The Shad Helmstetter Interview - The Real Story of Today's Amway
The Shad Helmstetter Interview — The Real Story of Today's Amway
Dr. Shad Helmstetter is the author of nine best-selling books. He is respected worldwide as a leading authority in the field of personal growth. His books are published in more than 64 countries around the world.
Dr. Helmstetter has been a repeat guest on Oprah Winfrey, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN News. He has been featured on over 1200 radio and television interviews in every major city in the United States. Dr. Helmstetter spent more than five years studying the Amway business as an outside, independent researcher. He is not endorsed, paid, or financially remunerated by or associated with the Amway Corporation or any of its affiliates. The following comments are based on Dr. Helmstetter's independent research and are entirely his own.
Q: Why did you write The Achiever's Bill of Rights?
SH: I wrote the The Achiever's Bill of Rights for everyone who wants to get better, but is held back by prejudice of any kind. The truth is, small minds build big fences. People who are doing nothing with their lives are often critical of people who want to do better.
The Achiever's Bill of Rights puts the critics on notice. It says, if you're not helping other people get better, get out of their way.
Q: You have been one of the most outspoken public supporters of Amway Distributors. Why is that?
SH: In my field I study people who work at improving their lives. I spent more than five years studying Amway Distributors, and I was impressed with what I found.
Most Amway Distributors are people who are trying to do something worthwhile with their lives. They understand positive values, they support marriage and families, they're willing to dream and they take their dreams seriously, they work hard to reach their goals, and they believe in helping other people do better.
Amway Distributors are the families who live next door to us. They are people who are trying to keep their kids off drugs, make their marriages work, improve their lives, and take responsibility for themselves. They also tend to be positive and hardworking.
That's the kind of attitude that gave this country its freedom in the first place. How can you possibly criticize that?
Q: Then why do some people criticize them?
SH: For the same three reasons most people criticize someone else for doing something different than they are — they criticize other people because of their own prejudice, ignorance, or misinformation. And that's unfortunate because people who criticize others, without knowing the truth, can hurt a lot of good people.
Q: What would you say is the greatest problem that Amway Distributors have to overcome?
SH: The first problem is that many people are either uninformed or misinformed about the Amway business. If I could wave my wand and make every false rumor go away, people would suddenly be calling their distributor friends and asking them if they could join them in the business. By the way, I predict that will happen. The overriding positive facts about the business are becoming public knowledge.
The second problem is that anyone who wants to get ahead—in anything—has to stay motivated. Motivation is often a problem for any of us because it's human nature for people to let the day-to-day problems of their lives get them down. I've spoken and written a lot about that in the past, and with this web site I've decided to offer a more direct form of help to people who could use some additional motivation from time to time.
I often send personal motivational messages via e-mail to people I believe in. That kind of uplift can really make a difference. Now, anyone who is reading this site can participate, and I will send them personal e-mail encouragement and motivation on a regular basis.
Q: Can anyone receive your e-mail Pep-Talks or do you have to be an Amway Distributor to get them?
SH: I send regular e-mail messages to anyone who wants to get ahead in their lives. But I send special e-mail to Amway Distributors. Distributors have special needs, like what to do about negative people, or staying on target, or keeping their dream in front of them. So in my e-mail messages to distributors, I address their specific needs.
If you're a distributors who receives my Pep-Talks, it's as though I sit down with you in your home, once a week, and talk with you about your business. I deal with the problems, help you refocus on your goals, and get you set for an incredible week ahead.
So these Pep-Talks are like spending a few minutes with you and your family each week, from the standpoint of an outside friend who believes in you—only I'm visiting you via e-mail instead of being there in person. The object is to help your business grow, and help you reach your goals.
(EDITORS NOTE: If you'd like to be included, and receive weekly e-mail motivational messages from Dr. Helmstetter, go to "Pep-Talk" at http://www.firedup.org.)
Q: Speaking of motivation, what about the time it takes to build an Amway business?
SH: Some people have said that when people work hard at building their Amway business they don't have a lot of time left over for family and friends. What I found is that when people build an Amway business, they do spend less time out with their friends, or less time just sitting around.
But I take issue with those who say that people who are building an Amway business spend less time with their families. The fact is, most of them just spend less time watching television.
Q: Some critics say that some Amway Distributors sell dreams. What would you say to that? Are they dream builders?
SH: The distributors aren't selling dreams, they're encouraging people to be willing to dream. That's important! That's something everyone needs to do!
As I wrote in The Achiever's Bill of Rights, people who aren't dreaming aren't growing. Without dreams we go nowhere. With the ability to dream, there's no telling what we can do!
Look at the facts; our nation was founded on dreams. Marriages are built on dreams. The day you start college, you start with a dream. Every new idea, every invention, every improvement you and I enjoy right now, started with a dream. Name one thing that makes your life better, and if you research it, you'll discover that it started with a dream.
No one who is truly a quality person will ever question your dreams—people of quality encourage your dreams. They know that if you do not dream, you cannot really live.
Q: What about the old criticism from years ago that said Amway was a cult?
SH: Working in the field of human behavior, I've studied the cults for many years. The Amway business is the opposite of cult psychology.
As an example, cults practice a system of separating their members from their families and friends. Amway is the opposite. The basic concept behind Amway Distributors is designed to build stronger relationships, not weaken them.
As another example, cults always control what their members are told. Once again, Amway does the opposite.
As a case in point, I have been asked to speak to dozens of Amway audiences, but never once have I been asked by anyone, in advance, what I was going to say.
The old myth that Amway is a cult is supported only by people who are either misinformed or uninformed. I would like to examine their research.
Amway Distributors are independent; they are building their individual lives, and they are working freely to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their futures.
That's not a cult; that's America.
Q: Someone said, on another web site, that you support Amway because you are paid a lot of money for speaking at Amway seminars and functions.
SH: The fact is I don't accept any fee for speaking at Amway functions. I'm invited to speak at many Amway functions but I don't accept any honorarium or any speaking fee to speak to Amway organizations.
Also, when I'm on tour conducting my own Personal Success Seminars in cities throughout the United States, I invite Amway Distributors to attend at no charge, as my guests. I send free VIP passes to any of my friends who want to attend.
That's my choice. That's my way of saying, "I believe in you, and if I can help you reach your goals, I will." If I believe in something strongly enough, that's what I do.
Q: The same people have said that you say good things about Amway Distributors because they buy your books.
SH: I've written two books about Amway Distributors, and it's my goal that those books will help a lot of people. Meanwhile, my books such as What To Say When You Talk To Your Self, The Self-Talk Solution, Self-Talk For Weight-Loss, Choices, and others, are mainstream best-sellers, and cumulatively are published in more than 64 countries around the world.
There are millions more people who read my books who are not in Amway than those who have read my two Amway books. Many of the people who are in the Amway business have not even heard about my best Amway book, "American Victory."
What most people don't know is that, just as I refuse to accept speaking fees, I also don't allow my books to be sold at Amway functions where I speak. That's because what I have to say is not based on speaking engagements or selling books.
I say what I say about Amway Distributors because it's the truth. As long as it's the truth, I plan to report it.
Q: What about the sometimes criticism that Amway Distributors have to invest in business materials and they have to attend meetings and seminars, in order to succeed in the business?
SH: That shouldn't be a criticism; that should be a salute to good business sense!
The fact is that Amway Distributors do not have to buy training materials and they do not have to attend training seminars and business functions.
But I have studied their business "tools" and I've attended their seminars and functions.
The bottom line is that, on average, Amway Distributor business support materials are superior to most of the training and motivational tools that are available from many of the top corporations in the US today.
When was the last time your company offered you training and motivational materials that got your family involved and excited about what you were doing?
My outside recommendation is that distributors should take advantage of every tool they have access to, and attend every business function available to them. The point is not how much of an investment they will make. The point is how much value they place on improving the rest of their lives.
Q: What about the people who say the Amway business doesn't, or can't, work?
SH: If there is anyone who is willing to say the Amway business can't work, I'd like to see his research. During the past five years I've interviewed, met, or talked to more Amway Distributors than any other researcher living today.
The fact is, for people who apply themselves and apply the plan, the business works. What critics of the business ignore is that the business is successful because it works at different levels for different people.
Some people just want to be surrounded by friends and associates who think like they do. Some people want to earn some extra income, but not treat the business like a full-time job. Some people want to quit their regular jobs and build a full-time business. And of course, there are those men and women who want to create long-term financial independence.
I've met a lot of people in every one of those categories, and according to them, not only does the business work, it has added to their lives in many positive ways.
Why would so many good, solid, intelligent people stay in the Amway business for ten, fifteen, twenty years or more, and say that it's the best thing that ever happened to them? Think about that.
And why would so many second and third generations of independent sons and daughters of experienced Amway Distributors follow in their parents' and their grandparents' footsteps and choose the Amway business for themselves?
The only answer is, because it works—it meets the needs of a lot of different people, and it helps them grow.
(EDITORS NOTE: See Fired-up! Letters at http://www.firedup.org, for individual distributors' comments.)
Q: You are very supportive of Amway Distributors, yet you are not a distributor yourself. Why?
SH: I believe in Amway Distributors and in what they're working to achieve in their lives. But I'm an independent researcher and writer. I'm able to report on their progress from an outside, objective position, rather than as a distributor. The day I choose to become an Amway Distributor myself, however, is the last day I can research them, or report their story, with any kind of objectivity.
Meanwhile, most all Amway Distributors I've met have real values, they're willing to work for what they get, and they're carrying the banner of the essence of American spirit. So I support them.
These days, as more of the real story of Amway is being told, there are more and more of us on the "outside" who are coming forward with our support. Even top business leaders like Bill Gates and Donald Trump have pointed to Amway as a major business force and opportunity as we head into the new century.
Why would people who are observers on the outside tell the world that Amway is going to be an important part of the future? Because it is.
Q: As an outside researcher, what surprised you most about your findings?
SH: I knew from my research that Amway was founded on principles that are supportive of all people. But I was still surprised by the broad spectrum of people that make up the distributor organizations. When I began studying people in the business, I met distributors from literally every walk of life, every background, every educational level, every economic level, every race, and every faith.
I talked with distributors who had become highly successful in the business but had almost no formal education. I met other distributors who were medical doctors, neurosurgeons, teachers and engineers. Some of the distributors I've met or interviewed have been young and inexperienced, and other distributors are experienced executives with large corporations.
I also found a strong cross-section of single men, single women, married couples, and many families who are building their businesses together, as a family.
So I was surprised, but encouraged, to find that the Amway business successfully crosses all those barriers.
They say they're a business for all people, and they mean it.
Q: Does that explain Amway's growth internationally?
SH: In part, it does. I've said publicly that Amway Distributors are changing lives and changing the world. They are, in many positive ways, in over 80 foreign countries.
When my wife and I travel overseas to speak to Amway organizations in other countries, it is as though all the distributors we meet are all part of the same, very large family.
I've met distributors who were from opposite sides of the fence, nationally and politically, but I could not imagine any of them shooting at each other. They are working together to improve themselves and to help others do the same. That is certainly free enterprise in action! It's also a great way to put an end to war.
Q: Where is Amway when it comes to being ready for the year 2000 and beyond?
SH: Most of what I've written and said about the Amway business has been about the independent distributors and the opportunities the Amway business has created in their lives. But you cannot ignore the role that Amway is playing in our headlong rush to the 21st Century. In that race, some companies are going to make it, some are going to drop out, and some are going to lead the pack.
I predict that Amway is a company that is going to launch, full strength, into the 21st century. What we're seeing now is just the beginning.
The whole face of retail/wholesale distribution is changing. We're witnessing the rapid change to an entire culture of people who have decided they want to buy direct, at home, instead of getting in the car and waiting in line with over a hundred million other automobiles that are on the road today. (That's in the U.S. alone!)
And with the rapid emergence of electronic commerce, we're about to see the biggest change in the distribution of products and services our world has ever seen.
The new millennium may be just around the corner, but my research suggests that Amway is prepared. They should be. They've spent almost four decades getting ready, and they are.
Q: A final question. You have published open letters to, and about, Amway Distributors in USA Today newspaper, you've written books about them, and you have spoken out publicly about the positive values and attitudes of distributors. What do you plan to do next?
SH: I'm going to give achievers the opportunity to speak for themselves. If I tell their story for them, people may listen, but I would rather let the distributors tell the real story themselves.
I mean the real story, the positive, uplifting story I've heard again and again from distributors in every city and in countries around the world. It's a very exciting story. It's about very real people, and it's about the benefits and the positive effects the Amway business is creating in their lives.
So I'm inviting them to write to me, and I'm going to publish their stories in The Helmstetter Report, on this web site at www.firedup.org. (To send me your achiever's story, go to Fired-up! Letters.) So stay tuned—and get ready for more of the real story of today's Amway. There's a lot more to come.
Editor's note: Dr. Helmstetter's comments are presented in The Helmstetter Report without approval, support, or endorsement of the Amway Corporation or any of its affiliates. His comments are entirely his own.