We have Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity at this “Executive Q&A”. Steve has been working at Youngevity since 1997. Youngevity was founded by Joel D. Wallach and Ma Lan under the name of American Longevity.
Could you tell us about your education?
Great question! I think I’ve been learning my whole life! In grade school, I started out in Chicago, IL. We used to hear it all the time “I used to walk a mile to school in the snow”, but I did!
My father was working in zoo administration, so as I grew up, we wound up moving from city to city and zoo to zoo. I was in schools mostly in the South throughout my childhood. I also spent a lot of time at the various zoos, where I think I gained an aptitude for science, and loved working with the animals. I also learned a lot about nutrition from my father and working with a wide variety of animals.
When I was a teenager, my father was introduced to direct sales for the first time and that was with Amway, he became a very active and successful Distributor. This is where I first learned about direct sales as well.
I eventually enrolled in Portland State University and was pursuing a career as a Dentist. I was enrolled in Pre-Med and worked with a Dentist as well.
Over the past 26 years or so, I’ve continued learning
What was your childhood dream?
We lived in Florida, inside the Jacksonville Zoo, and after seeing Jaws in the theater when I was about 7, I thought for sure I wanted to be an oceanographer.
What were your past experiences before your current role at Youngevity?
As I grew up and in to my teenage years, people around me were small business owners and so I got excited about working for myself. I believed owning a retail store was in my future, a pet store in fact.
And when I was 18, I became a partner in the coolest tropical fish store in the Northwest specializing in exotic salt water fish. We would purchase them directly from the collectors all over the world, something that most shops couldn’t achieve back then. Although the store closed, I look back on it as a success, I learned so much, and wound up with lifelong friends from that experience as well.
What do you attribute your career success to most?
I attribute my career successes to learning from great people, I had the good fortune of growing up around my father who taught me so much about life and business, an amazing lady named Betty, who taught me more valuable life lessons and really what it takes on a day in and day out to build a business. I learned from Bill Smith who reinforced what I had learned and new to be true, and Richard Renton who embodies all of it.
I have had the great fortune to have an amazing partner in life and business in my wife, Michelle who without her by my side, I would not be able to achieve the things we dream up together, we make a great team.
What has been your most inspiring moment?
My most inspiring moment – I have come to learn the experiences and relationships in life are the real wealth, the birth of each of my three sons, each time one of them accomplishes something new, I’m so proud! Of course, my wedding day was pretty amazing too!
I love anything related to vintage cars and airplanes, classic sports cars, (50’s and 60’s Corvettes in particular, as well as classic Ferraris). World War II planes are something I would like to spend more time on as well.
How would you describe being a direct selling executive to an outsider?
It’s the best opportunity for the average person to succeed in business. It’s our job to help them with achieve the possibilities, find their passion, and reach their prosperity.
What is your biggest achievement at Youngevity?
My biggest achievement in Youngevity has been starting the company, growing the company to more than 300 employees, and helping tens of thousands of people better their lives. Taking Youngevity public so others can share in the ownership of the company has also been a major accomplishment.
And your biggest challenge at a direct selling company executive role?
The biggest challenge is managing so many moving parts and this is a people business which I love, but that brings additional challenges as well.
What would be your best advice to those who are thinking of joining a direct sales company at a corporate position?
Be passionate about people! Be passionate about celebrating other people’s accomplishments and successes! Always be looking for ways to innovate, to make things easier for people to have a better experience with your company. As Steve Jobs said, provide amazing experiences for people that interact with your company.