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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Way to Give Back to Veteran Families

On Memorial Day, we pause to honor all those special heroes who donned a uniform to serve our country.

They say every man is more handsome in a uniform. But this is a fellow I’m particularly proud of every Memorial Day. He’s my dad, Leon Gurzenski, who died when I was 11. He was in World War I – the “Great War to end all wars.” Then along came a tyrant by the name of Adolph Hitler, who brought about World War II. The U.S. has had its share of fallen heroes with a series of conflicts leading up to the current combat in Afghanistan. So many men and women have sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to live in freedom. Just one day seems terribly inadequate to honor them all. But honor them we do, not just those who have died, but those in active service today, as well as thousands of veterans, who returned with permanent physical and mental scars of their time in battle. All those medals acknowledging their bravery isn’t enough either.

Those of us at the All Natural Country Store, proud distributors of J.R. Watkins’ 250+ “made-in-the-USA” products, try to do a bit more. The Watkins Company has been around since 1868. That’s 145 years if you care to count. That’s long before my dad was old enough to fit in that sailor’s uniform. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy as soon as possible, and served until he returned from overseas with a broken back and an honorable discharge. He lived with back pain for the rest of his life, dying prematurely at the age of 60. As I said, I’m very proud and eternally grateful that he was my dad, and served his country so long and proud, even though his life was cut short because of that service.

Because Watkins has been around through all those wars, many of those wives and husbands left at home while their spouses fought on foreign soil had to do what they could to make ends meet. The perfect part-time job for them was as members of the J.R. Watkins family of sales people. Some of them steered horse-drawn wagons across the plains. Later, many of them drove some of Henry Ford’s first models from farm-to-farm across this country’s heartland. Today’s Watkins sales team can be found at farmers markets and peddlers markets across the country. In fact, we managers of the All Natural Country Store “worked” the Big Bear Lake Elk’s Club Peddlers Market this Memorial Day weekend. We use the word “worked” loosely because of all the neighbors and holiday weekend guests, who are drawn to this ideal mountain lake community covered with pine trees, and only a short drive east of San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. Frequent customers have become friends, the kind you can talk with over the back fence and catch up on their busy lives. We extend an additional 10% off the retail price to all veterans during the Memorial Weekend.  That’s on top of the 25% we extend to anyone who joins our Watkins All Natural Country Store Wholesale Shoppers Club for just $39.95.

I can’t help thinking that somewhere up there dad is looking down proudly, not only because we have established our own Watkins business, but because we have helped many other veterans and surviving spouses build their own home-based Watkins businesses. That’s the kind of reward that we consider priceless.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Psychology of Running Your Own Business
I was skeptical at first, but after some five years, people around me have seen a real personality adjustment.

Who would have thought? You hear all those coaxing attributes of being in business for yourself. You get to set your own hours. No need to report to anyone other than your own spouse, perhaps. Time to take your own vacations, napping in the afternoon if you feel like it, and feeling good about it, too. 

Well, almost. You just might find that those first few years can require ‘round the clock work hours while you develop a firm foundation for your firm. Every time you want to sit down and rest, or take that afternoon nap, you may be thinking, “What should I be doing right now to keep the business on track? Should I have a website up and running by now? What about facebook, Twitter or Linkedin? Lots of stuff to juggle in the air at one time, even though your office has been set up on your former dining room table as long as you can remember. Eating off TV trays in front of a flickering screen seems to be the only entertainment you felt comfortable in taking. 

To achieve success in any business, you have to do more than just try. You really must want to succeed. You get just as much from a new business as you put into it. If it was really so easy, everyone would be doing it. Then why go into business if it can bring about all those pressures? Just one word -- Independence. I think of that every Independence Day, even though that’s a working weekend when the Big Bear Elks Club Peddler’s Market can result in high sales from holiday vacationers on the mountain. But we can rest on Monday, when all those other 9-to-5ers have to rush back to their cubicles. Remember those days? I don’t miss them for a minute. 

Each year of business goes better, runs smoother, with a lot less stress. The recovering economy is a factor, of course. I’ll never forget our first Watkins conference, when we were called to the podium and honored for being the 6th leading associates in the entire country and Canada. We were even asked to be on the program to tell how we became managers in four months, and seemed to increase our numbers every month thereafter. You must be doing something right when you quality to be on the All Star Team, the highest producers in the company, every year since joining Watkins. We felt like the little engine that could was making some progress. 

Such success breeds self-confidence.  I like to tell how Alan dragged me to that first Watkins event kicking and screaming, “We’re in the middle of a recession.  
Alan Lukes & David Gurzenski
Are you crazy with all this talk about starting our own business now when all the cards are against us?”  But every year got better, particularly after running a small ad on Google, and suddenly we were a national company, international, in fact, when you count in our Canadian team members.  

When Alan gets a call from a perspective recruit now, he can rattle off the many benefits of being associated with Watkins, and the amazing compensation program he considers the best in the business. For me, keeping tabs on the facebook page, pushing out these blog postings, and studying ways to market our business – all amazing activities that I love doing since that’s the area is which my education was based. 

Naturally, when people come up to me and ask, “How’s business?” a big grin crosses my face, and I truly can say “Great!” Do I worry? Of course, to a degree, we all do. But I safely can say that success has brought many pleasures, but probably the greatest one is seeing that guy in the mirror every morning, and telling him, “You got your own business, and everything else doesn’t really feel like a major issue any more. I like being my own boss! I’m happier. I can joke about myself, and really enjoy meeting new people and telling them the Watkins story. After this long with an organization, learning the corporate culture, as they say, becomes second nature. 
Alan Lukes and David Gurzenski, Co-Managers of the All Natural Country Store
Care to talk about it with someone who knows a thing or two about launching your own Watkins business?  Just call 888-881-5232. Alan can tell you how supportive your Watkins managers can be so you develop more confidence in hanging out your own shingle. You will build your own self-esteem in knowing you CAN build a Watkins part-time business to supplement your family’s income. ~ David Gurzenski