I sat in my tiny apartment, depressed. Just three months ago, I'd arrived at the Frankfurt Airport, full of energy and hope, ready for my incredible ride to the top. My sponsor Jeff had convinced me that being one of our company's first distributors in Germany was my chance to make "the big money" in network marketing. "Timing is everything," he'd said. So, at age 26, I'd quit my $50,000-a-year job and moved to Germany.

Beads of sweat ran down my face as I endured the record heat in my non-air-conditioned apartment. Had I made the right move?

There were at least a few things that I had terribly misjudged.

One was how difficult it would be to move to a foreign country where I knew nobody and didn't speak the language. And I'd had no idea just how different the German mentality was, at least concerning business. They were incredibly detailed and wanted to know everything about everything. I just wanted to sign them up and get them moving. In my first 90 days, I had sponsored a total of one person. And now, my company was messing up product delivery.

Nothing was going my way. Maybe a pep talk from Jeff would help.



As I waited for the connection, I thought, I just need to be resold on this whole idea one more time. Tell me again, why I'm doing this. Jeff was a great motivator; if anyone could get me fired up, he could.

"Hey Jeff, this is Mark. How are things in Sarasota?"

"Great. How are things in Deutschland?"

"Not great. Nothing seems to be working over here. I'm thinking about coming back home."

"Oh, sorry to hear that. You've only been there 90 days...why don't you give it some time?"

"I would, but honestly, I don't think the business is going to work over here for anyone. The Germans aren't like Americans, they nit-pick everything, and besides, the company is really messing up--they can't even get the brochures printed correctly!"

"I see. Hmmm," Jeff sighed. "Got your appointment book handy?"

"Sure, why--you coming over soon?"

"No, not for a few months, but I do have an idea of how I can help you."

"Great! I knew I could count on you, Jeff. Okay, I've got my appointment book in front of me."

"Give me the rundown on how your day went today."

"Well, today was a real down day for me, Jeff. I really didn't do anything today in my business."

"I understand; everybody has down days. How about yesterday, how'd that go?"

"Well, Jeff, it's been a couple bad days in a row. Not much happened yesterday, either."

"Not much--or nothing?"

"I guess, nothing."

"Okay, one last thing: flip your daytimer over to tomorrow and tell me what you have planned." I started to speak as I flipped the pages, but he stopped me. "Wait, don't tell me, let me guess: you're staring at a blank page?"

"Well, yeah, I am. What's your point?"

"My point? My point is that you aren't working. If you were, you wouldn't be staring at three blank pages in your daytimer. Do me a big favor, Mark, the next time you call me to tell me 'it isn't working,' make sure you are."

And he hung up. I was infuriated. That arrogant, rich punk! How dare he tell me it was my fault my business wasn't growing! If he only knew how hard things were over here! All I needed was a pep talk--and instead, he blames me and hangs up on me! That's it; I quit.


"Dear Mark..."

As I sat there with beads of sweat rolling off my face, I got the strange sensation that someone or something was staring at me. Then I realized what it was.

It was my daytimer: that blank page was staring at me. I stared back. Suddenly it became clear: Jeff was right. I wasn't doing my part.

I had completely convinced myself that my lack of success was due to the Germans, the company, the weather, the vacation season, the fact that I didn't speak their language, that Jeff wasn't there to support me.... I had a long list of all the reasons "it" wasn't working; the one thing missing from my list was me.

I took out a notepad and wrote these words: "Dear Mark, Why did you quit your job and move to Germany?"

For the next two hours, I answered that question. When my letter was finished, I had found my inner most motivation. My dream was to someday have a family and be a passionate, involved husband and dad. I knew what kind of lifestyle I wanted; and it didn't include working for someone else. It was about freedom. That's why I'd moved to Germany: to create a lifestyle for my future family. I had to stay and win; there was no other choice.

For the next three years, I carried my letter with me everywhere I went. I read it several times a day. I read it aloud from stage during my trainings. In time, my organization grew to over 10,000 German distributors. I spoke to tens of thousands of European distributors, each time telling my story, about that one day that changed my life forever. I never lost focus again.

I met my wife about two years after I wrote the letter. Shortly after meeting her, we were married. Today, thanks to that one very special day, we and our three children enjoy the lifestyle I wrote about in that letter.

I can't guarantee you will build an organization of 10,000 distributors. But I can guarantee that you will reach your highest potential only once you dig deep down and find your innermost motivation. Once you do, cling to it like your life depends on it--because it does. No circumstance can stop you from achieving your dreams, once you rip up your list of excuses and place full responsibility on yourself.

I had a sponsor who pointed this out to me just as I was poised to quit. You don't need to let it get that far.


MARK HELSEL has been involved in network marketing for over 15 years; he is co-founder of Virtual Office Systems, a company created to help network marketers find new customers.