Good Work

If you talk to IBOs about why they start their businesses, many will tell you they had a goal that extra money would help them reach — vacation, education, new home, or something as modest as paying the bills that started to exceed their income.

If you ask them why they stayed, many will say that they wanted to help people — that the business became less about what they gained and more about how they could help others achieve.

For the past decade researchers from four universities have been studying the human desire to do work that matters through the  The Good Work Project.  Good work is defined as meaningful, excellent in quality, and contributing to society at large.  The idea is that the world needs more people who care about what they do and view it as helping make the world better for all of us.  And it was launched because of a concern that professionals are driven more to achieve sales goals or projections than they are to do work that benefits society.  The site uses the example that in the past scientists may have been focused on curing a disease but today create drugs to gain market share.  But the focus is on doing good work that is profitable and creates value but also is meaningful to the worker and the world around him or her.  The focus of this group appears to be more on academia and in influencing business leaders of tomorrow, but this is increasingly relevant for all of us seeking to do well and do good.

Several professions have “doing good” built in.  Doctors who take the Hippocratic oath, for example, commit first to “do no harm” — that what they do as physicians is to help people above all else.   In the public relations profession, accredited practitioners make a commitment to act in the public interest — that what they do should benefit society at large rather than just be in the best interests of their company, organization, or client.

What’s your definition of doing good?  Mine is making sure that what I do is helping someone be successful — whether it’s an IBO trying to make a sale or a member of the Quixtar team working on a challenge.  To me that fulfills both my job requirements and my need to feel that what I’m doing is helping someone else.  What’s yours?


#1 in Health and Beauty online — again!

FYI, Quixtar has once again been named the #1 online retailer in the health and beauty category, based on sales, by Internet Retailer magazine in their annual Top 500 Guide.

We slipped from #20 to #22 for overall sales.

Look for a news release to be issued and posted soon at Quixtar Newsroom.


Update on the U.K.

Over at Amway Media Blog.


Dream a little dream

Tuesday night I was honored to take part in the U.S. Dream Academy's annual Power of a Dream Gala along with a couple of dozen IBOs who are U.S. Dream Academy supporters.

The event, the annual fundraiser for this small but mighty organization, raised about $1 million for the U.S. Dream Academy's work in 10 U.S. cities.  

The U.S. Dream Academy was founded by Wintley Phipps to serve a unique population of at-risk kids — those who have a parent in prison.  Because children of prisoners are seven times more likely to become incarcerated themselves, early intervention and mentoring help break this cycle and support kids of prisoners in achieving their full potential.  But U.S. Dream Academy doesn't stop there; the organization's programs also reach out to other kids at-risk through educational and recreational programs.

I hope to get a copy of the video shown at the event, which tells the stories of several kids and their U.S. Dream Academy mentors, who make a commitment to meet with kids once a week for tutoring and other support.

I was struck by the comments of one mentor, who couldn't have been more than 30 years old.  He talked about adults having limited potential because of choices they'd already made, but how you can't take that away from a child, no matter what's happened to them so far.  At first I thought that an odd comment…in our business we're used to thinking about the potential of anyone regardless of where they've come from or what they've done.  But I also thought about the things that I'm unlikely to do due to age, circumstances, or skill set — you won't see me going to medical school, starring on broadway, or skating in the Olympics at this point.  But when I was 12, those dreams were alive and well and anything seemed possible.

And that's what the U.S. Dream Academy keeps alive…possibilities.

Look for photos over at the One by One blog later today, courtesy of Jody and Kathy Victor.  Jody is a board member and the Victors are long-time supporters of the U.S. Dream Academy.



If you’re going to swim, you’re going to get wet

Rich DeVos on jumping in and building a strong Quixtar or Amway business by getting and keeping customers — working the plan so the plan works.  More words from Amway's founder over at Amway Media Blog.  


Better late than never

Sorry I'm late in posting this link…went to help my Mom clean out damage from storms that ripped through northwest Indiana late last week and didn't have computer access.

So I didn't get you the link to a new posting at Amway Media Blog as quickly as I normally would — but I have no doubt that those watching as this situation unfold already know what's there!



100 People

We often get the question from reporters about who the “average IBO” is.  Are they young, old, or middle aged?   (Young — in their thirties.)  Male or female? (Both!)  What ethnicity?  Our response is that our IBO population looks a lot like America’s.

A project I recently heard about takes on a more daunting task: What if you took all the characteristics of the world’s 6.5 billion population and boiled them down to a relative handful of people?  You’d have  “100 People: A Portrait of the World.”

The site is a fascinating look at the world through a much more manageable number.  According to the site, if the world were 100 people only five would be from North America.  Most would have some supply of food and shelter from the elements, but 25 would not. Likewise, 83 would have access to safe drinking water and 17 would have no clean water to drink. Only one would have a college education.  One would own a computer.  They would speak a variety of languages — 17 would speak Chinese, 8 would speak Hindustani, 8 would speak English  and 7 would speak Spanish. Most would be able to read and write but 18 of the hundred would not.

If you visit the site you’ll see the beginnings of a film and visual profile of the ”100 people” and an invitation for schools to participate by providing a profile of someone in their community who would represent their “person.”

This project isn’t about saving the world or changing it…it’s about understanding it a bit better.


Countdown to Connections

We’re less than a month away from the convergence of thousands of IBOs on West Michigan to connect with the people behind their businesses – the hundreds of Quixtar employees and our partners at Alticor who are here to support you.   We can’t wait to see you and hear what you have to say about what’s ahead for your Quixtar businesses.

Here’s a snapshot of the events for Connections:

Friday, June 8

  • Tours of Quixtar, Alticor, and the Catalog Surplus Store from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Stop by Quixtar Communications on the second floor of Quixtar’s Spaulding headquarters to meet me and the other Quixtar bloggers like T$ and Robin Luymes (aka Kia of Real Quixtar Blog).
  • Chat with Nick Katsarelas, editor of True IBO Stories, about your story and how you can share it through the Opportunity Zone.
  • And, if you’ve got a question for Alticor/Quixtar President Doug DeVos and Chairman Steve Van Andel, we’d love to videotape it – you might be part of Saturday’s main event!

Saturday, June 9

  • Tours of the Alticor Visitor Center and the Catalog Surplus Store from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Product Expo from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at DeVos Place. (Quixtar ID is required for admission.)
  • Quixtar Connections program at 7 p.m., at the Van Andel Arena, featuring Alticor co-founder Rich DeVos,  Doug DeVos,  Steve Van Andel, and other Quixtar executives and speakers.  Tickets are required for admission to the evening event and are available at Ticketmaster for $15 (includes Ticketmaster fee, but not shipping fees).

If you’re catching a bite to eat before the show, some of my favorite downtown restaurants are San Chez, a Spanish/tapas restaurant (the blue cheese fritters and paella are worth a visit), and Bistro Bella Vita for Italian (I like the wild mushroom penne). Leo’s is a wonderful seafood restaurant great for special occasions (try the Seafood Pan Roast or anything on the fresh list.)  For a quick bite or a light meal, try Blake’s Turkey Sandwich Shoppe for soups and sandwiches or The Cottage Bar for burgers, beers, and chili.   All are a short walk from the Van Andel Arena (Bistro Bella Vita is right next door.)

We’ve heard that due to Connections and a volleyball tournament (not to mention weddings, graduations and other festivities) there aren’t hotel rooms available in Grand Rapids.  If you don’t need a full-service hotel, you might try some of the bed and breakfasts or small motels in Saugatuck (a 30-minute drive south of Grand Rapids.)  This is a small lakeside arts community that has great food, terrific shopping and lovely old homes converted to bed and breakfasts.    If you go, have lunch at Chequers, a British-style pub with some of the best fish and chips you’ll find anywhere.

Wherever you go, wherever you stay doesn’t really matter — what does is that you join us for this very special event!


In the Code and in the Zone

I have a hard time understanding how complicated mechanical or technical things actually work (how planes fly, cars run, computers work) but am infinitely grateful to those who do know and keep them running.  My synapses misfire when I try to recount card games, jokes, or how things like computers do what they’re supposed to.

But, it makes me appreciate those who do know how these things work and how to keep them working more!

Which is why I’m pleased to welcome our IT teammates to the “other side” of the Opportunity Zone with the launch of  Code Review, penned by Erik Toth and other members of our IT team.   Of course IT has been our partner in the Opportunity Zone since the beginning, building the framework and integrating community server and other software to let us blog.  Now they’re going public with thoughts on technology, trends and stuff I can’t even begin to understand (like a mashup — Erik, what is that, anyway?)

Visit Code Review and look for additional blogs to launch in the Opportunity Zone over the summer.


Somebody selling something

If you haven't already, click over to Amway Media Blog and hear Rich DeVos talk about selling.

For those of you who don't know the story, before Rich and Jay Van Andel started Amway in 1959, they were wildly successful Nutrilite distributors.  Wildly not just because they were the top sellers for the company that would eventually become the backbone of Amway's health business, but also because not a lot of people took suppplements back then.  Double X, as you'll hear, was the only product they had to sell and at $20 a pop, it wasn't cheap by Eisenhower-era standards.  But Rich and Jay identified a need and were able to persuade their customers to invest not just in a product, but a way to improve their health.

Some people don't think they can sell or that they don't have a "sales personality."  If you can persuade anyone to do anything, you can sell.  Granted, there are degrees of persuasion.  It's easier to convince someone to have another bite of dessert than it is to plunk down their hard-earned cash for something.  But at the heart of it, the skills are the same — demonstrating what's in it for them.

But don't take my word for it, listen to  Rich.