Contrary to most of us who pick up personal development when life tells us we need it—when experiencing relationship or financial problems—Mark Fourniér was steeped in it as a child since before he could even talk. His mother was a highly evolved soul who taught him about the power we have to create our character and the results we desire in life.
Mark developed a passion for sharing what he knew, and became an expert in mass media communications. Today he is a three-time Emmy® Award–winning TV producer, director and writer. He is founder of the Center for Empowerment, a public charity, and creator of the Course of Action, the PermaLearn™ System and the Empowerful™ program series.
Mark also grew up surrounded by networking: his mother and grandmother were hairdressers who sold network marketed products and shared the opportunity with their clientele.
Having coached and collaborated with top networking leaders since the seventies, Mark has gained a tremendous insight into the networking profession, including many parallels with the job of parenting.
After fifteen years of continuous success with his Empowerful programs, Mark has created a version for the networking community called Empowerful Networking, furthering his life mission “to inspire and empower as many people as possible to lead meaningful lives of passion and purpose.”
How did you get started on the path of personal empowerment?
Personal empowerment is all I’ve ever known. I was raised on it, just as the Kennedys were raised to be politicians and Tiger Woods was raised to be a golfer. My mom was a farmer’s daughter philosopher. My grandfather was a philosopher, and so was his father. They were both farmers from Michigan.
My mother knew that the greatest legacy she could pass along would be to teach her children to be. Every day we went off to school, we would hear the “be” phrases: “Be your best. Be happy. Be a hero.”
This wasn’t just a cliché for her. She had this ritual she would go through with us, even when we were five years old and barely able to understand the concept: she would say, “I don’t expect you to be a millionaire. I don’t expect you to even get perfect grades in school. All I ask is that you be the best that you can be, that you be happy, and that you leave this world better than the one you came into.”
My mother was a hairdresser. She didn’t have degrees. She just was a human being who had a greater understanding, and she taught it to us every single day. For her, everything we came up against, every challenge, every issue was nothing more than another opportunity for her to help us learn and grow.
She also understood that children have a unique ability to believe. As adults, we want to see proof, but children believe anything and everything. They believe in Santa Claus. My mother knew that our belief had the potential for creating unlimited power. She was a voracious reader, especially of biographies. We had an enormous library, which included all Edgar Cayce’s books.
My first experience in quantum physics was through my mom. I don’t think she ever used the term, but she was teaching us parallel universe theory: the idea that there are an unlimited number of possibilities in every situation that always exist at every moment.
She had noticed that the greatest accomplishments in history had little to do with intellect. For example, she would say, it didn’t take a genius to invent irrigation. It took somebody who believed that there was another way, who was able to see outside of the conventional box and say, “Let’s dig a ditch from that river area over here to this dry area.”
This simple concept changed life on the planet: from being hunter-gatherers, we became farmers, developing and cultivating land. It didn’t require much intellect, yet it altered our consciousness.
She raised us to believe that we always have a choice about our future potential—where we could go, what we could accomplish, what our character could be like. She called it “the fork in the road,” and would constantly ask us, “Are you going to take the high road or the low road?” She would add, “That’s not something that you decide once in your life. You decide it each and every moment of every single day. And all of those decisions add up to who you are and the life you lead.”
She taught us another quantum physics lesson: thoughts are things. Any time she would detect negative thinking of any kind, she would tell us, “Cancel out that statement,” which was her way of saying, “Write a new story.” She wanted us to understand that every thought we hold has the potential to become real.
As the children around me stopped believing in Santa Claus and started becoming adults, distinguishing, “This is real, this isn’t,” and becoming more dogmatic, that never happened to me. My mother didn’t want me to be embarrassed about Santa Claus, so she said, “Santa Claus isn’t necessarily a guy with a white beard, but he’s a spirit who lives within all of us.” She never said, “There’s no Santa Claus.” She said, “Santa Claus may not look and behave the way he does on a Coke commercial, but he is the spirit of compassion and giving.”
She would go on to say, “Everything and anything you can imagine exists. If it exists in your mind, then it exists somehow in the universe.” She then gave us responsibility for that: “That means that if you think a darker, negative thought, then that thought exists, too, and as you think about it, you give it power.” She continued to show us how important it was not to stay in those states. She would say, “Of course, you can give power to the real things, too, to the great things in life. And you can actually change the world that way.”
Mark's mother at 80 years old, his hero and inspiration.
Mark with Jeremy Nattrass who is now very successful after a donated Empowerful Leadership course.
So you were actually born and raised in a personal empowerment program.
Yes, and this idea is what eventually led me to create the Course of Action. I called it the “course of action” because without action, our hopes and dreams can never find physical expression.
I was raised to believe that we create the world around us, first with thought and eventually with our actions, habits and character. I soon realized that there was an enormous gap between the bulk of people who are searching for the answers, and the very few who actually internalize and live those answers.
During my teens I joined a public speaking group; when I turned eighteen, I became a motivational speaker. By the time I was twenty-two I had written a book, and at twenty-three, I had my own TV show. It was called “Breakaway with Mark Fourniér: Featuring New Concepts in Creative and Successful Living.”
In fact, it was Rita Davenport who got me started in my television career thirty years ago. She had her own show called “Open House with Rita Davenport” and she had invited me on her program. After my first appearance, she kept calling me back and I’d do different shows and interviews. I looked young for my age, so it was kind of a novelty. When Rita would teach one of her seminars, I would sometimes do the opening act for her. This was a decade before her involvement with network marketing.
After a while, I came upon some research on the effectiveness of motivational speaking, indicating that for the average audience member, the impact of the material lasts for only about three days. I was shocked, I just couldn’t bear it. My desire hadn’t been to be a speaker; I was simply compelled to share what I knew about the power and potential of the human spirit. It was no different than someone who came from some little island in the South Pacific and who had discovered a unique fruit that cures cancer. If you knew you had the cure for cancer, you just couldn’t spend the rest of your life going around thinking, “At least I’ll never get cancer.” You can’t not reach out.
When I had this horrific revelation about the short-lived effects of motivational speaking, I decided to leave that profession until I found the solution, and I thought, “When I do find the answer, I want to be able to share it with as many people as possible.”
That’s how I became an expert in mass media communications: I became a film-maker and a television producer, writer and director. I wrote everything from magazine articles and columns to TV shows, always with the idea that eventually I would use the skills I was developing to get my message across.
I became relatively successful in the TV production and advertising industries and continued to study the human mind from a scientific perspective. My entire mission became not so much how to get information across, but how to make it stick; how to help people integrate it into their lives and get results.
I studied every science and application that specialized in altering perceptions, changing behaviors and creating habits. I looked for ways to be an expert at that and learned about things like spaced repetition and how the best way to integrate a new skill or awareness is to teach it to others.
Can you talk about your Empowerful Networking program that’s coming out this fall?
Yes, and it’s not unlike our Empowerful Leader-ship, Families and Parenting programs, which have been around in various forms for over fifteen years. There are very few differences between an empowered parent and an empowered leader. The thoughts, actions, habits and character traits that you need to become empowered in your family life are the same ones you need in order to be an
effective networker, because the habits, skills and methodologies that work with kids also apply to the customers or people in your downline.
Back in 1992, I created a program called “The Course of Action.” It’s kind of an encyclopedia of empowerment and is still the cornerstone of everything we do today. It’s not simply a book, but rather an interactive system that helps people form habits.
We started out working with corporations and companies, because that’s where the market seemed to be. But the course spills over into all areas of life, it becomes a way of being, so executives who went through it were taking it home and introducing it to their families. They would paraphrase the material so their kids could understand it, and as families were seeing results, we started receiving inquiries saying, “When are you going to make a version for parents?”
The program made its way into schools and teachers started calling and saying, “You need to be doing this for schools. We’re using this in our classroom now.” I’d say, “What do you mean? It wasn’t written for schools.” And they’d say, “Well, it’s working.” Of course, true principles apply everywhere, always, all the time.
That’s when we created the Center for Empowerment, the organization where we focus specifically on empowering families, parents and children. At the same time, we started getting requests from people who needed the program but couldn’t afford it, so we launched a scholarship program that made our curriculum accessible for free to those in need.
We gave the programs away not only to individuals but also to nonprofit organizations. We took the whole administrative staff through our program from the top down: first the executive directors, who then trained their staff, who trained their volunteers, who then trained the community.
It took off a little faster than we were prepared, and we soon realized, “We don’t have the funds to give away that many programs.” That’s when we filed for a nonprofit tax-exempt public charity status, which we were granted in 2002, so now we’re able to apply for grants and receive donations.
The Center for Empowerment became two different organizations: a for-profit and a nonprofit. We also have a matching funds program: for every person who buys one of our programs, we donate a program to someone in need.
How did you transition from empowering families to working with networkers?
The transition was obvious. Most networkers work from home. That means if they have challenges with their families, those challenges become magnified. The distractions of an unhealthy family environment can be enormous. Just taking our Empowerful Families approach and improving your family relations is going to help your business.
In addition, network marketing is the ideal environment for people to grow in. It’s like a Petri dish for human development. It is surrounding yourself with like-minded people, reaching out, teaching and leading; it thrives on interpersonal communications, repetition and following a system.
A great way to get started in network marketing is to look at the most successful leaders in your upline, find out what their system is and follow it. You also need to find out what are their thoughts, actions, habits and character traits. That’s where our Empowerful Networking program comes in.
Our curriculum is designed as a self-study course, but to be most effective, it requires frequent interactions with others. I don’t believe in “self-help”: we didn’t become who we are by ourselves. We are walking programs created not only by our DNA but also by our life experiences and relationships, starting with the way our parents raised us. All these relationships, tied together, create who we are. Anyone who thinks he’s going to alter his psyche all by himself, by simply reading a book, is fooling himself. You’ve got to continuously apply what you learn, and you need the help of others to do that.
Ideally, you create what we call an empowerment community. Of course, as a networker, you’ve got one built right in: it’s called your downline, upline and sideline. These are people you’re already talking to on a regular basis. We offer an exercise called “the wake-up call,” where you get on the phone with your team for fifteen minutes every morning to get yourself in an elevated state for the day.
Sports professionals know that we perform better in elevated states. We have scientific proof that our thoughts alter our brain chemistry by pumping out cortisol, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins and other hormones and peptides. These chemicals determine, more than anything else, whether you’re having a good day or a bad day.
The good news is that we can influence our brain chemistry by learning how to control what goes into our basal ganglia, which is the part of the midbrain where we form habits. All my programs focus on how the human brain works and on systems that help us take conscious control of our minds, instead of living a life of random, unconscious thoughts and habits.
How does Empowerful Networking accomplish that?
Each of our Empowerful program series is based on twelve principles. To empower networkers, we identify the twelve most important areas they need to master [see sidebar]. What do the most successful people in networking do? What makes them different from others? What are their top twelve thoughts, habits, actions and character traits?
The Twelve Principles of Empowerful Networking
So, it’s an interactive program that networkers can do with their organizations?
The beauty is that I didn’t create the program this way in order for it to work with networking organizations; that just happens to be how it works best. Your whole team becomes your empowerment community. You also have empowerment partners: people you work with more intimately, whom you call at certain points, for example, when you’re on what we call the “dark train” to get you back on the “bright train.” The goal is to help you create a mental shift that gets you back into a state where you’re far more effective—and a lot happier.
The process of mastering something has no end, it has only a beginning. That’s why there’s not just a first-degree black belt. You can’t master something just in order to get a result. Mastery itself has to become the goal. You have to learn to love the process, because you’ll spend the rest of your life doing it. You need to live it, and the PermaLearn system we use in all our programs makes living it a lot easier.
One of the twelve habits we teach in Empowerful States of Mind is to look for what’s great. It’s a simple concept, but what question could be more powerful than, “What’s great about this?” Imagine when this is no longer just a nice idea, but becomes who you are. Every moment of your day, no matter what happens, you automatically go there. Suddenly all your problems turn into opportunities.
Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Challenges can be a blast. That’s why people take up gourmet cooking: it’s challenging.
There truly is something great in everything. The moment you see this, it alters your consciousness; it changes your thoughts, which changes your actions, which changes your behavior, which changes the outcome, every single time.
I look forward to the day when personal empowerment will be a way of life, not something you study or attend a seminar for in order to get a particular result, but something you practice in every relationship, in your profession, in your family, because it has simply become a way of being.
Mark Fourniér’s Empowerful Parenting Quiz may hold some surprising insights for networkers. Simply replace “children” with “team members” and “parenting” with “leading.” —Ed.
Mark Fourniér’s Empowerful Parenting Quiz
Answer True or False to each of the following questions. Consider which of these behaviors you exhibit in the presence of your children to determine what kind of example you are setting. Be honest with yourself in order to gain maximum insight from this experience.
If you couldn’t answer “True” to every single question, don’t sweat it… who can? But since children learn mostly by example, this is a wonderful opportunity to take another look at the choices you make as a parent. If you want to take it a step further, you might also have your kids answer this quiz for you and see yourself through their eyes. Or, you could go through the questions again and see how often you could answer “True” even if you didn’t have children, since everyone plays a leadership role in someone’s life. Truly empowered parents aren’t just playing a role in front of their children; their basic behavior remains the same regardless of the situation, because in actuality, an empowered parent is little more than an empowered human… with sleep deprivation.
The Fourniér Center for Empowerment © 2008