Deborah Brewer

Acts of Kindness

Deborah Brewer: From Tragedy to Triumph

By Kurt Inderbitzin

Anyone--anyone--can start and succeed at a network marketing business if they really set their mind to it," says Deborah Brewer. "I think I'm living proof of that fact."

Deborah is an Executive Regional Vice President with one of the largest network marketing companies in the world. But up until five years ago, she spent her entire adult life living well below the poverty line.

In her mid-twenties, Deborah married a man who had two lovely children in desperate need of a mother figure. Her new husband, unfortunately, was an abusive alcoholic.

"He threatened my life," recalls Deborah grimly, "as well as our family's, more than once."

She finally reached the point, she says, where she knew that "leaving meant living."

"I knew the road ahead would be difficult and uncertain, but it would also mean we could live our lives without constant fear, so I took my children and set out for a new life."

Simple Gifts, Acts of Kindness

For years, Deborah and her children lived on a fixed income. "When you don't have, you don't miss," says Deborah; "we never really wanted for much." Still, times were fairly Spartan.

"We had a one-room furnace to heat the entire house, and we spent a lot of time around that heater after baths. Our water heater was so small, I boiled water to get through bath time. Then I would heat the towel and have it ready for them when they were ready to snuggle into bed. We worked hard, lived simple, and loved much!"

To make ends meet, Deborah worked two or three jobs--a shift in a doughnut shop, cleaning houses, even cutting hair in her own living room.

"I worked any time I could--with one exception: I kept weekends free for my kids."

Then, two separate acts of kindness and generosity soon opened up new possibilities for Deborah. The first came quite unexpectedly, almost like a call from heaven.

"Years earlier, I had applied with Habitat for Humanity, Jimmy Carter's organization that builds affordable housing for low-income families. One day, they called me out of the blue and said, 'Update your application and we can get you a house.' "

Within a few months, she was living with her kids in a brand new, albeit under-furnished home.

"We didn't have the money to put much in the house, but it was still a beautiful home."

Deborah was managing to eke out an existence on less than $8000 a year as a gas station clerk when her sister Maxine approached her. In what would prove to be the second act of kindness, Maxine said, "I'm having a class to launch my new network marketing business, and you, as my sister, are obligated to be there."

Stepping Up

Deborah reluctantly went to the class and, out of duty to her sister, tried some of the products.

"I just couldn't believe it," Deborah recalls. "I saw an immediate difference in my skin."

Deborah realized this was an opportunity. She didn't have the $350 cash she needed to start her business, but managed to borrow the money from a friend. The business began to grow immediately.

"I ended up paying him back within a month," she remembers, "and for the rest of that first year, I reinvested practically every dollar I made from network marketing back into the business."

Soon she was making as much money part-time from her business as she was full-time in her job. She was able to cut back her hours at the gas station and let go of her hair-cutting job altogether. Then, two months later, tragedy stepped in and altered the course of her life.

Her younger sister, who was also into the business, died tragically in a car accident along with her five-month-old son.

"It was extremely difficult, losing both of them, although we took great comfort knowing that we'll all see them again." Meanwhile, they had the challenging task of taking over her deceased sister's business.

"At first, I didn't handle it well, but I knew that in order to keep the momentum despite the circumstances, I needed to be the leader."

A few months later, Deborah's employer insisted she start working weekends; Deborah, who still reserved that time for her kids, refused--and was fired.

"I was devastated; I was a very loyal and dedicated employee, and thought this could never happen to me. I took a day to process it all...and then made a decision to get going!"

Her team was incredibly supportive, and readily shared her vision and passion.

"Within five months, I was promoted to Regional Vice President."

Today, Deborah focuses on continuing her success by passionately encouraging others to achieve their goals and dreams.

"I know that helping others succeed is what it's all about," says Deborah, then grins. "Sure, I get some strange looks, having a Mercedes parked outside my little Habitat for Humanity home. But it really makes a statement: it doesn't matter where you are in life; what matters is where you're going!"


Deborah's Four Keys to Success

  1. I never used the excuse of having no money, education or even business attire to keep me from accomplishing my goals.
  2. I worked long and hard to enjoy the view at the top. This is not a business for sissies.
  3. I had a very big "Why": I wanted my children to know there's more to life than just getting by--and that when you work hard, you get great rewards.
  4. I've become a coach, friend and leader to my team. This is something I've learned in the process and am still learning. I listen to my team members, find out what in their past is holding them back now, then help them work through it. --DB

KURT INDERBITZIN is a contributing editor to Networking Times.