Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Summer and Travis Flaherty: Know Your Strengths and Have Faith
By Dr. Josephine Gross
Travis and Summer Flaherty are network marketing professionals who are raising their five children in Phoenix, Arizona. They got married fourteen years ago and built a successful conventional business, but when a friend introduced them to network marketing, they immediately recognized it as a much better vehicle to reach their goals.
For the first years of their network marketing career, Summer stayed home with the children while Travis was out building the business. They both agreed to temporarily give up spending time together because they saw the long-term payoff the business would provide for their family.
“We had a mutual understanding of the sacrifice necessary to achieve the dream,” says Travis. “The dream is the connector between two people coming together to support each other in growing into their full potential. It starts with recognizing our differences and drawing on each others’ strengths.”
“In order for the business to succeed, the support partner needs to feel included from the beginning,” Summer adds. “Even if one spouse is the primary business builder while the other spouse is the primary caretaker of the children, it’s important that both feel validated and edified in their function.”
Today Summer and Travis love to teach other couples how to become happy and productive partners in business and in life.
Transition from Traditional Business
When Summer and Travis Flaherty got married fifteen years ago, they sat down and discussed where they wanted to go in life. One important item they agreed upon was they wanted to create the freedom to do the things they wanted to do, rather than the things they had to do.
“We realized early on that to accomplish this we would need to be entrepreneurs,” says Travis. “We hadn’t found network marketing yet, but we knew we were going to build our own business.”
Travis and Summer started off in traditional business.
“It was like being married to the business,” says Travis. “In order to succeed, you have to pay all your overhead and employees first.”
The Flaherty’s did well financially, but when their friend and neighbor, Steve, introduced them to network marketing in 2005, they saw right away how it aligned better with their purpose and family mission, which was to create enriching life experiences with the people they love the most.
Summer had some initial resistance and wondered if network marketing could really provide a solution for their family’s needs. Travis, on the other hand, came home from his first meeting knowing this was what he wanted to do. His only question was how to break the news to Summer and get her on board.
“Our existing business had taken a downward turn at the time,” he says. “It took some belief and trust on Summer’s part because this new path was completely unknown to us.”
Seeing how excited Travis was and the success Steve and his friends were having in network marketing gave Summer confidence. “I knew that when people do something they love and have a passion for, amazing things happen in their lives. I trusted this would be true for Travis. I wanted him to be happy doing what he loves, so I quickly overcame my fears.”
Once the Flaherty’s decided to join the business, they plugged right into the system their upline was using.
“If you want to succeed at anything, just find a thoroughbred and learn to keep up,” says Travis. “I’ve done this in every business I’ve been associated with. I look for the runners, the people who are getting the job done and have what I want in life, and I emulate what they are doing.
“I strongly resonate with Richard Brooke’s book Mach II with Your Hair on Fire. Having no idea what I was doing in the beginning, I was selling and trying to convince people why my products and services were better than others. Despite my own ignorance, I had some initial success just because I was excited. I quickly found out I had a lot to learn.”
Travis and Summer’s primary focus remained on their existing business, a lead-generation company that produced leads primarily for the mortgage industry. They started building their network marketing team on the side, doing home meetings with their upline in the evenings and attending hotel meetings on weekends.
“When people are off work, they have their guard down and are more open to looking at new opportunities,” says Travis. “We traveled to different cities every weekend for several years and enjoyed a modest but growing income.”
In 2006 Travis was visiting his family in Arizona when he heard Eric Worre was giving a training in Scottsdale to a small group of leaders. Eric was just getting his business up and going there, so Travis decided to join his event, which had only a dozen people. Mesmerized by Eric’s presentation, Travis thought, “I want to be like him one day. I want to be the guy with the marker.”
“Summer and I recently had dinner with Eric and Marina Worre,” says Travis. “It was really neat to come full circle eight years later. I had the opportunity to thank Eric for how he inspired me in those early days. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve realized some of the dreams that started in that little conference room.”
Presenting with baby Cayman.
Couples panel at the ANMP Convention 2013.
Chandler Flaherty speaking about time freedom.
Forced to Go Full Time
In 2008 when the mortgage industry collapsed, the Flaherty’s had to shut down their lead-generation business, which gradually led them to do network marketing full time.
“We were extremely fortunate to have found network marketing a couple of years prior,” says Summer, “because that was the only income we were left with. When our business went under, we lost almost everything. It was one of the most humbling experiences we’ve ever been through. We were hiding our car in our neighbor’s garage, because tow trucks were coming by and we didn’t want to lose the only vehicle we had left.
“I remember our electricity being shut off, and we would have to scramble to come up with a deposit to get it turned back on. Then the gas would get shut off. This was in the middle of winter in Utah, and at times we had to take our children in bed with us to keep them warm at night.”
Travis remembers at one point calling his parents to ask if they could order a pizza for the family because he couldn’t afford to buy dinner.
“We had four children at that time,” he says. “Being the provider of my family, and having done so well previously in business, I was in a tough place. If we didn’t have that network marketing income, which wasn’t much, we wouldn’t have been able to hang on to the few things we had left, such as our home. That was the turning point for us where we decided to put all our energy into this business.”
At that time the Flaherty’s network marketing income was fluctuating and around $2,500 or $3,500 in a good month.
“We went from using that as our fun, play money to having to try to pay the bills with it,” says Summer. “To make matters worse, Travis fell into a window well and shattered his knee cap, tore all the muscle off the bone, and severed the ligaments connecting his upper leg to his lower leg. He had to have major reconstructive surgery and couldn’t work at all. I couldn’t go to work because I had to take care of our children and for six weeks after the surgery Travis could not walk, move, or even go to the bathroom or take a shower without me.”
The Flaherty’s had to figure out a way to make money quickly, and since their networking business was already producing some income, they figured out a way to increase it.
“Serendipity stepped in,” says Summer. “I was working out with my girlfriend next door, and she told me she had joined Facebook. ‘What’s that?’ I asked. Next thing I knew, we were using it as a tool to develop new relationships and try to take our income to the next level.”
“Facebook had just started to explode in the network marketing space,” says Travis. “Since we couldn’t even get me into a car, we had no other option but to focus all our efforts online.”
Unfortunately, two months after his first surgery Travis broke his knee again.
“We went to a getting-started training for someone we had personally sponsored into the business, and a three-legged Rottweiler started chasing him,” Summer recalls. “It had been raining earlier in the day, and the concrete was wet, so Travis slipped and snapped his knee cap and tore his ligament again. He had to have another reconstructive surgery, followed by six more weeks of recovery.
“Network marketing—and Facebook—truly saved us and I’m so grateful we had that, because I don’t know what we would have done. It was a horrible, stressful, emotional time for us as a family, but I’m grateful it happened, because it pushed us into a totally different lifestyle and business we would have never considered doing full time otherwise.”
Travis agrees, “Sometimes challenges in life push you down a new path to exactly where you’re supposed to be.”
With Art and Ann Jonak on the MLM cruise 2010.
With close friends Todd Falcone and Jordan Adler.
With friends and business partners Rob &
Tiffanie Moffittat the ANMP banquet.
With dear friends and mentors Lisa Grossman
and Curtis Broome.
The Flaherty’s had to make significant sacrifices to build their network marketing business up to produce a full-time income.
“In the evenings, when the kids were getting home from school, we were doing opportunity meetings,” says Travis. “Together with my upline, we would go around and do in-home presentations all over Utah. We would also travel to Idaho and Arizona. When given an opportunity, we even traveled to Singapore and launched an international business there. We were out sharing the opportunity with anyone who was willing to listen. Because our children were little, Summer wasn’t able to travel with me.”
Travis and his uplline did a lot of one-on-one presentations and what they called drop-bys. They would text people and say, “We’ve got something we want to share with you. We’re in the neighborhood, do you mind if we drop by for fifteen minutes?”
“That worked well for us,” says Travis. “We were out there sharing the plan as much as we could.”
Travis and his sponsor developed a strong partnership which formed a solid launch pad for their business. They approached primarily their warm market and the synergy between them created a level of excitement that attracted many others.
“Our intent was to create a party,” says Travis. “When you’re excited, wherever you go people want to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
Even though he loves being on stage today, Travis started out with a tremendous fear of public speaking.
“The first time I was invited to speak was for a national call,” he says. “My upline diamond called me on Sunday night and said, ‘We’d like you to speak on the Wednesday morning call.’ I didn’t sleep from Sunday until Wednesday, that’s how terrified I was to share my three-minute testimonial.”
The first time he gave a presentation was in Salt Lake on a thirty-minute notice. His upline called and said, “I’m not going to be able to make the presentation… I need you to do it.”
Overwhelmed with fear, Travis asked, “Are there going to be a lot of people?” His upline assured him it was a really small meeting. Travis thought, “I can pull up a chair and sit with everybody. That will not make me as nervous as if I had to stand in front of a room.”
But when he and Summer got there, the room was filled with a hundred people.
“It was at a country club in Provo, and I was petrified,” he says. “I made Summer sit right in front of me so I could look at her and nobody else. She was advancing my slides and held a glass of water ready because my mouth would get so dry.”
Looking back, Travis says having dependable partners in his wife and their upline made all the difference, especially when they got started.
As the Flaherty’s business grew, Facebook became a crucial tool for reaching out to contacts.
“I wouldn’t necessarily go as far as to say we’re online builders,” says Travis, “but we’ve used Facebook as a primary platform to connect with likeminded individuals who share our goals and dreams. One such person we met early on was Art Jonak.”
“I loved how he ran his page,” says Summer. “It was during the elections of 2008 and we connected because of our political affiliation before I even knew he was in network marketing. I told Travis, ‘You’ve got to connect with this guy.’ Little did we know we were going to end up being friends and going on the MLM cruise together.”
“We made a lot of mistakes back then,” says Travis. “We were the stereotypical networkers whose every post was about our opportunity. Young and excited, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.”
A couple of years into the business Travis and Summer had an important realization. They noticed that while most networkers online were selling and telling everyone about their business, the few who were really progressing didn’t talk about their products or their companies. They simply focused on adding value and helping others.
“As soon as we caught on to that, we began flourishing,” says Travis. “We understood that this business is more about community and service. We learned that the number one way to grow an organization is to grow its people. We also realized that if we were to grow others, we needed to grow ourselves.”
The first book Travis read that significantly raised his leadership level was The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell.
“Maxwell talks about the Law of the Lid,” Travis explains. “It goes like this: if you ranked your leadership ability on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, and you’re a 3, that means you’re attracting 1s and 2s to your life. It’s very uncommon to attract 7s and 8s to you when your leadership ability is a 3. But if you can raise that lid to a 4 or 5 or 6, you naturally start to attract better people to you.”
That was when the light bulb went on for the Flaherty’s. They fell in love with the constant pursuit of leadership and are pursuing it to this day.
“It didn’t just serve our business,” says Summer. “We also grew as individuals. As in any relationship, early on in our marriage there was some turbulence. Personal development was a game changer for us. We started to grow as a couple and as a family. We raised the bar on the people we allowed into our life, and once we did that, everything changed. It had an impact on our friends and family, because when you change, the people around you change.”
"A family that plays together, stays together." Rocky Point, Mexico 2013.
The Startup Team
As a result of fully delving into personal growth and aligning with some powerful mentors, Travis and Summer began thriving in their company. They built a solid six-figure income and started to develop a leadership reputation in the network marketing space. When their company went through a transition, they ended up selling their business. Subsequently they wanted to experience the corporate side of network marketing, so they accepted the role of VP of Sales for a startup company.
“We spent a year there because we had a non-compete when we sold our business,” says Travis. “When that was over, we went back to the field in a new company where we stayed until it was sold.”
In 2010 Summer and Travis decided to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary by going on the MLM cruise.
“At first we thought it would be a good write off,” says Travis. “We were following Art on Facebook and thought, what better way to strengthen our relationship with him and his following?”
“We normally wouldn’t decide to go on a business trip for our anniversary,” says Summer. “We also never left our children longer than three or four days and usually took them with us wherever we went, so it was a big deal to be away from them that long. We made the exception because our children had finally reached an age where they were able to be watched without too much craziness or stress on me. We were excited and justified taking eight days off because it was our anniversary and we know it would benefit our business.”
Attending the MLM cruise coincided with a time where the Flaherty’s were becoming known as a successful network marketing couple and it opened opportunities for them to do generic training outside their company.
“Summer and I are true entrepreneurs,” says Travis. “We get really excited about the idea of launching a new company. We love to be a part of shaping the culture and we’ve done well in that environment. But it has also put us in a position where every couple of years the company we were associated with was either purchased or merged with another company.
“We’ve been okay with that, because we understand where our strengths are. Some people refer to us as ‘the startup team’ because that’s where we’ve thrived in the past. As a result, we’ve had to reinvent ourselves a few times. We don’t regret this because each time we’ve gone on to do something bigger and better.”
“Often we don’t know why things turn out the way they do,” says Summer. “We’ve been able to meet amazing people on our journey, and we built relationships with people we might not have ever met otherwise and who are still in our lives today through these different experiences. I deeply value that. I would never say I wish I had done something differently, because I feel in every situation we’ve learned and grown so much.”
Even while raising a family of five children today, Travis and Summer don’t mind the uncertainties of change because they are confident in what they do.
“Not arrogant, just confident in our abilities,” says Travis. “We believe that if you lead from the heart, the right people who are supposed to be with you at that point in time are going to be there. Our motto is not ‘fake it till you make it,’ but ‘faith it till you make it.’ A lot of times when we’ve moved on, we’ve encouraged our previous leaders to hang in, and it’s been a better opportunity for them to stay, while we chose to completely start over. We just are at peace knowing who we are and that the right partners will always show up.”
“Transitions are stressful and not always fun,” says Summer. “Our kids feel the energy shift, even if they don’t know exactly what’s going on. Stress affects us in many ways. What always gets me through is looking back at our life and seeing how everything always falls into place, even though sometimes it doesn’t look like what I expected it to look like. We’ve been blessed through prayer and faith, and I strongly believe in following your gut and what your intuition is telling you to do. It can be a scary place to operate from if you don’t have that faith, but for me and Travis, we just know it always works out somehow.”
First family visit to DisneyWorld in 2014.
A Couple Partnership
Travis often refers to Summer as “his secret weapon.”
“As a couple we rely a lot on her intuition,” he says, “even though sometimes it goes against what I want. We struggle in our minds, but she rarely steers us in the wrong direction. We both bring something different to the table and form a true partnership. We know what our strengths are: Summer’s are definitely inner guidance and always seeing the bigger picture. I tremendously value this about her.”
“It’s not that I’m leading anyone,” says Summer. “Once we’ve done our due diligence and everything that’s in our control, at that point we have to lean in to faith and allow ourselves to feel where our intuition is leading us. Sometimes it causes a battle between your heart and your head; we think we already know what’s best for us, and we discount that still small voice that’s telling us, ‘There’s something wrong here,’ or ‘This all looks perfect on the outside, but I feel we should do this instead.’ Even when it doesn’t seem to make sense, I always encourage our children and Travis to follow their hearts, because I know Heavenly Father won’t lead us astray.”
One of the Flaherty’s mottos is “A family that prays together stays together.” They regularly attend church and make prayer a daily priority—whether to ask for protection in situations of acute change or simply to express gratitude.
“Summer constantly asks me, ‘Are you praying about this?’” says Travis. “Yesterday when we were driving, she knew I was pondering a difficult decision and said, ‘Are you asking Heavenly Father for help?’ I said, ‘Yes I am—I promise!’”
Summer chimes in, “Travis and I feel blessed to work together and be with each other every day so we can have those conversations. We constantly check in with each other and know exactly how the other person is feeling.”
“One of the greatest strengths you’ll ever have in building a business is to have a spouse who truly understands you,” says Travis. “Summer provides that for me. She sometimes knows where I’m at and talks me through certain scenarios to get me to where she wants me to be. Apart from prayer, we use each other for support and maintain close communication.”
Even though up till now Travis has taken more of a leadership position in terms of public speaking and training from the stage, Summer feels just as validated in her role as support partner who makes everything possible. Travis never misses an occasion to edify her publicly online and in person.
Encouraged by Travis, lately Summer has been stepping outside her comfort zone and started to do more speaking.
“She has an amazing gift to connect from the heart when she speaks,” says Travis. “I admire that about her. I also want other couples to know that it takes two to build the business. If you want to be successful as life partners, you have to make sure the other spouse feels included in what you’re doing. It’s easy sometimes for one spouse to go out on the road and build the business, and for the other one just to be at home, and for that to create a separation in the relationship.”
Travis always looks for opportunities to include Summer in everything he does.
“For instance, on Facebook, I wouldn’t just say, if I was congratulating one of our leaders who hit a rank, ‘I’m really proud of you.’ Instead, I say ‘Summer and I are really proud of you.’ Everything we do is presented as coming from us, not from me or her.”
While Travis and Summer have enjoyed the excitement and newness of helping new companies launch, they are now at a point in their careers where they are looking for longevity so they can create long-term residual income.
“We also have goals to build a team and a community by teaching other entrepreneurs how to build a successful business as a couple,” says Travis. “That’s something we’re both passionate about because it’s an area where we excel and can really be of service.”