Thursday, August 15

Rich DeVos, Founder of Amway, Selling America, Part II


by Mark A. Cohen

Written : Jul. 31, 2013, previously unposted



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Continued from last week’s post.



Rich DeVos, co-founder of the Amway Corporation
Rich DeVos, co-founder of the Amway Corporation


Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel started the Amway Corporation in 1959. Rich DeVos is known for his powerful and positive style in delivering speeches. I once tried to sell Amway products but I am not a salesman, so I gave it up. However, one of DeVos’ best speeches has stuck with me throughout the years. It is a tribute to the American free enterprise system. I transcribed the speech a few years ago from the cassette tape I still own. It is outlined in this series, “Selling America.”



Rich DeVos:



But you see, the thing we project, the attitude we show, has as much to do with it as anything. And so, I want to talk to you about Selling America. And I include the Canadians because I maintain you are Americans because we all live on the North American continent. (applause) And, we share a common system. (more applause which makes him pause again)



 Amway co-founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.
Amway co-founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.


I of course welcome you and I recognize you’re Canadians, and that we’ve taken words and say we’re Americans and you’re Canadians, but we all work under the same concept. And, that’s why the border goes unguarded. And that’s why we go back and forth so freely because we have so much in common.



But, when I ask you to sell America, I maintain it’s a part of a greater job. I want you to go out from this place to be successful. I want you to achieve. I want you to use the talents God has given so you can make a contribution. I want you to assume roles of leadership so you can take those people who don’t know that the opportunities are available to them – and make them see the light.



And, maybe all they’re waiting for is a word from you. And, you know sometimes that word is so simple. It goes like this:



“Hey John, you can do it!” And you know, maybe nobody’s ever told him that. You’d better think about that. You know, my dad used to say that to me. I used to say, “Oh, I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” And he’d say, “You say can’t once more, and I’ll knock your block right through that wall!” (mild laughter)



Encouragement, Rich DeVos-style.
Encouragement, Rich DeVos-style.


So somebody kept saying to me as somebody has said to you – You can do it, you can do it, it does pay, you can get ahead, but you see those people never had it. Let me give you an example:



In your school right now there’s some girl or some boy who doesn’t dress quite as well as you think he ought to – but you’ve got your own little clique going over there in the corner, haven’t you? And so this poor soul, who maybe is dressing as best they can walks by and somebody says (laughing at him), “Look at that.” (nervous laughter)



You don’t have to say any more than that, you know. They feel a little bad anyway that they can’t afford something better. But, you see, in that moment you helped to destroy that person. Because, you see, that little snicker might just have been the whole thing that broke that girl’s heart, or that boy’s heart. But a friendly word from you could have changed that whole situation.



Rich DeVos appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1982.
Rich DeVos appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1982.


Some of you are decrying the fact that some kids in your school haven’t gone on and they’re dropping out… And you haven’t stopped to wonder the affect you had on the reason they dropped out. See, you’re the bright ones. You’re the leaders. You can afford some slop. And what I mean is that - so you skipped a day. But the problem was when you skipped you didn’t do it alone. You said, “Come on, John, go with us for a day, we’re going to this lake to go swimming. Oh, we’ll skip today. Well, when you came back it was alright, you caught up in a hurry, so you took a grade down that day – it was alright. It didn’t matter to you, but you know to John it might have just knocked the edge off it. And then he slipped just a little behind that day. He never quite caught up and when end of the semester came he flunked the course. Not because he wasn’t the greatest, because he wasn’t that smart, but he was making it until you taught him a habit that took him away. He couldn’t afford that day - you could. But you undermined his whole future because you taught him a bad habit that day.



 Rich DeVos: ‘You can DO it!’
Rich DeVos: ‘You can DO it!’


You see, the little things you do folks, affect the lives of people every day. There’s no escaping the impact you have on others. And certainly as the leaders in your community you’re just not one of the gang, you’re one they point to, they look to… And every word of encouragement can change the lives of the others with whom you live.




This is the end of Part II




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From the Left to the Right - Agenda 21 Post #3, 4/17/12



From the Left to the Right - Agenda 21 Post #4, 7/10/12



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From the Left to the Right - Agenda 21 Post #6, 12/04/12



From the Left to the Right - Agenda 21 Post #7, 01/08/12



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Keywords: Conservatism, Conservative blog, Mark A. Cohen, From the Left to the Right, Rich DeVos, Jay Van Andel, Amway, Selling America, Rich DeVos’ Junior Achievement Speech



Keywords: "Conservatism", "Conservative blog", "Mark A. Cohen", "From The Left to the Right", “Rich DeVos”, “Jay Van Andel”, “Amway”, “Selling America”, “Rich DeVos’ Junior Achievement Speech”



Mark A. Cohen is currently seeking representation for his memoir, From The Left to the Right.



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