Discovering Network Marketing
George was working as a college dean, psychology teacher and counselor in Providence, Rhode Island, when he was first introduced to network marketing.
Addressing an audience of 20,000
in Charlotte, NC.
Visiting top Italian leaders in their
new home near Rome.
Eloise driving their seventy-foot yacht.
With family of top leaders in France.
Visiting their top two business leaders in Madrid, Spain.
George and Eloise at a business luncheon in Torino, Italy.
Enjoying their yacht, called My Way.
“I didn’t have the profile of someone inclined to get involved in sales,” he says. “Yet, an associate dean who worked with me had told me that his wife had a silly little business and ran meetings on Monday nights, and that she thought I would be good at it. The nature of his invitation didn’t excite me, so I dodged it for a couple of weeks. His wife, however, would tell him to ask me again. She obviously believed in what she was doing, while he was just being obedient but didn’t really understand the business.”
Finally, George felt he should honor his colleague’s invitation, so he went to the meeting, and when he arrived, there were thirteen women in the living room.
“Being the only guy, I tried to hide in the back of the room,” he says, “but given my size, that wasn’t going to work very well, so I sat there and paid attention like a good student.
“Up in front was a table with green bottles and jars, and the presentation was so casual that if one of my Harvard colleagues had taken a look at this setup, he would have walked out laughing. But I was trained to be courteous and thought, ‘I’ll endure this.’ When the presenter went on to explain what these nutrients would do for your health and your body, I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, if this were true, your doctor would be telling you to take this.’ I was oblivious to the fact that doctors weren’t doing anything with nutrition; they were there to treat us after we got sick, not to prevent.”
The meeting continued with a presentation of biodegradable cleaners that would protect the environment, and by that point George had become quite judgmental. He thought, “I wonder how many people are aware of the impending problems that are stacking up against us in the environment. Looking in this room, there isn’t much consciousness in that direction.”
The third product line was natural cosmetics and skin creams, and George jokingly said to himself, “I can’t wait to start selling these.”
George’s attention shifted when the presenter announced that next he would talk about the compensation plan. He started by telling his personal story: a French-Canadian, he had retired from a factory job in Detroit where he worked on cars for some thirty-five years, but living off his retirement income was starting to hinder his lifestyle. He was in fairly good health and his wife told him that he needed to do something about this, like get a part-time job to supplement their income. His reaction was, “Why? I’ve worked all my life so I could retire,” and she said, “Well, we’re alive and we are running out of money.”
George now became curious about the rest of the story. The presenter went on to explain how no one wanted to hire him because he was a small guy and 68 years old. A friend of his said, “Hey, you ought to go to one of those direct sales things. They’ll take anybody.” The presenter said this had been about three years earlier, and he was now making $10,000 a month in the business. George thought, “That’s impossible. How can anyone with this background, with no formal education and who doesn’t even speak the Queen’s English make this kind of money selling these products? I need to ask some more questions.”
Learning Valuable Lessons
After everybody had left and the presenter was loading his products into two doubled-up grocery bags, George went up to him, introduced himself and asked, “How about a guy like me who has only been a teacher and a coach getting into something like this? Do you really make that kind of money doing this?” He said, “Yes.”
George continued, “I want you to teach me about that,” and the presenter said, in his French accent, “Let me ask you a couple of questions. Will you give me one year of your life? You don’t look over your shoulder left, you don’t look over your shoulder right, you focus your mind. I don’t care if you do full-time or you do spare-time. Will you do that?”
George answered, “I think I can do that.” The presenter said, “If you focus your mind for one year to do this business, you will eventually get to the big money.”
When driving home, George thought, “That guy’s like a prophet. He just told me the reason people don’t make it. They keep looking back at their past and assessing their future based upon their past results. That seems logical, but it’s ineffective.
“As a lifelong researcher in psychology and human motivation, I found the biggest problem people had was lack of focus, not understanding the power of focused thought and the time needed to get from point A to point B.”
In his two-minute conversation after the meeting, George had suddenly seen a practical application of what he knew in theory: that if he’d fully focus on the business for a year, the habit of doing it would kick in and lead to success. He decided to get going.
The next problem George faced was he decided he was going to do it his way. As a teacher, he knew he might get kids in the room who were smarter than himself, so he used to defend against that by making sure he was very well prepared.
“I took the same approach to the business, which, looking back, was hilarious,” he says. “I studied every single product, especially the nutritional products. I knew all the stories about the environment. I had enough research to scare away anybody. I would talk about each and every vitamin as if I were giving a university lecture on bio-nutrition.”
As soon as George gathered a little group of distributors, he started doing everything for them: he would go to all their evening meetings to present and sell. He didn’t mind helping because he believed in the product.
But he wasn’t making much money from doing just retail sales. One day he heard about a carpenter who was making $8,000 a month, so George decided to go see him. After the presentation, George took him aside for a cup of coffee and learned yet another valuable lesson.
“Please, tell me,” George said, “what are you doing to make that kind of money?” The carpenter flipped the question and said, “Why don’t you tell me what you are doing?”
George proudly dumped his brain all over the table while the carpenter listened compassionately. He finally said, “George, you are never going to get to the big money in network marketing.” George asked, “Why not?” He said, “Because you are not in networking marketing. You are simply in direct sales.”
“I don’t understand,” George replied.
The carpenter said, “George, you said your background is teaching and coaching, and you are probably pretty good at it.” George agreed. “Those are the two best skills for building a monstrous networking marketing business,” the carpenter continued. “People need leadership. They need credibility. They need to learn how to train others. You have the best attributes for helping people grow in a business like this.
“You need to build platforms of distribution. You need to create oil wells of people whom you help sponsor, whom you help develop into teams who teach others how to teach. Eventually, you are going to get there.”
These words completely changed George’s understanding of the business, and consequently also his approach.
Finding a Home
Today George believes that building a successful network marketing business is about finding people who want to grow and then participating in that growth process with them.
“This takes time and effort,” he says, “and often a lot of patience, because not everyone moves at the pace you hope they will. It’s an ongoing commitment and if you don’t love people, it’s difficult to sustain in this business. If you are only seeing the money, it will never satisfy you.”
Over the years, George worked with some good companies, some start-ups that didn’t make it, and some companies that failed after changing ownership, but he never considered leaving the profession.
“I had found a level of satisfaction and liberty unlike any I had known in my adult life, and I had decided I’d do anything to stay.”
At one point he sold his business and became a trainer for different companies, focusing mainly on personal development.
“My premise was, you can’t build a check until you first build the person,” he says. “There are many elements of success that are non-material and inner things that you have to manifest before you’ll gather a crowd. A lot of people have never learned this. I felt I could be of service teaching people, while at the same time make a pretty good living.”
Eleven years ago, when George’s friend Art Napolitano invited him to take a look at his current company, George had high standards because he wasn’t sure he wanted to build another networking business. His training business was taking off and he was being widely recognized as a master trainer.
George was 60 years old at the time, and the company had been around for six years. Several of his friends had told him, “This is the company you belong with. It already has a great culture, and you will make it even stronger with what you bring to the table.”
But George had a private criterion for making life choices, which he didn’t discuss with anyone. When he went to meet the owners, he asked himself, “What do I feel in my heart?”
“My mind would assess certain aspects,” he remembers, “but I also listened to my intuition and gut. They said to me, ‘These are good people. They are humble and free, and they came to the business with the intention to never do anything that would hurt people.
“This was music to my ears, because I hated companies that told a good story and had no integrity at the top, that were only about making the big bucks and to whom the field was kind of a nuisance.”
At the time, the company was one of the fastest growing network marketing companies in the United States. George was impressed with its track record and with the owners’ long-term vision, so he and Art decided to get involved.
The company was just about to open up some European countries, and since George and Art had experience there, the timing was perfect.
“We were familiar with the different cultures and we knew about the sensitivities you had to bring that most American companies didn’t bother with,” he says. “I told the owners, ‘I can help you, so can Art. Before we enter a new country, we need to have printed materials in the local language. As quickly as possible, replace the American stars in all company materials, especially in videos, with the local upcoming stars. If you do this, we will succeed.’
“We went on a trip to Europe and we just dug in. I almost don’t want to confess the hours we worked doing interviews and making presentations. We knew we had a window of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Our efforts paid off: Today we get overrides on 97 percent of all the business that comes through the European countries.”
Paying It Forward
George traveled extensively in Europe for nine years, but these days he spends most of his time at home in Tennessee, where he holds weekly training and recruiting calls with his teams in different parts of the world.
He respects his company owners even more today than he did when he first met them, because in the eleven years he’s been working with them, they have never compromised their principles.
The company is currently operating in twenty-one countries and counting, and George has never been more passionate about the impact he is able to make in people’s lives around the globe.
“Whether in Italy, in ex-Soviet states or any other country, people—regardless of their form of government—aspire to have more, and are eager to learn and grow. I tell them, ‘If you get into this business with the right company and the right attitude, even if you don’t make a dime, a year later you are going to be a much more capable, aware and well-rounded person.’ Hearing the great trainers and success stories of others who have lifted themselves out of mediocrity is inspiring. It helps people have a little more faith and hope than they had before they walked into the room.
“People want to be nurtured. They are dissatisfied with being pushed instead of led. They want to be developed, as opposed to being imprisoned by the dictates of a boss. The biggest complaint people have about their relationships is, ‘I don’t feel appreciated,’ and they stop trying because they don’t see possibilities.
“In network marketing, if they want to invest the time to do it properly, there’s a great chance they can change their lives, regardless of where they live. We have enormous businesses in Europe and we are expanding into the Pacific Rim, because our business model works. It appeals to people across nations because we offer what we call a personal development program with a compensation plan attached to it. We attract talented, good-hearted people. The wrong type of person will not want to stay in our environment, because they will be exposed.”
At this stage of his life, George wants to be able to pass on the wisdom he has gathered over his thirty-five years in the business. To that purpose, he wrote a book a couple of years ago, Network Marketing Straight Talk.
“I wanted to create a compendium of all the aspects business prospects and new recruits need to understand before they get started. I don’t want anyone to be misled: there are steps they will need to take and skills they will need to learn in order to succeed.
“Our business attracts people who want to be developed, who need to be led and taught. In the beginning, everyone is excited about their dreams and the possibilities, but the excitement cannot be sustained if we don’t help them develop their skills. Often, the ink isn’t even dry on their application when they realize they have no idea what to do next. This creates the lowest confidence level and the highest level of fear.
“I always ask new people, ‘Do I have your permission to be your personal coach for the next thirty to sixty days?’ Almost everybody answers yes. For most, this is the first time they have ever been invited into a relationship where someone truly cares about their success.
“There’s a natural tendency to want to avoid unpleasant emotions, and a new person often feels inadequate, incompetent or even inferior. No one wants to experience those feelings for very long. If we don’t work in this area, we are not serving our new distributors as well as we could in those initial stages.”
Next, George gets very specific about what his new recruits need to do.
“‘Every Tuesday,’ I tell them, ‘I want you to be at the opportunity meeting; on Wednesdays, dial in to this conference call.’ We get our calendars out and start scheduling. ‘On Saturday there’s a regional event. I don’t want to hear about football games. Do I have your commitment? Here is the list of phone numbers for the calls; here is the script for inviting your friends; here are the DVD’s and magazines you’ll need a supply of.’
“If people have a specific goal, I get them to declare it to me. Once they’re clear on what they want to achieve, I say, ‘Let’s focus on getting it. Now, would you agree we need to work on some skills?’
“Once they develop some skills, we get right into action and test our new level of competency. I promise people that if they will persist in this process, I guarantee they will have some level of success, depending on their ability to persevere.”
After all those years, there is no doubt in George’s mind that, despite some cultural differences, the hearts of people around the world are the same.
“If you treat them right, they know it. If you care about them, they discern it, and as long as they are getting that from you, they will stay loyal. Everyone wants to believe in something and to belong to a supportive community. If you can show people how to improve their lives, they will tend to want to follow you.”