Part 1 – An important review of American History facts
OK, its time to clear up the story of MonaVie, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady once and for all! Once again, the antagonists continue to twist the facts and get the story wrong. The funny thing about actual events is that they typically do not require any embellishment or exaggeration – they are full of drama and suspense all by themselves!
The dramatic history deserves to be properly told concerning the events leading up to Orrin Woodward’s business partnership with Dallin Larsen and MonaVie, then onward to the launch of Life Leadership. This series of articles will illuminate, in more detail, the incredible chain of events in an effort to capture the honorable deeds of a few brave men and women in American business history.
In order to fully appreciate these ‘major motion picture worthy’ details of this moment in history, we need to take a peek backwards 247 years into American history – to a time where honor and duty were a matter of course for statesmen around the world.
“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” –George Washington
In case you were sleeping in your high school American History class, let us recall some of the major highlights leading up to the American Revolutionary War and the beginning of the United States of America:
- Jan. 17, 1706 – Benjamin Franklin born in Boston, MA
- Feb. 22, 1732 – George Washington born in Virginia
- Apr. 13, 1743 – Thomas Jefferson born in Virginia
- 1754 – 1763 – The French and Indian War occured.
- Mar. 1765 – English Parliament imposes the first direct tax on American colonies, called the Stamp Tax. This was to help pay for British military organization in America. It was the first time colonialists united together in opposition.
- Sept. 1768 – English warships sail into Boston Harbor to “keep the peace”. Part of the unrest was caused by the Townshend Revenue Act (a new tax to help pay for increased British military presence in the American colonies).
- 1770 – The American colonies are growing like crazy – population reaches 2,210,000
- March 5, 1770 – Boston Massacre occurs when British troops shoot into a mob at point blank range.
- April 1770 – The Townshend Acts are repealed by the British Crown.
- May 10, 1773 – The Tea Act takes effect, giving the British East India Trade Company a monopoly position on all tea imports.
- December 16, 1773 – Boston Tea Party! 8,000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them that British warships will not leave the harbor until all tea taxes are paid. Later that night, colonial activists disguised as Mohawk Indians board the ships and dump 342 containers of tea into the harbor. (What a bunch of Rascals!)
- March 23, 1775 – In response to escalating tensions between American colonies and the British Crown, Patrick Henry delivers his famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech. 7 days later, the New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King George III requiring that the colonies trade exclusively with England; and also bans fishing in the North Atlantic.
- July 5, 1775 – After the past year of escalated tension, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress adopts the Olive Brach Petition – which expressed hopes of reconciliation with the British and King George III. King George refuses to even look at it and declares the Americas to be in a state of open rebellion.
- March 4-17, 1776 – Americans capture Dorchester Heights (above Boston Harbor) and point cannons (captured from Fort Ticonderoga) at the British Fleet stationed there, forcing the British to evacuate. A small victory breeds confidence!
- May 2, 1776 – The Americans, fragile and in need of help, receive foreign support from France and Spain! King Louis XVI of France commits 1 million dollars in arms and munitions to help the cause of freedom. Spain then also promises support. For financial perspective, $1 million in 1776 can be conservatively translated to $28 million in today’s currency.
- Feb 6, 1778 – After almost 2 years into the Revolutionary War, France and America sign two treaties: Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance. They pledge to fight Britain until American Independence is won. A year later, Spain enters the war as an ally of France. The following year, the British are engaged in fighting all over the world.
- Sept 3, 1783 – Treaty of Paris is signed by the United States and Great Britain, ending the war and sealing American independence for good. This is the true beginning point for the Great Republic that, despite its faults, has been a place where its citizens can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I realize that a pure historian would be pulling their hair out right about now yelling, “you skipped some of my favorite parts!” My apologies. This condensed review should be sufficient to stir the imagination enough to appreciate the following tale of events. Stay tuned for Part 2.
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.
Part 2 – The Villains
A heroic story would not be a great one without equally great villains. Throughout history, villains have ranged from bad people, to bad companies, to bad ideas. It also has been said that bad people and bad ideas grow stronger when “good” men stand idle and do nothing. I can tell you now that the leaders of Life Leadership are not the type to stand idle and do nothing!
In the history of Life Leadership, there have been many villains, big and small. Some have been obvious to point out based on their blatant legal and slander attacks. Some villains were teammates turned traitor from within the camp. And some remain hidden, as a puppet-master, working in the shadows (and may still be lurking – planning to lay their next round of snares).
It would be easy to comb through history and vilify a list of individuals, but I will not be doing this today. Besides, they know who they are… I believe every villain in the history of Life Leadership was motivated by one (or a combination) of the following:
- Pride / Vanity – Defined as excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God.
- Envy – Defined as the desire for other’s traits, status, abilities or situation.
- Anger / Wrath – Defined as an emotion that manifests in a person who spurns love and opts instead for fury.
- Greed – Defined as the desire for material wealth or gain while ignoring the spiritual realm.
This is a general list. Orrin alluded to some of these in the last article (link here). Keep in mind that in many cases, peace has been made here and this list does imply that any Life leader holds a grudge or harbors any ill-will towards any of these past villains.
- “Old guard” Amway/Quixtar Corporate officers that chose profits over people.
- “Old guard” Amway/Quixtar board members that felt threatened by Orrin’s growth from 1999-2007.
- PR groups hired to slander and twist facts.
- Old teammates turned traitor from within the camp by cutting a deal with Quixtar and running scared from the battle, then speaking out against Orrin and company.
- Old teammates turned traitor from within the camp by becoming bitter victims who blamed Orrin and company for their war-time struggles, then cowardly writing about him and other leaders on various blogs.
There are two types of villains that exist today:
The first are easy to spot, they are ex-members of Life Leadership that did not understand or agree with the steps that were taken by the current leaders of Life Leadership from 2007-2010. They occasionally write on blogs in an attempt to justify their victim status or to make themselves feel better for being quitters. There is also a crazy lawsuit pending that illustrates how far some people will go to justify their bad behavior (see my previous posts here).
The second type of villain likes to remain somewhat anonymous. To unmask these villains, we must engage in some exploratory questions/answers:
- Are there any competing enterprises that see the products or profitability of Life Leadership as a business threat? Answer: No, they actually enhance all other businesses with their Corporate LLR subscriptions!
- Are there any prideful or envious people that stood to gain from forcing Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady out of their distributorships back in 2007? Answer: Yes. These PR camps point to this conclusion. In my opinion, there is a large group of people that were “called out” when Orrin and Chris behaved like true leaders. When you have character and take a stand against wrong-doing, you automatically become a polarizing force. In 2007, it became “gut-check” time. Do you stand on principles and fight injustice? Or do you pull a Nevill Chamberlin and cowardly make concessions for “peace at any cost”? I know it sounds melodramatic, but it is the truth. Again, 99% of the negative press you can read online is a direct result of Orrin and Chris being genuine leaders and exposing the posers. Period!
Regardless of these villains, Life Leadership has and will continue to grow because of the character of its leaders and their willingness to attack the status quo and the courage to confront issues head on. Go ahead and attend the next meeting and see for yourself. These guys are the kind of leaders you would be proud to be associated with!
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…