Nathan Goldberg is a young Canadian network marketing leader with teams in twenty-three countries. Originally from Montreal, he moved to Toronto in 2009 and quickly became famous for filling up large hotel meetings with several thousands of networkers every single week.
Nathan started his business as a waiter, giving small group presentations during his down time at the restaurant where he worked. By following the advice of his mentors and setting ambitious goals for himself, his business grew steadily. In just fifteen months, he reached the top of his company's compensation plan.
Today, Nathan focuses most of his attention on organizing live events in his local market, because he believes in the power of gathering large groups of people to open their minds, strengthen their belief and solidify their commitment.
As a waiter, Nathan asked people if they wanted coffee. Today, he asks people if they want to change their lives.
"I'm not some big business person," he says. "I don't even have a business degree. But I know this: if a waiter from Montreal can do this, anyone can."
Discovering the Business
When Nathan was done with school in 2000, he didn't know what career path to take. He was waiting tables while getting his real estate license. His father, a real estate broker, had introduced him to another young agent, who one day invited Nathan to an in-home presentation for a telecommunications service.
"I had been to an opportunity meeting once before," says Nathan, "but I had no clue what the people were talking about. They basically showed pictures of books, boats, planes and rich people. They didn't say anything about how the business worked."
Through this second exposure, Nathan started to understand the network marketing concept.
"What got my attention was the possibility of having my own business while also having the mentorship and support of a group."
Nathan fell in love with the Zig Ziglar principle he heard at this meeting: that you can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. When he was in high school, the guidance counselor had told his mom, "Your son will never succeed in sales, he's too honest." Nathan was pleased to discover a business where honesty and integrity were rewarded.
He jumped in part-time while working with his dad in real estate. However, he soon grew so enamored with the business model that he started spending more time reading My First Year of Network Marketing than studying for his real estate license. He also tried to recruit every person in his dad's office, much to his father's dismay.
After a few months, Nathan decided to go full-time.
"I was living at home and didn't have any overhead," he says. "I worked my butt off and made about $29,000 my first year. For me, that was massive. Unfortunately, I continued to make $29,000 a year for the next two years. My business wasn't growing, because I didn't know about duplication."
Nathan had made friends with Simon Abboud, one of his company's top earners in Canada. While Nathan worked twice as hard as Simon, Simon's business was growing by leaps and bounds. Nathan figured out he was doing too much work himself instead of teaching others what to do.
Three years into the business, Nathan's first company was sold, which he felt was the beginning of the end.
"I had reached the second highest level in the comp plan and was making just over $2,000 a month," he says. "I couldn't look someone in the eye and say, 'I think you can win here by doing what I did.'"
He finally quit his business and returned to waiting tables.
After a while being back at the restaurant, he remembered all the reasons he had left that job in the first place. When a friend approached him about a nutritional company, Nathan decided to give it another shot.
"Ironically, in the first year, I again made about $29,000," he says. "The problem this time was that I had a big hole in my boat with attrition. I became an expert in nutrition, built a team of about four hundred and was able to convince people to sign up, but no one who saw my presentation felt they could do what I did."
In the meantime, Nathan's friend Simon had joined another telecommunications company. After about a year and a half, he was making $100,000 a month, at age 26.
Nathan eventually decided to get involved with Simon's company, and within six months, he was making over $33,000 a month.
"The reason for my success this time around was clearly my experience," he says. "In my first company, I learned how to do hotel meetings. In my second company, I learned how to do home meetings. The third time, I was able to apply both skill sets and start transferring them to others."
With Simon Abboud watching an event with 5,000 attendees, remembering when they had ten people in the room.
If you ask Nathan why he didn't quit after five challenging years in the profession, he'll tell you that he always knew the principle of leverage made sense. Even though he was frustrated with his lack of success, he believed that anything else he might do for a living would be trading time for money.
He had seen the success of other network marketers and had decided that he was going to learn to build passive income, whether it took him ten, fifteen or twenty years. While he hadn't found the right company yet, he knew network marketing was his chance.
The other factor that drove him was the personal growth he went through during those years.
"Even though I didn't make a lot of money," he says, "I learned more than in all my years of schooling put together. At first, I didn't know what I didn't know, and I wanted to stick around long enough to uncover that."
Being a waiter also helped Nathan build the right mindset for prospecting, which he teaches through the following analogy.
"When working at a restaurant, I carry around a pot of coffee. When I go to a table and ask people if they want coffee, whether they say yes or no is irrelevant. If they say no, I don't start crying or pouring the coffee down their throats; I simply take my coffee to the next person.
"Today, instead of asking 'Would you like some coffee?' I say 'Would you like to make some money?' If you don't want it, I'll ask the person next to you. I didn't get emotional about the answer the person gave me at the restaurant, so why would I care here? We're looking for people who want to do what we're doing; don't waste any time with those who don't."
When Nathan got started with his current company, he went to work in a breakfast restaurant so he would have nights and weekends off to do meetings.
"My goal was to present to ten people a day," he says. "I was working seven days and seven nights a week, which wasn't a balanced life. I always tell my team that you have to get out of balance initially so you can have a balanced life eventually."
Nathan did mainly home meetings, one-on-ones and small group presentations, then funneled his prospects to the weekly hotel meetings his partner was holding as a second exposure. To consistently talk to ten prospects a day, he came up with some creative ways to expand his contact list.
"I first went to friends and family and anyone I worked with," he says. "I took out my old yearbooks, wrote down every name I could recognize. I was able to find most of those people on Facebook. I did the same thing with my mom and dad's black book, adding to my list every name I was familiar with.
"Next, I went to places where I played sports—soccer, football or hockey—and listed the names of all my teammates. Anywhere I spent money, for example. where I bought my car and fridge, I asked for people's names and business cards."
When team members tell Nathan they've gone through their whole list, he gives a personal example.
"When I moved from Montreal to Toronto recently, I didn't know anybody there, so I decided to find some activities I like doing to meet some new people. I became a member of the squash club and told the manager, 'I'm new in the city; I want to meet as many people as I can so I can play squash with them.' In my first year, I added about forty names to my list just from playing squash at that club.
"Just before moving, I wanted to spend some time with my mom, so I enrolled both of us in a six-week cooking class. The group consisted of twelve couples—and just from cooking and eating together, I was able to add twenty people to my list."
In addition, every time Nathan signed someone up, he helped the person create his or her own contact list, which provided him with an unlimited number of leads.
Building for Events
Thanks to his flair for making friends wherever he goes, Nathan has never cold-called or worked with leads. He also was never interested in online marketing.
"Although I'm only 38, my mentors were the old-school, belly-to-belly networkers," he says. "My friend Simon, who is my personal mentor and business partner, is eight years younger than I, and he feels the same way."
Today Nathan and Simon have moved on from doing home meetings and small group presentations to holding Saturday events that attract 2,200 people on average. These meetings consist of a business presentation from 10:00 to 11:00 am, followed by a training that lasts till 1:00 pm.
Nathan's system centers on filling up large events, because he believes that's where people make big decisions.
"If you do not have larger meetings to validate the information people receive in their first exposure, you will never have sustainability," he says. "My philosophy is that, just as in any profession, in network marketing there will always be people who follow the herd. Some people are never going to hold their own home meetings, so we hold a hotel meeting once a week, where they might eventually bring a leader.
"I teach my team never to try and close at the end of a first presentation. Most companies tell associates to pull out the applications and sign people up, but we don't even bring applications to the first meeting. Instead, we tell prospects, 'If you're interested in changing your situation, I will see you at the Saturday training.' Whether or not they show up indicates their level of commitment. If they don't come, then we don't want them to sign up anyway. That's why we funnel everyone to our weekly events."
When Nathan started building in Toronto, he had about ten people in his Saturday meetings. Today he is proud to say he has the largest Saturday meeting anywhere in Canada for any network marketing company.
"Half of the room is mine and half belongs to another leader," he explains.
"When I first came here, there was already a big leader in the area. Initially he saw me as an invader and we held separate meetings, but then we realized that by teaming up, we would both win, because the more people you have at a meeting, the stronger the social proof."
Today, while there are different organizations in the area, there's only one unified team everyone plugs into.
Nathan's weekly meetings consist of 50 to 55 percent prospects and 45 to 50 percent distributors. He doesn't believe in charging anyone for attending.
"From the attendees' perspective, the leader of the meeting is a millionaire," he says. "Why would he want my five bucks? I'm broke, that's why I'm at the meeting."
It costs Nathan about $16,000 a month to run his weekly operations. The way he covers this expense is by organizing a regional event every two months where he charges twenty dollars for tickets. These meetings usually attract between three and five thousand people, so the profits from those events by and large pay for the weekly ones.
An obvious question is how Nathan and his teams are continuously able to fill these different events with several thousand people. Here is what he says:
"We teach our distributors that the right weekly activity, even for part-timers, is to give three to four one-on-one presentations, hold two home meetings and attend at least one hotel meeting. If everyone is doing this, there should be plenty of prospects at the Saturday meeting. If the Saturday meeting is not full, it means the team wasn't working that week."
When distributors say, "I've already done the meeting," Nathan's response is, "Great, next Saturday you're going on stage to do the training." His rationale is that until you're ready to give the training, you haven't gone to enough trainings.
"That's how I learned," he says, "by hearing it over and over again until I was ready to do it myself. I tell people up front that this is not a social club, that with our model, you're going to have to sacrifice every Saturday for the next five years. If you do this, every day from then on will be Saturday."
Nathan points out another reason his team is growing steadily: they are not afraid to prospect up the social ladder.
"Rookies think you have to go after broke people or those who need money," he says. "Over the years, I've realized that's a waste of time. Even when I was a waiter, I had the posture and attitude to go after everybody, because I truly believe we have the best opportunity out there.
"The caliber of the people on our team is impressive. For example, Bill Banham is the former CEO of Virgin Records Canada and a full-time rep in my organization. So is the founder of ESPN, Jim Bates. We have famous athletes, such as Donovan Bailey, the Olympic gold medalist who held the world record for the 100-meter race. We've got about twenty professional NHL hockey players involved. Most people would be nervous to go after those kinds of people, and when I bring them on stage at our Saturday events, it has a lot of impact."
Nathan always ties his presentations in to what's going on in the economy.
"Based on our current unemployment rates, people are realizing that we all got scammed," he says. "The educational system taught us to get good grades so we could get a good job. But we all know, the model of nine to five to 65 and retiring with not enough to live on doesn't make sense.
"To illustrate this at events, I'll pick a prospect in the room and ask him what age he wants to retire at. Let's say he says 55. Then I ask him how much money he needs to live comfortably. Let's say it's $100,000 a year, to make the math easy. If you retire at 55 and live until 85, you need $100,000 times thirty years, equaling three million dollars. Factor in inflation and it's closer to six million. How are you doing so far to have your six million by 55? The answer is, statistically 97 percent of everyone in the room is in debt, so they've proven they're unable to save.
"Then I address the case of our Virgin Records' CEO who was making two-and-a-half million dollars a year, but who, when Richard Branson sold Virgin Records, was suddenly out of a job. The whole philosophy of climbing the corporate ladder doesn't work, because we don't own the ladder. In the old days, seniority was good, but now it works against you—because corporations would rather get rid of you and bring in a young graduate at half your salary."
At the end of the meeting, Nathan's message is loud and clear: network marketing is the franchise model of the future. It makes sense for companies to have an outsourced sales force that's motivated and rewarded based on results. Rather than buying from corporations, we all prefer to buy from people we're comfortable with.
To prove this last point, he tells the story of his 92-year-old grandmother, to whom he sold a videophone so she could stay in touch with her grandkids. When her friends come over, she shows them how she can talk to her family live on TV. She has referred forty-two new customers this way, earning herself a nice residual income.
While Nathan makes it clear that network marketing is the best opportunity available today, he does believe the profession has its challenges.
"A lot of networkers don't have the patience to go teach new networkers and they just want to drag people in," he says. "They have a preconceived notion that the business is all about recruiting the next big hitter. They have a lot of bad habits; for example, trying to recruit networkers from other companies. I tell people I built my business by developing networkers, not by trying to recruit them.
"I think our profession needs to focus on Gen Y, because they are much more open to what we have to offer than any other generation. Ask Gen Y if they want to work in an office nine to five, and they will say no way. We are the future of business and Gen Y is our ideal partner."
Envisioning the Future
Recently Nathan's stepsister invited him to talk to one of her graduating classes at the university about business. After Nathan agreed to give the talk, one of the guidance counselors called him and said, "I want you to give advice to the students on how they can go get a good job." Nathan replied that his whole speech would be telling them not to get a good job.
"I thought the guidance counselor was going to have a heart attack," he says. "I told the students that jobs pay our bills. My recommendation for them was to get a job, take the knowledge and move on, because eventually you must work for yourself. At the end of the seminar, the guidance counselors who wanted to kill me were the first to give me their business cards.
"There were about eighty people in the room, all graduating in business. I asked who had read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. One out of eighty people raised her hand. I asked who read Think and Grow Rich, two out of the eighty had. I asked, 'Is this an art class or is this business school?' I was shocked that the school doesn't teach any of this. I definitely believe our education system needs to be revamped. The current system is set up so most people don't become entrepreneurs. Rich people want to keep others working for them, and the government loves it because employees pay lots of taxes."
Now that Nathan has a successful business himself, he feels an inner obligation to teach others what he knows.
"Even if my income increases tenfold, I don't see myself stopping," he says. "One of my biggest satisfactions is when people tell me how I've changed their lives. I want to build my business globally and take my company to a multi-billion dollar company. My goal is also to raise the level of professionalism in network marketing, just like Networking Times is doing. As we weed out all the scams and network marketing becomes more mainstream, kids will say, 'I want to become a network marketer when I grow up.'"
When Nathan gives a presentation to a younger crowd, he shows how network marketing is exactly like Facebook.
"Every time we invite our friends to Facebook, we add to its database," he says. "The owners of Facebook are geniuses. They convinced us to build them a database for free, then they take that database and market to it, and they make billions of dollars. Why don't we create our own database of friends, using whatever we're marketing, so we benefit from it ourselves?"
Nathan believes network marketing will become just as mainstream as Facebook is today, as long as the profession polices itself to avoid some of its bad practices. One of his pet peeves is networkers who go around promoting, "You're going to sign up and be rich."
"This really hurts our image," he says. "I always warn people up front, 'This is not going to be easy. It's going to take you at least a year to break even, because you will need to invest in tools and training. You're a freshman in network marketing university and it will take you five to seven years to become proficient.'
"I'm living proof: a few years ago I was just a waiter, and since I started in my company in 2006, I've made a couple million dollars. If you have the right mindset and you consistently do the activities, this business will make you rich in more ways than you can imagine."