All posts by TheDSEF

Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility: We Can Make a Difference

Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility: We Can Make a Difference

Every day, direct selling companies and the independent salespeople that represent them make a difference in the lives of their customers and their communities. The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) shared that message nearly 1,000 students and their 13 professors at the University of Georgia(UGA) and Athens Tech during the “Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility: We Can Make a Better World” multi-campus event on February 23.

To bring our industry’s commitment to social responsibility and entrepreneurship to the classroom, DSEF partnered with Dr. Brenda Cude, Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator in UGA’s Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics (and DSEF Board Member) and Jared Bybee, Director of ThInc UGA.

ThInc is a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship through events that engage, inspire and transform ideas to reality. “This campus event was an invaluable opportunity for students and their professors to see companies putting into practice ideals of social responsibility—in the company’s own business model in the case of Trades of Hope and through 4Life Research’scommunity outreach programs,” says Brenda.

Trades of Hope Founders Chelsie Antos and Elisabeth Huijskens shared their companies’ unique story of service, empowerment and compassionate entrepreneurship. The hand-made products designed by women artisans indeveloping countries are then sold through “Compassionate Entrepreneurs”—or direct sellers—in the United States. “Women want to be financially self-sustaining; charitable donations dry up over time,” says Elisabeth. “Only compassionate business can give women in poverty a job.”

4Life Research Founders David and Bianca Lisonbee created immune health supplements for optimal living built on the principles of science, success and service. Today, the Foundation 4Life focuses on child nutrition, shelter and education in 24 markets in the world. “Brand lives in the mind of the consumer,” says Calvin Jolley, 4Life’s Vice President of Communications. “Lots of companies sell supplements, but we differentiate ourselves through service.”

For professors, DSEF Campus Programs provide access to leading industry executives on important issues and business solutions. “The speakers presentations fit well with the concepts we’re studying in class – marketing, branding and how corporate social responsibility influences customer perception,” says UGA Professor Diann Moorman, who teaches an Introductory Consumer Economics class.

In a changing economy, people are more interested than ever in independent work, entrepreneurship and finding fulfilling career opportunities. “We interacted with educators, administrators, and approximately 1,000 students,” says Calvin. “These types of exchanges between our industry and higher education provide an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness, impact perception, and instill a sense of credibility for our businesses among an important cross section of the general public.”

Chelsie agrees, “We love DSEF and its mission to educate America about the direct selling business channel. Together, we are inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

DSEF’s next Campus Program will be held March 30, 2016, at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Linda Ferrell, DSEF Board Member and Belmont University’s Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics, will host and moderate a panel discussion on Ethical Leadership in the Gig Economy.Speakers include Lori Bush, Rodan + Fields; and Will Reinhart, American Action Forum. For more information, contact Kimberly Harris Bliton, DSEF’s Director of Academic Initiatives.

DSEF Campus Programs Help Direct Selling Go Mainstream

DSEF Campus Programs Help Direct Selling Go Mainstream

linda_student_webWhile leading academics, labor organizations and policymakers publicly discuss the growing trend toward independence in the workforce and its implications on US economy, the direct selling channel has long been a path to market for innovators and a driver of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

DSEF, which serves as the direct selling community’s education ambassador, explored this topic with professors, students and local businesses at the “Micro-Entrepreneurship and the Gig Economy” campus program at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, on March 30.

The campus program featured Lori Bush, Executive Advisor, Retired President and CEO of Rodan + Fields, a premium skincare company that uses the direct selling channel to market and distribute its products, and Will Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy from American Action Forum, a policy think tank organization based in Washington, DC.

Lori explained to students and faculty how direct selling fits in the sharing economy—direct selling companies share marketing resources with independent entrepreneurs who can build businesses of their own.

“Direct selling is a shared marketing platform – a business in a box – that provides a royalty-free license to use the company brand, technology and marketing to create a scalable, micro-entrepreneurial business at very little cost,” Lori says. “It’s not an antiquated business model—through the use of technology and crowdsourcing, it’s a mainstream opportunity for entrepreneurs.”

Will explained the gig economy as independent contractors moving from one project or “gig” to another rather than seeking full-time employment. “The economic downturn and technology are driving this shift toward entrepreneurship,” he says. “People don’t think of gigs or collaborative consumption as employment, but rather, supplemental income. People use the resources they have – their car (Uber), their living space (Air BnB) or their artwork (Etsy) – to support their hobbies, meet people, earn extra income and choose their own hours.”

Drs. Linda and OC Ferrell, Distinguished Professors of Leadership and Business Ethics at Belmont University, hosted the Foundation’s event. “Our students are thirsty for knowledge on how to be entrepreneurs. Will presented the opportunities in the gig/sharing economy and Lori nailed the way micro-entrepreneurship (direct selling) fits in. We have an amazing opportunity to connect with faculty and students in a way we have not had before,” Linda says.

OC agrees, “Will defined individuals in the gig economy who move from one project to another as independent contractors. The sharing economy is the online gig economy as represented by Uber, Lyft, Air BnB and direct selling companies who operate an app to allow for ordering. These conceptualizations of how direct selling fits into the gig economy resonated with both faculty and students.”

DSEF plans to significantly expand its academic outreach over the next three years. The Foundation is uniquely positioned to open a dialogue with academic and students to demythify the channel through campus programs, academic symposiums and research.

What’s YOUR Financial IQ?

What’s YOUR Financial IQ?

by Dr. Brenda Cude, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia

Brenda_cudeHow much do you—and your children and grandchildren—know about managing money? If you’re like most others around the world, the answer is not enough. Most—young, old, educated or not—have failed “financial literacy” tests given to measure their financial knowledge. Perhaps some fail because the tests don’t measure what we do know about managing money. But, odds are that most of us don’t know as much as we should. After all, financial decisions have become ever more complex with new options appearing often.

How can your children and grandchildren learn about managing money? An obvious answer is that they learn from you—and not just from what you say, but also from what you do. If you want your child to wait until he or she has saved enough to buy a desired item, show that you are doing the same.

Realize though that every child is different. For some, saving up for something is a fun challenge. For others, it’s pure torture. (For fun, search the Internet for YouTube videos about the “Marshmallow Test.”) While you’re online, search for resources to teach children about money—there are lots of options. Resources from University Cooperative Extension Services are unbiased and peer-reviewed.

Children can and should learn about money management in school. According to the Council for Economic Education, 17 states require public high school students to take a course in personal finance. In 22 states, high schools are required to offer a personal finance course.

In some states, including Georgia, money management concepts are required to be taught in K-12. One popular way to teach children concepts about money is through a Bank-at-School program. With the cooperation of a local financial institution, children can open accounts and make deposits at school, often with students serving as the bank tellers. Another popular way is through the Stock Market Game, in which children work in teams to invest a hypothetical fund into a portfolio of stocks. The accompanying resources for teachers (and sometimes parents) increase the students’ knowledge from the experience.

What if money management isn’t being taught in your schools? Ask—no demand —that it be taught—and offer to help. Contact a local credit union or University Cooperative Extension Service. Both have educational missions and may be helpful to bring money management education to your schools.

College students also have opportunities to continue to learn about money. They can inquire about in-person or online courses that teach money management concepts or even peer-led groups with a personal finance focus.

What about you? How can you learn more about managing money? For those who feel they don’t even know the basics, the answer is to start with the basics. Read (or listen to) one of the many, easy-to-read popular personal finance books. Search for “best personal finance books” and choose one that sounds right for you. You also can look for a money management course in your community or online.

If you think you know the basics but just need to update and keep your knowledge current, popular media sources can be surprisingly helpful and generally accurate. For example, last fall TV and newspaper outlets did a great job of covering the credit card conversion from “swipe and sign” to “chip and pin.”

Learning about personal finance from the Internet can be tricky, though. There are too many who write online from a perspective that may not work for most, advocating, for example, no debt other than a mortgage or investment strategies that violate one of the most basic rules of investing—diversification or investing in many different types of assets. Search “best personal finance websites” and read the reviews. Choose experts who write for your life situation. Follow them on Twitter to learn something every day.

Even those who know a good bit about money management also rely on experts. Ask your insurance agent to explain your insurance policies to you. Call your financial institution or loan servicers and ask questions about your mortgage, car loan, and student loans. Consider an appointment with a fee-only financial planner (one who charges by the hour instead of earning money from commissions on financial products). Look for one with the designation “Certified Financial Planner.”

In 2016, none of us can afford to say, “I just don’t know anything about managing money.” Start today to change that!

The Responsibility of Acting Responsibly

The Responsibility of Acting Responsibly

By Dr. Lawrence Chonko, the Thomas McMahon Professor in Business Ethics at the University of Texas at Arlington

ChonkoMany business ethical controversies are rooted in consumer rights. A right is a justifiable claim that someone has on someone else. The “justification” of any such claim involving a business depends on standards known and accepted by the person making the claim, by the business and by society in general. President John F. Kennedy, in 1962, advocated some generally accepted consumer rights which were supplemented by the Consumer Protection Act of 1986—the rights to safety, product/service information, choice, public voice, seller education, healthy environment and redress.

As consumers, we expect that business will honor these rights and, to the extent that businesses do not, ethics issues arise.

Is it also the case that business should expect that consumers honor business rights? Consumers have marketplace responsibilities including taking care of one’s own business, accepting the consequences of one’s actions, and taking advantage of opportunities to learn about the marketplace. When those responsibilities are ignored, do questions of ethics also arise?

Consumers should heed Rudyard Kipling’s words in their purchase and consumption of products and services:

“I keep six honest serving-men

    (they taught me all I knew)

Their names are What and Why and When

  And How and Where and Who

Is the consumer acting responsibly when he/she ignores questions like the following?

  • What does a consumer need to learn about new products or product changes? It is a consumer responsibility to ask questions and learn about the quality of products and services.
  • Why do consumers ignore instructions? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers make sure they understand how to use products properly?
  • Why do consumers ignore readily accessible information? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers read materials provided by sellers concerning the use of products?
  • Why do consumers ignore the environmental impact of selected products? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers be sensitive to impact of consumption on the environment?
  • When consumers misuse products, who is really at fault? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers to properly use products?
  • How do customers make purchases—in ignorance, on impulse? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers be assertive to ensure they receive a fair deal?
  • Who are the sellers and why do consumers not check their qualifications? Should a business have a right to expect that consumers to learn about the integrity of sellers?

Now we come to the Where. Even when consumers act irresponsibly, many still feel it is their right to seek redress.  In seeking redress, whether consumers have acted responsibly or not, do they:

  • …act with sarcasm, anger or hostility?
  • …demand much more from the seller than that to which they are entitled?
  • …automatically blame the seller or manufacturer?

Further, is the consumer acting responsibly if their impressions of business activity are fueled by:

  • …the overly negative portrayal of business people in movies or on television?
  • …the consumers’ own lack of knowledge (e.g. the difference between margins and profits)?
  • …not recognizing that the overwhelming percentage of products/services consumed have truly delivered need/want satisfying experiences?
  • …not being forthright about unmet expectations—who is really at fault for products/services not delivering as promised?

When consumers engage in irresponsible marketplace behavior, do they believe they are doing what they are compelled to do? Do they become convinced they have no other options? Do they feel that their angry actions are better than those they perceive of the seller? Do they engage in self-deception by not admitting they misused products or ignored instructions, or did not conduct a seller search? Do they react in these questionable ways in order to achieve a goal that is desirable to them—companies honoring promises in spite of consumer not acting responsibly?

When ethical problems arise, both business and consumers must consider if their action respects each other’s basic rights. Both sides should ask questions like: 1) How would my action affect the basic well-being of others? 2) How would my action affect the freedom of others? 3) Does my action involve manipulation or deception, thus undermining the right to truth?

Marketplace actions are wrong to the extent that they truly violate the rights of individuals. What are consumers and businesses doing to guarantee these rights? Neither business nor consumers should expect their rights to be respected if each does not reciprocate.

The Investment Maxim We Tend to Ignore: Portfolio Rebalancing

The Investment Maxim We Tend to Ignore: Portfolio Rebalancing


by Dr. Robert N. Mayer, Professor, Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah

Rob MayerVery few of us have the time, ability, or inclination to become investment experts, but we can do nicely by relying on a few simple rules: clarify your financial goals; start saving early and contribute regularly; diversify your investments within and across asset classes; and keep down costs.  There is one rule, however, that people tend to ignore—rebalance your investment portfolio (when appropriate).  Failing to following this rule can be costly and, perhaps worse, result in a lot of regret.

Rebalancing presumes that you have already followed the basic investing rule of constructing an investment portfolio that is consistent with your personal risk tolerance.  Your investment portfolio is the array of assets (e.g., stocks in individual companies; corporate or government bonds; mutual funds and exchange-traded funds; real estate; precious metals; cash equivalents) you own.  And your risk tolerance is your ability and inclination to take on a high or low degree of risk in your overall investment portfolio.

For example, a young investor is generally more able to take on more investment risk than an older investor because the young investor has far more time to recoup any short-term financial losses.  Similarly, a person who enjoys skydiving and white water rafting may be more comfortable investing in emerging markets or new companies relative to someone who spends his/her spare time playing chess and puttering in the garden.

There is nothing intrinsically better or worse about being a high-risk or low-risk investor.  That’s an individual matter.  There is something wrong, however, in building an investment portfolio that is out of step with your risk tolerance. So, whether guided by a friendly financial planning professional, a so-called robo-advisor (typically an online wealth management service that uses computer-based rules to offer financial advice), or one’s own financial acumen, the investment portfolio should reflect risk tolerance.  As time passes, it is the responsibility of the investor to “rebalance” the portfolio to make sure its mix of assets still reflects the a person’s underlying risk tolerance—and not allow the risk tolerance to change in response to the performance of different asset classes.

Rebalancing typically involves selling some of the assets that have gained the most in value and buying assets that have performed relatively less well.  This sounds counterintuitive and helps explain why so many people have difficulty rebalancing their portfolios, but if you think about it, you are “selling high and buying low.”

While some experts contend that rebalancing improves long-term portfolio performance, the main benefit of rebalancing is to reduce volatility, risk and the impact of unpleasant surprises. Let’s imagine a forty-year-old inexperienced investor, Lance, who barely knows the difference between a stock and a bond, but witnessed the stock market soar in 2003 and the bond market go up as well that year.  Lance decides to pull his $200,000 in savings out of a bank at the beginning of 2004 and invest 60 percent in a well-diversified stock mutual fund and the other 40 percent in a well-diversified bond mutual fund.  This would be considered a conservative allocation for a forty-year-old investor, but Lance, despite his name, isn’t a big risk-taker.

During 2004, let’s suppose (and these number are very close to what actually happened) the stock portion of Lance’s portfolio went up by almost 11 percent while the bond portion rose by 4 percent. By the end of the year, Lance had $133,200 in stock and $83,200 in bonds.  As a result of the different rates of increase, Lance now had 61.6 percent of his portfolio in stock and 38.4 percent in bond – not too far off from his target of 50 percent in each.

Now let’s let a few more years pass and assume that stocks continue to outperform bonds at about the same differential.  By the end of 2007, the stock portion Lance’s portfolio would be $182,168, and the bond portion would be $93,589.  Lance is feeling really good about the overall performance of his portfolio.  It has grown from $200,000 to $275,757—or 37.9 percent— in the course of only four years.  The stock portion of the portfolio has grown to 66 percent, but Lance doesn’t mind.  Indeed, he regrets not putting a higher percentage in stocks at the beginning of 2004.  So he sits tight and waits for continued growth in 2008.

Unfortunately, 2008 was a really lousy year for stocks, as they declined 37 percent.  Bonds increased in value by 5 percent.  At the end of 2008, Lance’s portfolio is worth $213,034—not bad considering that he just went through one of the worst stock market drops in U.S. history.  The stock component of Lance’s portfolio is now worth only $114,766 (54 percent), while the bond component is worth $98,268 (46 percent).

What would have happened, though, if Lance hadn’t fallen in love with his rapidly rising stocks and remembered to rebalance his portfolio at the end of 2007, when his overall allocation exceeded a 5 percent deviation from his pre-determined 60-40 mix?  At end of 2007, Lance would have sold approximately $17,000 in stocks and purchased $17,000 in bonds.  The renewed 60-40 split would have meant that he had $165,454 in stock and $110,303 in bonds.

Where does Lance stand now after the awful stock market performance of 2008? His stock losses are on a smaller base than before, and his bond gains are on a larger base.  Instead of seeing the value of his stocks drop by about $67,000, they dropped by about $61,000.  Moreover, the overall balance in his account is $220,054—a $7,000 improvement relative to the portfolio with rebalancing.  Seven thousand dollars may not seem like a large amount, but remember all that it took to “earn” it was one instance of rebalancing.  The difference between the un-rebalanced and rebalanced accounts would, of course, be more dramatic if the original allocation had 70-30 or 80-20 between stocks and bonds.  Or suppose that Lance, instead of being forty years old, is a recent retiree who has $2 million in his retirement account at the beginning of 2004 rather than $200,000. Then rebalancing would have done far more to cushion the blow of the stock market swoon.

How often should an investor rebalance his or her portfolio?  There is no right answer, but one rule of thumb is to rebalance once one of your major asset classes has changed by five percent or more from your original allocation.  Other experts recommend rebalancing every 12 or 15 months.  Some investment accounts can be set to rebalance automatically at a given time interval or a specified change in the value of an asset.  It doesn’t make sense, though, to rebalance after small changes because there can be transaction expenses associated with buying and selling assets.  The main lesson is not to be your own worst enemy by assuming that just because an asset has gone up substantially in value that it has earned a larger portion of your investment portfolio.  If you set your initial asset allocation based on a careful examination of your risk tolerance

Welcome to NCPW 2016

For more than 40 years, the Direct Selling Education Foundation has championed the rights of consumers through its work with leading consumer advocacy groups, academics and public policy leaders. A key component of the gary-200x300 (2)Foundation’s efforts is its annual support of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), held this year from March 6 to March 12.

NCPW is a coordinated campaign among federal and state government and non-profit partner organizations that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. Each year during NCPW, the FTC and its partners offers a wide range of free events and resources on topics like finances, health, privacy, technology, and much more.

In celebration of NCPW 2016, DSEF created a dedicated webpage to showcase a selection of resources to help you navigate common consumer issues that you face every day. We also invited our academic partners and the Council of Better Business Bureaus to provide information on a variety of consumer issues, and we’ll post these contributions to our blog each day this week.

All of us at DSEF hope you’ll take advantage of the wealth of information available on our website, and we encourage you to share these resources with your friends, family and colleagues.

Gary M. Huggins

DSEF Executive Director

DSEF Adds Silent Auction, Doubling the Bidding Fun

DSEF Adds Silent Auction, Doubling the Bidding Fun

In just a few days, direct selling company executives and suppliers will gather in San Antonio for the industry’s premier event.  Returning as a highlight of the Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting is DSEF’s Experience of a Lifetime Auction.

Marking its second year as DSEF’s marquee fundraiser, the 2015 Experience of a Lifetime Auction includes a new twist: a Silent Auction to complement the Live Auction held at the Awards Gala on June 2. The decision to include a Silent Auction component resulted from the success of last year’s event, which remains among the most memorable fundraisers in DSEF history—and allows the Foundation to expand its work on behalf of the industry.

“Enhancing the reputation of the direct selling channel begins with advancing understanding of our unique business model,” explains Gary Huggins, DSEF Executive Director. “Through research, events, partnerships and education programs, DSEF helps establish the direct selling industry’s legitimacy to key audiences—but none of our work would be possible without the financial support of our donors.”

Last year’s event can be described as nothing less than epic.  Truman Hunt, President and CEO, Nu Skin Enterprises, and Orville Thompson, CEO, Scentsy Inc. went head-to-head in a bidding war for the chance to attend an Orlando Magic game in the Founder’s Suite—as the guest of Amway’s Chief Sales Officer John Parker and President Doug DeVos.  When the bidding topped $50,000, John, who also serves as DSEF Board Chair, agreed to offer the package twice, raising $100,000 for the Foundation in a matter of minutes.

Thanks to his winning auction bid, Truman and a group of Nu Skin executives joined John Parker and Doug DeVos in Orlando for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic. “Our friends at Amway treated our Nu Skin executive team to a VIP experience,” he said.  “We thoroughly enjoyed getting a glimpse of the NBA locker rooms, state-of the art work-out facilities and sitting in the VIP box in the arena, however, the best part of the day was interacting with the Amway team. We enjoyed sharing common experiences, valuable insights and celebrating our common vision of improving people’s lives and making a difference in the world.”

The fun, camaraderie and healthy competition that characterized 2014’s Experience of a Lifetime auction are only part of the reason that DSEF moved to expand the 2015 effort.

“The proceeds from last year’s auction funded vital DSEF programs that made a compelling, value-driven case for direct selling such as DSEF’s recent Multi-Industry Self-Regulation PanelCampus Days programs, and National Consumer Protection Week efforts,” says Gary.  “Programs like these show consumer protection advocates, regulators, educators and students the good our industry does wherever you find us.  I thank all who participated last year, and look forward to an equally strong showing next week in San Antonio.”

The enduring excitement from 2014’s auction continues to drive anticipation for this year’s event. In reflecting upon last year’s auction, Traci Lynn Burton, Founder and CEO of Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry, recalls how her adrenaline took over when she submit the winning $5,000 bid for a skydiving adventure with USANA’s CEO Dave Wentz.

“This was a life changing experience!” Traci says. “So glad I made the ‘jump’ and, yes, I will do it again!”



Donors Make a Difference, Connie Tang, President & CEO, Princess House

Donors Make a Difference, Connie Tang, President & CEO, Princess House

DSEF’s programs and partnerships would not be possible without the support and engagement of our contributors and volunteers. Connie Tang, President and CEO of Princess House and a DSEF Board Member, is a tireless advocate for the Foundation. We recently spoke to Connie about her—and her company’s—involvement with the Foundation.

How did you become involved with DSEF?

I’m a great believer in the power of direct selling. I don’t know of any other industry that’s so rich in the range of opportunities it provides for individuals. I became active with the Direct Selling Association as a Board Member, and learned more about how the Foundation’s work reaches beyond the obvious stakeholders into the public arena. That was exciting – the opportunity to open minds and eyes to what this industry can do as a vehicle to entrepreneurship, personal/professional empowerment and realizing the American dream – all through the Foundation’s outreach.

How do DSEF programs help Princess House, its salesforce, and the industry?

I can honestly say that there is not one DSA company that doesn’t benefit from the DSEF, and that includes Princess House! Direct selling is an equal-opportunity business that benefits people regardless of background, culture, age and education. That means people who join our industry may have varying levels of education and professional/life experience.

The outreach programs the DSEF supports and/or conducts in collaboration with educators, consumer advocacy administrators and public policy makers are all meant to provide free, open access to information and education to everyone to equalize some of those potential knowledge gaps. The DSEF serves as a source for potential direct sellers and/or customers to find facts about the industry.

The Foundation’s Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program provides college students the opportunity to experience, learn and discover what entrepreneurship through direct selling means. The plus is that the skills sets that can be acquired through the course curriculum are transferable to any and all facets of business or corporate endeavors.

What specific DSEF programs are you most excited about?

In addition to the programs I mention above—the grassroots, face-to-face opportunities that DSEF provides for us—as industry stewards—to meet, engage and interact with future, would-be direct sellers are incomparable.

Participating in the University of Georgia’s Thinc Program recently gave me just that opportunity to be in the presence of our potential next generation direct sellers and plant some seeds, make some (hopefully, positive) impressions and correct some misconceptions or unfounded assumptions about what we do in the world of direct selling.

You’re involved with DSEF in so many ways: You serve on the Board of Directors, the Executive and the Development Committee; you’ve participated in many DSEF programs, including speaking to students last month at the University of Georgia; your company is a DSEF contributor and you also contribute personally. Why do you think it’s important to support the Foundation?

Direct selling is a powerful industry, but it’s also a misunderstood industry. The role of a “good will ambassador” like DSEF is important in saying to people who are looking at our products and our business opportunities, “This is a real, credible business that deserves your consideration.”

The role DSEF plays in supporting and communicating the ethical standards of the industry is very important. Any industry’s credibility comes from its adherence to a rigorous, fully articulated code of ethics. The credibility of DSEF is also reflected by the level of participants/participation and each one of us can directly impact that credibility in an upward and positive fashion.




DSEF to Host Multi-Industry Panel on Self-Regulation

DSEF to Host Multi-Industry Panel on Self-Regulation

National-Press-Club-300x199As consumer expectations for transparency and corporate responsibility continue to evolve, so too must the approaches industries use to safeguard the public. To highlight the critical role of self-regulatory initiatives and their benefit to consumers, DSEF is convening a multi-industry public discussion on consumer protection and self-regulation on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The event will feature opening remarks by the Honorable Maureen K. Ohlhausen, a Commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission.

“This important public forum illustrates how different industries institute self-regulation frameworks that ensure a commitment to high ethical standards and consumer protection,” says Gary Huggins, DSEF Executive Director. “Direct Selling Association President Joe Mariano will represent the direct selling industry at the event and will discuss the Association’s proactive efforts to protect consumers through its Code of Ethics.”

The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Howard Beales, Professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy, Regulatory Studies Center, George Washington University. In addition to Joe, panelists are Lynne Omlie, Senior Vice President, Secretary & General Counsel, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; and C. Lee Peeler, CEO, Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and Executive Vice President, National Advertising, Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The audience will include policymakers, regulators and consumer leaders. Industry executives are also encouraged to attend. You can find more information here, or contact Nancy Laichas.

DSEF Creates Consumer Toolkit for National Consumer Protection Week

DSEF Creates Consumer Toolkit for National Consumer Protection Week

DSEF Consumer Protection Toolkit_Page_01Each year in March the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its partner organizations commemorate National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), held this year March 1 -7, by offering a wide array of consumer education events and resources to educate the public and encourage people across the country to take full advantage of their consumer rights.

“The FTC is one of the direct selling industry’s most important regulatory constituents and, by supporting their efforts during NCPW, DSEF demonstrates our firm commitment to consumer education and protection, and individual economic empowerment,” said Gary Huggins, DSEF Executive Director.

This year, DSEF created an NCPW-themed Consumer Protection Toolkit that includes various materials from the FTC and other state and local consumer organizations on topics such as identity theft, job scams and shopping online. The kit also includes materials highlighting the consumer protections measures afforded by DSA’s Code of Ethics.

DSEF delivered the Toolkit to members of Congress and Commissioners and staff at the FTC, among other important constituents engaged in consumer protection issues.“It’s great to know that DSEF is using the FTC’s consumer education materials in such an effective way,” said Lisa Lake, FTC Consumer Education Specialist. “This is a great example of how the FTC’s resources can be adapted and used to support programmatic goals. I think those in the DSEF network are going to be equally impressed and will find the information— and how you packaged it – very helpful.”

In addition to the Consumer Toolkit, the Foundation hosted a NCPW-themed Twitter Chat on March 5, and was joined by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Chicago-based ABC News consumer reporter Stephanie Zimmerman (@ABCNewstheFixer). During the one-hour chat, DSEF, CBBB, Stephanie and more than a dozen local BBBs shared information and answered questions about frauds and scams, shopping online and the FTC’s cooling-off rule.

The Foundation also promoted NCPW through its website and social media channels. DSEF created a web page that aggregated NCPW-related content most relevant to our audiences, and promoted the content through a Facebook contest held March 2-6. Each day of contest, DSEF posted a question related to DSA’s Code of Ethics to Facebook, and participants viewed one of the Foundations Ethics Vignettes in order to learn the answer. Five $50 gift cards were awarded to entrants chosen at random.