Direct Selling Legend: Rick Goings

Rick Goings is Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of Tupperware Brands. During his successful career, Goings held a number of global senior management positions in Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Goings was an outspoken advocate in redefining business as something that served not only shareholders but all stakeholders, including customers and employees. Humanitarian and philanthropic efforts have been a central focus of Goings’ career, and he served as an engaged member of the World Economic Forum, the National Board of Governors for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and was an inaugural Champion with United Nations’ HeforShe women’s initiative, where he was a founding member of the Leadership Advisory Council.

What inspired you to get involved in direct selling?

I never made a decision to get involved in direct selling. I got involved in businesses, and their channels of distribution just happened to be direct-to-consumer. After I joined the Navy, I started to understand human motivation and figure out what I was going to do with my life. In my senior year of school, my friend had an idea for a fire and heat detector and out of that, I created Dynamics, Inc. I had a 10-year run that was fabulous, but the federal government started giving away what we were selling, and I had to pivot. In my thirties, I created Fortunate Corporation and lost all the money I had made in my twenties. The most important business decision I ever made was when I joined Avon. When people ask me why I joined, I say, “Oh, I remember, I needed a job.”

When did you decide direct selling was the right choice for you?

There really was no epiphany moment when I decided this is what I was going to commit my life to. I’ve always had a way of knowing, “if this doesn’t work, do that.” I’ve been seasoned for that. When I’m introduced at commencements, and they list my accomplishments and honors, I get up and say, “I’m happy and blessed for all of those things, but let me tell you about some of my failures, the faceplants and the flops, because those will happen to you and those are what will make you.” I spent three months selling encyclopedias, and I never made a sale. There’s never been a more unlikely person to rise to CEO. It’s how you deal with the failures and how you pivot from those—that matter.

What are a few of your most memorable moments?

One was five years ago with the Global Fairness Initiative, a nonprofit studying the effects of being involved in Tupperware. They found women moved from being lower class to middle class, and their attitudes switched from “I’m not good enough” to “I am good enough.” After three years of involvement, the number of women connected through computers or smartphones went from one-third to 70 percent.

What is your outlook for the business model?

There is a transformation occurring, and it’s not just driven by COVID-19. With the creation of internet technologies combined with disintermediation taking out everybody in-between the seller and consumer, I don’t think there’s been a sweeter spot for our channel of distribution.

What advice would you like to share with our audience?

Real success is helping other people.