Paul Devlin started his entrepreneurial path as a kid delivering newspapers and mowing lawns in his neighborhood. He always had a keen interest in making money and was typically the first kid on the block with the new bike or the latest stereo gear. When he started a network marketing business, he quickly built a solid income for himself and retired from a corporate job at the age of thirty-four. He’s been living the residual income lifestyle ever since. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing…

“My income was great, but my downline looked like Guatemala,” says Paul, “with a very tiny minority making the money, and the rest of the people living in poverty. These folks were working hard, but most were just breaking even or in negative cash flow every month. That didn’t sit very well with me.”

He set out on a journey to discover what it would take to develop a more balanced income distribution in network marketing, and eventually found a company whose product and compensation plan lent itself to this possibility.

Today Paul runs a very successful business from a remote area in Colorado where he lives with his wife and four children. He created the time freedom he was looking for when he left the corporate world, because he built a business that doesn’t need him. Thanks to the systems he put in place, the members of his organization have the tools and know exactly what to do to build the kind of income they want to earn.

Paul devotes time to his family, and his backcountry activities like skiing and climbing, and is grateful to be able to offer others the same lifestyle. He believes that network marketing, when it’s done right, is the ideal win-win scenario in a free-market economy.

Exploring Network Marketing

When Paul graduated from college in 1984, he took a job in electrical construction in Colorado Springs, and soon came across a newspaper ad for a network marketing opportunity. He didn’t know it was network marketing—the ad simply talked about professional athletes endorsing a nutritional product. He met with someone who showed him a video with famous athletes and product testimonials from doctors, and since Paul was looking for a way to escape the drudgery of his job and make money as an entrepreneur, he decided to get involved.

“My first and only repeat customer was my dad,” he says. “It was a mercy buy on his part—I think he was worried about me: he had just put me through college and now I was selling vitamins from the trunk of my car.”

About three months later, Paul’s dad called him and said, “Son, you better turn on NBC News. Connie Chung is doing an investigative interview with the vice president of that company you’re in, and it’s not looking too good.”

This sixty-minute interview exposed the truth: the company had falsified information by using testimonials out of context from doctors who had not given permission. Two weeks after the interview the company went bankrupt.

His first exposure to network marketing being a total failure, Paul returned to the corporate world and worked for the next ten years in the electrical industry, until he was exposed to the business again through a radio ad. This time, he joined a more solid, publicly-traded company, and also found a great mentor.

Unfortunately, Paul himself was completely uncoachable. The first six months he tried to do things his own way and refused to follow the systematic approach. He generated some retail activity but wasn’t having the kind of success he was looking for. He was about to throw in the towel, when his mentor called and said, “Are you ready to listen? If you are, we can show you how to build a residual income.”

Paul said, “Yeah, I’m ready. I’m broke and it’s not working. Show me what you’ve got. Let’s go back and start over.”

This was a breakthrough moment for Paul in the profession. He realized the importance of following a proven system, and a year later he was making a six-figure income. He retired from his corporate job in May 1996 and has been an independent business owner ever since.

Paul Devlin speaking at a convention.
By the River Arno in Florence, Italy.
Paul and wife Jeanine up high in the West Elk Wilderness.
Living the dream in the Colorado backcountry.
In the Mexican Riviera with his youngest son Sean.

Middle-Class Distribution

Paul was doing well financially with his second company, but the problem was that the other 4,000 people in his organization were struggling. Only four or five other members in his downline were making significant incomes.

“I was painting a picture for new people that would really get their hopes up,” says Paul. “I was talking to them about the possibilities of what they could create in network marketing, only to find that fewer than 1 percent were actually able to make it work.”

Paul compared his organization to a third-world economy: “If only a very tiny minority of people are capturing the lion’s share of the commissions, and everybody else is stuck in the peasant class, that’s the third-world. If network marketing is going to work in the free market, it can’t replicate a third world country!”

He was clear that he did not want to be in a type of business where he would succeed at the expense of others, so he left his second company in 1997 and started a consulting firm in order to research the big question that puzzled him: Is it possible to create a middle-class income distribution inside a network marketing organization?

He partnered with a friend who had a syndicated radio show and who had a similar experience in network marketing. They started doing independent consulting on the radio and the Internet to evaluate different network marketing opportunities.

“First we had to define what a middle-class income would look like,” says Paul. “Based on the fact that nine out of ten networkers work the business part-time, we determined that a good middle-class income was anywhere from $300 to $5,000 per month. We knew a minority of distributors would always excel and grow large incomes, while others wouldn’t be able to generate much income, probably because they don’t work—which is the way it should be. But we were interested only in those opportunities where the bell curve of income results would fall between $300 to $5000 per month for 90 percent of the members who had been in the business for at least six months.”

Paul and his partner worked hard, investigating hundreds of companies, and came up with a twenty-nine-point screening process that would allow them to determine, based on the math, which companies would produce a third-world economy by the way their compensation plans were designed.

“While I was doing the consulting, I was also running a hedge fund and doing some other things in the financial services industry,” says Paul. “I was diversifying because I was not at all convinced that it was even possible to produce the kinds of results we were looking for in network marketing, and if our research revealed that is was impossible, I was going to leave the profession.

“Then, in November 1998, we came across a small company that rated very highly in our screening process. We watched this company for a year, the compensation plan looked good, the product looked like it would hold customers, so I left the consulting business and got involved in November 1999.”

Tools and Events

At that point, Paul knew the importance of taking a systematic approach, so he helped his new company develop a fool-proof system for building the business. He was able to create not only a substantial residual income for himself, but also the exact kind of income distribution within his organization that he was aiming for as a consultant.

“We have a huge percentage of people who are in that $300- to $5,000-a-month range,” he says. “What I love about it is they are all financially incentivized to continue working and growing their businesses without me having to chase them or constantly re-motivate them.

“I remember my first mentor in the business working eighteen-hour days doing three-way calls, trying to convince prospects to spend $4,000. He was constantly laboring to keep people excited and pushing them to attend events. It was hard work because these people were not making any money. That made him a full-time motivator. I watched his life pretty carefully, and I was not interested in that life. I wanted something I could build and then, over time, throttle back my involvement and enjoy the true benefit of residual income. I didn’t want an eighteen-hours-a-day whirlwind life, trying to prop up all these people who were not making money in the program.

“In my current company, I can work five hours a week and grow my organization. One of the keys to accomplish this is to have a system in place where it’s not about me, where success is not about the leader but about following the system. This system should include powerful, cutting-edge prospecting tools.”

Paul is a big believer in using tools, as opposed to doing one-on-one presentations. “One-on-ones are great for people who love to present and excel at it. The problem is, most people aren’t super-presenters, and they don’t want to be. According to the law of diminishing returns, we tend to sponsor at or below our educational and socioeconomic level, so the sponsorship line tends to decline in the quality of its presentations. You want to have a system and tools in place, so all presentations that are taking place are done by the best presenters in the company.”

Once he reached the top of the company’s compensation plan, Paul joined forces with five other top members and formed a support organization that provides prospecting tools and automated support tools either in audio or video format.

The other key to success is having a system of events. Tools are key for bringing people in, but you need events to build strong organizations. “We define an event as two or more people getting together to discuss the opportunity,” says Paul. “From there it builds. We cycle into in-home meetings, maybe local hotel meetings or regional super-Saturday events, then we drive everybody towards the annual convention.

“We encourage members to measure their success in two ways: 1) What’s the size of your commission check? 2) How big a group did you bring to the international convention? What I’ve seen is that in order to create residual income, you need to have both the big check and large leadership-driven groups that are focused on attending the events.”

Relationship Capital

Over the years Paul has seen numerous people build through the Internet or other technology-centered approaches, but the businesses don’t stand the test of time.

“Network marketing is a relationship-centered business,” he says. “We can use technology to assist the relationship, but if our business becomes technology-centered, it will not end up producing a residual income. My contention has always been this: if networkers are doing something that the company can get done without them, they are going to earn an income similar to what the company would pay to outsource it.

“For example, if you’re buying leads like a telemarketer, that’s something the company can easily do without you. They could hire a professional telemarketing firm who would charge maybe $10 an hour to make calls. So what do they need you for? If you’re doing telemarketing, try adding up your income and divide by the hours you work, it’ll be roughly $10 an hour.

“At the core of network marketing is a manufacturing company deciding that it would prefer to leverage the relationships in a network, rather than paying for conventional marketing and advertising. Therefore, the most important asset you can bring to the networking profession is your relationship capital. It’s about who you know and who you get to know. Someone who comes in without relationship capital is at a deficit and will have to work harder. Even if they decide to build a downline using leads, how are they going to keep those people?

“One of the first things I recommend to those who are low on relationship capital is to learn about how to build it up. We encourage our team to focus on continually developing and expanding their contact base.”

When Paul gets into a conversation with new people, he uses language to create curiosity. He then asks for their information and finds a way to contact them later.

“I coach people to get out there, get to know some new people and begin developing relationships. As they expand their Rolodex, opportunities to partner with like-minded people will come up, and they’ll know when it’s right.”

In Paul’s experience, strong organizations that form a solid foundation for residual income are built from relationship to relationship.

Developing Skills

According to Paul, there are a lot of skill sets a person can develop for building and maintaining relationships.

“There are many different cultural backgrounds, political backgrounds and spiritual perspectives out there,” he says, “and to be able to relate effectively with all types of people is definitely an art form. I want to give people all the room they need to learn it, but only if they’re interested. If not, they self-select right out of the business, and that’s fine—it’s not necessarily for everybody.”

Paul’s philosophy is never to give up on anybody unless and until they give up on themselves, because he has seen people make huge life-altering shifts, and that for him is one of the most exciting parts of the journey.

“When people learn to master the skills this profession requires, they can succeed in anything that involves working with people,” he says. “Building a network marketing business is the ultimate personal development workshop. Your check will never be bigger than you are—at least not for long. Solutions to most of the problems a distributor will face start with taking full responsibility for the person looking at them in the mirror.

“In terms of language skills in prospecting conversations, the most important question network marketers can learn to answer is, What do you do? How they answer this question is critical to their success. The minute someone asks “What do you do,” networkers often fall into a series of traps: they are either stuck and don’t know how to respond, or they are embarrassed about their business and respond by mentioning their other career. Worse yet, instead of answering the question, they open the floodgates and go on for twenty minutes and completely blow the person away. If a distributor can learn to use simple language to lead a conversation where they want it to go, there’s no limit to finding new, quality contacts.”

Paul also teaches his team that to be effective, they need to master two skills: the invitation and the follow-up. The company tools take care of the presentation, but the invitation and the follow-up process are the two core skills each new person needs to develop.

“The invitation has three basic components,” says Paul. “One: There is something I’d like to show you. Two: It will take about thirty minutes—or however long it will take. Three: It may or may not be a fit for you—a simple release statement. We coach new people on how to personalize these components so the invitation sounds authentic. Some people are naturally inclined to talk about the product side of the equation first, while others are better suited to talk about the business opportunity first. Either way, to be effective, it’s got to sound like them.”

Vision for the Future

Paul has big hopes for the future of network marketing, because he believes the business model makes so much sense.

“Network marketing companies will thrive,” he says, “as long as the owners and management aren’t greedy but focus on what’s best for the customers and the distributors.

“We will see the companies that don’t take this approach fall away. The ones that do will prosper. That’s the free market at work. And this is where I get really hopeful, because network marketing truly is a winning proposition when done right. The customers win because the products are cutting-edge and aren’t available anywhere else. The members win because they’re getting access to a business they can operate from their home, and they can build a huge residual income. The companies win because they have less marketing risks and they have no accounts receivable. It’s a cash business. They get the revenue first and then pay the commissions later.

“If owners come in and are all about what’s best for them, those companies won’t grow, and eventually they will fail. And that’s the way it should be. Free market forces will drive network marketing opportunities to get better and better over time.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this trend. This profession has produced a level of freedom in my life I never would have attained in the traditional business world. When you consider the ‘pursuit of happiness’ our founders had in mind in the Declaration of Independence, I can’t think of a better vehicle for realizing that aim than a business that produces residual income. It frees up your time, allows you to have the cash flow you need, and then frees you up to do the things you really want to do.

“This profession will lead to greater health for all, whether you’re in a nutrition company or not. Having cash flow as well as time freedom is the greatest stress buster and the ultimate American dream, where people are free to live life and pursue those things they truly value.”