John Fleming DSA Hall of Fame & DSEF Circle of Honor Recipient
When John T. Fleming graduated from high school in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1960s, he was encouraged to continue his education at an institution that embraced young African-Americans like himself—Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Although John earned a scholarship to Hampton University, he opted instead to pursue an opportunity at a prestigious university where few minorities had ever been enrolled— Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
John was accepted to ITT, a Top 5 engineering school, and began his studies with a focus on architecture. His natural talent in this field led to his selection to work in the offices of Mies van der Rohe, the renowned architect who had chaired the university’s Department of Architecture.
Through his experiences at IIT and while working in the offices of Mies van der Rohe, John developed a passionate belief that the principles of architecture could be applied to life. John has always sought to apply these principles to business models. He was eventually attracted to the direct selling industry which is composed of people from all walks of life who seek a form of entrepreneurship without the risk and investment of traditional business models.
John and his wife embraced direct selling as an opportunity to earn additional income during John’s years in the architectural profession. John eventually embraced direct selling full time becoming a successful independent contractor, entrepreneur and consultant. During his direct selling career, John consulted for Avon Products, Inc. eventually accepting a corporate position. John spent more than fifteen years at Avon Products, holding positions of Vice President of Sales Contemporization, Regional Vice President/Business Unit General Manager, and Vice President of U.S. Sales Strategies/Training and Development. Under his leadership, Avon’s Western U.S. Business Unit led the company in top- and bottom-line growth for a record six consecutive years. John was responsible for the design, implementation and roll-out of Avon’s Leadership Program, a program that grew to over $1 Billion in sales in the U.S. alone. Although John retired from Avon in 2005, his track record of accomplishment remains legendary.
John has always been involved with the works of both the Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation serving as a board member for both organizations for many years including becoming Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Education Foundation in 2012.
In 1997 the Direct Selling Education Foundation recognized John’s contributions to the work of the foundation with its highest honor, The Circle of Honor Award.
Since retiring from Avon Products, Inc. John has founded several businesses. In 2006, John founded Ideas & Design Group, LLC (IDG) which focuses on sales and marketing strategies for growth. In 2006, John and his son John III also founded Black Educational Events, LLC (BEE). Their first project, the Angel City Classic, was produced in Los Angeles, CA for three consecutive years. The Angel City Classic became one of the country’s largest HBCU Classic Events within three years of production. The event attracted approximately 55,000 persons to the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2008 and was broadcast live by Fox Sports West. In 2009 BEE published HBCU Today, the most comprehensive guide ever published on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU Today (print version) remains available through Amazon. John is also the Publisher/Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News, the most notable trade publication for executives of the Direct Selling Industry.
John Fleming remains one of our country’s strongest advocates for the selling profession and the attributes of the direct selling channel of distribution. He consistently speaks of direct selling as being the only channel of distribution for goods and services which enables people from all walks of life regardless of age, past experience or inexperience, the opportunity to learn basic skills associated with selling and servicing customers and the opportunity to engage in the free enterprise system. John is the author of The One Course, a course written to stress the importance of personal development beyond what is offered in our traditional educational system. John served as a co-author with New York Times best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad) on the book, The Business of the 21st Century released in 2010.