Lidy Flom was not looking for a new business. She was not exactly in love with the grueling hours she put in as a government employee, but she was good at her job, and the last thing on her mind was going into business for herself.

But her nine-month-old daughter Ria was seriously ill with a blood disorder, and not getting any better. And when it became clear to Lidy that the medical efforts being expended on her account were getting emphatically nowhere, she knew she needed to do something.

“I remember leaving the clinic,” says Lidy, “and thinking, ‘This doctor might have my child’s best interests in mind, but I’m the one responsible here.’ I had to find a way to make Ria better.”

Then and there, Lidy says, she decided to go back to the fork in the road where they had chosen to pursue the conventional medical route, and this time, follow the famous Robert Frost poem and take the road less traveled.

“I thought, ‘What about homeopathy, what about naturopathy? What about nutritionists—what do they know that our doctors don’t know?’”

Lidy says it was like taking off the blinders—and it would not be the last time she would have this experience.

“We put her on a liquid multivitamin supplement. A month later we took her back to the clinic, and they told us that our daughter’s hemoglobin had shot from 7.0 to 12.3!”

A Student of Nutrition

In addition to being a huge relief and a blessing to her family, the experience also served as a wakeup call to Lidy about the direction of her life.

“Sometimes things have to hit that close to home for you to sit up and pay attention,” she observes. “Now I say, every challenge you have, consider it a blessing—because it is an opportunity that will make you stronger and more prepared for what lies ahead.”

Moved and inspired by her experience, Lidy threw herself into the study of natural health. She started taking some course work in nutrition, on weekends and whenever she could squeak out the time.

“I began to realize how powerful the human body is—providing it receives the resources it needs, such as minerals, vitamins, protein, water and oxygen. The key to health is to feed those resources to the nucleus of the cell. If you can do that, your body will turn the corner on its own.”

Lidy got excited about what she was learning, she knew she needed to share it with others. She created an educational program she called “Regenerative Health 101,” that helped participants understand the power of their bodies and showed them how to take responsibility for their own health.

“I started speaking to small groups, then to larger groups. Eventually I was speaking to groups throughout the United States and Canada.”

A Student of Networking

Lidy also soon became pregnant with her second child, and halfway into her pregnancy she began to have a clearer vision of the kind of life she wanted for her young and growing family.

“I realized that I wanted to have the opportunity to be at home, so that once our kids started going to school, I could send them off and then be home to greet them when they return. I was working up to 60 hours a week, and getting paid for 40! I decided there had to be something more, something that would give us some freedom.”

Lidy had enrolled as a representative for the nutritional products that had helped Ria’s recovery. As it happened, this was a network marketing company, and while Lidy had joined it at first purely out of interest in the products, she now threw herself into the study of this business with a focus and ferocity equal to how she’d approached her study of nutrition.

Having worked in commercial redevelopment, land acquisitions and property management, she had a good sense of how to build a working enterprise. And as a first-generation American (her parents emigrated from the Netherlands after WWII), she has a first-generation American work ethic.

“I knew how to work hard. But now I needed to learn something different: I had to shift from the work mentality to the network mentality, how to operate as a team.”

It took a while to turn her vision into a practical reality, but within a few years after making her decision, Lidy had built a networking organization that brought in an income that equaled what she was making in her job.

Lidy hails from the “land of ten thousand lakes,” and she speaks with that practical, flat-toned Minnesota geniality that Frances McDormand made famous in the film Fargo. But beneath the veneer of Midwestern mildness lies an intensity of purpose that refuses to let anything get in its way.

“I was determined to be the best I could be. As long as I was working for government, I knew I was only going to be paid for what they thought I was worth. And that just wasn’t enough.”

In October of 1987, she left her job and went full-time.

Changing Parachutes

As Lidy toured North America presenting her “Renegerative Nutrition 101,” people began approaching her with various new nutritional products—colloidal minerals, antioxidants, superfoods and other fruits of the advance of contemporary nutrition.

The wellness industry was on the move—and Lidy was no longer in the forefront.

“Back in 1983, when we put Ria on that first product and I started on my inquiry to learn about nutrition, health and networking, we had pills, powders and tablets. That’s ‘50s technology, and that’s the technology I inherited. But now there was a transition happening that I was not yet aware of. The science of nutrition was advancing—and I wasn’t open to it.”

Lidy cites the popular analogy, The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open—and admits that her mind was not open to what she was hearing.

“When it came to the company I was aligned with, I was so brainwashed that nothing was going to change my mind.”

In her seminar, Lidy would teach that change is the only constant, but people resist change because it’s difficult to take on new concepts. Now she had to face the fact that she had fallen into that same trap herself.

“I suddenly realized that my mind was not operating like a parachute! And I knew that if my parachute was truly closed, I would drop like a stone!”

For the second time, Lidy took herself by the hand and led herself back to a fork in the road to find that road less traveled. She forced herself to take a serious look at some of the products people were bringing to her, and she began to see their validity. She sold her networking business, began working with a broader range of products—and set about to build a new network again from scratch.

“Over the years, I had built my business to about 4000 customers, but it was the sort of situation where I had to ship product to them. Even though our monthly income was about $12,000, we had to make bonus payouts to our people out of that total. It was an old-fashioned, cumbersome system, and the cost of doing business was high.”

Some months Lidy had $7000 left over after expenses and bonus payouts. Some months it was as little as $3000. When she started working with a newer networking company that sported a more up-to-date approach, she was thrilled at how rapidly her business grew. In fact, within six months she had built her income back to the level of the business she’d just sold.

“Pretty soon I was receiving $12,000 checks, and the income was all mine! I knew I had made the right decision.

An Opportunity Disguised in Work Clothes

The Depression-era entrepreneur Henry J. Kaiser is best remembered for a saying that epitomized his refusal to bow to difficult circumstances: “Problems are simply opportunities in work clothes.” Just as Lidy’s business was starting to soar, she was visited by a series of opportunities all decked out in their Monday morning workshop best.

When her company was unexpectedly hit with some negative press, Lidy’s business began to shrink precipitously. The company started to experience the pressure of financial woes—and an unfortunate episode of greed-driven desperation kicked in.

“They decided that they needed my check. I was falsely accused of misrepresenting the company, and my check was taken away!”

Lidy was devastated. For the first time in 16 years, she quit her speaking schedule and decided to let the business go, stay at home and devote her time to her home-schooling her children.

“I was burnt out. I wanted nothing to do with networking.”

For a while, she dabbled in real estate and did a little work as a marketing consultant. But on the whole, she withdrew from the work world and cocooned at home with Ria, Cory and their two younger siblings, Vincent and Vanessa.

Still, she sensed the introspective period would not last. In the wake of 9/11, the future of her husband’s job as an aircraft mechanic with Northwest Airlines was far from secure. And besides, she knew that sooner or later, she would need to go out into the world again to share what she knew and help change people’s lives.

But as it had in the very beginning, her networking career needed a kick start from an unexpected quarter—a crisis in her own family’s health.

Wakeup Call, Part Two

Lidy’s 15-year-old son Cory came home from a two-week scout camp trip feeling ill. The illness rapidly escalated; within weeks he had lost 30 pounds and all muscle control, including eye movement.

“He was a complete wreck. Every joint ached like rheumatoid arthritis, every muscle ached like fibromyalgia, he couldn’t sleep at night, he was depressed and marginally suicidal.”

It turned out that Cory had an especially virulent case of Lyme disease.

For the second time, Lidy had an unexpected and profound wake-up call. As she puts it, “It was time to get my head back into wellness.”

She dug back into her repertoire and for the next 18 months, she threw at her son everything of nutritional value she could think of.

“I knew I had to feed the nucleus of the cells, and that’s what we did.”

Cory’s health began to slowly come back, but it wasn’t enough.

Then one day in 2002, as Lidy was preparing to leave for the airport for a quick trip to Europe, she got a call from a friend who wanted to tell her about a product.

“I said, ‘You’ve got two minutes to talk to me. In two sentences, tell me why I should listen to you.’ He said, ‘It’s about technology that can feed the nucleus of the cell and doesn’t have to be digested first.’ I said, ‘Will it help Lyme disease?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Perfect—here’s my credit card, send whatever I need, I want it in my home by the time I get back.’ “

When the product arrived, she gave it to Cory—and in two and a half weeks, he had no more pain. (Since then, she proudly points out, he has never had a relapse, has been an All-Metro, All-Conference and All-State football lineman, has received seven college scholarship offers and may go pro.)

Lidy knew she was onto a breakthrough. She also knew that breakthrough products can only be delivered adequately through the educational process that comes with genuine networking.

That was three years ago. Today, her income is well more than twice what her past businesses ever did in their best months, and she has nearly 20,000 preferred customers in her organization alone. All her kids are well, her business is flourishing, and Lidy is back in her chosen career—helping people to feed the nuclei of their cells and to transform their lives.