Presley Swagerty is a former high school basketball coach who leads a network marketing organization of about a quarter of a million people in six of the United States. He discovered networking over two decades ago when he was looking for extra income.
Presley says he grew up dirt poor, and hardly anyone in his family had ever had financial success, so he didn’t start out with a strong belief that he could succeed. He quickly learned that in order for his business to grow, he had to grow himself. He worked on overcoming his poverty mindset by reading books, listening to quality audios, and surrounding himself with positive people.
Presley considers network marketing “the most incredible phenomenon in the history of American capitalism.”
“Not everyone can be a baseball player, a professional singer, a movie star, or a brain surgeon,” he points out, “but anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence and a solid work ethic can succeed at network marketing. We just have to start thinking differently and believe we can do it.”
Desire for More
Presley grew up in the ghettoes of southeast Dallas with a mom who worked at a sewing factory for minimum wage.
“I saw more drugs and violence as a kid than I care to remember,” he says, “but thankfully I had the greatest mom in the world. She taught me about life, love, and the Lord, but the one thing she couldn’t teach me about was finances. She grew up during the Great Depression, where getting by was enough.”
From an early age, Presley had the desire to be, do, and have more. As he began high school, playing basketball became an outlet for his hunger to succeed, and he was fortunate to have some terrific role models as coaches. Realizing what a great influence these men had on his life, he decided he wanted to be a coach.
He went to the University of Texas at Arlington, got a degree, and started coaching.
“I coached for sixteen years and I did it with a passion,” he says. “I taught math, sponsored the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and felt I helped some kids.”
There was a problem, though: in public education in Texas, you just didn’t make much money.
“It finally dawned on me that the Mavericks, Lakers, or Sixers weren’t going to call me to coach their team,” he says, “so I started looking for a way to grow my income.”
Tired of struggling to pay the bills, and realizing that most of his disagreements with his wife, Jeanie, were over money, Presley started reading the classifieds, thinking he might find a franchise or some other business.
“Along the way I had somehow failed to save the million dollars I needed to buy a franchise,” he says. “When a friend introduced me to network marketing, I decided to give it a shot.”
Presley wasn’t successful in his first company, but in the mid-nineties he was introduced to another company, and this time he achieved limited success. About eight years ago he found his current company, jumped in, and became the top earner in record time.
“I’ve had success with this company because of my prior networking experience and the fact that I took massive and immediate action. I made some mistakes, but action fixes a lot of problems.”
Based on this experience, Presley teaches people, “This is a learn-as-you-go business with on-the-job training. You can’t just read books until you know everything, because you’ll never get started. Just get out there and begin.”
Team-building event at Swagerty residence.
According to Presley, there are three steps to create success in networking.
“First you have to dream,” he says.
“One of the greatest problems we have in America and the world today is that people have quit dreaming. They’ve settled. They have decided this is the best life has to offer and just hunkered down. When they were in high school and college, they were going to conquer the world, but life started beating them down and they quit dreaming.
“We have to get back into the dream business. We have to know where we want to end up in life. Many people have it backwards and just take what life gives them instead of deciding what they want, writing it down, and then passionately pursuing it.”
Step two is to grow. “You have to grow as a person. Both Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn taught that you don’t chase success, you attract success through the person you become. I realized I had to change and grow if I wanted to accomplish anything with my life.”
Presley believes that after taking action, one of the best ways to grow is to read. He wasn’t a reader himself at first, but he came across an article one day that changed his whole perspective on reading. It asked, “If you read ten pages today, will it change your life?”
Presley thought, “No, ten pages isn’t going to change my life.”
It went on to say, “What if you read ten pages again tomorrow and then the next day?”
Presley started thinking, “Ten pages is about fifteen minutes. I can do that.”
But then it went on, “What if you kept reading ten pages the next day and the next day? In one year, you would read 3,650 pages or around fifteen good books. Would that change your life?”
“Absolutely yes!” Presley realized, and he now reads at least ten pages a day.
He also teaches people to listen to books on audio and personal development programs in their cars. “Instead of listening to the negative news, use the rolling university, and you can accomplish amazing things,” he says.
In order to grow, says Presley, you also have to surround yourself with winners.
“If we choose to run with people who are positive, motivated, and going somewhere in life, it starts rubbing off on us and we realize we can do great and mighty things as well.
“The problem is that the flip side of this is also true. If we are running with negative, dull, disillusioned, frustrated crybabies who always blame others for their lack of success, we are swimming against the current, and it becomes almost impossible for us to be successful.
“Every relationship in our life is either pulling us up or dragging us down, so pick your friends wisely.”
The third step is that you have to work.
“Network marketing is a wonderful business where common people can make phenomenal amounts of money, but success requires lots of hard work.
“First, plug into your company by attending meetings, training calls, webinars, and events. You’ve got to show up to go up.
“Second, set appointments. You must make the calls and talk to the people you bump into.
“Third, show the plan, show the plan, show the plan—and if, after you show them the plan, they don’t want to join your team, get them as a customer.”
While Presley was still coaching full time, he fit his networking activities into the nooks and crannies of his busy schedule and family life.
“We always find time for what we think is important,” he says. “I had reached a point where I knew I just couldn’t keep living the same way. When I found my opportunity, I saw it was a chance to change my life.”
Presley would get up in the morning and make a couple of calls before school. He’d meet people for lunch and after work. He’d go to his son’s ball games and talk to people. He’d go to his daughter’s rehearsals and concerts and talk to people. This is exactly what he teaches people today.
“If you’re willing to talk about your business as you live your life, you’re going to bump into folks who are looking for something. You also need to make a list of everyone you’ve ever known, from elementary school, middle school, and high school to college, church, play, kids’ activities, and so on. We’re meeting people all the time. They’re not all our good buddies, but we know a lot of people.
“I tell new distributors, don’t edit your list or you’ll edit your success. You can’t tell by looking at somebody what’s going on in their life or if they’re going to be interested in your business.
“Just put everybody you’ve ever known on your list and start making calls and setting appointments. Coordinate a time to meet for a few minutes and show the business opportunity. Most companies have DVDs and websites to help you present or you can ask your sponsor or someone from your upline to help.”
One struggle Presley experienced in the beginning of his networking career was that he dreaded picking up the phone to invite people. He would literally get nauseated, he says, because he’d never had to set appointments before.
“I was scared of the phone, but I learned that as you make a few calls, it gets easier. And as you pick up the phone again and make a few more calls, it keeps getting easier. Today I can call anybody without it bothering me.
“If picking up the phone is an issue for you, just do it. Hit your fears head on and they’ll go away.”
Conference keynote speaker.
Vacationing with friends in Sedona, Arizona.
With cousin and mentor Manny Carter.
Presley’s coaching background gave him some advantages that significantly accelerated his success.
“Team building came easy to me because I had played sports my whole life,” he says. “Motivating people was a natural gift I honed while giving halftime talks.”
Some other strengths Presley carried over into his network marketing business were his work ethic, daily discipline, and lead-by-example teaching style.
“Instead of signing up a new distributor and telling him to go get ’em, I’m big on saying let’s go do it.
“For instance, I signed up a guy named Mark Dean who had never done any networking. I met him on a Friday, showed him a presentation, and he joined. Next, I said, ‘Deano, what are you doing in the morning? Do you have any time?’ He said yes, so I told him to meet me at Starbucks.
“The next morning at Starbucks, I looked at him and said, ‘Okay, who can we go show this to?’ His eyes got big as saucers because he didn’t know what I meant. I told him, ‘This is how we work the business. We go and show others what I showed you yesterday to see who else is looking to make a change in their life.
“Deano said he had a sister. He called her, we went and showed it, and she didn’t join. We got back in the car.
“‘Who else can we show this to?’ I asked him, and he said, ‘I have another sister.’
“We called her, went and showed it to her, and she didn’t get in either. We got back in the car. ‘Who else?’ ‘My business partner in the car business, Mark Flores.’ We went and showed Flo—and Flo got in.
“So I said, ‘Do you have a couple of hours?” and he said, ‘Yeah, I do.’
“Then we put Deano in the backseat, Flo in the front seat, and I asked Flo, ‘Who can we go show this to?’ Flo said, ‘My brother.’
“You get the point. I didn’t tell Deano to go do it—I got in the car with him. I’d much rather have stayed home watching my favorite TV show and drinking iced tea, but I got out in the trenches with my team.”
Presley calls network marketing a monkey-see, monkey-do business.
“If you want your team to sponsor, you sponsor. If you want your team to make money, you make money. Whatever you want out of your team, you do it and your team will follow you.”
As his organization grew, Presley started traveling the country for training events and speaking engagements. Yet to this day, he makes sure to show his team what he wants them to do.
Recently, recruiting numbers were down a little, so he went out and recruited three personal contacts. At the next meeting, he walked around the room and said to every person, “I want you to meet a couple of my guests tonight.” He wanted his team to see he was still recruiting.
“I don’t have to do it for the money,” he says, “but if I want my team to succeed, I have to lead the way.”
Family time at the beach.
At luau in Hawaii.
The Swagertys in Florida.
Presley and Jeanie at leadership dinner.
While growing his business, Presley also found the time to write a book.
“People were constantly asking me how to do this or that, so it hit me: I should put the answers into a format anyone can use. I pulled from my twenty-plus years of networking experience, tied in my coaching background, and created a step-by-step, how-to-network book called Millionaire by Halftime. I’m happy to say it’s helped lots of people and been a huge success.
“I also came out with Coach’s Success Tips, a set of video clips covering different networking topics. These are available to anyone for free on my website, presleyswagerty.com.”
Reflecting back on his own mentors, Presley mentions John Maxwell, who is “a golfing buddy,” and Zig Ziglar, whom he attended church with. Some books he considers classics are Zig Ziglar’s See You at the Top, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and Twelve Pillars by Jim Rohn and Chris Widener.
Yet Presley’s first and perhaps most important mentor was his cousin, Manny Carter.
“Manny was a few years older than I was but grew up in the same part of town,” he says. “Manny was one of the few people in my family who graduated from high school. I remember the funny hat with the tassel and the robe, and thinking, ‘Wow, Manny graduated high school.’”
Then Manny enrolled in the University of Texas, where he became the first person in Presley’s family to graduate from college. From there, Manny started working for Mobil before they merged with Exxon, where he worked his way up the corporate ladder and eventually became a VP. At that point, he started buying real estate and investing in companies.
“This was all foreign to me,” recalls Presley, “but I was watching and learning from Manny.
“Growing up, I spent as much time with Manny as I could. I liked to visit his big, beautiful home and look at his new cars.”
He vividly remembers leaving Manny’s house one night and walking out to get back into his raggedy 1962 Ford Galaxy with its blue shag carpet glued to the dash “to go back to my neighborhood, where people were getting raped and murdered. I remember sitting there holding on to the steering wheel and looking back at Manny’s house thinking, ‘I want to be like Manny!’
“He had shown me that someone from our family could accomplish something, that somebody from our side of the tracks could be successful.
“Manny Carter is the reason I have had the success I’ve been blessed to have and the reason I’m getting to do this interview today.”
Presley says his reality today is better than his dreams used to be.
“If you had told me a few years ago that Jeanie and I would accomplish what we have, I would have laughed hysterically or passed out. We get into this business for the money, but an even bigger gift is that we get to grow as a person, make lots of friends, and help others.”
Presley feels his biggest accomplishment in network marketing is that he has been able to do for others what Manny did for him.
“Jeanie and I have shown a lot of people that they can do things themselves. Seeing where I came from, that I grew up dirt poor, and that I’ve accomplished the things I have gives them hope.”
Presley believes every decision we make has ripple effects.
“Because Jeanie and I were willing to get out of our comfort zone and chase our dreams, many people, including our own two children, were inspired to pursue their own dreams.”
When Presley’s daughter SaraBeth wanted to go to Baylor, an expensive private school, he could not afford the tuition on his coaching salary. Thanks to network marketing, however, SaraBeth was able to go to Baylor.
“She joined my business when she turned eighteen,” says Presley, “and her network marketing checks allowed her to pay her own way to Baylor through her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Her networking income also allowed her to chase her dreams. SaraBeth recently released her first country music album Kickin’ and Screamin’ (SaraBethMusic.com). We’re extremely proud of her and excited about her future.”
Presley’s son Jordan is a talented baseball player.
“His freshman year of high school he made the varsity team,” says Presley. “It was obvious he was a pretty good ball player, but the school didn’t take much pride in their team, the field was terrible, and no college coaches or pro scouts ever came to watch the games. Thinking about Jordan’s future, we knew that if he wasn’t seen, it didn’t matter how good he was.”
The church the Swagertys attended had a great school with outstanding academic and athletic programs, and Presley thought, “That’s where I want Jordan to go.”
He found out tuition was $13,000 a year, a sum completely out of reach for a high school coach. Jordan had to stay at his public high school his freshman year—but again, thanks to network marketing, he got to go to Prestonwood Christian Academy for his sophomore, junior, and senior years.
“At Prestonwood he ended up being an AFLAC All American and National Player of the Year,” says Presley. “He went on to Arizona State University on a scholarship, became an All-American there, and was drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Now he’s chasing his dreams as well.” (Any readers who are baseball fans, Presley adds, can follow Jordan on Twitter: @jordanswagerty.)
Presley believes this all ties back to the ripple effect our actions have.
“To some degree, I believe our children are chasing their dreams because they saw their mom and dad chasing theirs. There is no doubt that the biggest personal benefit of this business is how it helped my family, but lots of other people see us chasing our dreams and realize they can chase theirs as well.”