think this is just one running post to plug brand names, I want to get to my point…nothing



Civil discourse

Quixtar is a midwestern company.  And, a lot of us who work here are born and bred midwesterners.  We often get comments about how polite we are.

Which is why it may not surprise anyone who knows us that we intend to engage in civil discourse in this blog and other blogs soon to launch in what we’re calling The Opportunity Zone.  For those of you who just had a seventh grade social studies flashback, that’s civil discourse, not civic discourse.

Civil discourse has several definitions.  I like the one at Wikipedia that describes it as engaging in conversations with the intent to increase understanding. But breaking it down to how we engage, it means we take a civil tone, respecting others.  It means challenging assumptions, not attacking individuals. It means that we don’t want anything appearing in our blogs that you couldn’t show your grandma, mother, or daughter.  I’ve also heard it described as the kind of conversation you’d have with someone in their living room — you can discuss and debate but you keep it on a respectful level.

In a lot of ways, it’s like playground rules. Play nice.  Be fair.  Don’t call people names.  Share.

This doesn’t mean everyone has to agree — it just means everyone needs to agree to be civil.


Sweet selling

I’m a Brownie troop leader and we’re in the middle of Girl Scout cookie selling season.  As a result, I worked with some of the scouts on selling tips which I thought I’d share because they’re useful to anyone out there selling anything.

1)  Know your product

The girls should be able to name all varieties and describe them in detail, including pointing out reduced fat varieties.  They often suggest their personal favorites or ask customers what kind of cookies they like so they can suggest selections.

2)  Pick your target customer and figure out how to reach them

Two of our scouts put fliers in our neighbors’ paperboxes letting them know cookie sales were on and they’d be stopping by.  They also allowed those who already had a Girl Scout providing cookies to them let them know so they wouldn’t bother them.

3)  Give them a reason to buy

The girls talk about how cookie sales support troop activities, including ensuring that all girls can participate in a camping trip that ends the scouting year.  They talk about what they do in Girl Scouts to support their community and how funds raised help make that possible.

4) Upsell creatively

They point out that Girl Scout cookies freeze beautifully, or suggest a program called “Cookies from Home”  that allows anyone to buy cookies and ship them elsewhere (like to those in nursing homes or serving in the military.)

5) Handle rejection gracefully

OK, this one’s tough for a six year old. During some role playing, my daughter’s first reaction to rejection was to stamp her foot and say “Oh, man!”  But we armed them with a response should another Scout have gotten there first:  “Thank you for supporting Girl Scouts and I’ll call on you again next year.”  After all, Scouts are to be kind, courteous, and help others at all times.

6) Be first

Get out there early and reach customers before someone else does.

7) Learn from your mistakes

Just a few of our learnings…If you eat the cookies you won’t have any samples to share. People don’t like to be disturbed while eating dinner (and yes, some people have dinner before 4 p.m.)  Make the sale and move on… don’t stand there and watch what they’re watching on television.  And never, ever, ask someone why they’re still in their pajamas at Noon.

Selling cookies is serious business.  There are hundreds of Girl Scout in our small town alone out there hawking cookies.  And we’ve moved into another scout’s territory, where she happily sold cookies for years without any competition.   Until we came to the neighborhood.   And there are dozens of Quixtar employees who have Girl Scouts selling cookies this month (somebody estimated that there are at least five scouting families in Communications alone.)

The tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies dates back nearly 100 years, when scouts would bake cookies at home and sell them door-to-door to raise funds for troop activities.  Later, licensed baking companies produced the cookies for sale by Girl Scouts coast to coast.  I was a Girl Scout and am now a Brownie leader, but I was a cookie customer all the years in between.

And yes, those 10 boxes of Thin Mints are for me (remember, they freeze beautifully!)