A Swiss resident of German origin, Dr. Sven Goebel is one of Europe's foremost network marketing leaders. For the past two decades, Sven has built large organizations in most European countries as well as in Australia, Asia, Canada and the U.S.
While he learned the business fundamentals mostly from his American mentors, he's had to adapt their teachings to the culturally diverse mindsets he encountered wherever he went. Yet Sven believes the reason for his success is based on another personal strength: his ability to convey excitement and light a fire in the bellies of others.
Sven is passionate about adding value and making life better for the greatest number of people. Paradoxically, he doesn't focus on numbers but rather on individuals. He identifies leaders by connecting with their hearts and minds, then looks for complementary skill sets to build a well-rounded team.
In the process, he says, he remembers to always have fun, because he firmly believes in "action by attraction." Sven's organization calls itself PeopleBuilders, which stands for a philosophy, a system and a growing community of strong individuals with a common goal: building people and guiding them toward success.
Rich Friend Poor Friend
In the early nineties, Sven was working on his Ph.D. in chemistry at the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. At the same time, he was also playing professional tennis, and one of his teammates was another student from the university.
"In Germany, you are only accepted into the Ph.D. program if you have the best or second-best grades in your class," says Sven. "Fortunately, I was a good student and got in. But my friend I played tennis with had only the third-best grades, so he wasn't allowed into the Ph.D. program and had to leave the university after finishing his diploma."
A natural rainmaker, Sven's friend started his own company. After two years, this same friend owned a BMW 850 and an old-timer Jaguar E Type, was getting his flight license and planning to acquire his own airplane. He was doing extremely well financially and having the time of his life.
|Sven's family vacation home, high up in the Swiss Alps.|
|Double-Diamond recognition for Sven and his two leaders.|
|Sven and Audrey at black-tie event in Bangkok.|
|Receiving a standing ovation on stage.|
|Recognition at his company convention.|
|Sven and Audrey and company awarded BMW.|
|Audrey and Sven love riding their Harleys.|
|Private time in the Florida keys.|
Joining the Business
The following Tuesday, Sven and Bernie attended their first opportunity meeting with about twenty-five other people. They learned all about the company, the product and the compensation plan.
What thrilled Sven most was the possibility of making money from other people's efforts. He had never heard of passive income or duplication, but he knew math and understood physics. He thought, "If this really works, why shouldn't we give it a try?"
That night, the organizers announced a big regional event in the south of Germany the following Saturday. Sven and Bernie decided to check it out.
When they arrived, there were about 500 attendees in the room. Sven and Bernie took seats in the second row, because the first row, while empty so far, was reserved. Several young speakers who were obviously doing very well in the business took the stage to rousing applause. A few hours into the meeting, something happened that Sven says he will never forget:
"In the middle of the event, a door at the back of the room opened, a young man walked in, and the whole energy of the room instantly shifted. The man had long, curly hair, crocodile leather boots that matched his crocodile leather briefcase and wore a diamond-studded watch. He had a tanned, Florida-boy face, and he smiled as he slid through the aisle and sat down right in front of me, in row one. I could hardly breathe. I said to my friend, 'Who's that?'"
After a while the young man took the stage and told his story. His name was Jeff Roberti and he had already made $7 or $8 million in this business.
"There we were," recalls Sven, "students working on our Ph.D.'s, never having made any real money, and we couldn't believe our ears."
Sven said to Bernie, "This guy is our age and made $7 million. Do you think you and I together could achieve just 10 percent of what he made?" Bernie said, "Ten percent? Absolutely!" Sven said, "That's $700,000. Let's do it!"
That night Sven and Bernie signed their first distributor application. Peter, although he had invited them to the meeting, never actually joined the business, and instead introduced them to a retired American from Scottsdale who signed them up.
With their upline living overseas, Sven and Bernie had to rely on cross-lines for trainings and help to get started. They invited other students to weekly local meetings and tried to gather information every way they could.
"We were fortunate to find mentors and leaders who, although we weren't in their downline, still invested time and believed in us, made us attend trainings and helped us develop," Sven recalls. "On the other hand, since I was on my own, I had to do all the presentations myself. I had to learn from my mistakes and constantly get better."
Sven had about eighteen months left to finish his Ph.D., and he decided to use this time to find out whether this business could work for him. If it didn't, he would go back to his original plan, which at this point he had lost all excitement for.
"I have to make this work," he thought, so he gave it everything he had. Even as he continued working full-time on his Ph.D. in science, he began building a second career in network marketing.
By the time Sven defended his dissertation in May, 1994, he was earning more in a month from his network marketing business than the professors who were testing him. This made him feel very relaxed—and he passed with flying colors.
On that day he became a full-time network marketer and has been one ever since.
Having been a professional network marketer for almost twenty years now, Sven attributes his success to his ability to share excitement.
"When you have burning passion, you can ignite others very easily. Keeping your excitement level up, always knowing your goals, seeing your vision and knowing your why, that keeps you going. I never lost my initial excitement for the business; twenty years later my eyes still sparkle when I present the opportunity. My unbridled enthusiasm is my greatest strength, and possibly the biggest reason for my success.
"The beauty is, this business works through duplication: I resonate and attract the same kind of people. We always have fun, which is a powerful attractor. Our approach is also professional and structured, but people join mainly because they like to hang with us: they want to be as we are, do what we do and have what we have.
"Over the years I learned that creating attraction is what makes your business grow. It doesn't work with pressure or hierarchies; it doesn't work in a military style. Your business partners are not on your payroll, so you can't simply direct them. It's about magnetism and attraction: unless you become a magnet that attracts people, it will be hard for you to build a large organization."
Thinking of his early challenges, Sven says in the nineties network marketing was still looked upon as a borderline-legal business in Germany and throughout most of Europe. Today this is no longer the case: network marketing is established and most people recognize it as an effective and ethical business model.
Sven believes our own consciousness is what creates doubt in the mind of the prospect.
"Whenever a distributor has an ongoing challenge answering questions about the legitimacy of the business, it means he hasn't fully resolved this question for himself. The moment you clarify that point fully for yourself, these questions just go away. The last time someone asked me, 'Is this a snowball system or pyramid?' was probably eight years ago.
"People reflect back what you think. Your own mindset and attitude towards the business also determines the kind of people you run into and whether they will join. That's why my philosophy is to teach leadership from the very first day."
Sven doesn't believe in the old model where network marketing was purely presented as a numbers game.
"Success has to do with quality more than with quantity. Our #1 priority is to identify and develop leaders, which is why we call our organization PeopleBuilders: we don't build businesses, we build people. The tricky part is that leaders have strong character and strong egos—and both are necessary to succeed. But true leadership comes once you master your own ego and figure out that this business is not about you, it's about the people you work with. Some leaders reach a point where they become the guru and revel in the adoration of their team. But if you turn the spotlight onto your leaders instead and edify your team, they will step up and benefit you many times over."
Ups and Downs
When Sven first got started in the business, he quickly learned that turning customers into business partners didn't work well. Consequently, his primary focus ever since has been on selling the opportunity first, then turning those who aren't interested in the opportunity into customers.
He started working in his own environment—the university campus—and created a team of young people. Some of them grew their businesses rapidly, and some didn't grow them at all.
Things changed when Sven's father joined the business, because this allowed him to bring on board a few significant businesspeople of an older generation.
"I'm grateful to have an accomplished businessman from my own family in my business," he says. "Yet there was also a lot I could give back to him because of my own skill set. My father is a builder and an architect, and we worked well together as a team. What I learned from this is that you don't have to know everything and be strong in all areas. Just make sure to find team members who complement you."
Sven learned how to identify talent quickly and then develop people's natural strengths. Over time, more and more leaders arose from within his young organization.
Sven says he encountered all the challenges people normally experience in network marketing, but the difference may be that for him, giving up was never an option. He drew energy and strength from hanging around successful people and was impervious to dream-stealers.
"I always hung out with those who were already where I wanted to go," he says. "Their energy gave me strength, and it showed me that there must be a way to make it work."
While Sven was completely sold on the network marketing business model, a few months into the business he started to have doubts about the product he was selling: he found it to be overpriced, which made it hard to acquire customers. His upline in Scottsdale had similar concerns and introduced Sven to a new company with a more competitively priced product. Sven found the new product and compensation plan to be more attractive, so he decided to switch companies.
"That's where the real fun began," he says. "I reached a six-figure monthly income after just thirteen months in that business. That was a rocket flight. With this company, I became the first double diamond in the world. We outperformed all the American top leaders and built a huge organization."
The company grew very fast, but unfortunately also went out of business two years later.
"As the company started to experience problems, we had to fight through all the quarrels of having dissatisfied customers, errors in our commission statements and mistakes in our shipments. It was a very tough time. I had 40,000 people in fourteen countries. We had built a little empire, and we saw it collapse in front of our eyes. Today, I'm grateful for the experience: you can learn more from keeping things together on a sinking ship than from working when the weather is great.
"I decided to leave my business when I discovered the flame in my stomach had totally gone out. There were things happening I really couldn't live with any longer and we knew we had reached an impasse."
Sven was a well known leader who over the years had gotten a lot of press coverage. When he lost his business, his phone rang off the hook with offers from corporate as well as field leaders from all over Europe. But he couldn't just jump onto another ship—he felt too burned out.
"I felt I couldn't go anywhere and reengage with the power that's needed to build that kind of business ever again," he says. "But I loved the profession, and I didn't blame the business model just because that company didn't work out. I thought to myself, 'Since so many people are interested in working with you, why don't you sell them your services?'"
In the late nineties Sven took on different consulting projects for network marketing leaders and companies who wanted to learn about Internet marketing. He started his own consulting firm, specializing in replicating websites for distributor organizations. He picked up a few lucrative contracts and his company grew to the point where he had about fifteen employees.
"I gradually found myself in a rat race," he recalls. "I suddenly felt I had become a traditional entrepreneur with all the headaches, serving a profession that offers freedom and a lifestyle of independence. I never worked so hard for so little money, and it was getting more and more difficult to continue."
In 2001, Sven realized he needed to get back into the network marketing saddle and went looking for the right company. With almost ten years of experience in both field leadership and consulting, he knew what he was looking for. He had high standards, did some thorough research and finally settled on an American company that was just about to open in Europe.
"I liked the management, the leadership and the wellness industry," he says. "I liked consumer goods and the fact that this company had no presence yet in Europe. This gave me the opportunity to leave my own fingerprint on its future. I had decided that if I were going to do it just one more time, I wanted to break records and do something that hadn't been done before. As soon as I joined this company, I felt at home, and I believe it's my final home."
Sven started building in the German-speaking countries—Germany, Austria and Switzerland—but his organization quickly spread all over Europe. In the last two years, his business has expanded into Australia and Asia, and he also has significant organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
"My business went global when I changed my attitude towards language," he says. "As soon as I decided to conduct business in English, I was able to connect with people around the world and got invited to many places as a keynote speaker.
"In addition to my speaking skills, my team and I understand how to use social media. We are excellent online communicators and we have a state-of-the-art training web site with free resources anyone in the world can plug into."
Dreams for the Future
Although running a global organization, Sven calls himself "Americanized" because he learned the business fundamentals from U.S. authors and trainers, starting in the early nineties with Don Failla and John Kalench. Yet he had to adapt his approach to the different European countries and their specific cultures.
"Building a European-wide business is totally different from building a U.S.-wide business, because the American culture is much more homogenous. In Europe, there are huge differences between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean basin, between Eastern countries and France or Switzerland, for example. Being on stage in Italy, you may have the audience on fire while you speak. In countries like Hungary, people are much more reserved and may not even laugh at your jokes. Your leadership style is received very differently depending on the country, so you have to be very flexible."
Sven has a predilection for doing business in Asian countries, especially Japan. What impresses him the most is the Asian discipline and hunger for learning.
"Asians don't take themselves too seriously. They quietly do what needs to be done, and that's how they achieve greatness. Europeans can learn a lot from this: stop questioning everything and just get to work!"
Having never slowed down in twenty years, Sven still has big goals. When asked why he continues to put so much energy into building his business, he says it's not so much about the money and the lifestyle anymore, although he thoroughly enjoys both.
"I love my company and I want to play a vital role in making it the next billion-dollar player in our business sector. I'm 45 years old and I can see myself pushing for another ten to fifteen years. Then my highest mission kicks in, which is to leave a legacy for the next generation. I want to hand my business empire over to my sons, and I hope they will keep building it and take it further. That's my biggest dream.
"I can't do it by myself. I need leaders who follow the same path, experience the same kind of success and grow maybe even more than I—and who want the same thing for their families. Together we want to leave many legacies.
"What appeals to me is the idea that one day, when I'm no longer on this planet, there will still be people all around the globe who remember a few things they learned from me.
"My purpose in life is to add value, and being a network marketing leader is the best way I've found to be of service to this world. I believe network marketers who are genuinely interested in building people can add more value to today's world than politicians or actors or any other professionals. We have the power to make this world a better place, if we use it right. Making life better for everyone is what drives me and what gives me so much passion."