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Friday
Feb152013

Carl Icahn Reveals His Massive Stake In HerbaLife

During Friday's lunch-hour, activist investor Carl Icahn once again hit the CNBC airwaves for a frank 30+ minute discussion on HerbaLife, and Bill Ackman.  Even during their now legendary billionaire battle on live tv,  Mr. Icahn has never publicly announced how large his investment in HerbaLife was.  

But he put all of those rumors to rest Friday when he disclosed his impressive 13% stake in HerbaLife to the SEC.  HerbaLife shares have since jumped to a pre-Ackman level of $45 (the entire video is below).  Referring to the ethical nature of Mr. Ackman's short:

"It's really unfair to shareholders and unfair to the people working at HerbaLife" - Carl Icahn

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb012013

The Best Email Marketing I've Ever Seen

 

Thursday
Jan312013

2012 State of the Blog : Analytics

Wednesday
Jan302013

Tupperware CEO Rick Goings Insults NY Taxi Cabs On Earnings Call

On an earnings call yesterday, Tupperware CEO Rick Goings gave an interesting answer to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Olivia Tong about why the company’s U.S. business had a soft year:

"One of the issues – this is going to be a hill for us to climb in the U.S. — we are a high quality product and a brand. Why do we do better in Europe than we do in the U.S.? Hey, take a look at the average brand of cab that you get into New York City, I mean they’re filthy. They’re junk. Get in a cab over here (in Europe). It’s a Mercedes or an Audi".

He continued: "The U.S.A. is basically a WalMart Market. Our top-tier products like the Microsteamer or the Ultra Plus, both 100-year old products, are hard to sell in the U.S. because that’s a discount market over there….They buy price. Europe buys quality, Japan quality. And our issue is how do we find the right product mix for the U.S. to make it happen there? And I’ve got to tell you, Olivia, it is challenging", said Tupperware CEO Rick Goings.

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Tuesday
Jan292013

Herbalife Prepares Counter-Attack On Bill Ackman

Unless you've been living under a rock, you are aware of  the HerbaLife/Ackman drama that has been playing out in the financial media recently.  Since the Ackman assault on Herbalife as a pyramid scheme,  HerbaLife's Chairman/CEO Michael Johnson has been defending his company reputation.  

Herbalife has been playing defense for about a month now, and after a rollercoaster ride, the stock seems to have reached its pre-Ackman drama level.  

But now, it seems the multi-level company is about to counter-attack.  Word leaked late last night that HerbaLife had purchased three domain names: 

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Tuesday
Jan292013

CEO School: Don't Waste Your Investor's Cash

CEO School is a series of posts that are aimed at helping founders of direct selling start ups with the principles of knowledge they must possess in order to build a successful direct selling business.  This is Part 5 of 23.

This post is about debt.  It's a wicked four letter word.  There is good debt, and then there is bad debt.  Most debt is bad debt.  You can call it an investment for a while, but that only lasts for a time, if and until you begin to see a growing revenue stream coming in as a result of the investment.  After that, it's about how long you take to convert your good debt to the profitability stage.  And if you don't, it will become bad debt.  And then your company will most likely be one of the ones that does not make it.

So you've got an idea,  you think it's foolproof  - and you are aiming to "invest" in all the bells and whistles you think you need to make it work.  I advise you to revise your plan.   Taking investors' money means being a good steward of another person's cash.   Don't waste it on things that will not lead to sales.  Revise the plan.  Don't ask for $250K, when you really need $475K.  A good investor would spot that, and never allow their $250K to be at risk.  How much cash will you burn through?  

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Monday
Jan282013

Kentucky Attorney General & FTC Announce: Fortune High-Tech Marketing Is An Illegal Pyramid Scheme

Word has now leaked that Federal Officials have been seen leaving the Lexington Headquarters of FHTM (Fortune High-Tech Marketing).  The FTC is due to announce this at their press conference at 1:00pm EST.  You can watch it live on their UStream Channel.  (or embedded below)

FHTM has been sending employees home.  Herbalife & Nu Skin shares have been getting slammed needlessly due to this since this mystery press conference was announced earlier this morning.  HLF & NUS shares are now surging at this time.  

Interesting to note: FHTM is NOT a member of the Direct Selling Association.

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Monday
Jan282013

Bill Ackman's Herbalife AdWords Campaign To Dissuade Customers

Friday
Jan252013

Mister Market Gives Icahn The Win

Activist investor, Carl Icahn, went on the offensive today poking holes in Bill Ackman's infamous HerbaLife short thesis during an unbelievable 30+ minutes on CNBC earlier this afternoon.  And the market clearly gave the win to Icahn during the debate.  

Here's why: Mr. Icahn brought up the fact that Mr. Ackman's fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, hadn't done too well last year.  The firm waited until the last 8 days of trading left for 2012, and then revealed their short,  attacking HerbaLife as a pyramid scheme, so that their "portfolio" would look VERY positive "on paper".  Mr. Icahn stated that this is not the first time Ackman has done this.  He then raised the spectre of a "short squeeze".  

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Friday
Jan252013

Carl Icahn Accuses Bill Ackman Of Manipulating HerbaLife Stock Price Due To A "Bad Year"

If you missed CNBC's segment with Bill Ackman & Carl Icahn about twenty minutes ago, I was able to get the entire exchange down quickly from CNBC's website.  It was a classic.  Two billionaire heavyweights battling it out on live tv, with Icahn cursing a few times, and even accusing the show's host of bullying him.  

Icahn made a great point, in that Bill Ackman strategically took down HerbaLife's stock just at the last minute in 2012, because their portfolio (Pershing Square Capital Management) was having a bad year.

Ackman also claimed that "we have not covered our short on HerbaLife".  Which would make me terrified personally if I had ANY money with Bill Ackman's fund this morning.  Bill Ackman is clearly playing russian roulette with his fund's money now.  

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Wednesday
Jan162013

Herbalife CEO Fires Back At Short Seller Bill Ackman

Last month, Bill Ackman, who runs $11 billion Pershing Square Capital Management, presented a three-hour-long short thesis explaining why he thinks Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.

The CEO of Herbalife, Michael Johnson, fired back Thursday with a 100+ slide presentation effectively countering Mr. Ackman's thesis, defending not only Herbalife, but the Multi-Level Marketing  business model as well.  The entire presentation and webcast is available here.

As of Wednesday evening, the Securities & Exhange Commission has now opened an investigation into Herbalife, and that might be good news for the company's investors if it clears the company's name, as I believe it will do.  It's a baseless accusation.  

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Friday
Jan112013

What Is Short Selling?

Monday
Dec032012

CEO School: Pursue Your Goals Relentlessly

CEO School is a series of posts that are aimed at helping founders of direct selling startups with the principles of knowledge they must possess in order to build a successful direct selling business.  This is Part 4 of 23. 

The ability to execute a plan, efficiently and quickly, is one of the most vital skill-sets of the startup CEO.    Many entrepreneurs have great ideas.  But the real skill is in the quick and efficient execution of the idea, so that momentum of growth is achieved.  So, while a great idea can prove to be an attractive investment, my first consideration in an investment is in the entrepreneur, and the ability to execute.  The entrepreneur you want on the job is the one with laser focus, the ability to capitalize on every milestone achieved, and to push forward relentlessly.  Time is the enemy of all startups, certainly on a par with lack of funding.    

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Monday
Oct152012

3 Mistakes U.S. Direct Selling Companies Make When Going International

So, you've decided to grow your successful US direct selling company by taking it on the road and opening in international countries.  You know what you know, and you also may know that there are many things you don't know.  So you hire knowledge to tell you what you don't know.  And hopefully that is helpful.  

But, after many company, and country opening experiences, let me pontificate on three things to think about when going international.  For all of you reading this in countries other than the US, no matter where, you will recognize some of your favorite American stories and colleagues here.

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Thursday
Oct112012

CEO School: Choose A Bold Mission

CEO School is a series of posts that are aimed at helping founders of direct selling startups with the principles of knowledge they must possess in order to build a successful direct selling business.  This is Part 3 of 23.

Felix Baumgartner has a bold mission.  On October 14, he will attempt to break three world records as he jumps from the edge of space: the highest freefall leap; the fastest speed ever achieved by a human; and to become the first person to break the sound barrier of around 690 miles per hour in freefall.

CEOs with a bold mission rally their teams around a purpose that unites and energizes them.  The mission may not be as spectacular as Baumgartner's, but it may be more influential on the world's inhabitants for its impact and reach.

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Monday
Oct082012

7 Direct Selling Companies For Me

Peddling wares has a long history.  Direct selling companies, a modern day derivative, have allowed sellers to take on less (inventory) risk, and to promote a reliable and recognizable brand to consumers.  One of the first such companies, Avon, was founded over a hundred years ago and relied on its first seller, Mrs. Albee, to test the market and sell fragrance door to door. In the ensuing years, and to this day, direct sellers are mainly women.  This is in part due to the fact that women need the flexibility of the part time work that direct selling companies offer, and because of, or maybe as a result of that fact, the product lines, e.g., jewelry, cosmetics, are geared to be sold by women.  

However, these days more men have entered the direct selling world, as both traditional companies and new MultiLevelMarketing (MLM) companies have made a distinct effort to appeal to men.  Even product lines previously sold almost exclusively by women are now not only sold by

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Thursday
Sep272012

3 Simple Reasons To Invest In Mobile For 2013

These days you hear a lot about the importance of mobile phones, the effect it is having on how we use the web, and therefore, the change it is bringing with it regarding how people interact with your company.  

For many people, mobile phones are the only connection they have with the internet. That's important to note primarily for marketers, because it's their only channel to interact with your company.  

Since I travel so often, my mobile phone is the primary way that I browse the web when I'm away.  And even when I'm home, the importance of mobile-ready websites is ever growing when it comes to local businesses.  I discovered a new restaurant last week using Google Maps, and viewed their menu before deciding to dine there.  

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Tuesday
Sep252012

CEO School: Early Decisions Can Sink Your Startup

CEO School is a series of posts that are aimed at helping founders of direct selling startups with the principles of knowledge they must possess in order to build a successful direct selling business.  This is Part 2 of 23.

So what's next?  As you start raising capital, you'll need to think about how to structure your startup.  How many owners?  Do you want partners?  Who's CEO?  Will some partners be employees? Which ones?  How much equity do you give away?  Do we want VC money?  When is the right time to approach VC's?

These are crucial questions.  Many startups have collapsed due to decisions made at this early stage.  It's the reason why this subject is Part 2 in our series.  It's that important.  There might be moments down the road where you'll want to magically go back in time, and NOT make that decision.  Some money isn't worth it, if it means giving away too much equity.   

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Sunday
Sep232012

Why Learning To Code Is The New </Mandarin>

When I was first appointed President of Mary Kay Germany, I took a two week crash course in German, started my job, and then only had time to further my skills on weekends.  Being able to converse and read in elementary German changed my 5 year experience in Germany and enhanced my appreciation for Germany and its people, culture and traditions.  At the very least, I understood what people were talking about in a rudimentary way, so I was "in the game" when the conversation drifted from English to German.  And Germans appreciated my interest and my attempts to keep up with them in their language.

Today, I read about parents who are teaching their 5 year olds Mandarin.  I agree that Mandarin is going to be increasingly useful in business in the future, but we adults should be paying attention to another language: code.

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Wednesday
Sep192012

8 MLM Companies With Monster Growth In 2012

One of the several ways I like to analyze a company is to see how consistent the web traffic is.  It's one thing to have a good month, or a great quarter, but "monster growth" is about just how well your message is catching fire over time.  Web traffic is a reliable indicator for this, especially when it shows an exploding trendline.     

All of the companies included here are showing important growth over last year.  I have only displayed their web traffic to show this, not revenue.  

The graphs below measure "unique visitors".  Every company has added a minimum of 80% growth over last year to their website.  In some cases, they have up to 2,600% growth over last year.  In every case, 90% of the unique visitors have visited the websites through organic traffic, not paid traffic.  

Click to read more ...