In the 1980s/90s my husband and I were active Amway distributors. By that I mean we didn’t just sell the product, we brought people into the business, taught them how they can help others and how to build their own businesses.
The personal and professional development in the distributor leg we were in was phenomenal and existed of many professionals, i.e. doctors, nurses, laywers, consultants and others. We were amongst people we related to well. But those who seemed to ‘rise’ up and above the leaders to build bigger businesses were often those who were desperate to change their way of life and needed to be doing something different.
I sometimes wonder if we didn’t build it big because we were comfortable where we were, although we had dreams of doing so. But I think the reality is that we were supposed to be doing something different and those years were meant to lay foundations and be a training ground. We learnt a lot about how to encourage people and build them up, make them know their own worth. It wasn’t about selling products, it was about building people and the use of the products would come of its own.
When I first began exploring setting up a home based secretarial network (before we were known as VAs) I actually thought it would be a good way to source new prospects for my Amway business (shock, horror!).
But it only took me a month or two to realise that I had something else in my hands, something that would help women (mainly) to use existing skills and be allowed to return home from work and be there for their families. I could apply the very lessons I’d been learning into my new secretarial network and build and encourage the members as the network grew.
Over the years many women have come through my network (nearly 1,000) and I know I’ve been able to help many others via other Virtual Assistant forums. The things I learnt back in the 1980s/90s equipped me to mentor, lead, assist, help, encourage and motivate others. Most of all it allowed me to do the very thing I had wanted to do when first looking at Amway – to be home for my children and run a business that made me feel I was doing something worthwhile and contributing in some way to the world, or at least the small part I live in.
Today I received the most unexpected card and gift in the post. And it made me cry when I realised what had taken place. A group of my VA forum members had gotten together and sent my husband and I a lovely card with their beautiful written note inside. And they’d given us a gift of lunch and spa treatment vouchers for Graham and I to enjoy together. The note in the card says there is more to come.
What did I do to experience such goodness from these people who sent us this gift? I can only imagine it’s because I have given to them at times when they have been in need. And now, at a time when my husband and I are struggling they have reached out to help us.
What they don’t know is that yesterday was our wedding anniversary and although we were ‘happy’ to celebrate our marriage through a movie and dinner together last night, it was a bitter sweet memory of the years we’ve spent with Miriam in our married life. We’ve nearly always spent ‘our time together’ talking about our family of daughters whom we love so very much.
Is it any wonder I do what I do? There are occasional times when I doubt whether I am making a difference or whether I’m really needed in the place that I’m in, but when things like this happen it leaves me with no doubt. I am where I am supposed to be and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Thank you everyone, the timing of your gift was perfect.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.