Don Nooner was tired. He was out of energy, out of money and threatened with eviction. At 64, his 20 years on a network marketing roller coaster had left him with a sizeable mortgage, car and credit card payments, and not enough commission to cover them all. He and his wife LaRee had worked their way to the top of nearly every one of the network marketing companies they had joined, each time thinking, “This is the one!” And every time, always at the peak of their income, the companies either changed their compensation plans for the worse, or went out of business.

So when Don was contacted by an acquaintance he had never personally met, to check out a new opportunity, he was not interested.

“Thanks, but no thanks!” said Don. He felt loyal to the company he had been with for nine months, although his income didn’t yet exceed his expenses. He also had promised himself he would never, ever again go with a start-up, because so many go out of business.

However, as the rep spoke about his company’s products and mentioned that a side benefit was melting away pounds and inches, Don’s interest was piqued. “I looked down at my 45-inch waist and 235 pounds and said, ‘I don’t want anything to do with your business, but I sure would like to try your product.’”

In the first five weeks, Don lost seven inches from his waist and 30 pounds. His energy began to return and his incapacitating allergies virtually disappeared. “I got my life back,” he says. Not wanting to be left out, LaRee took the products as well, and began experiencing health benefits that ultimately put her back on her feet after years of being debilitated. They simply couldn’t not tell people about their new discovery, but they recognized that they belonged to the “NFL club”—No Friends Left.

LaRee explains, “We had taken so many people with us from company to company because of Don’s work ethic and ability. However, after all the negative experiences we’d been through, people had lost faith in us. Even our children were reluctant to take a look at this. We had found a gold mine, but had lost our credibility.”

So Don started marketing incognito. He made up a flyer that shared some of the results he was experiencing—without mentioning his name—and passed them out all over their small farming community of Manti, Utah (population: 2500). Says Don, “If you didn’t teach school, raise turkeys or work at the prison, you couldn’t make it financially in Manti.” He felt compelled to get the word out about this new product and opportunity.

LaRee recalls, “One of the first ladies that called the number on the flyer said, ‘Don, is that you?’ Don said, ‘How did you know?’ She had looked us up in the phone book!” LaRee adds with glee, “She’s now one of the top 10 earners in our company.”

In their first month, still operating in clandestine mode, Don and LaRee earned $1100. If they could accomplish that while incognito, they thought, imagine what would happen if they really worked!

“I may be slow, but I’m not stupid,” Don says. “I began contacting people I knew who were potential networking leaders.” Nine months later, Don and LaRee wrote a check to pay off their mortgage, car loans and credit cards.

Three Years to Three Goals

“When we joined our current company, we were in the last stages of foreclosure on our home,” says Don. “In our 60s, we had to face the reality of being in debt, feeling old and unhealthy, and having no retirement plan.” While many Americans find themselves in these same circumstances, the Nooners were able to turn it all around by focusing their efforts on rebuilding their network with a product they love.

“First we got our health back,” says LaRee. “I can’t overemphasize how significant that was to both of us. It literally changed our lives.”

“Then we were able to get completely out of debt,” adds Don, “and start moving forward with a retirement program so we’d never again be in the type of financial situation we had found ourselves in.”

They moved from Manti to St. George, Utah, where the milder weather was more conducive to Don’s love of daily walks. Able to buy their home with cash, they quickly followed that purchase with six more homes in the same new subdivision. They paid cash for three, and will pay off the rest by the end of next year. Their retirement plan is in place.

“Through our networking business success, we were able to invest in real estate and build a residual retirement income of $9,000/month for the rest our lives,” says Don. “We will never have to depend on ‘Social Insecurity’ for retirement.”

Creating an Explosion with Home Parties

Just how did they manage to turn their financial situation completely upside down in just three short years?

“We got our degree from the school of hard knocks,” says Don. “Then we were blessed and fortunate enough to involve ourselves in something that absolutely exploded.”

Not that Don and LaRee simply lucked out: once they’d made their choice, they worked diligently to create massive action and momentum.

Their first explosive growth came from home parties. “At first, I had no idea what I was doing,” says Don. “I’d walk into a meeting with eight or ten women, sit down and simply tell my story briefly. Then I’d turn it over to the hostess, and everyone else there who knew our products would share their experiences. By that time, the guests were eager to take the products home with them and get started!”

Don and LaRee taught others to do what worked for them. “The whole key to success in networking is duplication,” says Don. “If you’re the only one who can do it, your business can only grow so big.

“If I have a talent,” Don continues, “it’s to help other people realize that they have more talent than I have! We look for people who are coachable and teachable, and who are willing to work. We tell them what to do; if they follow through, then we help them. It’s really pretty simple.”

With their focus on training for duplication, the Nooners’ home party concept spread quickly all over the US and Canada. On many days, there would be many home parties happening simultaneously.

Explosive Growth #2: Contests

To provide incentives for growth, Don and LaRee created a “Two-A-Day” contest where team members contacted two people a day, five days a week for nine months. Each week, team members would report in to LaRee; at the end of the contest period, 150 of their team members enjoyed an all-expenses-paid Baja cruise.

Don says they invested over $40,000 on their Two-A-Day contest, but the result was a doubling and tripling of volume and commissions for the team during the contest period. Not to mention the fun they all had on board ship!

To keep the momentum going, the Nooners continue to run contests. Currently they have two going: one based on product usage, and one based on sponsorships. Each contest requires qualifying for entry into monthly drawings, from which the two grand prize winners will each receive a check for $1000 and the 20 second place winners will receive $100 checks—just in time for Christmas.

Explosive Growth #3: Beauty Classes

When the company came out with a skin care product that LaRee loved at first feel, she realized that she could use a concept she had learned and used successfully years ago in another company: beauty classes. She and Don bought a new Escalade luxury van, packed it with products, and made a whirlwind training tour from their home through Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and then back home to Utah—all in a month.

“I tell people, ‘You can only get so excited about my check. We want to help you grow your business!’ ”

Winners All

Because of their dedication to meetings, training, three-way calls and frequent communications with their leaders, the Nooners are proud to share that their team now includes: a housewife with six children who makes a six-figure income; a great-grandmother who earns a double six-figure income; and people who had never made any real money in network marketing even—like the Nooners themselves—after multiple attempts, and who are now successful.

More than just independent networkers, their organization is a community. To support relationship-building, the Nooners just bought a seventh home in St. George to serve as a weekend retreat center for their organization. The place is equipped with a swimming pool, barbecue area and three bedroom suite for their leaders, and LaRee envisions weekend retreats that allow their leadership to interact, receive training and get to the heart of what they need to do to achieve their goals.

Keys to Success

It’s obvious that Don and LaRee are creative, hard-working, fun and energetic leaders. When asked what they consider their keys to success, LaRee jumps right in to say “my husband.”

“Don has such good habits,” she explains. “Every single morning he gets his planner out, does his meditation, his prayer, his walk and gets ready for the day. Many people who start in network marketing think because they are their own bosses they can do whatever they want. They get caught in ‘honey-do’ actions, thinking ‘I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to do that…’ and before you know it, the day’s over and they’ve gotten nothing accomplished for their business.”

LaRee also cites Don’s dedication to daily affirmations as a key to their success. “He gives out his affirmation CDs for free,” she says, “because he knows if people can think positively and get their beliefs up, they will succeed.”

Don adds to the reasons for their eventual success: “We were knocked down so many times. The key is that we got up every time.” He pauses, then adds: “Another major reason for our success is that we’re a team. We are absolutely equally yoked; neither one of us pulls harder than the other. We work together.”

The Future

The Nooners have enjoyed the journey this time around. LaRee says, “At the end of the first year, we were recognized as the second leading money earners in the company.” They were honored at last year's convention as being the second couple in the company that had been paid over one million dollars.

Don adds that in their first 30 months, their organization contributed $22 million to the company’s total volume of about $100 million. They’ve served on the company’s field advisory board, and LaRee was honored for Outstanding Woman’s Performance.

“Life sure is different now than it was just three short years ago,” says LaRee.

Don agrees. “In the last three years, we’ve achieved our three major goals: one, health—I’m 67 years old, but feel like I’m in my early 40s, even playing full court basketball! Two, we’re out of debt; and three, we’ve completed a major part of establishing our retirement income for the rest of our lives.”

What could be better than being revitalized and rejuvenated during retirement?