Archive for April, 2009

Public Speaking 101

Monday, 27 April, 2009

I'm still coming down from the adrenaline of speaking at our employee meeting last week. I've always had a healthy respect for the IBOs out there who make speaking an art form and continually refine their "pitch" in front of hundreds or thousands of prospects.

If any of you seasoned veterans have advice, please share.

I'm more of a one-on-one person and still can't believe I would get up in front of so many people, then repeat it two more times in one day! It helped that I was so close to the topic and feel strongly about it.

The presentation actually came together pretty well. Kim Drabik and I bounced back and forth between a big picture view of things then "zooming in." I think it's worth sharing with the online audience because both the personal stories and the global numbers are compelling.

Consider this:

Zoom Out … and you'll see 6 million children helped through $70 million in contributons and 1 million volunteer hours. That's just the last five years. That's only what we track. That only includes programs for children.

Zoom In … to meet Shyann from the Boys and Girls Club in California, who participates in afterschool health and fitness programs designed by Nutrlite staff and sponsored by Amway … or Kadzo, who walks for miles to give her baby life-saving immunizations in Kenya through a program supported by Amway distributors across Europe … or Ryuchi, a blind child in Japan who receives outdoor therapy in the mountain forests of Nagano through a fund suppored by Amway and distributors.

Zoom Out …to see that One by One and corporate citizenship is part of Amway's strategic agenda. It's not only a reputation builder, but an articulation of our values as a company. It's how we define ourself and our expectations for employees and distributors.

Zoom In … to meet distributors in China who use citizenship activities as a recruiting tool, but also as an expectation set for new distributors that they will give of their time and resources in the community … or in Japan, where use volunteering as team-building activities for distributors … or in Europe, where high-level distributors are designated as UNICEF ambassadors for Amway.

Zoom Out … to see how One by One is supporting the 50th anniversary celebrations and communications, and how our president and chairman designated funds to scale up One by One programs in 25 markets in honor of our company's anniversary year, and how One by One will be prominent in communications to distributors around the world at our special recognition events next month.

Zoom In … to see the paintings in our world headquarters from children all over the world who have benefited from programs supported by Amway and the One by One campaign.

We closed by zooming out to share West Michigan statistics and zooming in to ask employees to get involved.

Wow, that's much easier to tell over a blog than on stage!

Art at Amway

Friday, 24 April, 2009

We unveiled our One by One art gallery this week! There are now fifty beautiful paintings and drawings from around the world hanging in our world headquarters building on the second floor, right across the hallway from our president and chairman’s offices.

This morning we hosted a few of the local artists from the Grand Rapids area to show them their paintings in our gallery and to thank them properly. It also happened to be Bring Your Kid to Work Day at Amway, so there were lots of kids there looking at the paintings. The artists were like celebrities who were showing off their creations.

It’s been about two years since Doug DeVos, our company’s president, strolled into our offices and said it would be really cool if we used some of the art we received from our One by One programs to create a gallery. And the timing was perfect because we were about to renovate our entire World Headquarters building in preparation for Amway’s 50th anniversary.

The gallery has about 50 paintings from 30 different countries. That’s in addition to the other 170 that we didn’t have room for. Another batch will be displayed at the Global Diamond Forum in Las Vegas, and we may send a traveling art gallery to some of our other country offices.

All of the child artists are in programs sponsored by the One by One Campaign for Children through our different country offices. Each has a wonderful story behind it.

So if you make it to Ada, ask them to take you to the second floor to see the gallery. It’s not formally in the Welcome Center tour area, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

Artist 1

Shawntavia, from VSA Arts, by her lion

Artist 2

Luis with his art teacher from VSA Arts – his painting is the cow behind him

VSA Class

The Coit Elementary art class with VSA Arts students

Artist 3

Priscilla, under her flower

Artists 3 and 4

Priscilla and Ashley, from Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities by their paintings

Artist 5

Isabella, also from Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, and her masterpiece

Lindsey with artists

Amway employee Lindsey Kerstetter, who worked with our affiliate offices to collect the art and build the display, is giving a tour and telling stories of the kids from around the world who painted the pictures

Artist 6

Iyanna, from the Boys and Girls Club, below her colorful painting

Gallery Wall
View of the gallery looking down one of the walls

Art gallery from lobby
View looking up from the World Headquarters lobby

Sixes, Bikes and Gilly's

Thursday, 23 April, 2009

I’m not sure what “sixes” are in cricket, but I know that kids will benefit when Adam Gilchrist hits 25 of them. Kevin Lowe from our Amway Australia office passed this note along to me:

Australia’s Nutriway (Nutrilite) Ambassador is cricketer Adam Gilchrist from the Indian Premiere League. Adam pledged to hit 25 sixes during the IPL cricket competition in South Africa. For each six he hits, Amway will donate a Freedom Wheels bike for a child with disabilities. The competition kicked off this week.

Every bike is modified to suit the individual child. This allows children with disabilities to enjoy riding a bike – often for the first time in their lives. Gilchrist said that being a father, he could relate to a child’s joy at getting a bike and would try his best to hit as many shots over the fence as he could.

“As a father of three kids, I know how much fun riding a bike can be for a child. Now, every six I hit means a smile on a child’s face,” the retired Australian wicketkeeper said.

“I want to clear the boundary as often as I can.”

TAD and Amway spokesperson Michial Coldwell said, “We are delighted to partner with Adam Gilchrist. Adam is one of Australia’s greatest cricketers and a great guy as well. His support for Freedom Wheels and charities in general is highly commendable.”

Freedom Wheels Promo

Adam Gilchrist

The story was picked up by ESPN.

Amway Australia has done a great job picking out their One by One partner. The organization is Technical Aid to the Disabled, and the program is Freedom Wheels. They make specialized, customized, bicycles for children with disabilities.

If you think about children with severe physical disabilities, they don’t have the motor skills and control to ride a regular bike. My son just took off his training wheels and it was quite a feat of balance and control. Not to mention the damage a fall can do to the elbows and knees … and the confidence level.

Bikes are such a symbol of freedom and excitement, so what a perfect investment in a child’s life. But these customized bikes are pretty expensive – around US$600 each. Amway Australia sponsors Freedom Wheels and volunteers help to assemble and deliver the bikes.

You can read more about the program at Amway’s site or see Gilly’s Six-O-Meter here.

So good luck to Gilly on scoring lots of sixes … whatever they are.

One by One … Brick by Brick

Friday, 17 April, 2009

I just learned of a new program launching in Europe called the Brick by Brick campaign.

Europe has partnered with UNICEF for a long time now, since 2001, to raise money for immunizations. Now they are stepping up their engagement to take on projects that have a profound impact on an entire community.

A couple of years ago, we visited the Kilifi district, a poor rural area in Kenya where Amway was building a program with UNICEF that would address critical heath needs for the whole community. It focused on building the infrastructure to deliver essential health services for mothers and children.

This new partnership will target the Van region of eastern Turkey, a BEAUTIFUL area in a remote part of the country. Despite the grandeur, literacy rates are half those in the rest of the country and only 10% of children attend preschool.

The Brick by Brick campaign will raise money to build new preschools in the area. This can have a significant impact on the future of children in Turkey. It gives them a solid foundation for continuing education and potentially a path out of poverty.

They hope to raise $450,000 this year, which is the cost of one preschool for 200 children. Also important is that they will get one hot meal per day at the preschool. For many of these kids it is the only chance to get a hot meal at all.

We’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about the critical early childhood period between 0 and 5 years where so much brain development and learning take place. Amway President Doug DeVos is co-chair of an Early Childhood Commission in West Michigan that is taking a comprehensive approach to early childhood in our community by building programs that support new mothers and improving access to quality preschools.

What I think is great about this program is that our distributors in Europe are no longer content to just affiliate themselves with a cause and write the occasional check. They serve as ambassadors for UNICEF and the One by One campaign. And they seek out projects that have a profound impact on the future of children.

You can check out the program on Amway UK’s website here, or view a short (3:34) video here.

KaBoom – Part 2

Thursday, 9 April, 2009

We held “Design Day” for the upcoming playground build in Grand Rapids. Kids from the neighborhood of Congress Elementary drew their dream playground. The ideas are used to determine playground components, design, layout and color schemes.

Playground Design Design Day Playground Designers

For the full story on how we chose this project and how it will be built in a single day on June 19, check out our blog entry from March 27.

Skating with the stars

Tuesday, 7 April, 2009

Figure skating is not really my thing. But after last night, I’ll take another look.

Last night, a few of us attended an annual event for Figure Skating in Harlem in New York City, which Amway sponsored. We met some of the girls who participate in the program – and were quite impressed.

FSH works with 125 girls each year, most starting the program at six or seven years old. They are given the opportunity to learn figure skating, which is an intense sport that requires a big commitment of time, physical training and mental focus. The program provides both trainers and counselors for the girls and sets very high standards for academic achievement in order to stay in the program. More than 1,000 girls have participated in the last eleven years.

Sharon Cohen, the founder and executive director, has done a wonderful job building the program. And it was easy to see the results. The girls we met were extremely poised and confident. They were doing great in school, they have support systems with other skating friends, and they had a new talent they could be proud of.

In fact, they were still a little bit giddy about appearing on the Today Show that morning, where they skated in Rockefeller Center and were interviewed on “the couch.” (If you watch the show, you know what that is!) Check out the link to the video by clicking here.

The FSH program is supported by some superstars of skating. We met Evan Lysacek, Kimmie Meissner, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto – a group with an impressive number of Olympic medals among them.

They were all clearly excited to be there. After the formal meeting at a pre-event reception, we talked to Kimmie, one of the younger skaters. She loved being there because it brought her back to why she loved the sport in the first place. She was also impressed by the high marks the girls get in school. Many skaters have to do independent studies because so much of the time is spent training, so to balancing full-time school and an intensive training program for skating is not easy to do.

FSH operates on a small budget and gets many of its services donated pro-bono, like the beautiful uniforms donated by Macy’s. They also get visibility through some television stars, like Star Jones from The View, the event co-chair, and Tamara Tunie from Law and Order. Donald Trump is also a strong supporter, although we didn’t get to see him this year.

Our head of Global Marketing, Candace Matthews, gets credit for connecting us to Figure Skating in Harlem. She was involved with the organization before she moved to Amway headquarters in Michigan. She is now the chair of the board and brings a ton of energy to the organization (like she does to ours). I’m sure she’ll have it replicated throughout the country soon.

I must admit that we hesitated when she told us about a figure skating program in New York that Amway should consider sponsoring. Now I see the connection. Providing kids an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have … giving them a foundation for all-around personal development … using skating as a tool to build physical fitness and confidence. That’s certainly what One by One is about.


Figure Skating Harlem - Skaters

The FSH skaters who hosted us. They were vetrans of the program!

Figure Skating Harlem - Stars

Evan Lysacek, Ben Agosto, Tanith Belbin, Kimmie Meissner, Sharon Cohen and Candace Matthews

Figure Skating Harlem - Ice

Skating in Central Park – after the rain stopped

Figure Skating Harlem - Celebration

The FSH celebration with all of the skaters, stars and media

Artistry acts for autism with a fashionable twist!

Thursday, 2 April, 2009

Just last week, the Artistry Mobile Brand Experience vehicle took a trip to Miami to host Rock Fashion Week – a series of runway shows where top designers showcased their new fashion lines for the Fall 2009 season.

While in town, the Artistry team took things a step further with an event “designed” especially for some very special ladies from the South Florida Easter Seals organization. In an effort to thank them for all they do to help adults and children living with disabilities, Artistry treated them to an afternoon of luxury makeovers on-board the fabulous spa on wheels! After their time on the bus, the ladies enjoyed dinner at the gorgeous Fountainebleu resort and were entertained by front-row seats at the Abi Farren fashion show that evening.

Check out the Easter Seals ladies (all glammed-up) posing with Artistry representative, Luba, below!