Two days ago I had a very troubling conversation with someone.
This person is really nice, hard working, and seems to have all the things needed to make it in this business.
He told, me “Todd, I'm out of network marketing for good.”
When I heard that it made my stomach churn…literally. It was an icky feeling. I asked him, “Why?”
His reply was something to the effect of (not word for word, my stomach was still churning when he answered), “You know…it's just really hard to find and sponsor good people who stick around and actually do something. I can't seem to get my people to ever do it. I feel like it's a revolving door. I'm frustrated.”
That was a hard conversation to have with him. I shared my personal story with him and hopes that he could find something to relate to and help him perhaps have a shift in his thinking.
Most people don't even know the stuff I went through to get where I am today because when they see me I am typically teaching and training the business, not getting on stage simply to tell my life's story of network marketing.
Here's the story I shared with him. Perhaps if you are struggling, you'll find some hope in it as well. This IS my story.
I grew up in a very middle class working family. My dad worked on big equipment, my mom as a hair dresser and then sold Cosmetics for Clinique. We never really had much money that I can recall. I grew up in a small 1400 square foot rambler in Washington state. I heard the phrase “we can't afford it” most of my life. That stuck with me.
Unfortunately, my parents divorced. My mom remarried a guy who at the time was doing pretty decent financially. I'm not exactly sure what he was making, but probably around $100,000 a year as a General Manager of a radio station. I got a “taste” of what it was like to have some financial comfort in my life. It was the first time I saw Hawaii. And…it was literally the first time in my life I actually ordered off of a menu and could eat what I wanted, rather than the two “affordable” options I could choose from. Kinda nice to eat what you want every now and then.
Fast forward. Here's my work history. My first job was Jack-in-the-Box. My second working at McDonald's wearing a polyester uniform and paper hat. I moved to Long Beach where my mom and step dad moved the summer after my junior year. I was trying to get a job at a restaurant and pulled up to a place to get an application for a bus boy and a guy grabbed the door of my step dad's car. I didn't even have a car. I had a skateboard. I shut the door thinking “who is this guy and what does he want?”. A moment later, I found out he was a valet. I didn't know what that was at the time. Wes parked my step dad's car and I went in to get an application. When I came out he asked me why I was there. I told him it was to get a bus boy application. He asked me if I wanted to park cars instead and offered me a job right there. I took it. For the next five years through college I parked cars at Kelly's Restaurant in Long Beach.
Work history to date: Jack-in-the-Box, McDonald's and parking cars. That's not exactly entrepreneur training, is it?
One day in history class, my Professor John Walzer had this older guy in class with him. His name was Fernando. Not sure why he was there…I guessed they were friends. Fernando was an interesting dude. He ended up hanging out quite a bit with the group of friends I had in college and kind of followed us through the rest of our years at CSULB. He always had money. I had none, even though I had a job. All my money went to books and other stuff for school. One day Fernando told me he could show me how to make a thousand dollars a week selling cable TV. I got my first sales job. It was there that I learned my very first lesson on success.
That lesson was this. When someone has something that you want, and they're actually willing to show you how they did it (without holding anything back), you do it as they have taught it, and you don't change it…at all.
Too often, as well all know, people try to do it their way, rather than the proven way that has already been done before.
I did well in that first job with Fernando because I did it the way he taught it. All I did was follow his system and do what he did. I had a guy who had success in something and he was willing to teach me how he did it. I had none. He had what I wanted. So…I did what he did.
I was sitting in my apartment one day, just before I was graduating and got a phone call. I didn't know the guy. I thought he was recruiting me for a job. I answered and he introduce himself, “My name is Jim. I'm calling you from Orange County Marketing Group. We expanding here in southern California and we're looking for people who can train and manage others in the expansion of our company…and we'd like to talk to you.”
That was his script word for word. I remember it like it was yesterday.
A few days later I showed up for my interview. It wasn't an interview. It was a Business Opportunity Meeting for a network marketing company. I didn't know what network marketing was. I had never heard of it. I hadn't even heard the word Amway before. I was as green as you can get.
The presentation captured me. The idea of being self-employed and having no limit on my income was a whole lot more attractive than some of the other options I was considering post-graduation. Get this. I was about to leave my $1000 a week part-time job selling cable television to start out as a manager trainee at a rental car company because it was the “right” move if I wanted to climb to the top.
I chose network marketing instead. I signed up, maxed out my $500 credit card and borrowed another $500 on a “convenience charge” from the company at 28.99% interest and began my network marketing career. Three months later I quit my Cable TV job thinking I'd be making $10,000 a month in 90 days. Nobody told me I would. I created that in my own mind.
Needless to day, 90 days later I was making nothing. Six months later…nothing. Creditors started calling me. I was late on my car payment. I wasn't paying my bills. I sold water filters door-to-door just to eat and make sure my $585 a month rent was covered.
I managed to survive for 18 months.
I had to make a decision. I moved home. I had to regroup. I left network marketing, cut up all my credit cards and lived in the bunk beds at my parents house. Humbling. I took a job with their radio station and started selling advertising.
The interesting thing about that was this. I crushed it there. Very quickly, I became the #2 earning Account Executive in that market. Why? I had a different attitude and a different set of skills that I had acquired in my short 18 month stint in network marketing.
Now…granted. Those skills weren't quite cutting it for me at the time in my network marketing business, because I was already so far behind that I began operating from a position of desperation and need. Desperation is a bad place to be coming from when you are attempting to build a business.
Once I had the pressure off of my back from creditors and hiding my car from repo people, I could relax and apply some of the things that I learned about being successful as an entrepreneur, but do it in an employed environment.
My mom would have kicked me out of the house if she found out what I did next. Within three months, I found another network marketing company. I had the bug. I knew it was what I was going to do. Regardless of my initial failure, I knew that it was a place I wanted to focus my time on. I had my product and my check shipped to a friend's house. I snuck out with a roll of quarters to make calls. There were no cell phones then. I built this time much smarter.
I worked extremely part-time, in between meetings. I did it wherever I could. I literally “snuck in” the time.
I finally made enough money to move out and got more serious about my part-time network marketing business, while still operating as an Account Executive for the radio station. I didn't quit my job right away. I already experienced desperation once…and it didn't feel good.
Fast forward a bit. I did well with that company…not big, but decent. During that time I found a lead generation company (it was the first of it's kind back in the day) and started using it to build my business. That lead generation company had a comp plan attached to it. Within a year, I was making more money from that than I was in the nutritional business I was in. I ended up building that business for 10 years with that company until they folded. During that time, I also built two other companies to over 6-figures in earnings.
One day the check stopped. Poof! Gone. No more. By this time, I had moved back to Seattle, Washington and things had been rocking for well over a decade.
Thank goodness I saved. I went through almost $80,000 in savings during that time while I was regrouping and finding out what I was going to do next.
I could have easily gotten angry. I could have pointed my finger at the profession of network marketing. I could have become depressed.
I could have gotten a job.
That company going out of business was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Was it fun? No. I'd have loved to keep that $80,000 in the bank. Was I jumping for joy? Nope.
But…that experience is really what opened the door to me becoming a speaker and a trainer on the profession. I never planned on doing what I'm doing. But…that door opened up, and I walked in. And…now, for the past 11 years, it's what I do.
When one door closes, another opens. Sometimes when doors slam shut on you it becomes hard to fathom another one opening. They important thing is that when that door does open, you walk in and check stuff out.
Now…here's the thing. This is an abbreviated version of my story. During the past 25 years, I have built 6 companies to at least 6-figures in annual income in network marketing. I won't get into all the details why there were six and not one.
We promote this profession so often as “find one company, build it for a few years and retire.” It didn't work that way for me…and it hasn't worked that way for a lot of people I know. Is that a bad thing? Nope.
Where else can you go and invest $500 or less in a business, work it when you want, create a huge stream of cash flow and have complete freedom in your life? Nowhere. Network Marketing is the only place to do it.
Look at it like this. Once you acquire the skills and you know how to build, you can do it anywhere. So…let's say you go build a company for eight years, and during that time you make $1,000,000. One day they go out of business. You still made your million. You didn't have to work for anyone else to do it. You play when you want, you work when you want. If you had to go build again somewhere else, it's not that big of a deal. Why? Again…because you know possess the skills and the knowledge to make thing happen.
That's one of the BIGGEST reasons I spend so much time focusing on SKILL DEVELOPMENT when I teach. Even in my A-Team, I've added a huge skill development component to it. You know the phrase, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” That statement is TRUTH.
I've had unfortunate situations happen in my network marketing career, including companies go out of business, CEO's yelling at their top leadership and shutting down the company's production in a single meeting, people leaving and going elsewhere…all sorts of not so fun stuff.
But…you know what? I've also not had to work for anyone for nearly 20 years. I get up when I want. I work when I want. I play when I want. And…I can't remember the last time I said, “We can't afford it.”
Life is challenging.
So is this business.
And…so is any job, any occupation, or anything else for that matter.
So…when I heard my friend say, “I'm out of network marketing for good”, it made me feel ill. Literally.
This is a great place to be. No…it's not easy. Yes…you will be challenged. But…it's worth it.
Until you “taste” even a little bit of success in this profession, you don’t know what you’re missing. And…when you do, you will never leave. The key is in staying focused long enough to get just a little taste of what it’s like. It tastes good, and you’ll want more.
So…for those of you who are struggling or have struggled. I get it. I really do. You’ve got to find that thing within you that makes you stay, that forces you to learn the necessary skills, and then continue to apply them until it happens for you.
Learn the skills. Apply them. Keep learning. Keep applying.
Don’t ever stop.