Six years ago, Billy Looper started a network marketing business with a partner, parallel to his real estate business in South Florida. A busy professional, Billy didn't have a lot of free time, so he concentrated on mentioning his new opportunity every time he met someone new. Fascinated with the concept of leverage, he was able to communicate this unique benefit to spark other entrepreneurial minds. Being a coach for his softball team, he knew how to teach people and hold them accountable. This gift, combined with excellent mentorship from his sponsor, allowed Billy and his team to rapidly grow a large international organization. Today Billy enjoys a lifestyle he wants many more people to experience, and a level of prosperity that allows him to give from the overflow.
Billy had been in real estate for about twenty-five years when he first got involved in network marketing. The first fifteen years he was an appraiser in Atlanta, Georgia. The last ten years he ran his own a brokerage firm in Florida. That's where he became friends with Randy Gage: Billy was Randy's real estate broker, and they also played softball together.
"Randy had told me about network marketing," says Billy, "but I wasn't interested. I had a Master's degree in real estate and urban affairs, and all my experience had been in real estate. That was my passion. I had just sort of dipped my toe into network marketing in the past."
In 2005 the real estate market in Florida was exploding. Billy was working eighteen-hour days in a profession he loved.
"Stupid people were making stupid money," he says, "and there was no way I was looking for another career or business."
But one day Randy told him about a new company he just had found out about. He was flying to their headquarters the next day to check it out and said, "If this turns out to be what I think it is, I'm going to need ten to fifteen hours a week from you for the next year."
Billy's response was, "Randy, have you totally lost your mind? I'm already in a profession I love. The real estate market is going crazy here. I love my career. Why in the world would I spend an extra ten to fifteen hours a week doing network marketing? Even if I had the time, I wouldn't do it."
Then Randy asked a question that changed everything. He looked Billy in the eye and said, "How much money are you going to make while you are sleeping tonight?"
Miller Motorsports race track in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Walk on Water fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Red Square in Moscow.
Crusin' with the team on the Mediterranean Sea.
With rock star Vivi Jaramillo in Barcelona.
With Bernadette Dock and her team in London.
With Russell and Tomoe Cooper, top leaders in Japan.
Helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
"That question hit me like a ton of bricks," says Billy, "because no matter how much money I was making at a real estate closing, the next day I was unemployed. I had to find a new client or a new listing. The answer to his question was a big fat zero, because as soon as I stopped working, I stopped getting paid."
What also intrigued Billy about Randy's proposal was that it might be something he could teach his softball buddies and family, giving them the possibility of starting their own business for a minimal upfront investment. Feeling some excitement, Billy started to listen more closely.
"I knew Randy was successful," he says, "but I didn't really know his business. I had noticed he was driving to the softball field in a much nicer car than I was, so whatever advice he was giving me on a business note, I was all ears. Randy and I had been all over the world playing softball together. We even went to Australia and Germany as teammates, so I knew him personally before I knew of anything he did professionally."
In June 2005, Billy decided to get in the game and start a new business.
Catching the Vision
What Billy didn't know at the time was that later that same year, his real estate business would come to a screeching halt when hurricane Wilma hit South Florida.
"If it hadn't been for the extra income my partner and I started generating through network marketing at that time," he says, "I think I might be living under a bridge right now."
In the summer of 2005 Billy started talking to people he knew about the new business he'd gotten involved in. He didn't have much spare time, so he just fit it in between appointments, over lunch or during coffee breaks. He also did an email blast to his friends and family.
"In hindsight," he says, "rather than doing the email blast, I would've called people on the phone and talked to them directly. But I was way too shy to do so at the time."
Billy had told Randy he would do the business only if he could do it sitting at his desk behind his computer.
"I'm terrified of talking in public," he says. "Even though I'm a salesperson, I'm an introvert and more of a numbers cruncher."
As Billy was sending out his first set of emails, the first reply he received came from a good friend of his, another softball teammate. It read, "Have you totally lost your mind?"
"I still have that email framed in my office," says Billy. "I could have been devastated within the first hour of creating my new venture and quit. But I didn't shrivel up and die. I believed in what we were doing. Randy had told me, 'You're a softball coach, you're a trainer, so even though you are in sales, you're not really a salesperson, you're more of a teacher. I believe you should be making $100,000 a month.' I trusted in Randy, so I borrowed his belief in me."
Within the first two weeks, Billy and his partner made almost $2,000 from the email blast and face-to-face presentations. What excited him the most was knowing that a part of that $2,000 was residual.
"I immediately grasped that there was a way to make some fast cash up front and make our investment back," he says. "I also understood from the beginning that I could be paid years later on the work I was doing that week.
"Even though I didn't know much about the product or the business, I loved the concept of leverage, that if we created a business for people all over the world, in twenty-four different time zones, and they started building their own business, we could get a piece of that. I knew that if you built it well there would be a residual income, unlike real estate, where you have only one-time transactions."
Building a Team
One of the challenges Billy had to overcome was that he didn't want to be in front of groups. As he was getting increasingly excited about his new business, he couldn't help but share it with growing numbers of people, and he eventually pushed through his fear.
"There was no way I could not be out in front," he says, "because my people needed to see me there. My first group presentation was at a grand opening for a team member at their home in North Carolina. It was six years ago, so luckily there were no iPhones or flip cams, because people would've recorded it and posted it on YouTube as the classic 'how not to do a presentation.'
"I had written out my whole talk and was flipping pages, reading through the whole thing instead of presenting. I was so nervous my lip was twitching, my voice was cracking like a thirteen-year-old boy's. Everybody's toes were in the carpet, they were so nervous for me. The crazy part about that first presentation was that someone joined! I don't know if it was out of pity for me or what, but someone signed up, so I had a little bit of success that day, even though it was totally nerve-wracking."
It took Billy about a year until he was comfortable enough to present at hotel meetings.
"Even though I was making some good money," he says, "I was still nervous, but my excitement for the business and profession took over, and what I lacked in speaking skills I made up for with compassion for my team members. We would talk about the economy and how our business is a solution for a lot of people with financial constraints, and then we would cover health and wellness issues."
Another factor that strengthened Billy's determination was attending his first company convention.
"Remember how I had told Randy I wanted to do this behind the computer, sitting back and collecting checks? It didn't quite turn out that way. Six months into the business, my partner and I went to our first big event. I still wasn't 100 percent certain that this was for me, so I sat in the back of the room, close to the door, so I could escape if anyone said anything I didn't like. Then I saw people walking across the stage who had advanced in rank, and all of a sudden my competitive spirit kicked in. I promised myself I would never be at another event where our team wouldn't be walking across the stage."
At this same event, the company leaders announced a cruise contest for recruiting twelve new people in the shortest amount of time.
"We decided we were going to win that contest no matter what," says Billy. "That same weekend, hurricane Wilma came through South Florida, so we couldn't get out of Orlando and back to Fort Lauderdale for three days after the convention. Then we had no electricity for three weeks. Then it was Thanksgiving, then it was Christmas, then it was New Year's. Instead of slowing down for the holiday season, we went crazy, doing home meetings by candlelight. Of course, we won the trip, and that's what really catapulted us to the next level. The coolest part was that a few months later, while we were enjoying the cruise with no cell phones or computers, we reached another rank advancement, so we truly experienced the beauty of leverage. We were on a vacation and our team continued to build the business."
When Billy's company was founded in 2005 in the United States it opened up in ten other countries at the same time, because part of its strategy was to leverage the efforts of teams in different time zones around the clock.
To launch foreign markets, Billy and his team reached out via the Internet and through friends of friends. "This worked amazingly well," he says. "All of a sudden we had a team in Russia, and before we knew it, we were in England, Spain, Australia, Japan, and Colombia. As of today we're in about thirty different countries."
Billy emphasizes the importance of building in your own backyard and from there expanding internationally through people who have contacts in other countries.
"You may have a neighbor next door who has no interest in your business," he explains, "but has a friend or a cousin in Australia who is looking. Social media weren't that prominent yet in 2005, but we reached out to people by participating in chat rooms and responding to blogs."
Billy's first international business trip was to Australia in 2007. From there he continued to England, and last year he traveled to eight different countries to support his growing teams. How does he decide it's time to visit an emerging foreign market? The same way he decides to travel to any city in the United States.
"I expect to see about fifteen core executives, all inviting their contacts, all committed to building their businesses. If those fifteen can put forty or fifty people in a room, I will fly there. Internationally, I like to have twenty-five to thirty core executives who can get seventy-five to a hundred people in a room.
"When you're pioneering a market, as soon as the excited leaders show up, you need to show up as well. I usually get there a few days early and work with the team before the event, and I stay another day afterwards for follow-up. My favorite part is developing friendships in countries I would have never thought of visiting. I get to enjoy new cities and experience the culture all while building a global business."
Billy had always wanted to go to Moscow but had never had a chance to do so. Today Russia is one of his team's strongest markets, even though he can only operate there through interpreters. He delights in watching the Russians' appreciation of capitalism and how they have taken to network marketing.
"They are hungry for opportunity and love our products," he says. "Their work ethic and desire for capitalism is similar to ours thirty years ago. After decades of socialism, they really value getting paid for their efforts.
"I just came back from a meeting in Amsterdam where we had sixty-five people from Latvia who had been on a bus for two days to get to this all-day seminar. The amount of effort they are willing to make to come and learn how to do this business is mindboggling. I have people here in Florida who won't drive thirty minutes to get to that same seminar."
Billy says he owes his rapid success in network marketing largely to his mentor and friend Randy Gage. In 2003, even before introducing Billy to the business, Randy invited him to one of his seminars called The Speakers Institute. Even though Billy abhorred public speaking, Randy convinced him to attend, and again Billy sat in the very back row, ready to escape. Billy never got the confidence to get up on stage, but the skills he learned in that seminar—how to connect, how to write good copy, how to communicate—he still uses today.
"I had no idea how I was going to use that seminar," he says, "but it turned out to be one of the most valuable things I've ever done. I've learned an equal amount from Randy's network marketing training tools and his prosperity programs. I've studied each of them in great detail. Randy is not only my direct upline, he is also a friend who tells you what you need to hear, even if you don't want to hear it! He also pushes you out of the nest really quickly, saying, 'You're a leader, now go do it.'"
Another mentor of Billy's was his mother. All through his childhood she was in direct sales selling cosmetics, jewelry, household items, or interior design.
"My Mother would do this in the afternoons four or five days a week," says Billy, "and sometimes twice on Saturdays if she was having home parties. Every Friday the UPS truck would be at our house and we'd be stacking boxes floor to ceiling in every room of the house. I'd watch her sort out the products and put them in individual bags, and sometimes even deliver those bags.
"My early impression of network marketing and direct sales was, 'There's no way I'm ever going to do this,' because I saw how hard she worked. This was before fax machines, personal computers, and cell phones. But I learned from her work ethic, how she loved and appreciated her party planners, how she built loyalty and developed belief and persistence. She was an inspiration. I understood way before it was cool to have a home-based business that you could do it and a make a real income and provide for your family. If it wasn't for seeing her success every day, I might not be in this business, either."
A third influence that shaped Billy's character was his coaching experience.
"I truly enjoy coaching, teaching, mentoring, and watching the team succeed," he says. "I can usually see someone's potential before they see it themselves. My favorite thing is to go find people who are bigger than their current job or profession. I don't care if it's the cashier at Wendy's or the janitor or the waiter at the restaurant. If someone handles a customer service complaint effectively or their work is superior to everyone else's, I'm very good at catching those people, and I'll talk to them about my business.
"If someone didn't believe in me when I was working at the restaurant at age sixteen I wouldn't be anywhere near to where I am today. I'm looking for people who are giving of themselves beyond the normal routine and effort, who are going the extra mile no matter what situation they are in."
Goals and Aspirations
Over the years Billy has been an active donor and volunteer for his company's charity, which has been around as long as the company.
"It's time for those who are blessed to give back," he says, "especially in this economy, where government funds for nonprofits have dried up and private donations have decreased."
Together with other team members, including Chuck Dinsmore, Billy helped organizing a version of the Walk of Hope in South Florida on the beach, which they called the Walk on Water. They raised about $17,000, a contribution which earned him the company's Hero of the Year Award for 2010.
"The only way to make this happen is by recruiting people who are better than you are," says Billy. "All the team leaders down here in South Florida chipped in and did an incredible job. In addition, we did some other fundraising activities, then held a seminar that raised another $7,500. The proceeds paid for cleft-palate surgeries, club-foot surgeries, and micro-loans. We also give books to orphans, we help build orphanages, and we have a leper colony we support."
Billy loves the sense of community that develops from gathering people around a cause. Thinking of his early days where he envisioned building the business from behind his computer, he laughs at the idea.
"Even though we have the Internet and social media, there's still a great need for people to belong to something bigger, and for me this only happens in face-to-face situations. Belly to belly, eyeball to eyeball is really how you create excitement for your team and your business.
"I've wasted hours on social media sites and tried to prove that you can do it from behind the computer, but it's just not true. For me, the most effective way to build my business is to do something fun. When I join a club or start a new workout program or do something I'm really passionate about, that's where I attract more team members. Being online is a good thing and I think you have to do it, but if you're spending more than thirty minutes a day on social media, I think you're wasting your time."
Billy's current goal is to get twenty people in his company's millionaire club.
"I want many more people to enjoy this lifestyle," he says, "where, even in a bad economy, you're not stressing about cash flow, you're able to enjoy the trips and cars, and you're able to give back to your charities. There are numerous leaders on my team whom I want to take to the next level and support any way I can."
When asked what might be the biggest gift he has received from network marketing, Billy is quick to reply.
"There is nothing like building friendships around the world. Visiting other countries and experiencing the adventures together is the number one thing. That's also why events will always be crucial for our business, because that's when you get to see your friends—even if it's only once a year. No social media will ever replace that."
Billy says network marketing has opened up a lot of other doors for him.
"Being around smart, positive people has allowed me to take advantage of many other business opportunities. I'm a serial entrepreneur. I believe in multiple income streams and recommend network marketing as one of those top streams.
"I'll always have my real estate business, because I have a passion for it. I'm also looking at Internet marketing, which combines very well with everything else I do. But I wouldn't be able to do any of this if it weren't for the residual income provided by network marketing."