Archives For August 2012

Brainstorming

JasonC —  August 28, 2012 — 1 Comment

The Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Ok, guys and girls. Here’s a fun activity that will bring Direct Sales Husbands and their wife closer together.

Brainstorming!

This is something Holley and I do on a pretty regular basis. At least once a month, I’d say.

What is the value of brainstorming in direct sales? For most people, it’s tremendous. On the other hand, if you have everything working exactly the way you want it and don’t want anything about your business to change (such as growing, working more efficiently, recruiting better), then you should definitely not waste your time. Do you fall into that category? I didn’t think so. Neither do we.

Here are a couple of interesting articles I found on Brainstorming that you might want to check out:

MindTools: Brainstorming. Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas

The Anticonventional Thinking (ACT) Method (2.0)

Go check those out if you get the chance. What you thought you knew about brainstorming may not actually be true.

Some general rules of thumb about brainstorming that may help you out:

  1. Find a comfortable place. Preferably somewhere you are less likely to get interrupted (e.g. when the kids aren’t home)
  2. Be prepared with something to write with. Big notepad. Good pens. Dry erase/chalkboard. Whatever is comfortable to you.
  3. Go for crazy wild ideas. No point in being conservative here. The wilder the better.
  4. Avoid criticizing any of the ideas at all. At least during the session. Everything is on the table.
  5. Both of you should contribute. That’s important
  6. Set a start time and an end time. Feel free to go over the limit if the creative juices keep floating. 30 minutes is a good place to start.
  7. You may consider starting the session with a particular problem in mind. It doesn’t have to stay there, though.
  8. Refer back to the notes later when looking for ideas.

What should you brainstorm about in the Direct Sales Business?

  • How to get new bookings.
  • How to get into new groups of people.
  • How to get more sales and commission.
  • What product combinations would be good to show.
  • Party themes for your hostesses.
  • Fund-raiser ideas and how to make contact with the right folks.
  • How to boost your recruiting.
  • How can your husband get you more business?
  • What motivates you to keep working (or supporting) the business?

Obviously there’s no exhaustive list here. One of the greatest thing about direct sales is that it is YOUR business. You can run it more or less however you want! If you want to do nothing but Margarita parties with Premiere Designs (or maybe that would work better with Pampered Chef?), then go for it! Those are great fun! But you can always change it up and strive to make your business whatever you want it to be.

The point is brainstorming is a fun activity that can really benefit from bouncing ideas off each other or gathering different viewpoints to create new ideas.

This is where I’d love to hear you share YOUR favorite brainstorming “topics.” Or stories! Let’s hear it!

Be Her Coach

JasonC —  August 26, 2012 — 1 Comment

Click Here to go all the way back to the first post in this series.

The Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

One of the best things you can do as a Direct Sales Husband is to be a coach to your wife. This is something you may need to be a little bit careful about, but for every husband out there, you are definitely in the best position of anybody in the world to be your wife’s “coach.”

Now, coaching means different things to different people, but I found a really great explanation of what those of us who are in this position with our wife should be looking for. Check out this Minute with John Maxwell and then come back here (it’s short, but good!)

In that video, Maxwell quotes John Wooden (one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time) as saying “A coach is someone who can work along side of you and correct you without criticizing you in a way that is negative in your life.” So he says it’s a word that means “come alongside.” To teach, to encourage, to help, to lead. And to do so with perspective.

The ability to understand the other person and somewhat put yourself in their position in order to help her. And because of your differences, you’ll have a different perspective which can help benefit your direct sales girl. You can add value to her because you know her well, you see what she is going through, and sometimes you can see more than she can because of the perspective. In order to maximize this, you need to keep your eyes out and maybe look at a different piece of the picture than your wife is.

Here’s a personal example:

About two years ago, I married Holley. At that time, she lived in Chattanooga (and had been there almost all her life) and was a full-time Speech Pathologist in the Hamilton County School system (for 12 years). She was also a Senior Director with Thirty-One Gifts, having started with them in the early days of Thirty-One. Even when we were dating, she would talk to me about Thirty-One. Several times I had to talk her off the ledge of quitting the company entirely. She was overwhelmed with working full time in the school system. Working Thirty-One. Raising 4 children. Getting married to me. And then having to leave her beloved city of Chattanooga and move up here to blend our families together.

When we finally made the move, she ended up taking a job with home health. Many nights she would cry because she really just didn’t like home health. Especially not in a new city.

Here’s where the coaching came in. She was too close to things and felt like she was drowning. I had two areas of perspective she really couldn’t see:

1. I felt it was more important for her to be at home to provide a solid (and emotionally healthy) rock for the kids who were also moving into a whole new world. That first year in a new place can be incredibly hard. I wanted to make sure she was their rock. I put myself in her and then the kids’ position and could easily see how important this was.

2. I had been following her business for a while and had made some graphs of her income and business growth. That graph made me confident that she could do Thirty-One full-time and MORE than replace her income. She never saw this because for her it had just been this “little thing” she was doing.

As her coach, I urged Holley to quit home health. Actually, I had to put my foot down because she was so unsure of things.

But also, as her coach, best friend, and husband, I made sure she knew I was there behind her 100% to support her. She already knew by that point she could count on me. Since then, she has promoted to Executive Director and then Senior Executive Director and our lives could hardly be any better!

How you step in to be her coach will probably look different from my example. But you’ll find your own way as long as you follow these

Three Keys to Coaching Your Wife in Direct Sales

1. Put yourself in her position to see where she is.

2. Work alongside her to help her accomplish her goals.

3. Use your perspective to see things a little more clearly in order to navigate difficult waters.

 

Questions:

Girls: What do you think of the coaching points above?
Guys: How have you helped your wife through effective coaching?

One of the things I do…

JasonC —  August 24, 2012 — 1 Comment

Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Being a direct sales husband (Husband Of ThirtyOne) is one of many hats…

One of these days I’ll get around to doing a blog post (or two) about “our story.” How I first learned about direct sales and Thirty-One Gifts. It’s really not been that long ago that I was first introduced to it, honestly. If you’re reading this, you may know that I’m actually a doctor. More specifically, I’m a hospitalist, which means I take care of people who are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital and I make sure I take care of them there, getting them better and sending them home. I’m also the medical director of the program, so I manage other physicians who work on my team (there are 6-ish of us, plus a few part-timers). That’s my day-to-day grind.

It can get pretty stressful.

So one of the things I have always liked to do is create stuff. It’s a good stress relief for me. I was always fascinated by computers and graphic arts and have over the years amassed some skills and tools to dabble with it here and there. It just so happens that Holley finds this to be a particularly useful set of skills. She frequently gives me tasks to create various things that she uses in her direct sales business(es). Newsletters. Logos. Websites. Emails. You name it. Lately she’s been stressing out about business cards, so here’s what I’ve come up with:

holleybuscard

If you check out her website HolleyCox.com you’ll recognize the “theme.” Last year, I created the keyhole box as the “Team Cox” logo. It’s changed a little bit over time, but keeps the same general look. She picked the font for the text, but I’ve come up with the rest. She hasn’t seen this yet, so there’s a good chance this will change a lot before anything goes to print. And of course it’ll have to be approved by Thirty-One’s CAGS department, too. But this is an early look just because I’m in one of those “creative moods” that hit me periodically.

Honestly, I think a lot of guys out there could help out with this kind of stuff. If not right off the bat, then eventually. This stuff is not really that hard, and as with most things, the more you work at it, the better you’ll do.

There are some really good resources out there for the beginner, too. If you’ve ever been asked to help with creating things for your direct-sales wife, her team (or at your day job) and you don’t have in-depth training, I would highly recommend you start here:

Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition)

This covers the basics you’ll need to understand enough about design to be able to produce functional stuff (I need to do a review of that book on my site). I don’t consider myself to be very “good” but Holley loves what I do and it seems to get positive comments.

In the end, this is something that helps her and serves as my creative outlet. How awesome is that? I just love a win-win.

Questions:

Girls: what do you think about the business card design? I still have to work on the back (it’s going to be 2-sided), suggestions?
Guys: Tell a story about helping your wife with the creative side of her business!

Thanks, Thirty-One!

JasonC —  August 24, 2012 — Leave a comment
Thanks, Thirty-One

Here’s my early birthday present thanks to Thirty-One Gifts! After 5 months in our new house, we’re finally getting to a point of organizing some of our downstairs spaces. This toolchest is helping a great deal!

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is HardSwitch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book for anyone looking to shape some change into your organization or even your own life. A lot of people have difficulty with change and this book is an excellent resource for both learning about why we are resistant to change and how to make it easier and more successful.

Chip & Dan Heath look at the problem of “Change” and use an excellent analogy of an elephant and its rider to describe the emotional and logical components that fuel our actions and can effect direction change in our life. Sometimes change is hard because we can’t see the logical benefit of the change. Often times, however, we are battling the emotional elephant that is resistant to change for deeper reasons that we may not even be aware. When you understand that analogy, you can start looking at problems and the need to change in another way and find solutions to tackling the problem that engage “the rider” or “the elephant” or, preferably, both to make the change happen and make it stick.

Throughout the book, the authors use colorful real-life stories to illustrate problems and how they have been overcome. They break down techniques directed at directing “the rider” and motivating “the elephant” in ways that I thought were thought-provoking, interesting, and very applicable to life and business. Change isn’t just about getting other people to do what needs to be done, often it is about getting yourself to do it, too.

Finally, they talk about changing the environment to make the change either easier to happen, or more likely to stick. This is more broad-based thinking, but still is illustrative of how we often need to “look outside the box” at the problems behind the problem that keep our best efforts from succeeding.

I’m giving this book 4/5 stars because it’s really a great read. The 5th star is taken simply because a lot of these ideas aren’t new and if you’ve done a significant amount of reading in this genre, you’ve probably read much of this before. But, I give the authors full credit for putting those ideas together with a super-functional analogy that makes it memorable, and using modern references that most Americans will recognize and identify.

If you are looking for an interesting book with to try to enter the “personal enrichment” genre, or are a developing leader in any area of business who wants to do some reading along these lines, this is an excellent place to start. Also, if you’ve read pretty much any of the works out there on Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman and Travis Bradberry are the guys to start with for that if you haven’t… and you should) then this is a good place for practical application of their stuff.

View all my reviews

Part 1 of this topic can be found here. If you haven’t already, check that out and then come back here.

Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Apply Goal-Setting To Her Business

Everyone will have different goals for themselves but here are some things Holley and I focus on in Thirty-One that we try to set as goals:

  • How many parties per month.
  • How many recruits?
  • What recognition do you want to achieve within the company? (Ribbons at conference)
  • What level of incentives does she want to earn this year?
  • What about personal promotion? Last year she promoted to Senior Executive Director, now they’ve added a whole new level.
  • Promoting leaders on her team.
  • You may (or may not) want to identify specific personal sales levels or even income levels (we know a girl who sells Premiere Jewelry who worked out exactly how much she had to sell to put herself through college… and she’s doing it! How awesome is that?)

This is essentially just a list. In years past, the list included basic things like:

  • Make a monthly newsletter… EVERY month.
  • Do 2 fundraisers.
  • Recruit 1 girl a month.
  • Improve the party presentation.
  • Create emails for the team and new recruits.
  • Do opportunity calls, director’s calls, new consultant calls.
  • Go into each party with a recruiting mentality

I have some goals for her as well (I expect I’ll be getting some personal feedback on these from Holley, but I’m not afraid to share):

  • Reconcile business income and expenses every month instead of waiting until March/April.
  • Keep better accounting of who has paid and who still owes for product.
  • Work more in-home shows (4-6 per month)
  • Travel more to broaden her consultant base.
  • Travel to some of her team’s Celebrate & Connect meetings

You get the idea. Depending on where your wife is in her business, it may look like either of these or vastly different. The key thing is to try to make the goals as specific as possible. While Holley’s experience is mostly with Thirty-One, I strongly suspect these same principles will be present in every business.

Goals & Dreams

These are our actual goal book (on top) and idea books for Holley’s business and our life. They’re always nearby, in case we need to add to them.

Set 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals.

This is a pretty huge deal as well. Just talking about all of this stuff will help to align you and your wife to the same goals. If you don’t talk about it, you might find yourselves with different goals completely. But by talking through it, I would bet you’ll find the same thing I did: Your wife will love you for this. Just so we’re clear, this isn’t just about the business side of things. You’ll want to set 1, 3, 5, and maybe 10 year goals for your business activities. You’ll definitely want to set those goals for your personal and family side as well.

I’ll give a personal example. Holley is a vacation girl. She loves vacations. Big, whole-family vacations. That sounds great to me (though maybe a little scary), but I’ve been focused on getting debt-free. Vacations and debt-free don’t really mix well. So Holley had the impression that I couldn’t care less about family vacations. But in reality, I’m all for it! In talking through this, we discovered that we were actually pretty closely aligned to the same goals, but that she had thought we were way way off.

This applies to both business and personal/family matters. Direct sales can DEFINITELY make your dreams come true. Setting these longer-term goals is like a road map. First we get debt free (which we can do in 4 months). Then we start planning for a big family vacation next spring or summer (remember those destination post-cards? This is definitely one of ours). Then in 3-5 years we start looking for vacation property and buy in the 5-10 year timeframe.

Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.

Every time we work on our goals, we get to talk about our dreams. This can be both emotional and fun and honestly it’s one of my favorite things to do in the world. Who knows what you can really accomplish in 10 years of working hard at something. Dreaming gives the emotional energy that you need to get through the rough periods. To try a little harder to make a goal. And it provides plenty of material for those “destination postcards” you’ll be making every year.

 

Questions:

Girls: How do you think setting goals for your business will change the way you work your business? What goals do you plan to set for your business?
Guys: Do you think talking about her business goals and your life goals with your wife will change things? If you’re already doing it, tell about your experiences.

Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Today I’m going to write about goal-setting with your wife. It’s fresh on my mind as my wife and I just finished working on our goals ourselves. I’m no expert in goal-setting, but I’ve done some reading and have some experience, so that’s what I’m going to be writing about. This is definitely something you want to sit down with your wife and do together. It’s a great experience.

Basic Principles of Goal-Setting

Write your goals down.

If you don’t take the time to put it down on paper, it’s a dream, not a goal. What we have done is bought a simple Moleskine notebook (one of these Moleskine Ruled Cahier Journal Kraft Large: set of 3 Ruled Journals) and do each set of goals on it’s own page. Get a little creative, too. I draw a little bit in mine just to keep it interesting. Be careful about setting “too many” goals – it can look bewildering when you approach it later or make it seem more impossible to accomplish. 10ish goals is probably a good number, allowing you pretty tight focus on a few things without being so tightly focused that you miss opportunities.

Make your goals specific

The more specific you can be, the better. It’s also better if they’re measurable in some way. Saying you want to “lose some weight” or “get healthier” isn’t going to help you. Saying “I want to lose 10 lbs” or “I want to run five 5k races this year” or “I want to pay off my credit card” are very specific and measurable.

Put deadlines on your goals.

This is part of the “writing it down” process as well. But it’s an important part. If you set a goal to pay off your house, that’s great. But it’s a hugely different to say “we’re going to pay off our house in 10 years.” That is an aggressive goal. But having that deadline changes how you treat the goal. It will probably encourage you to work a little harder at it. It also keeps it high on your priority list and on your mind. This actually makes it more likely that you’ll accomplish your goal.

Review your goals regularly.

At least yearly. Twice a year works, too. Every year we start our goal-setting by reviewing last year’s goals. Sometimes we’ll review a couple years. This not only sets the tone for the “goal-setting session” but it also serves as some great positive reinforcement. When you have accomplished a goal, put a big red or green checkmark next to it. It’s stupid how satisfying this little action turns out to be. Whenever you know you’ve achieved one of the goals on your list, that’s another good time to review your recent goals so you can focus on hitting others you’ve written down.

Goals & Dreams

These are our actual goal book (on top) and idea books for Holley’s business and our life. They’re always nearby, in case we need to add to them.

Make your goals “stretch” goals.

A lot of people are tempted to create goals that are definitely achievable so they don’t run the risk of failing. Don’t let yourself (or your wife) fall into that trap. At the same time, you don’t want to make goals that are practically impossible, either. Look at what you’ve done already and make an educated guess/estimate of what you can accomplish in the timeframe you set. By creating “easy” goals, you lose a lot of the power of goal-setting to make things happen because people don’t put everything they have into it. If you can create a goal that is achievable but you know it’s going to take a lot of effort, you’re probably in the sweet-spot. And you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll actually exceed your goals when you aim high.

Create a destination postcard.

“What the heck is that?” you say? Well, it turns out to be a powerful tool that makes it much more likely that you’ll accomplish those goals, whatever they may be. What you do is essentially draw yourself a picture of what it will be like when you have accomplished those goals you’ve written down. This is essentially your “Why.” (they talk about finding your “why” in Thirty-One all the time). Why you have the goals in the first place. It could go a little something like this: “When I pay off my house in 10 years, we’ll be able to take the extra money and travel across the country as a family in the summer. I’ve always wanted to take the kids to Washington, D.C., Yosemite, Redwood National Forest, and Disney World!” Then, when you are working hard and making sacrifices to achieve your goals, it’s not just because of words written on a piece of paper. It’s because of a bigger dream that you can make into reality.

Looks like I’m going to have to break this into two posts. Come back tomorrow for Part 2 which will cover applying these principles to your Direct Sales Business and maybe your personal life as well.

Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Of course there are tons of ways to help with your wife’s direct sales business. I’ve mentioned a few already in earlier posts and more will be coming after this. Today I wanted to talk about:

The Little Stuff…

Chances are good that you’ve run a business of some sort (or helped to do so) at some point in your past. Whether it was running a lemonade stand as a kid or anything more than that, you probably have some feel for what it means to run something.

One thing about Direct Sales is that it is very much a self-motivated industry. That makes for a great opportunity, and Holley and I know several girls in the industry who actually make SEVEN figures running their business. When you are highly self-motivated, you can absolutely run with it and make your wildest dreams come true (and beyond).

Remember, direct sales is, for the most part, about making your dreams come true, whether it’s 7 figures or financial wiggle-room, or getting debt-free.

But the self-motivation side of the business has it’s down-side too…

Not everybody is all that self-motivated

Shocker, I know.

We’ve all had side-projects from time to time that have just languished in the shadows because everything else in the world takes precedent or gets in the way. Maybe it’s just an inconvenient time to work on the project. Maybe there’s a little one screaming for your attention. Maybe your “real job” was a little too involved today and you just don’t feel like working it. Or maybe you would even after that rough day, but you need to mow. And take out the trash. And clean up your workspace. And grill steaks for dinner. And do laundry. That side project can wait until tomorrow.

Wait a second! Laundry? Did he really say “do laundry?” Do you see what I was getting at there? Your wife’s direct sales business is subject to all the same distractions and demotivators your side projects are. And then some. My wife would never let me get near the laundry (despite the fact that I’ve never ruined a single item of clothing). It’s just an example.

But every “Little Thing” you can take off her plate frees up some actual time, mental energy and real energy to work her direct sales business. Honestly, this applies to any endeavor or goal she sets.

Here’s Some Little Stuff You Can Take Off Her Plate:

1. Run an errand for her (getting party supplies, snacks, groceries for the house)

2. Cook for the family occasionally so she doesn’t have to do it.

3. Watch the kids (it’s a good idea to spend time with them and build her confidence in your kid-skills, too)

4. Clean something in the house, or maybe manage the kids as they do chores.

5. Deliver a show for her.

6. Run the kids to their activities.

7. Wash dishes (and put them away)

You see where I’m going here, right? It’s not about the specific thing. It’s about doing what needs to get done so she feels enabled to work her business. Some days she may need one thing done. Some days she may select “All of the above” as her option. What she needs you to do may be totally different from anything I’ve mentioned. Just try to be flexible so you can help battle her demotivates.

Question:

Girls: what little things seem to get in the way of you working your business?

Guys: (Just to make it fun) – What thing do you hope she NEVER asks you to do? What have you seen that really demotivates your wife that you can take off her plate?

DSHH Logo

Guys: whatever your background or work situation, there’s a good chance you’ve learned a lot about “how things work.” Are you in the business world? Run your own business? Do a lot of reading? Whatever the origin, you probably have some knowledge or skillset that can help in direct sales.

I had a conversation with some friends through the direct sales business and we all agreed: when it comes to relationships, couples may not exactly be “opposites” but there is often a big difference in their strengths. That goes for life and business. When you start looking into helping, the first thing you should probably do is ask how she would like you to help. Chances are good that she’s been waiting on you to do just that.

Whatever she says, write that down. Depending on your wife’s style, she may be pretty direct about what she needs or she may be as vague as she can be. She may be a little apprehensive about you getting involved, and that’s ok. If she seems apprehensive or won’t give you concrete direction, then here are a few things to consider:

Take it kind of slow and make sure you aren’t pushy.

A lot of guys are very controlling (but none of them admit it). Be a little introspective and consider how you go about things. Your main job is to be supportive. Not to run her business for her or even tell her what to do. It is her business after all.

Ask her questions about her business and direction.

Maybe she just doesn’t know how you can help or what she needs. Again, this is a point where you need to focus on being supportive. Show her you care and are interested. Start asking questions about her business. How it runs and how she runs it for herself. In medicine we have this little oath we take that features prominently “First, do no harm…” Good advice for anyone.

Be observant.

What areas seem to be struggles for her. Think about how you can help in these areas. Again, don’t run her over, but look at some ways you can help and start conversations with her. One thing I love doing with Holley is problem solving together when she asks for help.

Identify her strengths and yours.

This is probably a good thing to contemplate on your own and then have a good healthy conversation about with your wife. You definitely want to find those areas where your strengths match her weaknesses. If your strengths are the same areas as her strengths, defer to her judgement whenever possible. But definitely maximize both party’s strengths.

Use your ingenuity.

If your area of business experience meshes well with her needs in her business and she’s receptive, then go for it! There’s a good chance you can work together and come up with great ideas that will help her business thrive.

Remember, this is her business.

You WANT it to be her business. Her business being successful is going to promote her self-esteem, and that’s a great thing for any woman. You getting involved in a helpful way will help boost her opinion of you as well, most likely. But this won’t happen if you run over her. It’s only going to happen if you work with her how she needs and she wants. So be cautious. We all know guys who get started with something and then they take it over. That won’t boost her ego or her opinion of you. It’s more likely to be demoralizing. So always make sure you defer to her on decisions. Have positive discussions. Show her that she is your first concern, not your idea. That will help protect your relationship, which is, after all, the most important thing you have going for you.

Question:

Girls: How do you wish your husband would help you with your business?

Guys: How did you (or how do you plan to) dip your toes in the water of helping in her business?

2012 31 National Conference Photo Gallery

Guys,want another reason to go to conference (and why you should encourage your direct sales wife to go)? Here’s all the stuff Holley got just for attending (laid out on my reading chair). She needed me there just to help carry it all.