BLOG ARCHIVE FOR: January, 2008


Almost one

The Opportunity Zone will celebrate its first anniversary on Friday.  That's right, just one year ago the Zone launched with four blogs — Inside Quixtar, Real Quixtar Blog, One by One Blog, and Ada-Tudes.  Since then we've been joined by other voices in the Zone, including Susan Julien-Willson's SalesSpeak and Melissa Charles' Team Nutrilite blog.  We've got more diversity in voices and topics than we ever expected, and we're drawing more people to the Opportunity Zone to talk about everything from corporate social responsibility to semolina bread.

In the past year this blog has had about 175 posts and about  2,000 comments.  Ada-tudes has had nearly 60 posts and more than 2,500 comments.  I'll let Robin and the other bloggers cite their own statistics.   But we've had a lot of company and a lot of good discussion over the past year.  And a lot more people have stopped by to listen in on the conversation without participating.

So as we look forward to another year, give us your thoughts on what the Zone should focus on in year two.  What should we keep doing?  What should we stop?  And what should we start — in particular, who do you want to hear from and on what subjects?  There's always room for more voices and dialogue about this business. 

Who should the next voice be?



Cyber bullies not welcome here

As those who frequent the Opportunity Zone know, our conversations here are governed by a philosophy we call "civil discourse." 

Civil discourse means we agree to disagree, but not to be disagreeable.  In other words, I accept your right to have an opinion that differs from my own and ask that you do the same.  In a word, it means respect. Bullies aren't allowed.    

I was disturbed to read that someone who has been critical of this business has been harassed and disparaging information about him posted by a cyber bully.  While I can't enforce civil discourse in any forum but the Opportunity Zone, I can ask that those who are engaged with this business carefully consider the impact  that disparaging  those with opposing views has on perceptions of the Quixtar and Amway businesses.  As a business, we're about building people up, not tearing them down.  Just because someone doesn't support our business doesn't mean they should be criticized for those views or have inappropriate information posted about them.  As a former boss of mine used to say, our reputation is built on everything every one of us does and says every day.  I'd prefer that our reputation be built on respect for all people of all views.    

Here in the Opportunity Zone we've had some spirited and sometimes heated discussions about issues.  Some of the best have been ongoing dialogues about issues where equally passionate partners debate and discuss a topic.  That's the beauty of a blog or a forum — bringing people together to converse on a topic of mutual interest.   

I used to debate in high school.  I grew up in a steel mill town where basketball ruled and the debate team was a small and nerdy bunch that luckily had a passionate advocate in a history teacher who shuttled us to and from  meets all over Indiana.  We eventually did her proud by winning a regional competition and then a state meet, the first time our high school had earned such honors and brought home trophies.   In high school debate you'd have to switch sides on an issue and convincingly persuade either perspective on issues like gun control or  the death penalty.  In one match you'd be for it, in the next against.

What I learned from debating is that the weaker opponents resorted to grandstanding and theatrics to divert attention, while the winners usually stayed on topic, on message, presented a solid case and didn't get derailed or emotional.  The worst would resort to thinly veiled attacks on an opponent's credibility or evidence.  

Like in life, in debate those who resort to trying to insult or disparage their opponents lose points.  But a high school meet isn't at stake here.  What's at risk is the reputation of this business and every one affiliated with it. 


How many choices are too many?

I recently bought a new car that came with a six-month subscription to a satellite radio service. I finally realized that I'd have to put money into the Dead Man's Cadillac and began to feel guilty about the carbon footprint the gas-guzzling tank of a car from the last century was leaving on the planet.  But back to my story.  Satellite radio service isn't something I'd ever buy on my own, as I prefer the predictability of CDs, and because I grew up with "free" radio and it's one of those things I don't think I should have to pay for.

Yet I am intrigued by the hundred or so options offered.  I can listen to Springsteen 24/7.  If I were a Parrothead, I could get Jimmy Buffett whenever I wanted.  Want 70s soft rock?  There's a channel for that.  How about disco?  Yep, you can get that, too.  Or NFL, NHL, NBA or other league commentary.   There's even stuff I can't mention here without violating our comments policy.

But I have to wonder if there's really an audience for all those options.  I've enjoyed listening to the Martha Stewart Living interviews, but wonder who's listening (no offense to my Quixtar Canada friends) to the Iceberg Canadian rock station? Or to the New Age station?  Or to Nancy Sinatra's weekly show?

Is more better?  Or is more just more?

This is something we constantly struggle with here at Quixtar as we strive to support IBO businesses and introduce consumers to our products.  Sometimes we've offered too many options for getting information and support and wound up creating confusion.  Other times we've tried to simplify and eliminated options that some very vocal groups viewed as critical to their businesses.

We're about to launch an audit of all of our communications and look at them in two distinct categories — communications that help IBOs do business and communications that help IBOs get consumers for our products.  We've streamlined some of our communications — I hope you've seen the new Achieve magazine that combines content from the old Achieve and What You Want magazines — and are evaluating others.

Would a smaller, more focused portfolio of communications help your business?  Or do you prefer more options and variety to meet the needs of your consumers?   What's critical to keep and what's just clutter?

We're kicking off this effort in the coming weeks and would love to share some real IBO feedback with our team.