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April 1999



The All-or-Nothing Attitude - John Hersey

John HerseyHow often do we hear people say that Network Marketing is about "relationships"? I agree that it is-- but I've also seen that, when it comes down to it, the greed we associate with the Eighties is still the focus of too many MLM distributorships. The all-or-nothing attitude we can develop in this business, consciously or unconsciously, undermines the relationships we profess to value.

I spent the Eighties working in the advertising business. Other than investment banking, advertising may have been the best example of the greed and high-flying winning-at-all-costs attitude that was so pervasive throughout the decade. For nearly ten years, I loved that supercharged, highly competitive world. As Senior Vice President for one of the largest and most successful advertising agencies in the country, I learned all too well what it was like to have your performance measured daily, sometimes hourly. We knew, and actually wore as a badge of honor, that survival was directly related to the quality of "your last ad." It was classic "cut throat" competition.

In 1990, I was "invited" to give up the big office, big salary, big title. I was just one more victim of downsizing. Rather than finding another JOB and jumping from one frying pan to another, I decided to stop working and start living. For the next eight years, most of my time was devoted to building a Network Marketing organization. What a life, working from home together with my best friend and wife, Beverly! We said good-bye to superficial relationships based on money. We would spend time with family and friends because they were people we cared about, not because they worked for us or could somehow benefit our careers. We had no bosses, no commute, no traffic, no hassles. Eight years spending more quality time with my daughters than most parents spend with theirs (and Kate and Megan don't live with us). Eight years building a viable business, eight years building relationships in an industry "about" relationships.

In 1990, I was "invited" to give up the big office, big salary, big title. I was just one more victim of downsizing.

I now know that the reaction most of our "friends" had to Beverly and me leaving our jobs for Network Marketing was predictable. However, at the time it was devastating. Generally speaking, they thought we had lost our minds. Many of them wanted nothing to do with the business, the products or us. Perhaps we were a little over zealous in our efforts to enroll them in the business, but one would think that people with whom we had built an 11-year relationship might at least have wished us well, even if they did think we were crazy. Needless to say, their attitudes did not improve with time. They did, however, help to validate that our decision to leave corporate America was indeed the right choice.

In 1996, we ended our relationship with our Network Marketing company. It had occupied the bulk of our time and passion for eight years, but it was time to move on. No big reason, we just moved on to other things. We didn't make zillions of dollars in our Networking business, but we had a great life and made a solid living. We also felt that the value of the friendships and personal growth we experienced could never, ever be measured in dollars.

After nearly eight years, one would think that at least some of our Network Marketing relationships would have been maintained. Sadly, with the exception of a handful of downline and crossline friends, very few relationships were. During the two years after our resignation from the company, we had one conversation with one person in our upline. As for the rest, we had totally lost contact. Not a hello, not a how-you-doing, not a "don't quit, we're about to hit momentum." Not a word! And this is not intended to point a finger at our upline either. We have not been any better at maintaining these relationships. After eight years, relationships just ceased to exist.

During the two years after our resignation from the company, we had one conversation with one person in our upline. As for the rest, we had totally lost contact.

Early in our career in Network Marketing, I listened to a tape of one Networking legend interviewing another. I am not kidding about the legend part, either. These two men earn more in a month than many will earn in a lifetime. They were also respected for their great family values and tremendous integrity. I listened as one legend told the other that when he got started in Network Marketing, he was so focused that he in effect told his friends that they were either with him or against him. He had no room in his life for anyone who was not "in the business." Wow! Is money really that important? It takes focus to succeed, that's for sure. But can't we take focus to the extreme?

It's this all-or-nothing attitude that makes seemingly genuine relationships false. Devote every waking moment just to the business. Spend your time only with people in the business. Work only with the players. Don't waste your time with people who are not committed. Watch out for those who leave the business. You have to be willing to end those relationships. It doesn't matter if they were friends. These messages are rarely spoken so directly, but that doesn't mean they don't come through.

The result is what I and many others have experienced: If your life takes you in a different direction, or you make a decision that you and your family would be better off with another company, you are treated as a traitor, an outcast, rather than a friend who deserves well wishes. Sure, they may compete with you, but what's really important here, money or people? It's sad that so many of us have our lives controlled by fear. In Network Marketing, the fear of losing money often proves stronger than the fear of losing friends.

Over the years, we attended many conventions, and, boy, did we have fun. What energy, what excitement, what great speakers, what nice people! We'll never forget how taken we were to hear the president of our company advising us all to write down the values we held most dear; to write down the kind of person we would be when we were making millions. He also advised us to value our families and our relationships-- to protect them-- because achieving tremendous financial success while leaving your family and friends behind would indeed tarnish the success.

The all-or-nothing, you're-either-in-or-you're-out attitude was exactly what he cautioned us against. I urge us all to examine our deepest motivations:

Is my business about making zillions of dollars, or zillions of friends?

When it comes down to it, am I more concerned with my group for its volume or for the friendships we've developed?

If a friend left my organization, how would I respond?

Would it end our relationship?

Could I be understanding?

Of course we all want to make money in Network Marketing, but let's keep our priorities straight.

Network Marketing is the greatest industry on earth. We're still in it. Yet there are still too many people who refuse to even consider a Network Marketing company. Why? Partly because of this all-or-nothing, money-is-more-important-than-people attitude that some still display. I believe that dispelling it will play an important role in establishing Network Marketing as a mainstream, reliable, ethical business. Let's each do our parts to that end!

JOHN HERSEY is a motivational speaker, trainer and author. For information about his speaking and seminar schedule, email or fax 602-816-8976. He and his wife Beverly live in Fountain Hills, AZ.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Hersey Feature - April 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,