The partnership between Amway, Georgetown and the Japanese Times daily newspaper brings Japanese professionals to Washington D.C. and Grand Rapids, Michigan, to get a primer on the American political system and see public-private partnerships in action.
In D.C., they visit prominent attractions and meet with well-known political insiders — most recently former White House Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. In Michigan, they meet with local politicians, including Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, and visit local attractions, such as Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Now, over at the Amway Newsroom, we have an in-depth look at the whirlwind program, its history and its impact. The session is only a week long, but Georgetown officials say they can do a lot in that week.
James V. Parenti, senior associate dean for Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, called GULP “the most energetic international engagement we have (at Georgetown).”
And GULP Principal Instructor Bradley A. Blakeman said the value of education is not judged in time, but in content.
“We can be flexible and nimble and entrepreneurial enough to create programs for a student body that only visits for a week,” Blakeman said. “But the content will last a lifetime.”
This past Saturday, Dr. Nagarajan – along with Amway Chief Sales Officer John Parker and eVent.com Cofounder Andi Sie – issued a similar challenge to another 40 University of Michigan business students.
The task: Use principles of entrepreneurship to create more sustainable economies and bring more of the world’s growing population into the middle class.
Nagarajan, Parker and Sie participated on the Entrepreneurship Panel of the 24th Annual Asia Business Conference in Ann Arbor, themed “Discover the Possibilities: Shape the Future,” and students from Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, USA, India, Indonesia and Malaysia attended.
Parker touched on how Amway measures success by the number of people we can help start their own small, independent businesses, bringing more economic and personal flexibility and independence to their lives.
Sie covered his experience in the real estate, health care and technology sectors as an entrepreneur who abides by one rule: Have a purpose. Purpose, said Sie, is the key to success that helps entrepreneurs get through the inevitable hard times.
Students were asked by the panelists to consider:
The advantages of remaining privately held, like Amway, so that taking the “long view” on solving local or global challenges is possible, over short-term gains for investors.
Remaining authentic to who you are, and your purpose, in all communications.
Understanding cultural drivers such as loyalty in Japan and youth empowerment in Vietnam.
A tenet that Amway founders lived by: Act as a guest in every country where you do business; act as if you want to be invited back tomorrow; and the next day, and the next. Never forget that it is a privilege to be doing business in countries outside of your own.
Be adaptable, but not indecisive.
The “official” first answer of almost anyone, be it a potential partner, a potential new customer, or an investor, will always be “no.” Don’t take “no” for an answer.
Read the book, “Delivering Happiness.” It inspired Sie and helped him realize to not only seek opportunity, but to give opportunity to others.
It was a unique chance for students to get real world inspiration to shape the future—their own and the world’s.
Others have reported on Japan’s hesitancy to embrace entrepeneurs, who have been viewed as self-promoting in a culture that values group harmony over individual expression. In addition, in Japanese culture, business failure quickly evolves into personal and societal shame, which is in deep contrast to a country like the United States, where failure is often seen as a necessary precursor to success.
The AGER data does not contrast these conventional beliefs, but gives insight into what could make Japan’s would-be entrepreneurs more risk-tolerant. We learned that:
Only 17% of Japanese respondents ranked “independence from an employer” as an important consideration for starting their own business. For the rest of the world, that number was 43% and consistently one of the highest ranking reasons.
In Japan, fear of failing with one’s own enterprise was the most prevalent in the world. More than nine out of ten respondents (94%) saw fear to failure as an obstacle to starting a business. This is 24% more than the international average.
When participants in Japan were asked what would encourage them to start a business, half said that finding “mentoring and support through business networks” would. This number is twice as high as the international average (24%).
• To exchange ideas favorable to entrepreneurship.
• To show entrepreneurs how collaborative communities can help them launch and scale.
• To increase global recognition of entrepreneurs for the important role they play in society.
In fact, Russia was one of 24 countries we studied, and our findings could be useful in shaping the nation’s policy, education and image-building for entrepreneurship. For example, we learned that positive attitudes toward self-employment in Russia are declining, down from 73% positive in 2012 to 65% in 2013. And that the Ural and Northwest regions were nearly 20 points lower in positivity than in Siberia and the South.
Alarmingly few females in Russia said they could imagine starting their own business (26%), which is surprising given the independence and mobility of Russian women.
This warrants discussion during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and beyond about how to strengthen and nurture women’s entrepreneurial spirit and meet the particular needs of would-be female entrepreneurs.
The cookware lab might just be one of the most fun places at Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Michigan. The lab is actually 10 kitchens in one, simulating authentic home cooking conditions in Japan, China, Europe and North America.
Amway employees from around the world helped select typical appliances from their countries or regions. The power supplies also are designed to mirror those found in homes in our global markets. That’s how we ensure cooking with iCook™ (sold in the Americas, Europe and several Southeast Asian markets) and AMWAY QUEEN™ (sold in Japan, Korea and Greater China) cookware is one of the healthiest ways to cook anywhere.
The lab is the domain of Principal Engineer Sue Hoff, who has been cooking up innovative cookware designs for more than half of our 50-year cookware history. You can ask Sue nearly anything about preparing food for optimal nutrition. Not only does she know a lot about our nutrient-preserving VITALOK™ low-moisture cooking method, she also knows about nutrients themselves as she started her Amway career in food and beverage product development.
Employees with knowledge and experience spanning two or more product lines are common here. That’s a big reason why you can have confidence in Amway as your single source for brands that help you create a healthy home environment for your family, from safer cleaning to optimal health.
That’s because he has seen first-hand at Amway how opportunity and hard work can help change people’s lives dramatically, creating personal freedom that opens the door for a positive future.
In his role as chairman of the US Chamber of Commerce, Steve speaks about the importance of economic freedom – how it spreads prosperity, drives healthy competition and inspires incredible business innovation.
His message? That free enterprise fosters self-reliance, motivation, dignity and happiness. It inspires people to tap their potential. Armed with those skills and that confidence, they can do more and be more than they ever imagined.
Hard work and success, he says, are critical components for a strong, dynamic economy.
A successful Research & Development department starts with the right group of people: the right combination of education, knowledge and experience. Those people also need to thrive in a collaborative environment and have a real connection with the customer.
Last month, 7.26 million people in the United States alone relied on two paychecks to cover their financial desires. For some, it was to help pay off credit card debt. For others, it was to save for vacations and holidays. And still for others, it was because they started their own business before leaving their full-time current jobs.
Maybe it’s because direct selling is borderless. The top five markets in 2012 were the United States, Japan, China, Brazil and Korea; and overall global direct sales increased 5.4 percent from $158.3 billion in 2011 to $166.9 billion in 2012.
No matter the reason, the data proves what Amway and our Amway business owners have always said: Our business model is as relevant today as it was in the 1950s. We’re proud of that. And next year, we have a feeling we’ll be reporting global growth along the very same lines.
If you drive past the Amway World Headquarters today, you will see 57 United States flags lining the front of campus to commemorate Flag Day.
On most other days, the poles display the state of Michigan flag and 56 international flags representing the many countries in which we do business. (We operate in more than 100 countries and territories, but local regulations allow us only 57 flagpoles. So we make sure to rotate them regularly.)
“People driving by Amway find it really special to see the street lined with American flags. They’ll honk their horns to show their patriotism,” said Kammie Van Oosten, team leader of Ada Facilities Buildings and Grounds.
Van Oosten’s team of about 10 employees raise, lower and change flags as needed all while adhering to strict protocol for displaying the American flag through storms and sunshine. In addition to Flag Day, the flags are switched out on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day or other appropriate occasions.
There is a strict protocol for the American flag, but the facilities team treats every flag with the same respect. “We have important rules we follow at all times,” Van Oosten said. “One is that the flags must never touch the ground. This can be very difficult in bad weather.”
Flag Day is a U.S. holiday, but you don’t have to be in the U.S. to honor your flag. Share a picture of your country’s flag using #AmwayFlagDay on Twitter or Instagram. We look forward to seeing them!
We welcomed more than 200 Founders Council members and other attendees to our World Headquarters this week, and we did it in grand style. Check out some of the photos on our Amway Facebook page. And if you missed the live stream of their arrival courtesy of our Amacam, the replay is available here. Watch for more coverage in the weeks to come!
Disclaimer: The authors of these blogs are Amway employees. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily reviewed in advance by anyone but the individual author. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the view of Amway or any other person or company.