Joe: Well, thank you very much Jeff, I appreciate it. It’s great to be with you today.
Jeff: I’ve always followed closely what you’re doing at XanGo. You guys have really done an amazing job of continuing to innovate within network marketing. One of the things that I was always very interested in and, I think as I’ve talked to different people who have studied network marketing, you had an unbelievable, unprecedented success when you launched. What do you credit that extraordinary initial success to?
Joe: Well, there’s so many things as you know, Jeff, being a student of the industry yourself, there’s so many elements but if I could touch maybe on a couple to highlight just a few. We have something unique, very unique; a unique story of a botanical. This interesting botanical, Mangosteen that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Used by cultures mostly in south east Asia, throughout Asia, part of ayurvedic medicine in India, it’s even used in central and south America where it grows in those regions as well. And yet nobody had brought it to the world. Crazy. The idea that nobody had brought this thing to the world is amazing.
So we have this unique story, a unique botanical, a powerful botanical so there was an overwhelming feeling that the story had to be told. I believe that is a very unique aspect of our company; how we took that botanical, created a formulation for it, and then branded it.
Branding, I think has been a really, really important part of the growth and the success of XanGo. Not only is it the product, it’s the company, it’s the brand; so our product is named after our company.
I would say focus would be another very important part to the success of the company; to keep the focus on this fruit, to keep the focus on this botanical, to not only have it as an internal benefit but then to have it topically as well so that was very important.
And then, I believe, absolutely key – the leadership in the field. We’ve been blessed to have phenomenal leaders from all around the world as this company has grown and expanded. I am so grateful for those leaders who joined us in the early days, continue to join us, and will be joining us because, as you know Jeff, leaders cause growth. Its leaders that help develop a business and to grow it so I’m so grateful that they had confidence in us in the early days and continue to have confidence in us. So, here we are, still growing because we have phenomenal focus, branding, a unique story that continues to be unique, and phenomenal leaders.
Jeff: Well, there’s no question that network marketing has multiple facets that really make it so a company can succeed. As I’ve met with the different XanGo leaders and the different executives and those in the field, you’re absolutely right, the strength of the Sherman Unkefer’s and the different Bob Schmidt’s that have been through your company have definitely added to your success. Is there anybody that has joined the company recently? You’re not a young company anymore – you’re not new, are you attracting any of the people in the field that you think would be important for people to understand what they’re contributing to your team?
Joe: Well, absolutely. A little over a year ago, a phenomenal legend by the name of Doug Wead joining the company and then as recent as literally a couple weeks ago, Lennon Ledbetter joined the company, an absolute legend as well in the industry and one of the top networkers of all time, seeing the vision, joining this unique company, unique branding story and running full steam with it. It’s exciting. Yes, absolutely.
Jeff: Well, there’s no question that both of gentlemen of whom you spoke have been in network marketing for many, many years. It speaks volumes that a non-startup is attracting people that have had success in other companies. I think we hear of startups constantly trying to attract new people with the idea of a ground floor opportunity, and as I’ve talked to different people, there’re so many problems that occur with a ground floor opportunity. What do you attribute to bringing these leaders in for an established company, why are they becoming attracted to XanGo?
Joe: I believe it’s because of what I talked about earlier, this unique story, this continued focus on not just products but brands; bringing brands to market. And the dreams, the focus on our dreams and continued dreams, and as you know, when you set a dream it’s not just a “someday dream” you have to take action so it’s not just a dream, it is action oriented. I think that leaders see that and they’re attracted to that because that’s what leaders do. And the likes of a Lennon Ledbetter does not just have a dream, he takes action on that dream which helps that dream to come true. It’s a very focused effort on that dream. I think that that’s what attracts one another and why it’s been such a good mix for a lot of these great leaders and its not over, there’s many more to join and all of these leaders say, “If they can make it through five or six years maybe I’ll take a look at that.” Well, here we are, 8 years later, still focused on the dream, still focused on growing a worldwide brand. And now, it is worldwide brands that are coming to market and showing the world that in a network marketing business model you can launch brands not just products. It’s amazing to see these leaders come through the door and it’s just such an honor and as I mentioned before. I feel very blessed and honored that they would choose XanGo to bring their dreams to.
Jeff: Well you’ve talked a lot about brand through out this interview and how it attracts leaders. We can look at companies out there, the traditional companies such as Apple, that have truly built such a tremendous persona with their brands; something that is more valuable probably than all the assets that they have. In the beginning, you innovated so much outside of what other network marketing companies had done. You innovated your brand and image in a climate that had become a little bit stodgy and old with its approach. What are you doing now to innovate?
Joe: Well, I give a lot of the credit to one of my partners, Aaron Garrity, who is brilliant when it comes to branding and brand marketing and also credit to my brother Gord for creating the brand XanGo, the name XanGo. For those who have seen the story and the video for how we came up with that name, it really is accredited to Gord. And so, yes, you’re right, it was very unique and different in the early days but now, how do we continue it? We continue it in multiple ways.
Through, first of all, the relationships that we continue to hold with our distributors, we absolutely love to be with our distributors. I was just in Mexico, I’ll be in the Ukraine over the next several days, my partners are all around the world meeting with distributors as we speak. We love to be face to face with our leaders, love to be with our distributors and to see their dreams; it’s so wonderful. As we’ve all heard throughout this industry, leaders are born at events and to be at one of those events where you meet someone and you shake their hand is wonderful.
You mentioned Bob Schmidt earlier, I remember being with Bob at several events but, at one in particular, he introduced me to someone and said, “This person is going to be a great leader.” Sure enough, go back one year later and there they are standing on the stage as a premier. It’s so exciting, you know, to watch those relationships. I think number one that is a very important part is the relationships that we have with our distributors, the continued relationship.
Number 2, if you’re looking strictly from a brand perspective, we’re involved in our community and I think that’s very important. Here we are inUtah, this is our backyard, we need to give back to the community and you’ll see our name around quite a lot. Strategically though, on a jersey, the Real Salt Lake soccer jersey, we were the first one in the history of US professional sports to have a sponsorship on a jersey. It was a pretty exciting moment for us. We call it a traveling jersey because it goes all around throughout the country and to other countries. You’ll see that jersey playing some teams outside the US and then when you get real high profile like when the team actually won the MLS cup, all around the world, the whole world is watching the XanGo jersey being played and actually winning the MLS cup. So, it’s quite a strategic move, very strategic, a bold move to be the first ones to sign on the dotted line to be sponsorship of a jersey.
We have other involvements as well; we did a professional cycling race, Tour of Utah that just took place. There are so many ways to give back locally but with a worldwide audience. We give to children’s charities all around the world. We feel it’s very important to sponsor children’s charities even in countries that we’re not in.
Jeff: Something you talk about, a global reach, you mentioned some of your recent travels and I know your partners, the other founders, are also traveling. You no longer occupy President, or Vice President, or CEO positions – you brought in Robert Conlee to be your CEO. Does that give you more time to be able to spend in the field; can you give us an insight into why you decided to make that move?
Joe: We made the decision to bring in professional management to run the day to day because it was very difficult. As you know, this is a people business, the words we use in our industry is “belly to belly” to be with people. I like to refer to it as the “human touch” factor. Our business is different, our business is unique that way. Our industry is unique that way and it’s going to be very difficult to say that we’ll be able to shake hands and be a part of every single distributors meetings and lives in some way. That’s going to be difficult when you have millions of distributors throughout the world but we’re sure going to make an effort, Jeff. We’re sure going to make an effort. And we want to but it’s difficult when you‘re traveling and have to be able to still make decisions back at the office. Robert Conlee is a phenomenal leader with decades of experience in this industry, leading corporations throughout the world. Understanding of the business is very key. To be able to have a leader like Robert, to be able to run the business and then his team of leaders to run their respected areas of the company, it allows us to be able to bring the vision to the world of XanGo, to continue to share our vision, our thoughts and feelings about the business and allows us to be more places. As I mentioned, at any given time and on any given weekend or week we’re scattered throughout the globe and it’s very difficult to be able to do that when holding an executive position at the office.
Jeff: Well, that has to be pretty rewarding to be able to spend more time because anybody who has truly succeeded at network marketing understands the importance of being with people. Often times, having been a former executive in network marketing myself, you see that you’re often bogged down by so many of the details, it’s very difficult to do what you truly love. Have you seen quite a bit of reward in getting back with the people and spending time with them?
Joe: Absolutely! With out hesitation. We were somehow juggling it before but now it allows us to give even more time. You know the old saying that the meeting before the meeting or the meeting after the meeting is often more important than the meeting itself. Meaning: it’s more important to sit down and really look someone in the eyes and hear and feel of their passion and their excitement. I can’t tell you how much that means to me to show up at the meeting a little bit early to be able to talk sometimes through translators, in fact often times through translators, to hear of their story. As you know, we’re a story telling business, to hear their story, to feel of their passion, to feel of their spirit and their enthusiasm and their hope it means so much to me and my partners to be able to do that. It allows us to be able to do this more.
The best way I can describe it is when you’re standing there and sometimes it’s a busy room, lot of energy in the room, sometimes there’s music playing, hundreds of people milling around, people excited to see one another, lot of people there for the first time and you can just kind of sense the “what am I here for but I know I’m here, I’m excited”. All the different emotions and knowing and feeling that you’re going to stand on the stage and talk in a few minutes and share to a crowd that they’re coming from all different walks of life, all different backgrounds, with different dreams and different aspirations, and they’re there. We take that very seriously, that moment in time, but you know even with all that energy in the room, even with the music pumping, people talking and loud noises, even still, the best way to describe it is when someone is sitting with you and sharing and almost even bearing their soul about what they’ve gone through in life to get to that point. They’re sharing the hopes or the dreams or maybe their sharing with you what has happened; this is the second meeting or their fifth meeting or whatever it may be but how their life has changed. It’s like time stands still. Like you can’t hear the music or the energy in the room, you just hear that individual and it is such an amazing experience, I love that about this business. Getting a great leader like Robert Conlee coming in and being able to take that charge of leading this company on all the day to day responsibilities, it allows us to have those great moments and allows us to share those moments more.
Jeff: It’s a pretty remarkable position you find yourself in to be able to pursue not only what is best for the company but also to be able to have the fulfillment of being with the people. XanGo has, without question, had the success and its obstacles. What would you say is your biggest current obstacle?
Joe: Everyone looks to have hyper growth and hyper growth is what we all want. I’m right there with everyone else but with that comes an enormous amount of pressure on an organization to be able to keep up. Very few make it, frankly, very few make it.
What comes with that, as a couple examples: just the infrastructure alone being able to keep up with that kind of growth, being able to have the proper people in place and all the proper investments in the right area of the company. The manufacturing is another point to bring up. When you have a new product like a XanGo, a new form that’s never been brought to market, it adds a certain element of challenges to the manufacturing side that takes years and years to perfect and so I’d say that’s been the biggest challenge. In probably the first five years alone, we probably moved our offices 4 or 5 times. Now try that. At one point we had multiple offices while building our current offices. Maybe we made it look to easy but that’s really taxing on an organization. We’ve really self funded this thing as time has gone on. It has also been a challenge to be the ones to really make this all happen and try to be in the field and be at as many events as possible. Good problem to have but challenging nonetheless. Now that that’s all behind us, there’s just growth to happen and we’re ready for it.
Jeff: Final question I’d have for you: what is your vision? You talk about the obstacles that you’ve had. You’ve been able to create an infrastructure to be able to support that growth. What vision do you have for the future of XanGo?
Joe: My partner Aaron Garrity said it really well recently when we were talking about this. I’ve followed the industry over the decades, and boy it’s been around for over a century now. Some really amazing leaders and companies have developed over the past century. We launched in 2002, so this last century was the century for all those great, wonderful and different companies that built the industry. But this century, this century is XanGo Century. Aaron mentioned that and I believe he’s right. We are poised to own this century, it’s a pretty exciting thought. So, buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be an amazing ride.
Jeff: I appreciate you taking the time with us today, we’re always appreciative of the time the executives take and I wish you luck and thank you so much for sharing with me.
Joe: Thanks a lot Jeff, have a great day!