In his first book, a 173-page narrative co-authored with Charles Paul Conn, the Amway co-founder sought to empower a world of individuals to meet their unlimited potential.
“I believe that one of the most powerful forces in the world is the will of people who believe in themselves, who dare to aim high, to go confidently after the things they want from life,” DeVos said in the book’s first chapter.
That message of potential and the desire to empower individuals remains the driving force of Amway today.
“I always heard Dad tell people: You can do it. You have potential. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to doing,” Amway President Doug DeVos recently told an audience near Amway World Headquarters. “It’s all about the potential of the people.”
Perhaps the Amway co-founder summed it up best on page 22 of “Believe!”
“’I can.’ It is a powerful sentence,” he wrote. “It works. People can do what they believe they can do.”
DeVos is still writing. On April 1 his fifth book, titled “Simply Rich,” will be released. It’s a memoir of the major events of his remarkable life. It will be available at major booksellers, and can be preordered through Amazon, BN.com and Simon and Schuster.
Open a closet or cupboard door in many homes around the world and odds are you’ll find at least one product from General Mills, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, L.L. Bean or Fisher Price. And the leaders of these companies have much to teach us: about transformation, innovation, big data, culture, philanthropy and purpose.
That’s why Robert Reiss, Forbes columnist and longtime host of The CEO Show, brings these leaders on air, and asks them the tough questions about their personal management styles, how they have reinvented their industries, and how to develop best practices while upholding their own values. His show airs weekly and is syndicated in full or in segments in 85 U.S. cities.
The recent interview that Reiss did with Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel and Amway President Doug DeVos went live on the show’s website last week. It was an excellent opportunity to amplify Amway’s story, share the entrepreneurial spirit and drive behind direct selling, and have an important conversation about the role of entrepreneurs — people like our Amway Business Owners — in healthy, growing economies.
In the final minutes of the interview, Reiss asks both men for the advice they have for anyone considering becoming an entrepreneur. Said Steve, “You have to just jump in and try something. It doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t matter. Just keep trying.” Doug added, “Get connected with mentors and other people who’ve done it. . . everyone thinks it’s about money. It’s not. It’s about people and it’s about connecting with others who can give you encouragement. . . ”
More than 15,000 volunteers worked on 300 projects in 57 countries that resulted in more than 100,000 children being helped.
Jesse Hertstein from our global One by One team puts it best: “It’s not just one day of volunteering. It’s really a demonstration of our commitment … to help children in every community we do business in. Not just today, but on into the future.”
Here’s a collection of some of the amazing things accomplished in our 24-hour global celebration focused on making a difference.
On November 20 we marked Amway Universal Children’s Day, inviting our Amway Business Owners and employees to reach out and help children in their community. They did not disappoint.
During the span of 24 hours, more than 15,000 ABOs and employees from 57 countries volunteered 35,425 hours through 304 projects. Those efforts benefitted more than 100,000 children.
“Amway is a people business, and our people live and work in communities all over the world,” said Todd Woodward, vice president for Amway brand, public relations and corporate social responsibility. “For one day we aligned as a global company to make the lives of the children and families in the communities we serve a little better.”
Read more about the events of November 20 here and watch this message of thanks from Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos.
“It’s all about the potential of the people,” Amway President Doug DeVos told a regional audience as Amway was recognized this week as one of the best West Michigan companies providing leadership opportunities for women.
“We believe people are the greatest resource that any company or country will ever have. Seeing potential in everyone is the message we have to keep sharing.”
Since the company’s earliest days, values embracing inclusion and diversity of opportunity have been an essential part of the company’s growth, DeVos said. Hearing different voices and ideas has enabled stronger global expansion and helped manage change and opportunity.
For example, shortly after Amway China opened its doors, the Chinese government decided to ban direct selling. DeVos said the wisdom and experience of Amway China president Eva Cheng was instrumental in helping the company become part of the long-term solution and, as a result of her collaborative ideas, Amway has become a leader in China.
DeVos went on to say that his dad and fellow Amway founder Jay Van Andel progressively believed everyone could do everything. That’s how the business got its start – and continues to succeed.
“I always heard Dad tell people: You can do it. You have potential. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to doing,” he continued.
As it grows, the company continues to look for ways to diversify. Amway Chief Marketing Officer Candace Matthews is the executive sponsor of the Women’s Inclusion Network, one of three networks Amway has launched through its diversity and inclusion office. These inclusion groups help employees network with people of similar backgrounds and expose them to developmental and growth opportunities. DeVos cited the development of women as a positive outcome of robust talent development systems. Today more than 31% of global directors at Amway are female.
“The diversity of our team helps strengthen the development of our products, our business plan and our service,” DeVos said. “When helping develop talent, it’s both an art and a science to help people grow and to help them find new opportunities.”
Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos were selected “Business Persons of the Year” for their leadership of Amway as well as efforts to improve their hometown of Grand Rapids. They were lauded for their partnership in leading Amway to unprecedented success, including their commitment to “do the right thing and do it well.”
And Amway Cofounder Rich DeVos and wife Helen were honored for their legacy of community leadership and giving, which literally changed the skyline and future of the city. They were celebrated for being a “catalyst and spark” for the reinvention of Grand Rapids through their “leadership, positive drive and can-do attitude.”
From running a global business in Ada, to giving generously, to leading change in our community, these four meet the criteria for “influence.” And they’ve definitely made a difference in our corner of the world.
This video takes a closer look at Rich and Helen’s contributions.
For Amway President Doug DeVos, growing up around the family business meant more than simply watching his father, company co-founder Rich DeVos, go to work each day.
For Doug and his siblings, it meant welcoming distributors to the family’s home, serving food and cleaning up afterward. He was even recruited to do product demos.
“The business came to the family and the family came to the business,” Doug recalled. “We got to be involved. That’s not true with a lot of family businesses.”
Doug recently talked about growing up in Amway, what he learned from his father and how he leads Amway with Chairman Steve Van Andel today in an interview with the Sunday Morning Townsquare radio show.
He also shared the value of listening to and learning from distributors in creating the products, training and support to help them succeed. Keeping that orientation, Doug said, ensures that Amway is relevant today and remains so for future generations.
The annual report highlights the many ways our company, its more than 21,000 employees and more than 3 million distributors make a difference in the lives of others.
That includes building homes in Latin America, providing water filters in Haiti, building libraries in China and adopting schools right here in the hometown of our World Headquarters.
Corporate Social Responsibility is built into everything we do: our people, our products and our performance.
Steve and Doug credit their fathers for recognizing the potential in this business for making a difference.
“They made it their mission to be more, do more, give more. And more than a half-century later, we’re still emulating their powerful example. … We’re awed by how far we’ve come and inspired to keep becoming more, together.”
Amway President Doug DeVos, in the April 2013 edition of Harvard Business Review, shares the lessons Amway learned working through China’s direct selling ban in the 1990s.
“The idea that direct selling could be outlawed was incomprehensible to us. This method of marketing was the foundation of Amway’s business—it had been tested and proved over time and across borders. And now it appeared that we could be put out of business, despite our commitment to and investment in our China operation,” he writes in Harvard Business Review.
In “Amway’s President on Reinventing the Business to Succeed in China,” Doug describes how Amway worked with government officials to create strong direct selling legislation and made significant changes to the way it did business in China, such as opening stores. Doug details four key lessons – understand the market, stay true to your mission, build strong, trusting relationships and take a long-term view – that helped Amway become the industry leader in China.
Doug’s column also appears in the China edition of Harvard Business Review in April, along with a story about Amway China’s innovation and growth strategies.
Amway now operates in more than 100 countries and territories. Wherever we go, we try to connect with the community, and our hometown is no different.
We are pleased to partner with Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD TV to share our stories of connecting to the West Michigan community. As Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos explain in these videos, connecting with community has always been a part of the Amway culture.
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.