Kathy Coover of Isagenix International: “Here Are 5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry”
Do what you love to do. Know what drives you, what gets you excited. I love to help people enjoy the best health ever with our products and nutritional system, but what also inspires me is watching lives change with our business opportunity. I see mothers staying home with their children and also helping other moms do the same thing. It gives me so much joy that it drives me every day to do more and to give more so I can help others achieve their dreams.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathy Coover the co-founder and executive vice president of Isagenix International, a global health and wellness company based in Gilbert, Arizona. Her career spans more than 25 years and includes achieving her goal of becoming the top income earner at three separate network marketing companies. In 2002, she decided to join forces with her husband, Jim, to form Isagenix and has spent the past two decades helping countless families regain a healthier outlook on life and reshape their financial future. In 2015, the American Business Awards honored Kathy with its prestigious Woman of the Year award because of her unwavering commitment to always helping others.
Additional honors include Direct Selling News magazine naming Kathy one of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling in 2017 and Az Business Leaders selecting her as one of the most influential healthcare leaders in the health and beauty industry each year for the past four years.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Long before Isagenix was even an idea, I worked as a dental hygienist in my early 20s where, day after day, the physical toll and limited income made me question how much longer I could do that work. It also led me to wonder what more I could do to impact people’s lives in a bigger way.
The idea of being more, doing more, and having more — of everything — drove me to look for new opportunities constantly. One evening, my husband, Jim, suggested I attend a meeting about a new product and business that was looking for new independent distributors. Intrigued but skeptical — interested, but hesitant — I returned home and talked to him about joining up and making it my new career. I knew I had the drive to succeed and a passion for helping people. Perhaps this is the path I’ve been looking for, I thought.
Within eight months, I was a leader in that company, making more than I was as a hygienist. I loved the fact that I was not only helping people improve their health but also giving them an equal chance to create a business that could potentially change their lives. Finally, the timing felt right for me to leave the dental profession, so I did. Life turned out to be so good in the network marketing industry that Jim and I eventually co-founded Isagenix.
Little did I realize 27 years ago that the dream I held of being more, having more, and doing more would mean being more courageous, having more goals, doing more for others, and lifting up families in countless cities around the world.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I have been in the network marketing profession for 27 years, allowing me to gain considerable expertise that I have used to mentor and train thousands and thousands of people so they, too, can achieve success. I have then watched many of them turn around and help others be successful. The value of thought leadership to educate and inspire others in ways that could be life-changing should not be underestimated, and I am always happy to share that message with others.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
On my first trip to New Zealand, I was asked to speak to a Māori tribe about nutrition. When I arrived at the location, I was welcomed by around 40 people from the tribe who had painted faces and spears. They suddenly began performing an intense dance I had never seen before called a haka. It’s an ancient ceremonial dance that has been used for a variety of reasons, including battle preparation. During my visit, it was used to welcome me. The drama of the dance took me by surprise and made a lasting impression. I’m so honored to have experienced that!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This brings to mind the T. Harv Eker quote, “Every master was once a disaster!” One of my biggest fears in the beginning of my career was public speaking. I had so much anxiety around speaking, it was holding me back from success. I decided I had to get over my fear and do a presentation. The time came, and it was my turn to speak. I went to the front of the room, where there were around 200 people. My entire body froze. My teeth were chattering! A friend in the audience noticed my fear, came up to me, and put her hands on my shoulders. I then began my speech. After stumbling through it, one of my dear friends came over and said, “That was the worst speech, but I still love you.”
I have never had that happen again and now love to speak and share with others. Conquering your fears is essential for success!
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?
Thought leaders are experts who are sought out to share their wisdom and ideas on certain topics, who teach and train others. Typical leaders are primarily concerned with motivating or directing people to take action. Influencers leverage their knowledge and wisdom to affect the decisions people make.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader? Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
Becoming a thought leader allows for personal growth because thought leadership comes with experience and a willingness to evolve and reach outside of the box. Thought leadership can therefore be a huge part of every person’s journey, as we should all work to improve ourselves. Also, I love that this kind of personal growth can make a huge impact not only on us but on those around us. Your family, friends, and colleagues need your leadership and wisdom!
Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
Exposure to training, ideas, and mentorship is essential to your success and can help you make new contacts and build relationships. Relationship building, in particular, is crucial. I once went to an event in Dallas and met a man named David Wood who was the lead trainer for T. Harv Eker. After the event, I spoke to David again and we wound up meeting for lunch, where we masterminded many ideas. Due to that meeting, David became a part of my company and has impacted the movement and culture we have created at Isagenix.
Another example involves Rod Hairston, a terrific speaker who is an expert on organizational culture, leadership, and human potential. After I spoke at an event in Washington, D.C., Rod came up to me to talk and gave me some advice on taking my speaking to the next level. I later took a class with him that included personal coaching. At the end of the class, I told him about an opportunity I had to start a network marketing company. He said, “You go do it! You’re the best at network marketing. I’ve never seen anybody like you!” There was no turning back after that. I moved forward with the new company, which is now Isagenix.
Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
- Have a strong vision for the future. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing will drive your success. If you have the right intent, the magic will happen. Our vision is to impact world health and free people from physical and financial pain, and in the process, create the most trusted and respected health and wellness company in the world. This a huge vision, and it not only drives us into the future but also opens up opportunities for me to share my thought leadership with others.
- Do what you love to do. Know what drives you, what gets you excited. I love to help people enjoy the best health ever with our products and nutritional system, but what also inspires me is watching lives change with our business opportunity. I see mothers staying home with their children and also helping other moms do the same thing. It gives me so much joy that it drives me every day to do more and to give more so I can help others achieve their dreams.
- Focus on bringing value to others. I always ask our independent distributors, “How can I serve you? How can I help you achieve your dreams?” It takes some of them by surprise that I am so invested in their success, but I have always been passionate about servant leadership, so helping people reach their goals is top of mind for me.
- Surround yourself with a good team. Find people that have the skills that you do not have, so you all complement each other. At Isagenix, having the right people on our Executive Leadership Team allows our executives to learn from each other, which raises everyone’s standing within their professions.
- Stay current. Times are changing, so you need to be relevant in the marketplace. Our digital presence is so important to our success that we have added some key stakeholders with digital marketing expertise to keep up with the digital revolution that is all around us. This also helps ensure that I can speak knowledgeably about this important topic when needed.
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.
Simon Sinek is one of my heroes. I have watched so many of his speeches. He inspires me to think differently and also gives a reality check to so many people. We often get stuck in our thinking, and I feel he has shaken up a new reality for people to live better lives. One of my favorite “lessons learned” from Simon is he states your “why” will drive people toward you and make people get involved in your mission, and he is so right.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I think the issue is it can be used in a way that suggests that becoming a thought leader is something that only a select few can do, which is not true. Thought leadership comes with time and wisdom, and with enough experience and by overcoming many obstacles and achieving wins throughout a career, anyone can become a thought leader.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
There are a few pieces of advice I would share:
- Make sure to take time for yourself. Book yourself and your family into your calendar first.
- Involve your family in what you do by sharing your goals with them. If you get them behind your vision, the magic will happen.
- Consider what you like to do that produces results in your business.
- Seek and take other people’s advice.
- Surround yourself with the right talent and resources. Collaboration is the key to success!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My hope is that we have already inspired that movement through Isagenix. We created the company to provide nutrition that can improve people’s health and business people can build in the comfort of their homes. That mission is especially relevant now for two reasons. First, the business world is changing. McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that as many as 800 million people worldwide could lose their jobs to automation and need to find new jobs by 2030! Second, there are health challenges everywhere, and everyone must take control of their health, which starts with proper nutrition.
We have a saying here at Isagenix: Start a healthy change in this world, right now. It all starts with you!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
From Les Brown: “Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will become easy.” Building a business from scratch was a huge endeavor. I learned that many times it may seem hard, but if you keep going and accomplish your goals, your life can be beautiful!
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Simon Sinek! He motivates me to do more and think differently. He is someone I respect and look up to.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Facebook at Kathy Coover.
Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.