Did your start a business, or just buy a starter kit?

In January, most companies put their starter kits on sale. Everyone knows that January tends to not be a great month in direct sales–people are tapped out from spending money on Christmas gifts, and just don’t have the discretionary income to spend at parties.

For that reason, January is also a great month to recruit–people NEED money. They tend to over-spend during the holidays, those credit card bills came due, and they need money NOW to pay them. It’s a catch 22–they need to make money, but don’t have the money for starter kits. Hence January being “kit sale month” with most companies–who can resist a sale?

So, fast forward to March. Some people who “started their new direct selling business” in January have nothing more than a kit. They are not making money. And they still have the credit card bills, just now they have a little more debt with a starter kit added on.

Where is the disconnect? What happens from the “I am going to start a business, make some money, have some fun” to NOTHING happening?

Many of you who read this are leaders, and have struggled with this for years. It’s always been a big debate with me personally. In one of my former companies, it would be required, at times, and by zones, to make sure the new start had SIX PARTIES BOOKED, period, end of discussion, before ordering their starter kit.

I always had very vocal debates about that “requirement”. There is one lady who I admire greatly in that business who wouldn’t even let her own daughter sign up without her six parties on the books, and she has an amazing proven track record and it works for her. Five parties is NOT an option, it’s six, or you absolutely cannot join her team, period, end of discussion. I have always respected that she holds firm to that, no waffling, no matter what the circumstances are.

I, on the other hand, have never felt comfortable with that, for one big reason–I would not be doing direct sales today if that was required of me. My original game plan was that I was doing ONE PARTY AND QUITTING. I am not kidding. One and done. The only reason I signed up is because the lady who did my party kept bugging me to join, and at the end of the night, she said she’d pay for my starter kit, and I could do one party and quit if I wanted to, and she’d never call me again. In Joyce-land, all I heard was I was basically getting over $500 in jewelry, doing one party, and getting rid of the irritating jewelry lady because she would never be calling me again after I quit after doing my ONE PARTY.

Well, that ONE PARTY was a huge success, $1800 in sales, six bookings, and two recruits, so…I stuck with that company for almost ten years, and in my last year, ironically, finished #1 in recruiting.

So, I always felt if I required six parties, I would be a hypocrite, and I might miss out on the next “me”. I remember chatting one time with the lady who did require the six parties, and we were debating the merits of it, and I told her I would not have been able to join her team with her requirement, and would that have been worth losing out on someone like me? She said to me that she would have been able to convince me to get those six parties booked. I still smile thinking about that, because if anyone could have done so, it was her.

So, honestly, it’s been ten years, and I still vacillate on that. In January, I recruited 14 people into my new company. Have all 14 had their launch shows and become huge successes? NOPE. Does it really bother me? YEP. As a leader, do I sit and wonder what else can I possibly do to get them going? ALL THE TIME.

What I find surprising is the people who I LEAST expected to be successful, the gals who came across as the least confident, are the ones who are taking the business by storm. They are the newbies with not much direct selling experience at all. I like to analyze the heck out of everything (just ask my husband), so I wonder if there is some correlation there. Are the direct sales newbies more inclined to get on the web site, watch all the videos, read all the training materials, come to all the meetings, and ask all the questions because they don’t have any point of reference and are not jaded from any previous experiences? Do people who come from multiple other businesses come in with the “I got this” attitude, and it negatively affects their new business? Usually we look forward to those who come from other businesses–they have experience, and they have networks already somewhat established.

I constantly analyze how I am running my business, where I spend my time, and where to most efficiently use the limited time I have (I still do 20+ personal parties a month). Conventional wisdom tells you to spend your time with those who “make you the most money”. I have always bristled at that. First, personally I am a self-starter and HATED, I mean HATED getting calls from my upline micromanaging me. I did not need it, and never welcomed it. I have a group of self-starters who do very well, and probably don’t need or  want me to call them all the time and ask what they have lined up. Next, I have the group in the middle who are plugging away, working their business, and could use the encouragement, tips and interaction. I see them actively talking about their business on their Facebook pages, they interact on our team Facebook page, and come to meetings, but maybe just have not hit their full stride yet. I personally find that group the best to pour my time into.

And lastly, you always will have people who, once they get their kit, don’t interact much with you. All you can do is encourage them, encourage them some more, invite them to meetings, invite them to shadow you, reach out to them, and at some point, realize that they bought a kit. They maybe thought they were starting a business, and had every intention to start a business, but for whatever reason, ended up buying a kit. The toughest thing as a leader is to decide when it’s time to stop putting time and effort into those teammates. I always think, “If I reach out ONE MORE TIME…if I encourage them ONE MORE TIME, we can get something going.” It’s addicting, like playing the slot machines–you always want to stick one more quarter in and pull that lever one more time, and never feel comfortable when you make that decision to walk away. You always have that “WHAT IF” thought process going….

My husband, when I discuss this with him (he’s the director of sales and marketing for a 100 million dollar a year company, so he deals with these things as well, just on a different and larger scale) always tells me, “You can’t push a rope.” I know you can’t. But I also like to accomplish things that I am told CAN’T BE DONE. I think that is what makes many people successful–the drive to prove people wrong (especially if that person is your HUSBAND!).

If you are a leader reading this, realize you are not a failure or alone when you have teammates who never got their business going after you bring them on board. I always took it personally, that it was my personal failure–that *I* could not inspire them in some way. I have one situation that I might talk about some day that REALLY sticks in my craw when it comes to this situation. Truth be told, it still does–another story for another day. The ultimate decision whether they “start a business” or “bought a kit” lies with them. The biggest favor you can do yourself is let it go, and go work with that middle group who wants and NEEDS your time and attention. They STARTED A BUSINESS. Give them your time.

 

 

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Padded Whatie Pants?!?!?!

So, we all have experiences at parties that stay with us for years, and they end up being the funny stories we tell at other parties for years to come. This is one of my all-time favorites. After this party, I got so self-conscious, I never let anyone sit behind me during my presentation. Everyone had to sit in front of me, or to the side, and if they questioned why, I’d tell them this story….

Many years ago, I had earned the incentive trip to Hawaii with a previous company. In past years, I always cashed out because I was terrified of flying. A really wonderful friend of mine earned the trip for one as well, and wanted me to room with her. With much cajoling, she convinced me with enough drugs and moral support, I could get on the plane and do the trip. I did it, but barely.

So, being the unseasoned traveler that I was, I scheduled a party for the day after my flight left Hawaii, not realizing that there is a BIG time zone difference (yes, I can be an airhead at times!). I literally got home from my trip, had to change clothes, grab my jewelry and go straight to my show. Normally I would have tried to dovetail the party, but it was a starter party, and I don’t do that to new starts–they sign up with me, they get ME for their starter party.

I also got a horrible sunburn in Hawaii. I mean HORRIBLE. To the point that I didn’t wear underwear, because the elastic band on my underwear was pinching my sunburn. So, I went to the party with my black palazzo pants on, a black Spanx tank top, and a black sweater (my old “uniform”).

One thing I used to do during my parties is hand out playing cards when guests participated in the presentation. It was a way to keep their attention, foster some friendly competition for the prize I would hand out to the person with the most cards, and it phased into my “booking game” at the end. I would give cards for anything–if you laughed at my jokes, asked questions, and believe it or not, at some parties, if you just made eye contact (come on, we have all had THOSE nights…).

During the party, when talking about my “why”, I mentioned I started doing this particular business to pay off my $19,000 (yes, NINETEEN THOUSAND DOLLAR) QVC credit card bill. Everyone in the group gasped. They usually did. Yep, someone had an issue. I liked to blame my husband. He snored something fierce back in those days, before the CPAP machine. And I had to fall asleep to the TV blaring to drown out his snoring. And what else is on at 2 AM? Not much. I became very friendly with QVC, my QVC credit card, and many of their products. You know it’s bad when QVC is on speed dial, and the UPS man comes to your house several times a week with packages.

So, I mentioned the $19,000 QVC credit card bill, and the hostesses sister asked what in the world I could get at QVC for $19,000. I replied, “Oh, many of my clothes, my make up, purses, and…my Spanx.” Truth be told, I bought a TON of jewelry as well, but since I sold jewelry, the last thing I was going to do was turn them onto Judith Ripka jewelry on QVC. I can now say, THAT is what I wore when I was not working. It’s amazing…but I digress.

She then asked what Spanx was. This was many years ago, before Spanx was a household word and used generically for “fat-sucking undergarments”. Spanx was brand new, Oprah had not discovered it, and you pretty much could find it only at Nordstrom’s and QVC.

I pulled out the bottom of my tank top and said, “This is Spanx–it’s great–it sucks in your fat and smooths out your lumps and bumps. It’s like an American Express card…I don’t leave home without it.”

The hostesses sister then replied, “Well, obviously you ain’t wearing no Spanx on the bottom.”

WHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

I was not sure I heard her correctly, so I asked her to repeat herself.

“Obviously you ain’t wearing no Spanx on the bottom. No way does a white girl have a booty like that naturally–you got to be wearing padded booty pants.”

I had no idea what she was talking about, but, it didn’t sound nice. I asked her to hold out the cards I had given her…and I took them away! I joked (half-joked…I was tired and basically I think she just said I had a big butt) with her and said, “I don’t know what padded booty pants are, but let me tell you something…I got so sunburned in Hawaii, I have NO PANTS ON. No underpants, no padded booty pants, NOTHING but these,” as I grabbed my black palazzo pants.

Now, I should point out, I was the only white person in this group, and it was a very large party. Right away, they could not understand why I took her cards away. I said, “I am not sure what padded booty pants are, but telling me I have a big butt is not going to make you win any of my prizes. My game, my rules. Rule #1, telling Joyce she has a big butt is rude.”

Everyone started speaking at once, but the general point everyone made was she was complimenting me. They all insisted that in the African-American community, having a big bubble butt like mine is very desired, and I should be flattered. I pointed out that, not sure if anyone noticed, but I am not African American, and we strive to NOT have a butt like mine.

Then a girl from across the room, decided to illustrate the point further. She said, “Listen, I WISH I had a big ole bubble butt like yours! I don’t and have to do this.” She unzipped her pants, reached down the back of her pants, and pulled something out. I AM DEAD SERIOUS. It was a big foam butt-like thing. I quickly learned that it was the “padding” part of her padded booty pants. I have had MANY things happen in my direct-selling career at my parties, many things I can’t even put here, but never have I had someone basically pull a prosthetic butt out of their underpants, and tell me they wear it so they can look more like ME.

I AM NOT KIDDING. Padded booty pants are a real thing, this gal was wearing them, to “look like me”…and I should be flattered.

I gave the hostesses sister her cards back. I mean, at this point, what can I even say back except “thank you”?

And then I went on the Adkins Diet the next day and lost 30 pounds in the next six months. Ironically, no matter how much weight I lose, I still look like I am wearing padded booty pants.

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January–KIT SALE! Everyone has it.

 

January. The month we usually hate in direct sales. If you have been around awhile, you know the months that start with the letter “J” tend to be the worse months– January, June and July. January usually is not the best month because everyone is tapped out of money after Christmas, you have a lot of cancellations/reschedulings due to the weather, and people just tend to be BLAH in general and not in the “party” mood.

However, because of the first reason–people being tapped out of money–it is the PRIME month for recruiting. Companies realize this, so most companies also put their kits on sale to entice people to finally take the leap of faith and join them.

I am a fairly decent recruiter. I was not so much in my first 6 years in direct selling. In 2012, I finished #1 in the company I was at, with 31 qualified recruits. 2013 was a great recruiting year, but that had a unique set of circumstances that greatly aided my recruiting.  I won’t go into great details right now–let’s just say one companies attempt at keeping people away from me actually piqued their interest and drove them to me instead. Many people who I didn’t even know, never even met, ended up contacting me to find out WHY they should stay away from me and it backfired.I have to say, I met some AWESOME women who I never would have met, and am very grateful for that, actually.

And 2014 has started off with eight recruits so far.

So, what changed in the past four years for recruiting for me? People ask me all the time how do I recruit. Here’s the funny thing…I STOPPED recruiting at my shows. (I CAN HEAR A PIN DROP RIGHT NOW). Yes, I stopped recruiting at my shows. Meaning, I stopped doing a recruiting segment in my presentation. Instead, I would just say, “Listen, I know when most  of you go to these kinds of parties, you cringe when the lady goes into the ‘You have to join my team’ spiel. You don’t want to hear about the money you can make, the free trips you can earn, blah, blah, blah. In a room of this size, maybe two or three of you might be interested. I don’t want to bore the rest of you, so if you are one of the two or three, come up to me afterwards, and I’ll talk to you by yourself so I don’t bore everyone right now–I’ll bore you all by yourself.”  Usually that gets a chuckle, a sigh of relief from most of the room, and we move on.

To me, recruiting is all about RELATIONSHIP BUILDING. Most of the people who joined my team this month are people I have known for years. YEARS. Most are casual acquaintances that I have stayed in touch with via Facebook. I think the single biggest tool in my recruiting has just been building and maintaining personal relationships with people via Facebook. There is no way you can, without Facebook, maintain personal relationships with over 1500 people, and still have a job and a family life. That in itself would be a full-time job.

When I am at my shows, I first have every hostess “friend” me so I can set up their Facebook event for them. I can’t invite them to their event unless we are friends. They are welcome to “unfriend” me after their party (they rarely do–I can think of three that have off the top of my head, and one, to be honest, I did not like at all, so I was very relieved). During their party, usually one or two of their guests will send me friend requests as well. I warn them all that I am a little over the top, and a crazy cat lady, and if they can tolerate that, we’ll be great Facebook friends, and they usually laugh, and it invites conversation…and the start of RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.

I know we are all trained to ask EVERYONE at checkout, “Have you ever thought of doing what I do?”.  We are not supposed to pre-judge, and just ask EVERYONE. You know what? I find that kind of slimy and totally disingenuous. If everyone can hear you do that, then they know when you ask THEM, they really are not something special, and you are just being a huckster sales person.

Let’s face it–NOT EVERYONE is cut out for this business. NOT EVERYONE should think about doing this. So no, you should NOT ask everyone. One of my hostesses has an 88 year old grandma who comes to every party–should I ask her? Obviously not. Some 19 year old girl who has a train wreck of a life going on right now–should I ask her? Many of you would think, “Yes! We should HELP, we should empower women.” Maybe she’d be the needle in the haystack and it WOULD change her life. To me, she’d probably be the person who you end up wasting time chasing around to try to get to come to trainings, who is not ready to take a business seriously, and might even give your company a bad name in the process by not treating it as a business.

So how do I recruit? I literally NEVER ask anyone if they thought of doing what I do. I just let EVERYONE know what I do. They know. And I am incredibly passionate about it. If I enjoy something in my life, I am almost psychotically passionate about it. Trust me, if you are a Facebook friend of mine, you know my current phase is Hello Kitty. I joke that when I am passionate about something, I eat, sleep, dream, pee, poop and puke whatever it is. Seriously.

I don’t openly recruit year-round. I think if you are constantly posting on Facebook, or going around saying, “who wants to join my team?”, it tends to get watered down. Now, does that mean I am not recruiting year-round? No. But once a quarter, I will go on a recruiting spree, and every couple days hammer heavily on “NOW IS THE TIME TO JOIN MY TEAM. NOW.” By not doing that constantly, people pay attention and message me and ask my WHY NOW? What’s the deal with NOW? If I posted about it year-round, it becomes white noise to them. I also find it easier, personally, to have a bunch of new people join all at once, who you can train all at once, and they can all be a support system for each other together as well. I think your newbies do not feel as alone when they know there is a group of them, who I make sure to introduce to each other and encourage them to share their stories about their first parties, what they are trying, what is working, etc.

You know how every family has the irritating uncle who everyone avoids because he sells insurance or something, and is always bugging people at family gatherings to get a policy through him? You don’t want to be HIM. You all know what he does–if you wanted his services, you’d go to him. Him bugging the bejeezus out of you doesn’t make you say, “Gee, Uncle Elmer is right, I had an epiphany, I NEED his insurance!”. It makes you head in the opposite direction and do everything you can to avoid him.

Don’t be the Uncle Elmer in your direct sales business. Just let everyone know what you do, how much you genuinely love it, and show your passion. If they want it, they will come.

 

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2013–Year in Review

I have to apologize. It’s been almost a month since I have written.

I’d like to say it’s 100% because I work in direct sales, and you all know that this is our BUSY TIME…gift giving, holiday deadlines, etc. I could write about it and make it sound convincing, since most of you live through that every year.

But, I’d be lying. I haven’t written because this past month has been the one year marker of when a lot of things were changing in my life–a time when a lot of big decisions were being made, and every time I would reflect back on it, I’d get more and more angry.

I’d love to say I have been quiet because I am trying to follow the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…”, but that would be a lie as well. Those of you who know me know I am a huge believer of always being painfully honest, and I never hold back on saying what I think (gee, have you seen my Facebook page?!?).

There is a time and a place to say what’s on my mind, and unfortunately, now is not the time.  I want to see how this whole thing ends up playing itself out. The story is not done.

So, I am going to review 2013 generically, and instead focus on what I learned in little blurbs, and those blurbs will become full posts down the road. There were so many lessons crammed in this year, too many to make a singular post. It would fill a book, literally.

So, I did my last party for the company I was at for almost 9 years the first weekend in January. I cried the whole way there–it was an end of an era, and I could not tell anyone. I have to be honest, my past hostess showed up as I was wiping tears away in the driveway as I arrived, so I did tell her, and she was shocked. Very supportive, but shocked. It felt so strange doing a party, knowing my heart was not in it and I was done. I am a very passionate person, and to go through the motions was not my style at all.

I resigned from that company January 8th, and the storm that hit immediately after was just mind-blowing, to say the least.

All throughout my decision process, I had confided in my “best friends” in that business. One, in fact, was intimately involved in the process, as she “interviewed” with them as well. And all along, we all said repeatedly that a job does not define our friendships. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am friends with people because I enjoy them, not because of what they can do for me.

I quit. The phone was ringing off the hook so much immediately afterwards that my husband suggest we leave the house for a while, and go out for dinner and drinks, leave the cell phones at home, and ignore them all. It was not going to change my decision, and having people express concern and want to “help” when the time for that was three months earlier when I asked for it and it fell on deaf ears was just adding insult to injury.

It’s funny how much people want to all of a sudden get involved and “help” when their paycheck is affected. I asked for help in September. Not only did I not get it, but the people who I literally called in tears asking for help on the situation that ended up making me leave never even called or followed up to see if the situation was ever rectified.

Again, anyone who knows me knows I am a very black and white person. What is right is right, what is wrong is wrong, and I don’t care how much money is involved. I don’t care if the person who is wronged does one show a year on my team–I’ll go to bat for them if it is warranted–and I have.

All the actions on the night of January 8th showed me I made the right move. It hurt like hell to see it play out, but it was the right move.

January 9th, I got a call from one of the two gals I considered a great friend and business mentor in some ways. We cried on the phone for a couple hours, and knew nothing would be the same, but still had intended on maintaining some friendship. It meant the world to me that she called to see how I was doing the day after the storm. I’d like to think that was done out of a good place in her heart. Considering she did something that ended up resulting in a lawsuit in this whole mess, I am not sure. But that’s what I would still like to think.

Out of respect for a big event that my former zone was having that weekend, I did not announce what I was doing for my next job–I would do that once their event was done. I figured everyone would gossip about me quitting and the new company I was going to instead of focusing on the training at the event, so I announced nothing. It turns out, that didn’t matter. They all gossiped anyways.

I announced January 14th in the morning that I was doing this new business. I was served legal papers at 4:30 that same day. People asked me all throughout the year “what I did” to get sued. Well, do the math. I had NO non-compete. Had not recruited one person yet. ZERO. And was served papers 8 hours later that gave me until 9 AM on January 16th (MY BIRTHDAY, thanks, and happy birthday to me!) to “cease and desist.”

So, at 8:50 AM on my birthday, I responded I was not going to NOT WORK. And I WAS going to honor my manager agreement. That should be the end of the story. It was not.

The next five months were a blur of legal papers, lies, and things that had someone told me would happen, I would never had believed it. Some days I sat in my office and laughed, some days I cried. I laughed about the really pathetic email communications going out, demonizing me…telling everyone they were required to “unfriend me” and have no contact with me. I laughed because this actually was a better recruiting tool than anything I had in my arsenal. People who never really knew me were all of a sudden messaging me, asking what the big fuss was about, and asking me for information about joining my new team. As long as they were not in my former upline or downline, they could join my team…and did.

I cried when I learned who my real friends were. They certainly were not the people I thought they were. That was the toughest lesson of the year. When push comes to shove, and dollars are involved, people will carry whatever water they are told to carry, regardless of the truth. That was tough for me–because I am not like that at all. Of course, unlike a lot of these other ladies, I have a husband who is actually the breadwinner, and I can stick to my morals and beliefs at all times and not worry about it affecting my ability to put food on the table or a roof over my kids head. I actually would try to rationalize their behavior when talking to my husband about it, and tell him I “understood” why they had to do what they did–not that I agree with it, but I “get” it. He always disagreed with me and said I was just making excuses for them, but I have come to realize that not everyone is like me, and some people won’t rock a boat regardless of what they believe to be right or wrong. I always will. Some people don’t like to stand out. I always have been the black sheep, so I don’t care. I embrace it.

Fast forward to this fall. New catalog. AMAZING pieces. For me, 46 parties on the books from September 11th thru October 31st.  And 10 days into a launch, your company is shut down.

JUST

LIKE

THAT.

Everyone has their theories on what happened. And I can tell most of you that you are wrong. Did I ever get looked in the eye and told specifically what happened? No. But I am the most persistent  person you will ever meet, and it took actually minimal legwork to connect some obvious dots. I can tell you that I was told repeatedly that money was never an object in this. And I believe that.

BAM. Hundreds of women out of work.

What really bothered me the most was there were a lot of women in Canada at this company before *I* came on board. And it killed me for them to get caught up in this and lose their jobs. That just was not right, and still pains me. Really GOOD WOMEN. They did not deserve to be a casualty in some big chess game.

Another lesson I learned…and I have a LOT of anger about this one. A LOT. I am not going to lie. At some point, mid-summer, I was feeling a little bothered about how some things were being handled (or NOT handled) at my company. At the same time, I was talking to a couple REALLY BIG NAMES at my former company. Had they left, a big organization would have tumbled–they were key managers and without them, top people did not have their required levels under them. As much as (after everything that happened January-May) I would have liked to see that happen, I had to stop encouraging anyone from quitting a big job, and making a move to join me…not until I felt 100% confident things were being handled in a way I felt was proper.

I learned this is not about RECRUITING. It’s about affecting people’s lives on SO MANY LEVELS. You don’t just willy-nilly encourage someone to join YOU to bump up your worth, if you know the house you are residing in is not up to par at that time. Not if you have ethics and morals. There is a John Mellencamp line in a song that always stuck with me, “The beds are made, but there’s no sheets on.”

You do not invite people to sleep over if there are no sheets on, so to speak.

There were so many people I was talking to in the last couple months, and I kept telling them to wait for the new catalog, new starter kit. In reality, I was waiting to see if the sheets were going to be put on the beds. *I* can put my head down every night with a clear conscience that I did not bring someone in when I was not comfortable with things, with the sole purpose of bumping my worth up. I wish everyone would have applied that to their recruiting/hiring. That makes me incredibly mad/sad. I find it unconscionable to fly a bunch of women up from another company, roll out the red carpet, have them come on board, and pull that rug out from under them a month later. These women have kids to feed. They have tuitions to pay. You do not mess with people like that. Well, maybe you do, but in the long run, it will bite you in the butt, and I think I see that happening now.

So, 2013 sucked in so many ways. I got to see a side of this business that is revolting. I got to see behind the curtain and see how the Wizard actually operates, and it was so disappointing. It’s not the roses, sunshine, unicorns and u-rah-rah stuff we all see at conferences. This is a big BUSINESS. It’s not a sisterhood (don’t let anyone lie to you about that). It’s not a “family”–unless you share DNA, you are NOT part of their family.

On an up note, now that I have seen all of this, and had so much of it happen to me personally, I approach my business much differently. I have to. I am a firm believer that it is okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it. Was it a mistake to leave my former employer? NO. I needed to. Was it a mistake to join that other company? No, I was so involved, I got to learn a lot of things that most women never get the chance to learn.

I did learn this year what ACTUALLY MATTERS.

I have the MOST AMAZING hostesses/customers/friends who have followed me to THREE businesses in one year. THREE! Most women can’t get people to have parties with them with ONE COMPANY. I am blessed with some incredibly cool women in my life.

I have the most amazing husband and son who know this year was awful, but they always tried to do their pep talks, always were supportive and  always were there.

I have my health–when I have three friends going through chemo right now, that really puts it in perspective.

And I still have a great job that I really enjoy. I love going into people’s houses and meeting new friends. There is not a week that doesn’t go by where I don’t meet at least one new person who I genuinely enjoy and cultivate a new friendship with.

So, onward and upward. 2013 was full of life lessons. 2014 is the year to apply them all.

 

Happy New Year!

 

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In honor of my party today…

So, several weeks ago, I posted about not being judgmental, and how hard that is.

Well, today, I head off to a party for one of my favorite hostesses/colleagues/friends, named Amy.

Now, if on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 (IRONICALLY, April Fools Day!), you would have asked me if almost two years later, I’d still be working with Amy, much less be good friends with her, I would have laughed and said probably not.

I met Amy very briefly at another party, for a lady named Judy. Amy ran in on her way to work (or school, I don’t recall) said she wanted to book a party, set a date, and ran out. I never really bonded with her.

Now, I have to tell you, I do NOT do much hostess coaching–that is another topic for another day. I do it mostly via postcards, emails and  Facebook messages, so there is not a lot of relationship-building at the point (GASP!).  So, when I don’t get to talk to someone at the party they book at, I really do not get to know them at all or even bond with them. And, if I recall, Amy was not even on Facebook at the time. So, it was just a random email here and there, and she was very busy, so they were extremely hit or miss.

I showed up at her apartment that Sunday, and her mom answered the door. BECAUSE AMY WAS PASSED OUT ON THE COUCH. Literally. She got up once to either throw up or pee…don’t recall what one, but I think she said three words to me, and passed out on the couch again. Her mom did say something about her being out too late and drinking, and Amy did argue with her on the way back to the couch and said NO, that was not the issue. Her mom did not seem to buy that, and we literally did the party around Amy, on the couch.

She had a full house that day. And a GREAT party! It was above average, with several bookings, and started some chains with some of my favorites hostesses who I still work with this  to this day! In fact, one of the hostesses spawned from that chain just had the biggest party I have had so far with my new company. So, it was a great day, despite the lack of Amy and her participation.

I did have to stop my presentation at one point. Since there was good turnout and the couch was needed, Amy was laying with her head on a friend’s lap. At one point,  Amy started gagging so hard, I had to encourage the friend to PLEASE help her get up and get to the bathroom.

The funny thing was Amy had a giant poodle that was gated off from the rest of the party, and kept jumping the gate, and everyone thought the dog was the big distraction. Um, no, I’ll take a giant dog any day of the week over a passed out hostess!

Fast forward seven months. I was at the SECOND PARTY that one of the hostesses from that party had had with me, and in walked Amy…EIGHT AND A HALF MONTHS PREGNANT.  No, she was not hung over and passed out at her party…she was pregnant, didn’t know it and pretty sick. She told me she KNEW it was not a hangover that day, we laughed, and she booked another party for several months later, for after the baby was born.

In the meantime, she started selling for another company (I never recruited her because we never bonded because she was “passed out” at her party–MY BAD), and she does AMAZING for them. My bad, my loss.

Nonetheless, I am still a winner, because even better, Amy and I are now friends. And I am off to see her and do another party with her.

 

Amy A

 

 

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Self Sabotage, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about how women sabotage their own businesses, and I thought I was done with that topic. Got it out of my system, moved on, and actually wrote another post that is lined up and ready to be posted on Sunday before my party (it’s about Sunday’s hostess).

Then I went to a Christmas Fair last night and ran into some friends. We started talking about how small of a world it is and everyone knows everyone. Well, it turns out they were recently at a vendor fair, situated in a booth next to some people from a former team of mine. And these people were very vocal about me.

Let’s just say that when I left my former company, some people were fine with it, and had the mentality that it’s America, and you are perfectly entitled to change jobs, and others took it personally that as if you are not with THAT COMPANY, you are now the enemy. I had seen that same mentality play out many times with people who had left before me, and I expected it and really don’t care anymore. When I am able to talk more freely about it, I am going to have plenty to say about that topic.

Nonetheless, despite there being a non-disparaging clause in the legal settlement between my former company and I, that also extends to their advisors, these former teammates felt the need to bash me to many vendors.

Now here’s the funny part. I don’t care that they did that (despite the violation of the non-disparaging.) I heard back from three customers since then that they would never buy from those advisors or that company ever again because of their behavior.

I didn’t come down to my computer to talk about how it’s bad business form to bad-mouth, and how in actuality, that makes YOU look unprofessional, and people actually tune out WHAT you are saying, and focus on the fact that you are saying it at all.

The whole point these women were making in their bash-session was that once I left the company, they became SO SUCCESSFUL, because “I had held them back.”  Truth be told, not only did *I* laugh about that, but the three people who later told me about it also laughed about it. Being in direct sales themselves, they know the gig, they know that no one “holds you back” and if you say someone is, you are only making excuses for your own shortcomings.

Without being told the names of these vendors, I knew  immediately who they were. The day I quit the company, their manager said to me, “Now that you are gone, *I* can now be the Joyce Foy of ____________.”  That was really eye-opening for me. Why anyone would think they could not be a “superstar” with me in the picture?  Then it hit me. There are not many people willing to, or able to (because of young kids and other day jobs) do 20+ shows a month.  So, it’s easier to say since they can’t be “me”, somehow I am holding them back or down.  And clearly that mentality trickled down.

These gals mentioned how they all promoted after I left. In most companies, you submit your OWN promotion papers. So, how was me being there stopping them from promoting? Was I holding on to the magic promotion pen they needed to use to fill out the form and not sharing it?

No. They just all had a shift in mentality. They could have done it all along, but instead turned on the juice after I was gone, because that excuse was no longer valid.

Remember, when you join a direct sales company, you are the CEO of your own business. The excuses start and end with you. YOU pick up the phone and book parties. YOU talk to people and recruit them. YOU go out and do your shows. Your upline does not. You are 100% responsible for your successes…and also your failures. An upline is there to offer guidance, but in no way are they responsible for your business.

Take a look at your business. Is it where you want it to be? No? Who are you blaming? It starts and ends with YOU, and your attitude. If you WANT it to succeed, and you are willing to put in the work, you can make it succeed. If you need someone dangling carrots in front of you to get you off the couch to do parties, that will only work for the short term. In order to be truly successful, it needs to be something that comes from deep inside YOU, not something superficial that comes from an upline.

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Why Do Some Women Sabotage Their Own Businesses?

Not all women do–I know that.  The women who do sabotage their own businesses just stand out like a sore thumb to me, and drive me insane. They usually have something REALLY GOOD going for themselves, whether it be a great company,  wonderful products, or they themselves have AMAZING potential.  But, despite all of that, they throw it away and sabotage their own business.

I have worked with primarily men in a “male-dominated business” for 19 years, and now in direct sales with mostly women for nearly 10 years. Let me tell you, the whole, “Men are from Venus, women are from Mars thing” (or however it goes), is totally accurate. Both approach business totally different. And I know it will make me unpopular to say this, but after being in both worlds, it’s VERY obvious why men tend to succeed at business more than women. Many women can’t help but sabotage themselves. Not all, but many.

Now, before I go further, I will go on record and say that *I* have done some of the things I am going to complain about. I’d be a hypocrite if I say I have not. The thing with me, I can admit my mistakes, own them, put them on like a neon cape, and fly around the damned room with it on, if need be. So, I have no qualms admitting I have done some of these things–in the past. I even catch myself ALMOST wanting to do some of them occasionally now. This last year has been a very eye-opening journey, and I honestly look at my business, and business in general, totally different. I am not perfect, but I do try to learn from my (many) mistakes, and the mistakes I see those making around me.

So, here’s the deal with some women–they take everything personally, blow everything out of proportion, get a martyr complex, and then can’t just step away and let things go.  And, by going through all those steps, they sabotage their own businesses. Ironically, in an effort to try to hurt someone else, they hurt their own businesses.

I have not written for two weeks. I have been swamped with my new personal business–those in direct sales know that the couple weeks before the holidays is always insane. But, I have also been sitting back and watching some pretty crazy sabotaging drama unfold that just makes my head spin, and admittedly has had me in tears several times, because it is happening with women who should know better, but it’s like aliens abducted them and replaced their minds with PMSing 16 year olds at times.

Back in the 1990′s (yes, that makes me old), when I worked at a printing company, I worked with a guy named Larry who was the production manager. I was the sales manager. I would bring in projects with “impossible” (according to Larry) deadlines. I would tell him “tough crap” (although I would not say crap), and tell him it’s his job to get it done or we’d lose them as a customer, and when we lose all our customers, he’d have no jobs to schedule, and plenty of free time. He’d tell me to go to hell, call me names that rhyme with “sucking witch”, I’d call him names equally offensive back, slam the door…and get my job done. And the next day, we’d joke around like nothing ever happened, and my customer got what they wanted, I’d pick up a new job, and we’d repeat the cycle…for 19 YEARS.

Did I go on Facebook and post passive-aggressive vague status updates ripping on Larry? No, in fairness, Facebook did not exist back then, or maybe I would have. Did I post little “signs” on my Facebook page about nasty people and karma–because you know, it’s not passive aggressive if it’s a cute sign and someone else’s words, right? WRONG. No, I did not. I came in, did my job, and acted like it never happened. Moved along.

Do women do that? Not what I have been seeing lately….

I listen to arguments, and things that happened MONTHS ago are brought into it. I used to hold meetings, and I am not kidding, after one meeting, a gal on my team complained to me that one of the girls on the team gave her dirty looks the whole meeting. REALLY? REALLY?

Do you think any man would go up to his boss after a board meeting and say, “Hey boss, Jim gave me the stink eye the whole meeting. And, do you see how big his butt looks in that suit. Ughhhh.”

But, we, as women in direct sales, want to be taken seriously as business women. Yet we act totally contrary to “professional”.

Women tend to “major in the minors”–we take something very small and make it a federal offense. Men tend to be able to keep these things in better perspective. Before anyone gets upset with me–think about it. In your marriage, do you freak out about things, and is your husband the laid back one who puts it in perspective and shows you it’s not a big deal? I can tell you, that happens EVERY DAY in my house. Last week, I thought a seal popped on two of our windows in our living room–I stewed about it for TWO HOURS before my husband woke up. Already planned on how, if we couldn’t replace the windows right away, I was keeping the damned curtains closed ALL WINTER because it would drive me insane (yes, I am OCD) to see that. Pat woke up, I told him about the windows, he pointed out it was a storm window and there was frost between the two, and thought I was a total mental case for being upset for two hours about something I could not control anyways.

But we do that in our business.

My new company has glitches in the back office that drive me insane. I’ll just put it out there. INSANE. However, I just had to have a shift of mentality–nothing is perfect, would I rather have glitches that *I* see, or glitches that my *CUSTOMERS* see? My customers are THRILLED. The answer is obvious.

There are women who make themselves look like some hurt martyr…”Oh look, someone hurt me, everyone rally around me. I am posting passive aggressive stuff on my page now, but now I am going to post about how strong I am”…that does not make you look like a good leader. It makes you look like a drama queen with nothing better to do but garner sympathy. Do you think when a male dominated team takes a hit, they sit around, show everyone they are hurt, look for sympathy, and rally the troops? No. They brush it off, hold their heads high, and get back to work. Look at the losing teams in the World Series, the Super Bowl, etc. and how they conduct themselves.   If they behave in a manner other than with dignity and class, everyone thinks they are sore losers and unprofessional. Same applies to your business. Take the high road–at least publicly.

At some point each night, my husband and I talk about our days. He is the director of sales and marketing for a 100 million dollar a year company. And I do direct sales. And, most nights, when he asks me what is bothering me, it embarrasses the hell out of me to tell him what the “problem of the day was”, because it is so foreign to him. Can you imagine an employee in corporate America coming to him and complaining that so and so posted this about her on Facebook, or this person just keeps arguing, or this person was mean?

The bottom line is, at the end of the day, we deserve the business we create. If you only focus on the small picture, wallow in negativity, and engage in immature behavior, you will waste time on those things and never have a business that reaches it’s full potential. Look at what you are spending time on every day–what kind of business do YOU DESERVE?

 

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