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May 1999


Success Story

The Secret to Success is...There is No Secret - Thea O'Donoghue, Arbonne International

Thea O'Donoghue As a young wife and mother of twins, Thea wanted to work, but she knew her husband didn't want her to have a job. Direct sales proved a way to get around her husband's edict. She dabbled in a few companies and had fun, but wasn't too serious about it-- until her marriage ended. She found herself a single mom working full-time in an office, shuffling her kids back and forth to day care. That's when Thea got seriously involved, and within five weeks, she was making more at her evening presentations than she was during the day at the office. So she quit her job....

I was working my office job when my cousin referred me to someone, saying, "I saw this great product. This is something you can do on the side, and I thought you might be interested." At that point in my life I had gone through a lot of personal challenges. I wasn't feeling good about myself and didn't feel confident about talking to people. I thought, "There's just no time for this. I need something secure and stable."

My cousin gave the woman my number and I told her I'd think about it. She followed through, talked to me again, and told me she really believed I could do it. So I signed up, but I didn't even touch my kit for two months.

Then one really bad day at work, I thought, "Maybe I really could do something." I asked a maintenance woman in the apartment building I lived in if she would get some friends together for a presentation. She agreed, and we held a presentation in the apartment building party room. I didn't know how to qualify people at that point in my career, and even though there were about 20 people, they'd all brought their children who were throwing products all over the table and globbing cream all over people's faces. I had absolutely no control, and, fighting the tears, I thought, "I will never do this again."

Then a woman approached me and said, "Do you think you could show this product line to my friends?" I often wonder what would have happened if she hadn't approached me. Maybe I wouldn't be here today, but that was the start for me. After her presentation, I scheduled three more. I started working the market that way-- I'd go out, present my product, schedule more presentations, sell and sponsor. I was able to support myself with that company on part-time hours without doing any other job.


When I was first starting in the Seventies, the industry was in its infancy. People viewed it as a hobby-- they did not realize the potential, and, of course, I didn't either. There was a lot of skepticism about what I did.

My primary challenges were that I was younger, that I was depressed, that I was a single parent having to find a sitter for every presentation, and that my income wasn't steady. It was the sheer intensity of my desire not to go back to a corporate job that drove me to keep making those phone calls. I always had that "why" of wanting to be home with my children and not have a boss. If you have your "why" and you just focus on it daily, then you can ride the peaks and valleys of this business.

That said, product, to me, is everything. It's true that 90 percent of people go to bed at night, as Randy Gage says, worried about how they are going to pay their bills or their debts, but I know firsthand how important it is to believe in your product. I've loved the industry ever since I first got involved, but when I became a little disillusioned about the product in my former company, I know it affected my attitude negatively. I couldn't sell something that I didn't think was the best.

I think a lot of times people give up on Network Marketing because they haven't linked up with a product line they care about or believe in. They try to drive themselves forward in the industry, but their vehicle, their product line, isn't right for them and they don't advance.

Deciding to leave my former company and start a new business with Arbonne brought its own set of challenges, though. I was conflicted-- I felt immense loyalty to my company, but I knew Arbonne's products were better-- and it took me two years to find the courage to make the switch. I'd been afraid of what my clients and consultants would think of me, but as it turned out, the relationships I had with them were strong enough that they trusted my motives. Most cared more about keeping the connection with me than with the products I'd been selling and remained my customers. I succeeded faster because I knew what to do and I had renewed belief in what I was sharing.


The secret to success is there is no secret. I'm where I am today because I called people. I scheduled appointments and presentations in my home, and I didn't stop. I consistently had two or three presentations a week.

I'm a big believer in group presentations because they let you meet the most people in the shortest amount of time. This is especially important for all the people trying to succeed in Network Marketing who are still working a full-time job and have only a few hours to devote to their business. They need to leverage their time more than anyone, and group presentations offer the best way.

When you get people together in groups and they take ownership of ideas, it energizes everyone and creates more opportunity. Even if you're just getting together with friends and also sharing the products in a casual way, that's a presentation. I actually prefer the term "networking session." It should be a forum for building relationships, and everyone should feel involved. If it's fun and informal, then it's duplicatable! The coffee's there, the product's there, you chat, you visit, you share a little bit about it. People who are uncomfortable about giving out referral names will often feel fine about inviting you into an informal setting with their warm market. We're taking the product and the income opportunity to the consumer.

To me, it's not important which comes first, opportunity or product. That's a moot point. You go out, you talk to people, and you present three things: The opportunities to use wonderful products, to earn an income if you so choose, and to turn other friends and family -- your warm market -- onto the wonderful product. Those are the opportunities and they're all one package. If you want to succeed, do the basics, because no matter how the industry may evolve, the basics of going out and meeting people will never go away.


My drive is to help parents have this wonderful opportunity to be at home with their children. The best thing about Network Marketing is the flexibility it offers people to focus on their families. I think that's what we need in this nation-- we need mothers and fathers back in the homes with their children. My husband Fulton and I build the business together, and we have the pleasure of regularly caring for our granddaughter during the day. In that way, I think Network Marketing has a role in a much larger social context. I believe what we see happening today in society is a result of choices. In this industry, more and more of us are making choices that will create better results for everyone down the road.


THEA O'DONOGHUE is an Independent Executive National Vice President and one of the top income earners with Arbonne International, Network Marketers of botanical skin care, beauty, body care, and nutritional products. She has been with Arbonne, her second company, for 12 years, after spending 13 years with her first company. Thea lives with her husband, Fulton, in Hinckley, OH. They have four children, Daniel and Christan, both 29, Erin, 23, John, 21, and two grandchildren.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, O'Donoghue Profile - May 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,