Darrell Utterbach knew he was an entrepreneur at a very early age. His father was a blue-collar worker in Dana Point, California, and it wasn’t hard for a teenaged Darrell to notice how often his dad’s hard work went unappreciated.
“I looked at what my father went through,” says Darrell. “He was incredibly loyal and dedicated, yet he received very little recognition for the difference he made, and he was not paid nearly what he was worth. I decided early on that this was not going to happen to me, that I wanted to pave my own way towards a more fulfilling life.”
Darrell also figured out in his early teens that school was not going to provide him with the kind of knowledge he needed to accomplish what he wanted to do.
“I watched people who owned businesses,” he says, “and I saw that they were self-reliant. Instead of relying on a paycheck from a company, they made their own way. That was very appealing to me.”
During his twenties, Darrell gobbled up every book he could find about how to create his own success. He knew if he could absorb the messages that had helped others reach their dreams, he could develop himself into whomever he chose to be.
That’s how he started his journey and today, it is how he teaches others: be a voracious student of whatever it is you want to achieve, and absorb the information that will transform you into the leader you want to be.
The Encounter with Network Marketing
In his mid to late twenties, Darrell owned an advertisement agency and during that time, in 1988, a client introduced him to a network marketing company. The business concept was new to Darrell, and since he didn’t comprehend its potential, he dabbled in it without taking it seriously—until the checks started coming in.
“I remember the day I received that first check,” he says. “It was small, but enough to make the light bulb go on, and I realized how powerful the concept of leverage and residual income was.”
Unfortunately the company he had joined wasn’t solid and it soon went out of business. Darrell decided to move on and pursue something that he could control: his own business.
“Although my first experience didn’t pan out, I always kept the door open to the idea of building an organization,” he says, “if the right opportunity were to come along.”
About five years later, he decided to give network marketing another chance. He now brought a stronger knowledge base to the table, and he was ready to learn even more.
“I became a student of the business,” Darrell says, “and I was fortunate this time to have a mentor to teach me about the profession. Over the next three years I received what I call the Harvard education of network marketing, which included the psychology of event-building.”
Unfortunately, this experience ended with yet another company closure. Still, Darrell took away something very valuable: he knew that the business model worked, as long as you also have a great product, the right timing, a sound management team, a fair compensation plan and a compelling cause.
Darrell with his wife Tracy in front of their home.
Finding a Solid Company
Over the next few years Darrell acquired extensive experience as a consultant developing international markets. In the late nineties he began to work for network marketing companies in various foreign markets in the Pacific Rim and learned even more about the business, this time from the corporate side.
“By the year 2000, I had a pretty well-rounded idea of what to look for when it comes to finding a network marketing company with all the components necessary for success,” says Darrell. “I had also become fascinated with the health beverage market and the fact that many people are pill-adverse, and I was interested in finding a company that had a unique position in the functional health beverage marketplace.”
In 2004, Darrell formed a relationship with his current company, because he realized it had a product and an ingredient that were very appealing.
“The company I found had all of the markings that promise long-term growth. Today we have built an enormous business worldwide. It’s been an incredible experience—and that journey’s just begun.
“I started out as a distributor and then helped out at the corporate level for about a year and a half, during which I was VP of Sales. I then transitioned back to the field, because that’s where my true love is.”
Darrell believes companies are good at delivering products and paying out commissions, but when it comes to creating distributor training and the other systems needed to generate growth, these functions are better handled by an entity outside of the corporation that is focused on those activities. This belief led him to develop a training and support system for his company, called “Black Diamond University.”
“Black Diamond is the magical rank all our distributors want to reach,” says Darrell, “and this lifetime university is the premiere training system for our company. It has not only allowed us to experience substantial and sustainable growth, it has also helped us considerably reduce our attrition rate, because we’ve created a culture and a learning environment where people can grow.”
As Darrell’s training program continues to expand its international presence, he is now laying the groundwork for going into Japan. His company is already doing business in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Brazil, and he has found that building the business takes a different approach in each culture.
“You can’t simply stamp out American-style training and bring it into an Australian or Japanese or Brazilian market,” says Darrell. “All these cultures use different techniques to get from point A to point B. What we’ve done in Japan and Brazil, for example, is bring in people who understand how to customize our training to the local culture. Opening an international market is not about simply translating something on a piece of paper; it is about taking what we’ve created domestically and morphing that into a sustainable training system within those markets.”
Darrell points out how each market is unique. “We can support the Spanish-speaking market, for example, with tools similar to those we use in the U.S., because that culture is integrated within our society. The Japanese market, on the other hand, is like another planet, so we designed our Japanese training system as a standalone entity, complete with its own staff of people who are uniquely positioned to recreate the same environment for success that we have here in the U.S.
“There are a lot of distributors who have built great organizations but who aren’t good strategists when it comes to putting training systems together. In foreign markets, this can be very touchy. In Japan, for example, we solved this problem by partnering with one of the top trainers in the country who knows how to identify what needs to be done, who knows what questions to ask and can also provide the answers and create a track for people to run on.
“People need a mentor and training right out of the gate; they need an environment for success they can plug into. If new distributors are brought into a system that fully supports their personal and professional growth, that’s where you’re going to be able to develop leaders.”
Darrell strongly believes that the strength of any organization is the strength of its leadership base.
“Our business is a business of developing leaders. We are not in the juice business; we are in the leadership development business. Everybody’s at a different stage in their life: some need a lot of help and some are already well on their way. My objective is to empower people to be the best they can be and to build an organization of giants. Leaders like that aren’t picked off a tree; they are developed.”
Darrell says teaching the mechanics of the business is not how you develop people. “In a way, this business is more challenging than any other business, because we are in the people business. Our people skills—or lack thereof—are magnified in everything we do.
“One way to develop leadership is through reading and listening to others who have experienced success in business as well as in life. At Black Diamond University, we have a reading and audio program that allows people to take charge of their own growth process.
“When people join our company, they come in for the product and the financial opportunity. They look at the training system and see that there are some mechanics involved in how we get the product out to the marketplace so we can make money. But as they embark upon the journey, they start discovering more about themselves through their interactions with others in the network, and they realize they’re going through a personal growth process. That happens naturally as they work with people, and we focus on taking that natural process to a greater level. We let them know right up front: ‘This is what you’re going to experience, and this is what you should welcome with open arms, because it’s what is ultimately going to make you a greater leader and allow you to coach others into becoming greater leaders as well.’ ”
Advancing the Networking Profession
Darrell says many people in his company have earned income more quickly than they expected, and have done so before developing a clear understanding of how they got there. “This is a nice problem to have, but it’s still a problem. What you have is an organization of lottery winners. We’ve needed to teach people that in order to sustain their incomes, they need to grow a greater understanding of what it is we do, as a business.”
Darrell’s greatest challenge has been to change mindsets and help people focus on self-development, and not just on the money they’ve been able to earn so quickly.
“Within the organization, it works the same way: you can get people in, but you’ve got to be able to keep them—and grow them. If it’s all about the money and all about the juice, if people aren’t growing and developing themselves and developing their people, then this is going to be a challenge.”
Darrell’s personal vision for the future is to set a new standard of professionalism as it relates to bringing people in, training them, developing them and advancing them in the world of network marketing.
“I want to develop an environment that will attract people who have never before been interested in our business because they felt the professionalism of the organization was lacking.”
When asked how he was able to grow his business so quickly, Darrell says there are numerous books and personal growth programs that have helped him over the years, but for him, the surest way to succeed in networking is to practice servant leadership and always keep your word.
“I can go back to anyone who’s ever done business with me, and they’ll be ready to be a part of whatever I do, because they know that I tell the truth and build my business on a foundation of integrity—in word as well as in action.”