'The Kick is Watching People Blossom' - Cathy Barber of Pampered Chef
With a husband, a young child, and an 80-hour work week, Cathy Barber wasn't really looking for anything more to do. Fortunately, a girlfriend offered the magic combination of convenience and free food! The kitchen show was right on Cathy's hour-and-a-half commute, and guests would get to eat whatever was prepared in the demonstrations...
I was sitting there looking at this presentation and thought, Wow, this is a nice twist on the home party plan. You had the senses of smell and taste, and it was an interactive type of presentation. I purchased a lot of product, and it would have been cheaper to go right ahead and join the business, but I didn't see any room in my demanding job schedule.
I settled for hosting a presentation, which was the first one that I've ever let into my home. I knew, in the back of my head, that I could do it and that it would be very fun to do. I was just waiting for the timing to be right.
In my corporate job as a marketing and advertising manager for the top retailer in Canada, we'd been under restructuring for about a year, and everybody was wondering who was next. I guess I was just hanging around until after the summer to see what next round of cuts they were going to do. And it happened; I was restructured.
I said to my husband, "I'm not going back into the same field. I'm going to try Direct Sales instead. Give me six months, and let me see what I can do with this." We got the starter kit, and I was off and running.
One of the biggest challenges was that everyone wanted a presentation, and there weren't enough representatives to handle them all! Think of your neighborhood, and how many people there are there. In my subdivision, there were hundreds of homes, more than a handful of people could cover. We needed more people, and we needed them quickly. To me that was our biggest challenge: Accommodating all the people that wanted in-home parties. Tough problem to have, eh?
Team-building was so vital, right from step one, to overcome this challenge. Teams could draw people to the business over a large geographical area. I had to learn really quickly how to team-build. I had to talk to more people, expressing the need for their help in the field. The whole situation really reinforced the need for duplication. It showed the big picture of this business.
Very quickly, people started to join. I still had to teach myself, because I had not been a recruiter before. At least this is something I so enjoy doing that it was really very fun to bring people on.
Even though I didn't have a Direct Sales background, I feel that my other job experience was a good foundation for overcoming challenges. Every other thing you have done in your life only enhances what you can do in this industry. They all sort of overlap. I took some of what I learned in the corporate world -- organizational and people skills -- and applied them to my new business. It was a great linkage to transfer the information.
I now have to be a strong trainer. My people are not just signatures on an agreement form to be left out on their own. When they come on board, I put them into a SuperStarter process to train them for success.
I have to balance the recruiting and training. Yes, I need new people, but I have to be sure to train them all with meetings and support calls. You want each person to be able to duplicate the same process.
Discipline has to be at the top of my keys to success. It's easy, when you're working from home, to say, "What a beautiful, sunny day. I'm going to go outside and enjoy it." While it's nice to have that flexibility, you have to make sure your homework is done first. I'm very disciplined about making phone calls every day to move my business. That comes before any paper jobs and play time. It's so easy to get distracted that I have to have structure in a disciplined way.
I tend to operate on a seven-step success philosophy:
1) Optimism. I look for the good in everybody. Never prejudge anyone who could do the business. My team today comes from all walks of life.
2) Ambition. Be goal-oriented and know your long-term targets, not just the monthly goals. Have a five-year plan. My background in figure skating taught me about drive, prioritizing, and taking action.
3) Create momentum. It is easy to stay in motion once you have started you momentum. Always have a solution at hand instead of focusing on problems.
4) Competence. Become good at what you do. Research, read, do whatever it takes to get there. I tackled the business very seriously because I needed to replace income.
5) Commitment. Have the drive to get where you want to be in six months. Have heart in your business, and get passionate about helping others develop.
6) Life-long learning. I'm a member of Jan Ruhe's book club, which I think is awesome. Most of my team is in it, too. We read and attend seminars to keep learning. I also learn through other people, seeking information to move my business.
7) Courage. Basically, if you have any fears when you get into this business, you're going to have to get over them. You have to step out of your comfort zone. You have to take responsibility for running a business.
The real kick for me in this business is watching people blossom and do well. I have a love for people and enjoy seeing others succeed. This industry is great for that. That's a real joy. Your people are your business, and without your people you have no business.
I also enjoy the lifestyle. When there's a snow day here in Ontario, and I look outside my window, I think, I'm going up to my office today. I walk up five, six steps and I'm there, instead of sitting in traffic for three hours.
My son can be picked up after school at 3:30. Spencer was in daycare the early part of my corporate life, but with our daughter, Rachel, I'm home. My son puts envelopes through the postage machine; Kris, my husband, stuffs envelopes for my newsletter. It does become a real family involvement. Why did I do what I did before? I now have such freedom and flexibility, plus it's so easy! The 40 or 50 hours I put in each week still seem like part-time work.
I look back now and think, where did three years go? I have long-term visions for this business, because it's so simple. I think the timing is so right, too, in Canada. Canada is waking up now. We're a little bit slow; we're a little bit further behind sometimes. I think the timing of our business in Canada is incredible.
Cathy Barber is a full-time independent Executive Director with Pampered Chef, direct marketers of quality kitchen tools. Cathy has been with the company for three years. She and her husband Kris live with their son, Spencer, and daughter, Rachel, in Whitby, Ontario.
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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Barber Profile - February 2000, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com