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Elizabeth Owen Newest Member of DSEF’s Circle of Honor

Elizabeth Owen Newest Member of DSEF’s Circle of Honor

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In 1988, DSEF created the Circle of Honor award to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the Foundation. On June 2, 2014, at the Gala Celebration during DSA’s 2014 Annual Meeting, DSEF named Elizabeth Owen as the newest member of the Circle of Honor. “Elizabeth is a perfect inductee to our Circle of Honor,” said Joe Mariano, DSEF President. “She’s a principled consumer leader with years of passion about and understanding of how direct selling serves and protects consumers.”

During her two terms of service on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Elizabeth’s outstanding leadership—and her ability to fully understand DSEF’s & DSA’s missions from both a consumer protection and business perspective—translated into DSEF developing effective and balanced programs that won the respect of consumer advocates nationally.

“While it is an incredible honor to be given this award, it has already been my honor to be a part of an industry that I have grown to appreciate and respect,” Elizabeth said. “It has been my honor to work with people I have grown to love as family; and it has been my honor to further the worthy mission of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.”

Throughout her career in consumer protection, Elizabeth has been a constant presence both on the state and national scene. As the Director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, she lobbied state government for better consumer protection laws. During her stint as consumer reporter for NewsChannel 5, the CBS affiliate in Nashville, her viewers depended on her for the latest in consumer protection advice. And she served as the Executive Director of NACAA—the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators—representing consumer protection agencies across the US.

Over twenty years, Elizabeth supported numerous Foundation consumer protection programs with diverse groups that included law enforcement, military and the disabled. She also represented DSEF at international consumer protection programs held in Moscow.

And, when the direct selling industry was faced with the potentially devastating, disruptive and unnecessary regulation of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule on business opportunities, Elizabeth, in her capacity as NACAA’s Executive Director, provided invaluable and balanced comment to the FTC on the impact of the proposal on consumers and direct sellers.

“I am awed to have my name added to the Circle of Honor,” Elizabeth said.  “These are people I consider as heroes, and I am humbled by the trust this honor signifies.”

Networking on Steroids: DSEF Sponsors Guerrilla Mentoring Workshop

Networking on Steroids: DSEF Sponsors Guerrilla Mentoring Workshop

Finding an effective mentor can greatly enhance your business and personal life.  In fact, studies show that having five mentors can boost your confidence and your success. To show DSA Annual Meeting attenkathy_korman_frey12-150x150dees just how effective mentoring can be, DSEF sponsored a Guerrilla Mentoring workshop led by Kathy Korman Frey, CEO of the Hot Momma’s Project, the world’s largest women’s case study library. DSEF partners with the Hot Momma’s Project in support of its Global Case Study Competition.

At the interactive workshop, held June 3, participants used Kathy’s proprietary process, adapted from a million-dollar executive peer mentoring technique, to solve real challenges in real time, walking away with actionable steps to better their work and personal lives.

“The Guerrilla Mentoring session was highly interactive and resulted in some fantastic action items, realizations, and what I call ‘mass mentoring.’” said Kathy, who is also Entrepreneur in Residence, Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at the George Washington University School of Business. “By the end of the session, when participants were sharing their takeaways, they also mentored an entire room of their peers. Thanks to DSA and DSEF for bringing our special process to its members. What a great group.”

Elena Panos, Vice President of Training at Shaklee Corporation, enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with her peers. “As a first time attendee, I was impressed with the workshops!” Elena said. “Guerrilla Mentoring with Kathy Korman Frey allowed me to meet and share with other participants during the interactive table activities.”

Because of DSEF’s ongoing support of the Hot Momma’s Project, Kathy is offering to bring her Guerrilla Mentoring process to DSA member companies at a discount. Additionally, Kathy will be a featured speaker at DSA’s fourth annual Women’s Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2014. The by-invitation-only gathering is planned for women who are direct selling company owners and top-level executives. For more information, contact Nancy Laichas.

Gary Huggins Named DSEF’s New Executive Director

Gary Huggins Named DSEF’s New Executive Director

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At its June 1 board meeting, DSEF’s Chairman John Parker (Amway), announced that, after a comprehensive national search, Gary Huggins has been named as the Foundation’s executive director. “I am so pleased we were able to introduce Gary as DSEF’s Executive Director,” John said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will equip him well in leading DSEF.”

For more than fifteen years, Gary has managed nonprofit organizations, working with various constituencies including educators, government officials, business executives and consumer advocacy groups. Most recently, he served as CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers and stakeholders across the country.

“Vision, leadership and action—as a new era begins for DSEF, these are the qualities that our volunteer leaders bring,” said Joe Mariano, DSEF President. “As Gary begins his tenure with the Foundation, we know he will share his vision, leadership and experience to turn our leaders’ great ideas into action.”

Gary also served as director of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind—a bipartisan, independent effort dedicated to improving the No Child Left Behind Act—and as executive director of the Education Leaders Council and the Education Leaders Action Council, organizations that represented governors, state education chiefs, state education boards and other officials focused on improving K-12 education.

Gary was the founding executive director of the Coalition for Safer, Cleaner Vehicles, an alliance of corporations, small businesses, and consumer and environmental groups that promoted market-based environmental solutions. He also served on George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign and Inaugural Committee.

Earlier this month, Gary attended DSA’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, providing him the opportunity to meet with many DSEF and DSA board members and other executives. “I am honored to be part of advancing public knowledge of our industry and the life-changing economic opportunities we provide to more than 16 million people,” he said.

Originally from Dallas, TX, Gary graduated from Texas Christian University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communication.  He lives in Laurel, MD, with his wife and four children.

After July 7, Gary can be reached at ghuggins@dsef.org. “If you did not have a chance to meet Gary in person in Orlando, I hope you do soon,” John said.

DSEF & BBB: “Bait and Switch” Coupon Scams Promise Savings, Deliver Spam

DSEF & BBB: “Bait and Switch” Coupon Scams Promise Savings, Deliver Spam

blue_with_website-225x30022By Emily Patterson

Searching for coupons online is an easy way to save money. Unfortunately, it’s also an easy way to give your name and contact info to scammers. Be sure to verify a coupon deal is real before sharing your information.

How the Scam Works:

You need to make a purchase, but you hope to save money by finding a coupon online. A Google search turns up dozens of websites. Most of the online coupons promise a modest 10%-15% discount. But one offers a significantly better deal: 50% off your purchase.

You click the link, and the website looks official. It uses the logo of the business. It asks you to enter your email address and telephone number, promising that your coupon will be sent to you.

When you complete the form, you may be taken to a promotion for an unrelated (and untrustworthy) product. It may be anything from car loans to pharmaceuticals. Other sites do provide fake coupons to print, meaning that consumers don’t know they were scammed until the store clerk rejects their coupon.

This “bait and switch” is a way for unscrupulous businesses to collect names and contact info for resale. If your information is sold, you will start receiving spam calls, text messages and/or emails to the contact information you provided.

How Can I Tell Fake Coupons from Real Ones?   

It is easy to copy a business’ logo and make a fake coupon look real. Identify fake coupons by the following warning signs:

  • It’s the only website with that great deal. If most websites offer a code for 10% off, a 75% off offer is likely a scam.
  • Be wary of all high value offers. A promo for a $500 gift card is nearly always fake.
  • Look for legal language and expiration dates. Online coupons need to match manufacturer requirements.
  • Never pay for coupons. Don’t be tricked into paying for something that’s actually free.
  • Watch for “bait and switch” tactics. This scam offers you online coupon codes and, once you agree, requires you fill in a form with personal information.
  • If you suspect that a coupon is fake, check it against this list. The non-profit Coupon Information Center maintains a list of fraudulent coupons.

For More Information

To find out more about scams, check out the new BBB Scam Stopper.

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit www.bbb.org/us for more information.

What Your Team Needs

What Your Team Needs

A strong team is not only good for business, but it is also essential to overall staff morale and your own peace of mind. Each individual contributes something of value to the team as a whole, so fostering those strengths is important. Your role as a leader is to provide the tools your team needs to succeed. Here are some suggestions for doing so.

  • Teach practical skills. Team members obviously need specialized skills that work specifically for your business, but don’t overlook the importance of teaching practical skills. These skills allow your team to function autonomously in a variety of tasks. Skills such as time management, problem solving, organization, and delegation are all necessary to succeed no matter what industry you are in. Teach directly when necessary and always lead by example.
  • Teach skills instead of trying to change personality traits. If you try to change who a person is, you’ll likely spend much of your time banging your head against the wall, figuratively speaking that is. If one of your team members has a shy personality and doesn’t assert himself with clients and colleagues because of that shyness, focus on teaching him tangible ways in which he can be more assertive. Encourage him to initiate follow-up correspondence with customers, prepare a script to anticipate objections, and give a firm handshake with consistent eye contact. The person will always tend to be shy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t succeed as part of the team.
  • Assess improvements continually. Be on constant lookout for improvements your team makes, both large and small. This can be done through regular meetings, informal briefings, and even frequent observation, such as sitting in on a work session. By taking a proactive role in your team’s well-being, you can help steer them in the right direction or possibly help them get back on track if they are losing focus or approaching a project in an ineffective way. Nurturing a team atmosphere requires your continual awareness of what improvements are being made.
  • Reinforce and support their improvements. Part of your job as a leader is to build up your team and recognize their good work. Positive reinforcement is an incredibly effective confidence booster and motivator. When your team is succeeding, show them that you notice with some kind words, a pep talk, or even treating them to lunch once in a while. Your opinion matters to them, so demonstrate your willingness to help, cheer them on, and support their hard work.

Team dynamics vary from group to group, so being able to recognize what the team needs is an important skill all in itself. Lead by example and practice positive reinforcement to motivate your team to succeed.

How do you provide for your team? Please share your ideas below!

Five Ways to Increase Repeat Sales

Five Ways to Increase Repeat Sales

Repeat sales can be the difference between a thriving business and a failing one. In order to increase the amount of repeat business you do, the most crucial thing to remember is that friendship is more important than sales. By treating your customers just as you would your friends, you instill a sense of trust in your business, and give them plenty of reasons to continue patronizing your business instead of your competitors’ business. Begin seeing your customers as friends and increase your repeat business in the following ways:

  • Create opportunities for friends to buy, rather than having sales. The main idea here is that you want to appeal to your friends. What is it they need or want? Think about their favorite products, what they’ve expressed interest in, or what they’d like to see more of. For example, a customer wants to purchase your organic hair care starter kit for several of her friends this holiday season, but is hesitant to spend so much money at once. Even though you aren’t planning on discounting this item in particular, offer a special for this specific customer at a price that works for you both. Your willingness to satisfy her need as well as the personalized service will encourage her to come back again and again.
  • Truly believe that your product/service helps your friend. If you sincerely believe in what you are selling, that will shine through to the customer. Think of the last time you ate at a fabulous restaurant with delicious food and an outstanding wait staff: Didn’t you tell your friends and family about it right away? When we experience something pleasurable, we naturally want to share it with others. Your products and services are no different.
  • Always deliver excellence. Aside from making good business sense, a commitment to excellence will give you a leg up on your competitors and big business counterparts. When something goes wrong, fix it. When something goes right, commend those involved and integrate it into your regular business practice. Whenever possible, anticipate issues before they arise. The best way to deliver excellence is to be proactive.
  • Keep your promises. Of course everyone makes mistakes, but failing to keep promises is a surefire way to drive people to take their business elsewhere. Don’t promise something that isn’t 100% guaranteed, like something you cannot control. If a customer inquires about an out-of-stock item, an honest answer such as, “We expect the shipment on Monday afternoon,” will be much more appreciated than, “It will definitely be on the shelf by Monday.” What if the truck is late or goes to the wrong address? What if the order is wrong? Always be honest and only promise something when you’re sure you can deliver.
  • Focus on conversation, not a sales pitch. Because you see your customers as friends, you should take a true interest in their lives. Strike up conversations that aren’t disguised as sales pitches. Ask about family members by name when possible, find common interests, and share something about yourself as well. Remember that friendship is a two-way street, so don’t forget to do your part.

A commitment to building relationships is necessary for increasing your repeat sales. Focus on your customers as friends and do everything you can to help them.

How do you generate repeat business? Please share your ideas below!

5 Ways to Build Next Year’s Business this Holiday Season

5 Ways to Build Next Year’s Business this Holiday Season

If your business is like most, the holidays are your busiest season. It can be very easy to just be swept up in the “busy-ness” of it all, and fail to take a breath until after the holidays. Unfortunately, this approach means that once January rolls around, you have to work very hard to build up business again. But by taking a few strategic steps throughout the holidays, you can put the seeds in place that guarantee a profitable January and new year. Here are some suggestions:

  • Incentivize January Purchases. When someone makes a purchase from you during the holidays, offer a special deal or coupon that can be used in January. Be sure to collect their contact information too, so you can follow up in January and remind them!
  • Reward Hostesses Well. If your business is built on parties, offer a special gift for people that host both during the holidays as well as in the early part of the new year. Folks may choose to host a party at home during the holiday, and then another at the office in January, in order to take advantage of the special deal.
  • Reward Wellness. The new year is when everyone goes on a diet, and it’s the busiest time of the year for gyms, diet and exercise programs. Consider partnering with a local gym or diet support group to offer a special discount percentage folks can treat themselves with based on pounds lost or minutes spent exercising. The more weight lost or the more minutes spent at the gym, the bigger the discount!
  • Sponsor a 5K. Again, since in January people are focused on weight loss and resolutions, consider sponsoring a 5K race that helps a good cause while helping people to get fit. Offer special discounts to participants in the race on your products as a reward for helping others. This also provides your business with great exposure as you market the event.
  • Have a New Year’s Sale. The New Year is a great time to clear out old merchandise in preparation for your spring line. Have a special sale after Christmas that you first open up to Hostesses or Preferred Customers who have spent at a certain level during the holidays (they get first dibs at the sale), and then to all of your customers. Market the sale through advertising and social media channels, as well as your email list, so that everyone knows and can take advantage.

By taking a few minutes in the last few months of the year to plan your new year’s strategy, you can help your business thrive in the new year without having to start from scratch.

What are you doing now to build your business for the new year? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Every direct selling company knows that the foundation of a successful salesforce is a successful mindset. Teaching new business owners how to overcome challenges and turn self-doubt into positive, actionable plans is critical for building thriving businesses. So, too, is learning how to properly balance work and family life. It’s one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face—and one that can quickly derail even the most promising business venture.

To benefit small business owners, including your salesforce, the Direct Selling Education Foundation has made two new tools available: the Creating Your Success Mindset e-book and the Balancing Work & Life PowerPoint series.

Creating Your Success Mindset

New E-book:

What does it take to build a successful, thriving business?

One word: mindset.

Successful business owners know that responding to each and every situation that comes along does not guarantee success. What does is setting each day’s agenda so that it corresponds with your goals. Successful business owners choose the tasks and the direction most in line with their goals. And if you want your business to succeed, you need to do the same.

How? DSEF has produced Creating Your Success Mindset, a free downloadable e-book that will help your salesforce with this process. The activities included in the workbook are designed to help your salesforce focus their business efforts in the right direction. Readers will learn how to:

  • Define your why
  • Tune out negativity and committing to positive self-talk
  • Make a plan
  • Build in accountability
  • Use visualizations
  • Make a plan for when you fall
  • Focus on excellence instead of perfection

Balancing Work & Life:

New PowerPoint Modules

DSEF partnered with the Direct Selling Association to create four narrated PowerPoint modules that help small business owners effectively manage their day-to-day personal and business activities. The Balancing Work & Life modules include:

Managing All Aspects of Your Life
If you don’t take care of each part of your life, you run the risk of burning out, putting yourself and your family at risk, creating more stress, and not achieving your dreams. So how do you create a work-life balance that allows you to achieve all your personal and professional goals? In this module, you’ll learn how to manage your life through self-assessments and goal-setting in health, career and professional development, spiritual growth, relationships and family, finances and responsibilities, and fun and personal development.

Getting & Staying Organized
Clutter and disorganization, ineffective systems, bad planning, and self-sabotage—they can prevent you from building a strong foundation for your business. The key to combating them is to get and stay organized so you will be less overwhelmed and more focused and creative. In this module, you’ll learn tips on how to deal with clutter, create effective systems, allocate time appropriately, and fend off those nagging doubts and fears.

Working Successfully from Home
As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to build your business from the comforts of your home. But are you prepared to tackle the challenges that come along with that? Can you effectively set boundaries between your home life and work life? In this module, you’ll learn the pros and cons of maintaining separate personal and business space, working around family members, establishing boundaries, and avoiding distractions and temptations while working at home.

Reducing Stress and Building Resilience
Running a business is not easy. In fact, it can be extremely stressful at times. And stress can have a tremendous impact on both your personal and professional success. It can lower your immunity, create poor moods, and lead to strokes and heart attacks. The key minimizing stress is to maintain a good level of health and energy and learn the necessary skills for coping with change and overcoming problems. In this module, you’ll learn stress relievers and how to build a resilience roadmap to deal with life’s demands.

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

At the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship’s (NACCE) annual conference in Chicago last month, Robin Diamond and Nancy Laichas introduced DSEF’s new community college curriculum—the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program (DSEP)—to an enthusiastic group of nearly 500 community college administrators, instructors, and staff. The Pampered Chef’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus Doris Christopher gave DSEP a ringing endorsement from the stage during her conference keynote address, calling it a “win-win-win” for community colleges, for the direct selling industry, and for the country’s 16 million direct sellers.

“The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is an acknowledgment from the higher education community of the important entrepreneurial contribution of direct selling,” says DSEF Executive Director Charlie Orr. “The Direct Selling Education Foundation contributes and supports a range of meaningful activities for an ethical marketplace that promotes fairness, economic opportunity, and independence. The same values and influences that drive many individuals to pursue a direct selling entrepreneurial opportunity will motivate them to pursue the education that will bring them even greater success.”

The program—a direct selling curriculum to be offered through community colleges across the United States—provides direct sellers with management and entrepreneurial skills to help them increase their business acumen. Two community colleges will offer the course this month, with more to follow in 2013. Read DSEF’s August newsletter feature for more details.

As community colleges across the country begin to offer DSEP, you can help us spread the word in a variety of ways:

  • Share DSEP’s Facebook page with your field so they have access to the most  up-to-date course information
  • Put us in touch with your salesforce training and development team to collaborate in reaching direct sellers near community colleges offering DSEP
  • Contact us for help in asking your local community college to offer DSEP
  • Share the upcoming course schedule with your company, employees, and salesforce

For any questions about the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program, please contact DSEF Director of Marketing & Communications Nancy Laichas.

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

For DSEF, the difference between what we would like to do and what we can do is this: your support.

Scentsy co-owners Orville and Heidi Thompson know this. That’s why they, like so many other industry leaders, are committed to helping the Foundation reach its vision of creating a global marketplace that respects and appreciates direct selling.

In the coming months, we’ll profile those donors who have helped us execute our programs through their corporate and personal financial contributions. You’ll learn why they believe DSEF is important to the success of the industry and, ultimately, your business.

This month we speak to the Thompsons, who in addition to running a growing international party-plan company also serve on the DSEF Board of Directors.

DSEF: How do DSEF programs help Scentsy, its salesforce, and the industry?

Orville: The great benefit of DSEF is the credibility it helps build for all direct selling companies, including Scentsy. Direct selling is ideal for people who want flexible work hours, to control their financial destiny, or to replace income from a job loss. By partnering with organizations like the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the FTC, DSEF not only increases understanding and awareness of direct selling, but it also promotes the industry’s strong commitment to consumer protection and business integrity—and that helps everyone in the industry, Scentsy, and especially our Consultants.

DSEF: What specific programs are you most excited about?

Heidi: We’re especially excited to see the launch of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program with community colleges this fall. We know a lot of people enter the direct selling industry with no prior business experience, and it can be very intimidating. This new, 30-hour community college course helps new and even experienced direct sellers gain more confidence, learn better strategies for their business, and experience greater success. Having access to this kind of a class at the community college level will open doors for many people to launch a successful small business, while reinforcing that direct selling is not only legitimate, but a preferred way of doing it.

DSEF: What is most rewarding about your Board involvement?

Orville: I believe direct selling solves the business conundrum of our day. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores can’t store inventory like online retailers, but online stores can’t build brands effectively. So there’s a challenge that needs to be met. Traditional retail is not efficient, and online retail can’t build brands. Direct selling companies like Scentsy are creating businesses that distribute product as efficiently as online giants like Amazon, yet build brand loyalty through personalized shopping experiences as well or better than any traditional retailer. As a member of the DSEF Board, it’s gratifying to help people see the enormous possibilities of our sales model.

Heidi: By serving on the Board, I know I’m creating awareness of the direct selling opportunity and giving hope to people to reach their personal and financial goals. As just one example, at the Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting in June, we were proud to support the walkathon which benefited the Dallas chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We met some great young people who are learning how to be successful entrepreneurs, and there’s no limit to what they can achieve. That’s the best part for me—giving people hope and then watching them achieve their dreams.

DSEF: Why is DSEF support so important?

Orville: For years, direct selling has endured unfair press, prejudice, and misunderstanding—keeping it from the level of acceptance and support it deserves. How else would so many people start their own business and achieve their financial goals without extreme risk and heavy investment? The Direct Selling Education Foundation helps build a strong reputation for our business model by promoting ethical business practices, overcoming misperceptions, and establishing the value of direct selling among traditional thought leaders.

Heidi: I support the Direct Selling Education Foundation because I’ve seen so many examples of the difference direct selling can make in people’s lives. It certainly transformed our lives as entrepreneurs, and we’ve seen it transform our Consultants’ lives as well. The Foundation creates awareness that direct selling can be a great source of income and even a full-time career for many people.

To join the Thompsons in supporting DSEF, donate now.