Being a Guest at Another Direct Sales Party–Dilemma

Okay, I know I have a lot of friends who are direct sellers as friends and I would like your thoughts. I was going to blog about this upcoming question the past two weeks, and of course got sidetracked with life (son going to college and parties!).

I have done several parties in the past couple months where there is a seller for another direct sales company as a guest at the party ( I DO NOT DO JOINT PARTIES–PERIOD. That is another topic for another day). Again, as a guest.

I have had two parties recently where the direct seller LITERALLY passed out THEIR CATALOG at the table after I finished my presentation. I was FLOORED. The first one shocked me–the gal had been selling for 2 weeks, and maybe was not well-versed on direct-selling etiquette. The second one was a veteran, and to be blunt, was just being tacky and trying to hi-jack the party, in my opinion.

I know I talk a good game, so you all are probably wondering what I did in each situation, and are assuming I called them out in the open or pulled them aside and asked them to stop. NOPE. Again, I talk a good game, but I sat on the side and continued to enter orders and help customers, give the direct seller the stick eye and stewed all night.

One of them said she would “trade parties with me”, and I declined and told her I had a good friend who sold her product already and I only do parties with her, and to be honest, I didn’t like how she did business. She asked me what I was talking about, and I told her it was direct sales 101 that you do NOT take your catalog out and pass it around at another person’s party. I explained to her that I am the one who has expenses into the party, I did the invites, paid for postage, etc. and it is totally gauche to piggy-back onto someone else’s livelihood. She disagreed. Well, that is fine, but don’t think I didn’t remember her name, and when someone invites me to a party for that company, the first thing I will do is check to see if she is the advisor or not. And, if any says, “Hey, I want to have an XXX (no pun intended…although now you can guess the company) Party”, her name will not be the one I pass on as a good person to book with.

On another note, I had a party last week where there were two direct sellers (for competing companies) and no one would have even known they sold other things had I not mentioned it in my presentation (their products personalize as well, and I tied it in with Mia’s personalization and talked about how people love it from all three of our companies). These women both respected that it was a MIA PARTY, and didn’t say boo about their products. You can bet if anyone asks me for consultant recommendations from either of their companies, I would totally pass their names along.

It’s always a slippery slope if you are a guest at a party, and someone asks what you do. I personally always tell people, “This is so-and-so’s party. I am FB friends with them, so tomorrow, if you want to find me on FB and message me, I will send you info.”

Here’s my personal opinion–no sale or booking is worth stepping on another direct seller’s toes or being perceived as hi-jacking or being pushy. I know it’s hard to believe (and you won’t believe it unless you are one of my personal customers or hostesses), but I am beyond laid-back at my parties, and NEVER EVER PUSH. And outside of my parties, I personally rarely talk about my business. I never wanted to be looked at as the crazy uncle at family gatherings who everyone avoids because he sells insurance and is always pushing people to get insurance from him. Or, the makeup lady who everyone avoids because she is constantly pushing them to “have a facial” with her line of products. You all know who I am talking about. I think that is the culture of that particular company. (To be fair, a really good friend of mine sells for that company and never ever pushes, and only talks about it if you ask her. You can bet any time I want products from that company, SHE is the one I call.)

Where do you stand on it? How do you handle it when you are at another direct seller’s party and you are asked what you do? Or if you overhear someone talking about an issue that your product can help them with? I have had that happen as well–if someone is talking about psoriasis, in theory, some would say I am not doing my business justice if I don’t mention I have this amazing body butter that is great for it, and pull a sample packet out of my purse for them.  However, I don’t carry samples OR business cards even (Bad Joyce…but again, I am “off the clock” and don’t live, eat, breathe, pee, poop and puke  my business anymore.)

So give me some insight. What do you do? What do you think is acceptable or unacceptable for another direct seller to do a someone else’s party? I’d love your feedback!

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One of the TWO Parties I Ever Left

Okay, time for a funny one–I’ve been way too serious lately.

So, two years ago, I showed up for a jewelry party, and I could tell right away it was going to be “one of those.” I had no idea it was going to be the worst “one of those” parties I ever did. Or actually DIDN’T do…because I packed it up and left.

So, I never really “met” this hostess at length. She crashed her neighbor’s outside party (she apparently wasn’t invited–that should have been a sign). She ran over on to the deck when I was setting up, and said she couldn’t stay (again, not invited) but wanted to book a party. Okay, bookings are hard to come by in summer–I was happy for this random, unexpected one.

She booked it for three weeks later and went on her way.

She was “one of those” who never did a guest list, was not on Facebook, never replied to phone calls, emails or texts, and I assumed the party was a no-go. Nope, she replied the afternoon of her party date that she was having the party, and she’d see me in a couple hours. She went into some long blah blah blah about some family drama, and that is why she had been out of touch (I should have listened more closely to it…I am sure it was a wingdinger).

So, I arrived at her house, she and her daughter met me out in the driveway. The daughter was 13, and acting really strange. She had a big brace on her leg–and when I asked her what happened, she told me “Nothing, I just like to wear this.” Um, okay.

I started to unload my car and the hostess told me we’d be doing the party in the basement as it was cooler and she had no air conditioning in the house. I glanced at the house, and saw the windows were BLACKED OUT. Like PAINTED BLACK. I should have bailed then. I told the hostess if it was downstairs, I would need help carrying my showcases down then. She told me NO, she had a stroke and couldn’t help. Okay, well, I had a mini-stroke as well, and that is why I always asked for help getting my cases up and down steep stairs as my balance is off.  That ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I could make a quick getaway.

So, I grabbed a show bag that had three “must-have trays” of jewelry, and went downstairs.

The hostess had a card table and two folding chairs set up in the hallway of the basement. FOR THE PARTY. Um, expecting a big crowd? UGH.

I started setting up. The creepy “let’s wear a leg brace for fun” daughter sat down at an organ that was at the end of the hall, and started playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC. In JULY.

She’d get to a certain spot in the song, screw up, and jump up screaming and swearing. Then she’d sit down, start all over, get to the same spot in the creepy Christmas song (I don’t like Christmas music in December, much less July), screw up, scream, and swear. Occasionally, she’d grab a can of Febreze and start spraying it all over.  I was waiting for her to start yelling “REDRUM” and I was leaving.

That didn’t happen, but close to it.

She went over to her mom (who was acting strange and sitting on one of the two folding chairs staring at me) and sprayed her IN THE FACE with the Febreze.  Her mom yelled at her, and she screamed something and went back to the creepy Christmas song on the organ.

Then, the mom banged on a door that was behind her and screamed, “Get out of there! I know what you are doing–I am trying to have a party and you have been in there long enough!”

Good lord…what the hell is in there? I asked her. BIG MISTAKE. She replied, “My oldest daughter has been in there for house and I know she is masturbating.”

At this point, between whatever is behind the door four feet from me and the “creepy Christmas carol on the organ kid”, I was about done. My phone had no signal in this lady’s basement, which also bugged me, but I could get on her wifi. I started messaging a friend of mine what was going on, and telling her to message my husband about it. She thought it was hilarious. Me–not so much.

Then the grandma showed up. To this day, I wish I had snuck a picture of her outfit. Picture this…first, she was a very rotund woman…wearing capris, but the capris had RUFFLES all over them–like you see on the butt of some baby outfits. Layers and layers of ruffles. A–NOT SLENDERIZING.  B–Not a good look on an old lady’s saddlebags. Strangest pair of pants I ever did see.

She came right over to me and started yelling at me that some ring (Savvy ring, for those in the know) that she bought at a party a year ago had tarnished. I nicely explained to her that the guarantee was between her and the company, I hadn’t sold it to her, don’t have access to her receipt, and to contact the company or the rep she had purchased from. That is not necessarily how I would usually handle something like that, but I didn’t care at that point. This was not going to be a qualifying show, I had no plans on seeing these people ever again, and I was at about my limit of being nice.

At that point, the freaky leg-brace “Christmas music on the organ kid” ran up and sprayed Febreze in the mom and grandma’s face and started screaming swears. (Thank God this was before I had my conceal carry, thinking back on this, not sure I would have been able to contain myself). The grandma yelled at the girl to “watch her mouth”.

The girl replied that they all need to “Shut the **** up or she was going to run upstairs, get a baseball bat and beat them to death.”

Alrighty…I quickly messaged that to my friend and told her to REALLY tell my husband what was going on, in case I disappeared.

I should also note that the older sister was still in the bathroom, doing “whatever.”

I like to joke around, and I have ZERO tolerance for snotty kids. I looked at the girl and asked how old she was. She replied very snottily that she was 13. I said, “If my 13 year old son ever talked to me that way, he’d lose every privilege he had–no iPod, no TV, no computer…nothing except a bed and three meals a day.”

She replied…get ready for this…  “YOU shut the **** up or I will get the baseball beat, beat you to death and then chop you up in tiny pieces and eat you.”

Um, DONE. DONE, DONE, DONE.

I packed my stuff up, handed catalogs to the mom and grandma and said I was going home to enjoy a night with my family, and to call if they have anything they want to order.

The hostess seemed shocked, “You are not going to do your spiel?”

Um…not a chance in hell am I spending one more second in this loony bin.

I got out of there in record speed, and I was barely out of the driveway, and my husband called.  He started laughing hysterically and said, “So rough party tonight–a weirdo kid playing Christmas songs on the organ and another one masturbating in the bathroom?”

I FLIPPED OUT, and started screaming at him that I don’t make enough money to tolerate freaks, told him that the girl threatened to beat me to death and eat me, and said he had better be grateful for me walking into crap like that to bring money home for our family. I was in total hysterics, screaming like a crazy woman at him.

He told me to calm down, come home…and wisely, he had a glass of wine waiting for me.

Ironically, the hostess did scrape together over $250 in orders. She told me she wanted to do another party. Um, no. Not a chance in hell. Not even one I’d book and dovetail to ANYONE on my team. Not happening. There were a couple ladies on my team who I absolutely could not stand (Ironically, I think they are the only two still selling)–and I wouldn’t even send them into that situation.

I did call the past hostess and ask her why she didn’t come to the party. She said that she found them to be “odd” and that she was busy. Then she told me she was having the youngest daughter (Christmas carol freak girl) watch her dog when they were out of town next week.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”,  I yelled. And filled her in on the girl’s behavior. I’d like to think I probably saved that dog’s life.

So, officially the worse party ever, and for future reference, if I show up and the windows are all painted black–not going in. PERIOD.

 

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Plan B, for the Morning After You are Out of a Job!

This morning, I received many phone calls from women concerned about recent events at their companies, and their concerns about what they should be doing. Several of them have been looking at other options, and others have not, because they feel like doing so is conceding that their current situation will not be successful. They said that they feel like traitors even talking to anyone else at another company.

Let me ask you all a simple question: When you fly on an airplane, and the flight attendant goes through the pre-flight safety information, do you put your fingers in your ears and say “La la la la la, I can’t hear you”, because listening to them is a concession that you WILL crash and need a back up plan? Of course not! You don’t wait for the plane to crash and then learn how to use your cushion as a flotation device, or where the emergency exits are.  You listen to the information, hoping you don’t need it, but storing it away in your memory in case you do.

Last September 10th, 2013, I was totally blind-sided when the company I worked at was unexpectedly closed. Trust me when I tell you, if there was ANY inkling it would be happening, I would have been one of the first to know. I had FORTY SIX parties booked between September 11th and October 31st. A new catalog had come out TEN DAYS earlier, so to say I was absolutely not expecting it would be an understatement. I had just spent the whole morning/early afternoon finalizing the jewelry line-up for the Spring 2014 catalog.

I was called into a board room and blindsided with the news. I got on a plane to fly home and had NO IDEA what I was going to tell my 46 hostesses. I had no Plan B. It never crossed my mind that I needed one.

You can bet, if I had ANY clue it would happen, I would have had a Plan B in place to transition those 46 hostesses to, instead of having to inform them the company they booked with was closed, I had nothing else lined up, and I was taking a month off to see what I wanted to do with my life.

I was in the fortunate position of having an incredibly supportive husband who saw that I had been working nearly around the clock for the previous 8+ months with this company, not to mention 60+ hour weeks for the past several years at my previous company, and he pretty much insisted I take a month off and not worry about money, hostesses, customers, etc. Nonetheless, if I knew then what I knew now, I would have researched every direct selling company I had a vague interest in, and would have had some back-up plan to go to immediately. I lost several good hostesses by letting that month go by. Had I had something else to transition their party to, instead of asking them to schedule a new one once I landed on my feet somewhere, I have no doubt the majority of the parties would have stuck. As it was, about two thirds of them did, but I still fixate on the one third that got away. Off the top of my head, I can still name three ladies who had parties scheduled with me, who I talk to often, but I can’t get them to “reschedule”.

If you have any warning signs that the company you are with is in some kind of transition, it’s not being negative, it’s not conceding failure and it’s not disloyal to line up a Plan B. It’s smart business. Even if you claim to have tuned out the flight attendants, I know you know where the exits are, you know where the air mask will drop from, and you know to use your seat as a flotation device. And knowing that is not conceding your plane will crash. It’s being prepared. Same thing.

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“Ethics”–Direct Sales vs. Every Other Industry

I am doing something tonight that I have never done before–writing at night, and under the influence of 1/3 of a beer (Sprecher, Hard Ginger Beer…delish!). I like to write this blog first thing in the morning, when I am in a great mood, and as positive as possible–certainly not after a long, draining day, and under the (small) influence. I was getting ready for bed and reflected on the day, as I always do, and came up with what I wanted to write–tomorrow. Then I didn’t trust myself to remember it, or that I would find the time to do so. So here goes. I’ll probably be more blunt than I usually am.

There are some major things brewing lately in the direct sales industry with several companies. Because of this, I get several calls/messages a day from people around the country, asking “my take” on things. I am always VERY CAREFUL on the opinions I give on one situation, as I was involved in litigation with one of the companies involved last year.

Today, I’d like to reflect on a conversation I had with someone. They were approached by another company in the same field they are in now, and offered a “salary” plus bonuses to come join their company. This particular company has a negative perception with many people I know in the industry for doing that. This person asked me if I had ever heard of companies doing that. Let me tell you all something. Not only HAVE I, but I don’t disagree with it.

When I left the company I was at in January of 2013, I got a “salary” from the company I went to. And so many of my former friends said how “unethical” that was. Here’s what I don’t understand… in this direct sales industry, we say we “own our own businesses”–that “we are the CEOs of our own businesses”, yet the majority tends to just go with the flow and parrot back what we are told to say.  True successful entrepreneurs get ahead by NOT marching to the same beat as everyone else. They purposely march to a different beat, think outside of the box and don’t WANT to be part of the same flock.

Case in point. This “salary” thing. I worked in corporate sales for 19 years prior to doing direct sales exclusively. Have any of you heard of a “draw plus commission”? That is basically what these companies (my previous one included) offer to successful, established direct sellers. Some also offer to have you start at the equivalent level you left your previous company. Many people in this industry sneer at that practice, and say it’s unethical.  To be honest, those are the people who I write off in my head immediately as NOT being true entrepreneurs, NOT understanding how BUSINESS really works, and rather are part of the phoney-baloney “let’s make women feel better about themselves with  fancy titles” direct sales mentality.

Let me ask you this…let’s say you worked for 20+ years in Corporate America, and applied for a Director of This and That position at McDonald’s corporate. In your current  job as Director of This and That at Burger King, you make six-figures. Would you go to McDonald’s and start at minimum wage and flip burgers, and work your way up to Director of This and That at McDonald’s? Is that how they hire and fill those positions? Does everyone start off as burger flippers for minimum wage and work their way up into executive positions? OF COURSE NOT. Once you have proven yourself at a certain position and achieved a certain level of expertise, you make a lateral move–you don’t start all over flipping burgers for minimum wage.

But in direct sales, there is some unwritten (and perhaps in some cases, written) rule that everyone must start all over at the beginning. No lateral moves. You must go from six figures to zero and work your way up again. Ladies (and the rare gentleman), this is NOT CHUTES AND LADDERS, or some board game where if you land on a certain square, the rule says you go back and start all over. That is not how Corporate America works, so how come we expect direct sales to work that way? And we wonder why our husbands, friends and family members don’t take our businesses seriously and treat it as a “real job”. WE DON’T TREAT IT LIKE A REAL BUSINESS. Why should they?

Another thing I do not understand…right now a certain company is getting lambasted for approaching leaders of another company that is known to be having some concerning issues and trying to recruit them. Trust, me, I am intimately familiar with companies accusing other companies of “raiding their sales force”.  I read about it over and over in legal papers.

I think it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is a savvy business man. Let’s use him as an example here. So, Donald Trump hears one of his biggest competitors is having some seriously concerning issues that has its employees looking for Plan B. Does he approach the top people there who have proven track records and have been a thorn in his side as his competition, and try to have them join his company, or does he consider them untouchable, and instead look for people who have never done business in his field, but hires them and trains them from scratch?  What would be the smarter business move? Shoring up your sales force with not only experience, but weakening your competition by having their top people join YOUR TEAM, or starting from scratch and spending time and resources training people who may or may not even be any good or interested in sticking around? Putting it in the context of Donald Trump–the answer is obvious.

But if you ask most experienced direct sellers, they will blather on about stories of how certain companies “steal other companies reps so they are unethical.” And that is what makes some direct selling aspects embarrassing–and shows that many of the so-called “CEOs of their own businesses” just march lock-step with others, and really don’t understand business at all–just do and say what they are told to do and say. No one is “stolen” from another company. They are presented with another option. We work at companies. In any other industry, people change jobs all the time, whether it be for more money, a better product, or just a change of scenery. But in direct sales, it is treated like a freaky cult or sorority, and if you dare to try to walk to a different beat, or worse yet, switch companies (I am talking at the higher levels, not your average advisors), you are blacklisted and accused of being unethical and the people who approached you are unethical.

If you still don’t agree with my point, let me ask you this…if your favorite football team was able to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback, would you want them to get that quarterback, or would you want them to go get some kid fresh out of college and hope in several years, that this kid is the fluky needle in the haystack who ends up a superstar and takes your team to the Super Bowl? You’d be screaming for the general manager’s head if he didn’t try to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback. So what’s the difference in direct sales?

The difference is we have some bizarre “rules” that do not fit in with any business sense or conventional wisdom, and hold us back long-term from being “real-businesses”.  This is not Chutes and Ladders. It’s business. If someone from another company calls to tell you about a business opportunity, it’s not unethical, and the people who go around saying that are just trying to protect their own business through fear. They try  to make YOU feel unethical if you analyze other business opportunities and entertain the thought of leaving your current company.

If your company truly has the best of everything–best commission structure, best product, best hostess plan, best customer special, then let others come and approach your team. Who cares? If what they have to offer is not as good, then you only look BETTER in the end. If you have to put other companies down and name-call and say they are unethical and scare your people to get them to stay, you won’t last long-term. At some point, they will all see it for what it is.

At the end of the day,  if you really are running a business, ask yourself,  “What would Donald Trump do?” Would this thought-process fly in a conversation with him? If not, then you probably are not operating from a business perspective, but rather by the pseudo business perspective most direct sellers engage in because they know no better.

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What is Killing Direct Sales?

I have been wanting to do a post about this for a while, but every time I bring it up, people argue with me and tell me I am wrong.

And…let’s be honest, we are never supposed to admit business is down. With that being said, even when business has been down in direct sales across the board, mine never has been. Nor has it been down for many of my direct selling friends, but we all complain that our TEAM SALES are down.  This has been true for the last three direct sales businesses I have done.

I constantly analyze this business, what works, and what doesn’t work, and why. I look at who is succeeding and growing, and who is treading water or going backwards, and why. And a lot of recent events has finally pushed me to write this today.

What is killing our businesses? ONLINE PARTIES.

Yep, online parties.

I HATE THEM. HATE. I hear the death toll ringing every time someone has one.  I thought it was just ME who thought it was killing our businesses.  Recently a company who shall remain nameless cancelled their national convention, and in a memo to their field, their CEO cited the rise of social media and today’s online environment as one of the challenges facing this industry. I can’t agree with him more.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I think Facebook is my #1 tool for promoting my business. Yet, I despise the Facebook online parties. I personally think they are the lazy way to do direct sales and will kill anyone’s business who relies on them. I understand some businesses do well with them, and it makes sense for them–Jamberry is one I have seen a lot of, although I still think in-home parties for them would be so much more effective. I have bought from several parties, yet, I’d like to be at a party to see the techniques how to put them on, be able to see the designs in person, and MOSTLY, have girlfriend time.

That is the key.

Girlfriend time.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal actually had an article in June about why CAbi parties work well in today’s online-first environment. The article emphasized how women enjoy shopping with girlfriends, and look for reinforcement from them about whether or not they look good in something, and if they should buy it. You don’t get that experience when you shop online.

This works great with businesses like clothing, jewelry, and any business where your girlfriends would tell you, “YOU LOOK GREAT IN THAT!”.  I think online parties for any company that can use that “you look great in that” persuasion is just laziness. Women like to touch, try on and get the encouragement from those around them. You don’t get that in your PJs with a glass of wine when you are also yelling at your kids to shut up and get to bed. I don’t care how you market it–you are not going to get bookings or make personal connections that are vital to a long-term business that way.

Now what about the other businesses like Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc.? You don’t NEED girlfriends encouraging you that a certain bowl or kitchen gadget is what you NEED. Why are online parties bad for those businesses?

Again, it’s about relationship building. You do not build relationships via online parties. I recently had a hostess stand up at her party during my presentation and say, “I don’t care what crap Joyce is selling, I just have parties with Joyce to have her come over.” (Um, thanks for the product testimonial of “crap”!). But her point struck a chord with me. It’s about creating an EXPERIENCE. My hostesses and customers know that a party with me is going to be a fun night out. I always interject funny stories in my presentation, and view it as an opportunity to entertain as well as sell. I have had people ask me if I ever wanted to do stand up comedy–those are the nights I know I went over and above as far as creating that “experience”.

It’s NOT about the products. I sold jewelry for 10 years. I loved jewelry. LOVED IT. However, when I unexpectedly was forced to look for my next company after mine was abruptly closed down, I intentionally chose the company I knew I could create a totally unique and fun EXPERIENCE. Honestly, I could be selling Ziploc baggies of dog poop, and we’d still have a great time with this new formula I am using for my parties.

It’s all about a girl’s night out and the EXPERIENCE. And if you create a fun environment, people will want to replicate that at their home with their friends. You just can’t accomplish that with online parties. You may sell product, but you are not developing long-term relationships and an excitement.

That hostess who said she’d have a party with me no matter what “crap” I was selling…well, she lived two hours away, and her party went long. She invited me to spend the night and drive home the next day. You don’t build relationships strong enough that your hostess would invite you to spend the night–and leave for work with instructions for you to just lock up when you are leaving, by having online parties. You might make quick money and be able to stay home in your PJs, but you won’t have a long-term business.

Create an in-person experience that leave the guests saying, “this is the most fun I have ever had at a party”, and your business will thrive. I highly doubt anyone will ever say that after an on-line party. Laughter and fun is contagious, and you have to be around other people to have that. Suck it up, get dressed, and GO OUT and do your parties. Don’t take the lazy way out — you will be out of business shortly if you don’t relationship build IN PERSON. Use Facebook to promote your business, use it to SHOW the FUN you have AT the parties, and use it to post testimonials from happy guests and hostesses.  And to post cute cat pictures….

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Are you a DOG or a CAT?

Rocco b-day

 

What?

People in my “real life” know I am basically a crazy cat lady. I stopped and thought about this the other day, and discovered it was true, on several levels.

How does this pertain to business, besides just giving me an excuse to post  picture on “the cutest cat ever in the history of the world”–who coincidentally, is MINE? Let me explain.

This past weekend, as I was looking at the RSVPs to my party coming up on Monday, I saw a former teammate of mine RSVPed she was coming. This teammate caused me a lot of heart-ache. Let me re-phrase that–SHE did not. Circumstances around her did. She always was wonderful.

So, many years ago, this gal joined my team.  And she sold, but did not excel, and faded off and dropped out of the business. Nothing new–you know the rule of thumb–a third is coming in, a third is going out, and a third is staying.

Well, a couple of years ago, I was competing for one of the top spots in the company, and the honor of being represented in the catalog and having a namesake piece of jewelry. Anyone who had been to any of my parties in the 10 years I was doing direct sales knew that was my #1 goal, period, end of discussion. And I would be in the running many years, but always ended up “always a bridesmaid, never the bride”. Well, in 2012, I had the best year ever in my career, and I lead that category for ELEVEN MONTHS. My worse nightmare, and trust me, I cried about it often, as I was OBSESSED with this goal, would be to lead it for 11 months and lose it in the final month. I even said if that happened, there was NO WAY I would go to the national conference (despite being #1 in recruiting and #5 in sales) –I would be THAT humiliated.

Well, a couple months before the deadline, I was at a monthly zone meeting, and this nice gal, who was on my team years ago, shockingly was at the meeting. Not only was she at the meeting, but she finished as one of the top three advisors in the zone in sales and was at the front of the room being recognized. I looked at whose table she was sitting at (everyone was cliquey and sat within their groups) and quickly realized–she was on the team of the gal who was in second place, on my heels going into the final months of this marathon to get into the catalog.

I messaged her on Facebook later that night, and found out she signed back up and was directly under the gal who was the only serious contender to beat me in that final month–who ironically at the time, I considered one of my best friends.

This honor was calculated on your personal sales combined with your NEW START SALES. I kept cursing up a blue streak that I would kill myself if I lost in the final month because of a difference in sales that a former teammate of mine added to my competitor’s numbers.

Well, guess what? She beat me. I knew it happened before I found out on stage in front of thousands–no way was I going on stage and finding that out. My friend and I compared numbers a month before conference. In several lengthy phone conversations about it, I conceded that she was just better at rallying the troops and motivating them. Her professional background prior to direct sales was in mental health–she was damned good at it and I have no problem saying that.

So, this past weekend, when I saw this gal had RSVPed to my upcoming party, I started thinking about her and why she “failed” under me, and excelled under someone else.

Right then, one of my dogs started acting like a jerk, and my cat went over and headbutted him. I kind of laughed in my head and thought, “I can’t even train a damned dog, but I have some really cool cats.”

And then it hit me.

We are all either cat-like or dog-like. And as leaders, we have to assess who is what personality and adjust how we work with those people to maximize their results. I always make the mistake of treating everyone how I want to be treated, and I finally realize (TEN YEARS INTO IT) that I am setting my teammates up for failure by making that assumption.

When I first started selling jewelry, my manager would call me every night after every party, and it would go like this:

Manager, “Oh my God, how was your party? What were the sales? Did you get any bookings? Do you have any recruit leads? Isn’t this just awesome?”

And literally 7.3 seconds into it, I tuned her out and made a point to promise myself that caller ID is my new best friend, and NOT ANSWER the phone on my drives home if it was her. And then it elapsed into not answering the phone any time she called–except maybe once a month, out of courtesy.

I know that sounds harsh, but I am not one to be micromanaged. I do my own thing, I don’t like to discuss everything in great detail and I don’t want to be approached every day. When I need help, I’ll call.

And…to tie it all into that adorable cat at the top of the page–that is exactly how cats are. You do not pick them up, you do not call them and they come, you do not force yourself or your attention on them. When THEY WANT YOU, they will let you know. Go ahead and keep petting one of my cats when he is not in the mood, he’ll bite and scratch. He’s a CAT.

But when your cat wants attention, he wants it NOW, and damned straight better get it now, or that is when he will be destructive by scratching up the furniture, etc. Drop everything and give your cat what he wants. And then he’ll be happy and move along.

Cats are simple. You can actually leave town for several days and not have to worry about them–just leave them some food and water, and a clean litter box, and they won’t even notice you are gone.

Well, some people on your team are cats. I am one of them. I am self-sufficient. Give me my tools and let me run with them. I’ll come to you when I need something, and I want help NOW. Cats live on their terms, on their timeline. They come and go–you might not even see them for days in your own house.

And then there are the DOGS. (Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, have two, adore them).

But dogs are much needier. You can’t just leave food and water out for them and leave town for three days. You need to be on a fairly rigid schedule with dogs. You feed them, and then immediately take them outside. You have to walk them. You have to constantly be engaged with them in some form.

I have two dogs who don’t listen. Why? Because I sucked at training them. When I first got them (they joined my “family team”), I didn’t put the time in being repetitive with the “sit”, “stay”, “come”, etc. training. I treated them like cats. “Here’s your food bowl, here’s your water bowl, there is a bell on the door–ring it when you need to go outside” (not kidding).

One of my dogs got the “ring the bell” training. And one didn’t. And if I don’t read her mind and figure out that she needs to go outside, I’ll be shampooing the rugs.

We all have teammates who are “dogs”. You can’t just say, “The training is on the website, read your new advisor manual, call me if you have questions.” You have to literally call them and walk them through everything daily at first, until they are “trained” and until they have their routine.

If you treat a dog like a cat, and expect them to be self-sufficient, you are setting them up to fail.

Conversely, if you treat a cat like a dog, they are going to get really mad and not react positively.

As a leader, you need to read each person and figure out which one they are. It took me over ten years to finally realize, not everyone is a cat like me. And, lest anyone think I am being disparaging by referring to a certain style as a “dog”…in the long run, dogs are more loyal, obedient, and more likely to listen and march to your beat. I am not sure a team of cats would be very enjoyable.

 

Coakies square

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My Party for Friday Cancelled….

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My party for Friday cancelled.

And I am sitting at my desk bawling.

My hostess DIED last night.

I met this wonderful lady at a party three months ago. She had to schedule the party when she’d be between rounds of chemo. She had lost one lung to cancer, and from what I understood, was still fighting cancer. I didn’t want to pry. She had a head wrap on, and told me she was still undergoing chemo. She said that he bosses at her job were not being very cool about her missing any more work, and her co-workers had all pooled their sick time together and donated it to her to use. That spoke volumes to me about what kind of person she was. It also spoke volumes about what kind of people her co-workers were as well.

I asked her why she didn’t just quit her job, and she told me she couldn’t–she had cancer and needed insurance.

I was happy when she booked her party. Normally, she’d be the last person I would ask to have a party–she clearly had a very full plate. In fact, I didn’t even ask her, she volunteered. She said the party was really fun, and she liked that the products were natural, that was important to her (obviously), and she just needed a girl’s night out for herself.

She was the model hostess. She got me a guest list immediately, even though her party was months away. It had over 75 names on it. She and I would email or message through Facebook and she’d say how excited she was about her upcoming party. She was always very upbeat, positive and occasionally when *I* was having a bad bad, she’d be encouraging to *ME*.

Two weeks ago, she started posting on Facebook about hospital visits. She was always upbeat. On Saturday, she posted that she was being moved to the ICU and for the first time ever, she posted that she was scared.

Her former sister-in-law contacted me Monday and told me the party would most likely not be happening, and filled me in. It never crossed my mind that she would not bounce back from this–her positive attitude and aura never allowed me to think otherwise.

As I sit here in tears, I am reminded once again, why I do this business. I don’t care about the money, and to be honest, I really don’t care about the product. For me, it’s 100% meeting the people I do from the parties I do. I have met the most interesting and inspirational people along this journey. Some have stuck with me for over 10 years now, and some, like Carolyn, have been a quick spark in and out, but touched my heart and makes me think twice about things. She and I were the exact same age. We both had high school-aged sons named Andy. She carried herself with such grace, you would not have known the extent of her “problems.”

We all do what we do for our own reasons. I do direct sales, and will continue to do direct sales to keep crossing paths with all the interesting treasures I meet along the way. Sure, we meet our fair share of fools gold, and get frustrated, but I have met some real diamonds along the way as well, and they will stay with me forever, one way or another.

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