Weekend in ‘the real world’ of business


Tori Swart

The music group Day One leads the beginning half hour of the Friday conference. After the Saturday-morning session, there was a breakout session with the specific team from Ohio and New York. Newcomers, including me, were asked to stand and introduce themselves to the crowd, and from that point forward I was known as “the 17-year-old.”

When my mom told me about the URAssociation (URA) business conference she would attend in Washington, D.C., I immediately asked if I could accompany her for the sole reason of traveling for a weekend.

I expected to tag along in the car, sleep many hours and maybe join my mom for one boring, monotonic conference session. After all, this was the “adult world,” a place full of plans, numbers, and people in suits.

How surprised I was once I arrived.

I walked into the conference that Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday evening with thousands of others to a sound more like a concert than the business meeting I was expecting. There were even people crowd-surfing.

The music, provided by Day One, was followed by two MC’s who were there to “fire up the crowd.” Then came the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer, and then the conference settled down to business, so to speak.

Through the course of those two days, I heard from close to 20 speakers- millionaires, national championship coaches and war veterans alike, all speaking on the theme of the conference: a celebration of Free Enterprise Day.

Free enterprise, I discovered, is the idea that the American people have the freedom to enterprise without interference by governing bodies. In other words, as many of the conference leaders put it, “leave us alone.”

This idea is the basis of Amway Global, the overarching company of which URA is a part. The system of Amway allows for growth when people become Independent Business Owners (IBOs) within the company.

These IBOs build their own business, use their own brands, and locate their own customers, all using Amway products. Essentially, IBOs are not employees, but CEOs of their privately-owned companies.

I was taught the basic steps of this system with the help of my mom. However, the do’s and don’t’s of business are not of main interest to a girl who plans on majoring in the fine arts in college.

What was more important to me was all the other, more substantial information on the basics of life.

Even to a 17-year-old senior in high school, some of the lessons given by the speakers hit on-target with my worries of sports, academics and my future.

I learned more about virtues like perseverance, integrity, and leadership; in fact, there were so many leadership skills shared that by mid-Saturday I was overwhelmed. Central speakers even discussed the proper mindset toward money, both in having much and little.

I crawled into the car Sunday morning, exhausted from very little sleep as well as the depth of the weekend. The conference turned out to be more than I could have hoped for in a meaningful experience.

It also taught me a last important lesson: never underestimate a weekend vacation.