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!
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!
Before you believe everything you read about the “Climb to the Top” article by Forbes online, make sure you check their facts. Beginning with their opening statements, the authors showcase their ignorance about the networking industry and made it clear that the goal was to publish a twisted version of the truth resembling propaganda at great risk of being libel. Since 2008 (when the original article was written) Orrin Woodward has been busy using “inter-sectional innovation” to create a brilliant business model known as Life Leadership. Check out clips from these 4 rebuttal articles to Forbes:
At the time of the article, Orrin Woodward was in a major legal dispute with Amway/Quixtar. Somehow, this important fact was not mentioned.
At the same time, Amway was funding a major advertising campaign in Forbes (no links online, but see 2008 Forbes Magazine for Amway ads).
Some of Amway’s principals were supporters of Steve Forbes and his political aspirations. (Click here)
Of all the people the journalist interviewed for the article (Orrin gave her complete access to everyone in his organization), the only person she quoted from her many interviews (other than Orrin himself and one guy standing in line to attend a meeting), was the negative husband of a woman in Orrin’s team that had never attended a single event, nor participated in any way. In contrast, not one of the many positive people interviewed were even mentioned.
When Orrin invited the journalist to his company’s international convention, offering her full back-stage access to everything and everyone, she politely declined because she had purchased tickets to attend a Willie Nelson concert instead.
The journalist referred to Network Marketing as “pyramid selling schemes,” proceeded to give a very incorrect description of how they supposedly function, and then wrote, “sounds like a chain letter, doesn’t it?”, even though networking companies operate legally in all 50 states every business day. AND Forbes itself has done many positive (or at least professionally balanced) articles on the industry, as recently as last month (Click here).
“One parting thought Orrin Woodward was in the middle of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Amway at the time this article was written. Amway founders are some of the largest donators to the Republican Party… Steve Forbes is a former Republican Presidential Candidate and long time friend of the family. Plus Amway has been a long time client of Forbes Magazine.”
I asked Orrin how this unprecedented interview came to be. He said, “Shortly after joining Monavie, I received a call from the Team office stating that Forbes had contacted me asking for an interview about Team.” He continued, “Why would Forbes want to do an article on a small, $42 million dollar company? Especially when it was in the middle of the legal battle of its life?”
Being part of the process myself, I remember Woodward telling me the interviewer asked questions about Team being a pyramid, which anyone who knows anything about pyramid law would know it is nowhere near being a pyramid scheme. She also wanted to know why is it that some people don’t make money and others do. Other questions focused on how much did it cost to be a member of Team and so forth. Woodward continued to explain that Team wasn’t a MLM, it only supplied the support for those building one; but that seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It became obvious to both of us, based upon the question content, that his interview wasn’t about finding the good in Team. Regardless, Woodward knew he had nothing to hide and answered all the questions truthfully and completely. I know that Woodward personally invited the interviewer to the Columbus Major as a VIP, but she already had tickets for a Willie Nelson concert and had to turn the offer down.
I also remember my interview, which lasted for 40 minutes. I actually thought my interview went really well. She asked a lot of great questions. I told her how I was able to get out of massive amounts of debt, how my marriage was dramatically improved, how I thought Orrin Woodward was an amazing leader, and that I thought the Team business was the best financial decision I’d ever made. Interestingly, not a single word of that 40 minute interview was used. Instead, a short quote jabbing Team about a man and woman who had gotten divorced due to her involvement in Team and Amway was used instead.
As it turns out, the man quoted in the Forbes article was an atheist and the woman a Christian. But the man claimed in the article the divorce was blamed on her involvement with Team. Why would Forbes choose to quote this person and not me? Or better yet, any of the thousands who believe that Team has strengthened their marriage? Had the interviewer attended the convention she could have asked any number of people the blessing Team has been in their lives. And yet all that was used was one negative quote about a divorce.
Meanwhile, I began asking my own questions. What led the reporter to take this article in the first place? What was her background in the leadership field and did she understand the moral dimensions from a Christian perspective? She admitted she had never heard of John Maxwell (the #1 leadership teacher) nor, even though living in Chicago, had she ever heard of Bill Hybels (pastor of Chicago’s largest church.)
Every reputable network marketing organization separates itself from pyramid schemes and scams by ensuring significant sales to outside customers of its products. Impressively, LIFE Leadership has over 40% of its monthly subscriptions going to customers who are not even part of the compensation plan. This is a testament to just how good the leadership materials are from LIFE.
Sadly, some people have drawn the conclusion that network marketing is like a lottery where only a few draw the winning ticket and everyone else loses. In truth, I was one of those people until I took the time to study the numbers myself. Here is my story of how I went from a community building skeptic to building one of the largest leadership communities in North America.
I would also encourage you to read the condensed business history of Orrin Woodward and his amazing band of mighty men (here is the link). As Life Leadership moves towards a billion dollar plus company, eventually Emily Lambert, Klaus Kneale and Forbes will have to write a detraction and an apology letter to Orrin Woodward this amazing group of leaders known as Life Leadership.