At age 79, Nutrilite Health Institute President Sam Rehnborg, Ph.D., is still very much a man on a mission.
The son of Nutrilite founder Carl F. Rehnborg, the man affectionately known as “Dr. Sam” is fired up about what he believes helps boost success for those ABOs selling Nutrilite™ vitamins and dietary supplements – and about his next vision for working with Amway Business Owners to make the world a better place.
Dr. Sam spoke with StartUp in the midst of an 18-month tour celebrating the 80th anniversary of Nutrilite, where he is speaking to thousands of Amway Business Owners around the world.
Q: In most markets, your wife Francesca joined you on tour as a presenter. What was that like?
Dr. Sam: Oh, Francesca was a big hit. She even did one presentation in Italian! She talked about what’s involved in good, healthy eating and why exercise is important. You know, experts make that complicated, but it’s really not complicated. It’s very simple.
Like me, Francesca is a big believer in the holistic approach to wellness that my father saw the Chinese embracing many moons ago. Health issues and lifestyle are interrelated – there’s no one product that’s going to fix you up. But it’s very simple – a balanced dietary intake coupled with daily exercise is what’s best for all of us.
People respond to us as a couple because we have lots of fun. She’s always coaching me to make sure I stay on point and they love how we interface with each other.
Amway has many husband-and-wife team business owners and when they see a husband-and-wife team presenting they say, “They’re just like us – together a long time. Exercising, laughing, dancing, communicating, helping people, enjoying life together.” They find it very appealing. It has a different kind of impact from the scientific messages.
Q: What’s the one question people always want to ask when they meet you?
Dr. Sam: How old I am. (Laughs.) People always ask, “How long have you been using the product? Which ones do you use?” They always want to know what my lifestyle is like, my exercise habits.
They also always ask about my dad and how he got started. We’re trying to share that story with more people to inspire them to take better care of themselves. It’s tough sometimes to get people who are in a rut to step outside of themselves.
Q: So how are you doing that?
Dr. Sam: The best way is to tell them stories about real people and get them exploring beyond themselves. I tell them, just take charge of your life! It’s your life; let no one else take charge but yourself. Your health is everything. Get into what’s involved in optimal health – eat right, rest right, exercise, get medical check-ups.
I challenge people to achieve their human potential, and only they know what that is. They need to search for it, reach for it. Everybody is different. Whether it’s research, agriculture, building things…don’t let me or someone else tell you what it is. Find your passion and go for it! But whatever you choose for yourself, make it honest, and speak about it from the heart.
Q: What is the number one piece of advice you give Amway Business Owners about selling Nutrilite™ products?
Dr. Sam: That the best way to talk about change is to be the change; that’s what attracts people. Nutrilite™ products are backed by scientifically sound statistics and claims, but it’s how the people who sell the product look and behave that influences others to try the product.
It’s delightful to see that ABOs [Amway Business Owners] are beginning to see the power and importance of being “products of the product.” On the tour I met three couples who are ABOs, just delightful people, who were the winners of a recent sales contest. I asked them, “What’s the most important thing you have to do in selling Nutrilite™ products?” They all said, “You’ve got to be the product of the product.”
You can’t sell a wellness concept if you’re not happy and don’t look good. My father learned that when he discovered [his best customer] Alma Stewart could sell Nutrilite™ products much better than he could with just the sparkle in her eyes. Now how could that be?
It’s just as true today – ABOs who are successful selling Nutrilite™ and Artistry™ products tend to look the part. They’re working hard but they are happy and sparkle. That’s what attracts people to the business. That’s where the positive stuff happens.
Q: You keep a grueling schedule on these tours. What keeps you going when you hit that wall of fatigue?
Dr. Sam: In all my travels I have visited about 102 countries, including probably 65 of the 100+ Amway countries and territories. I love them all, the people and cultures.
I have found it universal that when you talk to people one on one, they all want peace. Healthy kids. To enjoy life and what they’re doing. To laugh. They want to be working together as a team, doing something for the world, and to feel like they are doing something of value.
I’m driven to help people understand they have to take control of that for themselves. When you do that, you begin to see you’re really going to have an impact, on your life and other people’s. That’s very exciting to me, and it keeps me energized when I do the tours. That part never gets old for me.
Q: You mentioned you have some other passions you want to pursue. What’s next for Dr. Sam?
Dr. Sam: The environment and climate change. I hear so much talk about them when I travel the world. I find lots of interest in the difficulty of getting these topics across to people, and I want to help with that.
ABO leaders who are making Nutrilite their life know that health is everything but that there’s more to it – like taking care of people and the environment. All of that comes together in the Amway business.
It’s what my dad stumbled upon on his way to all this. The things we’re doing to improve farming practices on our Nutrilite farms, the ways we’re helping people promote their own health and to take charge of their lives, is what has helped propel Amway to success. In our case, we have a lot of people taking care of themselves. Now we’ve got them taking care of others, too, especially children through the introduction of Nutrilite™ Little Bits™ supplement and the Nutrilite™ Power of 5 campaign.
But we need to figure out how to live better on this planet. Some say we’re at the tipping point already. Finding a way to preserve the environment and stop climate change would be a huge win-win story for everybody.
That’s what I want to do next: rethink where we’re going, in the business and the opportunity, as a chance for people to get together around this world and take care of the environment. What does sustainable growth really mean? We all need to be the change we’re talking about and looking for. That’s what we’re trying to do with helping people take charge and effect change within the planet. People have got to get involved and take charge for themselves. Let’s be a driver, an enabler, of that. We can’t leave it for others to do.
In September, Francesca and I will begin a sailing trip through the South Pacific on a 78-foot sloop [a follow-up of his three-year sabbatical and sailing trip around the world in 1975]. We’re making the boat and the trip as sustainable as possible – solar panels, special generators, conserving fuel and water as much as we can as we travel.
We’ll be sailing about a year, year and a half, and I’ll be talking to ABO leaders via a blog about the changes to the environment in the last 40 years and the steps we need to take to help bring it back into balance.