BLOG ARCHIVE FOR: July, 2007

Jul.31
2007

Words that inspire

Several Inside Quixtar readers have offered suggestions for books  

Jul.31
2007

Quirks at work

I'm pretty flexible in the workplace.  I don't feign weakness if I don't have lunch by a certain hour, nor do I need to follow any particular routine day to day.  Probably the most predictable things I do are put my purse in my desk when I come in and take it out when I leave.

But some people find comfort in ritual and routine.  There's a group of catalog buyers who start the day in the cafeteria over a cup of coffee.  They're at the same table every day.

Some people have the same lunch day in and day out.  There's banana and yogurt girl.  Salad with egg and cheese guy. 

 

Jul.31
2007

I don’t come from the future…my blog won’t let me

I learned something new about my blog today….I can't go into the future.

I often start blog posts and then save them to finish later.  Which means that when I'm finally ready to post (minutes, hours, days later), I have to change the post date to reflect when I'm actually posting rather than when I started writing.

Which leads me to my big a-ha moment….when I changed the time and date on a post, I used the time on the clock next to my bed.  The one that's intentionally set roughly 11 minutes fast, so when I wake up in the morning I'm not really sure what time it is so I get moving.  I know, silly, but I've done this forever and I'm not sure how I'd react to using the real time to start my day.  Which means, it didn't appear because the time hadn't come yet…I couldn't post in the future.

Apparently I can post in the past but I can't control the future.

Jul.31
2007

Traveling at the speed of change

Most summers there are one or two major initiatives that capture the attention of the Quixtar team.  In 2004 it was Redstar, the redo of Quixtar.com.  In 2006, it was defining aspects of First Circle, specifically what the new IBO experience should look like and what our business opportunity value proposition should be. 

But this year there are about 30 major projects being worked on to create consumer-focused products, launch training, improve compensation, rethink relationships and improve reputation.  We're launching a new brand of products in September, kicking off Quixtar University, unveiling a new Quixtar Business Incentives program, adding Sales staff and just pulled a new Quixtar Business Opportunity Brochure off the presses. 

Exhausting, yes.  But absolutely exhilarating.

That's because you're beginning to see Quixtar's transformation in action.  For those who have been asking us to "show them" the transformation, keep your eyes and minds wide open because over the next six weeks you'll be seeing real and tangible expressions of our business changes.    

We're also creating communications to help IBOs track innovations and improvements to their businesses.  Look for these under a "Transform Your Future" tagline at Quixtar.com beginning in September. 

Because we don't want you to miss a single thing we're doing to make this business better for all IBOs!  

Jul.25
2007

Sales Speak

We just launched a new blog in the Opportunity Zone — Sales Speak.  Written by Susan Julien-Willson, a copy director in Communications who helms What You  Want, our catalogs, and other projects, it's designed to focus conversation and ideas around selling.

And I can tell you, we've got the right captain on board of this blog.

Susan has decades of experience in advertising and catalogs.  She's passionate about the subject and a tireless advocate for creating tools to help IBOs successfully sell our products.  She's part of the dynamic duo that created Ribbon and other programs.

I can tell you that I have first-hand experience as recipient of many a sales pitch from Susan — whether it's a change in direction for a publication, rethinking processes to make us more efficient or finding ways to create a more conducive atmosphere for our team to work in.  She knows how to sell an idea, insight, change, or way of doing things!

And now she wants to share information with IBOs to help them become successful and create a place where IBOs can share tips and ideas with each other.

I know I'll be a frequent visitor to Sales Speak and hope you will too! 

Jul.23
2007

What would inspire you?

As part of our effort to encourage participation in the Easter Seal Walk with Me event August 1, all Communications employees walking in the event have Jeans Days through August 3 and anyone sponsoring the team or a walker will have Jeans Days the week of the event.  I, however, forgot about giving everyone that incentive and am in full workday gear! 

It's hard to believe, but Jeans Days are a very desirable reward for employees.  I've actually had employees tell me that Jeans Days make them happier than getting a raise (but they want to keep those coming as well!)   When we've asked employees how they want to be recognized for extraordinary effort or accomplishment, we're always surprised to see that cash is at the bottom of the list. 

Think of it this way…when you have an increase in income, you adjust your spending in response.  So very soon, a raise doesn't feel like a raise because it's gone.   Same with cash awards…if you have a bit of a windfall chances are you use it for the same stuff you buy everyday, like gas and grociers. Unless that tank of gas is taking you on some sort of getaway, you probably wouldn't think much about it being rewarding. But if you give someone a gift certificate for dinner at a nice restaurant or send them off to see a show, that creates a memory.  Even training is viewed as a perk and reward because it's an investment in their potential to the organization.

One Communications employee wants nothing more than movie gift cards.  She's a film buff and you're likely to find her at the multiplex checking out the newest releases.  Another wants to go to Quixtar Partner Store www.bn.com to get books and music.  I like the gift of time — someone telling me to kick off a bit early and spend time with my family.  But what I like wouldn't be meaningful for the movie maven or the book buff.  

Maritz Incentives did research showing a huge gap in how people want to be recognized and how they're actually recognized.  Only about 30 percent of employees get the kind of recognition they want — whether it's public acknowledgement, verbal praise, non-monetary rewards or something symbolic like a plaque.  After all, if the recognition isn't rewarding, then it isn't worthwhile.

Quixtar Business Incentives offer a range of rewards, from one-time cash awards to experiences like Achievers, New Platinum Conference, and Diamond Club.  Details on the new program are coming soon.

But if given a choice, what would matter more to you — more cash awards or more experiences and trips?  What would inspire you to reach for the next level?  If you could design your own recognition program, what would it look like?

 

Jul.22
2007

Disconnected

I was out of the office on Friday for a quick visit with my mother in Indiana and then on to mid Michigan for the wedding of my husband's second cousin.  More on that in a minute.

Around Noon on Friday it occured to me I wasn't getting any Blackberry messages.  Around 3 I realized something was wrong and I reset my Blackberry, then popped the battery, then reset it again, and then popped the battery another time.  Didn't make any difference.  Nothing changed on Saturday, either.  Tried the whole resetting and battery pulling thing several times, but to no avail.  Once I was back home I tried to log in from my laptop and couldn't get in and realized something bigger was at play.  So I've tried several times today to log in, but now I know it's of no use and I'm viewing it as divine intervention to get out and enjoy a beautiful July day.  Whatever's lurking in my e-mail apparently will wait until tomorrow.

Yesterday was the first time I'd been to a wedding of a second cousin.  My husband only has one aunt and three cousins so he's exceptionally close to them and their four children and one grandchild – his second and third cousins.  I, on the other hand, had 15 first cousins who have nearly 30 children who are my second cousins.  I can name all the aunts and uncles and  first cousins, who I see mostly at funerals nowadays, but can only name about five of the second cousins (those who are now in their 20s and 30s and were around when I was still in high school and college.)  Forget about the third cousins.    

The last thing I wanted to do yesterday was sit in a car for hours going to and from a wedding.  I was tired and knew the new Harry Potter book was waiting for me.  But Harry's fate needed to wait, and I'm glad I went along.  Our kids had a great time, from oohing over the Bride's dress to dancing to "Love Shack" at the reception.  To them, family is family no matter how you're connected.  Our closest friends are "aunts and uncles" to them and their offspring "cousins."

And I realized that they had the right attitude.  It's love and friendship and time spent together that matter, not who knows whom and how they're connected.  So we enjoyed the moments with family we don't see often and enjoyed celebrating a new family in the making.  And today, well, the warm sun seems perfect for settling in with a good book and a tall iced tea.  Enjoy the day! 

Jul.17
2007

Tell me what you think: What are our most retailable products?

In the coming months you'll be hearing about some new and exciting brand and category launches designed to help IBOs reach new target customers with Nutrilite and Artistry products.

But we aren't just focusing on the new; we're taking a hard look at some of our existing products and trying to identify which products are the most retailable and what we need to change about some products to increase their retailability.  Which products would be winners if they were repriced, repackaged or otherwise reworked?

I have my own opinions on the subject but want to hear yours:

1)   Which products would be easier to sell if we addressed pricing, packaging or positioning?  You be the marketer — what would you do to these products to make them more appealing to customers? Sell smaller sizes at a lower price?  Increase the retail margin to make them more attractive to IBOs to sell?  Repackage them so they compete with what's on store shelves?

2)  Which products do people come back to you for time and time again because they offer a good value for customers?  Which should we leave alone because they're working just fine as is?

A team is starting work on this project later this week and I'd love to pass along your insights! 

 

Jul.16
2007

Missed Connections? Presentations now available at Quixtar.com

If you missed the Connections show June 9 in Grand Rapids, you can see the presentations now at Quixtar.com

Rich DeVos, Doug DeVos, Steve Van Andel, Jim Payne, and Rob Davidson and members of the Quixtar executive team are all there for your viewing pleasure.

We're still working on the Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel speeches but I'll have an ETA in a few weeks about when they'll be available online.

Jul.13
2007

Fear of falling or failing

This week my oldest daughter has been at horsemanship day camp at the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding.  While the center focuses on equine therapy for people of all ages with all kinds of disabilities, during the summer they offer day camps for kids with or without disabilities to give them a sense for the responsibilities as well as the joys of horse ownership.  Alticor is a supporter of the Equest Center and dozens of Alticor and Quixtar employees have done community service there to help the center service its clients.

Now, this week has been eagerly anticipated in our household since school let out.  Until Monday morning, that is, when I was filling out the waivers, permissions for emergency medical treatment and other forms.  My daughter asked what they were for, and I explained that they were to both indicate we understand that sometimes people fall off or get kicked by a horse and to make sure she got medical treatment if she needed it. 

It had never occured to her that she could get hurt riding a horse.   She had a great week at camp and I was amazed as I watched her trotting and posting and demonstrating barrel racing at the "horse show" that ended her camp today.  She wasn't afraid of falling and it didn't occur to her that she couldn't handle her horse for the week, Gilly.  

And that made me wonder how many times I've hesitated or stopped something because I was afraid of falling — or failing.

Last week Robin Luymes posted at Real Quixtar Blog about attending the funeral of a member of the Quixtar Communications Team.  Our friend, colleague, and senior art director for Nutrilite, Judy Horrigan, died June 27 after a 15-year battle with cancer.  Although Judy was well-known for her enviable talents as a designer, all of us who worked with her admired her equally for her strength, perseverence, and unwillingness to let cancer define her or stop her from accomplishing what she wanted to do.  She was passionate about her work and was one of the most candid and straightforward people I've had the privilege to work with.  Judy wasn't afraid to try or fail and viewed restrictions imposed by her illness an annoyance rather than a reason for her to feel she couldn't do what she wanted.  She is already missed by all of us.

Most of us aren't restricted by illness or disability, yet we stop ourselves from taking chances because we might fail or fall.   Yet taking chances and taking risks are what help us achieve things we never thought possible.

Right now we're in a period of change and risk taking at Quixtar, as part of our First Circle transformation.  For us, the easier path of not changing was the bigger risk and we know how we need to transform our business to make it better for all IBOs.     We may stumble a bit, we aren't afraid of falling, and we have no intention of failing the hundreds of thosuands of IBOs for whom we're building a better business.