Worldwide Phenomena

When Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos founded Amway, they had no way of knowing that their idea of personal and economic freedom would seize the hearts and minds of people from such different backgrounds and such faraway places.

And when TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design – held its first conference in 1984, something similar happened. Its mission was simple: to spread ideas. The organizers had no idea it would become a global phenomenon.

That’s why it’s so fitting that yesterday – as TEDx events took place in cities from Santiago, Chile to Luzern, Switzerland – Amway was one of the companies that sponsored the first one in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Attendees heard from internationally recognized innovation and creativity expert George Gabor Burt on finding the path to meaningful innovation. Entrepreneur, filmmaker and author Steven Rosenbaum gave insight on finding, curating and delivering powerful content.

Perhaps our favorite was Cascade Engineering’s Christina Keller on creating true social change via government, industry and not-for-profit collaborations. Amway was a partner in Keller’s case study on the Hyrdaid Biosand Water Filter and its impact on Haitian and Honduran families.

The TED organization believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.

We know exactly where they’re coming from – and are happy to help them get where they’re going.


A better place

How can we make the world a better place?

By creating opportunity and supporting entrepreneurs,  Amway President Doug DeVos writes in the May issue of Direct Selling News.   Helping people succeed through their own direct selling businesses creates a “ripple effect” that benefits not only the business owner but also the cities and towns in which they do business.

As Doug says in the bylined article, “..these individuals are often sharing their time, talent and treasure with their communities to help build them up.  The entrepreneurs we encounter each day create an economic and social ripple effect that makes the direct selling industry unique. No other industry can say it empowers people the way we do.”

As the headline for the column reads, there’s “no better time for entrepreneurs than right now.” 

Because there’s no better time to make the world a better place.


“Bullish” on Japan

It’s been two months since an earthquake shook Japan and a tsunami swept through cities and towns, creating unprecedented damage.

Immediately following the quake Amway Japan provided food and shelter for employees and distributors left stranded due to power outages.  The company was honored by the Shibuya Ward Mayor for its disaster preparedness and has agreed to become a shelter and provide relief and aid to those affected by future disasters.

Amway and our affiliates immediately mobilized fundraising and support for Japan, raising more than US$4.4 million to aid relief and recovery efforts in just one month.

Less than two weeks after the disaster, Amway President Doug DeVos visited Tokyo to personally share our support. The following day Amway Japan President John Parker visited Sendai, among the hardest hit areas in Japan, to meet with our distributors and reopen our Plaza there as a relief center. 

Last week John was in West Michigan with the Georgetown University Leadership Program (GULP) sponsored by Amway Japan.  He and two members of the GULP delegation, government official Kosaboro Nishime and Kyodo News Editor Satoshi Yoshida, shared their experiences and perspectives on the disaster with local media.   

Although Japan has suffered, it will recover and there’s great optimism for the future.   

Perhaps John said it best when he told local reporters, “I’m bullish on Japan.”


Calcium Controversy

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared on the Amway Answers blog.

Last month a study published by the British Medical Journal stated that women who had never taken a calcium supplement had a greater chance of a heart attack after taking calcium as part of a seven-year clinical trial.

However, women who had taken calcium supplements before the study began had a lesser chance of a heart attack, and a lesser chance of dying from any cause after taking calcium as part of the trial, suggesting that calcium conferred greater protection the longer it was taken.

What was this study?

The Bolland et al. study wasn’t a randomized trial, but an after-the-fact look at the results of almost 40,000 post-menopausal women from a previous study, the seven-year Women’s Health Initiative Calcium and Vitamin D study.

What are the reactions?

Typical of initial mass media mentions, Woman’s Day stated online categorically that “post-menopausal women who took calcium supplements had a 13- 22% increased risk of heart attacks” – which doesn’t tell the whole story.

On the flip side, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has called the study flawed, and called for a balanced view. Other mass media channels also have taken a moderate tack, for example the Los Angeles Times on April 20th:

“Calcium supplements appear to slightly raise the risk of heart attack, a new analysis suggests. But the data, from postmenopausal women who took supplements over seven years, are far from conclusive. So don’t throw out the multivitamins just yet – or those calcium supplements that many women take for bone health.”

An accompanying editorial in the BMJ itself called the Bolland study flawed, and also noted the findings of “extended survival” in the group of women who were calcium users.

The chart below summarizes the effects of taking calcium (compared to placebo) in women who had either never supplemented with calcium before the study started, or had supplemented with calcium at some point in their lives before the study started. The asterisk * over the first red bar on the left shows the worrisome results: women who had never taken a calcium supplement before the study showed a (statistically significant) 16% increase in the risk of heart attack after taking calcium as part of the study. There wasn’t any effect on the risk of a death from any cause (first green bar).

By contrast, the double asterisks ** over the second set of bars shows a significant 12% and 16% reduction in risk of heart attack and all-cause mortality respectively, in women who had been or were calcium users prior to the study’s initiation.

As John Hathcock, Ph.D., of CRN has said of calcium and vitamin D supplements, from this study “it appears the more you take, the better off you may be.”

Why the confusing findings?

Such a mix of results is par for the course in these kinds of studies which reanalyze huge datasets from old clinical trials. The study authors speculate that the higher risk of heart attacks in women who had never supplemented with calcium could have been because of a sharp rise in blood calcium levels; which does give rise to the notion that first-time post-menopausal calcium users should be instructed to “start low, go slow.”

But, as the authors acknowledge in another part of their paper (page 8), calcium acutely increases serum concentration by only a modest amount. There is yet no clear hypothesis for how these results could have been obtained. On the other hand there are plenty of possible statistical explanations. In typical prospective clinical trials, subjects are randomized evenly to comparison groups. Potential confounding factors that could muddy interpretation are, as far as feasible, controlled for. This type of retrospective study could only make after-the-fact comparisons. Were women who had never in their lives taken a calcium supplement different in other ways (apart from calcium supplement use) than women who had taken calcium supplements or were doing so before the study? And could such a difference account for their negative reaction to calcium supplementation? The dataset does not allow the teasing out of causal factors; in clinical terms, these findings are associations, “A with B”, that do not necessarily reflect real-world, causal, “A leads to B” relationships.

What Should I Do?

As the BMJ Editors as well as the CRN have recognized, this study has produced more questions than answers. The BMJ Editors conclude with a reassurance that several large studies have shown that calcium with or without vitamin D, in combination with medical treatment of osteoporosis, reduced risk of mortality in men by 28% and in women by 38%.

Another reasonable conclusion, one which is in line with the entirety of the literature on the long term benefits of calcium with or without vitamin D, is that long term supplementation with calcium is a good idea.

Daily dietary calcium requirements range from 800 mg to 1500 mg depending on life stage. As Dr. Robert P. Heaney, a bone expert, has pointed out, most women don’t get enough calcium, so the time to start supplementing if you’re not getting enough from your diet is now.


Exchange students

Delegation with Rudy Guiliani

Last week a delegation of government leaders from Japan visited Washington D.C. and Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of the Georgetown University Leadership Program.

The program was presented by Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies and Kyodo News and sponsored by Amway Japan with official support by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Japan.  

The session was part primer in the American political system and part look at government in action in our nation’s capitol and Amway’s hometown of Grand Rapids.

The goal of the program was to identify and develop future leaders and support building positive relationships between leaders in the U.S. and Japan.

One American leader who met with the delegation was former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who provided an exchange these students are unlikely to forget!


Fond Founders Farewell

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance.”

Over the past four days, Amway Founders Council members from Australia, Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand,  Ukraine and USA closed that distance, meeting face-to-face in Miami, Florida with a common purpose.

They spent valuable time learning new things, planning for the future and celebrating the newest among them. And for the first time, we offered an insider’s perspective on the event live via our social media channels.

It won’t be the last time we Tweet, post, snap pictures and share events through the eyes of the participants. As long as Amway is the driving reason behind friends and colleagues from faraway places gathering together, we’ll be there.



“¡¡¡Guau, esto es increíble!!!”



 “Wow this is incredible! Fantastic. Sensational.”

That’s how Latin American distributors received the news that Amway Latin America had launched a full-fledged social media effort allowing distributors and customers to interact with  Amway’s brands.  You’ll now find Amway, Nutrilite and Moiskin on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with updates from all of Amway’s Latin American markets.

The web team, lead by Latin America Communications Director Eduardo Casas and social media guru Alicia Ordaz, has been busy answering questions on and off line about the new tools that are expected to increase social conversation in Latin America.

“We hope that with these new tools we’ll be able to better inform the public and generate interest and awareness of our brands and sales of our products,” Eduardo said .

 And the conversation has already begun, as just days after the launch hundred of people began “liking” the Facebook pages and following us on Twitter .

 To connect with Amway Latin America visit:


Following Founders

The  top Amway distributors in the world have convened in Miami for our annual Founders Council gathering.  And for the first time, we’re offering an insider’s view of this prestigious event. 

We have a social media team in Miami that is providing updates on Facebook, posting photos to Flickr, Tweeting to Amway’s Twitter feed and posting video to Amway’s YouTube channel. 

They’re capturing the sights and sounds and faces and voices of Founders, as well as providing exclusive content such as interviews with first-time Founders Council attendees.  More than 80 distributorships from 13 countries are in Miami and thanks to our social media team, you have a front-row seat to this a one-of-a-kind event.

So follow us on Facebook. Twitter, Flickr and YouTube and follow all the action at the 2011 Founders Council.