Susan Sly grew up in Brockville, a small community in Ontario, Canada, located halfway between Montreal and Toronto. Trips with her stepmother to home presentations of a makeup line were her first exposure to network marketing, although she didn’t realize it at the time: at the age of twelve, she simply thought all moms and kids had parties together that were this much fun.

Today Susan Sly is enjoying a great life and, passionate teacher that she is, she’d be the first to say that it’s a life available to everyone. She’s moved through challenging patches by focusing on her vision: to empower women and liberate families financially.

Early Encounters

Susan’s second contact with network marketing was nearly as undefined as the first one. In her mid-twenties, she owned a health club in Kingston, Ontario, and became a nutrition and fitness expert. She was also an athlete on the national team for duathlon, when her coach introduced her to some nutritional products. Very offhandedly, he sold her a huge box of products for $1,400, telling her to sell whatever she didn’t use.

“He said if I could get some other people to buy the same package, I could make some money, and that was it,” says Susan. “He didn’t tell me it was network marketing or introduce me to the profession.”

Two years later, Susan’s life as she knew it came to a grinding halt. She ended a painful marriage and lost her health club, her home and her health. “Network marketing could have saved me,” she says, “if only my coach had informed me.”

Susan rebuilt her life in Toronto and joined a women’s networking group, where she promoted her business as a personal trainer. At this group, Susan met a woman who would impact her life forever. The woman hired Susan and repeatedly asked her to join her in marketing vitamins. Susan thanked her and said that as a nutritionist, she could find perfectly good vitamins at the health food store.

“One day I went to work after I had injured myself, and when my client saw me, she asked, ‘Why aren’t you home? Oh, I see, because you can’t afford it, can you? Do you make money if you don’t work?’ ” I said, “No.” She said, “That’s why you need to take a look at this.”

“She saw me twice a week for eight months,” Susan remembers. “Then finally she took me out for coffee, showed me the compensation plan, showed me the products, and that was it.”

Susan was in. She built up an income of about $1,000 a month and then she and her client decided to leave for a start-up company. Susan was loving the profession, reading all the books and learning the trade. She even helped her new company open up a country, but then disaster struck: someone was busted making illegal health claims on a conference call. (Susan was actually present on the call.) The company ended up in an FDA lawsuit and had to close down.

2007 Boston Marathon Finisher

Susan Sly and Chris Arkeveld with children Avery age 10, AJ age 5, Sarai (not shown) age 2

New Journey

When that same client called her a few months later about a new company, Susan wasn’t very open.

“She was so excited that she had lost fifteen pounds, but I wasn’t interested. My health wasn’t doing great and I was at a very low place in my life; I had lost all my joy. Neither my husband nor I knew what was going on with me. Our income had dropped substantially and I didn’t have the energy to take care of the children.”

Susan had by now married her high school sweetheart, Chris, and moved back to Brockville with their two small children. Since her health was compromised, she didn’t have the energy to take care of them, and in her hometown, her parents were able to help out.

“I believed in the profession,” Susan remembers. “I had been mentored by Ken Seto and Deborah Kay. I had read all the great stories in Networking Times, to which I had subscribed from the very beginning. But I lacked belief in myself. Thankfully, my former client called me every day for twenty-one days.”

On the twenty-first day, Susan realized she would either need to change phone numbers or give her client an answer. If she told her no, she would need to validate her decision, so she decided to do some research.

This is where what Susan calls synchrodestiny took over. (Coined by Deepak Chopra, synchrodestiny refers to our ability to harness the power of coincidence to achieve our deepest desires and goals.) She went online and looked at the products. As a nutritionist, she recognized the ingredients and thought, “Wow, I wonder who the product designer is!”

She clicked on a link and discovered she actually knew the scientist from having used his sport supplements during the eighties. Most importantly, Susan remembered him as a person of integrity.

This time, Susan knew how to evaluate a company and what to look for: the company had to provide good training, there had to be a fair compensation plan, products needed to exchange hands, it had to be financially viable, etc. “It had all these qualities,” says Susan, “and I decided that at the very least, I would to try the products because they were natural.”

She and Chris went on the products, and within four days the two of them felt a notable improvement in their health.

Susan got excited about the business opportunity and Chris said, “Honey, go for it!” Susan joined.—and three weeks later, her sponsor left the company because she didn’t see the vision. Undeterred, Susan knew that what she needed this time was a mentor.

She called her upline to find out whose team she was in and discovered that she had access to a legend: Jimmy Smith, aka “Jimmy the Butcher.” Susan knew exactly who Jimmy was, because she had read his story in Networking Times. She called him and said, “Jimmy, you don’t know me, but I’ll tell you this—I’ll be on auto-ship for seven years with this company if it takes me seven years to become a millionaire.”

He replied, “Honey, you cannot miss. What can I do for you?” Susan explained that she had a small team of thirty people and was just getting started. Jimmy Smith hopped on a plane and flew up to Canada to do an in-home presentation.

Jimmy’s involvement didn’t stop there. He became the mentor Susan had always needed. Susan also partnered with industry trainer and Networking University faculty member Jeffrey Combs. Within ten months, she was making $10,000 a month, and four years later she was a millionaire.

Faith, Desire, Action

Susan now teaches her favorite topic: empowering women and helping families do the business together. She believes we build with our families, not in spite of them.

“I get really excited about helping a family get an extra $1,000 a month. Leaders sell the industry short with the ‘Wow, you’re going to be millionaire!’ line. Let’s help families cover their car payments or their mortgage payments, and then get them earning some extra income. When we believe in what we do, when we’re passionate and focused, the big income will happen. If we can just get a spouse to the point where she can say, ‘Honey, our network marketing business is making our car payment or our house payment this month,’ that begins to alleviate the stress. When you alleviate the stress in any relationship, that relationship strengthens. We’ve never been at a better time in our profession to heal families financially.”

Susan calls her teaching the new FDA: Faith, Desire, Action.

“Faith is believing in something you cannot yet see. No one else has to believe you’re going to be a five-, six- or seven-figure earner except you. When you turn on your computer screen and see your organization, you have to see it as you envision it to be.”

Susan’s concept of desire is perfectly illustrated by her own experience with her daughter Avery.

“When we moved back to Elizabethtown and Avery was entering the first grade, it turned out that she was much ahead of the rest of the class. Every day she was bored and every day she cried. There was a private school for gifted children in the area, but we couldn’t afford to send her there. Still, I got the program guides for that school, and every day that inspired me to keep making calls. When the why is great enough, everything else is second.

“After we got Avery into the private school, my next inspiration was to retire my husband. It upset me to see him going off to work when I got to stay at home and have the best life in the world. So, I just kept calling and calling—and he’s now at home with the family.”

Faith and desire are useless without action, and for Susan, action is all about connecting with people, finding out what their goals and dreams are and showing them how the company can provide that for them.

“I’ve done it all. I’ve run adds in USA Today and the Robb Report. I’ve worked warm markets and cold markets, signed people up in Starbucks. No matter what type of compensation you have, your check is the sum of who you helped get paid. If an associate calls me and says ‘I’m stuck,’ I ask, ‘who are you helping to get paid?’

“Whatever is happening in your organization is a direct reflection of what’s happening with you. When you’re building, whether it’s an organization of ten people or of 10,000, every morning take a good hard look in the mirror and ask, ‘What is it about me that needs to change, grow and stretch in order for this organization to be more successful?’”

Once Susan had achieved the goals she set for herself and her family, her inspiration broadened. Building on her desire to empower women and families, she set a goal of co-creating ten six-figure women.

“In the corporate world, the way to get ahead is to take away someone else’s job. Furthermore, women in corporate positions have enormous guilt because they’re not with their families. Through network marketing, we liberate families.”

Once Susan had enough women earning the equivalent income of a top CEO (minus all the stress), she adopted an even more ambitious goal: to help free the world from child prostitution.

“It’s a huge goal,” she admits, but a call from World Vision helped Susan and Chris set it in motion by introducing them to a project in Cambodia where girls are rescued from brothels and given medical and trauma care.

Susan and Chris have given $50,000 to the project and are raising another $300,000. A portion of the sales from Susan’s upcoming book, The Have-It-All Woman, will also go towards funding the project. Susan wakes up in the morning thinking of new ways to help these children—but it doesn’t stop there. She and Chris sponsor twenty children in Asia and Africa and have built two schools in Africa through World Vision. She is thrilled to be giving up her luxury vacation this year in order to visit with some of the children she sponsors.

It’s been a great journey so far for Susan, but only because she’s made it so by letting her faith, desire and hard work carry her forward. Most importantly, through good times and bad, she has remembered to be grateful—and gratitude heals everything.