Cherian Mathew is a network marketing leader who heads a global organization of half a million business partners. He started building his team in Bahrain, then expanded into neighboring Middle Eastern countries, and from there into Africa and India.
Cherian was born in a small Indian village to a homemaker mother and a father who worked at a semi-governmental organization. Seeing the sacrifices his parents made to give him and his two brothers the best education possible, Cherian felt compelled to succeed from a young age. He vividly dreamed of being able to help his parents move beyond their limited world into a life full of accomplishments.
After eleven years of employment in the corporate world and no way in sight to achieve his goals, Cherian finally discovered network marketing, the vehicle that would allow him to realize his childhood dream—and many other dreams.
In the process, he made lifelong friends around the world and created many millionaires, some in countries where this kind of wealth can change an entire family’s destiny forever.
A New Business
Cherian moved from India to Bahrain in 1994, hoping to tap into the wealth of this tiny, oil-rich nation. As one of the top quartile countries on the Human Development Index (a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income), Bahrain seemed to be a promising place for a family looking for greater prosperity. However, the cost of living there was so high that Cherian and his wife struggled financially despite both holding well-paid jobs with established multinationals.
In October 2000 another expat and former classmate of Cherian contacted him about a business opportunity. The timing was perfect: Cherian had been looking at second job options and he and his wife were open to other possibilities.
“I liked the idea of working for myself rather than for another boss,” says Cherian, “so I was eager to hear more.”
His classmate, who was working as an accountant for a hospital, had just been introduced to network marketing by one of the hospital’s senior surgeons. Cherian invited them both to his home where he felt everyone would be most comfortable. During the presentation, he figured out that the opportunity could potentially provide him with the extra income he needed.
“I decided to join even before they finished presenting,” he says. “The only problem was, I didn’t have enough money to get started.”
When his friend asked, “Why don’t you pull out your credit card so we can get going?” he replied, “I need to think about it for a few days.”
As soon as the presenters left, Cherian went into action. He cleared out his meager savings and borrowed money from a few friends, and three days later he had gathered enough to cover the start-up cost.
Immediately after signing on, Cherian organized a meeting with a close contact and invited his classmate to do the presentation. When his contact let him know he was not interested, Cherian was surprised and disappointed. However, the experience made him realize he could just as easily do the presentation himself.
“My upline had joined the business only a couple of days before I had,” he says. “My knowledge and understanding of the business was now almost the same as theirs. Because of my marketing background, I thought I could actually give a better business presentation myself, so I decided to continue on my own.”
Cherian made a contacts list of friends, church members, and colleagues, and started calling them. In the first month he made one-on-one presentations to forty-five different people, of whom the first forty rejected his offer straightaway.
Every time Cherian heard a “no” he would feel a little upset but pull himself together and, thanks to his wife’s unwavering support, he kept going.
“I also believed deep within that this was the way to go,” he says, “that this was a great opportunity, and that the fact that most people didn’t understand it didn’t make it any less valuable. I knew I just had to talk to more people.”
Cherian had experience with rejection because his job required him to make sales calls every day. He says, “Out of ten calls, I would close maybe one transaction for the company. I had learned that the only way to increase business is by increasing the number of calls.”
Unconcerned about the outcome, Cherian simply focused on his goal of doing two to three presentations a day. At the end of his first month, he had five sign-ups.
Speaking at convention in Bahrain.
Laying the Foundation
Cherian’s drive to succeed started early in life. At age thirteen he dreamt of becoming a doctor. When he applied for college, his academic skills were not strong enough to pursue a medical degree, so he studied law instead. Upon graduating, he was hired by Proctor and Gamble to be their sales coordinator for Kerala. After a few years in sales and marketing, Cherian looked for a change. He resigned and moved to the Middle East to look for brighter horizons.
“I was searching for another way to become successful in life,” says Cherian, “but I didn’t know what it might be. My brother had become a doctor and moved to the United States by this time. When I learned about this networking opportunity, I knew I had finally found a vehicle that would allow me to become who I wanted to be.”
Out of the five people Cherian signed up in his first month, three were inactive, but the other two starting building the business with him. Applying the same focus and work ethic as Cherian, together they were able to increase their sign-ups. When Cherian received his first commission check the next month, he was so excited he started working even harder.
“In addition to my job, I was working on my MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow,” he says. “I had evening classes to attend three times a week. Somehow I managed to balance my eight-to-six job, going to night school, and building my new business.”
Cherian says without his wife’s support, none of this would have been possible.
“We made a pact to focus on this business as the way to bring the changes we wanted in our lives. Together we had looked at our dreams and realized that to achieve them in any other way would require us to work our jobs for at least twenty or thirty more years. This simply was not an option for us.”
Cherian and Jinoo decided to give the business at least five years to produce results. To execute their plan, they split up their roles and responsibilities. Jinoo would take care of their daughter and home; Cherian took responsibility for building the business.
“Whenever challenges arose, Jinoo and I came together to remind ourselves of why we were going through this struggle. As soon as we shifted our focus away from our problems and onto our dreams, there was no issue at all. We would recommit to our respective responsibilities and press on.”
On those days when he didn’t have an evening class, Cherian would head directly from work to one-on-one appointments. Later in the evening he would give a group presentation for prospects his team members had invited. Most days they would close the evening at midnight with a meeting of key partners who were actively building the business.
“Together we would evaluate our efforts and results,” says Cherian. “We would share our experiences, discuss difficulties and challenges, and brainstorm ways to handle them.”
Debriefing with his team became a daily activity, taking Cherian’s focus off rejection and putting it onto business growth. His commission checks kept growing each week, and in a year’s time he had a team of about 1,000 people—in a country with a population of only 650,000.
Cherian was well on his way to realizing his dream of being a highly successful businessman. And this was only the beginning.
Team founders with women leaders from Africa and Middle East at desert safari in Dubai.
Leaders after team strategy meet, Dubai, 2012.
His third month into the business, Cherian started dreaming of quitting his job. His financial target before he would quit was to have enough money saved to sustain his family for at least one year, a goal he achieved by around his sixth month in the business. However, being an expat, he had a contractual obligation to either stay employed with his company or leave the country, so he kept his job for another year till March 2002.
“My team members were eager to start doing business with their friends and family in nearby countries such as Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia,” says Cherian. “Being expats, most of them had the challenge of not being able to travel because they didn’t have access to their passports. In the Middle East, when you sign a job contract, the employer takes control of your passport and you only get it back when you go on annual leave. This is against the International Labor Organization standards, but it has been the practice in the Middle East for many years and nobody questions it.”
Cherian, on the other hand, was working as a general manager and had the privilege of keeping his passport in his possession, so he started traveling abroad on weekends. According to his contract, he still had to get permission from his company to leave the country, but he decided not to inform them. If they found out, he could lose his job contract and his right to stay in the country, and could even end up in jail. But he was willing to take that risk to develop his business.
With Thursday and Friday being weekend days in the Middle East, Cherian would catch a flight on Wednesday evenings and go to the nearest country where his team had the most prospective business partners. The following weekend he would return to support his leaders and growing team. His first trip to Kuwait was a huge success, producing twelve new business partners for his team members.
After a few months he ventured into Oman and continued the same approach. He traveled back and forth for a year and a half on weekends until he was able to retire from his job in March 2002.
After his resignation, moving between countries became easier. His partners, however, were still encumbered by working for private employers who held control of their passports. By then Cherian’s upline leader, Arun George, who had joined the business a couple of months before Cherian, invited his top leaders to form a team called the Titans. Five of them who had resigned their jobs formed their own company in Bahrain, thus giving them more freedom to move around.
Yet starting a business in Bahrain did not come without challenges.
“We had to invest close to $100,000 of initial capital,” says Cherian. “Locals own most companies; expats like us were not allowed to own just any company. We found a marketing consultancy category in the list of companies that were allowed without a local sponsor. We grabbed that label and opened offices and a network support center in Bahrain.”
Initially they hired one employee to take care of customer support and product delivery issues. This freed up a lot of time for Cherian and his business partners to focus on launching foreign markets.
“Each time I ventured into another country, I would prepare my team members,” says Cherian. “I would give them a target date and ask them to identify their contacts, talk to them, and qualify them. After each of my trips, at least four or five of my downline leaders would have business in another country.”
The strategy of using his downline’s contacts to open new countries worked like a charm. Cherian opened up Kuwait and Oman through his network in Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia and Kenya through his leaders in Oman. He opened up India through his contacts in the Middle East and Ethiopia through his contacts in India.
Titans associate partners and founders in Nairobi, Kenya.
With key leaders at team event, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
As Cherian’s business multiplied, so did his team’s demographics. When he founded his business in the Middle East in 2001, his organization consisted of over 90 percent men.
“At that time, Middle Eastern culture did not support women doing anything other than taking care of the home and children,” Cherian explains. “Even the expats’ wives were mostly housewives and not inclined to venture out into the local culture or into the business world.”
However, when Cherian’s network branched out to their first African nation, Ethiopia, women were extremely responsive to the opportunity and female leaders quickly became the norm.
“Africa didn’t have the same cultural stigmas as the Middle East,” says Cherian. “African women are naturally better networkers than men. In their culture, women are more aggressive and focused on improving life for their families. They are not afraid of getting involved in a business, and once they do, they are determined to succeed.
“Today 90 percent of my network in Africa is female, and in India we attracted a lot of female leaders as well. I started out with a male majority in my network, but today we probably have an equal number of men and women.”
To strengthen his growing organization, Cherian and his five partners devised a plan to provide their local groups with more structured training.
“We realized that our teams were only seeing our faces, so we decided to do some cross training. I would go to other partners’ teams every week to do a business presentation, a basic training, or a leadership boot camp—and the rest of the team would do the same.
“We used to shuffle between countries every weekend. Arun would go to Qatar, I would go to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, and our other partners would go to the other countries. Alternating our presence in all these countries nearly every week worked to our advantage. Thanks to our unified systems and standardized trainings, almost every market started growing to its full potential. Despite the tremendous cultural diversity, we grew into a well structured and extremely disciplined organization.”
Cherian had met the founders of his network marketing company at his first training in Bahrain. He remembers being inspired by their values and initially used the company’s systems and tools. As he gained experience, he built on what he learned in the field, but he didn’t have time to read anything other than company materials. It took several years before Cherian became aware of generic network marketing resources and started looking into outside training. He eventually started reading some network marketing and business classics, including Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?, andAllan Pease’s Questions Are the Answers.
In 2005 his team brought Dr. Charles W. King from the University of Illinois at Chicago (since 2012 also president of Networking University) to Dubai to provide a certification-training program for their top leaders.
“From that point onward we grew our awareness of network marketing as a global business sector,” says Cherian. “Nowadays we recommend trainers from all over the world who offer valuable knowledge about the profession.”
Family vacation with wife Jinoo, daughter Jennifer, and son Samuel at Disney World, Florida.
Participating in the company´s In-service Brotherhood Boot Camp in Thailand.
In 2005 Cherian was invited, along with Arun George, to his company’s first recognition platform, the Global Leaders Forum. A few years later, both Cherian and Arun were elevated to the next level and became Associate V-Partners. In 2012 Cherian became a full V-Partner, the highest leadership level in the company.
Even though Cherian values and appreciates this public and ongoing recognition of his exceptional leadership, he says the biggest gift network marketing has given him is the friendships and partnerships he was able to form with people around the globe.
“Thousands of people in different countries know and love me and my family,” he says. “Some of the relationships I have developed with my business partners are deeper than those I have with my own brothers. There is no other profession that helps you get to know and love so many people around the world across races, creeds, cultures, and nationalities.”
Another benefit he sees is how network marketing enables him to offer people in any situation an economic model that helps them become wealthy and transform the destiny of the whole next generation.
“When I got started, I used to tell people I would retire in five years,” he says. “Now, I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Not because I need to make more money, but because this is more than a career; this is a lifetime calling, like being a doctor or an engineer.”
Thanks to his network marketing income, Cherian has achieved most of his personal dreams. After just one and a half year into his business, he and his elder brother were able to build a magnificent mansion for their parents. In 2003, he finished his MBA, an accomplishment that meant the world to his parents, who had always wanted to give their children the education they themselves never had.
In 2005 Cherian was able to immigrate to Canada and move his whole family to Toronto, although he soon realized that his heart was still in India and after a few years moved everyone back to his homeland. In 2012, he started a two-million-dollar construction project for a luxury condo in Kochi, Kerala.
Over the past twelve years he has visited nearly forty countries; his ultimate dream is to see the entire world. His parents also enjoy a life of travel and leisure, visiting their children and places they had only dreamed of.
Cherian says the biggest lesson he has learned is that if you want to achieve your dreams, you have to emotionally attach yourself to them.
“Your emotional investment in your dreams helps you to stay focused and avoid distractions. Nothing is impossible in this world if you focus and commit to your dreams with all your heart.”
While Cherian enjoys the extraordinary time and financial freedom he has achieved, his natural inclination is to keep stretching himself and always reach further.
“What I love even more than the physical manifestations of my dreams is the satisfaction I feel from proving to myself that I am capable of achieving them. Anyone who has a strong emotional attachment to