Dorothy Patterson: Good For the Soul

Dorothy Patterson's Life of Answered Prayers

By John David Mann

When Pat and Dorothy Patterson and their two small children moved from Michigan to California in 1972, things went from bad to worse. Business didn't do well, the house in Michigan didn't sell, and after a few months in their new locale, Dorothy found she had cancer.

"We had no money, no friends, and medical bills we couldn't pay. The cancer turned out not to be too bad, but it took me a few months to get back on my feet. I prayed for something to do that would change the course of our lives."

That prayer was answered rapidly when Dorothy met a neighbor who'd just been approached by a friend to join her business. The neighbor wasn't interested; Dorothy was.

"On the back of their pamphlet, it said, 'People helping people,' and had the Golden Rule printed. I liked that idea: doing something that would benefit me and also help others."

Taking Good Notes

Dorothy had worked as an executive secretary in the banking industry. Marketing products directly to people's faces was the furthest thing from her mind. "I was not a direct marketing personality."

In those early days, Dorothy would sit down to call people, dial the phone--then hang up before anyone answered. If someone told her "no," she was liable to cry right then and there.

"I'd never sold a thing in my life," she says, "but I was a good note taker. I went to a lot of meetings and listened to what other people did. I struggled, but didn't quit. The first time I stood up in front of a group, I shook like a leaf. I learned to take the focus off myself; gradually, I became comfortable speaking in front of 100 people, then 500, then 1000."

That first year, Dorothy heard a speaker talk about dreams and goals. He asked the group, "If you had unlimited time, unlimited resources, what would you do?" then asked them to write their answers down. Dorothy, the inveterate note-taker, did exactly that.

"I ended up with a list of nearly 50 things I wanted--music lessons for the kids, a horse for my daughter, a new house, a live-in housekeeper, taking the kids on a cruise, travel to Hawaii...all sorts of things."

Shortly afterward, Dorothy lost the list; about five years ago, she found it again.

"There it was, a good 25 years after I wrote it, tucked into a recipe book. I was amazed to find that I had accomplished every single item on that list but two--and since then, I've done those two as well."

A Left-Hand Turn

In 1996, a few years before recovering her dream list, life took a left-hand turn. The company where Pat worked downsized. He started his own business with a partner; it didn't work out. They remortgaged their house, ran up credit cards, and by Oct of '96, were facing bankruptcy.

"I got down on my knees and prayed for direction in my life and the vision to recognize it."

At nine o'clock the next morning, Dorothy got a call from a friend she hadn't seen in ten years, calling to tell her about an opportunity and a unique product. Dorothy suffered so badly from arthritis and osteoporosis that the Ace bandages she wore and the 800 milligrams of Motrin she was downing three times a day could not keep her out of constant pain.

"I thought the product sounded like snake oil and told him, 'No'--six times!" The seventh time she relented and gave it a try. Within three days, she was out of pain--and into a new company. As of 2003, Dorothy's organization had grown to over 60,000 people, doing $50 million in annual sales.

"I started playing golf...and I began to play the piano again."

The Piano

Ah yes, the piano. One of those final two dreams on Dorothy's dream list was to tour Europe and buy Boesendorfer grand piano.

"When I was in first grade, a friend of mine took piano lessons. My parents couldn't afford lessons, so I took the back of a writing tablet and a ruler, drew all the keys of the piano, and my friend taught me the notes; I would hum the notes and practice them on the cardboard."

Dorothy did eventually take piano lessons for a few years, but had never been able to buy the piano instrument of her dreams. A few years ago, Dorothy and Pat went to Vienna and purchased a seven-foot-four, hand-crafted "Concert Grand" Boesendorfer.

"The company makes only about 300 pianos a year. Each piano bridge is hand-crafted, and takes five years from first curing the wood to complete. It has an exceptionally resonant sound; it truly sings. This is my most prized possession; I think music is good for the soul."

Leaving This Life

The last few years have not been entirely easy ones for Pat and Dorothy; life has continued, as she puts it, to deal them left-hand turns. At each turn, Dorothy's business has been a blessing.

In March of '98, Pat went through major surgery; Dorothy was able to take off six months to help him recover, during which time the business only grew.

In October the next year, Dorothy's sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer; Pat and Dorothy were able to travel to Germany to be there with her for her last few months.

And in 2001, in the cruelest cut of all, Dorothy and Pat's own 32-year-old son was diagnosed with an extremely rare and terminal form of cancer. Says Dorothy, "We were able to take that time, to help him financially, help him research alternatives, help give him quality of life during that last year.

"We all know we're going to leave this life, and we all want to know that we've done something good before we leave. Network marketing changed our lives. It is a way you can reach out to others and help them change their lives, too. Your life becomes more meaningful."