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June 1999

 

Feature

Presentation No-Shows - Kevin Vincent


Kevin Vincent

It was the spring of 1997. I finally decided to get online. I knew there must be hundreds of people out there just itching to get involved in my business, and I was determined to find them. I knew nothing about where to look or what to look for, but I was determined to accelerate the growth of my business.

Through a series of different web site visits, I stumbled upon Luiz (whose last name will go unmentioned) of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Brazil. He expressed an interest in Network Marketing and I shot back with something like, "How would you like to be the first person to open your country?"

His reaction was predictable-- of course he would. What would he have to do?

I checked with the company and my timing could not have been any better. My company was quietly getting ready to open the country anyway. They had a Mr. Big, a gentleman with limited Networking experience but enough money to buy two shipping containers of our lead product, 1600 cases-- an order worth more than $350,000-- but it would be months before everything would be finalized. There were regulatory approvals to overcome, taxation issues to wrestle with, unscrupulous import/export "officials" in the port system....Welcome to the world of international Network Marketing.

I informed Luiz of all of this and, undaunted, he wanted to press on. Being among the first in a country of 168 million people was the only incentive he needed. We were one of three lines of sponsorship going into the country.

We placed an order for ten cases, had it shipped to me in northern Ontario and I arranged to have it shipped air freight to Belo Horizonte, five hours inland from the coastal city of Rio de Janeiro. It took a week, but we finally managed to get everything arranged, shipped and after a few days of haggling with customs officials, he got his product.

Next, we went to work on finding more interested distributors. In the space of a few months, we managed to find over 100 people. Not a bad foundation at all. They were mostly spread out between Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (where Mr. Big happened to live).

Ultimately, I had to wait to really start working the business but I knew it was coming, so between Luiz and me, we laid the groundwork for establishing a solid foundation of distributors. I spent hours and hours on the phone with Luiz, training him, bringing him up to speed on the compensation plan and otherwise "prepping" him for success.

By late 1997, the Brazilian government finally gave us the green light. Luiz and I arranged a ten-day trip for me. It would be my first trip to South America. And likely it will be my last.

The plan was this: Fly to Belo Horizonte (via Miami and Rio de Janeiro), spend two days there, then go to Rio (five hours east) for three days of meetings and trainings, then three days in Sao Paulo (six hours south of Rio)-- where Mr. Big had agreed to let us use his huge home in exchange for my offer of opportunity presentations and trainings-- and finally back to Belo for one more night of presentations and trainings before flying back to Miami.

When I sent my proposed itinerary to Luiz, he said "no problem" and offered to chauffeur me around the country and make arrangements for me to stay with his family and friends in all three cities so I wouldn't have to worry about hotel expenses.

My early evening flight out of Miami didn't leave until midnight due to the worst thunderstorm Miami had seen since hurricane season. Of course, I was pretty excited by that point, so I decided to give Luiz a call and just double-check that he was still going to meet me at the airport in Belo the next day at one o'clock.

"Hello, this is Kevin from Canada-- can I speak to Luiz?" I said to the woman who answered the phone.

"Luiz? Luiz no esta!" she exclaimed.

"What do you mean no esta? Is he out with friends? I'm just calling to make sure he picks me up at the airport tomorrow at one o'clock," I shouted, as if my volume would make a difference in her understanding.

"Just a minute," she said. Luiz' girlfriend came on the phone. "Luiz isn't here, he's in Sao Paulo."

"Sao Paulo? But he's supposed to meet me in Belo, he knows I'm coming," I shouted even louder.

I asked her if there was a phone number in Sao Paulo where I could reach him-- he had just started a new job and had been called away suddenly on business. She wasn't sure, so I told her to find out and I would call back in half an hour-- which I did. She'd managed to speak to Luiz who told her I should go to Sao Paulo instead of Belo, call him on his cell phone when I got there and he would meet me at the airport.

Back to the American Airlines counter, I got one of three remaining seats on the midnight flight to Sao Paulo. Now I needed to get my baggage redirected. By nine, I'd finally reached the front of the baggage line with my pretty simple request: Get my bags off flight Belo and get them onto flight Sao Paulo. We had about two hours.

"No problem," he said. (Where had I heard that before?)

I went to the nearest bar and had two stiff drinks.

The nine-hour flight to Sao Paulo was rather uneventful, and upon arrival, I went to the baggage rack to wait for my luggage. It was 11 a.m. local time, and by noon, the baggage carousel stopped turning. My bags were nowhere to be found.

The baggage handler there said what happened to my bags was typical-- the baggage guy in Miami lied to get rid of me. He managed to get my bags from Rio to Belo to Sao Paulo but they wouldn't arrive until seven o'clock.

For the next five hours, I called Luiz's cell phone but it only rang through to his answering system. I was going to rent a cell phone myself and just have him call me when he was ready but they wanted $1,000 cash, which I didn't have. So I called Luiz's home back in Belo-- the woman who answered spoke no English whatsoever.

Around five in the afternoon, I cornered a pleasant woman in the phone center and asked if she spoke Portuguese.

She called Luiz's home in Belo and asked the woman where Luiz was.

Curitiba, a city four hours south of Sao Paulo.

Luiz had been called away again.

No problem, I thought, I'll just get a hold of Mr. Big.

 

"Mr. Big, am I ever glad I got a hold of you-- this is Kevin from Canada. I'm in Sao Paulo a few days early and I'm kind of stuck. Do you think we could meet? I'm at the airport."

"I'd love to, Kevin, but I'm on my way to the airport myself-- I have to fly back to Toronto, my father just died," he said.

I called my wife, explained the situation, and thought about coming home on the next flight out, but she convinced me to get a nice hotel room, have a beer and just get through the night.

I ended up spending five days in Sao Paulo.

I did one meeting. An 18-year-old showed up with his mom, his aunt, and an unemployed friend.

Only the 18-year-old ever enrolled.

I never heard from Luiz.

The next time someone in your group gives you a song and dance about a no-show, tell them it happens, and who knows, maybe they can write a book about it one day.

 

KEVIN VINCENT is a Director IV in Melaleuca and has been in Network Marketing for five years. An investigative journalist by trade, he lives in Timmins, Ontario, with his wife Anne, and two sons Cameron, 10, and Andrew, 8.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Vincent Feature - June 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com

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