Family, Fun, and Friendship

Eugene Hong: Celeberating the Hawaiian Spirit

By Dr. Josephine Gross

Eugene Hong is a young network marketing leader who is one of the fastest recruiters in his company. Born and raised in Hawaii, he moved to Los Angeles in the mid-nineties and brought with him the aloha spirit and ’ohana (family) culture.

An entrepreneur at heart, Eugene started a restaurant and catering business and became successful thanks to his hard work, but the day he discovered the concept of leverage and residual income he decided to pursue a different model.

In college a friend had tried to enroll Eugene into network marketing but the manipulative sales approach he experienced turned him off. Today he has found a way to build business partnerships based on friendship and a no-pressure prospecting environment.

Eugene believes in multiple streams of income, so he still owns his traditional business even though he is a full-time network marketer. He says applying his network marketing skills to his restaurant business made it even more successful.

Looking back Eugene marvels at the speed with which he was able to build a multiple-six-figure income through network marketing compared to how long it took him to see financial returns in his traditional business. He is fond of saying he truly found a “get-rich-quick” game.

Discovering the Business
Eugene was exposed to direct selling at an early age because his mom used to do home parties for neighbors and friends.

“I would play outside with their kids,” he says, “thinking it was just a big powwow where everyone had a good time.”

In 1992, when Eugene was in college, one of his high school buddies invited him to a “party,” which turned out to be an opportunity meeting.

“It wasn’t something I was expecting,” he says, “and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Even though he was an old friend, I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to get involved in, and I certainly didn’t want to do what he did to me to others.”

In 2006 Eugene was working his catering business at a farmer’s market, when one of his regular customers casually mentioned a business opportunity.

“He hinted it was network marketing and I didn’t want to hear about it because of my past experience,” says Eugene. “He kept on asking about my business and if I enjoyed what I did. I avoided his questions and just talked about our food or whatever. This went on for a period of four months.”

At one point the customer started calling the phone number on Eugene’s banner ad. As soon as Eugene identified the customer’s number, he started screening his calls.

“Seeing him became increasingly uncomfortable,” says Eugene, “because he was continuously trying to pitch me. I was fully involved in my own business and thought, ‘How can I do another business when I’m still trying to build this business, which is my bread and butter?”

Finally the customer said, “Eugene, do me a favor. If you come to this one meeting, I promise I will never bother you again.”

With mentor and company founder Corey Citron.

Seeing a way out, Eugene agreed. The customer gave him a date and a time, and as Eugene was driving to Santa Monica where the appointment was taking place, he was trying to figure out how to get out of it as quickly as possible. He called his friend and said, “I’m going to a meeting where I really don’t want to be. I need you to do me a favor. About fifteen minutes into the meeting, call me and say that you need me to come over because you have a family emergency.”

When Eugene arrived at the meeting, he still didn’t want to hear what anyone had to say. To make matters worse, fifteen minutes into it his friend didn’t call him, so he was forced to stay. But the presenter was so effective at showing the power of leverage that Eugene became more receptive and started opening his mind to the potential of the opportunity. He realized that in his current business he had no leverage, although he was working over 100 hours a week. Finally when the presenter, whose name was Corey Citron, showed Eugene how much money he was making, Eugene understood what was possible and signed up that very night.

Getting Started
Eugene was so inspired by the vision Corey painted that he became a sponge, absorbing every tip and listening to every CD his upline recommended.

“Jim Rohn and Robert Kiyosaki really built my belief,” he says. “I got excited, but the problem was, I could only do network marketing for a very limited time, because my days started at 5:00 AM and I came home at 11:00 PM.”

The fortunate part was that in his restaurant business, Eugene was exposed to new people all the time. He started building his network marketing business at work, using every break he had to make calls and invite people to events.

“My lack of time actually became my driving force,” he says. “I knew that if I didn’t spend my lunch break wisely, I wasn’t going to have another time to make calls until late at night or the next day when I would drive to work.”

Eugene’s business grew slowly, but in three years he reached a rank in his company just below the diamond position.
After three years Corey left the company he was with to start his own company. He offered Eugene a chance to become his founding distributor and top earner.

“I loved the challenge,” says Eugene. “When we pre-launched, I really wanted to prove myself, and that’s when I took my business to the next level. I would schedule meetings at 11:00 PM or midnight at coffee shops or restaurants that were open 24 hours.

“I would also meet people right after lunch between 2:00 to 4:00 PM, which was slow time at my restaurant. I became super focused on maximizing my time.”

In his first company Eugene was used to plugging into the company’s trainings. When he transitioned to the new company he started incorporating a lot of ideas he learned at generic seminars, such as Art Jonak’s Mastermind events. He bought a lot of tools from Randy Gage and Orrin Woodward to help him develop a clearer understanding of the business.

With Art Jonak at Mastermind 8 in Houston, 2012.

“Studying all these books and CDs really helped my business take off,” he says. “In my first company, I didn’t know what duplication was. I was doing whatever worked. The problem was, I didn’t have a high return, because what I did wasn’t duplicating. In my new company I was duplicating my efforts very carefully, and I trained others to do the same.”

Even though Eugene’s belief and competence grew stronger, the first two years in his new company were difficult. Often the products would be faulty or back-ordered, so a lot of his business partners quit.

“During pre-launch you see the shiny object syndrome where people come in because it’s new,” he says. “They jump at the opportunity but don’t take action. They just want to get a spot. We had a first company convention with eight new diamonds, but shortly after they all quit. I literally had to rebuild from scratch. That’s when we changed our training system and product offering, and everything turned around and started duplicating.”

Creating Culture
Eugene learned that what glues a team together through the ups and downs of the business is a strong team culture, so he started focusing on creating just that.

“We did a lot of fun things and built a community people wanted to be part of,” he says. “People are hungry for something bigger than themselves. They want to get behind a mission, which for us was to help people with their health and finances. Network marketing became our vehicle to transform lives.”

While Eugene and his team were working through the challenges and waiting to see their income grow, they made sure to have fun together.

“We organized bowling events, held bonfires, and did party buses,” he says. “People would come from San Francisco, Bakersfield, and San Diego all into Los Angeles because we would organize a weekend they did not want to miss. These gatherings reminded me of the big powwow’s we had at my house when I was a kid.”

On Saturday mornings they held business and product trainings, but Saturday afternoons and Sundays were for bonding.

“We organized movie nights where all of us would go to the theaters and just have a great time. We had barbeques and karaoke nights. We did that for about a year and a half before we started to do really well, and a lot of people are still here now because of the camaraderie we created.”

Eugene says a lot of the things he did were inspired by the ’ohana culture he grew up in. To this day, this is the spirit he brings to his network marketing business.

“Here in Los Angeles, people are stressed,” he says. “They want to be in an environment where they can relax and find joy. We create a positive, supportive atmosphere where they can leave their worries behind and work on themselves and their businesses. Many people are working in a dog-eat-dog world; here, we work together as a team. We’re not stepping on people; we’re family helping each other out.”

Two years ago, Eugene’s company did a new product launch and came out with a system that made it much easier to bring people in.

“All we had to do was to implement and duplicate it,” he says. “The way we created retention was again by reinforcing that team culture. Most leaders in my organization have a very tight bond. As we duplicate that ’ohana spirit within our teams, they carry that same mentality and philosophy forth.”

Receiving surprise award from his leaders in Salt Lake CIty, 2013.

With top leaders and company founders in Oahu, Hawaii.

With top leaders Chris and
Rose Medina at company convention.

With longtime friend
and top leader Ronnie Cruz.

With his friend, mentor,
and top leader Kinau Tollefsen.

With top leader Daniel Song.

Home Parties
Eugene’s marketing system consists of holding small home parties where the host invites two to five guests.

“The reason we keep these gatherings small is to keep them duplicable,” he explains. “If you have bigger parties, people might enjoy them but feel they couldn’t do this kind of party themselves. How we bring people into the business is how they’re going to bring them in. We want to make sure the parties can take place in a home environment, be it an apartment, a studio, or a house. We want to create that warmth, and maybe offer some food and beverages. If you hold the party at 7:30 PM, it’s easy to invite guests by saying, ‘You have to eat anyway. Why don’t you come over and check this out at the same time?’”

Eugene’s company system has a ladder of escalation which starts with small home parties, and when a team develops, the leaders in the area organize a super home party, which has more stories, more testimonials, and more social proof.

“At these home parties we let the tools and the system do the work,” he says. “We don’t want anyone talking too much, because others can’t duplicate that. Public speaking is one of the worst fears people have, so we don’t want to scare them away. Instead, we adopted a culture of push play, where you let the video do all the work. After watching the video, everyone feels comfortable and that it’s something they can do.”

Eugene says another advantage of having business meetings at home versus in hotels is it takes away the excuses: people are not going to say they got lost to your house. They are not in foreign territory.

During the home party, the only time the hosts talk is when they share their testimonial.

“We used to do the closing at the end, but now we have a video that does the close for us, and all we do is to collect the decision. We simply find out where the guests are in their lives. Are they interested in becoming a customer or are they interested in becoming a business member? Our system is kind of like a funnel that does all the work. This makes it easy because you don’t have to be a salesperson.

“Who wants to sell to their friends? No one wants to be in that position, so we took that part out of the system. We’re simply trying to get people to make a choice, and the video does a great job accomplishing that.”

Customer Growth
Eugene always believed in himself and that if he worked hard he would be successful. Yet over the past two years he learned success wasn’t about him, but about the team.

“It’s about how I can help others share the message and duplicate my efforts within my organization,” he says. “Remember those eight diamonds who quit? One of them came back and decided to join us in the new system. Today we have twenty-three diamonds in our group, including myself. Twenty-one of them have no prior experience in network marketing, or have never been successful in network marketing. This tells me that the system works: we’re helping people achieve financial success for the first time.”

In Eugene’s organization, the customer-distributor ratio is two to one, with most distributors starting out as customers.

“At the end of a party, we usually have several customers sign up before we get a member to come in. Our business packages are priced a little higher than in most companies, which is why there’s a big differential. The reason for that is we want to make sure that the business owners have skin in the game. At the same time, we offer a proven system to help them get the quick results they’re looking for.”

Eugene says customer volume is extremely important in his business. He remembers hearing Randy Gage say in one of his tools that he could have built a better business if he’d concentrated more on customers.

“That’s something we really emphasize,” he says. “Having a strong platform for signing up customers takes all the pressure off and makes our work more enjoyable. The business is not for everybody, but the products are. When people get on the product and see results, they often realize they need to get behind the business so they can earn their products through referrals. Probably a third of our diamonds came in as customers first, and then decided to become business builders. That’s why for us it’s never a disappointment when someone chooses to become a customer; it’s great, because a lot of our customers will transfer or upgrade to becoming members.”

With his sister and top earner Ruby Hong.

With his parents and sister in Honolulu, Hawaii.

With family on incentive trip to Cancun, Mexico.

Dreams and Vision
What Eugene is most proud of is the results he was able to create for himself and his team members.

“Personally I was able to buy my parents a house,” he says. “They were doing well when I was a kid, but as I grew up they lost their house in foreclosure. For about twenty years we were moving from apartment to apartment. I had hoped our conventional business would help us get back on our feet, but it wasn’t until network marketing entered the picture that things really changed in a big way. It saved us, and when people say it’s a get-rich-quick game, I absolutely agree: it builds wealth rather quickly. In three years I was able to buy a house for my mom.”

Eugene says his business also saved his younger sister, Ruby, a high school dropout who worked retail job after retail job but could never keep a position for more than six months.

“Ruby first had a physical transformation thanks to our products,” he says. “Then she decided to do the business, and six months later she’s making a six-figure income. How did that happen? Some of the things that helped her was hearing Randy Gage’s story: Randy was a high school dropout just like her. Ruby read Randy’s book, saw what was possible, and took massive action. Our system of duplication helped her create that financial freedom.”

Many of Eugene’s friends and family members are building the business with him, which makes him very happy. He wants nothing more than to share his financial freedom and help others achieve their financial transformation.

“That’s why we will always pay it forward,” he says, “no matter how successful we become. I could stop now, but I work for fun. It’s not about the money; money is awesome, but what’s even more fulfilling is sharing it with your loved ones, with your friends and your team, and to help as many people as possible get to where they need to go. My biggest joy is to see that duplicating throughout my team.”

Eugene is most grateful for his mentors Corey Citron, Art Jonak, Randy Gage, and Orrin Woodward.

“They were the ones I could go and ask advice from. Art Jonak was a mentor because of his Mastermind events. I never got to meet Art personally until a couple of years ago. This year he invited me to speak and tell my story at the ninth Mastermind event.

“Art and I became good friends because of Corey; Corey is the link that brought us together, and that’s the beauty of this profession. Once you achieve something, you work with other achievers. You attract others who are doing very well. I believe if you reach up, you get pulled up. I was reaching up to Art and all these leaders because I wanted to be like them and have what they had. The only way to do that is to learn what they learned, do what they did, and that’s what I teach my team.”

Looking into the future, Eugene muses, “I think network marketing is going to be even bigger than it is already now. It doesn’t matter what company you are in, as a leader in our profession your job is to protect it. Our job is to go out there and share it with as many people as we can, because they need it. It’s a solution for a lot of people, and if we don’t tell them, they will never know.”

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