Friday, October 30, 2009

Nutritional Support for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration (MD) is a leading cause of blindness among adults, especially those of European heritage. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that nutritional supplementation may be effective in reducing the onset of advanced symptoms by as much as 25%. The study noted that while there was no evidence that supplements helped to prevent MD in otherwise healthy people, those with intermediate age-related macular degeneration or advanced age-related macular degeneration in one eye should consider taking a daily supplement regimen consisting of 15mg beta-carotene, 500mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 80mg zinc and 2mg copper. The supplement program appeared to be successful in preventing the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration in the test group by 25%.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Links Worth Clicking

I thought I would post a few interesting links today on various related subjects.

Its often a challenge finding good produce. Either its waxed and sprayed to the point that it looks almost plastic, or else it wilts and rots by the time you get it out to your car. For those of you who would like truly fresh food and want to support local producers, check out Local Harvest. Its a great directory of farmers markets and family farms, and stores, co-ops and eateries that buy from them.

In 1998, prescription drugs killed 106,000 Americans and the number of deaths has been growing alarmingly since then. Here's a handy site where you can quickly and easily identify many prescription medications by shape, color or marking: From there you can read about the purpose of the drig, appropriate indications, side-effects and drug interaction cautions. If you must take prescription medication, be a smart consumer. Your life may depend on it.

Finally, lest we forget, our home-based network marketing ventures are real entrepreneurial ventures. And we need to treat them that way. Here is a link to a library of guides and articles from the Harvard Business School that will be of interest to entrepreneurs like you: .

Monday, October 26, 2009

Is Network Marketing Right for You?

Nicole Woolsey Biggart is the former Dean of the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, and is an expert in "social network" industries. She recently wrote an article for the Bottom Line Personal newsletter in which she shared some interesting statistics on the network marketing industry and offered some advice to anyone considering getting seriously involved in it. Remember, the following applies to the network marketing/direct selling industry overall. Any individual company may experience very different results. Caveat emptor.

According to the Direct Selling Association (DSA) the current economic downturn is driving sharp increases in the number of people starting network marketing businesses. At the same time, product sales by network marketing companies have been declining - $28B in 2008, down from a peak of $32D in 2006. There are 15 million Americans working in direct sales at any given time. Commissions paid on product sales typically range from 25% to 50%, with an additional 3% to 5% paid on sales from "downline" distributors you have recruited. After expenses (gas for your car is a big one), the typical distributor ends up earning about $10 to $15 an hour. A large majority (90%+) work only part time and earn a median wage of about $2,500 a year. Those who do forge a full time career, working 40 hours a week or more, can earn $30,000 and up annually. Once again, remember, these are only averages. People do make 6 figure incomes in direct selling, but typically this requires years of work building a large downline organization.

Dr. Biggart offers the following advice for anyone considering joining a network marketing organization.

  1. Know Thyself. At the end of the day, network marketing is a sales job. Is this something that suits your personality? Do you have the motivation and self-discipline to succeed?
  2. Love the Product. It's next to impossible to sell anyone a product that you do not like, believe in and use yourself.
  3. Due Diligence. You can't know too much about a company you are thinking about working with. Research them on the web. Talk to veteran distributors. Investigate them through the Better Business Bureau or your Chamber of Commerce.
  4. Target Market. Be sure the company has a payment structure based principally on product sales to end-user consumers, not recruiting and selling to distributors.
  5. DSA Membership. Companies must qualify for DSA membership, they cannot simply join. Members must subscribe to the DSA's Code of Ethics, submit to an audit and operate according to at least a minimal set of standard practices.
Network marketing can offer an incredible financial opportunity, a work from home lifestyle and unmatched control over your own time. But the industry is certainly not without its disreputable players. Be sure to do your homework.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Feel Better or your Money Back?

Not exactly. But if you are following Washington's "healthcare reform debate" at all you can be forgiven if the whole thing sounds more like "health insurance expansion". Proposals for, or even discussion of, actual changes to our broken healthcare delivery SYSTEM are more scarce than modesty at the Academy Awards. How about some innovation in the actual provision of medical services?

Here's an interesting idea from a PricewaterhouseCoopers study reported in the Colorado Springs Business Journal. What if instead of paying for how many different procedures a doctor ordered, we paid instead for the outcome? The RESULT of their treatment. Is it practical? Would it lower healthcare costs while maintaining or improving quality? I don't know, but it seems to me that simply adding more and more people to our unsupportably expensive system surely wont.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No Sell Selling

I may as well admit it. I hate salespeople. I hate being sold. I don't enjoy selling. Unsurprisingly, I have never been very good at it. Over the years I have had a lot of "sales training": Miller-Heiman, Sandler, coaches and consultants and classic selling books. I've learned all about "win-win" and relationship selling. None of it did much good. I still hate it. So I am more surprised than anyone to find myself involved (enthusiastically so) in a network marketing venture that is, however you look at it, a sales job.

I don't think I am the only one with this aversion to all things sales. Certainly there are plenty of people who both enjoy and excel at selling. But I think there are far more who find the whole thing just uncomfortable and distasteful. I understand and believe that "nothing happens until somebody sells something", that good salespeople are all about building social networks and long term relationships, and products and services have no value if they aren't ever sold. So what is it about selling that people dislike so much?

Most of what I hate about Sales comes down to this:

  • I don't care for the feeling of being pounced upon, whether that be walking into a store or picking up my phone. 
  • I don't like "spewing", wherein a salesperson launches into a carefully rehearsed routine designed to overcome my resistance without making the slightest effort to know me or my interests and needs.
  • I don't like to feel tricked into buying something I don't need, or "upsold" to a model full of features I will never use. Nor do I want to trick anyone else into making a purchase either.
  • The whole process often feels like a contest between the salesperson and me, one in which he is quite skilled and I am ill prepared to compete.
So is there really such a thing as No Sell Selling (NSS)? I think maybe there is. And I think it probably involves each of the following:

  • Integrity. You not only have to have it, you must project it. If the most important thing to you is closing that sale, then its not NSS. People want to trust the person they buy from, and trust is earned by performance.
  • Belief. You must absolutely and totally believe in the product you are selling, understand who will truly benefit from having it (and who will not) and, ideally, use it yourself.
  • Attitude. You must regard the process of selling as matchmaking. Of making a good match between your product and your customer. This means you must listen to and understand their needs (and wants). Success is not a sale. It is a good match. One that makes the buyer want to rush out and tell everyone he knows about it.
I am slowly beginning to appreciate and apply this to myself and my business. I sell nutritional programs that have produced real, measurable results for me and others. There are very few things that people care about more than their own physical health, so skepticism can run high. Couple that with it being a network marketing company and the wall of doubt can be thick and high. The temptation to try to overcome a prospects doubts with "selling techniques" can be pretty strong. And if that is what is required then I probably am doomed to fail.

Instead I am trying to learn to use NSS. I don't set out to "make a sale" but rather to share information that a prospect can use to make a good decision.  I listen to the prospect's interests and needs and only then talk about how (and whether) the products I can offer meet them. I share the results that I and others have gotten from the products. And I try, sincerely, to help people decided for themselves what to do and then support their choice. If I do it right, then I end up feeling like I just shared the discovery of a great new restaurant with a friend. That I can do. That's No Sell Selling.