Question: Looking back, what were some of the toughest challenges you and Steve faced when you were building Youngevity?
Answer: I am sure we had the same tough challenges any company faces when they first start out. Some of our challenges included finding a location big enough to fit our operation, working with our manufacturers to keep up with our growth, and finding qualified employees to keep up with our sales and shipping needs. As I think about it, the biggest task was finding the technology to keep up with our growth. Keep in mind, we started this company with a tape cassette recorder that took our “voicemail messages” after hours, a thermal fax machine that ran out of paper all the time, and a cell phone the size of a brick with one hour of battery time, yet it took 6 hours to charge. Our computers came from Comp USA and took up nearly a whole desk. In the beginning, each employee had a separate credit card machine on their desk to process orders. Can you imagine? We've come a long way since 1997, but I can assure you that in another 10, 15, or 20 years we will still be discussing the challenges of technology, and I will probably reflect on the setup we use today, in the same way I reflect on the setup we used in the beginning.
Question: You’ve played a big part in developing the company's social media presence. When did you realize social media was going to be an important tool for Youngevity and what are the most important things you’ve learned about online success?
Answer: I've got to give credit where credit is due, and this credit goes to our CEO, Steve Wallach, who pushed hard for 2 years for the company to get going on social media. When things failed to develop, I listened to Steve's suggestions, and in June 2010 I took over social media for Youngevity. I hired a social media expert to come in and advise us. I took outside courses on the subject and continue to do so every 6 months. Eventually, I went to work with Michael Bernoff, who truly taught me what I needed to know to be successful in any form of social media. It ultimately comes down to understanding how to interact with other human beings via technology. Here is what I've learned, and I believe it with all my heart. Youngevity is not just a company where people can buy products. It may have started out like that, but it has evolved into so much more. It is now a community of people that share the same beliefs about health and nutrition. They also have a passion for a variety of other interests, including, but not limited to, their pets, fashion, skin care and makeup, scrapbooking, memory keeping, jewelry, and more. Social media allows ALL of these people to come to one central point and share their experiences and their stories. They share through testimonials, pictures, personal insights, and professional celebrations. They ask for advice—on everything from how to make a scrapbook to how to build a business. These people have become part of my daily life, and over the last 4 years, they have truly become an extension of my family. Just ask Julie Tokoph. We have followed each other every day for 4 years, we Facebook message each other endlessly, yet we’ve probably spoken on the phone only a handful of times and we’ve only met in person once or twice. Still, I feel as close to her as I do most of my friends that live right next door to me. Social media made that possible. Social media made it possible to share Youngevity with a much bigger audience, and it continues to take us to new levels every month.
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