Gayle's Plus One (Guest Blog)
Hi, I'm Colin, Gayle's husband, and now her guest blogger. We just got back from Panama--not Panama City, Florida, but Panama City in Central America! This trip was remarkable because Norwex picked up the tab. That's right, Gayle earned this marvelous vacation by reaching her incentive goals, and she invited me to be her "+1" travel companion. Now that we are back home after this tremendous journey, I'm gushing with enthusiasm, not only for the vacation experience itself, but for witnessing Norwex's positive and uplifting culture first hand.
Earning the Trip
Gayle earned this vacation by inviting people to try Norwex products. Starting in July of 2016, Gayle reached out to friends, family members, neighbors, former co-workers, childhood buddies, our daughter's friends' parents, and her far-flung friends on Facebook. For twelve months, Gayle went to home parties, hosted open-houses, orchestrated Facebook events, and collected orders over the phone from her V.I.P. customers. She sold a lot of microfiber, created scores of "safe havens," and fully participated in the Norwex Mission of radically reducing toxic chemicals in people's homes.
As her sales piled up, she filled in a "progress thermometer" that she put up on the wall next to her vision board to monitor her progress towards earning the trip. Every so often, I peeked into her office to see how the vacation thermometer was looking. Sure enough, before June 30th, 2017, she went over the top and achieved the trip to Panama. And, she wanted me to come along as her "+1." What a thrilling moment! All of a sudden, my "bucket list" got a lot more ambitious. I ordered three Panama guidebooks from Amazon and read about all the amazing sights to visit: Panama Canal (of course), rainforest preserves, beaches, Casa Viejo (Old Panama City), and the Emberá indigenous village, only accessible by dugout canoe.
Trip Incentive Points: Fair and Transparent
The trip incentive is fair. Everyone is eligible. No one is excluded. There is no favoritism or sucking up to a boss. The benchmarks are published ahead of time and they don't change. I recall Debbie Bolton saying that seven consultants qualified for the very first Norwex trip. This year in Panama, there were over 350 qualifying trip earners. Norwex is an honorable company. I have no doubt that if 1,000 consultants reached their incentive goals next year, all those Norwexers could go on the trip. I truly appreciate the equality of opportunity that Norwex promotes.
Class Act All the Way
Before any major trip, we all experience a little apprehension and nervousness and I was no exception. How would we know where to go? How would we get around? Could we get by in a Spanish-speaking nation, without knowing much of the language? Well, I have to say that Norwex did a masterful job of planning and facilitating the logistics of our journey, thanks to their relationship with MCI, a world-class travel and events management company. Airline tickets-- booked. Shuttle from the airport to the resort-- easy. Hotel check-in--effortless. Schedule of events--super helpful. Excursion arrangements--impeccable. Tour guides--professional and entertaining. From start to finish, our experience was wonderful.
My Name Tag
One of the little details that stood out to me was the name tag that I received in my welcome package. First, it didn't have a pin that would put a hole in my sport coat or dress shirts. It was magnetic! Second, it wasn't disposable. I'll be able to keep it and re-use it at vendor events. Lastly, my name tag didn't indicate that I was a "guest" or a "spouse." When I put on my name tag, I became a Norwexer, too. I felt like I belonged, and that I was part of the team!
No Norwex Strangers
Anothter aspect of the trip that impressed me was the Norwex culture. For example, we flew from our home in Rochester, to Newark, then down to Panama. We recognized fellow Norwexers, because they were wearing their Panama Trip shirts! Even though we had never met them before in person, It was like meeting our cousins at the airport. The spontaneous and organic comradery, warmth, and fellowship showed me that there is no such thing as a "Norwex stranger."
Forgot My Back-Scrubber
As a Norwex consultant, Gayle earns "shopping sprees" and "incentives" which allow her to try out Norwex products for free. She fully tricked out my bathroom with Norwex products: bath mat, towels, wash cloths, sink mat, crystal deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, chenille hand towel, and my personal favorite, the back-scrubber. I keep my bathroom super clean with the toilet brush, Blue Diamond, the bathroom scrub mitt, and Descaler. So, I'm quite accustomed to using all these products.
Here is the funny thing though. While the Westin Playa Bonita Resort is luxurious, with a huge bathroom, walk-in shower, and designer plumbing fixtures, I discovered that I missed my soft microfiber towels and wash cloth. I sincerely longed for my back-scrubber, too! Ha. Clearly, this a first-world problem, but I had to laugh at myself for missing all my Norwex creature comforts back at home. By the way, my crystal deodorant worked just fine in the 95-degree tropical heat.
Meeting Norwex Celebrities
Here is another example of the uplifting and inspiring Norwex culture. We got to mingle with the top people in the company, including Debbie Bolton herself. How many Amazon employees get to chat and laugh with Jeff Bezos? Not many, I suspect. Norwex "celebrities" were everywhere: Sonya Eckel, Meighan Hopper, Suzanne Holt, Cindy McGrady, and Kris Carlson to name a few. These are Norwex rock stars that I've seen in newsletters, training videos or on Facebook, but never met in person. Every single "Hall of Fame Norwexer" that I met was sweet, gracious, humble, charming, and effervescently enthusiastic. The same was true of all the consultants we interacted with on the elevator, in the pool, on the beach, and on the planned excursions. Zero complaining. Genuinely optimistic. Fun and funny. I couldn't have chosen a group of more positive, energetic, and kind people to hang out with on vacation.
Empowering Corporate Culture
I hate to bring up news and politics in Gayle's blog, but seemingly every day the 24-hour news cycle reveals horrifying stories about the mistreatment of women in Hollywood, business, politics, and the military. The #metoo and the #timesup movement chronicles our society's pervasive exploitation and despicable abuse of female human beings. But, what are we to do?
I believe the best way to roll back gender discrimination and sexual harassment is through our vigorous support of institutions and companies headed by women. Case in point: Debbie Bolton is Co-Founder and Chief of Global Sales for Norwex; Kristi Hubbard is Chief Executive Officer for U.S. operations; Amy Cadora is Global Chief Marketing Officer; and Amelia Spolec is Global Chief Information Officer. Also, take a look at Norwex's top sales leaders: Kris Carlson, Sonya Eckel, Julie Vermette, Pam Altendorf, Sharon Kuzyk, Suzanne Holt, Terri Cook, Kimberly Warner, Donna Kwiatkoski, and Amanda DeSonia.
The list of women in positions of power within the company is impressive, if not unprecedented. At its core Norwex is female and family friendly, with zero tolerance for toxic masculinity or corrosive paternalism. Debbie Bolton and Kristi Hubbard run a company that empowers, elevates, and celebrates serious and successful women. I have full confidence that in the short term, and over the long haul, Gayle, will thrive in Norwex's ethical, transparent, and encouraging business environment.
Panel Discussion for Spouses & Partners
One of the events I attended during our vacation in Panama was a panel discussion for the spouses and partners of Norwexers. Michael Bolton, Debbie's husband, was the moderator. (Debbie Bolton is the Co-Founder and Global Sales Officer of Norwex.) He is an eloquent and charming man. His Q & A with experienced Norwex husbands was both humorous and informative.
Michael commented that he has observed a pattern in the behavior of spouses over the years. "First, husbands say Norwex is just 'her thing'-- a hobby that gets her out of the house from time to time. Then, as she recruits a team of consultants, spouses say Norwex is just 'her business.' Finally, when the money starts pouring in, husbands always proudly announce Norwex is 'our business'." The men in the audience chuckled and nodded, sheepishly acknowledging their initial lack of awareness.
As a follow-up, Michael asked, "If you could go back in time to when your spouse first started her business, is there anything you would change, and do differently?" The response among the panelists was universal. "I wish I had been more supportive."
This inspired some self-reflection on my part. "What could I do right now, and what more could I do in the future, to show my support for Gayle's efforts?"
Practical Non-Business Support
- Cheerfully chauffeuring our 14 year old daughter around.
- Using terrific Norwex products to clean our place.
- Grocery shopping and running household errands.
- Getting dinner ready (or a late-night snack) when she gets home from a party.
- Washing our MINI Cooper and filling it with gas.
Practical Business Support
- Filling out post card party invitations and getting them in the mail.
- Running to the Post Office, bank, and office supply store.
- Making sure she has state-of-the art devices: MacBook Pro, iPhone X, Dell color laser printer, business-grade Internet router and wi-fi.
- When the doorbell rings, running downstairs to bring up the packages from Norwex.
- Carrying her heavy demo bags to and from the car.
- Holding her iPhone when she's making Youtube or Facebook Live videos.
- Giving a helping hand while filming demos, or being the "prop guy" during video recording.
- Proofreading and giving constructive feedback on her flyers, e-mails, and videos.
- Taking care of receipts, bookkeeping, and taxes.
- Simply expressing sincere interest in how things are going for her, and her team.
- Being flexible about our calendar as she books parties, goes to Norwex meetings, or travels to Leadership Training or the annual Convention.
- Being empathetic and understanding when her eyes get strained after an 18 hour day, staring at her iPhone or computer screen. Skipping Netflix, dimming the lights, pouring a glass of wine, and just unwinding quietly by the fireplace.
- Being kind, polite, positive, and gracious when she introduces me to team members, customers, and Norwex employees.
- Listening to new business ideas and discussing how to implement new initiatives.
- Expressing my appreciation for her hard work and amazing success.
Our 4,403-mile flight from Farmington to Panama City was a real-world physical adventure indeed. But, we also went on another sort of trek at the same time--an inner journey.
For me, this trip deepened my appreciation for Norwex as a company. I witnessed, first hand, the generosity, transparency, fairness, kindness, and accessibility of Norwex's top corporate and sales leaders. I felt the genuine warm-heartedness, enthusiasm, and camaraderie of other consultants. I realized that participating in the Norwex Mission means more than depositing a commission check in our bank account each month. Even though, I came on the trip as a "+1 Guest," I returned home with an almost reverent feeling that I'm a Norwexer too, and that our family is doing something good for both humanity and planet Earth.
Thank you, Gayle, for inviting me.
Oh, I just peeked in your office, Gayle. Our "Trip Thermometer" for Maui 2019 is looking good, Babe!