One of the hallmarks of our profession is the large number of people who rise from “rags to riches.” Rarely do we hear about a self-made millionaire who abandons his carefree days of retirement to start his first networking venture.

Marlin Ray Robbins, affectionately called “Ray,” is one such man. After years of successful entrepreneurial efforts, he met someone who enticed him to look at the idea of building a million-person downline—and Ray has spent his “retirement” years doing just that.


Awakening of a Young Entrepreneur

As a teenager in San Antonio, Ray first noticed the difference between those who have a passion for financial success and those who don’t.

“I owned 27 lawn mowers by the time I graduated high school,” says Ray. “I always had a desire to be financially successful. But I had a lot of friends I cared about who only wanted to mow a couple of yards a week. ‘I just want extra spending money,’ they’d say. ‘I just want the 20 bucks.’ I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t rather make $3 from all the other guys out there mowing yards while sitting inside enjoying a cup of coffee.

“Over the years I’ve come to realize that most people don’t mind the rut, don’t mind the structure, don’t mind having somebody else direct their lives. Most just want to coast through.”

Ray Robbins plays life differently.

“About 20 percent of us will not accept just rolling through life. I believe we need to create something, develop something, leave some kind of legacy. There needs to be something exciting and uplifting, something with real meaning.”

After getting his degree in biochemistry, Ray did a stint in corporate America as a highly successful salesperson, learning valuable lessons about sales and distribution. However, his entrepreneurial drive soon built up too much pressure for him to stay in that post and he struck out on his own. He tried his hand at many different ventures: banking, real estate, oil wells, lawn care…and succeeded in all but one.

“The only venture I lost money in was a bungee jumping business,” reports Ray. “I trained 27 kids to be master bungee-jump operators and opened an operation on Padre Island. After seven months, it was clear to me that you can’t make money in that business—not to mention that you’re scared to death you’re going to hurt someone!”

His most successful venture (before encountering network marketing) was amusement vending.

“I put the very first Space Invader and Kong machines into the Dallas market. I saw PacMan introduced at a New Orleans trade show. No one liked them but me, so I bought all 46 machines—and made half a million dollars in the next six months.

“When I later sold my amusement vending company for a hunk of money, I was in a position where I never needed to make money again. I could live the rest of my life off the money my money made.”

That was the plan…until someone introduced Ray to network marketing.


Enter Network Marketing

“The more I looked at network marketing, the more I liked it. For years, people I cared about had asked me to show them how to be as successful as I had been, and I felt bad not being able to help them. I knew that I had gotten to where I was because I’d had the money to make money. It’s easy to make half a million with PacMan machines if you have the $90,000 it takes to buy the machines, right?

“Network marketing intrigued me. No physical location, no inventory, no employees to decide whether or not they’re worth their compensation. In network marketing, people earn what they’re worth!

“Also, the risk/reward ratio works so much better than traditional business. If someone puts $1000 into a potential network marketing business and it doesn’t work for them, what have they lost? A measly $1000? If they decided to open a dry cleaners and that didn’t make it, they would have lost $65,000 to $75,000 minimum. Now that’s devastating.”

As intrigued as Ray was about network marketing, it was his introduction to a particular man that gave him the juice to pursue this career.

“I met Sam Caster and really liked who he was, what he stood for, his strength of character. From that early meeting, he became a personal mentor for me—and still is, 25 years later.”

Neither Ray nor Sam had ever done any network marketing before, so they learned together. “We laughed and cut up a lot, and made so many mistakes” says Ray.

Despite their limited knowledge, the two were able to build a business that yielded $4 million per week. They felt an enormous responsibility to all the people who were depending on them for their futures…yet with all that riding on their success, they didn’t make it. Competitors found a way to make similar products cheaper and stole the market. They were traumatized.

“We learned an important lesson. We learned to always work with a product that was proprietary, something that we have that no one else has, something we could maintain as ours for a very long time.” As Ray and Sam set out to find products that fit that description, they soon got involved independently in a number of businesses where they learned even more about the world of networking.


Community Service

It was years later that Sam called Ray and said, “I think I’ve got it. You have to come look.”

Ray was not quick to jump at the invitation. He was busy enjoying the freedom he had earned.

“I was liking my life as much as ever. I didn’t need to make any money and I was getting the biggest kick out of serving mankind.” Ray makes no bones about his healthy ego. He loves to play big and whoop it up. At his annual Chamber of Commerce event, as Committee Chair for the Education Committee, Ray got the privilege of introducing the President of the Grand Prairie School Board…himself! (He says it was the best introduction he had ever had.)

When Sam called, Ray was loving the variety of work he did for kids. He proudly shares his involvement helping Children First to get connected to United Way.

“It started in little Grand Prairie,” says Ray with pride, “and now it’s a national organization that does as much counseling for abused kids as any other in the world.”

But no matter how many times Ray said he was too busy with his philanthropic work, Sam persisted. “You’ve got to take a look at this product for your health,” he prodded. “I’m not trying to get you to do this business.”

Sam knew Ray too well, and knew of his struggles with his health. He’d touched a hot button. Ray finally gave in, but told his friend, “I don’t care how good this stuff is, I’m not going to do the business with you, understand that. You know how much fun we have working together, you know how much I admire you, but I’m not going to do this.”

He grins. “Well, I had to eat my words.”

After fifteen years of physicals, Ray’s doctor was profoundly impressed with the dramatic change in his patient’s health.

“You’ve got something you must tell the world about,” he told Ray with excitement. “You don’t have a choice. You are a responsible person and you’ve been given a gift that’s going to allow you to get your health back. You must tell others.”

Ray shared his doctor’s enthusiasm with Sam and said, “I’m going to bust my tail for you for two years. Count on it, in two years, I’ll be gone, back to my life of community service.”

But by the time two years had gone by, Ray had realized something he hadn’t expected: what he was doing every day with his new company and their products was providing more value to more people than anything he’d done before. Today, eleven years later, with millions earned each year in this “community service,” Ray is still going strong.


Keys to Networking Success

“It’s mission, mission, mission for me,” says Ray, his easygoing Texas drawl scarcely disguising the depth of his passion and commitment. “I really do believe I’ve been given an incredible gift, and that I have a responsibility…and not just a responsibility but a compulsion, a desire… I LOVE to give that gift to other people!”

Ray travels nonstop to get the word out, tirelessly offering his company’s associates his knowledge so they can learn what has made him and others so successful in this profession. On his cell phone, in a moment snatched from between flights, he shares his keys to network marketing success:

“I am a super-strong advocate of meetings,” he starts. “One-on-one meetings, two-on-one meetings, three-way conversations, home meetings, big hotel meetings. You’ve got to get in people’s faces. I don’t think this business is done well by any in a passive fashion. I don’t think putting flyers on windshields in a mall is effective. It’s one person at a time, looking into each others’ eyes.”

Education is another key to Ray’s success.

“My brother-in-law is a heart surgeon. Did he have to educate himself extensively in order to do it well? Of course. How much money does he make? A lot! Does he make as much as I make? No! So I think it’s incumbent on me to really know what I’m doing—to really know my product, really know my compensation plan, really know personal skills. To develop myself and help to develop other people.”

Ray confesses that the downside of knowing a lot is the impulse to tell a lot.

“I am constantly having to remind myself that I don’t have to tell folks everything I know in our first conversation. I tend to overburden people with information. People are more likely to listen to you if you speak conservatively, even if what you have to tell them is glorious and bigger than life!”

Knowing your business well allows you to help people get comfortable with the profession, your product, and the amount of time involved, says Ray. His favorite tool for helping people with concerns about network marketing is Brilliant Compensation, whether in audio, video or on the web. To help people be comfortable with his products, Ray calls on all the scientific validation available that supports their efficacy. When representing his company’s strength, he shows them his company’s financial growth to allay any concerns about it being around for the long haul.

As for personal development, Ray wrote a book to help those who think they can’t be successful. “You Can Too!” says Ray, declaiming the book’s title as he brandishes a copy. In the book, nineteen stories of successful associates in his company illustrate the life lesson that people can overcome self-limiting obstacles.


…And We Get to Do This!

Ray’s biggest frustration in his network marketing career, he says, is “weeding out the folks who don’t give a squat about anything.”

“I don’t care how good a motivator you are, I don’t care if you’re Jim Rohn, you’re not going to extract people from ‘duh-dom’ if that’s where they live,” says Ray. “It’s their decision and they’re going to stay there. The people you will motivate are those who are already motivated—that 20 percent. Network marketers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get their Uncle Elmo in this business, when nobody likes Uncle Elmo, and he doesn’t like anybody either. They’re wasting their time!

“You need to find people who really want life to be bigger, better, more valuable. Those are the people you want to work with; those are the people you want to draw around you.

“I feel blessed. There’s something Sam’s been saying for years at the end of his presentations, and it really says it for me: ‘All of us need to do something to make a living. We get to do this.’ ”