Jodi Whittemore, a young and sassy mom of three, joined her mother's network marketing business almost nine years ago as a way to supplement her husband's income. Little did she know that her home-based business would blossom into a vibrant organization spanning the entire United States as well as Canada, Australia, and the U.K.
Jodi started out locally by talking to the people she knew in her Arizona hometown. Gradually the power of her belief and the clarity of her vision snowballed, as hundreds, then thousands of others joined her team, becoming consumers of pure, safe products and building lifestyles of balance and freedom. What has fueled Jodi's success along the way has been her passion to serve and help others grow into their highest potential. Her greatest reward, she says, is to be able to contribute beyond her own family circle to a world she envisions where everyone's needs are met.
At the age of sixteen, Jodi came home from school one day to find tow trucks hooked up to the family cars. Her family's home was in foreclosure, she was told, and they would have to vacate within thirty days.
Jodi had no idea her family suffered from any financial problems. It turned out her stepdad's construction company was failing and he had been selling off assets to keep it alive.
"Neither my mom nor I had any clue as to what was going on," says Jodi. "My mom hadn't worked since before I was born." Fortunately, Jodi's mom was able to get some support from her mother in finding a place to live, but now she had to figure out what to do to earn an income.
"It was terrible timing," recalls Jodi, "because she was struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome at the time. With no savings and no recent work experience, she began looking for a job."
Jodi's grandfather was an entrepreneur and had always taught his children that working for someone else is a liability. "You can take away oxygen," he would say, "but you can't take away my freedom." That was exactly how Jodi's mom felt. Faced with the possibility of having to go work for someone else while not feeling well, she didn't see any options.
Fortunately for her, that was when she learned about network marketing.
From the first meeting, where she saw circles multiplying on a white board, she thought, "This is something I can do." The only viable pathway to supporting her family that she could see would be a business that would allow her to leverage her time, because she had little energy and wanted to continue to be there for her children.
This was, of course, also Jodi's first encounter with network marketing. She watched her mom's vision, determination and passion for the profession grow stronger every day—because she couldn't see any other option.
In a couple of years Jodi's mom earned a company car, and in time she began taking her family on trips around the world. She was able to help send her children to college. Most importantly, says Jodi, the personal development that the business brought with it transformed the entire family.
Jodi with her mom Julie Newcomb.
Enjoying the beach in San Diego with husband Tim and children Christian, Chase, and Chloe.
On a company cruise in Jamaica with the older kids, Christian and Chloe, and mom.
On incentive trip with top leaders in Venice, Italy.
Jodi with two of her favorite mentors: her upline and mom, and business coach Sonia Stringer.
Rooftop in Florence, Italy with husband and mom.
Getting ready for a helicopter tour of the Matterhorn in Zermat, Switzerland.
Parasailing in Cozumel, Mexico with Chloe.
With husband in Capri, Italy.
Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps in Montreux, Switzerland.
With team members at leadership retreat in Green Bay, 2011.
One might expect that the minute Jodi turned eighteen, she'd decide to join the business, too—but she had different plans. She wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, which was her major in school. After taking a position as an intern at a television station, she suddenly realized that while being a journalist sounded fun, nobody in college had explained to her the lifestyle that came with it.
"Once I observed the other anchors and reporters, I saw there was no way I could live the way I wanted to live, which included raising a family, and build a career in journalism. So I did what a lot of people do when they don't know what career to pursue: I got my real estate license."
While still in her early twenties, Jodi was soon earning a six-figure income selling new homes. She worked every weekend and holiday, and while her company was known for paying the highest commissions, agents were fined if they didn't answer their phones on days off.
"I was a slave to my business," says Jodi. "When we got married, my husband and I couldn't spend any time together—because we never had the same days off."
So they decided that Jodi would quit. She walked away from new homes under construction, willing to give up the income in order to preserve some time freedom.
The couple had two children, and when their daughter was three and son was nine months, Jodi came back around to the example she'd seen in her teens. Her mother had by now been in network marketing for fifteen years, and she started whispering in Jodi's ear, "You're a producer at heart. You love to add value to people..."
Jodi was already using and enjoying the products. She loved being a mom but also hungered for an activity outside the home. She wanted to contribute to the family income and make an impact in the world. At age thirty-two, she decided she was going to build a home business.
Vision and Belief
In the beginning, Jodi's vision for her business was small. Her husband had a one-hundred-percent-commission job in commercial real estate, and she asked him, "What would you think if I added a thousand dollars a month to our income?" She thought it would be fun to get out of the house a few nights a week and meet with some interesting people during the day. Her husband said that would be great.
Jodi was confident it would work, because she had seen her mom succeed despite all the challenges.
"Richard Brooke talks about how a vision comes with some form of inevitability," says Jodi. "When I was in grade school, I had a vision of going to college. I just knew I would go, so I did everything with that in mind. If someone said I didn't need to go to college, it didn't matter. I was going.
"Starting my business was similar: once the vision of what this could do for our family clicked, it spread, just as had happened for my mom. When we talked to people, they knew we were going to meet our goal, and they had a strong sense that if they teamed up with us, they would meet their goals, too."
Jodi's vision also made her unattached to the path that would lead her there. She conveyed her passion and told people she'd love to partner with them, but also made it clear that it was not going to affect their friendship or her goals if they decided not to get involved.
"There's an attraction to that," she says. "People can tell when you're totally confident about what you're doing. It's not that you know everything, but that you have a clear vision that you're going to get there. They also can tell if you're just hoping they'll join you for your own sake, or if you're at all insecure about what you're doing. If you don't have strong belief, they can sense it."
When leading her team, Jodi's primary focus is on helping others develop belief. "Not only does it help with prospecting," she says, "it is crucial for creating longevity in your business."
She teaches her team members to surround themselves with people who are helping their vision come true and to cut out any noise that could interfere with it.
"You just can't allow it," she says. "Success in this business is all about the mind and the discipline of controlling what goes into it. If a conversation is turning negative, you've got to, as Sonia Stringer taught me, forward the conversation to what the solution could be.
"We have to understand that we can literally become a different person by changing our environment. If we're serious about building a strong belief and vision so people can sense it and want to follow it, then we have to discipline ourselves to set up an environment where that's possible."
Practically speaking, Jodi started building her business exactly as her mom had done fifteen years before: by giving one-on-one and in-home group presentations.
"I started meeting people one on one to find out what their needs were and how my product and opportunity could fill them," she says. "Then my goal was to gather a group based on that encounter. If the person chose to start a business, I proposed that we do a group opportunity business launch and schedule one-on-ones with those who couldn't attend. If someone just wanted to be a product user, I asked if they would open up their network to share the products and the opportunity.
"I teach my team to always present both. When we approach someone, we either lead with the business or lead with the product, which to me is just a distinction of which aspect we mention first. If we're making an appointment for a presentation, we always let people know we're going to share both."
Presenting and Recruiting
Jodi typically spends the first fifteen minutes of her presentation getting to know people.
"Donna Johnson taught me to do this," she says, "in order to dispel any preconceived notions people might have about you coming just to sell them something. You want people to see you as a genuine person who truly cares about them; you want to lower their defenses. I make a connection so they can be attracted to me and, possibly, to what I have to share, because they can tell I truly have their best interests at heart."
Next, she does some product sampling, tells her story, and shares her company's philosophy.
"I talk about the products, the opportunity, and the vision for our team. Then I invite people to purchase products at a discount by becoming wholesale customers. Finally, I offer people who are curious (and we say curious rather than interested, because interested implies some commitment)—some information about the business and tell them I'd love to get together for a cup of tea to see if this might be a fit for them."
Jodi teaches her team not to try to convince people and to accept that not everyone will end up buying.
"Some people don't see the value," she says, "or they can't afford to invest the money, and that's okay, because there are enough people who can. Our goal is to teach why purity, safety, and quality matter, and why it pays to invest in your health and the most important attire you wear everyday: your face.
"One of many benefits to our business is that we get paid for using top quality products. If people can't afford to buy them, that's precisely when they need to hear about the opportunity."
Jodi says in the beginning she'd try to convince people, and recalls how freeing it was to get over that.
"Building posture and confidence takes time," she says. "Ultimately it is what attracts people, because they want that for themselves. Sometimes people put up a barrier because they just don't want to be sold. How will you respond to this? It reminds me of the story about the two shoe salesmen who go to the Far East. One calls home and says, 'Nobody wears shoes here, I'm coming home.' The other calls and says, 'Nobody wears shoes here, send more shoes!'
"If people come to me and say, 'Times are bad, no one can afford the product,' I answer, 'You have a huge opportunity to share the business.' I have others on my team who say, 'No one wants to do the business, they don't need the opportunity, they're wealthy.' I say, 'Are you kidding me? Your colleagues would love people who can afford to buy everything, but you're complaining that you have nobody to talk to?' It's all in the way we look at things."
An important realization Jodi wishes she'd had earlier on was that just because she was experiencing a setback didn't mean that the business didn't work. Today she says she "inoculates" her new business partners by telling them up front that struggles and challenges are part of the journey.
"Instead of selling them on the idea that everything is great, that the products are awesome and the opportunity is a no-brainer, I prepare them for what's coming. Then, when people don't show up or don't return your calls or say no, you know it's not that you're doing something wrong or that this doesn't work. You recognize it's just part of the process."
To arrive at this point herself, Jodi had to grow her emotional intelligence and her ability to handle her feelings. Her greatest mentor in this area was Sonia Stringer, with whom she did group programs as well as one-on-one coaching.
Jodi remembers one struggle during which she had an epiphany. She had invited a group of preschool moms to a presentation, had mailed the invitation, but hadn't called anyone. The day before, she didn't have a single RSVP, and she started making up stories about why that was.
"When we don't know what's going on, we tend to think negatively—and probably 90 percent of the time, we're wrong," she says. "I told myself I was bugging these moms and that they didn't like me. I remember the day before the presentation almost not wanting to take my child to school for fear of how the other moms would look at me. This was my own ego trip, of course, because people are busy thinking about themselves—not about me.
"I dropped my daughter off, and when I was in the car driving home, something hit me that was so exciting it transformed my career. I thought, 'You know what? The average person would quit when feeling this way. They would not be willing to go through this—and that's why this opportunity is so huge. If I were to quit, I would just open up the opportunity to others who weren't willing to quit.'
"From that day on I started viewing struggles as stepping stones, and would be almost glad when I encountered them, because if our business didn't come with obstacles, then everyone would do it, and the opportunity wouldn't be the same. I started responding to challenges by asking myself, 'What could I have done differently?' and being willing to figure out how to get through them."
Another challenge Jodi had to overcome was keeping her priorities straight with her family, especially when many people started joining her business.
"I didn't have the know-how to lead a team and stay balanced in my allocation of time," she says. "Again, Sonia Stringer was instrumental in helping me through this, so that when I told others that you can live the life of your dreams, build a business, and still have balance in your life, I could be truthful and authentic."
Sonia teaches about influencing with integrity, and that's the culture Jodi is creating for her team.
"It's about caring about the person in front of you so much that if your business isn't a fit for them, you want to discover that and help them find something else that is a fit," she explains.
"There's so much freedom in that. Instead of trying to be interesting with my presentation, Sonia taught me how to be interested, and how every person I encounter has unique needs we want to help fill. This makes the business more enjoyable, because whether the person joins you or not, you get to celebrate either way."
Seeing Beyond Circumstances
Today Jodi spends about 80 percent of her time developing business builders and leadership, and about 20 percent on recruiting new people.
"This business is about keeping people in by staying connected," she says, "whether they are product users or business partners. With technology, we can sometimes get too clever at being efficient. I blast out newsletters and renewal campaigns, but I also know the value of picking up the phone and leaving a message or having a conversation.
"My goal is to connect with five people a day, whether they are team members, prospects I call to set up an appointment, or product users. There is something about that five- to ten-minute personal touch that strengthens your relationship. I make sure to connect on a personal level and ask questions about the person, then tell them the reason I'm calling.
"With my product users, I always remind them about the business. Just because timing wasn't perfect the first time we talked doesn't mean their circumstances or needs haven't changed. It's unrealistic to think that the timing for starting a new business is going to be right for everyone we talk to. That's why we follow up."
In addition to Sonia Stringer's coaching, Jodi mentions Thomas Barrett's Dare to Dream and Work to Win and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People as two of the most helpful tools she found for growing her knowledge and resilience, as well as her people and leadership skills.
"I often suggest these books because they really help us get our minds off ourselves," she says. "When I started building my business, I would go to social gatherings and think about what to say and how to approach people. It was all about me—and it was a horrible feeling. I didn't want to feel like I was on all the time, looking for who I could recruit and how I could benefit.
"Gradually I learned that succeeding in business and being a leader is all about making connections, about being interested in others and in making them feel great about themselves. I started enjoying those social events so much more. I wasn't attached to whether or not my business came up in conversation. Today I teach others how to create those relationships quickly and then perhaps follow up later."
One of the greatest benefits Jodi has reaped from her business is that it has allowed her to give from the overflow.
"Once our personal needs are met, altruism comes naturally," she says, "especially for us women. We are nurturers and caretakers of our children and immediate family, and sometimes even our parents. When we have time freedom and money, not only do we help our families and the people close to us, we can look beyond and say, 'Whose needs out there can I fill?'"
Jodi loves to imagine a world full of people who have their own needs met.
"That alone changes everything," she says. "As network marketers we can help thousands and even millions of people get to this point, where they're free to look outside themselves and their circumstances and reach out on a larger scale."
A goal of Jodi's is to be in a place where she can give more than she currently earns.
Earlier this year she experienced a trying time in her business.
"I looked at my overall purpose in life," she says, "which is to love God and love others as myself. My purpose is to bring Him glory. I realized this trial didn't affect my purpose at all. I can live my purpose no matter what the circumstances are.
"This has really helped me refocus on my vision of impacting people so they can impact others for the better. I'm fond of asking, 'Who can I teach to fish? Where can I expand my resources? Where can I grow and multiply them?' That's the great thing about residual income. We can invest in causes that can go on and on and enrich generations, not only financially but also emotionally and spiritually."