Most people choose Network Marketing as a vehicle to this industry's famed financial and time freedom. Then there are those for whom the freedom of Network Marketing is itself a vehicle-- to a dream that has nothing to do with the business. These are the stories of six such people: one industry legend, four who have reached the top of their companies, and one who's on the way up. For once, we're not asking them to share their success secrets. Instead, we gave them a chance to share their passions-- the "why" that Network Marketing made or is making possible for them right now. Of course, if success is really 80 percent "why" and 20 percent "how," you just might be reading their success secrets here after all...
Teaching People to Know Their Purpose
Billy Banks has wanted to become a minister for over ten years. Back in the spring, he decided he'd put it off for long enough, resigned as top distributor and national training director for his Network Marketing company, and is starting a new business from scratch in order to more successfully pursue his dream. With two children already away at college, Billy, his wife Eltha and their 13-year-old son relocated this summer from Arcadia, CA, to Broken Arrow, OK, so that he could start his education at Rhema Bible College in Tulsa. He's been in class for one month so far.
Billy: Eltha and I started in Network Marketing in 1984. As the owner of seven nutrition centers in Dayton, OH, I had a large circle of influence between my customers and employees. In six months, we had 4,000 distributors and we didn't really even know what we were doing. We were just excited about the opportunity and became the top distributors.
After that, I became a national instructor with Charles J. Givens' organization, was very successful with that business, and over the last five years I was the national training director and number one distributor in a Network Marketing company. The company was doing fine, but it wasn't working for me any longer. Being frontline to the company, we didn't have support because I was the support mechanism for everyone. A lot of people think that's the dream position, and while it has some advantages, lack of support was a definite disadvantage for me. Once I decided I was finally going to go to Bible college, I realized that between being everyone'sUpline and having the training responsibilities to the corporate office, I was in a situation that wouldn't let me go down to part-time. I knew that once I was in school, it would be extremely difficult to provide the same level of support to people, so that's why I resigned. This time, we're with a ten-year-old company, First Fitness, and we deliberately looked for good sponsors, Eileen and Taylor Hegan, who we know will be able to give us support. If I'm in school and somebody in my organization needs help, I feel better knowing they can call Taylor or Eileen.
People have asked me whether I felt fear in giving up my downline and leaving that business behind, but I can honestly say that I haven't. I have felt such a strong, compelling feeling about my decision to pursue this dream and be where we are right now. When I first resigned, you can imagine how everyone thought I lost my mind, but we know we can build this business to the same level. In our first month, April, we earned $10,000, and in ten weeks we reached the top level, Presidential Director.
My goal is to be an ordained minister and an itinerant preacher and go into full-time ministry as soon as I graduate. My belief is that, based on what I'm doing right now, by the time I graduate my business will be established to a point that finances to do the work of the ministry will not be a problem whatsoever. I will be able to minister anywhere in the world and not have to rely on the gifts of the church or whoever's inviting me to come. Most ministers have to rely on others for financial support, and it's very difficult for many of them to keep up with the expenses involved. I'll be able to go first class and do anything we feel God is calling us to do without being encumbered by the financial part of it. Doors are already opening up to me, before I'm even ready. I'm already making connections all over the world.
With Network Marketing, I will be able to go to school every morning, come home and work my business, then do my homework. I can structure my day around my school schedule. If I was in a traditional business, I wouldn't have that flexibility. I'd have to work nights and weekends somewhere, like most of my fellow students have to do. Network Marketing gives me such tremendous freedom with my time, and the ability to touch a lot of people. There are so many students in college who need income, so I can help a lot of them in that sense.
||"Two years from now,my vision is to have my own ministry, like Billy Graham..."
- Billy Banks
Two years from now, my vision is to have my own ministry, like Billy Graham, and be going around the world supported by my business. The message I want to share is: Know your purpose. Once you know your purpose, everything else will work for you. Network Marketing is not my purpose, it's a vehicle for my purpose. I built my foundation and honed my skills in this industry to help me in my purpose. Over the years of being up in front of people, even though there was a time when I was a little nervous and reading off a paper, I've become pretty proficient at it. That is a skill I will be using in my ministry. The beautiful thing about Network Marketing is that if you build it correctly, it will support whatever your purpose is. That's the blessing we have right now.
Caring for Children in Poverty
Chuck and Claudia Branham are top earners in Nikken and have been involved in the industry for over 20 years. Both have always had a passion for charitable giving, and with ten children, 22 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, it's no surprise that children's causes are their charitable focus. Network Marketing has allowed them to bring together their love for children and their enthusiasm for self-improvement - their success allowed them to start a book and tape distribution company, Success Express, to generate funds for children in need. The Branhams donate all of the company's profits to children's organizations while providing a service to their downline.
Claudia: Chuck has always loved books and tapes and in the early days, whenever he found a book or a tape that he liked, he would buy a case of them. When we went to events or meetings, he'd take the boxes of books and tapes with him and make them available to people at the various functions for the price he paid. He knew they helped people, and he wanted to get good books into their hands.
Pretty soon, his backseat and trunk were just loaded with boxes of books, tapes and videos, and people started calling from out of state to get things from him. As the word spread, the demand became bigger, and he realized this could grow into a great vehicle for helping disadvantaged children. Success Express evolved from Chuck just wanting to make these tools available in the area to what it is today.
Chuck: The Success Express business has grown over time to where we now have four employees and a store. Originally we were in the house I grew up in, but the zoning laws required that we move after reaching a certain size. While most orders are taken over the phone, we take books to local functions and local people come in to pick up their supplies and look at what's displayed. We expanded our list of items to include a wide-range of books that aren't about Network Marketing, but simply self-improvement and personal development which is a passion of ours. We now sell about 600 items. This is just another way to raise money for kids. The volume of sales is running somewhere around $450,000 a year.
Claudia: We give the profit to World Vision, Feed The Children, The Sahara Children's Home, Morning Star Children's Home, and Rehema. World Vision is one of the largest and most highly recognized charities helping orphans and children in need; Feed The Children is another very large, well-known organization that's been doing good for many years. The Sahara Children's Home and Morning Star Children's Home are both orphanages in Nepal, where our daughter was a missionary. She spent time helping care for the children at these orphanages, and she brought their many needs to our attention. Two major projects that we have been able to do through Success Express is to build an additional sleeping room at the Sahara Children's Home in Nepal, and also renovate and rebuild a dwelling for an elderly man in Nepal. His house was literally falling down. Rehema is a children's home in Kenya that cares for infants and young children, mostly orphans, who are almost all HIV infected.
Chuck: We were both brought up to do whatever you can to help others less fortunate than yourself. Claudia's parents were givers who took people in. When I was growing up in the Thirties, I remember my parents, even though they had little, feeding the hoboes. Even though Claudia's first husband died when they were both in their thirties and she was left with six small children, she volunteered for 21 years at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Even though she didn't have any money, she gave of her time. When she started making a lot of money in Network Marketing, she was able to give money as well as time. Our business is a vehicle for giving more.
Claudia: Many of the people we know well in this industry give large amounts of money to charities. People who do well in Network Marketing do so because they are building relationships, and the only way to do that is to have respect and love for people, to empower them in whatever ways you can. I think this industry attracts giving people. One of our dear friends bought a fishing boat, for example, for a family in Haiti so that they could be independent and self-sufficient. They also regularly donate large sums of money to a girls home in Haiti-- they may be the sole support. Distributors from our company in Portland, OR, recently spent the day working together to fix and clean up senior citizen housing. I think giving strengthens business and personal relationships.
||"I think this industry attracts giving people."
- Claudia Branham
Chuck: We never could have raised this much money for children if it weren't for Network Marketing. For one thing, we were really broke when we started our business, but we've earned well over $2 million so far in our six and a half years with Nikken. Without that income, there's no way in the world we could have started the company in the first place, because we put a couple hundred thousand dollars from our earnings into Success Express for inventory, computers, etc. That was one of the things that drew us to this business in the first place. Network Marketing lets me leverage my success to encourage people to give of themselves and of their time. When I speak in front of 10,000 people at a large function, I can share my values with them. There is a great need for volunteerism right now, so I encourage people to get involved with something. I believe you reap what you sow, and that if you are a giver, it is multiplied back to you in some form or another. It enriches your life.
I have a heart punched in all of my business cards, and when people ask me what it stands for, I say, "You gotta have heart." This is a business of the heart. You have to love people and use money, not the other way around.
Bo Short, along with his wife Sandy, reached the level of Diamond Direct Distributors in the Amway business after only five and a half years. An entrepreneur for many years before he started in Networking, Bo joined Amway in 1991. Seven years later, his and Sandy's business reaches around the world, with distributors throughout the US and 21 other countries.
But for Bo, success in Amway was only part of the journey. What really motivates him is promoting leadership in young people, and he's devoted his time and financial freedom to founding and running the DC-based American Leadership Foundation. Last year, Bo also wrote a book on the subject of leadership, The Foundation of Leadership, Enduring Principles to Govern Our Lives.
Bo: One of the really great things about success in Networking is that you can often retire and just spend your time with friends and family. Although I do enjoy a lot more time now with the people that I love, I have set my sights on some new goals that are keeping me very busy.
In the years that I spent running my own businesses, and then in building an international multi-level marketing company, I had the fortune to travel around the world many times and speak with people from all walks of life-- many of whom are successful individuals from a variety of fields: sports, the arts, business, and politics. In my conversations with these amazing people, I would ask them how they made it, what were the keys to their success. They often talked about taking risks, being flexible, having faith, but all of them consistently came back to the idea of leadership, and five basic leadership principles: vision, courage, perseverance, responsibility, and character.
I decided to establish the American Leadership Foundation when I began to notice-- during my speaking engagements at schools and colleges around the country-- that these leadership principles, the keys of success for so many people from many fields, were not being taught much today. I can't tell you how many children I've heard over the past few years say things like: "My mom and dad keep telling me not to get my hopes up, that it's a tough world out there and I shouldn't expect too much." I've heard that so much, I just started to feel like it was time to put my money where my mouth is, and get out there and do something.
My mission for the foundation is to inspire and nurture honorable leadership. Whether leading a nation, a business, a family, or just ourselves through our own life, our ability to achieve our most cherished dreams rests with our willingness to embrace the values of leadership. This is true in Network Marketing, as it is in any other endeavor that demands the best from each of us.
Teaching Others to Love the Land
One of Cindi Maggied Gellert's fondest childhood memories is of sitting around a campfire singing songs with friends at overnight camp. Spending time outside and "being close to nature" has always been very important to her. Today, Cindi lives on an organic farm in Scottsville, VA, and is building a Cell Tech business to fund her dream of establishing a spiritual retreat center in the country and creating internships for young people who want to learn the organic farming trade.
Cindi: Before Network Marketing, I chose a career that would allow me to provide that same kind of experience to other young people-- the sense of community, singing songs together, being out in nature. I created a life in the Jewish communal and educational world and spent my last five years in the field working with teenagers helping them in their youth groups with summer camping and weekend retreats. I've always seen my life as service, and I've been lucky that for many years I was on fire with the work that I did, despite the fact that it took up all my time.
My career then shifted to working with Jewish books. I got to be a resource person for others, and I loved it - I've always loved people. What I realized after a year of doing that was that if I believed in something, I could sell it. To me it wasn't selling, it was sharing information. I realized that in sharing, I could "make a sale" and have people be happy about it, come back and be grateful that I shared something. The work was still taking up almost all of my time, though, and sadly and coincidentally, it was about this time that my best friend from childhood died at age 41 of cancer and my aunt was diagnosed with it also-- just a few years after my mother had died of liver disease. I started thinking about becoming a massage therapist to still be involved in helping people while owning my time more, and maybe someday opening a healing arts center-- because I knew my mother and my friend didn't have to die. I just didn't see how I'd be able to do it.
||"Through Network Marketing, we share a vision of offering an organic farming internship program for young people."
- Cindi Maggied Gellert
When I came across Network Marketing, I got involved as a product user and didn't know it was what I was looking for. It wasn't until one day months later that I got it. While listening to an audio tape, I heard someone say how he loved working in his field of psychology but that the fees he had to charge didn't allow some of middle America and below to take advantage of his services; with the income he had from Network Marketing, though, he was able to do the work that he loved without suffering financially. It hit me that this business could fund my dream of going to massage school and establishing the center! Once I found the vehicle, I became totally passionate about learning all I could.
Between then and now, I met and married my husband Jerred, who's an organic farmer, and the vision of what my Network Marketing business will allow us to do just keeps getting bigger. Through my Network Marketing business, we share a vision of offering an internship program for young people who can stay with us and see what it's like to have a viable farm. We want to help people who have the interest to get hands-on experience and find out if farming is something they really want to do. The internships will be four to six months long and give them experience being an integral part of everything that happens on the farm. My goal is to then be able to financially assist those who do decide to pursue farming on their own in the early stages while they're getting on their feet.
My original idea of the healing arts center has grown into a vision of a retreat center focused on health, spirituality and reconnecting with the land. One of the retreats we want to establish is a Sabbath weekend retreat that will bring the authentic Jewish traditions back to their original connection with the Earth. Network Marketing is the perfect vehicle to achieving these dreams-- our intention is to reach the top level of the company by June 30, 2000.
Solving Homelessness - and So Much More
Rene Reid Yarnell is well-known as a philanthropist, but many may not know about her hands-on experience in helping find solutions to the homeless problem in her community. She began working to address this concern before her involvement in Network Marketing, but it was this industry, she says, that allowed her to bring the project to fruition. Now more than ten years since she first started it, Project ReStart, a private non-profit organization serving the homeless, is going strong.
Rene: Back in 1988, I was elected to public office to serve on the Board of County Commissioners at the same time that I began building a Network Marketing organization. One of the glaring issues I saw in my community was the need for an answer to homelessness. I live in a city-- Reno, NV-- that attracts people who are ready to bet their last paycheck in the casinos, and we have far too many who end up homeless.
When I first got into the political world, I was conscious that my job was to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, helping build the economy of our community through tourism, which is our strongest industry. Yet we had homeless people scaring tourists away, intimidating them, urinating on the streets, and the City couldn't control the problem. As a Commissioner, I was responsible for overseeing and determining the budgets for the court system, the sheriff's department, and the social services department, among others. They all needed more money than the budget could provide. I realized that if you can't increase the budget, then you have to decrease costs, which often means cutting services.
The search for solutions kept bringing me back to homelessness. There were too many homeless people going through a revolving door from the streets to the court to the jail, all the while being supported through the County's social services. With another round of handouts, they were back on the streets, then arrested and taken to court, and again sent back to jail. I began working with community leaders to create a resource center outside the downtown area away from our tourism so that these needy people could be offered genuine help.
Politically, I feel that I achieved very little. I got the thought in motion that there's a more economic way to serve the homeless than in our jails and court systems, but it was Network Marketing and the success that Mark Yarnell and I achieved that allowed me to foster the program I had begun. It was our industry that allowed me to take a good idea and carry it to full fruition. If I had simply remained a public servant, that program would still be just an idea in my mind's eye. It was the financial and time freedom that allowed Mark and me to put in the needed time, money, and effort into this project.
Today, Project Restart serves homeless people at three locations. On one campus, we have the only facility that serves the homeless mentally ill in our community. You may remember when, back in the Reagan days, thousands of the mentally ill were put out on the streets with no care and no supervision. You can imagine how serious that problem was in a town like ours where alcohol is given away so freely. An example of the services we offer at this facility is the Payee Program. Many of these people aren't competent to deposit the checks they receive from the government and budget correctly. Through the Payee Program, the checks come to us and we pay their bills for them-- rent, food, clothes, prescription drugs to treat their illnesses-- thereby helping them learn to become self-sufficient.
Our second campus is on state property and houses our Homeless Family Center. It's a place where families can get back on their feet and "restart" their lives. We assist in getting children back to health, parents back into jobs, and provide them with an address as they search for work. Our philosophy is that we offer our clients discretion so they have the appearance of a stable life while we're helping them transition into finding work and moving them toward self-sufficiency. Without that, it can be a vicious cycle: if they don't have a stable life, they won't get a job; if they don't have a job, they stay homeless. We help them with resumes, with clothes for job interviews, we provide them with a phone, and as their circumstances improve, they move into transitional housing and from there to apartments that they manage on their own.
We no longer have our third campus, but for eight years we ran a program in conjunction with the Sheriff's department assisting single homeless men. These are the people who usually get the title of bums, and some of them are. But many had some bad luck and fell into this situation. By partnering with the Sheriff, we were able to screen out the difficult ones. Now when single men come to Reno to live on the street because the booze flows freely, they are advised by law enforcement that they can't sleep on the streets or in parks, but that there is a warm place designated for them to sleep and they'll be offered a ride to Project ReStart. If they resist and insist on staying on the streets, eventually they'll be arrested. It is nearly impossible to stay on our streets and not break one of the vagrancy laws. Once they're arrested, they're given a choice: they can stay on the streets and wind up in jail where they will be assigned to the Sheriff's work program, giving back to the community by sweeping the streets and cleaning the parks. In lieu of this, they may choose to go to Project Restart where they will be assisted to "restart" their lives, or, if they have a relative somewhere, they may opt to receive a bus ticket to wherever that is. For the first ten years, the Project required a lot of my time, but now the organization doesn't depend on me anymore. I've scaled back my role to being just another board member. We help oversee the budget, ascertain that there is enough public and private funding coming in, hire the executive director, and interface with the city, county and state governments.
||"It was our industry that allowed me to take a good idea and carry it to full fruition."
- Rene Yarnell
Network Marketing has been a vehicle for another dream of mine, which is education. At the very core of me I see myself as an educator. In the Sixties, I started out in the classroom; in the Seventies and early Eighties, my career took me into talk radio and television, hosting and producing shows. For me, that was just another way to educate. Dr. King and I continue to teach our Network Marketing Certificate course at the University of Illinois at Chicago-- another freedom Network Marketing has given me. After teaching that course for six years, we have reached about 1500 students. Because I have the time, thanks to this industry, I feel that I can have even more impact through writing. In contrast to teaching, with the last book Mark and I wrote, Your First Year in Network Marketing, we have touched the lives of more than 125,000 people in a year and a half, and it continues to sell. It takes time to write a book, and if I'd been so busy making a living, I never would have had the time to discover I could write. I have now released the first I've authored on my own-- The New Entrepreneurs: Making a Living, Making a Life through Network Marketing. I have discovered how very much I love to write, and see this as a significant part of my future.
But beyond the projects and the books, there is something else more spiritual that this industry has given me. While Network Marketing has allowed me to have and do many tangible things, I have come to realize recently how much it has helped me grow personally. So many newcomers ask where to put their energy when they first begin their business, and I say, "Invest in yourself." As you grow, so will your business.
My divorce from Mark this past year was the worst moment of my life, but my own inner strength-- what I have gradually gained from working in this industry-- got me through it. So often we hear that Network Marketing is a personal growth journey, and now I can tell you beyond any question that I lived it and it's true. When I hit bottom, I discovered a personal power within me that I didn't know was there until I absolutely had nowhere else to turn. That was reinforced by the many people who have reached out to me and been there when I most needed them. I have never felt so much support as I have these past few months from my relationships in this industry.
I have talked to countless other people in Networking who have suffered the death of a loved one, health problems, divorce, and innumerable life crises, and they all share the same experience I am describing. I've been through the break-up of a significant love in my life twice now, once before Network Marketing and once after, so I have the ability to compare. The losses were so much greater this time, yet the recovery was so much healthier. Last time, I dwelled far too long in a state of anger and resentment over what I felt had been done to me. This time, I experienced an entirely different process. While I have felt tremendous sadness, I appreciate the years I had with Mark Yarnell. We brought something of value to each other and to this industry, and we did it to the best of our ability. I will always be grateful for what we shared during those years, and no one would question that I owe all of this to Network Marketing.
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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Applied Freedom - October 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com