Friday, February 15, 2008

TEAM: cal Reminscences & A Vision for the Future - Part III

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Historical Reminscences & A Vision for the Future - Part III
by Orrin Woodward on Fri 15 Feb 2008 12:31 PM EST

Let me step back to late 2003 and share with you my experiences with the Amway/Quixtar criticisms on the web. All of the major organizations were taught to avoid the negative associated with the name Amway by what is called the curiosity approach. This is an approach to people without referring specifically to the Amway or Quixtar name. For example instead of saying, “I would like to come over and show you the Amway plan”, people would say, “I am building a business in your area and would like to come over and share the details.” The goal was to get the meeting and explain all the details there. With the advent of the internet age, sharing Amway or Quixtar during the plan was a death knell. People would Google the speaker and business during the plan and literally walk out without hearing all the facts. I was so committed to the cause that I never stopped and analyzed the criticisms on the web with an open mind. The CD’s said to avoid negative and taught that everything on the web were lies or just criticisms of non-achievers. I focused on serving people and built our business very fast without much direct criticism through the end of 2003. In late 2003, Laurie and I hit EDC and began receiving criticism personally online. At first I was hurt personally. Some of the things stated and suggest motives for my behavior were simply not true. But I am thankful that it happened to me. It was the first time I read the criticisms online with a spirit of confronting reality. I asked myself, “What parts of the criticisms have an element of truth and what can we do to fix them?” This was a humbling exercise, because I had to admit our business was not perfect and needed to be reformed in several areas. The criticisms online were right in many areas. I told Ken McDonald back in 2004, “It’s not the negative lies online that are killing us, but the negative truths.” He agreed and said we needed to fix them.

The first major criticism that needed to be fixed was the good old boy club surrounding the tool businesses. People were given a discount on tools based on how much the upline liked them and how hard they negotiated. I did not want to be a hard negotiator with Chris Brady and the other leaders one day and then turnaround and be partners the next. The only solution that I could see would be to create a profit sharing plan. The profit sharing plan would take all revenue minus expenses and pay out to the Team based on performance. By having a per group performance, anyone could make the most money and it didn’t matter if you were the first person or the last person in. All that mattered was how big you built your groups. This revolutionized the pay and allowed us to be transparent about the sources of income. In the old school model, people at the top made most of the money and people at the bottom had to break away and run their own systems to be compensated properly. The only problem is they would become the new “Kingpins” and the antiquated system perpetuated hard feelings, lawsuits, and division. There were so many good leaders that have left the business today, not because they are bad people, but because there were systemic issues that caused dissension. The best analogy to use would be the water follows the riverbed every time. Until we deal with the structural issues (riverbed), the problems will continue to occur. We can tell the water to go to the right, but if the riverbed turns to the left the water will follow. We must fix the structures or problems will be endemic. This was a major fix and the reason that no leader has ever left to form another system on the Team. There is no need to unless it was purely ego driven.

Another riverbed issue was the old pins continued to be recognized even after they had fallen out of qualification. What kind of credibility can an organization have if they bring up people and call them “Diamonds” when they are actually Sapphires or lower? In the Team culture all speaking is based on current qualifications based on numbers (influence). It doesn’t matter what they accomplished in the past, the key is what are they doing currently? The goal is to serve the new people and Dexter had a saying, “Get your best in front of the best.” By basing it on numbers we fixed the riverbed and ensured the best were in front of the best. By having a performance based system, this also fixed unqualified pins receiving the majority of the tool profits from the work of others. As you perform, so shall you bonus was our motto. The criticisms on the business not growing did not apply directly to the Team, but I did agree that selling a success system was hypocritical if people were not succeeding. The Team had grown from 200 people attending majors to over 12,000 in six years and with groups merging into the Team over the next year we grew to over 20,000 strong at majors Another factor that improved our unified Team was the system stayed pure. Because we were all on the same page and went to the same conventions, the teaching stayed pure and duplicatable. This was not true in other systems where each diamond ran their own majors and taught different techniques.

By all staying together and running a performance based system, we were able to gain incredible volume discounts and leverage our numbers to the benefit of all. For example, in St. Louis if there are 25k people in attendance that means we have 40k plus seats still available. When we fill those seats everyone benefits. The new person get a phenomenal show at a lower price, every leader receives more in profit sharing and the Team reaches its goal of 1 million people. We went through and researched every piece of the criticisms online and attempted to the best of our ability to fix every area we could. The one we could not fix was the Pyramid issue. The criticisms online amounted to this, “You get people motivated and loyal to your Team’s and then convince them to buy products at a higher price than they can buy at a store.” I was taught that the products were of a much higher quality and the higher quality and value justified the higher prices. It wasn’t until I and other top diamonds paid for our own analysis of the products that we began to doubt if our answer was genuine. The doubts would have started in 2004 and this is why the Board started the 15 to 20 value based products initiative. We didn’t expect all of the products to be priced competitively with the market, but asked for some. I felt confident that we could get there in 2004 and felt all we needed to do was confront the facts and fix the issue. When a leader identifies a problem, they do not run away from it, deny it, or pass the buck. They address and fix. This is what we attempted to do through the IBOAI board.

The confronting of reality that Fred Harteis, Billy Florence, Don Wilson, Randy Haugen, Joe Markiewicz, and others were placing on Quixtar led to promises of better pricing. Many leaders were tired of watching high quality leaders come and go out of there organizations. Many went on to successful careers outside of the business and would praise the training systems for teaching them to think right about business. I have lost count of how many stories I have heard about successful entrepreneurs who learned the principles from the various Amway training organizations. The leaders felt that if the training was that good, how come they could not succeed in this business? Why do we have to cycle through nearly half our group every year and to work incredibly hard just to maintain the same size organization? These were the issues on the table to Ken McDonald and Doug Devos. The answer was to do a regime change and this brought Jim Payne and Rob Davidson into the positions of Quixtar Managing Director and Quixtar Sales Manager. I respected Ken McDonald greatly and was told by him that he had planned to retire and that it was time for him to bow out. I was excited to be working with Jim Payne and Rob Davidson. Ken had led us to Rob Davidson when he was head of the rules department. Rob had graciously dedicated his time and energy to help us with the Team Approach methods. I was only 6 months into my first term on the board and the future looked bright for some much needed (in my opinion) riverbed changes to the structure of the Quixtar business. The IBO Board leaders wanted a business we could be proud of and represent to the people with assurance that the business was the best thing for them. I felt confident that in the next two years we would get there and change America for the better! I wanted to make my three year term on the Board count.

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