Annual Meeting Focuses on Reimagining Channel

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The U.S. Direct Selling Association held its Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 5 to 7, bringing together direct selling company executives, academics, suppliers and global direct selling leaders for collaboration and conversation about the trends shaping the channel. The theme for the meeting was Reimagine, and speakers included business strategist and futurist Daniel Burrus, a panel of experts on Big Data, and Eric Wagner, Bloomberg Vice President, Content Marketing, Cross Platform.

In addition to three general sessions, the meeting included a selection of 25 workshops, four sets of more informal “poster sessions” on various topics within the exhibit hall, a boot camp for newcomers to direct selling and a special track for meeting planners.

TextIn her opening remarks, Rodan + Fields retiring President and CEO Lori Bush challenged attendees at the 2016 U.S. DSA Annual Meeting to embrace the theme “Reimagine” as they work to shape the future of direct selling. Bush served as the Chair for the Annual Meeting.

The supplier community also played an active role in the annual meeting, with 125 companies represented by booths in the exhibit hall and record contributions to the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

“A Direct Selling Association Annual Meeting represents that once-a-year opportunity where we renew our relationships and meet new friends who share a commitment to the direct selling channel of distribution,” says Direct Selling News Ambassador John Fleming. “The general sessions and workshops are carefully designed to inform and educate, however, it is always the people I interact with that remind me of the uniqueness of the direct selling business model, and the greatness of the many diverse companies, new and mature, who solely embrace direct selling as their primary method of distributing their products and services.” 

TextDaniel Burrus


Advocacy for proposed federal anti-pyramid legislation also was on the agenda. The bill, H.R. 5230, was introduced by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) in May and has since picked up at least 11 co-sponsors. The bill seeks to establish a federal definition of what is and is not a pyramid scheme and provides clarity on personal use, expressly allowing reasonable purchases by distributors for personal consumption to count as sales to ultimate users. Similar legislation has been adopted in a number of states across the country, but a lack of clear federal definitions has created a level of uncertainty within the channel about what is and is not permissible when it comes to designing and implementing compensation plans.

Passage of the legislation is the association’s top government relations priority for 2016. A letter-writing campaign that began in late May prompted independent direct selling representatives to send more than 5,600 letters to members of the House, and DSA is encouraging company executives as well as independent direct sellers to submit letters to their members of Congress requesting support for the legislation.


The meeting closed with the DSA Award Gala, including the announcement of two of the highest honors within the direct selling community: the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s Circle of Honor and the Direct Selling Association’s Hall of Fame.

TextU.S. DSA President Joseph Mariano, left, and Thirty-One Gifts CEO Cindy Monroe present Direct Selling News Ambassador John Fleming with the DSA Hall of Fame Award.

DSEF surprised Amway Chief Sales Officer John Parker with the Circle of Honor award. Parker, who joined the board in 2012 and served four years as its Chairman, led the organization through a leadership transition at both the staff and board levels and took the lead in developing and launching a bold three-year strategic plan to build and scale the foundation’s academic program.

Direct Selling News Ambassador John Fleming was honored with induction into the DSA Hall of Fame. Fleming, who received the DSEF Circle of Honor in 1997 and the DSN Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, has been a tireless advocate for direct selling for decades. While pursuing a career in architecture, he was introduced to direct selling as a means to supplement his income to support a growing family. His part-time business with Bestline Products became a full-time endeavour and, later, a path to direct selling corporate offices. After spending more than 15 years with Avon he retired in 2006 and joined DSN as Publisher and Editor in Chief.

TextAmway Chief Sales Officer John Parker, center, receives the DSEF Circle of Honor Award from DSEF Executive Director Gary Huggins, left, and DSA President Joseph Mariano.

The association also presented DSA Awards to member companies in five categories during the gala. The winners are:

  • Marketing & Sales Campaigns: 4Life Research LLC, for its branded campaign 4LifeTransform to support the company’s launch of a new protein supplement, PRO-TF.
  • Excellence in Salesforce Development: Rodan + Fields, for its Lead the Way rewards and recognition program, which recognizes Consultants who are building strong bases of loyal retail customers.
  • Product Innovation: Princess House Inc., for its Fresh + Healthy Produce Keepers, which allow users to wash and store fresh fruits and vegetables in a single, adjustable container that controls moisture and airflow.
  • Technology Innovation: Scentsy Inc., for its Continuous Delivery system infrastructure that enables the company to rapidly deploy many more software updates without downtime.
  • Vision for Tomorrow: USANA Health Sciences Inc., for its True Health Foundation, a nonprofit that provides nutrition, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and health education around the world.

Other awards presented during the ceremony included:

  • Partnership Award – Smart Office Solutions, for the company’s 14 years of partnership as a supplier to direct selling companies.
  • Rising Star Award – Damsel in Defense. Founded in 2011, Idaho-based Damsel in Defense provides personal safety products to empower women.

Education Foundation Expands Academic Program

Earlier this year, the Direct Selling Education Foundation embraced an aggressive new strategy to increase the number of college and university professors engaged with its academic program. The foundation’s goal is to recruit 200 professors to a new Fellows program and, by extension, reach 60,000 students per year by 2019 with the message of what direct selling is and how it can serve as an effective go-to-market strategy for consumer product and services companies and as a path to micro-entrepreneurship for individuals.

TextThe Direct Selling Education Foundation raised just more than $105,000 through a golf outing and silent auction held during the U.S. DSA Annual Meeting.

Thirty-eight professors have signed on to the program so far, and more than 18 Fellows and academic organizational partners attended the U.S. DSA Annual Meeting to learn more.

“The partnerships built with DSEF Fellows have already yielded valuable research and high profile public programs, both of which were on display at this year’s DSA Annual Meeting,” says DSEF Executive Director Gary Huggins. Dr. Anne Coughlan of Northwestern University presented the preliminary results of her study of how success is defined by personal consumers and career-driven sales people, which will help the industry better frame public discussions about motivations and achievement in direct selling. Dr. Liz Davis of the University of San Francisco was instrumental in bringing national experts to Phoenix to hold a forward-looking conversation about how the industry can benefit from a better use of “big data.” 

“These are just two examples of the dividends the Foundation’s academic partnerships will continue to yield as we expand our reach to influential professors and the students they teach across the country.”

Mary Kay CEO elected to second term as U.S. Direct Selling Association Chairman

The U.S. Direct Selling Association’s Board of Directors will look much the same for the 2016-2017 operating year as it did in 2015-2016.

Typically, the Vice Chairman of the Board serves as the Annual Meeting Committee Chairman and, at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting, moves into the role of Board Chairman. However, following her retirement as CEO of Rodan + Fields, Vice Chairman Lori Bush announced her plan to step down from the board, and Chairman David Holl, President and CEO of Mary Kay Inc., was elected to a second term. Most of the committee chairs also will remain in place.

Amway Chief Sales Officer John Parker will serve as the association’s Vice Chairman and Annual Meeting Committee Chairman from June 2016 through the 2017 Annual Meeting, at which time he is expected to be elected to the Chairman’s role. Dr. Traci Lynn Burton, Founder and CEO of her eponymous jewelry company, was elected second Vice Chairman, and Michael MacDonald, CEO of Take Shape for Life Inc. (Medifast), was elected Treasurer. Nu Skin Enterprises President and CEO Truman Hunt remains on the executive committee as the Immediate Past Chairman, and Scentsy Inc. CEO Orville Thompson remains as Past Chairman.

TextDavid Holl

Seven people were elected to the Board as Directors for terms expiring in 2019: Viridian Energy CEO Michael Fallquist, Primerica Inc. Executive Vice President and General Counsel Alexis Ginn, Arbonne International LLC Chief Sales Officer Ashley Good, Herbalife Senior Vice President, Legal Officer, Global Member Practices and Compliance & Privacy Pamela Jones Harbour, Rodan + Fields Chief Legal Officer and Secretary Michelle Leetham, Beautycounter Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew, and Scentsy Inc. Chief Sales Officer Sandy Spielmaker.

Sixteen other direct selling company executives also serve on the DSA Board of Directors: Janice Capinegro of Pampered Chef, Angela Loeher Chrysler of Team National, Michael Collins of LifeWave Inc., Landen Fredrick of Mannatech Inc., Asma Ishaq of Jusuru International Inc., Jonathan Gelfand of Team Beachbody, Erik Johnson of Hy Cite Enterprises LLC, Allison Levy of AdvoCare International LP, Konrad Mayr of Sabika Inc., Dana Mehrer of Silpada Designs, David Merriman of ACN Inc., Mark Schiro of Stream, Halle Sminchak of The Kirby Company, Frank VanderSloot of Melaleuca Inc., Britney Vickery of Initials Inc., and John Wyckoff of Dove Chocolate Discoveries.

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