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June 11, 2007

Comments

Carroll

John, until my Google alert for Birdie came in with this, I had forgotten how vastly interesting your blog can be, even for someone completely outside the world of social media/commercial branding. And, when my curiosity led me sideways from here to Konk, well, you've just been double-bookmarked, Mister!

Birdie

John, there's one incredibly important thing I neglected to leave out of my goodbye essay - the way that my crazy Avon blog brought me to people I consider dear friends. You and your family are most certainly in that group, and I am grateful for our friendship. (And Carroll, in comments above me, is one of my bestest friends for life, and I met her through blogging, too!)

I am excited about starting a new chapter in my life. I've just begun working toward getting my teaching certification, and will be one of those old moms in college, as well as focusing on my writing with the hope of writing more books.

Now here's a bit of secret history I never blogged:

Avon was an incredible experience. I knew, going in, that I would never be a top-seller, or someone who would 'make it big' as an Avon rep. But I surprised even myself! I actually did make top seller in my district for beComing products (until Avon discontinued them), and even was offered a position as a District Sales Manager. I never blogged about that, as the selection process is proprietary and I had to sign non-disclosure forms. But I turned down the salary and benefits in order to continue my blogging and evangelizing, as I realized I couldn't continue if I accepted the position. Avon had no idea I was blogging about them - that was a little over two years ago now. I actually thought at the time that I was better serving Avon by writing about my experiences and giving my honest product reviews than I would have been by managing the 500 or so reps in my So Cal district. And I know I'm right! I did so much more good for them. I wanted to help inspire as many other reps and potential reps as I could.

What really turned me off to Avon wasn't the fact that being a regular rep is tough work with sporadic financial rewards. It wasn't even that Avon didn't notice my efforts. It was the handful of truly negative and snarky emails that folks at Avon HQ sent to others, where they described me and my blog in extremely unflattering terms. I thought about posting some of those, thought about writing a very different kind of essay, as I was hurt and upset. These emails are THAT horrifying! Didn't Avon realize they would end up being forwarded to me? The people writing to Avon were my blog readers, heck, were Birdie Evangelists! Silly, Avon, silly. It took me some months to wrestle with it. I pretty much disconnected from Avon then, though, and just stopped writing my adventures and letting the blog begin a decline.

It would have been a cathartic essay to write, had I crossed that bridge, but it's just not in my nature. And, in truth, I am grateful for my time as an Avon Lady, and wouldn't trade it for anything. I have become a more aware, more compassionate, more kind, and more loving person because I traveled door-to-door. There's some kind of miracle in that.

I hope that other companies (and Avon, too!) read your words here, and follow down to my comment. Being unkind is the sign of some kind of illness in a company, something that should be examined and illuminated. I hope that Avon has learned something - anything! - from my blogging about them, but most importantly, I hope that all of the reps who read my site didn't just come away with some fun tips and tricks, but also remember that the people they beautify can also beautify them.

Birdie

John Bell

You hit a nail on the head: that type of negativity (haven't seen the emails but I can guess) is a sign of a culture. It may be a culture of disrespect (forget about having people appreciate others, let's just start with some mutual, human compassion-based respect.)

Do some companies feel they "own" the brand? I certainly know many CMOs who talk like that. The people own the brands. It has always been that way. Now people have a louder voice and a bigger role to play.

You, on the other hand, will be a star wherever you go. Can't wait for the book and the ......

And Carol - thanks for the kind words. Shocked that anyone but me and two others remember Konk.

Martha

"Being unkind is the sign of some kind of illness in a company, something that should be examined and illuminated."

May I borrow this, with attribution? This is a Zen business koan.

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