Lisa Wilber

Outrageous Income-Just for Helping People

Lisa Wilber Is Looking For The Winner In You

By Uma Outka

“Here I was, living in a trailer park, driving a Yugo, eating macaroni—and now I’d lost my job? I had absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever. I just couldn’t stand to be that poor. I would sit home all day in my pajamas…I couldn’t even comb my hair.”
C hances are, if you met her today, Lisa Wilber would strike you as someone who has never had a problem with motivation. Her organization did $7.5 million in business last year; she’s one of the top three networkers in her company; she has her own seminar business, The Winner in You, on the side, offering marketing workshops around the country. Talk to Lisa on the phone and you’ll hear a soft, melodic voice that communicates confidence, self-possession, and a genuine, no-hype engagement with her business.

That’s not the whole story. In fact, insists Lisa, it’s not the story at all.

“I’m an introvert—I’m just now managing to have some self-esteem. Most of what I’ve done has been out of desperation.” This only highlights the distance she’s traversed in the 20-year personal development journey that has been her direct sales and networking experience. To this day, she doesn’t take a single achievement for granted.

Humble Roots

Lisa grew up in a poor family in rural New Hampshire. She joined her company at age 18, when it was exclusively a direct sales opportunity. She sold the products part-time to supplement the income from her job as a secretary; when she was laid off in 1987, she slid into a depression.

“Here I was, living in a trailer park, driving a Yugo, eating macaroni—and now I’d lost my job? I had absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever. I just couldn’t stand to be that poor. I would sit home all day in my pajamas…I couldn’t even comb my hair.”

Her husband encouraged her to do more with direct sales—after all, she did still have that. The vote of confidence meant a lot. She began to feel like herself again, got back into selling, and before long, had replaced the lost income. A friend gave her the Earl Nightingale audio, Lead the Field, which is still her all-time favorite.

“This man was telling me, it’s not the economy, it’s not the people around you that make who you are, you get to decide that. I simply didn’t know that; it had never occurred to me. My father was a janitor, my mother was a secretary, and I figured, Hey, if you end up in a trailer park, that’s about right. When I realized I could get myself out, everything changed.”

In 1990, her company introduced a multi-level marketing plan. Like many of her fellow reps, she was skeptical. For three years, she stuck exclusively with the retailing business, winning trips for annual sales over $80,000 and being honored for her local product marketing savvy—but she kept being tantalized by the idea of expanding her earning potential. She began to research the business model, casually at first, and then with concerted interest. After a fair amount of reading and listening to tapes that affirmed the validity of network marketing, she got a copy of her company’s plan to see what it required.

“I thought, ‘I might as well make it to the top of the pay plan and see if it was worth it or not.’” With no sponsor, Lisa was on her own in devising a networking strategy. She decided to keep it simple: ignore the lower achievement levels, work exclusively toward the top position, and read everything she could get her hands on related to the business.

“After the presentation, I go to my hotel room and renew my energy by being alone and listening to tape sets. I have to say to myself, ‘Yes, I am worth those checks.’ To me this is an outrageous amount of money for just helping people.”

“I wanted to be a senior executive, so I got out the requirements and worked straight toward achieving that—I didn’t want to be happy about the smaller levels.” She drew a circle on the map around her house, 100 miles in all directions, and placed a classified line ad with an 800 number in every newspaper within those bounds. In 15 months, she personally sponsored about 100 people. The majority were interested only in retailing, but the solid foundation the campaign returned in volume, combined with the efforts of those building organizations along side her, made one thing crystal clear: It was worth it.

The Winner in Lisa

Lisa’s networking efforts have always emphasized long-term sustainability.

“I haven’t tried to build the fastest group ever,” she says, “just a solid group that earns me money.” Over the years, her approach to the business has been simple and consistent. She has focused on developing a reliable local retail base using small business publicity techniques. The same classified line ads that served her so well early on remain her primary source of leads.

“I’ve done that almost exclusively and I still do it now. That’s where I’ve found 85 percent of my recruits over the last nine years.”

This consistency has paid off; still, Lisa has made small changes. For example, she’s long since dropped the idea that “just because someone has two feet and a heartbeat” means the person will be an asset to her business. Now, she screens calls with a job interview format. “I’m a lot more selective about who I work with today,” she says, “and I don’t talk people into it.”

As the leader of a growing group, Lisa has taught herself to manage her time efficiently.

For those who join for the retail income only, Lisa provides a welcome kit; some simple marketing tools; and a regular newsletter that features sales and marketing tips and recognizes achievements. She reserves her availability one-on-one for those who are interested in building a downline, which is about one in 20. (Although, thanks to e-mail, it’s easier these days to offer person-to-person support to retailers as well.)

Lisa has expanded both her customer base and her recruiting area beyond her early baselines. At the same time, she still believes firmly in the start-local concept. In fact, methods for finding customers and business partners close to home form the basis of her seminars. Here again, it’s hard to believe that Lisa is an introvert, but sharing her marketing ideas with an audience is at once personally rewarding and another step in her own self-development journey.

“I do the seminars even though it’s still very uncomfortable for me,” she explains. “After the presentation, I go to my hotel room and renew my energy by being alone and listening to tape sets. Do you know what it’s like to have no self-esteem and then nine years later I’m getting $10,000 checks every two weeks? I have to say to myself, ‘Yes, I am worth those checks every two weeks.’ To me this is an outrageous amount of money for just helping people.”

The Value of Paying in Cash

In an industry marked by a taste for fast money and flash, Lisa exhibits a truly unique quality: extreme thrift. Lisa Wilber could be New Hampshire’s Live-Free-or-Die poster girl—she refuses to carry debt, is unimpressed by luxury, and could put anyone’s saving habits to shame.

“I want a million in assets set aside,” she’ll tell you matter-of-factly. “To me, that’s the most important thing to do first. I want real security so I’ll never be in the situation I was in when I lost my secretary job. Getting a big house and a fancy car is just a way to get poor again. I’m happy with my Hyundai. If you have a pile of loans, you don’t have freedom.”

In fact, surprising as it may be, it was only in the last year that Lisa moved out of her trailer. She was making a quarter of a million dollars a year and no one in the park even knew it. As you read this, she and her husband will probably be moving into the house he’s been building for them, bought and paid for from start to finish. The unlikely combination of a six-figure-income earner and a mobile home has produced some funny scenarios, however, and she remembers one in particular that has become a classic to anyone who knows her:

“I was on the finance committee in my town and happened to vote no on the teachers contract. In front of everyone, the chairman said to me, ‘You know, you can’t vote no on the teachers contract just because you’re jealous that they make more money than you do.’ This was last year! Afterwards, I went up to him, shook his hand, and said, ‘I just want to thank you because I go all over the country teaching classes for my company, and you just gave me a great story to tell.’”

Next, she plans to build an indoor pool—to be paid for in cash. In the meantime, she’ll keep staying at the Motel Six when she’s on the road.

“If there’s something people can learn by looking at me, I hope it would be that this doesn’t have to be flash. You can get people interested in the opportunity even if you’re not driving a Lexus. It’s about what they want, not about how showy I am.”

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The million dollars of security is a big goal, but there’s another that’s caught Lisa’s imagination.

“My big, big goal,” she says, “is to be the first field representative on my company’s Board of Directors.” So far, her company’s Fortune 500 status has kept its Board fairly traditional. But that’s not holding Lisa back from aiming to claim a seat. “The company is such a part of me now,” she explains, “that I want to guide its development. I may never have a degree from Princeton, but I can do other things to distinguish myself.”

In the same way that she has approached building her downline and her investments, Lisa is building credentials—methodically, consistently, and without stopping. She’s been featured in Richard Poe’s Wave 4 and multiple industry publications; she’s been interviewed on the radio and written about in NH Business Review and Executive Female magazine; she’s working on a book about marketing in direct sales; she continues to expand her Winner in You seminar business; she earned professional membership in the National Speakers Association; she’s running for New Hampshire House of Representatives.

It may take awhile, but Lisa’s patient—and determined. Along the way, she plans to continue enjoying that “outrageous income just for helping people.”

Uma Outka is a contributing writer for Networking Times.

Want Reliable Volume? Think Local Retail

I believe in “the ten-mile radius”: Make your goal to get everyone within a ten-mile radius of where you live to know what you do. Here are some techniques for achieving this that I teach in my Winner in You seminars:

I won a company trip for my success with this idea, drawn logically from other small businesses—whether the service is construction, computer repair, or catering, you see this simple method all over the place. I took it a step further: I put a light-up sign on the roof of my car!

This is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to get face and name recognition and advertise the local availability of your products and service.

I recommend taking advantage of these opportunities to talk to people about what you do.

List your company name in the phone book with your phone number and in the appropriate Yellow Pages. (Check with your company’s rules and regs first.)

I put a sign on my house and decorated my mailbox to look like one of our products to catch the eye of drivers-by.

I send them to local papers when I advance a level, receive an award or am honored for an achievement, or speak at an event.