Sunny Beutler Interviewed by Network Marketing Magazine
Sunny Beutler, Sunrider CEO, was featured as the cover story in Network Market Magazine, a prominent news source for the direct selling industry in Taiwan. Below is a translated version of the interview-style article, titled “Spreading Empathy Across Generations,” which ran in the December 2021 edition of this online Taiwanese publication.
Spreading Empathy Across Generations
As long as the goal is the same, all roads can lead to Rome.
A second-generation business owner, Sunny Beutler believes in the unlimited potential of people. Witnessing her mother’s success, she also firmly believes that the glass ceiling is there to be shattered. With hard work, the opportunity to succeed will always be in reach for those who dare to dream.
“My parents moved overseas to the United States to start their own businesses at a young age; they are from a strong generation who were willing to challenge themselves and make an impact.” Sunny sees herself as a second-generation business owner with an “old soul.”
Although many young people seek instant gratification, she is different in this regard: “Instead of making and then regretting a hasty decision, I’d rather spend more time considering all options before making a decision. I think this mindset comes from frequently interacting with people older than me, which I’ve been doing since I was a child. After all, I skipped grades during my schooling years!”
Active Listening—The Key to Effective Communication across Generations
Sunny was brought into Sunrider by Sunrider founder Dr. Tei-Fu Chen when she was a small child. After graduating from university, she formally joined Sunrider and worked in various departments within the company. With a strong sense of purpose, coupled with her parents’ expectations, Sunny knew that her future would be at Sunrider. She is very aware of her father’s mission to “help as many people as possible achieve good health and happiness.”
“Our father has always encouraged us to pursue the career specialization we are passionate about. He didn’t restrict what courses I chose to study, as long as I joined Sunrider.” Within the direct selling industry, Sunny is one of the few in senior management with a law degree. Being legal trained has helped her to critically analyze any situation and come up with logical solutions, which has proved to be useful for business operations.
Sunny believes there are different ways of thinking across generations, but there is no right or wrong approach. By keeping an open mind, we will be able to appreciate differing opinions. “As long as we have a clear goal in mind, there are many ways to achieve it. The way I approach it is to practice active listening and carefully consider the other party’s point of view. With that, all sides can achieve a ‘1+1 > 2’ outcome.”
Thus, whenever Sunny disagrees with her parents’ opinions, she will exercise empathy by putting herself in their shoes—to think and feel from their vantage point. When all parties are focused on achieving consensus, meaningful discussion is more likely to occur. “As long as we share the same goal, I find this is an effective way to communicate and get the most out of a discussion.”
It’s Alright to Be Candid during Family Meetings
For important business decisions, it is crucial that no single person makes the final call. Every week, the Chens hold a family meeting to discuss business goals, standard operating procedures, and share opinions. If everyone is agreeable, they will move on with their decision. If there are differing opinions, then the family will take the time to communicate their individual views. Of course, there are moments of heated debate, as Sunny remarks, “At our home, it’s common for us to openly voice our opinion when there are differing viewpoints.”
When the Chens, a group of doctorate-level professionals, engage in debate, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen will often concede and say, “I give up.” Dr. Oi-Lin Chen will usually follow suit and say, “It’s up to you.” When that happens, Sunny will continue to explain her point of view until she receives sincere approval from the whole family.
In today’s world, information is shared at breakneck speed. However, the values of flexibility and adaptability from the older generation still remain desirable virtues. Pursuing stability with a growth mindset is also crucial for the long-term sustainability of an organization. Regardless of generation, one must remain flexible and adaptable in an ever-changing world and remain steadfast in achieving their goals. Sunny constantly reminds herself that even though the plan may change, the organization’s goals must remain the same.
Sunny also observes how a woman’s role in society has evolved over the years. In the past, a woman was expected to put family as her top priority and treat her husband as the head of the household. But expectations have changed in today’s world. There is no shortage of outstanding female leaders known for producing tremendous results. They stand by their beliefs and are able to work hard and play hard. “I am heartened to see so many outstanding female entrepreneurs at Sunrider, especially in Taiwan.”
Think Big, Think More
There has also been a change in how we define professional excellence. In the past, academic qualifications were seen as the gold standard for predicting career success, and occupations with guaranteed job security were thought to represent lifelong stability. However, this may not necessarily be the case now. Today, many young Taiwanese are running their own food-delivery businesses. In a world where wages are not keeping pace with inflation, there is no shortage of people looking for a side hustle.
“When it comes to earning a side income, in the past, there were few choices but many opportunities. Today, people are spoiled for choice but there aren’t many opportunities out there,” said Sunny. In this case, “opportunity” refers to the potential for future growth and the space for personal development.
Because of this, it is easy to become narrow-minded or feel lost in life as you have less control over matters, which can lead to self-doubt. Sunny said, “Which is why I also encourage young people to ‘think big, think more’ and to shower those around them with care. Be considerate and caring toward others. It’s easier to find your own self-worth when you realize you are valued. Believe in your ability to influence others.”
“Today, everyone owns a smartphone. As a result, the young people of today are more connected with the rest of the world, as compared to previous generations. Personally speaking, my children grew up with access to smartphones too!” said Sunny. The Digital Revolution has altered the way we view and interact with the rest of the world. This has also changed the way the current generation approaches and analyzes various matters. “From a long-term perspective, those who possess a global mindset add value to the growth of the direct selling industry.”
As a second-generation business owner, Sunny views millennials and iGen as “digital natives” who are able to think outside the box and are proficient in using many online platforms. They are valuable members within the industry. Therefore, leaders should set a general direction and empower millennials with a sense of autonomy that makes them feel trusted. Most importantly, the leader should foster a collaborative partnership, instead of a supervisor-subordinate relationship. With this type of partnership in place, you can achieve optimal results.
As Sunrider celebrates its 40th anniversary, the company has some veteran IBOs who are not receptive to new initiatives from the company. But as she always does, Sunny will listen attentively to everyone’s opinions and share with IBOs the company’s rationale behind these initiatives, as well as give IBOs time to adapt to changes. “I am not a newcomer. I have been at Sunrider for 15 years and know all our core IBOs by name. I will also let them know that they are always in my thoughts and that we share a common love for Sunrider.”
A self-confessed “old soul,” there is nothing old-fashioned about her thoughts on retirement. “Those from my parents’ generation do not automatically retire at the age of 65. They will continue working for as long as they can. Personally, I want to hand over the reins and retire before I turn 65. I dream of enjoying my golden years!”