Paula was introduced to network marketing in the summer of 1976 while she was teaching and working on her Ph.D. in biomechanics and kinesiology at Kent State University. A colleague had asked her if she wanted to earn some extra income over the summer, and Paula had answered, "Absolutely!"
She went to a meeting at another professor's home, where she was the only guest in a pretty full house. Although everyone else was already in the business, they seemed no less interested, excited and attentive.
Paula became intrigued with the unlimited income potential, an idea that was foreign to the world of academia she was part of. When the presenter began drawing circles, Paula started seeing the possibilities. What validated the opportunity for her was the fact that the meeting host was a university professor, someone on the same career track she was on.
Paula speaking in Reno.
Kathy speaking in Costa Mesa.
Paula and Kathy celebrating with their leaders.
Paula enjoying an Alaskan cruise.
Cracking the Code
When Paula found her mentor, she had been in the business for fifteen months and felt she wasn't much further along than when she started.
"Whenever I would set a goal, my organization virtually went to sleep," she remembers. "I was frustrated trying to motivate them. My new mentor from six levels up said, 'Paula, if your group doesn't excite you, you've got the wrong group.'"
Paula didn't appreciate his comment at the time and thought, "What does he mean? I spent fifteen months getting this group—and now I have the wrong group? If I started over, I could waste another fifteen months and still wind up with the wrong group. And what does he mean by 'if your group doesn't excite you'? Nobody in my business excites me. I always have to excite them!"
At a crossroads, Paula was about to quit.
"I remember sitting in my car in front of Dunkin' Donuts, eating a chocolate donut," she says. "I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and thought, 'I'm not sure I could ever look in the mirror again and see a quitter.'"
In that moment she decided to start over, only this time working differently: She wasn't going to coax or convince anybody to get involved. She wasn't going to try to motivate the unmotivated. As she puts it, she was "going to the top of the mountain or would be found dead on the side, but she wasn't going to quit."
This became her motto and every time she would show the business to someone, she would say, "Listen, I'm going to the top. I'd like you to come with me. I think we'd be great together. But either way, I'm still going."
Suddenly everybody she talked to wanted to join her. She realized that people want to follow those who know where they're going.
"No one wants to be a part of someone's test," she says. "Before, I thought I was committed, but at the same time, I was in a full-time job that was paying me and taking a lot of my time. It wasn't until that point of no return that I knew what true commitment meant. That shift brought amazing results, because people now took me seriously. They started saying yes. My business took off in a record time."
Within four years, Paula became the first single woman in her company to reach the diamond position in North America. This milestone put Paula on the circuit for speaking and training. She left her job at Kent State University (her colleagues thought she had lost her mind) and never looked back. She has been a full-time network marketer ever since.
During those four years, Paula sought out the people who were having the results she wanted to create. She followed her successful upline around and recorded everything he said, then transcribed and studied the recordings. Periodically, she would get some one-on-one counseling.
For the first time, Paula was genuinely enjoying building the business, although she says it was the hardest thing she'd ever done in her life. Over the years, there were some aspects that frustrated her about her company, mostly the fact that some people on her team worked really hard but didn't experience the kind of success she had.
When Paula's mother suffered a serious illness, Paula moved back home to help her through rehabilitation. That's when Paula discovered there were other network marketing opportunities that might allow her to build a business bigger and faster.
She became interested in a privately-held company where some serious incomes were being made. She couldn't find much information on it, but she had a financial advisor, Kathy Robbins, who owned an investment firm. Paula asked Kathy if she would research the company's profile for her, since Kathy had ready access to this kind of information. Kathy came back and said, "It's a strong company out of Memphis, Tennessee."
Paula decided to give up her first distributorship and start building this new company, and within six months, she was making a solid six-figure income.
Kathy was fascinated that Paula could make money that quickly while Paula's life was a lot less stressful than hers, so she came onboard part-time. In eight months, just working the business after hours, Kathy made it to National Marketing Director, the same position Paula was at.
In 1989, the company offered Paula an opportunity to live in England for a year to help its expansion into this new market. Paula had a stable business stateside, but in order to move overseas, she would need someone to lead her North American team. She asked Kathy if she'd be interested in forming a partnership, and the two women decided to combine their businesses: Kathy would take care of Canada and the U.S. while Paula would go build in Europe.
"We each brought different talents, so it turned out to be a great partnership," says Paula. "We had complete trust in each other: there was never any worry about one of us taking advantage of or not working as hard as the other.
"We grew a huge business and were with that company for five years. We would have stayed forever, if it hadn't been for what turned out to be questionable ethics on the company's part, especially in Europe. Another leader in our company was having the same experience, so one day he introduced us to a new company that was going international. He knew the owners and everything looked great to us, so we joined, but unfortunately, six months later the company changed management and things began to deteriorate.
Paula and Kathy stayed with this company for five years and made about $5 million, but they were miserable. They built an organization in sixteen countries that totaled about 200,000 people, but they knew that the owner was not trustworthy. He finally put the company into bankruptcy, and Paula and Kathy lost their business.
Finding a Home
Paula and Kathy decided to take some time off. A number of people who had followed them in their business and recognized their talents suggested they go into generic training. Paula and Kathy did live events and webinars for a few years and really enjoyed it.
"The only frustrating thing was the lack of continuity in working with people," says Paula. "After I trained people, I never knew what happened to them. It wasn't like training my own organization, where I could nurture and develop and celebrate."
The companies that hired Paula to train their field force were often so impressed that they pursued her to join their business opportunity. Paula felt a string pulling at her heart and realized how much she missed the exhilaration of building a team and helping people go to the top.
Paula and Kathy had some serious talks and decided to keep their minds open to new opportunities. After overhearing a conversation about a company offering a line of healthy Belgian chocolate, Paula had an acquaintance do some research on the company. The research came back positive, so Paula and Kathy flew out to visit with the owners and decided to become involved.
This was nearly four years ago. Today, they've passed the $2.5 million mark in earnings, and even better, their people have done extremely well, too.
"The first person we introduced earned $1 million in just over two years," says Paula. "Another reached $1 million in just over three years. We have a lot of people paying off debts, paying off their mortgages, putting their kids through school, and that, to us, is true network marketing. Being able to change people's lives in this way is our highest reward."
Kathy Robbins started out as a high school teacher. She loved her job, but not her income.
One day she saw an ad in the paper with a testimonial that said, "My last year of teaching I made $13,600. This year I made $42,500." Kathy thought, "I need to talk to these people." She found out it was an investment firm looking to hire agents on commission. The district manager recruited her and taught her the business.
Kathy went from the retail end of the business to district manager, to division manager of a tri-state area—Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
The firm was doing well and the next step up for Kathy would have been regional vice president, but one day a corporate executive confided in her and said, "Listen, I need you to understand something. You'll never be an RVP. Our national sales manager believes that RVP's need to wear suits and ties. It's not going to happen."
Soon thereafter, Kathy left that company and started her own investment firm with a partner.
"When I first went into the investment business," says Kathy, "the only thing I cared about was making money. Now that we had our own firm, we were making very good money. The only problem was, I didn't really like the investment business. But I didn't feel I had a choice: there was no place for me to go and make the kind of money I was making with a B.A. in education. I was trapped."
Fortunately, Paula Pritchard became Kathy's investment client.
As she did with all her clients, Kathy asked questions. The more she listened to Paula describe what she did, the more she thought, "I could do this," and she started building a business while running her firm.
"When people say to me, 'I don't have time,' that's not an excuse I can buy," says Kathy, "because if you want something badly enough, you will find the time."
Over the next eight months, she evaluated whether network marketing was something she was going to enjoy.
"I found out I really liked it because essentially I transferred my skills," she says. "It's teaching, it's training, it's helping people.
"One of the hardest things in the investment business is when you sit down across the table from a couple in their fifties, and they're saying to you, 'I want to retire in five years.' Or you sit down with couples in their forties who have kids ready to go to college, and they want to send them to great schools. There's a part of you that almost wants to say, 'You need to win the lottery—because otherwise there's no way this is going to happen for you. You just don't have the assets.'
"People always underestimate what it's going to take, and we always wait too long to start. Many baby-boomers got caught up in bad investments, making it even harder to retire.
"When I looked at this business, I thought, if I were sitting down across the table from those people now, I'd have an alternative for them. I'd have a way that could help them take control of their lives."
Kathy had never been approached about a network marketing opportunity before.
"When considering me as a candidate, people probably thought, 'She's making all this money, she's got this great job, she owns this firm,' not realizing that inside I hated getting up in the morning and going to work. I hated it with a passion."
After eight months, Kathy sold her part of the firm to her partner and gave up her license. She's been a full-time network marketer since March 1988.
"It's not for everybody, but it's been a great business for me," she says. "I have no problem promoting network marketing, because I think it's capitalism in its purest form: it gives people a chance to be rewarded for their performance.
"A few days ago I talked to a gentleman who's an insurance agent. He said he'd been a network marketer for a telecommunications company that had been acquired and that hung its distributors out to dry.
"I said to him, 'The difference between you and me is that if I had said to you at that moment, 'What do you do for a living?' you would have answered, 'I'm a company XYZ distributor.' If you asked me what I do for a living, I'd say I'm a network marketer. I'm not somebody's distributor.'
"I love my company and I think we've got huge potential, but my first loyalty is to my distributors, because we sold these people a dream. Paula and I have changed companies, just as people change jobs. You stay with your employer as long as it serves you. In network marketing, you stay as long as it serves your distributors. When it has ceased to serve our distributors, it's time for us to take our skills and talents and find a better home."
When evaluating their new company, Paula was primarily attracted to the product (healthy chocolate!) while Kathy wanted to see the business plan. She wanted to make sure it was a sound financial opportunity for their team.
"I think the reason we have people with us today whom we met twenty years ago is that they know, if we no longer believed in a company, we would tell them the truth," says Kathy. "Networkers who don't have this level of integrity tend to have one-company careers, because people won't follow them. People want to believe that you're going to do what's best for them, which in the end turns out to work for everyone."
One of the goals Paula and Kathy have for each person who joins their business is that, even if they decide it's not for them, they will be better off for having been involved.
"We want them to have developed skills and attitudes that will serve them wherever they go," says Kathy. "Some of the people we met in the eighties and nineties have become managing directors or master distributors for other companies. They have become very successful in part because of the training they went through in our group.
"I believe in today's world you can't count on anybody. You can't count on the government or on some company. You've got to be able to take care of yourself, and that's what we teach people."
Paula and Kathy make all their company-related decisions together, but Kathy offers a caveat when other networkers find out she shares her business with a partner:
"Right away some start thinking, 'Maybe I should have a partnership,' but most partnerships don't make it. I think the reason our partnership has worked is that we have different talents, and we respect each other for those differences. There isn't that sense of 'I need to be on top.' If we both had the same talents, we wouldn't need the partnership."
Prior to forming their first partnership, Paula and Kathy had both reached the top levels in their company. As Paula was leaving for Europe, they formed KAP (Kathy and Paula) Marketing. They continued to each have their own business, but they pooled resources. In each subsequent company, they signed up their company as a single distributor.
"Paula happens to be a much better recruiter than I am," says Kathy. "I can do it if I have to, but it comes naturally to her. We both love training and I manage our online presence. I also enjoy writing. We both do three-way calls, but we typically talk to different kinds of prospects, and the nice thing for our distributors is they know which one of us to call.
"If their prospect is a businessperson, typically they'll call me. If they have a former network marketer, or somebody who's tough and confrontational, that's Paula's deal. She's really good with those kinds of people. I don't have much patience for it.
"When it comes to technology or compensation plans, distributors are always going to call me. If they want to work on strategy or hitting a position, they're going to call me. If they want to talk to someone they don't know how to approach, they're going to call Paula. It works out really well for our people, because they can call on our different skill sets."
When Kathy started working with Paula, the first thing Paula told her to do was to make a list. Kathy clarifies:
"A lot of people look at an investment or insurance agent or an attorney and think, 'They must have an incredible database.' But the truth is, these people can't contact clients from their primary business. When I got started, I didn't contact any clients, because you're in kind of a gray regulatory area, and I was not going to run that risk.
"I did what Paula told me to do, but I made my list with people who were not clients but whom I'd met over the years in business. The investment business requires you to do a similar thing: when I first started in that business, I was also told to make a list of 100 people. Well, I was a high school teacher. My friends didn't have any money. I came from a working-class family, so my family didn't have any money. I didn't know anybody who had any money. So, that wasn't going to work for me.
"What I did instead, and we still tell our people to do this, was make a profile of the kind of person I wanted to meet. I called the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and said, 'Send me a list of your organizations.' I looked at that list of organizations, compared it to the profile and figured out where these people were. I joined those organizations, went to networking events and got to know people. I also taught classes in financial planning.
"When I came to the business, I had all those contacts, so it was easy to make a list. Once Paula and I became partners, we sat down together and each pulled out our individual lists. Today most of our warm market consists of networkers, because that's who we know. The nice part about having been in the profession for a while is that you have the ability to be a little choosier about whom you want to work with.
"When we sat down for our current company, we had our list and went, 'Okay, what about so-and-so?' 'No, I don't want to be in business with them again.'"
In Kathy's experience, former network marketers often do well in a new business, but not because of their contact list. If somebody has been successful in networking before, and they are able to succeed again, it is because they come in knowing that it works.
"When we come into a business, it never enters our minds that we can't do it," she says. "We join a company, the first thing we want to know is, what's the top position? Because we know that's where we're going. This knowledge gives you the energy and an ability to do things that when you're brand new you don't have. You've got to build up to that.
"When I first came in, I built it part-time, because I wasn't sure. I thought, 'Sounds good, but does it really work?' As we get farther away from that starting point, we have to remember that every new recruit without previous networking experience has this question going through their mind: Is this really going to work, and can I really do this?"
Looking back on her early days, Paula remembers when she first made her list.
"I included everyone I'd ever known, from the time I was a kid to every job I'd had, to every neighborhood I'd lived in, to every organization I belonged to. I didn't think about network marketing, I just thought about emptying my brain. I thought if I could dump the information stored in my brain onto a notepad, I could unclutter my mind and just focus on strategizing.
"There will be people on the list you don't like, people you'd never want to be in business with, people who are too young, too old, too whatever.
"I went through the list thinking, 'Who is like me? Who's ambitious? Who wants to grow?' and I checked them off. Then I said, 'Who on the list hates their job, or hates where they live or who they work with?' I checked those off. Then I checked off people who were not necessarily dissatisfied but just wanted more. Maybe they have a baby on the way and they need a bigger house. Or maybe they need money to send their kids to college."
After Paula had checked everyone off, she approached them based on what she knew they wanted.
"People are most interested in themselves," she explains. "If you contact somebody and say, 'I've got a great business opportunity,' it doesn't mean anything to them. If they had told me they wanted more vacation time, I'd call them and simply validate, "You said you want more vacation time. Were you serious or were you kidding?'
"They'd say, 'No, I'm serious.' I said, 'I think I have found a way you can have it. I'd like to get together and run an idea past you.'"
Paula found most of her leaders through one-on-one meetings or by inviting them to in-home presentations. First Harold Miller made the presentations for her, but she quickly learned, as she puts it, that "the person who holds the marker makes the money." She also relied on prospecting tools, including company brochures, third-party magazines, CD's and DVD's.
As she worked her way through her list, Paula was surprised at how many people told her they wanted to be in business for themselves yet, when presented with the opportunity, backed down.
"I learned that what people say and what they do are different. I switched to paying attention to what they do, not what they say. Many of those who said they wanted to be free are still in nine-to-five jobs, because they don't have the initiative, desire and ambition to go out and fulfill their dreams.
"The big learning curve for me was to understand that there will be people who say they want to do it, and don't; who say they want to meet with you, and don't show up; whom you invite to a meeting and they say they're coming, but don't come—and that it's not about you. As Jim Rohn would say, 'It's just a mystery of life.' It's so hard, in the beginning, not to take it personally. I certainly did, and once I accepted that it wasn't about me, it still hurt, but I could focus on my own dreams and goals and forge on. I came to the realization that I could make it with or without them, that to grow a team, you need people but you do not need any particular person."
Paula and Kathy are big believers in doing exactly what they want their people to do.
"If I step back and start to manage my people, then they're going to step back and manage their people, because they're following what I do," says Paula. "I would wind up with a group of managers, and that's not going to make anybody any money."
Paula and Kathy do set time aside for their top leaders and hold a leadership retreat every year in December. This gives them the opportunity to talk about more advanced leadership skills, such as how to handle conflict, how to inspire, how to manage egos, how to lead an event, how to speak publicly, and how to create momentum. These leadership summits are not purely for training purposes; they also serve as carrots for leaders to achieve those top positions so they can earn that extra level of knowledge.
Kathy believes that the real key to building a lasting organization is to create different levels of leadership.
"Everybody has to have a well to drink from," she says "Most companies and organizations provide only basic training. Where do people go for upper-level training? Where do they learn the things some of us have taken ten or twenty years to learn? If we didn't teach them, our leaders wouldn't learn them."
At company conventions, Paula and Kathy frequently hold breakout sessions for their team to offer their middle- and lower-level leaders an opportunity to practice speaking in front of groups.
"If you stay with that main group, the only people who get stage time are those at the very top," says Kathy. "If you want your people to get good on stage, you've got to provide the events for them to learn. Giving a compelling PowerPoint® presentation, for example, doesn't come naturally to most people.
"As you move up in the business, you have to make sure you teach what you've learned in some logical, organized way, so your leaders can pass it on to their people. It's truly not the company's job to train the field, because most people on the corporate side have never built a business. The company needs to provide us with a good product, provide good customer service, pay our checks on time and maintain their ethical standards—and then leave us alone and let us build our businesses. Companies who do this usually do very well."
"We never wait for the company to do something," Paula adds. "When somebody says, 'Why doesn't the company…?' we say, 'Why don't we do it? Let's just do it!'"
Paula and Kathy maintain a state-of-the-art training website loaded with audiovisual tools and provide weekly training calls for their domestic and international teams.
"Building internationally takes a bigger commitment," says Paula, "because you need to spend time and resources for supporting your foreign markets. It's a lot easier with today's technology, but those people also deserve to see you face-to-face. We try not to build relationships only with our frontline people but also with people further downline. The more connected you are to them, the more committed they are to making things work. If somebody between you and them happens to decide the grass is greener elsewhere, you have a much better chance of keeping those people than if you had never bothered to have any conversations with them."
A Perfect Match
With over two decades in the business, Paula and Kathy continue to feel network marketing is a fabulous profession.
"Not only is it an unbelievably great financial opportunity," says Kathy, "it also provides people with enormous personal growth, skill development and leadership development.
"It isn't just an opportunity for yourself, it can potentially change the lives of all the people you've ever met. A while ago, I spoke to a group in Toronto and said, 'If we hadn't come out of retirement to build this company, the 800 people in this room may not have been here and may not have heard about this great opportunity or may not have been successful. When considering the business, think about the number of people you shortchange by not getting involved or by giving up too soon.'
"We have bad days, just like everybody else. No matter how much you're making or which company you are in, we all have those days when we think, 'Why am I doing this?' If I'm having a bad day, I put in a Jim Rohn CD and feel better. Of everybody I've ever listened to, he has had the most effect on me—and I know there are millions of people around the world who feel the same."
To this day, whenever Paula and Kathy get into their cars, there's some audio program playing. The two audios that Kathy wore out when she first got started were Brian Tracy's The Psychology of Achievement and Jim Rohn's Seven Secrets of Wealth and Happiness.
When people ask, "Why don't you guys retire?" Paula has a clear answer:
"Our dreams now are for our people. Our goal for the future is: how many people can you help get to where you are? I love seeing people go from tight financial situations or low self-esteem to fully blossoming in all aspects of life. I love watching someone who two years ago was afraid to go up on stage take the stage and shine. What makes this business great is watching people's lives change and seeing them grow."
Kathy couldn't agree more.
"I became a high school teacher because I love teaching and educating. Paula was a teacher, too. It fits who we are."
In her book, Owning Yourself, Paula wrote a story about a woman she met who had just been advised to file bankruptcy. She was crying because she didn't want to—she had gone through a bad divorce. Paula told the woman, "If you don't want to, let's roll up our sleeves and go to work."
Two years later, this lady was recognized in a national newspaper in England that published a list of the top 100 women earners in the country. She was listed as #70 in the entire U.K.
"It was one of the most exciting days of my life," says Paula, "and we've got a lot of similar stories: people whose lives changed dramatically because we picked up the phone and called them. That's addictive. You never want to stop doing that."