|Enjoying Yellowstone Park.|
|Visiting Hawaii with good friends and business partners.|
|Visiting Hawaii with the family.|
|A gathering of leaders at the Williamses' home.|
|Dennis's license plate: a reflection of his attitude.|
|The Williamses' home on Vashon Island, WA.|
|Taking their two youngest daughters to Europe.|
The Williamses’ first experience in network marketing goes back to nearly forty years ago, when Dennis was a manager for Del Monte foods and Ruth was teaching part-time and raising children. Dennis’s younger brother and his wife had joined a network marketing company and had experienced some dramatic results with the products, which they shared with Dennis and Ruth. They weren’t interested initially, mostly because they didn’t understand the business concept, but when Dennis’s brother showed them a check for $1,000 (a significant amount of money at the time), he got their attention. They joined his company and started building a business. After about a year, Dennis left his job and they became full-time network marketers for the next ten years.
“We enjoyed the lifestyle of being self-employed,” says Dennis, “but we reached a point where we became frustrated with the fact that none of the people we had signed up reached a level of success where they could make a living doing the business.”
With three children starting college around the same time, Ruth and Dennis also needed more income for their own family. Dennis took a job at a Ford dealership in Yakima, and for the next five years he focused on selling cars without even thinking about their networking business, while Ruth continued selling products and mailing packages every day to earn some extra income.
Ruth was now substitute teaching, and because her children had left for college and she missed having little ones around, the family adopted a little girl, and then another a year later. In addition to his sales job at Ford, Dennis was teaching square dance lessons and calling dances so both parents were extremely busy.
“We had moved out into the country with our two little daughters,” says Ruth, “and often people would tell us about a new business, but we didn’t want to get involved in any venture that hadn’t stood the test of time.
“Then one day, a gentleman called us because someone had referred us as good candidates for his business. We didn’t feel we had time for anything else, but since he was such a nice man and so excited about his products, I told him to go talk to Dennis at Valley Ford.”
Dennis had never heard of the company or its products, and he was not impressed with the man’s presentation.
“Our lives were full and we weren’t looking for anything else to do,” he says. “Yet this fellow would come in every once in a while and hand me information. I never looked at it and just stuck it in a filing cabinet. He’d come back and I’d hand it back to him. This started in June, and by the time October came around, I bluntly told him to stop coming in. He left, and I thought I would never see him again. But fortunately for us—and as it turned out, for tens of thousands of people all over the world—apparently he was hard of hearing, because he came back one more time.”
This was in December, 1991. This time Dennis was not by his filing cabinet where he threw everything else. He was on the lot, and when the man handed him an audiocassette, Dennis stuck it in his pocket. On the way home that night, he thought, “I’ll just listen to his tape and that’ll be the end of it. I can give it back and get rid of him once and for all.”
But during his half-hour drive home, he learned that the company had been around for sixteen years, so it wasn’t a fly-by-night startup. It had originated in Japan, and the recording featured an interview with a top distributor named Dave, the third non-Asian ever to join the company. He was sharing product stories, which Dennis found unbelievable and entertaining. But what got his attention was when the interviewer asked how Dave was doing financially. He said, “Our sixth month in the business, we earned a check for $17,000.”
“We were in the middle of a recession,” says Dennis, “and December is typically not a good month for car sales. So when I heard that somebody earned $17,000 in a single month, doing something that was legal, I wanted to talk to this person!”
Fast Start to Success
When Dennis got home, he called Dave and introduced himself. Dave started telling product stories and Dennis interrupted him saying, “That’s not why I’m calling. I heard you made some great money, and that’s what we need to do. Here is a question for you: how much have you made over the past twelve months?”
Dennis was sure the income Dave mentioned in the interview had to be a one-time spike, and that it must have gone down after that. But Dave said, “Actually, the largest check we’ve received in the past twelve months was $37,000.”
Now Dennis really wanted to learn more, so he invited Dave out for a visit.
“He was just a regular guy in a Hawaiian shirt and tennis shoes,” Ruth remembers, “and when we asked him, ‘How do your products work?’ he simply said, ‘They work real good!’ I said, ‘How does the business work?’ We got the same answer. He was the epitome of keeping it simple. We didn’t learn much that night, but it was obvious that his business was working, so we signed up.”
What gave Ruth and Dennis confidence in Dave’s company was that it was already a major success in eight countries. They also realized that this was a stable company, yet very few people in North America had heard of it.
“We experienced some great product results with family members and friends,” says Ruth. “Being a salesperson was just about last on my list of things I ever wanted to do, but I did want to help people feel better physically and to solve their financial problems. I wanted the business to be simple enough so that when we shared it with others, they would see that they could do the same demonstrations and get the same kind of results, and that you didn’t need to be a salesperson to succeed.
“We taught everyone to simply share their product story, talk about the financial benefits of the business and show prospects how it could be an investment rather than an expense. People don’t want to spend money during a recession, unless you can show them the possibility of paying for their products by doing some sharing.”
According to Dennis, Ruth took a “ready, fire, aim” approach to the business: they joined on December 9th and she set up a presentation in a little hotel in town for December 20th. She immediately got on the phone to invite family and friends. Being right before Christmas wasn’t a great time to mobilize people, but she didn’t want to wait. The presentation was such a success that they scheduled the next one for December 26th.
“We really didn’t know anything about the business,” says Dennis, “except that the products worked and people were earning money with them. We were pretty broke. 1991 was a bad year in the car business, we had no money in the bank, with three older kids in school and two little ones at home. We bought some inventory and over-extended ourselves on credit cards in a way we would never recommend to others. We were planting a seed for our future and just had faith that this was going to be big. We didn’t really know how big, but it had to be better than my straight-commission job at Ford and we were excited about being able to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
After they started giving presentations, guests would join and come back the next week with their friends, and they would start calling people in other states. Eight weeks later, Dennis was able to quit his job. He has been a full-time network marketer ever since.
Keeping It Simple
When Dennis and Ruth first got started, they faced the same challenge most people do: they had no time to add anything to their already long to-do lists. They simply said to each other, “We’re going to do this, so we have to make presentations—which night is going to be best?” They carved out a three-hour block on Thursday nights and decided they would not do anything else those nights. They were dedicating that time exclusively to their business.
“We effectively built our business in that three-hour time block each week,” says Ruth. “That forced us to keep it simple. We didn’t have time to do one-on-ones. We didn’t ask people to make a decision based on a brochure or a cassette tape, because we could see that hadn’t worked for us. I spent my time on the phone, building rapport with people and inviting them to the presentation. If they had a question about the product or the cost, I told them they would find out the answer on Thursday night.
“People joined because they realized that they could do this, too. We didn’t have time to babysit or convince anyone. We just said, ‘Here is what we have, and if you want to hear more, be at the meeting early so you can get a seat.’
Ruth and Dennis adopted an attitude of confidence and determination, two traits they had developed during their previous network marketing venture.
“We knew that in order to secure our income, it was crucial to never lose a leg,” says Ruth. In addition to a “Ruth’s family leg” and a “Dennis’s family leg,” they also built a “church leg” and a “square dance leg,” and helped each of those different groups of people build their respective downlines.
“When new team members would share the product with their relatives in the next town over, I would call them and ask how they liked it, and just kind of visit with them. Then I would say, ‘Dennis is going to be in your area. Would you like to invite some people over so he can give a presentation?’
Ruth says that was how they got a fire going underneath each leg. “My strategy was to always tell people how wonderful their upline was, and tell the upline how wonderful the downline was, so nobody would quit at the top. Our team may be unique in that the people we started with are all still with us today. Over time we did develop additional legs—but we never lost any.”
When doing presentations together, Dennis focused on the products and Ruth on the business.
“While I was more excited about the physical benefits people experienced,” he says, “she was more fascinated with showing people the financial benefits. She told them we had found the golden goose, and that we could give one to everybody.”
Dennis tends to focus on the past and engage people emotionally by telling stories about how they got started and the results they were able to create. Ruth loves to plan for the future and teach people a strategy for building it themselves.
The Williamses worked mainly with their ever-expanding local warm market, and over all the years they signed up only six people outside the state of Washington. While they only sponsored about forty people directly, their business spread all over the US and eventually over the world.
Leading Others to the Top
Today their daily mode of operation has changed significantly, thanks to the use of technology and the Internet.
“When we started, we just had telephones and mail,” says Ruth. “Now we do online presentations, which we record and archive. We can reach a lot more people via email, but we still build belly-to-belly with the phone as our primary medium.”
Sometimes people ask Dennis, “Why do you still travel and go to these little towns to give presentations, when you no longer have to do that?” He likes to answer with a story about a newscaster who interviewed one of the Sherpa guides from Nepal who takes people up Mount Everest. The interviewer asked, “With all the dangers involved, why do you take people up that mountain?”
The guide said, “To help people accomplish something that they couldn’t accomplish by themselves.”
The newscaster said, “Yes, but with all the risks, the hazards, the challenges, why do you continue taking people to the top?”
The guide just smiled and said, “It’s obvious that you’ve never been to the top.”
“That’s exactly how we feel,” says Dennis. “We’ve obtained the highest level of recognition in our company, a position only three of us in the world and two in North America have reached. But we have a lot of business partners who haven’t reached the top of their mountains yet. What drives us is lifting, helping and encouraging them.”
When their team members are recognized at company events, Ruth and Dennis frame their pictures and hang them on a wall in their home. Sometimes visitors ask who these people are, and Ruth and Dennis love to answer, “Oh, they’re just some friends we’ve helped become millionaires.”
So far Ruth and Dennis have helped forty-two members of their team reach the company’s millionaires club, and they are not about to retire from what they love and do best.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to help people create their success,” says Ruth. “We wanted to reach the top, but an equally important goal has always been to bring others along with us, too. In our first business, we got to enjoy award events and incentive trips, but no one else on our team got invited, so it felt lonely. Our goal of empowering others never ends, because there are always more people to lead and coach.”
Another cause Dennis and Ruth are passionate about is promoting wellness and helping to reverse the chronic disease statistics in North America and around the world. They love teaching others how to stay healthy while offering an income opportunity to parents who want to stay home and raise their children.
“Our company philosophy has always been built on what we call the five pillars of health,” says Dennis. These include healthy body, healthy mind, healthy society, healthy family and healthy finances.
“If we want to live a full, balanced life,” he adds, “those five all need to be the same height. When I worked at that Ford dealership, I was out of balance in every one of those. Now, we’re in balance, and we help others create balance in all those areas of life.”