|Donna Johnson||Marilyn Stewart with daughter Sarah Stewart||Carolyn Wightman|
Donna Johnson, Carolyn Wightman, Marilyn Stewart and her daughter Sarah Stewart all share three things in common. They are all women; they are all widely respected networking leaders; and they are all passionate about what they do. One thing that struck me, as I listened to their stories, was what a strong sense they each seemed to have, even from an early age, of who they were and where they were going in the world. Did they start out that way, I wondered, or was it a quality that developed over time and circumstance, with the patient nurturing and guidance of a mentor? The answer, I suspect, is “a little bit of both.” No, strike that: a lot of both. — J.D.M.
“Would you like to start by introducing yourselves and saying a bit about how you got involved in the networking business?”
Donna: I’ve been in the business for thirty-two years. I was a former swimming coach. What drew me to this business was that it was a fun and flexible situation, very entrepreneurial. I don’t do clocks and bosses very well.
Carolyn: I’ve been with the same company my whole career, starting in 1970. Before that I was involved with the Peace Corps, I lived in the South Pacific and learned to speak the Polynesian language of the Kingdom of Tonga. Then I worked in Washington, D.C., first as an intern and then on Capitol Hill and in various businesses there.
I was attracted to my company’s environmentally sensitive products and philosophy because I had lived in a beautiful environment in the South Pacific, and I ended up back in southern California, where we couldn’t breathe or drink the water. The business side of it interested me, too. I don’t mind working; I love to be focused. But I would rather be accountable for what I produce, and not have to show up when someone else tells me to.
Marilyn: I’ve always found myself being a pioneer, stepping out and breaking new ground. I was trained as a teacher, and within my first week of teaching, I was told by the school board that I’d better keep my mouth shut and follow. The school system was not a place where I could be a visionary or plant seeds.
About eight years ago I decided to do network marketing full-time. Two of my three daughters were in post-secondary education, and I had just stepped out of a twenty-five-year marriage. I was doing five different things that were bringing in income, but none was really secure. I looked at my life and thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen here?”
As Donna and Carolyn both said, I love this business because it gives me options. It’s my platform to play and live my life as I choose. Wonderful, beautiful people and opportunities step into my life each and every day.
Sarah: I’ve been a dancer my whole life: I started training professionally at fourteen. I went to school half-time in seventh grade, and found it really difficult to be in that structured system. I always felt I had to create on my own time, in my own way. I never really saw myself in a job. I had so many dreams and so many desires to create my own life and my own future.
I got a degree in architectural interior design, but when I started developing my own design firm, I realized how difficult it was...