You can make things happen at any age. It’s about having the will to reinvent yourself and creating new goals.
Some people use age to hold them back; age is not a factor of your business acumen. I was President of Pure Romance before I was 30, and let me tell you—there’s a lot to prove when you head a company, at any age. My goals have changed because I have changed and the company has grown, not because my age is trickling towards 40.
Inc. published a great article with 41 reasons to get out there and make it happen, no matter how young or old you are.
- Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote her wartime diary
- Mark Zuckerberg was 21 when he launched Facebook
- Beyonce Knowles was 32 when she ranked #1 on Forbes Celebrity 100 list, worth $115 million
- Ray Kroc was 53 when he bought the first McDonalds franchise, which then comprised 8 restaurants
- J.R.R. Tolkien was 62 when he published The Lord of the Rings
- Nelson Mandela was 75 when he became the President of South Africa
Everyone is always asking me why do you always say you should live life by design? Well, it’s pretty simple. Remember when we were kids and we used to play the game MASH (Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House) We would hope the numbers game played out with exactly what we wanted. Whether it’s married to Jane and living in a mansion with two cars and three kids or married to Suzy and living in a house on the beach with two dogs.
It’s all about planning. For as long as I can remember I have been planning how I want my life to look. As life starts happens around us there so many people that get wrapped up in the day-to-day and forget about the plan. So much so that they stop planning at a certain point and start accepting the life that is given to them.
When it’s time to get a job, they get a job. When it’s time to get married, they pop the question. When everyone around them starts their family, they follow suit. Through the years, I have worked with so many people who just “go with the flow.” They are living other people’s way of life instead of designing the life that they want. When you let others determine your path, you may end up far from your intended destination.
I see so many people struggling. To these people I say: take action. Decide what it is that you want. “I want a better life, I want a better job, I want a better relationship, I want more time with my family.” And then start working on it. I will be the first to tell you; you can have all of this, but you have to put the time in to design it.
You need to sit down and define exactly what you want and think about what that life looks like. Life is not a walk-through, you can’t just “go with the flow.” If you are merely going through the motions and let other people take control, you’re giving up control of your destiny. You can’t just hope your kids get out of diapers and go to school and then graduate at the top of their high school class. What happens when you’re an empty nester and there are no more small milestones? While, these are important steps, you need to keep your eye on the prize. I see this all of the time, especially working with women. They move from one milestone to the next, neglecting their long-term goals and getting wrapped up in what’s happening around them.
So how do you start?
You need to design what your team is going to look like, what your family is going to look like, what your relationship is going to look like. Then you need to put the time in to building your design. You can’t just sit back and hope it happens, it’s up to you to make it happen. And once you start, don’t ever look back, keep moving forward.
Decisions are a major part of any business model. Learning to make them effectively is extremely important, but developing staff with the ability to make decisions is too.
In business, it is important to set trends and keep an eye to future development if you want to experience growth. But, it’s also important to always remember where you came from and be able to go back to basics when you need to.
A lot of us want to be different things as kids. For me, I was always really into sports and dreamed of being a professional athlete. I played everything; basketball, baseball, football—you name it and I probably played it at some point. Dreaming of being a professional athlete is something a lot of adults can probably say they did when they were younger.
As I grew up and sports became a larger part of my teenage life, I decided that I wanted to be a coach. I realized that I’d probably never be a professional athlete, but I enjoyed working with a team toward accomplishing a goal. I liked being a person who could be put in a position or asked to perform a task and knowing that the team could depend on me to get the job done. It made sense to me that I’d want to translate my love of teamwork into a career where I could teach others what I knew about being a dependable role player, so that’s what I set out to do. By the time I found myself wrapping up my college years, I’d played on several teams that won National Championships and I was learning more and more each year about what it took to run a winning team.
Everything changed for me in the summer of 1997 when I got a job working for my father. That job opened my eyes to a whole new world. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by high-powered businessmen. I was traveling to cities I’d never been to before. I saw Charleston, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia for the first time. Furthermore, I saw how these guys were living—the cars they drove, the jets they traveled in, and the clothes they wore. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be a part of that world. It was a summer that completely shifted my perceptions.
When I left college, I went to work with my Dad for a few years pursuing my newfound dream. I was thrown into many unfamiliar situations, including moving to Chicago to run 28 carpet stores. I’d never run a store and the only experience I had in the flooring industry was from my summers working at Color Tile to earn “summer fun” money. Fortunately, what I lacked in experience, I made up for with my enthusiasm, hunger, and drive to succeed. I knew how to play a role and be dependable.
As much as I learned from that job, it wasn’t until I moved back to Cincinnati to work with my Mom that I was truly able to combine my newfound passion for business with my lifelong passion of being a coach.
My job at Pure Romance puts me in front of thousands of people each year, whether that’s on stage, leading conference calls, or at our events held around the world. Now, I haven’t always been good at it. I remember when Mom first put me on stage in New Orleans to review the new packaging concepts for products that I’d been involved in developing. I was not very confident the first time I got up in front of a crowd.
It was our big awards banquet. I remember getting up in front of all these Consultants and saying “um”, pausing, and stuttering over and over again. When I got off stage, I took off my shirt and you could have wrung it out and filled up a bucket—that’s how sweaty I was. But you know what? I did it—and I practiced and I got better.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get,” and I think about that quote when I look back on down the path my life has taken me. As important as it is to be able to play a role and be a dependable person while doing it, you have to want to play that role to truly experience happiness in your success.
I haven’t always listened to other people’s ideas. But what I’ve learned is that encouraging people to bring ideas to the table is a very good thing. Creating a work environment where your employees can do that is vital to the success of a business.
Although I’ve been Pure Romance’s President for 12 years now, my education in direct sales and how this industry works began a long time before that back when I was still a kid.
I can remember being annoyed watching my Mom work her business. We would go out to dinner and when the waitress brought our check, Mom would say something like, “Hey, you know Susie, thanks so much for the great service. Listen … Have you ever thought about having a Fun Party?”
This happened all the time. I’d just sit there thinking, “Come on, Mom! Can’t you just give it a rest? Can’t we go out to eat just once without having to sit through this?”
Sometimes Mom would try to open up to women about the opportunity to own their own businesses. It was never ending. It didn’t matter what we were doing, whether we were at the supermarket, going to a movie, or sitting down as a family for dinner—Mom was always talking to other women about her business.
Fast forward to years later, after I’d gone to college and come back to Cincinnati to start working with her—that was when it all became clear.
We were out holding events to teach women about our business and had pulled into a hotel late one night after a long day of driving. I dropped Mom off at the front counter so she could check us in and went to park the Uhaul. As I’m schlepping the rest of our baggage inside, I come up to Mom at the front desk and she says, “Chris, I want you to meet Darlene. Darlene, this is my son, Chris.” I said hello and then Mom proceeds to tell me all about Darlene; how she’s been working at the front desk for about 5 years, how she loves her job, and how she’s tired of working the late night shift because she has 2 kids at home. It turns out that Darlene would really like to be able to spend a little bit more time with them.
Basically, Mom knows Darlene’s entire life history after just 5 minutes with her.
As we were headed to the room, I asked Mom, “How the hell did you get all that information from her? I was only gone for 5 minutes and you already knew everything about her!”
She stopped me, grabbed my arm, and said, “Because I tell everybody, Chris. Let me make something very clear to you: you would not have a job right now if it wasn’t for me telling everyone I meet what it is that we do. We have to tell everybody. Maybe they won’t buy something from me now. They might not ever schedule a party with me or call to find out more about the business opportunity … but they might tell someone about me. They might run into someone who wants to have a party. They might know someone who needs a job. I want to be sure that if they do, they’ll say, ‘You know … I met this woman who might be able to help you out. I met her at this restaurant and she was really nice. I think you should talk to her!’ The more people we tell, the bigger our business will get. We’re in a relationship business, Chris. It’s a person to person thing. We don’t just sell relationship enhancement products, we build relationships. People buy relationships.”
It was like someone flipped a switch for me. I suddenly understood that working in direct sales meant the rules I’d learned working in corporate America didn’t necessarily apply. I couldn’t go around thinking that TV or radio advertisements would ever be able to take the place of our person to person interactions. In order for people to fully understand the potential of what we were selling, whether it was improving their relationships or giving them a way to support their families, it would never work unless we were willing to approach them enthusiastically.
My Mom’s Tell Everyone philosophy is something that’s always stuck with me. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to be so successful over the past 20 years. Far too many people underestimate just how powerful going out and personally interacting with your customers and Consultant base really is.
The direct sales industry has been around for many, many years. I’ve only been involved with it for the last 12 and while its core values remain the same, technology is changing the way we do business.
Working for Pure Romance has always felt like a privilege to me and one of the reasons is because it’s allowed me to travel to some amazing places and experience a lot of fantastic things.
Public speaking wasn’t always something I was good at, but when you are trying to motivate a voluntary sales force, it’s an important skill to develop.
Like it or not, managing anger and emotion is part of running a successful business. I’ve learned that you can only motivate people to succeed, not force them.
I get to meet a lot of women every year who have just started living their lives as businesswomen. One of the biggest questions I’m asked is, “How do I become a successful businesswoman?” Many of them think I’m going to say that they need to go out there and study their products, learn as much as they can about each one, and be a source of infinite knowledge to their customers. For some reason, people tend to equate the amount of knowledge you have with the amount of success you experience.
Other women assume that because they see how hard I work and how hard my staff works that the key to success must be hard work. If you can just outwork the other person, then you’re going to be successful.
Still others think that everything boils down to skills. They think that it’s those who have been gifted with the skills to sell effectively or talk to people persuasively that are the ones who will experienced the highest level of success.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in business is that none of those things determine how successful you are. It’s not hard work, knowledge, skill level, or even education that bring people success in their lives. I’ve found that the person that’s typically the most successful is the one that’s the most desperate.
You might think that sounds kind of odd. Why does someone need to be desperate to be successful? When I say “desperate”, understand that desperation comes from a lot of different places. Maybe it’s a financial desperation. It could be desperation to get out of the house, to belong to a group, or even to have purpose in your work.
Whatever the case, in any scenario, a person’s level of desperation will drive one thing: their attitude. Attitude is what really makes someone a success—in LIFE, not just business. Everything from your relationships with your friends and family to the success you experience in the workplace will be driven by your attitude.
You’ve got to want to do what it takes to be successful in order to experience success and that’s all attitude really is. It’s waking up and going, “Let’s go! I’ve got to go make phone calls! I’ve got to coach my hostesses! I’ve got to do it because I want to be a winner and I want to be successful!”
You’ve got to want to be a good friend. You’ve got to want to be a great business partner. You have to wake up every day and make the decision that you’re going to be an awesome father, the best significant other, or the boss or employee people can depend on to get things done. If you do that, success will follow you. It’s not just going to come to you.
Sometimes in business you have to take calculated risks and sometimes you have to bet the house on black and hope the wheel spins your way. Twelve years ago, I took a gamble by expanding our network within the United States, starting in St. Louis. What I learned there ultimately shaped the way Pure Romance was able to grow exponentially for years to come.