Michael Jude and Christa Way form a very successful husband-and-wife team. He comes from the Washington, D.C. area with a background in economics; she is a nutritionist from Australia. After retiring from the corporate environment in the mid-eighties, Michael had been traveling for several years when he met Christa in New Zealand. In 1993 they moved together to Colorado, where neither of them knew anyone. They got involved in network marketing and built an extraordinary organization, applying the universal laws they had learned on their spiritual quests in earlier years.
Today they have a thriving business representing over 90 percent of their company’s sales force.
When asked about the secret of their success, Christa and Michael say they heavily invest in community building and leadership, in empowering and serving others. Michael’s mission is to be a servant leader who offers people an access point to their dreams. Christa has a passion for helping people grow into all they can be. Together they believe network marketing is one of the most powerful vehicles for bringing more consciousness into business, and ultimately into the world.
Discovering Network Marketing
Christa and Michael had just moved from New Zealand to Boulder, Colorado, when they went to a local fair and spotted a little booth that sold nutritional supplements.
“As a nutritionist, I’m always interested in what’s out there,” says Christa, “so we went over to the booth and found out that the only way we could get these products was by signing up as a company member. I had never heard of network marketing and didn’t care to know what it was, I just wanted the product. We had no problem signing up, so that’s what we did.”
Michael had been briefly exposed to network marketing in the early eighties. Someone had recommended a good long-distance plan, and Michael had noticed that by telling a few people about it, he could make some return.
“I thought that was just the greatest thing,” says Michael. “I didn’t get serious about it. I did it very casually, because I was in the middle of a pretty successful career with a multinational corporation. If anyone had told me then that I would be doing professional network marketing, I would have laughed and said, ‘Why would I want to do that?’ Today, the opposite is true: I look at my friends who are in corporate jobs, and I laugh and say, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ It’s funny how the tables turn.
“We found this wonderful, natural supplement at the Boulder Creek Fair on our way to go camping in Arches National Park. We bought some of this whole food supplement and took it with us, and lo and behold, about a day or two into it, I started feeling amazing results. When we got back to Boulder a few days later, I called the guy up and said, ‘We want some more. And, by the way, didn’t you also mention something about a business opportunity?’ ”
At the time Christa and Michael were involved with various communities and personal development groups, and as they shared the product with their network, they started getting small checks. Gradually, the checks went up to $300, $400 and $1,000. One day Michael looked at Christa and said, “You know, we’ve just been poking this with a stick. If we actually got serious, I bet we could make some serious money.”
Making a Commitment
Michael and Christa continued to more actively share the product and eighteen months later they reached the top of the compensation plan in the company.
“We were quite excited because we were earning a full-time income at that point,” says Michael. “There were some problems with the company so we had to move on, and we joined five or six other companies consecutively over the next year and a half. Each time we would bring in a couple hundred people and find out the product or something in the comp plan or the management team wasn’t quite right. I reached a point where I was on my way out of the industry. I said, ‘It’s a great concept, but nobody’s gotten it right. If somebody gets it right one day, we’ll look at it then.’ ”
Christa and Michael eventually found a company that fit their needs, and today they’ve been with this same company for over a decade.
“One of the keys we’ve both learned is not to quit,” says Christa. “Find a company that has all the right ingredients in place and stick with it, even through the ups and downs. If you quit at the first sign of ‘Oh, this doesn’t work,’ then nothing ever happens. You need to have staying power and make that commitment to the long-term building of something sustainable.”
Michael uses the analogy of a gold miner: “If you dig into solid rock a quarter mile in and say, ‘No, this isn’t it,’ and back out and dig another hole, and you are only twelve inches from the gold, and you go to another place and dig in hundreds of feet and back out, and you’re only a foot from the gold, you could do that all your life and never hit the gold. We see that again and again in our profession. I tell people, ‘Pick a company. They’re all good, but none of them is perfect. Anytime you have people involved, you will have problems to work through. Stick with your company until you hit the top of the comp plan. Then, if you want to do something else, great. But don’t quit until you reach the top.’ ”
Selling the Dream
“Making a commitment is a choice, and so is managing our perception,” says Christa. “A critical element of being a leader in this profession is to choose how we perceive our company, our team members and even our prospects. We can look at a company and see all the problems. Or we can say, ‘You know what? I’m committed to this company. It has great products, it pays well, we’ve got a great team of people.’ What we focus on is what will grow.”
“In our business, we’re selling a dream,” says Michael. “We’re not selling bricks and mortar. We’re not selling a job. We’re selling hope. We’re selling a concept that centers around belief. If we don’t invest in that dream and commit, if we don’t believe in it, how can we sell the hope? It becomes false, and people won’t buy it.”
When Christa and Michael first meet a potential candidate for their opportunity, they start by doing a deep inquiry into what the prospect is looking for. They find out what the person wants in life and what he or she wants out of the business. After they help people get in touch with their dreams (many have never been asked these questions before) and there is a fit, they go into conscious partnership to help them build that vision.
“People remember this conversation when the going gets tough. It fuels them in times of rejection, when things aren’t working, when they don’t feel like picking up the phone. To work through those times, there has to be a magnet that pulls us forward, and that magnet is a person’s dream.”
In order to find prospects for their business, Michael says he has tried virtually every system in existence. “We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars running ads, we’ve phoned thousands of leads. But with our current program, we’ve not bought a single lead; we built our team through our relationships and our circle of influence—people we’ve met or who have been recommended to us.”
Christa and Michael say they have a preliminary conversation with large numbers of people, asking them if they’re interested. If there is an interest, they follow a step-by-step process, not unlike dating.
“You don’t just walk up to an attractive person and say, ‘Hey, let’s get married and have sixteen children,” says Michael. “You go, ‘Hey, do you like movies? Would you like to have dinner?’ You gradually get to know each other.”
Helping People Manifest Their Vision
One of Michael’s early mentors taught him to always have three to five different ways of meeting new people. “It might be leads, it might be bump-into’s; you might run a couple of ads, you might go to a networking function. None of these methods by itself will make you rich, but all of them will give you onesies and twosies, which add up to tens and twenties.”
Another lesson Michael learned was: do more of what you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy leads, don’t do leads. If you enjoy bump-into, then do a lot of bump-into.
“This applies to the larger context of life as well,” says Christa. “We encourage people to go find something they would love to do that they haven’t done for a long time or ever. It could be stamp-collecting, yoga or tennis. Whatever it is that you’ve got an interest in, go do it now. Join a club. Do something where you’re involved with other people, and you’ve opened up a whole new warm market for yourself.”
Michael tells his new people to act as if they’re at the top of the comp plan. “What would your day look like?” he asks. ““Well, I’d go to ballroom dancing.’ Okay, go do it now!
“This accomplishes three things,” says Michael. “First of all, you’re affirming your success. Second, by ballroom dancing now, you’re no longer waiting. You’re enjoying life today—not five years from now. Third, because you’re having a good time and living the life you want to live, people are drawn to you like a magnet and they want what you have.”
Christa feels passionately about being in the business of helping people build their dreams. “Network marketing is a profound vehicle for developing us as human beings and for truly offering others a way to manifest the possibility of what their life can be and who they can be in that life.”
Michael adds, “Our business is grounded in universal principles and ancient wisdom. Both Christa and I have been steeped in esoteric teachings since we were in our twenties. We call this a network marketing business, but we’re in the business of bringing people into their highest consciousness. We use business terms and we’ve got a product, systems, a structure and all that, but what we create is absolutely inspired from a higher place.”
Being in Service
Michael says the more we develop ourselves, the more successful we become in our businesses. “The two go hand in hand. Some people ‘make it’ and reach the pin levels, but then the question is, can they sustain that position? We’ve found that only the people who are grounded in service, contribution, resonance, attraction, reciprocity, these kinds of higher values, can hold it, because they are able to stand in the light of their success. They are in a relationship of conscious service with the people around them and are able to fully embrace a cooperative business model, as opposed to a competitive business model where everyone has his own agenda.”
Christa adds, “The universal principles we teach are very simple: live a life of the highest integrity; be completely honest and truthful at all times; always be in service.
“When I’m prospecting, for example, my attention is not in my head. My focus is not on what I am going to say or whether the person will sign up. My attention is completely on the person in front of me, wondering, ‘Who are you? What are your dreams? Do you love what you’re doing in your life? Do you want to change? Is what you’re doing going to accomplish your dreams?’ Even if it turns out my opportunity is not a good match, I know that I’m making a difference by simply connecting in this way.”
“When I was a newbie in this profession,” says Michael, “I was used to working in a competitive business model. I found I’d go to a party and I would be looking for prospects and miss the party. What I discovered, after a while, is that doesn’t work. You can pull a lot of people in, but this is not a one-time-sale business. This is about people coming in to create a life for themselves through a long-term business relationship with us.
“Once I got that, I discovered the power of no. Getting a no can be just as enriching as a yes. When asking prospects about their interests, and listening very carefully to their answers, if they’re not a fit, I learned to let go and enjoy them for who they are, contributing to them on whatever level they’re open to. This takes a lot of pressure off. Suddenly, my life was not about prospecting. It was more about enjoying the experience of getting to know others for who they are, and accepting that not everybody belongs in this business.”
Sharing a Higher Purpose
Christa says in order to be successful in network marketing, you need to find leaders who are just as committed as you are, because if you don’t have those leaders, what you have is a job: you have to constantly be there to make things happen.
“That’s why we’re only interested in signing up people who are as serious as we are,” she says. “We’ve learned that you don’t need thousands of people. It’s one of the myths in network marketing that you need to bring in massive amounts of people. Eventually your downline grows to be in the thousands, but in order for you to be successful, you need just a few leaders. In my case, 90 percent of my check comes from the activities of three people. To find those leaders, look for people 1) you want to work with; 2) who are willing to do what it takes to change their life; 3) who do what they say they’re going to do.”
Michael describes how they brought in three of their most successful leaders: Annie Taylor, Dr. Barry Burns and Zvone Vodnik. “When they came to us, we interviewed them to be in our downline—later we found out they were also interviewing us. We didn’t chase them. The interview was a two-way process, because they knew what they were looking for, and so did we. We eventually made a very conscious choice to work together, and our relationship has remained very healthy and clean: there is a high level of integrity, a shared destiny and spiritual mission. Even if we have different religious paths, there’s definitely a shared sense of purpose: together we serve a vision bigger than our own.”
Christa and Michael look for leaders who take responsibility for serving this higher purpose.
“Part of it is our willingness to be a guide and a role model,” says Christa. “This is a business of duplication: whoever I am in my life, that essence of who I am is going to duplicate in my downline. Everything I do, everything I say, how I am is going to duplicate in some way, for better or for worse. Knowing this, we are continuously called to a higher standard of behavior, in what we say, what we do and how we appear in the world. It helps us grow and stretch, because we’re constantly being asked to step up. And every time we do, that duplicates down the line.”
Transforming the World
Michael firmly believes that as network marketers, we have the power literally to transform our world.
“We’re transforming the way the world does business by changing commuting patterns, consumption patterns, economic patterns and relationship patterns. It starts one person at a time, but by working with leaders, it duplicates and translates into hundreds of thousands of people. When entire groups align with this vision of a radical transformation of our society, our economics, our family and relationship patterns, that’s where we can really make a difference. An intricate part of that difference is our own personal stake in the vision: we get to retire, be home with our kids, have financial freedom, have time freedom to pursue our passions. This business allows us to be part of that bigger vision as well as be in service of ourselves and our families.”
“The work we do is so powerful that once people grasp it, they don’t need to know how to get there,” says Christa. “People get bogged down with, ‘I need the techniques. I need the words to say,’ but the real driving force is their why.”
Christa and Michael are big on teaching people practical systems to empower them to keep their commitments and hold themselves accountable, to enable them to do their daily actions. Their teams have frequent check-in calls as a way of touching base and holding everyone accountable: “This is what I did, this is what I committed to do, this is where I got stuck, this is where I had a win.”
“These calls are vital for keeping people connected to their vision and keeping them on track with their goals,” says Christa. “Also, we encourage people to attend as many company and training events as possible, because that’s where people’s beliefs get solidified. These are the places where people feel, ‘This is real!’ ”
Michael’s professional goal is to find ways to tell his story even more profoundly and more richly, in a way where people from all walks of life can get it. He wants to provide ever more accessible entry points and user-friendly systems to people who want what he has to offer.
“Everyone wants to make a difference,” says Christa. “This business is one of the most fundamental, accessible, beautiful ways to make a huge difference in people’s lives, on whatever level is appropriate. It’s also a way to monetize our own contribution and life wisdom, which is rare in our society. My greatest joy is seeing people open up to their possibilities. Wherever I can provide a doorway for that, I’m there.”