Ferdinand Tolentino is one of the humblest men you’ll ever meet. He attributes his immediate success in network marketing to his friendly nature and his beginner’s mind, and also believes his Creator guides him every step of the way, as long as he opens his heart each day in prayer and meditation.
A native and resident of the Philippines, Ferdie discovered network marketing in 1993, and has been with his current company since 1998. Over the years, he has built an organization of close to two million people, spanning four continents. For this interview, we called him at the Disneyland hotel in Hong Kong, where he was spending the holidays with his wife and three young daughters as part of a promise to show them every Disneyland around the world.
A few years ago, Ferdie thought he had reached his networking goals and he was ready to retire from the profession. But the exposure he received from attending some generic network marketing trainings in the U.S. opened his eyes to a new level of leadership and renewed his commitment to the opportunity of a lifetime. His dream today is to continue to explore the world, duplicate his leadership and enrich many more lives.
Ferdie with his team in
Ferdie with his wife Arlene and three daughters, Kamille Grace, Katherine Joy and Kassandra Faith.
On stage speaking with Mr. Hendra Nilam.
Ferdie with his wife Arlene on vacation.
Hendra Nilam and Ferdinand were speakers at an international network event gathering.
Ferdinand enjoying his free time at the ocean boating and jet skiing.
Discovering Brighter Horizons
Ferdie was born in Lucena City, a small city south of Manila. When he reached college age, he moved to Manila to study engineering. After graduating, he started working in technical sales and marketing for a multinational based in the U.S.
Fifteen years into his corporate career, Ferdie was looking for more time and financial freedom. That’s when his bank teller and friend told him, “Why don’t you try network marketing?”
Ferdie attended a seminar for a company selling personal care products, and to his amazement, the speaker was a former fisherman from a small town in the Philippines.
“Fishermen earn very little,” says Ferdie. “Yet this fisherman was making one million pesos a month—the equivalent of $20,000!”
When Ferdie went home, he told his wife Arlene, “Maybe we are in the wrong profession.” Arlene was his classmate in college and she happened to also be his officemate.
Ferdie started building his network marketing business part-time and had a great experience right away, his monthly bonus checks growing nicely, when suddenly his company offered him a promotion. Ferdie thought, “This is a sign: I’m meant to stay in the corporate world.” He felt he had to choose and focus on his career, so he let go of his network marketing business.
As part of the promotion, Ferdie’s company sponsored him to go back to school and study business administration. Once he had accumulated most of the required units of the masters program, the company gave him the full promotion. He enjoyed his new position, but to his surprise, his salary increase was not significant.
Ferdie had a good friend who had no advanced degrees but was earning a substantial income from network marketing. He regularly told Ferdie, “You have the potential to be an excellent networker, you just don’t know it. You should expose yourself more to the profession.”
One day, Ferdie ran into this friend, and that evening, he said to Arlene, “Why don’t I try it again?”
“Ferdie, why would you do that?” she replied, “You’re a technical manager now. What else do you want?”
“Remember when I told you we will be living in a big house and flying to lots of countries?” he told her.
And she said, “Okay, go ahead.”
That night, Ferdie couldn’t sleep: he started listing the names of people he knew who might be good candidates for the business. Within thirty minutes he had come up with 250 names. He woke up Arlene and said, “I was told I only need to find two people, then help these two people find their two, and so on. I feel we can become very rich.”
Learning the Ropes
The next day Ferdie got started in the business. He knew that in order to succeed, he had to be a good follower. As an engineer, he was very organized and he religiously followed the company systems. He also became a student of the profession.
“I told myself I had to empty out my cup,” he says. “As an engineer, I may have a lot of technical knowledge, but in network marketing I knew nothing.”
The first book he read was Your First Year in Network Marketing by Mark Yarnell and Rene Reid Yarnell. His second book was Network Marketing for Dummies by Zig Ziglar.
Ferdie also asked a lot of questions and said to his upline, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” He was told to start calling people from his list, so he announced to his boss, “I won’t be doing overtime on Thursdays anymore.” Every Thursday evening from 7:00 to 10:00 and every Saturday from 10:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening, he committed to doing only network marketing: he would give one-on-one presentations, attend trainings or call people on the phone.
Initially, Ferdie presented the opportunity to the people he worked with. Next, he went to his sisters, then his childhood friends, some of whom he hadn’t spoken with for over ten years. When they were surprised to hear from him, he simply told them that he cared for them and wanted to share an opportunity he was very excited about. His words and his posture always conveyed that they needed him more than he needed them.
Ferdie enjoyed introducing new people to the business, but he also learned early on about rejection.
“There was one friend I invited who I thought would support me, but he didn’t,” he recalls. “When I went to sleep that night, I kept seeing his face. He was trying to protect me. But I had read that if you don’t get rejections, you’re not yet a good networker. So I accepted the fact that not everybody will join, and I told myself, ‘I’m sure I will find the right people.’ I call them the gold people.”
Ferdie also approached people at his church, of which he was the chairman. He was fortunate to have a supportive pastor who empowered people to believe in their dreams and to go out and make things happen.
Ferdie spent his first year prospecting and presenting, always communicating his excitement about the business. Some of his closest friends would test him by saying, “Ferdie, you have a good job, you’re an engineer. Why are you doing something like this?”
He told them, “My job covers my daily expenses, but network marketing will give me my big dreams and a lifestyle.” That’s exactly what happened: six months into the business, he was earning in one week the equivalent to what he earned in one year in his fifteen-year-old job. That’s when he decided to do the business full-time.
The Call of Personal Excellence
When Ferdie joined network marketing, he was also looking for a place where he could excel and where he could invest his heart and soul.
In order to optimize his people skills, he carefully studied How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He also read many books on leadership, especially those by John Maxwell. He attended a public speaking class, because he wasn’t used to speaking to a large group or to people he didn’t know. He practiced what his professor taught him: “Before you make a call, look into the mirror and smile. The person at the other end of the line can feel your smile.”
His father being a politician, Ferdie was exposed to a lot of different people as a child. He was taught that being liked by people was an important asset for success.
Ferdie also has a powerful imagination and he loves to dream. The first time he attended a presentation with Arlene, he jokingly told her, “You know, I can see myself as the main speaker. Give me six months to a year and I’ll be the shining star on stage.” He truly believes in the power of thinking positively, and that he can accomplish whatever he commits himself to.
Arlene is not directly involved in the business, but she takes care of all administrative needs. She also manages the family’s finances so Ferdie can focus all his attention on building his network. She is 100 percent supportive of and trusting in his efforts, and she always conveys to her children confidence in their dad and his ability to achieve his dreams.
By the end of his first year in the business, Ferdie had created a solid financial foundation for himself and his family. Now, he says, his motivation for continuing to build the business became external: he wanted to see others on his team turn their lives around, too, and he became enthralled with his company’s vision and mission to provide people around the world with opportunities for creating prosperity.
For nearly six years Ferdie participated in all his company’s events and trainings, and he encouraged his entire team to do the same. When he reached his seventh year in the business, however, his motivation began to dwindle. He told himself, “I’ve done my share. I don’t have to be involved so much. I want to enjoy my residual income and focus on myself and my family.”
The reality was that he had reached his personal goals and he needed a new challenge. Soon thereafter he received a call from his company’s executive chairman and visionary leader Vijay Eswaran. He reminded Ferdie of the company mission to Raise Yourself to Help Mankind and he said, “Ferdie, this is a lifetime commitment.” Another company director, TG Kintanar, and his wife Ana, encouraged him to further explore his potential and build on his exceptional networking skills.
That’s when Ferdie realized that he wanted to continue to help a lot more people and that his company needed leaders like him to fulfill its global mission.
Finding A New Direction
Around the same time, another executive chairperson of his company, Donna Imson, and his senior upline, Rose Marie Glenn, advised Ferdie to expose himself to some generic trainings in the U.S. They knew Ferdie had never attended any networking marketing events outside his company and they wanted him to see the bigger picture of the networking profession.
The first event Ferdie attended was Randy Gage’s Mega MLM event in Las Vegas, November 2008. Randy Gage’s training taught Ferdie that he didn’t need to be an “MLM grinder” but that he could continue to build the business in a powerful way working just fifteen to twenty hours a week, if he put in place effective systems of duplication.
The next generic training event Ferdie attended was Jeremy Wong’s Elite Network Marketing Conference in Singapore, August 2009, where he met even more network marketing leaders from around the world.
Meeting top earners from other companies and hearing how network marketing is changing lives globally across companies totally rekindled Ferdie’s excitement for the profession.
“That’s when I saw a new direction for my networking career,” he says. “I realized I could make my own unique contribution, not only in my company but in the networking profession, and that there was a lot more education and training out there for me and for my people.”
The most recent event Ferdie attended was Art Jonak’s 5th Mastermind in Houston, November 2009.
“After seeing Orrin Woodward, Jordan Adler and all the other presenters, I saw myself as a rookie, a neophyte in the networking profession. Meeting the masters, I could see how much I could learn from them. I saw an improved version of myself and how I can teach people at higher levels and help them become bigger leaders, too.”
When he returned to the Philippines, he started listening to the recordings of the Mastermind event for an hour every morning, learning from the masters and applying his new insights in his organization.
“I learned that in network marketing, you can lead only by example,” he says. “That means you can never stop prospecting, even if you have a big organization. I told my highest income earners, ‘We don’t manage our people, we lead them.’ Every year, we have what we call a bonus pool, where we reward team members who bring in the most new people. I’m setting an example by showing the plan again to new prospects every day. Before, I had completely stopped doing one-on-one or small group presentations. This time around, I do it five times a week in home meetings or at our new training center in Manila. I’m there almost every day, showing people my presence so they can see my commitment to making great things happen.”
A Truly Global Business
Ferdie has teams in many Asian countries, in the Middle East, in Africa and in Australia.
“I never sponsored anybody outside my country,” he says. “It all happened here in the Philippines. For example, I have an Indonesian classmate from the MBA program I attended. We stayed in touch and one day we ran into each other as I was on my way to present for 500 people.
“He said, ‘Ferdie, what are you doing, speaking to 500 people?’ I told him, ‘You know, I found the best business in the world,’ and I shared it with him. He said, ‘I want to do it.’”
“He owns a restaurant in the Indonesian embassy, so he invited me to introduce the business to his staff. I gave a presentation to seven Indonesians, none of whom joined. He said, ‘Maybe this business isn’t for me.’ I told him, ‘No, we will find the right person.’
“The eighth person we talked to joined. She said, ‘Why don’t you bring this to Indonesia?’ I said, ‘I don’t know anyone there.’ She said, ‘No problem, we’ll prepare the way for you.’”
A few months later, Ferdie traveled to Indonesia, and he now has a downline of several thousand Indonesians, all because of that one woman. He currently visits Indonesia a couple of times a year, especially to meet his top leader, Hendra Nilam.
The way Ferdie’s business took off in Africa was thanks to a local friend who had a friend who lives in the United Arab Emirates. This friend visited the Philippines for a vacation and Ferdie showed him the business. He was so excited that when he went back to the U.A.E., he started building the business.
He first signed up some other Filipinos in the U.A.E., who then signed up their local contacts, some of whom brought the business to Central Africa.
“Even though this is a developing part of the world,” says Ferdie, “there is a middle class and there are wealthy people who can afford our products. It’s simply a matter of finding them. But what I’ve found is that even people with modest resources will find a way to come up with the money to join—if they see the opportunity.
“Although there are huge cultural differences, people the world over are looking for the same things. I believe if you connect with the right leaders and give them the vision and the mission, they will find the right people.
‘This is exactly what happened in New Guinea. I went to Papua last year and people attended my trainings in shorts and slippers, because they aren’t used to wearing business attire. I now have a steadily growing downline in that country.”
A Lifetime Commitment
For the first five years in the business, Ferdie spent half his time traveling internationally. Now he travels only five days a month. So far he has visited only twenty-eight of the many countries where he has downlines, and he is looking forward to discovering more new cultures as well as building in the U.S. and Europe as soon as his company opens up in these markets.
Before coming to the U.S., Ferdie had read books by other leaders and trainers in the profession, but he says meeting them in person over the past two years has given him a different mindset:
“Before, my pitch was retire young, retire rich: work two to three years, then go live the life of your dreams. I was still under the influence of the corporate mindset where you wait for your retirement to do what you really want to do.
“Now, it’s different: I’ve seen gray-haired people who have built huge network marketing businesses, and they’re still there, fighting for the profession. I want to be a part of this movement. I realize I can fully embrace this business and achieve my biggest dreams: make the income I want while providing a legacy for my children and creating prosperity for large numbers of people across the globe.”
Ferdie regularly tells his three daughters, “You will inherit a great business and I can be your mentor.” One of his happiest moments was when his eldest daughter, Kamille Grace, answered her teacher’s question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
“Some students said they wanted to be doctors, engineers and teachers,” says Ferdie. “My daughter said, ‘I want to become like my dad. He’s always there for me. He is home with us most of the time, or we travel together around the world. I like the lifestyle he has, and people love him.’ When my daughter said this, I cried. I never expected my day-to-day activities to have this kind of impact on her, but it confirmed my decision that I’ll be part of this profession for the rest of my life.”