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Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson is “Building It Better”

Michael O. Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Herbalife

Michael O. Johnson is not only Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Herbalife, he is a product of the product. He and his family consume Herbalife® Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix as part of their start to every day. An avid cyclist and fitness enthusiast who has long been interested in nutrition, Johnson has a better understanding of the subject since he joined the company as chief executive officer in 2003.

“I’ve learned a lot more about nutrition since coming here,” says Johnson, “And I realize, after listening to John Heiss – a Ph.D. and Herbalife Senior Director, Sports and Fitness – how much I still have to learn about sports nutrition.”

A successful executive at The Walt Disney Company prior to joining Herbalife, Johnson said Herbalife stands apart from other companies because of Independent Herbalife Members. “The true value is our Members,” says Johnson. “We have weight-management and nutrition products and while consumers have other choices in the marketplace, what they do NOT get with the competition is an Herbalife Member – a coach and somebody to inspire and motivate them.”

He had an “aha moment” early in his Herbalife tenure. Under pressure to turn things around, he consulted with a mentor who listened to his concerns and basically told him, “Go fix it.” That’s when Johnson created the “Four Buckets” – and he still has his original notes. “We’ve got the best product in the world,” he shares. “We’ve got an excellent opportunity to earn part-time or full-time income. We have high integrity; high ethics and we take the high road. We build a brand through sponsorships. And we are going to be good citizens and participate in our communities.”

Defining the four buckets gave Johnson the foundation to take some major steps, including:

  • Putting in place a stellar management team
  • Opening company-owned laboratories and high-tech product manufacturing facilities
  • Enhancing/refining key products like Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix
  • Conducting clinical studies with respected universities around the world
  • Signing the LA Galaxy to a major global sponsorship deal

The result: A company that has grown more than 270 percent in the past 10 years. “It’s exciting to watch the company evolve into a global organization focused on nutrition and a healthy, active life. The attitude was always ‘Be a product of the products,’ but now we emphasize the role of physical activity as well,” says Johnson.

The result: A company that has grown more than 270 percent in the past 10 years. “It’s exciting to watch the company evolve into a global organization focused on nutrition and a healthy, active life. The attitude was always ‘Be a product of the products,’ but now we emphasize the role of physical activity as well,” says Johnson.

He speaks to massive audiences at Herbalife events around the world many times a year. Speaking to Members, he says, is a joy. At major events, Johnson often has one-on-one meetings with up-and-coming Members to learn how they are working and how the company can better help them. “I learn from these meetings,” he shares. “These are people who are close to the marketplace and their customers. They are enthusiastic and very specific in their feedback. They are excited and going from part time to full time in the business. Herbalife is an opportunity to change their lives.”

He is a seasoned public speaker, who is constantly refining his message. “Our theme is about being a strong link in the chain,” he says. “Everyone who represents the Herbalife brand has an important level of responsibility.” Sometime in the future, Johnson looks to leave a simple legacy at Herbalife. “I hope people say ‘He left the place better than he found it.’ And every day I always challenge myself by asking, ‘Did I do it just to get the job done or did I do the job to do it well?’”

Michael O. Johnson Milestones

2003 Introduces Vision, Mission, Values to employees and Distributors worldwide
2004 Leads successful IPO on the NYSE
2005 Launches the Herbalife Family Foundation Casa Herbalife Program to bring good nutrition to vulnerable children; now more than 110 programs around the world
2007 Named chairman of Herbalife’s Board of Directors
2007 Herbalife signs landmark sponsorship agreement with LA Galaxy
2009 Herbalife acquires manufacturing facility in Lake Forest, Calif.
2011 Signs commitment with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to support their program to deliver essential nutrients to children and adults around Africa’s Cape region
2012 Herbalife opens botanical extraction plant in Changsha, China
2012 Acquires manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, N.C., that will be Herbalife’s largest in the world