Friday, February 15, 2008

TEAM: Historical Reminiscences & A Vision for the Future - Part IV

Original Source

Historical Reminiscences & A Vision for the Future - Part IV
by Orrin Woodward on Fri 15 Feb 2008 03:47 PM EST

The following post is my toughest to write. I am not a victim and do not wish the Team nor I to be portrayed as such. As an unofficial historian of these times, I am only attempting to state the truth as I saw it first hand. I did and still do respect all of the Quixtar representatives mentioned. I do not believe in disparagement and all of my statements are intended to be my opinion only when I am addressing my feelings.

The first time I sat down with Jim Payne was shortly after writing the letter to Doug Devos about my concerns about the business. A little background on the letter is necessary. I did not just out of the blue write a letter. Joe Markeiwicz group and the Team were the two fastest growing businesses since Quixtar formed. Steve VanAndel and Doug Devos requested a special meeting where Board members and non-Board members met to discuss a study performed on the state of the Quixtar business. I won’t go into details about the meeting, but at the end both Doug and Steve asked us for any additional input to help get the business moving again. I didn’t need a second invitation to move on this. I took me a couple of days to write that letter. I wanted to be firm in my convictions, but also encouraging and confident that we could make Quixtar work the way everyone dreamed it should. I asked Pastor Dickie to read and re-read it so that I would speak the truth in love. I hoped we could do a lunch together and share with Doug some ideas I had to improve the business. Much to my surprise, I received a curt reply that stated Jim Payne the new Quixtar managing director would handle the matter. In Doug’s defense, I know he is a very busy man with a global business, so I looked forward to my first meeting with Jim.

Chris Brady and I met with Jim in his office a month later. We felt we would have a great discussion on how to improve the Quixtar business, but instead we spent almost three hours defending the very existence of Team Approach. We were told Quixtar had reviewed the data and had determined that Team Approach was a poor method to build the business. The showed reams of data that “proved” Team Approach produced less profitability. I was shocked as saddened that instead of addressing the issues admitted by the founders on the lack of growth, we spent all of our time trying to keep Quixtar from forbidding the use of Team Approach. Jim also said that our organization was the lowest PV/IBO. I tried to explain to him that I stopped promoting the products personally after I did my own cost comparison and realized I was teaching people to buy products they could buy much cheaper at the store in my opinion. I had told Ken McDonald that I could not in good conscience promote commodity products at a higher price than they can buy at the store. Ken said he was working on 15 to 20 products for us and I told him when that happened we would explode! Jim took my lack of promotion as a weakness of Team Approach. This is simply not true and building depth actually increases purchases because people that see progress tend to buy more. I told Jim and the rest of the Quixtar representatives that although profitability is less in the short term, people accomplish the levels twice as fast. For example, if it takes the width model 5 years to go platinum and someone with Team approach can do it in 2 to 3 years, and then comparing avg. platinum income is not an accurate test. In five years with Team Approach the platinum may be a Sapphire or an Emerald. Someone like Tim Marks went Diamond in 31 months. None of this seemed to have an impact and when I left that meeting in late 2005, I realized that the political environment had changed. I was impressed by Jim Payne personally though. He has a very quick mind and grasped concepts quickly. I assumed he had a job to do and was focused on making changes and reducing the Board’s influence.

Jim Payne had led changes in other countries with great success from what I hear. I believe the difference in North America was the Board. In no other country did Amway have a Board that had to be consulted in order to implement changes. I don’t think Jim was comfortable with this process and did not follow the protocol of Maxwell’s Law of Buy In the best. I knew in late 2005 that Team Approach was not looked upon favorably at Quixtar even thought the field began using Team Approach in increasing numbers. Results cannot be hidden and the Team had well over 80% of the (English Speaking as a first language) Founders Emeralds and above that had only been in Quixtar. Despite these results, the new QBI program that the company rolled out was heavily stacked against Team Approach. There were requirement on side volumes that had never been in place before. This would affect the income of thousand of people in and out of my organization. I felt a fiduciary responsibility to speak up on this matter and lost more ground with the Quixtar representatives. I never had a personal issue with any of the Quixtar managers and felt on a personal level there was respect on both sides. I did discuss openly and freely on my concerns on favoring width building methods (that were not working) over depth building methods (that were working). I was not asking for favoritism for the depth builders, but asking for an achievement based system that would let the best system win. I did not win this discussion and all organizations who built with Team Approach suffered the consequences.

The beginning of my second year on the board began with a major push by Greg Duncan and the company to sell more products. Greg traveled around the country teaching of the explosive growth of everyone doing the Incredible Edibles program. I heard about people going ruby all on retail sales. I love a good story as much as the next guy but still like the old saying, “In God we trust, and all others must have data.” So many people in our business are phenomenal story tellers and I love a good story too, but the story needs to be backed up with hard evidence. Otherwise, it turns into hype and is not conducive to long term results in this business or any other. I wrote my letter to all the Board members after being told that we would be an email based culture and if we had any questions or comments to share them. Again, I did not write this letter to attack anyone, but merely to bring out another vision of how to move more products. I am all for sales, but to ask six figure income producers on their job to learn all the details of a water treatment system or the air filtration units in order to sell them is simply not worth the effort. I feel if someone could sell those products and make money, then they could make a fortune selling products with higher commission margins and easier stories to tell. My letter was rebutted by Rob Davidson and never brought up again. In my opinion, I felt Quixtar had decided not to follow through with the 15 to 20 competitively priced products. Over two years of my life and no closer to our dream business than the day we started.

The next big debacle with Quixtar came after the Team’s major in Grand Rapids at the VanAndel arena. We had just launched the Team website operated and controlled internally. It had more content on the non-password protected side to be more open and transparent with visitors. A Quixtar lawyer in their rules department just happened to be walking downtown in Grand Rapids and asked one of the many white shirted guys what they were doing. Someone gave them a card with the Team website on it. I received an email from Gary Vanderven stating I had 72 hours (It might have been 48 hours) to password protect the whole site or my IBO number would be suspended for having a prospecting site. I ignored this for the first couple of days thinking that Gary was having a bad day. I remember the call I received from Gary the last day and told me if the Team site was not taken off the internet until it was fully password protected that I would be suspended. I was shocked and hurt. I told Gary that I was on the road and that everyone was gone from the office. I literally had to beg for another 24 hours to not be suspended. I knew Gary must have been given orders to do this, because he is one of the nicest Christians I know. I told Gary that I know there must be more to the story and that I would comply even though I was very disappointed that no one would call and talk to me about this outside of the rules department. Billy Florence and Rick Abraham both looked at the website and stated they saw no prospecting materials or even an email to be contacted. Plain and simple, it wasn’t a prospecting site.

Jim Payne, John Stecco and Gary Vanderven called me with one hour to go before the suspension started and asked me if I was taking down the site. I was glad that someone at least called before I was suspended. I asked them what suspended actually meant, thinking that maybe I should get suspended and appeal to the board. Jim Payne said I would lose all of the QBI bonus, all the trips and monthly incomes. I was thinking about refusing to take down the site and appealing until Jim said the next statement. Chris Brady will also be suspended. I told them that Chris knew nothing about this, but their reply was that it says he is the co-founder. Jim asked again what my answer was. This was the most frustrating time in my entire life. I no longer felt I owned my own business and felt worse than an at will employee in my opinion. I bowed down to their authority again, but vowed to fix this ultra controlling attitude! I began to think that maybe discussing openly about change in this culture might not be the best thing for a person’s longevity in the new Quixtar.

The next crisis in my relationship with Quixtar came over full disclosure of the tool incomes. One of the major criticisms online and in the Dateline documentary is the lack of full disclosure on the tool incomes. Chris Brady and I decided to place the four ways to make income directly in our first night book. Quixtar forbid us to state our average incomes per level of achievement, but Quixtar was driving for full transparency in the tools business. I felt this was one of Team’s competitive advantages. We are proud of our compensation plans and anyone can become the top money earner. Why not disclose this in the first night book and if someone does not like it then they don’t have to join? This allows for complete transparency and no one can say they were not told upfront of all the various ways to make income. Tools, Tickets, Speaking and Quixtar were the four ways. Instead of being elated by our willingness to be transparent, Chris and I were threatened with a loss of the Hawaii Diamond Club unless we took the entire chapter out of the book. No discussion, just do it or else. I prayed about this one long and hard, but in the end decided to go to Hawaii because we had just broken 3 new diamonds and one was a personal (George and Jill) to us. We did not want to ruin their first Diamond Club and still believed that the attitude of Quixtar would change when they saw all the new growth we were experiencing!

The last major crisis while in the Quixtar business was the name change back to Amway. No discussion, no pros and cons, just do it. I feel no move on Quixtar’s part hurt the trust with the field as much as the unilateral name-change back to Amway. I built this business to have more control over my time and choices in life. The last two years had been a personal nightmare for me and my family. No one in our group outside of Chris and Tim knew anything. I did not and would not slander or libel someone. I do feel I have a right to share the truth from my perspective and this is the truth as I know it. I am sure I have made mistakes and am sure I could have addressed issues in a better way. All of us can get better. But as God as my witness, I never tried to belittle anyone personally and focused on the issues that I thought would improve the business for all of us. That is what I am called to do as a leader. I know people have bad days, but I was beginning to see a pattern in Quixtar’s behavior towards me and the Team. Even with all of this, I still had faith against all the facts that Quixtar/Amway leaders would come to their senses when they saw the backlash on the Amway name change. Every LOA/LOS leaders that I talked to was very disappointed by the recent move leading up to the name-change. There may have been some that were excited, but I didn’t talk to them and I tried to gather data from as many as possible to see if we could unite and convince Quixtar to change their minds. The beginning of the end of my Amway/Quixtar career was near.


Anonymous said...

I'm hanging on every word... :)

Anonymous said...

I was VERY glad to see the TEAM go!
In building my business, I was frustrated with how many people I ran across who had been alienated from this awesome business because of the TEAM's stacking methods.