I don’t give up on anything. I’m very productive, because I’m very focused because of my math background. I’m extremely analytical, and that’s what makes me most productive.
Wendy Lewis grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She went to the University of Pennsylvania for college and majored in math and sociology. She received her master’s degree from Temple University in Educational Psychology Testing and Measurement Statistics. Following that, she started out teaching school, and taught mathematics for about eight or eight-and-a-half years. She moved to Japan, and then Virginia, where her children were born.
In time, Wendy began working with Randy Ray, who would become her husband and business partner. The two started many businesses together, before launching Jeunesse Global in 2009.
Where did the idea for Jeunesse Global come from?
Randy Ray, my husband, and I found a software that we wanted to sell. It was the Medical Manager, which was the number one software in the U.S. at that time. And we started selling that and we became number one in the United States of all medical and stayed that way for eight years that we owned the company. We sold the company and we formed another company called Alpha Computer Services. We split up the hardware division of the company into a separate company, and we took that company to number 184 in the INC 500 fastest-growing privately-held companies in America. And that was a hardware maintenance company.
When the INC 500 report came out, we had a lot of people that wanted to buy it. And I thought good time to sell, because who’s going to maintain computers? The prices were coming down. Everyone was going from mini computers to PCs. And printers, you know, when they start breaking, you throw them away and get a new printer. So everything was coming down in prices, and I thought people aren’t going to maintain or have maintenance prospects.
So we got rid of that company. But while we owned that company, we started doing locating of computers for multi-level marketing companies, network marketing companies. And during that time, people started asking us, “Could you do consulting?”
I started consulting on compensation plans a lot, and because of my map background that was easy for me to figure out if the comp plan was going to work or it wasn’t going to work, and if they were going to overpay. So, I rewrote a lot of comp plans. Then they started asking us to do customer service because we did that in the medical company. So, we started doing customer service. And eventually, we were like the whole back-office support for quite a number, probably around 15 different direct sales companies. And we did their customer service. We shipped their product if they needed it. You know, everyone had different requirements. And we were their whole infrastructure, basically, for a lot of start-up companies. So we did that and then someone came to us and they had a product and they asked us to bring up a company for them. And we said, “Yeah. That’s what we’re doing. We’ve written our software and everything.” And they said, “The only thing is we don’t have any money.” We said, “Well we don’t usually do it for free.” So he decided that we should own the company and bring up the software and get everything going, and he would be the master distributor. And that’s the first company that we owned. That was FFI, and FFI, eventually, was merged into Jeunesse in time. By then, Randy and I were married. I was living 75 miles away and commuting, and eventually Randy and I became best friends and we just decided that we wanted to be together. And, actually, that’s the best way to be. Be best friends first.
We were working together so much because we were starting these companies and everything. Around when we started, Randy had problems with his knee, and he wanted to find a way that he could do something without having knee replacement surgery. In March of 2009, President Obama passed a bill in Congress to allow stem cell research in the United States, so we found a doctor in Beverly Hills, California that was doing stem cells and injecting stem cells into the knee. We went out there for Randy to have that treatment, and while we were in the doctor’s office, I saw a bottle of serum in his cabinet while I was waiting.
The women in the doctor’s office were showing me before and after pictures of people who had tried the serum, and I thought, “Geez. I want to try that, too. I need this product.” So I took a bottle home and just tried it. And after a few weeks, I said to Randy, “This product is amazing.”
So, we went back to California, we met with Dr. Newman and we talked to him about his product. And Randy said, “How many of these do you sell in a month?” And he said, “Oh, about 40 to my patients.” And Randy said, “Oh. Well, how would you like to sell 40,000 a month?” And he laughed, and said, “Sure, but how do I do that?” And Randy said, “Give us your formula, and we’ll show you how.” We made changes to it to make it, I think, absorb better, but the main ingredient was still the same. We came back home and tried to figure out what we needed to do to start an anti-aging company, because our focus was to stay young. So, we created what we call Y.E.S. The Youth Enhancement System. And that’s how Jeunesse began.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Well, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is I go to the gym. And the reason I go to the gym first thing in the morning – I usually go at seven – is I know once the day starts, I’ll never get there. I tried other times, but I get too busy. Then I have meetings scheduled in the office and I meet with other staff in between things, in between the meetings, do conference calls. When I come home in the evening, I catch up on all my distributor costs because I don’t have time during the day. So, I’m working pretty much nonstop even at night. And then I read before I go to sleep, to relax and take my mind off work. I also try to put my phone on silent so that I don’t keep jumping up and answering a call.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I have an idea of something or a product or something I see that I really like, and I’ve used it and I love it, I’ll give you an example. NV is our new foundation. It took me two years to get it out there. But I just loved the product and I’d been using it for two years. And I go to the various people, staff members, who can make it happen, but also let them try it. We ran a lot of trial runs and surveyed people and got their opinion on the product. And then we take it through, we have a whole process for everything on how to get products out to market. But it took us two years.
We have some others. We have a product we’re working on right now that we’ve been working on since we started Jeunesse, and that was almost eight-and-a-half years ago. And other ideas of how to do things, I go to the staff members that are in charge of that area and tell them what I like, and then they argue with me, usually, and we see from there.
What’s one trend that excites you?
What I’d like to see happen more than anything else is for the industry to be accepted as a viable business, and a good thing for anyone. So many people think, oh, don’t look at that because it’s network marketing. I’d like it to be more accepted, and I think it’s becoming more accepted. It certainly is in other countries. The U.S. is just a little bit slower, I think. If you go to Asia, there are so many people, the people that work network marketing company are full time networkers and this is their livelihood. This is what they do. In the U.S. it’s not as accepted like that, not as much. So that’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see it be more accepted and trusted.
When it comes to my long-term goals, there are a lot of little things that I’ve been working on for many years. But my goal, not just for the company but for me also, it’s about helping women to be independent. That’s a big deal for me. I feel like when I was starting out in my career, everybody thought women should be teachers or nurses. That’s probably how I ended up being a teacher. But I really feel like the world just opened to women now, and I would like women – and I feel like this was something I stressed with my daughter.
It’s really important to be an independent person and be able to go through the world and life without depending on anyone. And today, it’s important because today most of the time the men and women, husband and wife, have to both work. So, I think it’s a really important thing to be independent and be able to reach your goals and dreams on your own. It’s good to have help, but you don’t always have help. And that’s what I like working with the women in the company, not only employees but distributors and also the children. And the reason I focus on women is because I feel like women do not always get a fair chance today, even today. So, I’d like to see it more equal. In our company, we’re 80 to 90 percent women.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Well, I don’t give up on anything. I’m very productive, because I’m very focused because of my math background. I’m extremely analytical, and that’s what makes me most productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Oh, boy. Probably learn to be an independent person, an independent woman, because back in my time, we weren’t. Women weren’t as accepted in the workforce and to be more mellow. Don’t let anything get to you, because it slows you down. I used to get so upset about some little things that I would get in a tizzy about something. Now, I just let it go. I’m much more mellow. And if I could have done that a lot younger, I probably would have been doing a lot of great things younger than I was.
One thing I’ve learned is if you can’t change something, don’t stew over it, don’t get upset, let it go. It’s not easy, but if you focus on what you want to achieve and you don’t allow yourself to become complacent and happy with where you are, you have to keep working towards your goals. And complacency is the biggest disease and the worst thing that can happen. I was once doing work for a company-this is before we had Jeunesse-and we were doing customer service and paying their commissions. It was a network marketing company. And their CFO said to me, “We don’t need you to be so good. You don’t have to be excellent. Good is enough.” But good is never enough in my opinion.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I don’t know. Everybody agrees with me, of course. I can’t think of one thing that people don’t agree exactly off the top of my head. There are plenty of things people don’t agree with me on but I can’t think of one particular thing. Maybe that network marketing should be more widely accepted.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I don’t know that I do this over and over, but it is something that I think I recommend everybody else do: you need to learn to take time for yourself. I’ve worked nonstop and I could work nonstop, but I don’t make the best decisions and I’m not as productive as if I take time for myself. I need to take that time for myself-otherwise, I’d just be working. I think that’s what I recommend, make sure you schedule time for yourself every day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Trusting my own instincts. Like I said before, that’s one strategy has helped me the most, because if I listen to other people all the time and I don’t trust my instincts, we make wrong decisions. A lot of times I’ll be really firm about something and they’ll say, “Won’t you consider this?” And I’ll say no. I’ve already considered it, and I know it won’t work. I had to learn to stay firm, otherwise I get wishy washy. So, I think it’s helped me to be strategic and to trust my own instincts.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was my shyness. I was very, very shy. In general, I still am. Even when I was teaching, the superintendent, or the principal of the school would come in and observe you. I couldn’t even speak when they’d come in. I’d break out in hives because I was so scared and shy and nervous.
When we started working together, Randy and I, when we’d go on stage, I couldn’t talk. I held his hand, and he talked. But now, I’ve learned that I can actually speak in front of people no matter how big the audience is. There can be 20,000 out there, or 100,000, it doesn’t matter. And I can do it. So, I learned how to overcome my shyness.
Shyness is a big one, especially for this industry. A lot of people think they can’t do it because they’re afraid to pick up a phone and call someone. They’re afraid to tell somebody about this great product. They’re shy, because a lot of people just say no to you-but that’s okay. Move on. There are plenty of people that want to try the products. Because our products are amazing.
A lot of people ask me too, “Why do you think Jeunesse is so successful, and has done so well?” And the reason I think Jeunesse has done so well, it’s not our products, it’s not our compensation plan. We have a great compensation plan, we have outstanding products, and we ship to 140 countries, but a lot of companies can do that. What makes us different is the heart relationship. That we really care about our distributors and them doing well. It’s like a family. A very big family.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
That’s a hard one. I don’t know that I can come up with anything specific very quickly, but I can say you should look for business ideas through the eyes of the customer. Where do you see something missing? Look to women especially-this is a pivotal time for women in business.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have no idea. I try to keep it simple, so I can’t even think of what I’ve spent money on recently that wasn’t a necessity or something similar.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
There’s a lot of social media that was out there that have made the company very successful. I think the usual, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those things are all things that we embrace of the company. And, personally, I use them, but I’m usually so busy that I read the stuff, but I don’t usually put things out there.
I read Facebook every day several times a day. And I go to our distributor’s Facebook accounts. I go to our corporate ones. And then we can get them for different regions, or different countries, we have different Facebook accounts. I go to Twitter, Instagram. I use all of them. But mostly to read what people are asking, and what they’re having problems with. So, if they’re having an issue that I can address by sending to the right person to fix it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I read a lot, and the reason reading is good for me is because it’s a way I can take my mind off of the work. Because even if I’m doing something else, my mind tends to wander to things I was supposed to do or things I could be doing. But I like to read. I love travel, and that’s part of the work, too. We travel a lot. But outside of that, my favorite thing to do is read. That’s my hobby.
There’s a lot of books that we recommend in the industry to read. I just read a book about love. It’s not a novel, it’s nonfiction, and that was really good. Now, one thing I’m really bad at is remembering the names of things: books, movies. I have a hard time remembering the names. I just delve in and read it. And I could tell you everything in it, but I couldn’t tell you the name of it.
What is your favorite quote?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
- Learn from others but be sure to trust yourself. Too much input at the beginning can introduce self-doubt.
- Identify your weaknesses and learn to overcome them, or work with them. Do not let them hold you back from achieving your goals.
- Embrace changes in the workplace. What you know, or may think you know, may not be the norm. Stay focused on your goals and be open to progress.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.