My introduction to direct sales took place when my kids were young. We were invited to the home of a new neighbour for coffee and a play date. As it happened, the woman was an Amway sales rep who not only served me Amway coffee in an Amway mug with Amway biscuits, but proceeded to pull countless products out of her cupboards to demonstrate that her family used Amway products as exclusively as possible. Brochures and order forms were conveniently left on the table, just in case I should be moved to buy, buy, buy while I was sipping my brew. The crowning glory was cut-out magazine pictures of a gracious home with pool, an SUV, a sports car and a couple frolicking on a tropical beach, all nicely taped to the refrigerator door. This was a motivating technique prescribed by her employer, she explained, to encourage them to keep their goals in mind and sell, sell, sell. It was a thoroughly distasteful experience and the only time I set foot in that home.
My second experience was equally disappointing. Still relatively new in the fitness industry, I accepted an invitation to a “wine and cheese social”, hosted by a colleague for the professional fitness staff of a health club. The invitation made no mention of direct sales products. Thinking it a lovely idea to promote collegiality, I accepted with pleasure. There was wine and cheese. There was also a video on Shaklee products, brochures, samples of supplements and a long dissertation from our hostess about the health benefits of using Shaklee nutritional supplements and weight-loss products. The guests were invited, not only as potential buyers, but as potential sales recruits who would sign on to market these products in our classes. Nobody bought anything and everyone went home thoroughly disgruntled.
Tactics like these are one of the things that give direct sales and multi-level marketing (MLM) companies a bad name. Major and highly-publicized class action suits against some MLM giants have not helped to instill confidence in the buying public. Although the terms MLM and Pyramid Scheme are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. The first is legal, for one thing, and the second is not. The defining line is how the money is made. If a representative makes money selling a product or service and also recruits other representatives for added income, it is an MLM. If the primary source of revenue is through recruiting new representatives with no tangible product or service being sold, it is a Pyramid Scheme.
Many MLM companies have been around for a long time and report staggering revenues. Amway is the largest, founded in 1959. Selling health, beauty and home products, the company reported sales of $8.6 billion in 2017. Avon has existed even longer, registered in the 1930’s to sell “perfumes, toilet waters, powder and rouge compacts, lipsticks and other toiletry products”. Also in the top 10 are such familiar names as Herbalife, Mary Kay and Tupperware.
The advent of social media has vastly increased the presence of MLM’s in our lives. No longer reliant on door-to-door sales, selling “parties” and glossy printed catalogues, these companies flourish in today’s technological world. The products they sell are not available in any bricks-and-mortar outlet, and they rely on their distributors to grow a committed network of repeat customers. MLM’s provide training, marketing support and networking events for their salespeople, creating an exclusive club atmosphere.
The vast majority of MLM’s cater to women. Health, nutrition and weight-loss supplements are huge, as are cosmetics, essential oils, beauty and anti-aging products. Home decor, household maintenance, jewellery and clothing are popular lines, as are kitchen items like Tupperware and Pampered Chef. Primerica is a successful MLM offering insurance and financial services.
Epicure is the largest direct sales company in Canada, offering clean eating programs, cookware, dry mixes and herb/spice blends. “Great part-time job! Epicure is a great company with fantastic morals and guidelines,” reads a five-star consultant review. “They strive to help consultants reach their individual goals. Epicure allows you to work to make the income you desire if you put in the effort to build a team.”
Not only do women make up the majority of MLM clients, but published reports say that 75% of direct sales consultants world-wide are women. This number is much higher in North America.
So what’s the appeal? Why would someone want to sell products similar to products being sold, not only by other MLM’s, but often by local stores as well? Considering that the price point is often higher than that in your local shop, and that purchasers also have to pay shipping costs, does it make sense?
It does. “The best part about direct sales is that you get to connect with other women, share a product you're passionate about, and you can work from home within hours that you set,” says the Work At Home Woman website. “Direct selling offers a lot of flexibility, so it can be an excellent growth opportunity for outgoing moms, especially if you have a large social network.”
Start-up costs for many MLM’s are nominal, and distributors often benefit with reward packages for free products as soon as they begin selling. Whether envisioned as a part-time undertaking for a little extra income or a full-fledged effort to build a fortune, there is money to be made for the person with the right personality, attitude and commitment.
Some MLM’s cultivate an evangelical philosophy that many find disturbing, but it’s all part of the recipe to inspire the required attitude and commitment in their distributors. Passionate belief in the validity and superiority of the products being sold is an essential ingredient for success, and most MLM consultants are true believers, developing their faith through their own use of the products they sell.
If you think that launching a home-based multi-level marketing business might work for you, you may be right. It can allow you to work from home, manage your time, establish an income, build a team and become part of an exclusive networking group that will look after your training, marketing and development. Just do your research. In the immortal words of the old knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones, “choose wisely”.
Luanne Donahoe signed up for an online creative writing course at George Brown College out of interest and in search of a little personal development. She enjoyed it so much that she completed the entire curriculum and graduated with a Creative Writing certificate.
She published her first novel, Just Their Luck, in 2015. One of the short stories she’d penned for her courses was embedded somewhere smack in the middle. She navigated some unfamiliar territory as her new book rolled out to the market. She published through British Columbia’s First Choice Publishers in both ebook and paperbook form. Amazon.ca will not host a book until it has been accepted by a bookstore, so she was delighted when several bookshops in the U.K. pounced on her first novel. Luanne’s genre of light-hearted female comedy is much beloved across the pond. This door-opener led to an online presence and a contract with Chapters, complete with book signings in Belleville, Peterborough, Ajax and Oshawa.
“They went very well,” she says. “I was told that they went better than most.” She loves meeting people and ended up having enjoyable in-store adventures with new friends at several events.
Her second novel, Her Flawsome Life, will be released shortly. She will once again be hosting book signings at Chapters stores, including Ottawa and Gatineau in the tour this time.
“I love writing,” she smiles. “I do it for me. I let the story write itself and go with the flow. I carry on when it resonates with me.”
Luanne fills her days with more than writing. She works at Antonia’s Bistro as a server. “I love working for and with them,” she says. “And I love the customers.”
Her background was rather different, with most of her working years spent as an Executive Assistant. She performed this role at the Rouge Valley Centenary and Markham-Stouffville Hospitals and loved it.
"I agree with Warren Buffett’s philosophy,” she laughs. “Go for the job that you’d go for if you didn’t need a job.”
Since arriving in Trent Hills almost five years ago, Luanne has had a strong commitment to The Aron Theatre. Initially a volunteer movie host, she served on the Marketing Committee, Youth Committee, joined the Board of Directors and eventually became the President in 2018. Her son Josh, now 21, works at The Aron as Assistant Manager. He recently designed the theatre’s new website.
Luanne and Josh only knew a few people when they moved to Campbellford from Stouffville, a serendipitous decision sparked by a realtor friend in Belleville. The road had not been easy. Their son was nine when Luanne lost her husband, a Fire Fighter, at the age of 51. She radiates a deep compassion for young widows and single moms, reaching out to them whenever she can to offer her understanding and support.
She is happy with her life here and motivated by the possibilities that lay on the road ahead. The tragic and untimely loss of her husband is forever woven into the fabric of the woman she has become, as is the strength she developed to survive and raise her son without him. Luanne has thrived through developing her passions, achieving her dreams and building a strong connection with the community she now calls her home.
The movement to empower women and to celebrate their achievements is growing. Peterborough photographer Heather Doughty launched Inspire: The Women’s Portrait Project in early 2018. Her goal is to recognize women in communities across Canada with a professional photo and a brief 300-word story or statement written by the woman being featured.
“INSPIRE is a photographic celebration of the amazing women in Canadian communities who empower, inspire, uplift and support those around them. It is a completely organic, community-driven selection of diverse women all across Canada,” the website explains. The women featured in Inspire have all been nominated for the honour by members of their communities.
The project launched in Heather’s home town of Peterborough and currently features 75 local women of all ages and backgrounds. “I have a vision,” she says. “I want to visit amazing communities all across Canada, meeting the inspirational women that call these places home, hear their stories and celebrate them in the Inspire project.”
The nomination of local photographer and community ambassador Montse Alvarado led to a collaboration between Inspire and Forte to spearhead the nomination process in Trent Hills. A number of deserving women have been nominated in the first round, 15 so far, and photo shoots are being booked for March. There will be another round of nominations before Inspire moves on to its next destination, Cobourg, in the spring. Forte has been instrumental in this as well, by connecting Heather with Thelma Dillon, founder of the Northumberland Multicultural Dance Troupe, to expand the project throughout the county.
Heather is backed by a team of three, including certified makeup artist Selena K. Wilson and freelance writer Paula Cassidy, who pens “Kitchen Table Talks”, blogs intended to uplift and inspire.
“The project began as a very simple idea,” she says. “Over the course of a year, I wanted to create a series of portraits of some of the remarkable women in this community and perhaps celebrate these women with an end of project gala that could be a charity fund-raiser. I am completely floored by the reception to the Inspire Project; the nominees have embraced this little idea with so much enthusiasm and support that my little idea has grown into a wonderful celebration of women who deserve this wonderful recognition.”
Our inspiring Trent Hills women are honoured to support this project and be a part of it!
Inspire: The Women's Portrait Project
Inspire on Facebook
Forte story, Montse Alvarado
Forte story, Thelma Dillon
Have you ever read the story of Candide? Published by Voltaire in 1759, the satire spins the tale of an optimistic young man who embarks on his life’s journey believing his teacher’s philosophy that everything in life happens for the best. His faith gradually erodes as he and his companions endure an endless wave of horrendous catastrophes until he finally decides that he can no longer rationalize the tenets of his learning with the realities of life.
Today, when we’re steadily besieged with social media messages to think positive, we can still find some truth in the tale of Candide. Not to say that there isn’t a lot of merit in positive thinking. We should definitely try to find joy in the small things, be grateful for what we have and share our positivity with others whenever possible. To be stoic in the face of adversity is no small achievement.
The reality is, though, our negative emotions are important. They are the very things that kept the human race alert and alive in earlier times. Fear, doubt, discontent, anger, shame and sorrow are authentic emotions and we shouldn’t be striving to suppress them for fear of compromising our own happiness or that of others.
How often have you seen one of those memes that says, “I don’t want much. I just want to be happy.”
Being happy isn’t “much”? What nonsense. Being happy is huge. Enormous. Happiness is a wonderful emotion. Of course we’d love to have it all the time, but is chronic happiness a realistic goal?
Psychology tells us that our brains process positive and negative emotions differently. Positive emotions inspire us toward a goal, negative ones inspire avoidance. In order to experience overall life satisfaction, positive emotions like contentment, joy, love, pride and accomplishment need to outweigh the negative feelings which motivate us to protect ourselves. The theory goes that we need a lot of positive vibes to overcome the stronger impact of negative emotions. Some accounts even suggest that a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative is a break-even.
Well, that makes sense. Aristotle used the term “eudemonia” to signify the contented state of being healthy and happy. Other readings indicate that “flourishing and prosperous” may be a better translation. Either way, yes please. We want that. We’re not greedy, you understand. We don’t want it ALL THE TIME, just most of the time, so our sum total of positivity puts us comfortably on the “satisfied” rather than the “miserable” scale.
Putting aside the fact that “eudemonia” rather sounds like a disease, how do we achieve it? Science tells us that genetics play a huge part in our happiness quotient. We are by nature either optimists or pessimists, and that raw material is responsible for 50% of our emotional state. Within that basic infrastructure, we are all subject to varying degrees of what is called “trait neuroticism”. Those with high TN are more sensitive to stress, experience it more often and more intensely, and take longer to recover than their low TN counterparts.
What all that means is that we’re not on a level playing field. Some of us have a significant head start when it comes to chasing that bluebird of happiness.
The remaining 50% of our emotional state is divided between 10% circumstances and 40% attitude. Circumstances are only 10%? How can that be? The theory is that, being the resilient creatures we are, we adapt to our circumstances over time so they don’t have the huge impact on our happiness that we might expect. This is clearly untrue in the case of extreme circumstances, severe illness or bankruptcy for example, but let’s concede that it might be in range when it comes to the day-to-day stuff. We are, therefore, left holding the bag for 40% of our own happiness and eudemonia.
Let’s revisit Aristotle for a moment. Eudemonia is “healthy and happy” or “flourishing and prosperous”. Is Healthy an attitude? Flourishing? Prosperous? Nope. Those are in the 10% circumstances category. Aristotle lived a long time ago in a different world, but he was all about goals. He offered that the purpose of human life is to achieve the end goal, and the end goal is living a good life. One does that by acquiring all the things one needs to flourish and prosper, namely physical, intellectual and moral. One needs luck to do that, and health. In Aristotle’s world, one also needed to be a male of a certain social class to live a good life. Women, children, persons of low standing, servants and slaves were property and therefore unable to acquire the necessary virtues.
So, throwing all these wise words from scientists and psychologists and philosophers into a blender, let’s give it a whirl. This is what they’re telling us.
It all comes down to that 40% attitude. Attitude doesn’t just mean the way you respond to what happens. It doesn't mean always accepting what befalls you with grace, nor stopping to breathe and smell the roses. It means having a goal and working towards it. It means nourishing your physical body, your mind and your soul. While you’re doing that, you need to find joy in all that wonderful nourishment, because you need enough of it to outweigh the negative feelings that you also need to have.
Those ancestral human feelings deserve respect. They teach and strengthen you, and they might lead you further down the road to the good life. If, from time to time, you feel the need to wallow in negative emotion, then you should by all means do it. Take a break from being strong, be real and be human, and then come back stronger. Just don’t stay down too long.
What, you may ask, became of Candide? He and a tribe of friends withdrew from society and moved to the country, turning away from the “all is for the best” philosophy of the time. They cultivated gardens and busied themselves with work to build a community. They were happy.
For the past decade, Campbellford resident Karen Stille has dreamed of offering a service to connect local producers with consumers easily and affordably. Now that her children are older, the final pieces of the Homegrown Hamper jigsaw puzzle are being put into place and she is beyond excited at the response she’s received so far from the public, and from the growers and artisans she’s contacted.
Her first step was to conduct a consumer survey to ensure that there was a community need for the proposed service. Response was overwhelmingly positive with 95% of respondents confirming a desire to support local producers and feel more connected to them. Karen has been meeting with local producers over the past few weeks. “I’m so encouraged by the collective enthusiasm for the project!” she says. She’s currently at work developing the Homegrown Hamper website with the goal of having an online catalogue up and running by April 1st. The first deliveries are tentatively planned for mid-April.
The basic premise is that farm-fresh food, flowers, organic skin care products and unique handcrafted items will be compiled by order and made available for pick-up or delivery within a 25-km radius of Campbellford. This includes Stirling, Marmora, Havelock, Norwood, Hastings, Warkworth and Codrington. Consumers will be able to place their hamper orders online at the same prices one would pay at a market or farm gate with the addition of a $5 shopping fee. Orders can be picked up at the Church Key Brewery and/or The Church Key Pub and Grindhouse in Campbellford, or delivered door to door for an additional fee.
Karen plans to start with monthly hamper deliveries for April and May, but hopes to increase to every other week during the summer months.
Although it’s still under construction, the Homegrown Hamper website offers a sneak peak at some of the products that will be available to fill your hamper come spring. Choices so far include salad greens, seasonal fruits and veggies, cheese, pastured meats, fresh sausages, herbal teas, salsa and sauces, craft beer and cider, honey, maple syrup, jams and preserves, specialty cakes and chocolates as well as natural soaps and body products. One-stop shopping at its freshest and most convenient!
Let’s face it, February is not a favourite month for many of us. With the fun and sparkle of December long gone, winter looms large and can play havoc with our well-being. By the time the shortest month of the year rolls around, the novelty of the winter wonderland vista has rather worn off, and we’re tired of shovelling the white stuff.
We’re fed up with being sidelined from events we’d wanted to attend because our roads are covered with ice. We’re sick of “walking like a penguin” to avoid falling and we’re beyond done with the outerwear routine that calls for coats, hats, scarves, mitts and boots every time we leave the house. Mid-winter is also prime season for sickness. Coughs, colds and flu bugs knock us down like dominos at every turn. As if all of that isn’t enough, we’re also more prone to musculoskeletal injuries in the winter because our muscles and connective tissues have less elasticity in the cold than they do in warmer climes, at least until they're thoroughly warmed up.
The lengthening days do offer a glimmer of hope, but we know that we still have to get through March and, if this year is anything like the last couple of years, possibly much of April as well before we can inhale the first wafts of spring.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, oh so aptly acronymed SAD, was first identified as a mental health condition in the 1980’s. There are numerous scientific theories for it, ranging from light deprivation to hormonal changes. It is known that women are eight times more likely than men to suffer from SAD, and that it is generally at its most intense during mid-life and beyond. The condition is defined as a form of clinical depression which occurs for an extended period in two or more consecutive winters in an individual who does not otherwise suffer from depression.
SAD can have a major impact on our psyche since it’s more than a simple case of the “winter blues”. Many of the symptoms work together to create an oppressive climate of lethargy. Depression, anxiety, fatique, excessive sleep, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social activities and appetite disruptions hardly inspire a quality lifestyle. Although SAD can also lead to nausea and loss of appetite, overeating is a more common phenomena, particularly with cravings for the refined foods you may generally avoid like processed carbs and sweet or salty snacks. These indulgences can lead to weight gain which exacerbates the problem.
Light therapy is the most often recommended remedy for the condition and it brings relief to many sufferers. Lamps or light boxes specifically created for SAD mimic natural light and stimulate the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin to improve mood and sleep. Recommended light sources should be UV-filtered. Severe cases, particularly those in which self-harm or thoughts of suicide occur, may require psychotherapy or anti-depressant medication. If you or someone you care about is suffering from SAD, please reach out and get some help. Talk to your doctor.
If, on the other hand, you are struggling mightily with the February blahs and don’t feel that your condition warrants medical help, there are a few things you can do to try to keep your life on track until winter comes to its long-awaited end. Even without a clinical SAD diagnosis, you may be experiencing depression, excessive sleep or insomnia, lack of motivation and eating disruptions.
Choose a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats. Make sure you maintain an exercise routine. When weather permits, get outside for a little sunshine or soak up those rays in a comfy chair by your window. Practice self-care. Create something. Spend some quality time with your family and friends, and get out there in the community as often as you can for some social interaction.
Most of all, remember:
Spring will come!
Hang in there!
The concept that creative ideas are floating about in the universe just waiting to find a home in someone’s mind was first shared with me many years ago by a good friend. Her dad had been a follower of the “sleeping prophet”, Edgar Cayce, and she learned this philosophy at his knee as a child.
At the time, I thought it was pretty out there. So you’re saying to me that Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone? That the concept was floating in the airwaves and could have been received by anyone tuned in to its frequency?
I’ve heard the theory repeated many times over the years, most recently in a recorded speech by WomanSpeak founder KC Baker who took it one step further. Many other people may have already received the idea and implemented their interpretation of it. That is not important. There are people out there, she said, that can only receive the message from you. Why? Wavelengths again. You are tuned in to each other at the right place at the right time.
What a cool concept this is. I would add that your individual perspective on “your” idea will expand it, and you, in ways that are fresh and exciting regardless of who has gone before.
It is interesting to see the flood of women in publications and on social media. The idea to celebrate women and their achievements is a tidal wave. Women are founding businesses everywhere, many offering empowerment through healing, spirituality, fitness, rapport. The circle is back in society, my friends, and it is growing.