Lean in and pick your battles. What you resist persists. Digging your heels in, being married to your point of view or becoming too stubborn never leads to success. It’s important to slow down, take more time and enroll colleagues along the way versus leaving people behind. Plowing through damages relationships. In multiple companies, I’ve put a process together including stage gates, forcing you to slow down and create a shared sense of ownership to achieve a goal. “My way or the highway” approach is not recommended in my mind — collaboration is key; gain buy in from all or it will fail.
I had the pleasure to interview Janice Jackson, the President of Sales & Marketing at Plexus Worldwide
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I am fluent in German, French and English and my industry career path was leading me to the EU to become an interpreter. At university, I took a few aptitude tests and all the results said I was suited for Marketing, so I took an international marketing position in pharmaceuticals. A few years later, I was recruited by Avon and I’ve been in the direct selling industry since. I fell in love with the direct sales model and with an industry that empowers so many people to become entrepreneurs globally.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime to hire some of the very best talent from my previous 30 years and bring them here to Plexus to work alongside some of the best in the industry. We have so many quality individuals at corporate and in the field who are working together and preparing Plexus for its next phase of growth.
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?
Funniest mistake — I was trying to catch the KGB following me in Moscow…I’m serious. I was 24 and the youngest in my company to go to Moscow. At the time, if you were behind the iron curtain working for a western company you were literally followed by the KGB. I thought it was a joke, but it was really serious. Lessons learned: It’s important to understand the geo-political context of business, be respectful, aware, and careful when operating in a different country.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Plexus is determined to operate in the “right way,” honestly, and with integrity. Often direct sales companies receive a bad reputation for operating non-compliantly, too fast, too loose or with a get-rich mentality; not Plexus. Plexus is approached frequently to purchase a representative’s downline, team, etc. Plexus refuses to take payment for any large networking groups; our standard answer is, “you can join our opportunity for $34.95,” which is the enrollment price for anyone. That’s the type of integrity that inspires me and makes me proud to be part of this company. It also speaks to the company’s honest business practices and the even-playing field we create for our Ambassadors (independent business owners). The culture here is very special, both in the office and in the field; it’s built on trust, respect, and a win-win mentality.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Of course! We just celebrated our ten-year anniversary and it feels as though we’re just getting started. We’ve developed a four-year product roadmap that continues our commitment to innovation and highest quality gut health, weight management and nutrition products. Our mission is to deliver health and happiness to as many people as possible and our products definitely support that mission! We are continuing to review and enhance our compensation plan to ensure mutual benefit. We believe in creating a business opportunity that has no barrier to entry for those interested in entrepreneurship. We also recently established our Nourish One Initiative. With Nourish One, when you shake up a serving of Plexus Lean you’re also helping a child or family in need. It’s really exciting because for every serving of Plexus Lean someone purchases, Plexus, through our philanthropic organization Plexus Charities, gives a contribution to Feeding America® — the nation’s largest organization dedicated to fighting domestic hunger through a network of food banks. You can nourish yourself and help another in need at the same time.
Since the inception of this program, Plexus Charities has donated the equivalent of over 2.5 million meals.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Embrace the principals of servant leadership, ensure your team understands the company vision, develop guiding behavioral principals, share how success will be managed, support teams with resources and advice, and empower them to achieve high performance.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Pay great attention to who you hire. Hiring excellent leadership talent enables great leaders to develop great leaders. Drive the behavioral guiding principles from the top and cascade a leadership culture from top down. To succeed in leading a large team, your leaders must understand and embrace your vision.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The person I’m most grateful to is Martha Borst who is a self-mastery consultant and coach. She has supported me and many of my teams in the pursuit of personal and professional excellence, and with her guidance I’ve built high-performing teams with a purpose who have a sense of fulfillment and have fun along the way. http://www.marthaborst.com/
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a servant leader that supports independent business people, I know that everything I do and everything my team does (such as providing tools, programs and guidance to benefit those who are taking steps to build an income for their selves and their families) creates a ripple effect. We touch the lives of so many people and we see the impact daily; this is why I love working in this industry.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Put ego aside. Just remember it’s not about you — you are there to empower others.
2. Listen don’t judge. Before you can decide where you’re going, you need to know where you are starting. With any goal, evaluate where you are and where everyone’s head is before charting the course.
3. Different approaches for different work styles. I’ve implemented work style tool such as DISC; these tools help us to better understand the complexity of any team and/or individual. I’ve learned to adjust my communication and help them communicate with one another by knowing different personality types and work styles. This overcomes so much potential conflict and breaks down communication barriers.
4. Lean In and pick your battles. What you resist persists. Digging your heels in, being married to your point of view or becoming too stubborn never leads to success. It’s important to slow down, take more time and enroll colleagues along the way versus leaving people behind. Plowing through damages relationships. In multiple companies, I’ve put a process together including stage gates, forcing you to slow down and create a shared sense of ownership to achieve a goal. “My way or the highway” approach is not recommended in my mind — collaboration is key; gain buy in from all or it will fail.
5. Everyone is a human being. People want the same three things around the world no matter what their beliefs, race, gender, etc. They want to have personal power/choices, they want to make a difference and they want to give love and be loved. These are universal human drivers; if you can tap into those the result is very powerful.
You are a person of great 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?
To truly bring about win/win mentality — not a superficial win but an attitude of abundance where there is enough to go around. You do not have to make other people lose in order to win.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“How’s that working for you?” — Martha Borst http://www.marthaborst.com/
It’s what I ask myself when I get into complaining mode; it reminds me that complaining is not the way to find your way through a challenge and this simple question encourages me to come up with a solution. If you’re being a victim, you’re never going to find a solution and if you don’t like your circumstances, change them.