Tim and Amy Marks are happy stay-at-home parents of four young children, living on the coast of Florida or traveling the world with their family. Ten years ago they were at the brink of bankruptcy and their marriage was falling apart. Everything changed when they found a community of network marketing leaders who promised to guide them in turning their lives around.
Today Tim and Amy earn a solid seven-figure yearly income and lead an organization of tens of thousands of people. When we sat down for this interview, they had just driven back from Kansas in their motor coach, where they spent time with some of their leaders to help them reach their goals. The men also went pheasant hunting together, while Amy led a Bible study with some of the ladies.
Looking back on their journey, Tim and Amy realize network marketing not only turned their finances around, it also rescued their marriage. But the gift they are most grateful for is how their business continues to challenge them every day to be the best they can be. They don’t feel in any way as though they have arrived. Instead, they feel a sense of urgency to pay forward the blessings they receive and offer others a path to leading a principle-based life of freedom and truth.—J.G.
How did you discover network marketing, and what made you say “Yes!”?
Tim: I was an engineering manager at an automotive company, working long hours. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I started a real estate business part-time, buying homes, flipping some and keeping some to rent, with the hope that somehow I’d gain financial independence.
But I wasn’t taking the right path. At one point I had thirty-three rental homes, and it just about drove me into bankruptcy.
I knew some of my coworkers at the company were involved in network marketing, but I was extremely skeptical. It took them four months to even get me to come to a presentation. I kept telling them I knew what it was, even though I had absolutely no information about it.
Eventually, I agreed to attend a meeting, and once I went, I saw right away that the business model was obviously working for several different people. What I liked most about it was that the presenters said they were going to help us, that this business works only if you help others succeed. They also said that anybody could make more money than anybody else, which was refreshing because I was used to my boss always making more money than I did.
After my first meeting, I was pretty excited, although I kept trying to find something wrong with the concept. It looked too good to be true. After a couple of weeks, though, I was all in. I forged full steam ahead, dragging Amy along with me.
Amy: It took me a little longer to get excited. I had a negative picture of network marketing. We were very time-starved; I was a stay-at-home mom with our first child, and Tim was always gone. The last thing I wanted was another to-do item on his list.
I do remember accompanying him to our first meeting and hearing people talk about earning income while having time with their family. I didn’t know anybody who had money and time. Doctors and lawyers have money, but they have no time. I definitely liked the thought of Tim being able to work from home, and still being able to live comfortably and travel together.
But more than anything, it was the people that got me in. Our upline leaders, Orrin and Laurie Woodward and Chris and Terry Brady, made a big impression on me. I had never been around people like this who genuinely wanted to help me, who wanted to see me succeed.
Tim: We had reached a point where we realized that if we didn’t change something about our lives, nothing was going to change. I bought into the simple process where 1) you define what you want, 2) you learn from somebody who has what you want, and 3) you go out and do what they did.
Network marketing was the only profession I’d ever seen where you could actually do that; where somebody was willing to teach you, step by step, how to duplicate what they’ve done. If somebody’s a contractor or an engineer, they’re obviously going to have trade secrets they wouldn’t want to share. But this business works by helping other people win.
We decided to make a commitment, because we saw this as our only hope.
How did you start building a new business, with all the other commitments you already had?
Tim: A typical day for me was to get up at 4:30 in the morning and work eight to ten hours at the factory, then change from my dress clothes into some coveralls to go work on one of my rental properties for a few hours. Then, I’d change into a suit and go out to show the plan.
I had been living on four hours of sleep a night for three months straight when things started to settle down: I had replaced my income from my engineering job, so I was able to quit. I continued to do real estate for the next year and a half as we built our network. I definitely made sacrifices during that period, but I had faith in what we were doing.
Amy: I tried making all kinds of excuses why I couldn’t go to business meetings with Tim. I told myself I couldn’t find a baby-sitter, but I never seemed to have a hard time finding a sitter if we wanted to go out on a date. I had to ask myself how badly I wanted Tim home, and what changes I needed to make to reach that goal.
I also was a little nervous about doing the business with him, because our marriage wasn’t exactly the best at the time. I often felt like a single parent because my husband was always gone, and I used to tell him he was nothing more than a paycheck.
Working together actually was a lot of fun and exactly what we needed. For our kids to see their dad home really brought us together as a family. Being around Orrin and Laurie also helped our marriage a lot. They gave us some instructive books to read and encouraged me to work on myself. A lot of bitterness had built up from being alone with the children, and I really had to break down those walls and learn to just trust Tim, that what he was doing for us was the best thing.
Tim: Losing some sleep and working hard was a small price to pay for what we have today. Some people aren’t willing to do that, but I’d go back and do it all over again. People work fifty years of their lives at a job, and after they retire, they have to go back to work at the grocery store because they can’t pay their bills. I feel we condensed that time by working a little harder, and now we are reaping the rewards.
What kind of tools helped you the most during this process of growth and transformation?
Tim: On our team with Orrin and Chris, we have a training system for personal development, similar to what many networking organizations have. You don’t have to have it all together before you get started in this business. I see a lot of people use that as an excuse: “We’ve got to get our marriage straightened out first,” or, “I need more time or more money before I can make any changes.”
When we got started in network marketing, we were three months behind on our mortgage payments. We were fighting like cats and dogs. Trained as an engineer, I had no people skills whatsoever. I had a bad attitude, no money, a shaky marriage, and kids who didn’t know me. Other than that, I was a perfect candidate.
Our personal development training addresses all these aspects of life. If you can’t handle your marriage and your family, how will you figure out how to build a team and keep a community together? We don’t claim to be marriage and family counselors, but we teach people that getting your primary relationships in order is a big part of becoming a leader. It’s a biblical principle that if a man can’t lead his own household, he’s not fit to lead the kingdom of God.
Another determining factor to our success was that Orrin and Laura Woodward became our life mentors. A mentor gives you a different perspective on things and guides you along a path they’ve been on before. It’s been a long, ongoing process to develop that relationship, and it’s not something I’d ever entertained or even known was possible to have before.
Once you went full-time, what did your daily actions look like?
Tim: I would show the opportunity to as many people as possible and generate a lot of activity: from one-on-one presentations, I invited people to a meeting at a restaurant, then at somebody’s house. I just kept building depth and eventually got that whole team of people together in one big house meeting.
We also held open meetings with several leaders at hotels every Tuesday, where we could take our prospects. Eventually Orrin heard about me and that I was having some success, and he said, “If you’d like, I can spend a little time with you.” I took him up on that offer, and we developed a relationship.
Orrin teaches a process which he calls Plan, Do, Check and Adjust, or PDCA. We run the business in thirty-day sprints, so we came up with a plan for the next month, then went out and did it. It sounds simple but many people don’t do this in life. They spend more time planning a Christmas party than they do planning their business or their future.
A thirty-day plan might be, “I want to build X levels in depth. I need to add five new distributors in leg A. And in order to do that, I need to call fifteen people from my names list and book eight presentations, then sponsor four of those—whatever my average numbers are. Then, I’m going to rotate training those new recruits.”
Another part of the plan might be to get a certain number of attendees to one of the training seminars, to get a certain number of people on the training system, or to move a certain amount of product through an organization.
The next month you would focus on those distributors you sponsored last month and decide how many you are going to develop into leaders for the next month. Building exponential growth is about moving people through the different levels of leadership to ultimately replace yourself.
How do you keep your mindset strong during intense times?
Tim: Mostly through reading. I’m a recovering dyslexic, so reading comprehension was a struggle for me. But Orrin told me, “This is something you’re going to have to get through. People have done it before. You cannot lead a big team unless you learn how to read and how to understand people.”
He was right: this business isn’t about the latest tactic or technique, it’s about how to hold a community of people together. People don’t stay in because of a how-to program. They stay in for a strong why and a common cause. On our team, we have an overall goal of reaching a million people. That’s what keeps us united and charging in the same direction.
Our team promotes what we call the Top 5 Books, which I recommend to any networker [see sidebar]. Most of these are older books, but the principles are timeless. We also recommend Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s Wall Street Journal business bestseller, Launching a Leadership Revolution, and their newest book Leadership and Liberty.
Amy: We also have a reading club for ladies on our team. We pick a book of the month and we get together to talk about it. We just finished Damsels in Distress: Biblical Solutions for Problems Women Face, by Martha Peace. We share what we’ve learned and how we can apply those principles to our lives. This creates fellowship and helps us stay connected as women.
Tell us more about what holds your team together.
Tim: I think we created a brand, The Team. It stands for community and brotherhood. We don’t look at our organizations as a bunch of numbers or distributors. These are people with a common philosophy. Basically, we admit that we are fallen human beings, we’re naturally self-centered and we have to fight against those urges and force ourselves to create a culture focused on continuous growth. We’re imperfect, we’re always growing, learning and improving ourselves.
A lot of leaders, even in our company, take their success to the point of pride, which actually will hurt you, and we all have to guard against that.
You’ll never hear Orrin Woodward say that he’s arrived. On the contrary, he said he’s as hungry now as he’s ever been in networking. And I know that to be true. I just went on an eight-day trip with him and we presented a series of open meetings. His hunger about reaching a million people is like wanting to win the Super Bowl: until we get there, we won’t stop training and practicing.
Most of our team is on board with this goal. But if anyone doesn’t buy into it, that’s okay. Les Giblin’s book teaches the three A’s: accept, approve and appreciate. Trying to push others to do something they don’t want to do is a common mistake networkers make, and it’s one of the ways our profession can get a bad name. Freedom, responsibility and personal accountability are all part of The Team culture.
Many of our members would say they’re closer to people on The Team than they are to their own family. It’s a hard thing to explain in words. The glue that holds us together is an emotional element that people experience in different ways. I’ll give you an example.
There was a gentleman who was involved with The Team several years ago. When we went through our transition and changed companies, he kind of lost his vision. He moved from Michigan to California to start with a new company, and he just called us four months ago and said, “I can’t let it go. I miss The Team. I miss the people. I’m losing sleep over it.”
He picked his family up and moved from California to Florida. He lives close to us now and has joined our team, starting a new business from zero although he had a decent organization in his previous network marketing company.
I can tell you story after story of people like this. The Team culture gets into their blood and they can’t let it go. Leaders from other companies will come and observe our trainings and meetings to find out what our secret is, but you can’t find out what a team’s doing until you actually do what they’re doing. I can tell you how to swim all day long, but until you get in the water you’ll never learn.
The Team's Top Five Reads
How to Win Friends and Influence People
How to Have Confidence and Power
How I Raised Myself from Failure
Positive Personality Profiles
and Tim’s personal favorite,
Can we zoom in on your common vision?
Tim: The purpose of The Team is to lead people to truth. We strongly believe that most people are living a life of delusion, not because they want to, but because they don’t know any other way to live.
The average American has a thirty-year mortgage, leased cars, credit card debt, no time with family, and so on. These are all outcomes he didn’t want in life, they just happened to him. The reason they happened is he took certain actions. In my case, I went to college, I became an engineer and I took the wrong path. I chose the wrong vehicle for me. Why did this happen? My thinking was flawed. I took advice from my family and friends, none of whom had the financial results I wanted. Most of my family is divorced. Why was I listening to these people? For no reason other than that bad advice is everywhere in abundance and it’s free, while good advice is hard to find and it usually costs you something.
Our goal is not teaching people what to think, but teaching them how to think and get our country back to the Judeo-Christian principles it was founded on. We strongly believe in the Constitution and that our founding fathers created this country on a free enterprise system. Network marketing is a true, pure example of free enterprise. Our million people goal is about leading people out of mediocrity back to truth and freedom simply by educating them.
Amy: I would love for a lot more moms to be able to stay home with their children and create memories with them. That’s why I do what I do. Sometimes it’s hard to leave my kids, but they know that when we go out, we’re helping others. Our daughter, who is only ten, says, “I know you’re trying to get more moms home, like you.”
We’d love to see more families live their priorities: God, family, then business. As scared as I am to speak on stage, I’m always hoping there’s a lady in the audience who sees hope for her marriage, who sees a possibility for leaving her forty-hour-a-week job and staying home with her children. I’m hoping grandparents can give up their part-time jobs and take their grandkids on trips instead.
When we started this business, we needed to make money. But then it gets to your heart and you want to make a difference.
Tim: We have three rules on our team: have fun, make money and make a difference. Most people who join our team either need more time, more money or better relationships—or all three, as we did. The beauty of our business is it answers all three needs.