Part 5 – Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady, Social Capital and the Test of True Friendships
“We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother..” – William Shakespeare from King Henry V
True leadership only shines in difficult times. There are many points in history where only a strong leader who is unwavering in their principles will be followed. To a non-leader, this type of leader is, at best an anomaly and at worsts a pariah. George Washington was chosen to lead the Revolutionary War and the Presidency not because of how tall he was, how wealthy he was nor where he went to school. He was chosen to lead because he was a man of iron principle, integrity and honor. This type of person attracts and builds something called social capital.
When the Quixtar letters were sent out, I can only imagine that the owners and legal staff concluded that they had financial capital to use as leverage to force members to capitulate to their demands. I imagine that Quixtar staff and legal council suggesting “nobody would dare give up their income and their entire business that they worked so hard for, just to follow Orrin and Chris into the unknown!” The rule in the Quixtar Member Contract was that you could not join another networking company for 6 months – so who would be crazy enough to give up their income and potentially start from scratch after 6 months? This is were Quixtar brass missed it – they were all about to witness the true power of social capital. Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady followed the judges TRO completely (phones and computers were seized for discovery by the lawyers, and proved in court there were no traces of down-line communication whatsoever). Not even the lawyers could understand why, in the days and weeks that followed, an avalanche of resignation letters were submitted to Quixtar. What began as a few member resignations led to dozens, which led to hundreds, which led to many thousands of resignations sent in to Quixtar. It was estimated that, within 60 days, Quixtar had managed to scare away almost $200 million in annual market share and an incalculable amount of potential growth revenue in years to come (full article reference here).
It was argued over and over, “They had to have communicated somehow!” Nope. The fact remains that Orrin and Chris did no such thing. To the mass of Team members who were in the dark, two facts were all that were needed. Fact #1: ‘Orrin and Chris were no longer a part of the Quixtar business.’ Fact #2: ‘Orrin and Chris were (and still are today) men of iron principle and integrity who have served a group of men and women for over a decade. As a result, they have earned a tremendous amount of social capital.’ This is all that was needed for the first wave of Team members to logically conclude that, “if Orrin and Chris are no longer in Quixtar, then I don’t want to be either.” This first wave of resignations to Quixtar was not a blind leap by mindless drones. This was social capital in its finest form. Through deductive reasoning, members could discern the facts concerning the status of Orrin and Chris at that time: (1) they are no longer with Quixtar, (2) they have always had a vision serve a million person team, (3) they have a track record of good character, integrity and service to others, (4) they have always adapted in adversity. Therefore a leader could conclude that there must be another ‘mountain top’ on the other side of this impending ‘valley’. The first wave of resignations led to an exponentially bigger second wave following the same explanation of social capital at other levels within the Team organization. Wave after wave of resignation letters crashed the membership department at Quixtar. Just like a scene out of the stock trading floor in Wall Street when there is panic in the trading markets, I imaging Quixtar staff frantically yelling and scrambling for answers to why, oh why, in a matter of 3 months, did they lose tens of thousands of distributors and a $200 million per year portion of their North American business… The answer is clear looking backwards: Social capital trumped financial capital.
The phenomenon of social capital can only be understood by studying those rare events in history: the Biblical account of David and his Mighty Men, the Greek history of Achilles and his Myrmidons, the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the WWII paratroopers of Easy Company portrayed in the movie series Band of Brothers (to name a few examples). It is something that is built and earned over time by adhering to the laws of leadership. Period. In addition, those who don’t have social capital have a very difficult time understanding those who do. Case and point: Quixtar’s next move.
The battle is about to begin – stay tuned for Part 6!