Matt and Johnna Parr met through their network marketing company a little over twelve years ago. Today they form a team of stellar network marketing leaders as well as stay-at-home parents of Johnna’s two teenage daughters. They run their business from their home in a prestigious Chicago suburb and are grateful to share the gifts of network marketing with anyone who wants to come along.
“We believe that as people come on board in network marketing, they’re looking for a place where they can be part of something bigger than themselves,” says Matt. “And they’re looking for something that’s going to turn their finances around. I believe we’re about to embark upon the greatest times we have ever seen for network marketing. Thanks to increasing positive media attention, we are on the brink of a huge shift in the mind of the public. People who wouldn’t even have considered network marketing in the past are now seeing this is an ingenious business model.”
“Our business is a bastion of free enterprise,” Johnna adds, “True capitalism is not about greed; it’s about freedom—the freedom to build a business of your own, to call your own shots, to make as much money as you wish, and to create the life of your dreams. This profession supplies precisely that, and anybody can participate.”
Matt was first introduced to networking marketing in 1985. He joined but never really got started in the business; he just listened to tapes, read books and learned about the marketing concept. He attended a couple of events, then was deployed in the military and lost touch with his upline and the company.
Upon being discharged from the military in 1990, he joined a nutritional company, where he made many friends and became a serious student of the profession, attending the MLM University in Chicago, where he studied with Dr. Charles King and Mark Yarnell.
“Even though I built my business part-time, I went from start-up to being profitable in the first year,” says Matt, “and then to national marketing director and the top pay level in that company within the first three years.” Matt spent the next three years at that level, and gradually started feeling burned out. “I lost my passion, lost my love for the product, and lost a few relationships with people in my upline.”
At the same time, his company went through a compensation plan and product change, and Matt decided to leave the company. After selling his distributorship, he took a break from networking for a little over a year.
Then, in 1997, a friend called to let him know he had joined a new company.
“I went and looked at it out of friendship,” says Matt. “I liked what I saw and got involved because of my desire to help others succeed. That’s always been an attraction to me.
“I started out as a customer, and at the end of ninety days decided to test the waters. I made twenty-four phone calls my first week; my second phone call was to Johnna. Seventeen people showed up for my first meeting, and twelve of them joined my business within the next ninety days. Nine of them joined that first week—and Johnna was the first one.”
Within that first year, Matt developed a six-figure income. He was working full-time in the pharmaceutical industry at that point, but at the end of that year he walked away from his pharmaceutical career to pursue network marketing full-time. The following year his income went up two and a half times—and he never looked back.
Johnna’s background is in corporate recruiting: she had formerly worked placing administrative personnel and sales reps for companies in the Chicago area. When Matt called her, she had been out of the workforce for five years and been a stay-at-home mom for four years. She now was in the middle of a divorce and suddenly faced with becoming a single mom.
“I thought my only option would be to go back to work full-time,” she says. “That’s when Matt called me, and I’m so thankful he did.”
Johnna had already dabbled in network marketing for a couple of months, in what she calls her “practice company.”
“My first company wasn’t the right vehicle for me,” she says, “but I learned a lot. I didn’t make much money, but it was a great learning and growth experience.
“When Matt showed me his opportunity, I got very excited. I loved the fact that the company offered savings for people. Even if they didn’t refer the program, they were still going to come out ahead. I saw it as being uniquely different. Also, the company paid weekly, and I needed to make money right away.”
After making money in her very first week in the business, Johnna thought, “If I can do this my first week, then anybody can.” She became passionate about the business and started building it around being a single parent of a two- and four-year old. The first year she was able to double her previous income from corporate recruiting, working as a stay-at-home mom.
Matt continued working with Johnna as a friend and business partner.
“I introduced him to many of my girlfriends, because I thought he was such a great guy,” says Johnna. “Through the process of him becoming my teacher and mentor in the business, our partnership turned into a love for each other. I didn’t realize it at first, but when he expressed his love for me, I knew that I was feeling the same way. After working together for a little over a year, we decided to get married.
“I love my story because it’s really fun. I give single women hope! I always tell people that spouses are not included in the business, but you never know…”
Finding a System
Matt and Johnna utilize a four-step process for building their business that has evolved over the years.
“It’s simple, fun, duplicable and easy to teach,” says Matt, “and it has some magic to it. It also falls within the principal guideline of everything we’ve ever read in Networking Times or learned from the leaders at Networking University. And that is: in order for the system to work, it has to work for anybody.”
Matt and Johnna developed a system in collaboration with other leaders as they moved up in the ranks.
“We compare the four steps to the bases in baseball,” says Matt. “First base is the initial contact. Whether it happens on the phone or face-to-face, through the three-foot rule or warm market, the process is all the same. I believe people are people, and if you tell them your story with passion, they will see it in your eyes, hear it in your voice and feel it in your handshake. People first buy you before they ever buy your company, your product or your system. Once they buy into you as the person they want to be in business with, then the rest is just a process of exposures and belief-building.
“The tools we use for the initial introduction are recorded messages, recruiting CD’s or handouts.
“Our second base is a live three-way call with a leader in the company—in the upline, preferably—who has used the product successfully and made money in the business.
“Third base is to expose prospects to your company video—online, in person or in a group meeting. There are multiple ways to do it, as long as you expose people to the details of your company, compensation plan, products and services.
“Fourth base—that is, home plate—consists of signing people up and getting them started in the business: teaching them the system of doing the same thing or engage duplication.”
“I remember when I started,” says Johnna, “being a single mom with two little girls, my challenge was to find a way to fit the system into what I was already doing. We want all this change in our lives, but we have to take the first step of fitting this in and around our families and everything we have to do in our lives.
“At first, I had to make some changes in my daughter’s bedtimes so I could make the phone calls I wanted to make that day, in order to get the results I wanted to get.”
Another challenge Johnna experienced was building belief in herself. Reflecting back on her initial lack of confidence, she offers the following analysis:
“First, I wasn’t a big reader. I am today—I’ve read hundreds of books since I started in network marketing. But at that time, I wasn’t.
“Second, I wasn’t very good about following through on the promises I made to myself. I asked myself, would I trust someone who told me they were going to do something over and over again, and then didn’t do it? Of course not. It’s impossible to believe in ourselves if we can’t keep a commitment to ourselves.
“I knew that in order to attract others into my business, I needed to start believing in me, and in order for that to happen, I had to make the decision to follow through. If I promised to make one call a day, I needed to make sure I made that call. If I was going to do five, I was going to make sure that all five calls got made, with no excuse.
“It was those little steps of following through on those small promises I made to myself that increased my belief in my ability to pursue and build the business we have today.
“I also knew that once I believed in me, I could certainly help others believe in themselves and go through that journey of getting started.”
In addition to building belief in herself, Johnna worked on strengthening her ability to believe in her dreams, regardless of others’ opinions.
“We all go through this as we enter this profession,” she says. “Everyone encounters the naysayers and hears ‘Those things never work’ and the proverbial ‘Oh, it’s one of those deals.’
“I remember a few weeks into the business a gentleman telling me no. Not only did he tell me no, he told me why I shouldn’t do it, going on and on. The next few days, I stopped picking up the phone. I suspended my actions because I believed in what he said more than in what I wanted to accomplish. It’s amazing what happens when we put our belief in the hands of someone else.
“It took my sponsor, Matt—we weren’t married at the time—sitting down with me, looking me in the eye and saying, ‘What was your reason for coming on board?’ I told him, ‘I want to be home with my children.’ He said, ‘Well, you can’t do that if you listen to him.’ He brought me back to my reason for building the business.”
Today Johnna tells her team, “When your belief in yourself and your dream is greater than your belief in other people’s opinions, you’ll have mastered your life.”
Discovering Self Development
When Matt encouraged Johnna to start reading, the first book he gave her was Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins. She felt intimidated because she wasn’t used to reading, but even as she covered just a few pages a day, her eyes started opening to the power of personal growth.
“I learned about the concept of constant and never-ending improvement,” says Johnna, “and how it can add value to your life so that you, in turn, can add value to others—because that’s what this business is about.
“I became a sponge. At every meeting, I was in the front row, taking notes. Every book anyone mentioned or gave me, I devoured. Today I have a recommended reading list from different authors across the profession or others who teach leadership.
“The more I learned, the more I grew—and the bigger our income became. The two really go together; our income won’t grow beyond our personal growth. The more I listen to other teachers and leaders, the more I realize how much I don’t know. The learning process is truly endless.
“John Wooden said it best: ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’”
Johnna believes reading five pages a day in a good book will change your life—if you do it every day.
“It’s almost like exercising. A little bit of exercise each day will impact your body more than if you just did a longer session once a week. Getting your daily dose of positive information will keep your spirits up in a negative world. The books I read aren’t just about business; they talk about fulfilling your goals in every area of life—physical, spiritual, financial and emotional.
“Especially when I was going through the initial struggles and was not that happy with where I was in my life, I had to keep looking out further. I knew that if I focused on where I was, I was destined to stay there. So I kept pouring in those positive ideas and listening to things that could empower my life, so that I could in turn do the same for others.”
One of the most rewarding experiences of Johnna’s empowerment journey was writing her book, When the Dream Is Big Enough.
“My book was an important milestone in stepping up my ability to effect change in others,” she says. “Today people tell me, ‘It’s such an easy read! I’m reading it for the third time. I’m highlighting it now.’ Some of the comments are from people who just entered the profession and haven’t read a book since high school. One gentleman said to me recently, ‘It’s the first book I’ve ever read from start to finish.’ Now he is on his own personal growth journey, and he’s reading other books because he felt empowered that he could finish this one.”
Sharing the Business
Matt and Johnna’s favorite way to share their opportunity with others is through a never-ending, ever-growing contact list.
“The way we add new names to our list is by meeting new people every day,” says Matt. “Here’s a classic example: the day before yesterday, we flew home from a convention. On the plane, I sat next to a gentleman who’s in our business, and next to him, in the window seat, was a gentleman none of us knew.
“During the course of the flight, I had to pass him a cup and I said, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ He said, ‘Fine! How are you doing?’ and we started talking. When meeting someone through the three-foot rule, I like to use the FORM method: I talk and ask questions about four topics—Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money:
“In the current economic environment, my favorite phraseology is, ‘Hi, how are you doing? My name is Matt.’ People will tell you who they are and we’ll talk for a few minutes, and I’ll say, ‘You seem like a sharp guy. What do you do for a living?’ They’ll tell you, and I’ll say, ‘Wow! In this economy? How’s that going for you?’ This immediately opens a door for most people to tell you, ‘It’s difficult, we’re challenged, we’re downsizing, we’re restructuring, we’re working our way through it.’ They will say something that’s tentative or negative. Very few people say, ‘Things are great!’
“This opens the door for my question, ‘Are you open to ways to turn that around?’ And they will say yes—hundred percent of the time. Then I’ll initiate the first step of the exposure process. Some companies use printed handouts; others use a three-way call. The tool that’s working best for us today is an audio CD.
“We’ve done other things in the past, such as advertising. That’s probably my least favorite way to recruit, because when you’re talking to a cold-market contact in an email or phone call, the skepticism level is typically very high. I can handle it and so can Johnna, but I don’t know anybody who’s new on our team who can. New people can’t withstand the negativity, not to mention the cross-recruiting from people who respond to an ad simply to try to recruit the advertiser into their business—and that kind of reverse-recruiting is rampant in today’s advertising market.
“My favorite method is to work my warm market and duplicate that. I don’t remember ever recruiting someone off a cold market list who stayed with us. Our warm market is the glue that keeps our team together.”
Johnna adds, “I believe people will do business with you if they know you, like you and trust you. The gentleman we met on the plane is a perfect example. By Matt talking to him—asking him questions, sincerely caring about his answers and genuinely being curious about what makes him tick and what his goals are—by the time we got off the plane, the gentleman was truly intrigued with Matt and the fact that he took an interest in who he is. We could sense he was looking forward to listening to our CD.”
According to the Parrs, many people today are looking for another way to live their lives. With all the problems going on in the world, they are looking for something positive to be a part of.
“Network marketing offers a very uplifting environment,” says Johnna. “You’re gathered around people who have a positive outlook and they’re excited about their futures. People naturally want to be part of that.”
“People also want to be empowered and validated for their contribution,” adds Matt. “This happens through the personal relationships we build and the system of recognition we have in our program.
“We teach our team to treat new recruits with a three-step approach: first you put them in; then you keep them in by showing them a system that will make them money; the third step is to move them along and up the ranks.
“This is how you build an organization of people who stay the course, make money and end up being leaders of their team. Once a person starts moving up the ranks, he or she needs to develop the skills necessary to be a leader in his or her own right.
“To summarize this philosophy, I like to say: Once you’re a leader of one, you may someday be a leader of many. But if you don’t lead one, you probably won’t lead any. And that one is you.
“We teach our group that in order to be a leader, you must first be a reader. I don’t know anybody in my organization or company who has reached great heights without reading books, listening to audios and attending some functions—live events, conventions, trainings.
“Our baseline emotional philosophy is lead yourself. Be the best independent business owner or distributor you can be. Be the best one on your team and other people will be drawn to you. You won’t need to go stand on a corner telling everybody you’re the leader. Your people will know, and they will fall in line and want to be part of your team.
“A very wise and wealthy gentleman had a big influence on me in the beginning of my career. He was not in network marketing but he had made a lot of money in different industries and owned many businesses. He started out with pocket change when he built his first business, and some people call him lucky, but I call him committed.
“He told me one day, ‘Matt, take your eyes off the money and focus on helping other people and doing what’s right. Work towards being the best you can be, and the money will chase you down and run into your pockets.’
“That’s exactly what happened to us, and to this day, I teach this to our leaders.”
Matt’s drive to be the best first showed up during his military training.
“I went from college to the military, where I volunteered for Special Forces training,” he says. “I remember the day the recruiter walked in. He looked like a soldier off a poster. As he started talking to the group, my hand went up. I remember thinking, ‘Why am I raising my hand? What makes me think I’m special?’
“I started doubting myself as soon as my hand went up, but he immediately called me out of the crowd. I believe that, had he called on somebody else first, I might have put my hand down. In that instant my life changed from where I was to where I was going. It was in that moment that I made a commitment, because the next step was signing documents to go to a Special Forces qualification course.
“I attended jump school for three weeks, then went directly into Special Forces Qualification training. This was not the normal course of migration—from being a private in the army to becoming a Green Beret. Normally, it took years. But because of the timing and the place, my education, my commitment and my desire, I was accepted—and I graduated number two in my class.
“This increased my level of commitment even more. I started to see life in a different light. I started to believe that I could accomplish whatever I wanted, because I had been able to achieve something as special as earning a Green Beret in the United States Army.
Matt became a Green Beret in 1980, and in 1990 he was discharged from the military with a Special Forces tab and a Green Beret, a Black Beret and a U.S. Army Ranger tab on his shirt.
“Those were very special, high-level distinctions in my military career, and they led me to learning how to set goals and accomplish them by making the commitment and then doing whatever it takes to accomplish them.
“By doing whatever it takes, I mean within the guidelines of what’s legal, moral, ethical and within my value system, but then committing to giving it all my focus and effort. I learned to be the leader of one, and I was going to learn to lead many. This learning process started in the military, and I really believe that understanding discipline is what drove me to succeed in my business.”
Free the Oppressed
The mantra of the Special Forces military unit Matt belonged to is “De Oppresso Liber,” which is Latin for Free the Oppressed.
“I’ve learned to say this mantra in my sleep,” says Matt. “It was the reason we fought the good fight. We put our lives on the line for the beliefs of freedom and democracy.
“I’ve traveled to developing nations that had no modern appliances; I’ve been to foreign countries that were as modern as the United States. The commonality is this: Everybody wants to be their own man or woman. That’s what America is founded on. De Oppresso Liber means ‘I want to be my own boss, I want to set my own hours, I want to be in charge of my future, I want to set the destiny for my family, I want to give my children more than I had.’
“All those experiences play together in who I’ve become. In the military, we freed people from tyranny and political oppression. In network marketing, we free them from the confines of a job and financial oppression, from worry and doubt of ‘Can I pay my bills?’ to ‘I’m in charge of my own life, I can set my own hours, I can build this business as big as I want to, I can be a millionaire.’
“I took that mantra from a dream and a hope and made it a reality. We started in 1990, twenty years ago, and I’m even more excited about what’s going on in network marketing today.
“I’m especially excited about the relationships Networking Times is creating with the leaders of this profession, because it has the potential of being the conduit of communication between all network marketing companies. Until network marketers reach a consensus where we’re all in this together, we won’t ever be as big as we could be.”
Johnna adds, “Collectively, if everybody can get past their ego, that’s when we all win. That was one of the main reasons I wrote my book. It is completely generic, because the people skills and leadership skills required to be a successful networker are the same, regardless of the products or the companies.
“I wrote my book completely out of my desire to help others and to serve them, just as this profession has helped and served me. It is my personal journey from a broke single mom of two, to becoming a millionaire—with all the challenges and victories along the way.
“The highest compliment I receive is when a reader says, ‘Now I know I can do this business and be successful.’ Seeing how it empowers people is my greatest reward.”