Network Marketing Opens the Door to Life Beyond Survival - An Upline Interview with Carolyn Wightman of Shaklee
After graduating from Stanford University, Carolyn Wightman worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, and then for the Peace Corps in the South Pacific. When she returned to California she heard about Shaklee-- it was 1970. As a young woman with little chance of earning what she was worth in traditional business, she saw the potential of this industry and went for it....
When I came back from the Peace Corps, I was at a turning point in my life. My first husband and I had been living in seclusion in the Polynesian islands. The only way you could get there was by flying to a grass landing strip, and only three planes flew in per week. We got from one island to another by boat.
We were literally still living out of boxes when I went up to spend Thanksgiving Weekend with my parents and saw my mother using Shaklee cleaning products. I was attracted to the environmental philosophy behind them and I asked her how I could get them. She'd bought them as a retail customer, and told me they were sold door-to-door.
I had a negative mental picture of door-to-door salespeople, so I called the company. They asked me for my zip code and put me in touch with someone who lived near me. I called and asked to buy the products, and she said, "Why don't you meet me over at my supervisor's place of business." I agreed, and she gave me a Beverly Hills address. I showed up at a lovely home and found that these "door-to-door salespeople" happened to be professional stock brokers.
This was my introduction to Network Marketing. It was the combination of the company's philosophy and the professionalism of the people I met that made me take a closer look at the business.
I looked at my alternatives as a young woman in 1970, when there was virtually never equality in income for women. Even with my expensive college degree, I didn't have any marketable skills. I saw that if you produced, this business would pay, and that they didn't care who they made the check out to.
By the time my first marriage ended, I'd made the decision that I was never going to be financially dependent on anybody else-- and in just a few years, having my own business made that possible.
Back then, this business was completely different from anything people experience today. When people would ask us how we did the business, we really did not know. We just said, "You just talk to a lot of people. You just show them what you've got." We didn't have cassettes or videos or direct mail pieces or voice mail-- we didn't have any of that technology. Our only choice was to build the business by classic word-of-mouth.
Now, we've accelerated the ability to reach people, and that's allowed Networkers to be much more effective much more quickly. That's great, and yet I don't think there is any substitute for the hands-on, high-touch part of the business.
The most difficult thing for me in the beginning was understanding the concept of prospecting. Now we understand a lot more about personal communications, and that prospecting is really just being out there listening and hearing people's needs, but trying to figure out who you were going to talk to was really difficult. No one really had any guidelines for us.
Another major challenge was simply logistical. I'd moved to Florida and the products were made in California-- it used to take as much as four weeks for me to get my supply for people.
In the beginning, I wasn't motivated so much by wealth as by poverty. I think it was sheer persistence and willingness to keep on doing something until I found what worked that made me successful. Now, I'm operating from a powerful vision-- of where I see my company, where I see my personal business, where I see the industry, and where I see the whole world of wellness.
A wonderful Peace Corps expression is "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," and I'm devoted to being a big part of the solution-- not just building a business and having a big income, but offering a service to people, helping to improve their education, giving people hope, making a difference in their lives. That has always been a powerful motivation for me.
As leaders, we have to be somebody who can help independent people work together. I don't believe we ever motivate anybody, but our communication can inspire people to want to be their best. We need to continue to develop personally in terms of our time-planning, our priorities, balancing our personal life, our family life, working with our organization, working with new business, and always focusing on our vision instead of what's comfortable right now.
The additional skills that this business invites us to add to our life are just extraordinary, and that's one of the reasons why, in 28 years, I'm not bored-- I'm not doing the same thing I've done every year. Something is always a little bit different, because I'm learning and adding to my skills.
If I could only pass on one piece of advice, it would be: Be extraordinarily cautious about who you elect as your mentor and coach, and then, once you select them, follow them until you get your gold medal, and don't look back.
If you don't pick the right mentor-- if it's someone who's not going where you want to go, not doing things with integrity or not getting the results you want-- then somewhere down the line you're going to have to make some kind of change. That involves lost time and energy.
Spend time at the beginning of your career selecting a person who has a solid system and is solidly grounded in the four fundamentals of the business: the industry; your company, its philosophy and products; the earning opportunity; and yourself-- having your personal priorities in order, knowing where your time is going to come from, knowing how your family fits in, knowing what skills you need to develop. I recommend getting grounded in these four areas before launching into activity, and the right coach can help you do that quickly.
People have an extraordinary tendency to overlook those fundamentals and just jump into duplicating themselves when they don't know what they're doing yet. If they don't, then the new people they bring in certainly won't either. I'm far more comfortable saying, "Are you sure you want to follow me? Are you sure that this is the way you want to do it?" It's like the old saying, "All roads lead to Rome"-- you can probably reach your objective by any number of different methods, but trying to do all of them, or jumping from one to another, leads you in circles.
Having those fundamentals in place from the start is a lot more effective, a lot more efficient, and honors people more.
The best thing about Network Marketing for me is the freedom to rise above the need to focus on survival. By being able to accept those benefits, we can take the freedom of time and the potentials of financial independence, and use them for whatever contribution we want to make to ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world.
One of the true values of Network Marketing is realizing that we succeed is only to the extent that we facilitate and empower success for other people, through their eyes and not through ours.
CAROLYN WIGHTMAN is a Senior Master Coordinator with Shaklee, Network Marketers of wellness and environmentally-friendly home care products. She has been with the company for 28 years and lives with her husband Eddie and their ten-year-old son in the Florida Keys.
Reprinted with permission from Upline, Wightman-Success Story-January 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com