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!
Part 4 – Orrin Woodward and the Team battle a giant.
“William, where are ya going?” “I’m going to pick a fight!” “Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing!” -from the movie Braveheart
Stunned from the recent news in June, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady were still hopeful that the ownership group of Quixtar and Amway would come to their senses. As the buzz grew and the worry thickened, another ‘Boston Tea Party’ seemed imminent. On August 9, 2007, Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and their legal staff made their last stand at diplomacy. David and Goliath, recreated 3,000 years later, only this showdown takes place in a boardroom in Ada, Michigan. As they stood outside the boardroom, I am sure you could have heard a pin drop. Imagine, theatrically, time slowing down and an intoxicating fog of worry and anticipation filling the corridor. Not a word is said, but thoughts scurry across the front of everyone’s mind “will this approach work?” and a thousand “what if” scenarios preplay through everybody’s mind. Then, imagine a reassuring glance that says, “we said we would do the right thing, no matter what the cost”. “Yup, lets roll”.
They all knew there were only 3 potential outcomes that could happen today (as the wild west shootout music plays in the background of their minds). Outcome #1: There is still time, they could just tuck tail and run. Seriously, both Orrin and Chris had enough money to just wash their hands of this whole mess and walk away from this fight. There is no argument that this option would have simply allowed Amway’s changes to erode their business in the months to come. This option also came with a guaranteed to also destroy the hopes, dreams and livelihoods of the tens of thousands of current Team members. This is what a coward would have done – walk away, or worse, cut a deal. Outcome #2: Maybe the potential resignation of two of Quixtar’s best and brightest leaders would sway the imperial rivalry to change course. Just like in March of 1766, Orrin and Chris must have felt like Ben Franklin in front of the English Parliament, hoping to convince the British Crown that their actions may cause a breach of trust and a possible revolution. Maybe Quixtar would see that Orrin and Chris were using all of the leverage they could muster to come to an amicable solution for all. Unfortunately, just like King George III, the Imperial ownership at Amway was not going to budge, not even for their top marketers. Outcome #3: Orrin and Chris would be forced to sacrifice everything, give their resignation, secede from the union and begin their battle for independence. As history has shown with previous groups who stood up for injustice, this move would surely be followed with threats of litigation and financial ruin for themselves and all of the top leaders who would dare to stand with them. (A minor point of fact: Quixtar staff claims they terminated Orrin and Chris that day; however the fact remains that the notice of resignation letters were handed to Quixtar’s legal staff prior to their announcement of termination. Quixtar later refused to acknowledge this small fact.) This would, just like September of 1768, lead to England sending warships to Boston Harbor to prevent uprising and revolution.
The conference room door opened and the time that seemed so slow just moments ago suddenly lunged everybody forward into a tempest. The corporate titans were not about to be intimidated and, as ego’s ballooned, diplomacy was tossed out the window. The meeting concluded with Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady tendering their resignations. The reply from Quixtar came in the form of a threat and a warning: this is where I imagine a scene from the movie ‘300’ (the famous battle between 300 Spartans and the Persian army in 480 BC) was recreated in the corporate boardroom as Xerxes messenger placed his foot upon the large mahogany conference table across from Orrin and Chris, and threw a string of skulls at Orrin’s feet saying, “Nobody has ever defied us and survived! Look at past rebels – Brig Hart, Ken Stewart, Don Storms, Bo Short, Gerry Betterman, Andy Andrews. None of them survived our wrath of litigation and went on to built another marketing business. Ever!!”
The very next day, as bold as sending warships into a peaceful Boston harbor, Quixtar sends tens of thousands of threatening correspondence, or “ultimatum letters”, to each and every member of Orrin Woodward’s Team organization. These letters demanded the members stop attending all Team events and stop using Team materials to build their network. These letters (and later court documents) showed that Quixtar considered members and their connections to other friends and family members to be private company property. The letters further demanded a written response of allegiance to the current Quixtar (and future Amway) system. If you did not reply within the 2-week deadline, they would automatically terminate the member’s business. Can you imagine being a new person receiving an ultimatum letter like this? Quixtar/Amway certainly does not have to worry about outside forces damaging the company when it seems to be the only company on planet earth that “eats its young”.
The ‘shot heard round the (networking) world’:
Flashback to 1768 – Imagine 2 young fishermen trolling the banks outside of Boston Harbor. Just another day at work, when suddenly, they are caught off guard by the sounds of two large vessels piercing nearby waves. The tall mastheads, ringing warning bells and a well organized crew hustling to ready their ship for port must have been both awe inspiring and frightening to the humble fishermen. As the British Royal Navy began to move their massive ships of war into Boston Harbor, the entire town stopped to wonder why so many ships have arrived? “We couldn’t be under attack by our own sovereign, could we?”
It’s been a couple of days since the meeting between Orrin, Chris and Quixtar brass. The majority of people in the Team organization did not even know that it was even happening. Many of the top leaders were concerned about how the upcoming changes would affect their business, but it has been many days since any communications from Orrin, Chris or any of the top leaders from Team. Complete radio silence (we know now that were immediately served with a court-ordered temporary restraining order (TRO) which forbade them from communicating with their entire Team organization). In fact, the only communication to the Team organization came from Quixtar, in the form of this threatening ultimatum letter. This left everybody wondering and asking “what do we do now?” Call Orrin (no answer). Call Chris (no answer). Call the Team office (no answer). What to do? Fear creeps into the mind. What has happened to the leaders? What will happen to the rest of us? The drama increased with each passing day…
Imagine the average member, sitting at their kitchen table on a sunny Saturday morning. A few months prior, they registered with Quixtar and were excited by the results of build a network with a great group of friends in a teamwork approach taught at their local Team meeting. Now, in one hand, they hold an ultimatum letter from Quixtar. In the other hand, a computer mouse that is scrolling through a fresh blog article from a Quixtar affiliate that reads “Just Go, Team”. This article includes allegations that Quixtar has just terminated its two fastest growing leaders and is happy to see the Team go. Hmmm… It isn’t difficult to imagine, at this very moment, that this member does not have a good feeling about sending a letter swearing allegiance to a company that behaves like this. Whether a member was new or making thousands of dollars in monthly bonuses, the gravity of this point in history weighed heavy on all members.
Stay tuned for Part 5!
Part 3 – Orrin Woodward joins Quixtar board, attempts to ‘clean house’
2005 – 2007
Orrin Woodward was elected to sit on Quixtar’s Independent Business Owner’s (IBO) board of directors. The following year, Chris Brady was elected to serve on the same board. The purpose of the IBO board was to create and maintain synergy between the field marketers and the Quixtar ownership group. These years were filled with tremendous excitement and hope for a bright future. This excitement was based upon the idea that they could have their ideas heard and together forge an amazing future for Quixtar and Team. I imagine that this excitement rivaled the early 1770’s when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned a vineyard and an olive tree plantation in partnership with a British royal, The Earl of Dunmore. As exciting as this must have been to Jefferson and Washington, this partnership was not to last, as bigger problems disrupted their capitalistic synergy. In the later 1770’s, many of the selfish actions by the Earl of Dunmore were quickly turning himself into America’s first villian. Shortly after this, Thomas Jefferson (who was an avid reader of history) penned the “Summary View of the Rights of British America”, which highlighted the idea that if the British King does not act in the best interest of the colonialists, that his jurisdiction shall become null and void (whether he liked it or not).
Fast forward back to 2005, with the failing health of the two original founders (Rich Devos and Jay VanAndel), controlling interest was passed down to the next generation of Devos and VanAndel family members … eventually, a new executive staff was in place and the synergy that was enjoyed for decades was suddenly found wanton. It seemed as if the concept that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in 1774 (A Summary View of the Rights of British America) was starting to be abused once more by a corporate group that did not study or understand true leadership.
Stemming from his career as an Engineer and extensive training in the field of continuous improvement, Orrin Woodward could not sit idle and let problems fester. Both Orrin and Chris agreed that somebody had to stand in the gap and try to help fix the problems that were starting to hurt business growth in the field. It is said that ‘courage’ is not the absence of fear, but action in spite of fear. Wanting to drive continuous improvement for all, Orrin acted courageously and decided to risk the status quo and call out the ‘elephant in the room’. He gracefully drafted an ‘Olive Branch’ letter to one of the new billionaire owners, Doug Devos, pointing out some ways to improve Quixtar for everybody, ownership included. (You can read the full letter at Dan Hawkins blog). The two main points that were highlighted were retail price of Quixtar products in the marketplace and the means by which the company subtly began to take extra profits for themselves. It is curious how human nature and history tend to repeat from time to time in the form of greed and ego. There was a hidden form of taxation without representation happening at the corporate level, and nobody had the guts to go straight to the top to call out the elephant in the room – Nobody, that is, until Orrin Woodward arrived with the support of his loyal friend, Chris Brady. Prior to this, both Orrin and Chris often spoke in terms of principles, just like the founders of our nation, encouraging leaders to “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the cost”. Another historical fact to clear up is this: Just like pre-1770 colonial Americans had no intention of seceding from the British, neither Orrin Woodward nor Chris Brady had and intention of seceding from Quixtar. Ultimately, their hand was forced by an injustice…
After a few half-hearted “peace treaties”, corporate ego dictated the next moves by the second-generation ownership of the Devos and VanAndel families. Without warning or asking approval from the IBO board, Quixtar ownership drops 2 bombs. Bomb #1: They are going to reduce commissions on two products without reducing the cost of these products (the two products that The Team sold the most of). It is almost like taking a page out of history, like Imperial Britian imposing a tax mechanism like the Stamp Act or Townshend Act, then daring the people to defy the crown with ships of war sitting in the Boston harbor… Bomb #2: They are eliminating the parent company, Alticor, and merging the Quixtar Company back into the previously separate corporate entity, Amway. Period. No discussion. No deliberation with the field. It seemed like the attitude from the top was ‘we can do it just because. And if you don’t like it, too bad’.
To this day, nobody in the field really knows why these moves were made. Was it a conscious attempt to destroy their North American business? Sure, there were a few well-spun press releases, but none of it makes any sense considering the tremendous growth of the Team organization all of these years. Was the (second-generation) ownership really that oblivious to the negative marketing effects of the Amway name in North America? Either way, it was ‘their way or the highway’.
Stay tuned for Part 4, this is getting tense!
Earlier in this blog, I published two articles as a rebuttal to an article written back in 2013 by Pastor Dave Marriott of Lakewood Baptist Church. His article about the Life Leadership business and it’s leaders was nothing more than a weak attempt to take one-sided opinions from negative critics and add credibility to their vomit. Jumping on the band-wagon does not turn opinion into truth! Pastor Marriott’s article did nothing more than turn a young, naïve Pastor into a talebearer and sower of the seeds of discord.
Life Leadership’s All Grace Outreach (AGO) program
The reason for this follow up article it that a new video has just been produced that makes Pastor Marriott’s article look even more pathetic. Life Leadership is taking big steps to expand its influence as a marketplace ministry and become a greater force for the cause of Christ. Chris Swanson has been recently welcomed as the new spokesman for the All Grace Outreach (AGO) program – which is at the heart and soul of the Life Leadership mission. Chris has been a devoted and passionate public servant for many years with an impeccable track record. He was promoted to under-sheriff of the Flint, MI police department in 2011. Chris has a passion to make a difference across the world and lead people to truth.
Churches all over the country are losing influence. Biblical truths are being dismissed and ignored all over the world. The fall of Rome will repeat itself in America if we don’t change something! Life Leadership does not have all of the answers, but it is doing more than almost every other organization I know of today. Enjoy the video and support the AGO ministry.
P.S. If you are reading this and you are Pastor Marriott (or a member of Lakewood Baptist Church), please consider removing this old article – it’s making you look bad..
The Truth about Orrin Woodward and Life Leadership
There exist countless facts, testimonials and life-changing stories concerning the positive impact that Orrin and Laurie Woodward have made over the last 15 years to conclude anything other than the fact that they are time-tested leaders of leaders. However, because they have worked very hard to live for truth and justice, they are criticized. Because they work hard to develop people and develop a business system that educates people, they are criticized.
Could you imagine what the world will look like when Orrin Woodward actually accomplishes his first stated goal with Life Leadership: 1 million people reading good books; 1 million people turning off the media and listening to positive messaging; 1 million people striving to improve body, mind and soul? I believe that the world would be a better place. I am excited that there is finally somebody with an eschatology of victory focused on making the world that our children have to grow up in a better place. Orrin’s biggest challenge is that he has yet to create a training system good enough to fix ‘stupid’.
Read what other people are saying about Orrin Woodward:
The shocking part about Orrin Woodward, the man, is that he is not only driven to succeed, but he also desires to do so in the right way, based on principles. Indeed, if something is not based on principles, then Orrin refuses to function in that environment. He is more driven to improve himself daily because he understands the principle of The Law of the Lid: An organization grows to the level of its leader; therefore, Orrin continually attacks his own thinking in an effort to learn and grow. With all of that said, he is human and, therefore, has made mistakes. But his willingness to admit those mistakes and to do what he can to fix them is extremely impressive. In a world where people perpetually blame others, Orrin, instead, accepts responsibility and focuses on improving. It’s hard to not like someone like that. His humility and his faith also separate him from the crowd. In most organizations, the person that created it makes himself the supreme being of that company. Orrin, on the other hand, usually takes a back seat in order to let others lead and receive the glory. His goal is to surround himself with the best leaders, which takes a person who understands where he comes from and possesses a humble spirit that enables him to realize that one person doesn’t have all the answers. On a personal level, Orrin has developed a successful marriage with his wife Laurie and raised four wonderful kids.
I am so proud to be in business with Orrin Woodward for his courage to stand on principle. While many people talk the talk Orrin Woodward walks the walk. The “Amway Drones” accuse Orrin of being only concerned about money; however, as far back as 2005, he volunteered to take a pay cut to fix the business model. What leader that is only concerned about money would do that? Clearly Orrin is more concerned with helping new people win then padding his own pocketbook.
When Orrin chose to confront the powers-that-be, and try to fix the problems, he did so knowing it would jeopardize his respected position at the company. Instead of making millions while other struggled, Orrin risked bankruptcy and spent tens of millions of dollars in order to stand on his convictions. Orrin did not enter this conflict with the intention of starting a new company, or gaining more wealth; rather, he did it because principles he holds dear were at stake; freedom and justice.
I was with him one weekend during probably the hardest part of this fight when he said to me, “If Laurie and I have to sell everything and move back into a trailer, that is what we will do to make this right.”
Does that sound like a money-hungry greedy person, or a person who is willing to sell everything except his principles?
Orrin Woodward’ accomplishments include:
- Orrin Woodward is the co-author of the New York Times, BusinessWeek, and USA Today best-selling book, Launching a Leadership Revolution
- He is an honored alumni of the esteemed Kettering University for his incredible entrepreneurial achievements
- He was ranked #6 in 2011 on the Top-30 Leadership Guru list, alongside other world-class authors and thought leaders such as Stephen Covey and John Maxwell
- He was ranked #20 on the Inc. Magazine Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts, alongside John Maxwell, Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard!
There have been thousands of books published by the leaders in other networks, but how many have made the NY Time best-seller list? Less than can be counted on one hand!
Orrin Woodward is a Leader
In one of the silliest blog postings I’ve ever read about Orrin, someone in public relations from a multi-billion dollar company (Amway Global) actually had the gall to call Orrin a “MIS-Leader”, despite the fact that over 40,000 people followed him out of Amway’s former sister corporation Quixtar. Have you ever heard of a billion dollar plus company singling out an individual to throw tomatoes at before? I certainly haven’t. In my mind, above anything else, this confirms Orrin must be a top leader because one of his billion dollar competitors fears him enough to write an entire blog post in a futile attempt to defame his leadership and character. Perhaps this is the real motivation for the Amway drones continued attempts to knock Orrin – they must be feeling pretty embarrassed, having misjudged the character and resolve of Orrin Woodward. Each time he receives another leadership award or accolade these guys are probably reaching for the towel to wipe the egg off of their faces. Orrin, the so called “MIS-leader” just won one of the most prestigious leadership awards in the country in direct competition with Jack Welch, Tony Robbins, and Jim Collins to name just a few of his peers. Ouch… that one had to hurt.
As Orrin Woodward and Life Leadership continue to grow, they will continue to be a lightning rod for critics. It is simply because they are trying to help people. Period. As a new person doing his or her research, you have to realize this simple truth and then jump on board. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of hurting people to help. Lets get to it!
I recently came across an article written by Dave Marriott, pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church titled, “The Threat of Team and the Life Business: A Warning to Fellow-Shepherds”. As honorable as I think his intentions were, he completely missed the mark. I appreciate what he is doing as a Pastor and a brother in Christ, however his poor lack of judgment only gives ammunition to the enemy that loves to see the Church divided.
After reading this article, I could not help but think of that funny grade-school exercise where person “A” whispers something to person “B”, then person “B” whispers it to person “C” and so on.. When it finally gets to person “Z”, the original message gets distorted so much, that in many cases it is un-recognizable. I think this is what happened to Pastor Marriott in writing this article. He claims that, ”throughout the course of countless talks and adequate research” he has identified perceived dangers (which are just negative opinion from critics). Then, without going to the source for clarification (or Person “A”), he gathers data from what I would call Persons “W,X,Y and Z” and then writes his misguided opinions on the internet for all the world to see. I am very disappointed in Pastor Marriott’s behavior in doing this.
Now I am writing this as a lay Christian, but there is plenty of clear teaching in the scripture to illuminate why Pastor Marriott’s behavior merits correction. Before I attempt to answer his alleged violations, here are three points as to why I am so disappointed and why his article deserves rebuke:
1. Seek facts from the source: the founders of Life Leadership
Matthew 18:15 (ESV) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
If Pastor Marriott thought that a fellow brother in Christ was off track (or a group of believers), why wouldn’t he seek resolution with Persons “A” directly?? For example, he could have contacted Orrin Woodward (Chairman of the Policy Council), or Dan Hawkins (another Policy Council member that lives less than an hour from his church) or any of the other Life Founders? This behavior is not acceptable, especially from a Pastor.
2. Resolve differences and misunderstandings with the source: the founders of Life Leadership
Proverbs 11:13 “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, A lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among the brethren.”
Pastor Marriott chose not to seek facts from the source (NOTE: Third party misguided opinions do not make facts). Next, Pastor Marriott chose not to address his concerns with the source. Finally, Pastor Marriott chose to spread gossip and become a talebearer against fellow believers on the biggest mountaintop he could find – the world wide web. This is a deliberate attempt to sow seeds of discord. There is no argument that justifies this behavior and a Pastor does not have special license to behave this way, especially against other believers.
3. Redeeming the time and working together
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
I would like to recommend to Pastor Marriott, to stay focused on what he has been called to do: to continue faithfully serving his flock and the spiritually sick – not spend precious hours attacking other Christians. We are on the same team. Life Leadership, when properly promoted, is a mighty force for good in this fallen world. Why is it that the Christian faith is the only faith where it finds false justification to shoot its own people?
Now, lets speak to his alleged “5 Dangers with the Team and the Life Business”:
Alleged Claim: “The Team is not Christ-Centered in its Approach to Life”.
Rebuttal: Life Leadership’s founders are definitely Christ centered. Sorry if the wheel diagram threw you off, Pastor Marriott! The founders of Life Leadership certainly agree that only Christ alone can transform a life. Pastor Marriott takes a simple diagram and draws this conclusion? Really? The truth is that the core of Life Leadership is practicing the Apostle Paul’s example of MARKETPLACE MINISTRY (Acts 17:16-34).
Acts 17:17 (NKJV) “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”
The leaders of Life Leadership do not hide out in their churches; they are out in the marketplace regularly. How many other business leaders in positions of influence are engaged in marketplace ministry?? How many should be? How many other companies (outside of Life Leadership and maybe Chick-Fil-A) have a Chairman of the Board regularly share his Christian testimony. How many other businesses host quarterly events where the Gospel is shared to thousands of new people – clearly and without apology?
Just in case you don’t understand marketplace ministry, this is where you meet people where they are at first. You get out of your confortable “Christian circle” and connect with people, finding ways to serve them at their level first.
1Cor 9:22 (NKJV) “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
Pastor Marriott continues this article by writing about spiritual growth assuming that Life Leadership does not share his viewpoint. On the contrary, the leaders agree with Col. 3:4, John 14:6 and Col.2:8 whole heartedly. Life Leadership is not a church, it is not the Holy Spirit and it is not some empty philosophy. Life Leadership is actually connecting earning influence in the lives of lost sinners by first serving them. This may even include people that the Christian Church at large have failed to reach. Contrary to what Pastor Marriott claims, the leaders of Life Leadership are actually trying to fill the Churches on Sunday. Instead of attacking this group of brave men and women, why not encourage them in their works? Monday through Thursday nights at the church may be great times to tend to the needs of existing believers, but the statistics show that there has never been a greater need for brave Christians to engage in Marketplace Ministry (and their role in the church is just as important as the believers that attend mid week church events):
Allow me to share some startling statistics:
- According to a 2013 article by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, “more than 40% of Americans say they go to church weekly. Research actually shows that less than 20% are actually in church.”
- According to the same research, “somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year”.
- According to Steve McSwain in the Huffington Post article titled, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore”, “Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the “religiously unaffiliated””.
Life Leadership’s leaders are engaged in helping to turn the tide and use real leadership and marketplace ministry to ultimately lead people to spiritual truth.
The next attack by Pastor Marriott was because of a guest speaker, Oliver DeMille. Again, Pastor Marriott gets his information from a third-party and twists the facts. Oliver DeMille was NOT invited to this leadership conference to join or lead a prayer meeting. He was invited in to share his political and economic research on the founding fathers of America. He was brought in to share principles about what creates freedom in a country, not his spiritual beliefs.
To summarize Part 1, the core leadership team of Life Leadership are constantly praying for God’s will to be done and they are constantly working hard to be a mighty force for good in this fallen world. I encourage you to go to the next live Life Leadership event and see for yourself.
Stay tuned for Rebuttal, Part 2!
Part 1 – The Heroes of Life Leadership
I love hearing true stories of modern day heroes! At the national level, each of our countries are full of brave men and women in our armed services that have showcased honor, bravery and sacrifice. Again, right in our own communities, there exist countless stories of heroes – from law enforcement to firefighters to nurses and teachers – all performing brave acts and making the world around them better. When it comes to the world of business, there are also heroes out there making real sacrifices in order to help make the world around them a better place.
When I read about the story of this group of business partners that make up Life Leadership, I not only see another modern day hero, but a large group of heroes. After the fury of a great battle passes, the strong gather to tell the stories to the next generation of leaders. Life Leadership has an amazing story so far – full of drama, heartbreak and victory – and this is their story. The journey that these men and women have survived so far has forged an amazing team of core leaders that deserve credit for their bravery, their character and their sacrifice. If you are new to Life Leadership or are doing your research (like any good skeptic should) on these folks, you are in for a treat! They are the ‘real deal’!
The heroes of this story are not only the ones named in the headlines, but also thousands un-named. If you spend any length of time around the seminars and conventions of Life Leadership, you can hear many un-written heroic acts of this brave group of men and women.
That being said, Orrin & Laurie Woodward (and their family) certainly deserve the highest honors in this story, due to their enormous sacrifices when it mattered most to their teammates (financially stunning, emotionally taxing, spiritually testing, and having to endure more back-stabbing from so called “friends” than I care to write about).
If you are looking to join a company and group of leaders who have proven themselves worthy of following, look no further. They know how to dream big. They know how to work hard. They know how to put people first. They know how to learn from history. They know that they must constantly grow personally and professionally. They never run from a fight, when it is noble and right. They seek God’s will and direction for every decision they make. They have a goal to make a difference in over 1 million lives worldwide.
So here is the synopsis so far from Orrin Woodward himself. I will interject my own highlights from time to time. Enjoy the article!
What was the 2007-2010 legal dispute between some of the LIFE leaders, Quixtar and Mona Vie about?
I get asked this question periodically even though the dispute ended in 2010. Still, I believe the highlights from the issue can help a person understand the principles LIFE Leadership is founded upon. Before discussing the details, however, I think it’s important to share that I have no hard feelings for anyone who worked with Quixtar or currently works with Amway. As a matter of fact, I still have friends that work within the company. I believe life is too short to carry grudges and what is past is past. Further, I have heard from several sources that Amway has softened its litigation policy against leaders who want to leave the company. For this, I am thankful. Finally, I learned a ton during my time with Quixtar and have many memorable experiences. In consequence, I have taken the good, flushed the bad, and move ahead with no animosity.
Before LIFE Leadership was launched, Laurie and I, along with some of the other top leaders, worked with a company called Quixtar to build our community (business asset). Quixtar was a North American Internet based multi-level business started by the owners of Amway, but set up as a separate company from it’s parent. This was an important feature to me because I had joined Amway in 1993 when I learned they were developing an Interactive Distribution model to combine high-tech and high-touch. Regretfully, however, by 1998, I realized this was more hype than substance and had not come to fruition. Since I had no interest in building a traditional Amway business, we planned on starting a new venture.
Nevertheless, after hearing Ken McDonald (Quixtar’s first managing-director) share his vision for a new online model, we changed our minds. Since it was a separate from Amway (but backed by the founders funds) and would leverage the fast-growing Internet, we were intrigued. As a result, in 1999, we chose not renew our Amway distributorship and joined Quixtar instead as an IBO (Independent Business Owner).
The online model fit our young and hungry team perfectly. In fact, from 1999 through 2007, Laurie and I led the fastest growing organization within the whole company. We grew from several hundred to over ten thousand people attending events and our sales increased from a couple hundred thousand dollars to over one hundred million dollars! In addition, many other teams sought our training and started growing resulting in nearly another hundred million dollars in volume. Our training organization, in other words, was responsible for nearly $200 million of Quixtar’s total sales.
HIGHLIGHT: IN 8 YEARS, THEIR APPROACH TO BUILDING COMMUNITIES CREATED A TWO-HUNDRED-MILLION-DOLLAR PER YEAR ASSET!!
Unfortunately, the rest of Quixtar was not doing well, mainly because the older, more mature organizations seemed unable to adjust to building an online business. I saw the loss of confidence and numbers firsthand because I was asked to speak (hundreds of times) to Quixtar groups across North America. Dismally, instead of growing into the 100 billion dollar company predicted by Ken McDonald and other top leaders, Quixtar leveled off around a billion dollars even with our team’s meteoric growth. In fact, many of the top leaders lost half their numbers or more as they struggled to marry high-touch communities with the high-tech online environment. Nonetheless, I didn’t realize the precarious nature of the Quixtar business until Ken McDonald abruptly announced his retirement in 2005 despite flying to see me just weeks earlier to discuss future strategies. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement (Ken and I worked well together), but I also respected Quixtar’s right to choose its leadership team.
Curiously, however, Quixtar’s new managing-director was also an Amway vice-president. Although I thought this was strange, I was assured on numerous occasions that the two were still separate corporations and the change in management was merely to help Quixtar increase its sales. As a result, the 2007 announcement that Quixtar was closing its doors and that all its Independent Business Owners (IBOs) would be transitioned into Amway shocked me. This was unacceptable for several reasons. For one thing, I was not in Amway (having purposefully not renewed when Quixtar launched), nor did I want to be in Amway. For another, I had told tens of thousands of people that they were independent business owners affiliated with Quixtar just as the IBO moniker implied. True, Quixtar was owned by the founders of Amway, but they were allegedly separate companies with separate field organizations. Indeed, I must have repeated this message of separate companies a thousand times because that is what Ken McDonald and the rest of the Quixtar’s management team had told all of us. In sum, I had been misled, and thus had inadvertently misled others.
For me, the whole conflict was a moral issue. On one hand, I knew Quixtar (like any company) had the power to break its commitments to its customers, but it didn’t have the power to avoid the subsequent fallout. On the other hand, how could I represent a company to others that I believed had misrepresented itself to me? Indeed, leadership is character in motion and without trust, it’s impossible for any leader to get in motion. Nevertheless, quitting my independent business was not as simple as it sounded since Amway had stated its intention to litigate against any leader attempting to leave the Amway/Quixtar (indeed, hundreds were sued before and after me). Not surprisingly, the legal risk intimidated many other leaders into submission, but it only emboldened our leadership team. For if we stayed with Amway because we feared litigation, then we would be imprisoned into Amway’s Legal Matrix and not truly independent anyway. How, in a word, could we ever recommend others to join us as independent business owners when we knew in our hearts that this was no longer true?
HIGHLIGHT: ORRIN AND HIS BAND OF MIGHTY MEN HAD THE CHARACTER AND COURAGE TO FACE THE PROBLEMS HEAD ON AND DO THE RIGHT THING REGARDLESS OF THE COST. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT ORRIN HAD TO HAVE BEEN VERY FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE FOR YEARS, SO THAT WHEN THE “RAINS CAME”, HE COULD HELP HIS TEAM WEATHER THE STORMS.
Although the easiest thing to do would have been to rejoin Amway, announce my retirement, and slowly watch my groups dissolve, this was morally unconscionable. I also doubted Amway’s antiquated business model could work in the internet savvy North American market regardless of how many millions Amway spent on television advertisements (Amway no longer discloses North American sales volume but it is rumored to have dropped precipitously). How could Laurie and I in good conscience give up our purpose and principles for profit while our community suffered? And yet, I also knew that I would be sued by Amway (a multi-billion dollar international company) if I didn’t agree to their plan. Financially, this was a lose-lose scenario. Neither option, in other words, was without massive risk and challenges, but leaders are paid to make decisions and it was time to make a decision.
Thankfully, I had great leaders like Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Claude Hamilton, George Guzzardo and Bill Lewis (interestingly, I barely knew my good friend and LIFE co-Founder Dan Hawkins at the time), who all believed we should choose character over convenience. Accordingly, I called a meeting to announce my immediate resignation and intention to sit out Quixtar’s six month non-compete period. My plan was to form a new company and build our businesses entirely separate from either Quixtar or Amway. Disastrously, however, instead of accepting my resignation, Amway announced it was “firing” me (how a company can fire an independent business owner is still inexplicable to me). They proceeded to call each of the leaders in our community to demand they choose either Quixtar (soon to be Amway) or staying with me. Of course, the field leaders had no idea what Quixtar was talking about since I had not announced to anyone (except a handful of my top leaders) any plans to start another business.
HIGHLIGHT: JUST LIKE THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF DAVID AND HIS MIGHTY MEN, SO TO DID ORRIN HAVE A GROUP OF MIGHTY MEN SURROUNDING HIM THAT NOT ONLY PROVIDED SUPPORT, BUT A GREAT REASON FOR ALL TO PERSEVERE – TO FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER.
Amway’s management team had no idea the hornet nests they had knocked over. People in our organization were already upset at the name change and now Amway/Quixtar compounded its errors through firing myself and Chris, manufacturing press releases, and issuing business ultimatums. Not surprisingly, Quixtar paid for its hubris. In our organization alone, over 50,000 IBOs resigned rather than switch to Amway. Of course, Amway (true to their promise) initiated multi-million dollar court and arbitration proceedings against me and others. The financial stakes were high since we had already lost our business incomes and now risked bankruptcy. Evidently, the plan appeared to be to sue people into submission.
Consequently, starting our own company was out of the question. It would be foolhardy to attempt when a multi-billion dollar company was seeking to squash us. I didn’t feel that falling on my own sword and hurting the many people who followed me out of Quixtar was the proper plan. Rather, I needed a plan for survival until Amway realized we would not surrender our principles no matter what the consequences. Accordingly, I sought a join another company so I could earn money to help support our growing legal mess (tens of millions of dollars). Of course, I ensured, upfront, that once the legal battles were over, we would be free to start our own business if we still desired to.
Fortunately, I found Dallin Larsen, the 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of Mona Vie. Mona Vie, in 2008, was one of the fastest growing companies in the network marketing. While he benefited from bringing in our large organization (millions of dollars per month in volume), he also had taken a huge risk. In truth, I do not see how we would have survived without working with Mona Vie. As expected, Amway subsequently sued Mona Vie (I commend their persistence) and countless more millions were spent battling the behemoth. Fortunately, Dallin Larsen did not flinch and followed through on everything he committed to despite several years of legal harassment.
Finally, in 2010, a global settlement was reached. After much pain and pressure (the battle had left no one unscathed) the war was over. I believe Amway finally realized the IBOs who resigned were not coming back and we had enough funding to continue the legal battles indefinitely. As a result, the biggest leadership challenge we had ever faced was finally over. Our community was FREE! This was our team’s finest moment. I have never been prouder of any group of leaders for they had survived nearly three years (2007 through 2010) without surrendering. Some even choosing to declare bankruptcy rather than give in to Amway’s legal demands.
In closing, many times during the war I had told the leaders that those who stayed would be champions. It is inspiring to see how many achievers stayed with us to finish the million person mission. These men and women are the one’s who dreamed, the one’s who dared, and the one’s who sacrificed to make LIFE Leadership a reality. Although I have read thousands of books on businesses, I have never found a more inspiring example of a group of common people willing to face uncommon giants. Perhaps the best description of the LIFE Leadership pioneers is the plaque at the Overpass Museum in Carney, Nebraska, “The cowards never started. The weak died on the way. Only the strong survived.” If a person is ready to face his personal Goliath, I know of no stronger community to help him do so than LIFE Leadership.
In summary, the heroes in this story are too many to name. But I assure you they are at every monthly Life seminar across North America (and soon to be around the world) shaking hands, encouraging people and working hard to make a difference. So before you pass judgement on Life Leadership, go and meet them. And be prepared to be amazed…