Frank Keefer is an icon in the networking profession. Prior to encountering network marketing, Frank enjoyed highly successful careers in the military and the corporate world, and also owned and operated several traditional businesses. Over the past twenty years he has represented four network marketing companies and has achieved the top level in each of the past three.
Frank was cofounder of Network Marketing Lifestyles, the #1 startup publication and #1 business publication on the newsstand in 1999; he was also the founding publisher of Networking Times. He has written several books on the networking profession and contributed to a half-dozen others. Frank is a highly sought after speaker and has presented seminars worldwide. Most importantly to him, he has facilitated the creation of over one hundred million-dollar earners. When not traveling, Frank and his wife Gingie enjoy life in Queenstown, Maryland or Marco Island, Florida.
When Frank was first introduced to network marketing in 1988, he was a high-paid, upper level corporate executive. He worked for a Fortune 50 company and had won the President’s Club that year. As a reward, the company had sent him to Jamaica on an all-expenses-paid trip.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” says Frank. “I was in the swimming pool with another manager of the company and he started telling me about a network marketing seminar he had attended. I’d never heard of that kind of business before and didn’t know any network marketing companies, but as he explained the business model, I became intrigued with its unique concept of leverage. He told me that the leader he had met was going to be in Philly the week after we returned from Jamaica. Although I was earning a nice six-figure income and was quite satisfied with my job, I wanted to find out more, so I drove the few hours from my home in Maryland to Philadelphia and attended the presentation.
“The presenter was powerful. He emphasized the fact that his opportunity afforded him time with his family, and that was the hook that got me. I was making enough money, but I was working 24/7 and had no family time. The presenter was Richard Kall, a very dynamic and hardworking man. Although I never worked with Richard, he was my initial inspiration and I always credit him with that. I’ve been fortunate enough to change a lot of lives. It never would have happened if he hadn’t changed mine.”
Frank and Gingie visiting the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
Frank piloting a French Mirage jet fighter.
Early Experiences and Transitions
Frank started working the business part-time while continuing his corporate job. He didn’t yet fully understand how the business worked, but soon decided to go full-time. He figured that for a company as dynamic and progressive as this one was, the next logical step would be to open up the Pacific Rim.
“Intuiting what could happen,” says Frank, “I went over to Hong Kong, frequented the local watering holes and met a lot of ex-patriots who had been with the various news services during the Vietnam War. I became pals with the UPI and AP reporters, and through them, met a lot of other ex-pats, mostly entrepreneurs, from all over the world.”
The day his company opened in Hong Kong, Frank signed up people from eighteen different countries. His business took off and he told his wife, “Pack up, we’re moving to Hong Kong.” In the interim, though, his father had become ill and Frank decided to go home to be with him instead.
He sold that business and joined another company. He quickly became a top earner with organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. He was enjoying his success, until one day the company decided to terminate twelve of its top thirteen distributors, Frank among them.
He got involved with another company through one of the other leaders, Arlene Lowy, who had also lost her business. “I had never been part of Arlene’s organization,” says Frank, “but I admired her and wanted to work with her. So, I called her up and asked, ‘What are you doing, Arlene?’ She introduced me to another opportunity, I got involved and very quickly hit the top pin level again.”
When starting with a new company, Frank has never recruited the people who were with him previously. “In my values system,” says Frank, “that would be unethical. I couldn’t engage somebody and tell them I had the best opportunity in the world, and then leave that and tell them I’d found something better. I did not want to unseat anybody else’s belief in their company, even if things may not have worked out for me.”
Settling with His Company
Frank eventually stumbled upon his current company. When he saw people were making money, he became serious and gave the business his full attention. Of the first ten people he brought in, seven built quarter-million-dollar annual incomes within the first year, and their incomes have all remained solid.
“I targeted folks with backgrounds similar to mine, people who were used to making serious money but who didn’t have any time. Beginners in this profession often make the mistake of figuring, ‘I’m not making any money, why should I approach Mr. Bigshot over there? He’s doing better financially than I am, so I won’t have any credibility.’ What they don’t understand is that successful people look at everything. I’ve found that the more unsuccessful a person is, the less likely they are to look at something, or if they do look, the more skeptical they are. Consequently, I approach successful people.
“At that time, twenty years ago, it was rare for men to do this business. Most networkers were part-time housewives. Coming from a corporate background with a strong six-figure income, my decision to start a home-based business wasn’t well perceived by most of my friends from the corporate world. Neither was the idea of working from home. To have any credibility at all, professionals were, at the least, expected to rent office space. If you worked out of your home, you were viewed as a scam or someone who could no longer get a real job.
“I targeted business owners and mostly men, because those were the demographics I was familiar with. I did bring Arlene Lowy into my organization because she is an extremely astute businesswoman. But for the most part, I brought in men who were making money but who didn’t have time. By taking that approach, I was able to build a solid organization. The vice president of my company told me once that my organization was 20 percent of the company, but that we did 70 percent of the volume.”
Finding the Right Candidates
Frank believes that before you take somebody to an opportunity meeting, you should show the person your plan individually.
“I look at it as though I’m interviewing a candidate, and it is typically an extensive interview process. I’ll sit down and talk with someone five or six times before I bring him into the business. When I finally take my prospect to a formal meeting, the idea is not just to see the plan again. I want him to have the opportunity to go around without me and have his belief validated by talking to others. Because I target prospects who are already successful when I bring them into the business, the meeting is filled with successful people.
“You don’t want to take new people into a meeting where nobody’s making any money and everybody’s miserable. I try and preempt that up front by bringing in only strong people. It’s rare, but occasionally I make a mistake, usually with a friend or a family member with whom I have some emotional attachment. If I look at it strictly from an objective business perspective, I pick the right people pretty much every time. When you care about people, sometimes you want it more for them than they want it for themselves. Everyone goes through this, but the ones who struggle are the ones who never get past it.”
Frank has been involved in writing training programs for every company he’s been with. Still, he believes the best way to train people is to do it before you bring them into the business.
“There are only three things you have to do to be successful: move and use products; attend and promote events; be able to show the plan,” says Frank. His approach is to teach people these skills as part of his interview process [see sidebar].
Interviewing vs. Recruiting
“After prospects go through this interview
process,” says Frank, “they don’t need any training. They’ve done it all before they got in: they’ve invited people to look at the plan, they’ve attended and promoted events and they’ve moved product. Some people are too quick to grab somebody’s check and get them in the business, and then they spend the next three years trying to train them. While the new people are trying to learn the ropes, everyone they meet at events is struggling and testifying that it doesn’t work. The new people don’t know it works because they haven’t done anything to be successful.
“By having candidates go through this process and practice the different skills before they become associates, they know what to do to be successful once they get started. Then you can actually let them loose and go duplicate what you just did with them. I’m not saying my technique is the best one or the only one, it’s just the one that works for me.
“When I was in the military, I commanded several combat teams. I was prudent about whom I selected to be on my teams because my life depended on it. That may not seem to apply to our business, but it’s really no different. You don’t have people shooting at you, but your life does depend on it: you’re investing your time and you can’t get that time back. If you bring in fifty people and none of them are successful, you’ve wasted part of your life as well as theirs.”
Frank says he would rather invest the time up front and have fewer people who are going to be more successful, than more people who aren’t. “Some people are massive recruiters and they sign up everybody who walks. I’ve turned a lot of people down. I focus on a couple of individuals and take my time with them. The beauty in this business is there are a million different ways to build it. When people ask me, ‘How do you build a business?’ I say, ‘You build it within the framework of your own personality. You have to be who you are.’”
Perception and Belief
“Recruiting is probably the easiest thing to do, but people think it’s the hardest,” says Frank. “One reason some folks find it difficult is that they change their personalities when they try to recruit. If they would do it in the same casual way they invite somebody over to their house for cocktails or to watch the Super Bowl, everything would be fine. But when people go into recruiting mode, they lose that low-key attitude and tighten up, usually because they lack confidence. This whole business is built on belief. You can lock two people in a room and they’ll argue all night about whose product is better. But the end result has nothing to do with the product. They are buying you.
“My only real struggle when I started was that I was the vice president of domestic operations for a multi-billion-dollar company. When I left that position, most of my friends were corporate executives and they acted as if I had leprosy. They thought, ‘My god, what’s happened to Frank? He’s burned out.’ If I’d go to a dinner party, I’d hear people say, ‘I feel sorry for his wife because he can’t get a job anymore.’ They didn’t realize that for years afterwards I was constantly being recruited by Fortune 500 companies for high-level positions. I just didn’t want to be a slave any more.
“As a corporate executive, I had achieved the American dream, but the problem was that sometimes I would wake up in a city and not even know where I was. I would think, ‘My wife’s home by herself. This isn’t fair to her. It doesn’t make any difference how much money I’m making, she can’t be enjoying her life.’ I’d be so focused on problem-solving for the corporations I worked for that I’d forget I had a life outside of that. That’s why I left.
“Perceptions about home-based business have changed a lot since those days. But that’s the way it was. People often think I had it easier because I came from a high-flying background and had a lot of powerful connections. What they don’t realize is that every background comes with its own set of problems. Mine was that I was viewed as a burnout. The truth is that I’d reached a point in my life where money wasn’t the issue. I wanted the time. And as it turned out, the money followed. I was fortunate.”
Visions and Dreams
Today Frank has several thousand six-figure earners in his organization. “I didn’t create them; they created themselves,” he says, “but that’s a result of selective recruiting. Too many people go after the unemployed dishwasher with no car, phone or house, or somebody who lives in a box in an alley someplace.”
Over the past decade Frank was sidelined with some serious health challenges. “I’m back in the business to the extent I can be, because this really is something I love,” he says. “I want to create a few more millionaires. There are still people out there who would appreciate this opportunity. So I keep my eye open.”
Besides his network marketing goal of hitting newly established pin levels and helping create more top earners, to rebuild his physical and mental stamina, Frank gets up at 4 a.m. and drives thirty-five miles to train privately for five to six hours under a martial arts grand master. He is working to achieve a lifelong goal of attaining the rank of Master, Fourth Degree Black Belt, in three martial arts disciplines, including combat martial arts. He also is planning to make a trip to Antarctica, the only continent he has never visited, and is finishing up several books that have resided on his computer for the past ten years.
This summer Frank has a busy seminar schedule. He formerly would speak for an entire weekend, but his stamina now limits him to two-hour blocks, one in the morning on theory, habits, discipline and commitment, and one in the afternoon on practical applications. He always credits other trainers, such as Hilton Johnson, Tim Sales, Jim Ridinger and Steve Seigh, for their tutelage.
“The true reason I’m doing this business,” says Frank, “is Gingie. If it wasn’t for her, I’d still be in corporate America. Honestly, I left the corporate world and an outrageous income, just because I wanted to be with my wife.”
FRANK'S INTERVIEW PROCESS
After I help my candidate identify her motivation for doing the business, I say, “Look, Josephine, I know you’re excited to get started. I’ve shown you the plan and you’re ready to come in. But you know what? There might be some questions that surface later and could unnerve you. What I’d like to suggest is that you bring a friend or two the next time we meet, and have them help you objectively evaluate this opportunity. I don’t want your emotions to get in the way now, and then someplace down the road you think, ‘My god, what have I done?’ So bring a couple of friends along and have them look at it; not to get them into the business, just as objective third-party evaluators.”