Steve and Beth Morgan are a Michigan-based Gen Y couple leading a network marketing organization of several thousand people in the U.S. and Canada. Along with building their business, they love being stay-at-home parents and home schooling their three young children.
The life Steve and Beth have created was inconceivable to them a little over nine years ago when they were newly engaged and still living with their parents. They had no idea how to create the kind of wealth that would allow them to leave their dead-end jobs and create financial freedom.
Although the couple's discovery of network marketing was a fluke, they quickly recognized that building a home-based business held the key to a prosperous future together. The personal development that came with it allowed Steve and Beth to strengthen their character, their relationship, their family and their faith. Once an answer to their prayers, today the business continues to grace them with everything they need to support their growing family and team, and to be a force for good in the world.
In 2001, Steve and Beth were recently engaged 21-year-olds eager to transition into adulthood and married life. They were both earning meager salaries, Steve as an apprentice electrician and Beth as a receptionist at an engineering firm. While they shared the dream of having children, they knew that living paycheck to paycheck was not conducive to creating the lifestyle they desired for their family.
Steve thought about going to college and considered other business ventures such as investing in rental units, but no option seemed compelling enough or made him feel confident that it would work. This all changed one fortuitous evening when Steve and Beth attended a presentation at the home of one of Steve's old high school friends.
The Morgan family.
Leadership retreat in Port St. Lucie, Florida, 2010. FLTR: Heather Richardson, Heather Mansel, Erin Gregorski, Beth Morgan, Jackie Lewis, Lindsey Spiewak, Cassie Birtles, Mary Radosa, Cici Torez. Front: Kortney Cox.
Steve relaxing with Orrin Woodward.
Steve giving his daughter a riding lesson.
Beth charter fishing with Terri Brady in Florida.
Beth, Steve, Orrin and Laurie Woodward.
Beth and Steve presenting a seminar in Michigan, 2011.
"I think he needed to fill two seats that night," says Steve. Regardless of why they were invited, what the couple learned that evening provided the clear answer they had been praying for. "We had no idea what network marketing was," Steve says. "Family members had warned us that these types of businesses were dangerous, but we thought the planets aligned that night."
Steve and Beth immediately recognized network marketing as their opportunity to earn more money, leave their jobs and create the family life they dreamed of.
"We saw a lot of our friends going through the same financial struggles we were in," Steve says. "It was clear to us that doing what everyone else was doing was not going to work, so we decided to try this new business."
Steve and Beth were so excited about what they had learned that evening that they listened to their first training program on the car ride home. Their enthusiasm, however, was suddenly crushed two weeks later when the World Trade Center Towers in New York City were attacked on September 11th. The couple worried that the United States would go to war and Steve would be drafted into the military.
"We thought we had finally found the answer to all our problems," Steve recalls, "and when 9/11 happened, we feared that the opportunity was going to disappear as quickly as it came."
When it became clear that he would not be drafted, the couple regained their enthusiasm and felt ready to launch their business. As excited as they were about the opportunity, they weren't entirely sure what steps to take. They began in earnest by attending their team's Tuesday night meetings and all other team events.
"We weren't as active as we should have been about making contacts and giving presentations," Beth says, "but we warmed up to the business as we learned, because we discovered we could really trust the people we were working with."
After a few months of slow growth, the couple realized their team leaders Aron Radosa and Kirk Birtles, as well as their upline Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward, were genuinely dedicated to helping them succeed. The strength of this support inspired Steve and Beth to begin treating network marketing as a serious business rather than a part-time hobby.
Although the couple understood that active recruitment was vital to the expansion of their network, this task intimidated them.
"We were a young couple from a small town," Steve says. "We felt a lack of credibility, and that made us nervous. A lot of my friends had negative impressions of network marketing and refused to come over. I couldn't understand why others weren't as excited as we were about the opportunity to run their own lives."
Steve and Beth were reluctant to invite anyone to their home presentations, which led to several nights when the only people who showed up for their parties were Aron and Kirk.
"We weren't shining stars in the beginning," Beth says. "We didn't even buy products until five months into the business." Still, their team leaders recognized the couple's potential and continued to mentor and encourage them.
After six months of slow growth, the couple's shared sense of competitiveness drove them to greater action.
"Network marketing is a team sport with
everybody pushing towards the same goals," Steve says, "but only those who create results are recognized at seminars. Realizing that we weren't getting recognized drove me to want to start hitting new levels of activity."
Motivated by this new objective, the couple began employing different business development methods they had learned from their upline.
"One of the most important things we started doing was 'contacting up,'" Beth says. "Orrin taught us to consider our income and social circles, and to contact people who were financially ahead of where we were. Instead of prospecting our peers, we started getting in touch with their parents and with the people I had worked with at my engineering firm."
Steve and Beth also internalized a concept their organization calls 'go-getter.'
"The term refers to anyone who really wants to succeed in this business and shows fifteen plans a month," Steve says. "After we did this for one month, we never dropped below the go-getter level again. This method brought us the recognition we desired, and that fueled our aspirations for creating even greater success."
Steve and Beth could feel the momentum building.
"We were really working as a team to support each other," Beth recalls. "Initially, we used our list of contacts, and once we got going, we worked with the names from our recruits' lists. We helped them show the plan, and that counted towards our fifteen. It's amazing how it snowballed from there."
"In the beginning," adds Steve, "we felt awkward sitting our new team members down and helping them make their contact list. Although our upline had taught us to do this, we frequently avoided this step. We quickly realized this was a mistake, that if we didn't help our new people do it, they wouldn't do it on their own."
This learning experience helped Steve and Beth understand a leadership principle they learned from Aron and Kirk, which Steve describes as follows:
"Setting up a recruit for success is like running a football ninety-nine yards down the field and then handing it off to the new person so they can make the touchdown. Our team leaders did that for us. Eventually, I understood that I was hurting my team if I didn't set recruits up for success by helping them make their list."
Grace over Law
A year into the business, the couple's income was increasing and they had made significant improvements to their leadership style. They both aspired to quit their jobs and earn greater recognition within their company, but when the opportunity to reach the upper echelons of their organization presented itself, they let the chance pass.
"Aron called and asked if we wanted to hit an upper level position our team calls 'power player,'" Steve recalls. "He was looking for a couple he could help reach that position, and asked if Beth and I were that couple. I was afraid that I was one bad choice away from being financially broke, so I was really nervous to put all of my eggs in one basket. I didn't fully believe in what was possible."
Steve told Aron that he'd call him back with an answer and went to talk to Beth.
"Aron wants us to do this," he said, "but I don't think we are that couple yet."
Beth agreed. Steve called Aron and said, "I hope you don't think any less of us, but we're just not ready for this kind of opportunity."
Aron told Steve not to worry about it and that he'd be there to help whenever they were prepared to hit that level.
"Having that kind of pressure-free support was such a blessing," says Steve. "He never made me feel guilty or pushed me beyond my limits."
Soon after, the couple attended a major convention and realized they had made a mistake.
"I walked down to the VIP seating area in the front of the room," Steve recalls. "Two couples who had taken the opportunity we had passed on were sitting there. Right between these two couples were two empty seats, which we felt God had ordained for us. We took a picture of them and kept looking at it. We knew that was where we belonged, but these seats were empty because we hadn't had the courage to say yes."
This experience deeply affected Steve and Beth and provided them with an important reminder of what they wanted to achieve.
"I remember sitting at that convention thinking that if I didn't make it to the power-player level, it would be the biggest regret I'd ever have," Steve says. "I knew I'd given far more attention to my electrician training, even though that job would never give me anything close to what network marketing could. By that time, my trust in my team leaders had grown so much that I decided I had to believe them when they said they were going to help me win."
The sting of that missed opportunity inspired Steve and Beth to kick their business into high gear. They actually rescheduled their wedding because the initial date conflicted with the next team convention. They worked hard in the following months and hit the power-player level a week before they were married.
When they first started in the business, Steve and Beth had worried that they might be forced to do things they didn't want to do. They had heard about network marketers being pushy and manipulative, but Aron, Kirk, Orrin and Chris proved to be the antithesis of this stereotype. Instead, their leadership style of patient guidance provided Steve and Beth with support, loving encouragement and the freedom to grow at their own pace.
"We call it 'grace over law,'" Steve says. "It's a Bible-based principle that says we need to give people the freedom to decide what they want to do and to choose the pace at which they want to grow. Practically speaking, it comes down to not correcting or over-managing people, but instead loving and encouraging them when they need it, while also giving them the freedom to chart their own path. That's exactly what our team leaders did for us."
This principle of grace over law allowed Steve and Beth to make mistakes and let those learning experiences catalyze their desire to succeed.
"When a bird takes off from the ground, it takes a lot of effort," Steve says, "but once it hits the jet streams, it can soar. We were slow coming off the ground, but our team leaders were patient. The first six months in the business, we were bench sitters, but they didn't push us off the bench. Today we lovingly encourage our team the same way, knowing that they come off the bench on their timeline, not ours."
Turtles on a Fencepost
The newlyweds worked hard over the next two years, until they were able to quit their jobs shortly after their second wedding anniversary. They enjoyed their new time and financial freedom, but soon realized that these new liberties came with their own challenges.
"When I left my job," Steve says, "my leaders warned me that one of the cardinal sins a person in this business can commit is to not have the next goal set. They said that without a new goal, I'd end up right where I started. I thought this rule didn't apply to me.
"We drank deeply from the life cup instead of the professional cup. We were sleeping in and doing whatever we felt like. We thought we were making enough money to just have fun.
"Our business started suffering from our lack of focus—until we realized it was time for a course correction."
Ultimately, this experience recalibrated the couple's long-term goals of prosperity and family life.
"You can either pay the price to play later, or play now and pay the price later," Beth says. "We wanted to create a lifestyle with our children, so we needed to pay the price now."
"We came to a crossroad where it was clear that our team needed us to lead them," Steve says. "We had a responsibility to live up to."
Steve and Beth understood that fulfilling this duty required them to further develop themselves professionally and personally. They committed to reading books to grow their people skills and listening to audio programs to boost their confidence.
"Every sharp knife starts out dull," Steve says, "so we started sharpening ourselves. Some books that helped us tremendously are The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz and How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin."
Personality Plus by Florence Littauer was also an eye-opener.
"When we took Littauer's personality test, a whole new world opened up to us," Steve says. "We had been totally oblivious to the fact that different kinds of personalities even existed. Beth took my personality test for me because she thought she could give more objective answers. When she was finished, I was excited to find out which personality I was. She said 'It's official, you're a jerk!'
"I told her I didn't think that was one of the options, but I knew that, at the time, that's who I was. As an electrician, I had developed a defensive attitude to compensate for a rough environment. The books helped me understand this about myself and realize that my rough edges weren't going to work in a people business."
Steve and Beth's personal development not only led to greater professional success, it also improved their relationships, a side benefit they both treasure.
"If I'm struggling or need some advice in my business, I can always find others further along than I am and ask them how they made it through," Steve says. "You can't ask for that advice in most professions, because there you're in competition. That's what I love about network marketing: you truly get to stand on the shoulders of giants.
"Beth and I feel as though we're turtles on a fence post. When you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn't get there by itself. Our goal today is to help lift others to the same position."
Family and Faith
Network marketing taught Steve and Beth about themselves, about each other and how to work as a team. While this process wasn't always easy, working towards a common goal kept them motivated and on track.
"Our parents and grandparents were also critically important to our success in the business," says Beth. "They were positive, encouraging and supportive. Even today, they continue to help us by watching the kids so we can go out and reach that next person who is going to have his or her life changed by network marketing."
Today Beth is living her lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling her children.
"I enjoy an income that doesn't require me to trade my time for it," she says. "Instead of having to carry buckets, we've built a pipeline that supplies us with a consistent flow of money. This allows me to be home with the kids every day without having to struggle financially."
"Steve and I feel we're both one hundred percent business partners and one hundred percent parents, but we can't give all our time to both. In order to make things work, I take the major role of parenting the kids, and Steve meets me halfway. He takes the major role in the business, and I meet him halfway there. Splitting up our primary responsibilities creates balance in our lives."
Intent on setting a positive example for their children by sharing responsibilities, the couple also teaches them about delayed gratification and financial planning. As Steve puts it, "We want them to learn that God won't give you a lot if you can't handle a little."
Steve and Beth have come a long way in the past nine years, financially as well as developmentally. They believe network marketing is becoming an ever more viable option for young people, especially given today's high unemployment rates and challenging economic circumstances.
"More people are starting to lean towards network marketing," Beth says, "because it's more stable: the business is dependent only on the person running it."
"There's a lot of frustration among people our age," says Steve. "Many went to school, joined the workforce, got downsized and are left with nothing despite doing everything they were told to do. Our generation is starting to realize that personality and people skills are as important as the ability to pass a test. They understand that owning a business is a better way to go, and network marketing makes it perfectly doable."
Starting out as their team's bench sitters, Steve and Beth are now shining examples of what's possible. The couple credits their achievements not just to their own hard work, but also to their strong faith, which their upline organization encourages them to cultivate by offering non-denominational worship services at team events as well as opportunities for charity work.
Steve and Beth love to speak at team events throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and their favorite topic is overcoming obstacles.
"A lot of people in the crowd feel like they're the only ones who struggle," Steve says. "I like to tell them that obstacles make you better, and that we're all built to overcome them."