When he entered Texas Southern University on a football scholarship, Holton Buggs had hopes of becoming a professional football player. The first member of his family to go to college, Holton also had a careful back-up plan: if football didn’t work out, he could always earn his living with his engineering degree.

But things didn’t turn out that way. Holton never did play professional football, and he didn’t become an engineer, either. Instead, he exercised his uncanny knack for turning lemons into lemonade.

 

The First Lemons

Holton was introduced to network marketing during his second year at college. Seven years later he had yet to see more than $500 a month for his efforts.

“After all those years, I’d built a group that amassed maybe 50 people in total—and not all 50 were in at the same time!” he says. He chalked it up to experience, little realizing how profoundly that experience would serve him later on.

“If it weren’t for that early exposure,” Holton observes, “I wouldn’t be where I am today. I learned the value of being an entrepreneur—and that training was worth its weight in gold.”

He would soon learn to put that training to work when his first job became a liability. One day his boss told him their company had been bought out and he would be taking a 60 percent reduction in pay. Holton couldn’t believe his ears.

“I’m number seven out of 467,” he reminded his boss, “and number one in the state! I can barely live on 100 percent of my commissions—how am I supposed to live on 40 percent?”

In that moment, says Holton, he realized that working for someone else was not for him. Within 90 days, he had borrowed money to open his own furniture shop—which lasted for a grand total of one month. That, says Holton, was the bad news and the good news: time to put up a trademark Holton Buggs lemonade stand and turn another failure into success.

Parking his two big rental trucks on a corner in a wealthy neighborhood, he turned the street into his marketplace. He held a huge liquidation sale, unloaded all his inventory of hand-carved Indonesian mahogany furniture, and netted over $4500 in profit in a single day.

For the next three years Holton sold furniture on street corners in wealthy Houston neighborhoods, creating a six-figure annual income. Things were rolling for Holton and his wife, junior high sweetheart, Earlene, and they were able to live the good life…until the next bust.

 

From Lemons to Lemonade

When the value of the dollar dropped, Holton’s income dropped to about $60,000, while his expenses soared to over $200,000.

“Here I was, 27 years old with a wife and child, a quarter-million dollars in debt, 45 days away from foreclosure on my home, and my Lexus had just been repossessed.” To make matters worse, just then he got a call from a friend with some news Holton wasn’t thrilled about.

“He told me he was into a network marketing company. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! You need to get your money back before you lose it all!’”

Holton asked for the name of someone high up in the company so he could chew him out for scamming his friend. Instead, he met his first mentor.

“I told him I wasn’t interested in the big bucks, so he couldn’t impress me. All I needed was $500 a month to keep my house.”

To Holton’s surprise, the man helped him earn that amount—in his first two hours. Holton went on to make a six-figure income in the next 90 days!

Six months later, that company folded. Once again, Holton resisted labeling the experience as “bad luck” and reflected instead on its value.

“I learned why some people make money and some don’t. Most people look for the end result, the money; they want to have the baby—but don’t want to go through labor! The difference is all about mentorship. And rather than simply look for a mentor who could bring value to me, I learned to make myself someone who could be valuable as a protégé.”

Holton dedicated his life to being a good mentor to others. When he and Earlene were introduced to their current networking company in 2001, they put mentorship into practice, building an organization of nearly 13,000 distributors and elevating themselves to their company’s number four income position.

 

Definiteness of Purpose

From one of his mentors, Napoleon Hill, Holton learned about definiteness of purpose—in fact, he vividly recalls the moment that the truth of this came to him.

“It almost frightened me. I was goal-setting for the next year and thinking, ‘Why am I here? What is my life going to represent?’ I thought, ‘I’d like to positively affect the lives of a million people, financially, spiritually, emotionally and socially.’ That sounded pretty good to me. But then an inner voice said, ‘You want to be passionate about something—but you want to touch only a million lives?!’ In that moment I set a far greater goal and purpose: to positively affect the lives of one hundred million people.”

Last December, their top distributors flew in from all over the country for a year-end celebration. From being broke four years ago to opening their million-dollar home to their success line today, they are the epitome of what can be accomplished through mentorship and persistence.

Rather than focusing on the personal rewards of their financial achievements, Holton and Earlene feel that their financial success serves as an example to help others open their eyes to the possibilities.

“If you have a money problem,” says Holton, “get on your knees and thank God that it’s not a health problem that you can’t change. You can change a money problem overnight! I know, because I did.”