Art Jonak

"I Can Do This"

At 30, Art Jonak Has Been Doing "This" for More Than Ten Years

By John Milton Fogg

Art Jonak is one of the early pioneers of Internetwork marketing. Author of "The One Minute Sponsoring Tip for Network Marketers" newsletter and founder of Network Professionals and, Art has been featured in the best-selling books Wave 4 and The Wave 4 Way to Building Your Downline, by Richard Poe, was the Technology Editor for Upline magazine, a contributor to Network Marketing Lifestyles and the "Fortune Now" newsletter. Art has built organizations with distributors numbering in the thousands and helped dozens of individuals reach significant leadership positions and income levels. We recently talked with Art about his experiences in the business.

Art, how did you first become involved in pursuing networking online?

In 1991, at the age of 20, I was working the graveyard shift at the University of Virginia. From midnight to about 3 a.m. we would back up all of the professors' research--which in those days meant working with big computers and reel-to-reel tapes. From 3 a.m. till 8 a.m. there was nothing to do.

The Internet was very new at the time. There wasn't much e-mail going on, and the Web wasn't really a force--but there was this thing called a "newsgroup."

Newsgroups were quite new and mostly for nerds. Hey, I could be a nerd! I created the first network marketing newsgroup ever--all because I happened to work the graveyard shift at a computer place and had nothing to do. We had 10 people there, then 20, then 50--and soon we had over 100 people. It was exciting; we had network marketers interacting from all over the world.

Then I happened to see a post online that mentioned a magazine called "Upline." I was finally able to find a copy somehow, and the address said, "Charlottesville, Virginia"--the same little town where I was living! I eventually went to visit the offices of Upline, quit my job and began working there. That was when I started to see the vast potential of network marketing.

Where did it go from there?


One of the most important things you can realize is that you have a vision. You can create it, and that's the good news. The bad news is, you've already created it! The question is, what have you created?

I was living with four roommates in a house known as "the purple party house"--it was actually painted purple, and boy, did we party. We would take turns going to class and recording the professor so that we wouldn't all have to go, so we could focus on what we did well--which was throw parties.

One morning I woke up with a huge hangover; the sun was shining, it was already two in the afternoon. I thought, I might as well lie there and listen to the professor. I popped in a tape, hit play--and here was this older gentleman's voice telling me, "Your income, your attitude, your lifestyle will equal the average of the incomes, attitudes and lifestyles of the five people you hang out with...." It dawned on me: the five people I was associating with were not going to get me to where I wanted to be. Within ten days I'd rented an apartment on the other side of town.

It was one of the smartest things I ever did. That's when things started happening. I started doing long-distance sponsoring, creating powerful relationships, and associating with people who were making it happen in the business.

Years later I finally found out that this "professor" I'd heard was Jim Rohn. For whatever reason, however it happened, a Jim Rohn tape had ended up in my room--and that one tape changed my destiny.

You are known for tenaciously tracking down mentors; can you speak about that?

Working at Upline, I would constantly talk on the phone with networkers from other companies, educating them about all the tools we had--and whenever possible, I would ask them what was going on in their businesses and thus create relationships.

Upline began putting on the Upline Masters events, where I got to meet people like Richard Brooke, Tom "Big Al" Schreiter, Randy Gage, Sandy Elsberg, Jan Ruhe, Mark Yarnell.

I started calling up Big Al and creating a relationship with him. He was great, always taking time to talk with me and give me advice--and every piece of advice he gave me turned into money. He never asked for anything in return.

I created a relationship with Randy Gage, because there were certain things he had manifested in his life that I wanted. Working for Upline, I was able to hang out with you [John Fogg], ask questions and learn. You turned me onto Carol McCall--we brought her in to do a listening workshop for my company. Seeking out mentors is something you have to pursue proactively. They're not going to come looking for you!

People are often very reluctant to do that. They think, Oh this guy's too busy, that gal's too busy, they're not going to talk to me, or they're going to want money to talk to me.

No, most of these people are very accessible. You put your telephone number everywhere. Most people can reach Tom by calling his office, and even though he hates the telephone, he returns all telephone calls. Randy's a little bit harder to reach, but by no means impossible. It varies--but they're all accessible.

Here's the thing: once you reach them, listen to them! I've been with Tom [Schreiter] when he sits down to lunch with someone who's looking for advice--and for the whole hour all the guy does is talk about himself, never once asking Tom for advice! Later Tom would look at me and say, "This is not a person we're going to be calling a whole lot."

When a mentor gives you advice, the best way to honor that mentor is to go out there and implement what they suggested before asking them for more advice. I've done this with every mentor I've sought out.

You've gone from the lowest level you could possibly be at in this business to the highest level in this business; what do you see as the universal challenges networkers face, the things that they have really got to get in order to be successful?

When I first got involved in networking, the most important thing to me was throwing the biggest party. That's what I had created. I had a drinking problem, I had trouble focusing on college, and I was in an atmosphere that was conducive to what I had manifested--being the person who puts on the best parties, becoming the most popular person in Charlottesville.

One of the most important things you can realize is that you have a vision. You can create it, and that's the good news. The bad news is, you've already created it! The question is, what have you created?

What are you reading? What are you watching, what and who are you listening to, who and what are you associating with, who are you taking advice from? Are you taking financial advice from people who aren't financially successful? Are you asking for relationship advice from someone whose relationship is in trouble? Ask yourself, "Are the associations I am currently in empowering the goals that I am trying to achieve?"


I could fly a million miles a minute and get to the top of the company faster, but I have learned to take maybe one or two weeks off every six weeks, to go explore the world, go relax on a cruise, create memories, create experiences--because life is made of experiences.

Number two is enthusiasm. You have to have that "burning desire," and you'll know when you have it. I don't know where you're going to get that burning desire, it's probably different for everyone. For me it was going to my first big event; that put that burning desire in me for life. I knew from that point on, "I can do this!"

Once you have that desire, stay close to the fire. At a beach party, if you're far from the bonfire you get cold, nobody's having a good time; as you get closer to the fire, you warm up, you're talking to friends, everybody's joking around, having a good time.

It's the same with networking: stay close to the fire--go to the event, go to the local meetings, get on the conference calls, make the telephone calls with your upline, borrow from their belief level--until your belief level is so strong that other people can borrow from yours. It doesn't happen automatically. Feed that desire with audio tapes until you're absolutely confident that your desire is there and unshakable.

The third thing is something I learned from Tom Schreiter: You're going to have to develop skills. You can't just go out there and say, "I'm enthusiastic, I'm excited--sign up with me." When distributors on your team come to you and say, "I have nobody left to talk to, what can I do?" you can't tell them, "Be more's a numbers game...set some goals...." Those are all great things--but if they don't have skills, this business is going to be hard.

And when you do have the skills, the business becomes pretty darn easy.

What are those key skills?

One is creating prospects on demand. Rather than chasing people down, trying to convince them to join, we like to create prospects who are saying, "Hey, I'm interested in an extra paycheck, I'm interested in spending an extra four hours a week with my kids, I'm interested in putting a retirement plan in place." These people are much easier to talk to.

I'll sit down with a distributor and say, "Here are 25 ways of creating prospects; which would you feel comfortable with?" He might pick one or two ways; we go to work to teach him how to become very good at those one or two ways.

Another skill set is what to say to a prospect once she shows interest. Most distributors are afraid they have to learn a 20-minute presentation. People can't learn and flawlessly execute a 20-minute presentation! You've got to provide people an easy way to give their prospects the facts. We use a one-minute presentation, or an audio tape, or a recorded message, or a Web site--something easy.

Another skill set is creating relationships. Some people can create a relationship within two seconds of meeting a person. The rest of us ordinary mortals need a specific formula. Tom [Schreiter] and I are both engineers: we need to be told how to do the thing!

Perhaps the most important skill set, and the one that takes the longest to learn, is developing leaders. Distributors come and go; leaders dig in and stay for the long haul. Once your new distributors have started up their learning curve with things like presentation and relationship, it's crucial to teach them that developing leaders is what's going to really build their business.

Art, what's been the very best thing about network marketing for you?

This may sound trivial--but I hated that alarm clock going off at 7:30 a.m.! I wanted to wake up when I was finished sleeping. More than anything, in the beginning, that's what drove me to be successful.

Once I got into the process, I developed some incredible friendships. If I were to go broke tomorrow, if everything disappeared from my life and I had to start over, I could pick up the telephone and with a few telephone calls to my friends, go out and rebuild everything.

Those friendships are what has meant the most to me in networking--friendships that will last a lifetime. We always put those friendships first, before business.

I've also learned to appreciate the moment.

There was a point in my life where for two years I could barely remember anything that happened--because every day was pretty much the same day. When I look back at the last four years of my life now, I can specifically remember so many different moments, because there has been an experience at least once a month that sticks out so vividly. I've learned how to make my life a whole lot longer--even though I'm just in my early 30's.

I could fly a million miles a minute and get to the top of the company faster, but I have learned to take maybe one or two weeks off every six weeks, to go explore the world, go relax on a cruise, create memories, create experiences--because life is made of experiences.