John David Mann

All in the Family

The Shaws: DeDe and George, AG and Maureen

By Uma Outka

George and DeDe Shaw got their start in network marketing over two decades ago, through a combination of good timing and horse sense—literally.

In their work as professional horse racers and breeders, the couple stumbled upon a nutritional supplement that increased their horses’ competitive edge. It didn’t take long to build a solid business through their circle of influence among horse owners. In fact, they became the top earners in their company.

As the Shaws’ son, AG, neared adulthood, they naturally hoped he would decide to join the family business stable and reap the rewards of network marketing for himself. “He saw the lifestyle we had,” says DeDe; “his friends would ask, ‘What does your father do?!’ Maureen’s friends would ask the same thing.”

Maureen was AG’s high school sweetheart; they have since married and recently had their first child. She remembers being interested early on in the Shaws’ business. “It was unique, the way they were both home all the time. I know this was something I wanted to do.”

Seeing How the Other Side Lives—and Works

AG was interested, too; when he graduated from high school at 18, he started the business part-time and worked it with Maureen, earning money throughout four years of college. After graduation, AG continued part-time—but he wanted to try his hand at a “regular job.” He went to work in sales for a marina; it lasted about a year.

“I got to see the other side of things,” AG explains, “and it was no fun! There was competition between the sales guys: if you didn’t close the deal, someone else would. In network marketing, people help each other build their businesses.” Having grown up in the network marketing culture of support and cooperative effort, the more-for-me-less-for-you mentality of traditional sales made no sense to AG. To George and DeDe’s delight, he and Maureen decided to commit to the business full-time.

We ask the elder Shaws how they trained AG; they simply point out that he assimilated most of what he needed to know growing up. “We just wanted to empower them to be who they want to be, give them a vehicle, and expose them to the right people to put them in a position to succeed.” Their leadership style is casual, primarily a lead-by-example approach.

Says Maureen, “We get a lot just being around them, listening to them talking on the telephone; otherwise, they treat us just like anyone else, telling us to go to trainings.”

Who Put the “Gene” Back in Genealogy?

Business and biology have continued to overlap in the Shaw genealogy: Maureen sponsored her own mother, Patricia Lynch, who in turn sponsored Maureen’s sister, a student at college. Further, some of George and DeDe’s earliest distributors were DeDe’s sister and brother-in-law.

George doesn’t have any siblings, but if he did, he says, “They would probably be in the business too! Of course, the greater success you have, the easier it is to approach family—it becomes apparent to them that someone close to them is doing it.”

AG estimates that between his family and Maureen’s, 30 to 40 family members are signed up with their company.

The family isn’t together as much as they used to be. AG and Maureen live in Wisconsin; George and DeDe live off the eastern coast of south Florida. However, with their top leaders in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Shaws return to that area frequently. Recently they established a “training center” for their organization in Wisconsin—a cabin that sleeps up to 25, overlooking a lake, surrounded by a nature preserve inhabited by deer, bear, loons, and other wildlife. They hold weekend retreats, where individual leaders can come together with their organizations to build group cohesion, vision, and momentum.

“It’s a weekend of socializing, training, goal -setting, and getting people to dream,” Maureen explains. “Of the people who come, one will usually be a business leader, and the rest are people working to become a business leader. They really focus on growth, what you want and how to achieve it.” Both DeDe and George are firm believers that having fun in network marketing is essential to succeeding—“We feel if people are having fun building the business they’ll stick with it,” which was true for them in their own business efforts.

In this respect, AG is his parents’ son—fun was the pivotal factor in his decision to embrace the networking business. Sales for the marina and the competitive nature of traditional business just weren’t any fun to AG. At age 27, he and Maureen are much happier working 15 and 20 hours per week on their own clock. “I know a lot of other kids who were raised around network marketing and didn’t go into the business. Now they’re working for someone else … and I kind of wonder why?”

The Key to Involving Family: Third-Party Exposure

Ask anyone in the Shaw family, and they’ll all tell you the same thing—when it comes to training family (or anyone close to you, for that matter), varied exposures to the same information is essential.

“It’s not that family members don’t respect what you have to say,” DeDe explains, “but they inevitably hear it in a new way when they hear it from someone else. We tried to expose AG and Maureen to a lot of different speakers, and that’s the same thing we do with other people. Exposure is key for us—we see a greater response when they’re hearing from someone else.”

Maureen agrees: “It’s best to get an outside source to reinforce what you’ve been teaching. It brings credibility to what you’ve been telling them.” Above all, though, Maureen says she’s learned from DeDe and George to “be dedicated to the business and to the people—they’re a real example of that dedication."