Shelley Ke is an Australian citizen from Chinese descent who got started in network marketing in 2009. She became her company’s first Royal Black Diamond in the Southern hemisphere in 2012 and today she is a Presidential Black Diamond with over 70,000 distributors in her organization.
Based in Sydney, Shelley built her business all over Australia, as well as in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Her team also expanded into Japan, the U.K., the U.S., and she can’t wait for her company to open her homeland China by the end of 2014.
Shelley had been a successful businesswoman, franchisor, and property investor when a friend introduced her to network marketing. She immediately recognized the similarities with franchising, but loved the residual income and exponential growth potential. She became even more passionate about her new business once she started building internationally and realizing her dream of leading a truly global team.
Shelley says the journey was not easy and took time, as she had no prior networking experience or background in nutrition or wellness. From working with engineers who have no business background and zero people skills, to overcoming language barriers at home and abroad, to mentoring women whose husbands feel threatened by the idea of their wives becoming financially independent, no matter what challenges she faced, there was always love and support from her husband Victor and her children Ying and Bo. Today Shelley uses the success stories she has collected over the years to inspire others to achieve more.
Originally from China, Shelley came to Australia in 1988. Naturally industrious, she and her husband Victor started their first business in 1989.
“We opened a Chinese restaurant, as many Chinese immigrants do,” she says. “After a couple of years, we sold our business and got into clothing manufacturing. All through the nineties we were involved in wholesale and retail until our business became heavily affected by increasing overseas import.”
Shelley had noticed many fashion stores had a jewelry section and that the margins there were much better, so she decided to start a jewelry business. Her children, Ying and Bo, were still babies at the time, so she went store to store with her two babies, asking if anyone wanted to sell her jewelry.
“I started at 9:30 a.m. until shops closed at 5:30 p.m. Soon I found one shop in downtown Sydney that was willing to wholesale my jewelry. To mitigate risk, my husband stayed in the clothing business while I built my jewelry business.”
Ten years later Shelley and Victor had over thirty jewelry stores across Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Central Coast, and Canberra.
“It was not an easy undertaking, but it gave me a solid business foundation,” says Shelley. “Luckily just before the global financial crisis in 2008 I was able to sell my business. This gave us a cushion so we were not in a rush to do anything. Instead, we invested in property and enjoyed our quality of life after years of hard work.”
Shelley and Victor developed a real estate portfolio in Australia, and by end 2008 one of Shelley’s property friends who had just had a baby called her to say she wanted to visit. Shelley was looking forward to seeing the baby, but instead of bringing her newborn, the new mom brought her upline.
“She totally surprised me,” Shelley says. “In addition, her upline was unaware that my friend had not told me what the meeting was about. The lady just started telling me all about nutritional supplements. The first hour I couldn’t focus because I wanted to talk about real estate. But what got my attention were the words passive income.”
Shelley had never heard of a business where one could work a couple of hours a day, build a foundation for three or four years, and develop an ongoing income stream, as this lady had done. Shelley vaguely remembered some past acquaintances being involved in network marketing, but no one had ever explained it to her or invited her into the business.
Getting excited, she told the presenter, “Excuse me, I didn’t concentrate before, could you please start over?”
This time she hung on to every word the lady said about the wellness industry and network marketing. By the end of the presentation Shelley told her, “I’m quite interested. Please sign me up.”
With Diamond team in Hawaii.
Eager to get started, Shelley immediately ordered all the products. She was surprised the cost was less than $2,500 and included a ticket to a training event. When her order arrived, she started studying the ingredients and properties of each product. She also started consuming them—a new behavior since she had never taken a supplement in her life.
She also did some research, read some books, and quickly discovered that what network marketers do is very similar to what she used to do as a franchisor.
“Network marketing is a franchise system with exponential growth,” she says. “The biggest difference is in network marketing the investment is very low.”
Treading on familiar ground, Shelley became more excited each day and couldn’t wait to share what she had found.
Two weeks later, after she had fully understood the compensation plan, she felt ready to talk to her first prospect. At a New Year’s family gathering she told her sister about her new business and met with heavy resistance.
“My sister was one of my franchisees,” says Shelley. “She told me I was crazy, that this was not a suitable business for me. When I asked why, she said one of her employees was involved in different network marketing companies and every couple of months tried to sell her product.”
Shelley urged her sister not to dismiss a business concept based on one person’s conduct. Knowing Shelley as a seasoned businesswoman, her sister said, “If you’re serious, why don’t you do a comparison?”
Another one of her employees had recently started to promote another wellness product—a juice. Shelley asked her sister to set up an appointment and the next day they went to a business presentation.
“At first I was wondering how I could build a juice business,” says Shelley. “You can buy all kinds of juices at the supermarket and even make your own. But by the end of the presentation, I had fallen in love with the company.”
Shelley asked her sister if she wanted to be her sponsor, but her sister just wanted to be a consumer. Shelley showed her that all she had to do was buy a couple of cases, so she agreed.
Shelley says what attracted her was that this was a young and fast-growing company with a single product.
“Even though my sister became my sponsor, she didn’t pave the road for me. Soon after I signed up, her sponsor also disappeared. Luckily this allowed me to meet and work with my active upline, Helen Newham and Val Wolfenden, who became my mentors and dear friends.”
Shelley started to share her business with her Chinese friends, even though at the time there were no Chinese marketing materials. Having no experience or system, she was grateful for Helen and Val’s attention and regularly brought prospects to them in Sydney. Every evening, she studied what she had learned in great detail.
“I knew the key was to open shops like a franchise,” she says. “I tried to share my understanding with my friends. Within six weeks, I was able to sponsor twenty-two people from my real estate and jewelry business circle. Unfortunately none of these people became active builders initially. I led with the business opportunity because I didn’t have any background in medicine or nutrition, but my friends just wanted to try the juice.”
Shelley says her business struggled until the day a group of young people joined.
“One day I shared the opportunity with one of my customers, and she introduced me to her friend’s friends’ friend, who brought several young I.T., banking, and real estate professionals to my place. After my presentation, they were totally inspired by my business acumen and wanted to learn from me. They became my downline, which made me a little nervous: I had sponsored a lot of people, but my business hadn’t really taken off yet.”
Even though Shelley didn’t know what to do, the youngsters were determined to achieve their dreams through network marketing. Shelley said, “If you really want to do this, I will open my house for home parties. We can hold them every night.”
Shelley realized that to build a team, she needed to help and lead people. She decided whatever she learned from Helen and Val she would teach the young people. Having a plan, she now organized her day like clockwork.
“In the daytime I called or met with my personal contacts,” she says. “At night I helped my team. People came at 7:00 p.m. and I start my meetings by 7:30 p.m., Sometimes we had three guests, sometimes five, and sometimes more than ten. Sometimes no one came, but no matter how many people showed up, I was excited.”
Giving daily presentations, Shelley gained experience and slowly her team started growing. New people joined almost daily and Shelley manifested her vision of creating “a franchise with exponential growth.”
“Opening my house allowed my business to go deep,” she says. “Of the people who joined, 95 percent had never been in network marketing, and those who had prior experience had never been successful in it. The newness of the business created excitement, which turned into momentum. Some of these people became my top leaders in the business and resigned from their jobs to build their own teams which have now gone international.”
Within six months, Shelley had 400 people on her team, which earned her the rank of Ruby. It took her ten months to become an Emerald, with 3,000 people. In fourteen months, she became a Blue Diamond, the first in the Chinese community in Australia. It took her two years to become a Hawaiian Blue Diamond with nearly 10,000 people. In two and a half years, she became her company’s first Chinese Black Diamond globally with 30,000 distributors in her business.
Shelley says one of the reasons her business grew quickly is that she went international early on.
“I had just made the rank of Emerald when I heard the news that my company was going to expand to Malaysia. I had also heard that Malaysia is the kingdom of network marketing. I knew that to make it big, I needed to have a business there.”
Home tasting party.
With leaders at Macau 2014 convention.
With the Wolfendens—Val, Anthony, and Megan.
With her mentors Helen Newham and Val Wolfenden.
Opportunity presentation in Malaysia.
Shelley traveled to Malaysia at the end of 2009 with some of her downline members, one of whom was born there. Not knowing anyone personally, they advertised the business opportunity in local newspapers.
“The fact that the company was only in prelaunch with no fixed date for the official opening was challenging,” she says. “My downline went back to Australia but I promised myself that I would stay until I had reached the rank of Blue Diamond. I was confident I could do it; I just didn’t know how long it would take me. I reached my goal in four months. I then knew I could launch any new market I chose.”
Shelley would meet with prospects at her hotel and let them sample the juice, which she had to bring from Australia because her company was not shipping to Malaysia yet. At one point she was out of juice and could only show the empty bottle, but she kept telling people how amazing the product was. People who responded to her ad often had no intention of joining her business but just wanted to network. When she told them about her business background, they typically didn’t believe her.
“It was not a good feeling,” she says. “I told them I paid money to stay in a hotel and share the opportunity with them, but many remained skeptical.”
Shelley loves telling the story of how she sponsored a taxi driver.
“He asked me where to go, but I had no destination. I just told him, ‘As long as you listen to me talk about my business, you can drive me as long as you want.’ I asked him not to go far, as I didn’t know the city. The taxi driver drove around for two hours. He finally said, ‘Okay, we better sit down in a café.’ He signed up and that’s how I started my Malaysian business.”
Shelley also sponsored a lady who responded to the ad and had been a top earner in a Malaysian network marketing company. She had left that company and joined a Chinese company that was expanding to Malaysia. She came to see Shelley accompanied by her partner and her brother, and all three pretended to be brand new to the business.
“Of course, I quickly figured out they were seasoned networkers,” says Shelley. “I asked the lady if I could keep in touch. I followed up with her for more than a month. She kept paying attention and sat on the fence until I built up my first Emerald in Malaysia. She then joined my business, became one of my key leaders, and today she is my Blue Diamond in Malaysia.”
Within a couple of months, Shelley developed a big team of Malaysian distributors.
“Looking back now I think I was crazy for being away for so long” she says. “Luckily my husband was taking care of Ying and Bo who were in high school. Thank God my family was understanding and supportive. Victor knows that if I really want to do something, I’m going to make it happen, so he didn’t mind playing mom and dad. Somehow my children also understood; it was a good experience for all of us.”
Celebrating in Hawaii with key leaders and company founders.
While in Malaysia, Shelley stayed in close touch with her Australian team, which continued to grow. The next market she focused on was Hong Kong, followed by Taiwan.
“I spent two months in Taiwan while also maintaining my other businesses,” she says. “Experience taught me I needed to consolidate, not just expand. I started to focus on duplication and leadership. I also expanded my Australian business interstate.”
Shelley built a big business in Melbourne as a result of convincing an Australian top leader of Chinese origin from another company to join her team.
“We first met when he came to Sydney to try and recruit me into his business,” she says. “I had just joined and was in love with my company so I wasn’t going for it, but I kept his business card. When I became Blue Diamond, and our director told me to focus more on Australia, I thought about my friend from Melbourne and called him.
“He told me he was now part time with a different network marketing company and full time in real estate. I thought maybe he was no longer in love with his company, so I asked him if I could talk to him about my business. He said he was not interested, that he knew my company long before I did. When I told him I had become a Blue Diamond, he congratulated me. I asked if he could give me just two hours. He said, ‘Shelley, don’t waste your time.’ I said, ‘I just want to have a conversation.’ He said, ‘Okay, then come on up.’
“I quickly hung up the phone, booked a flight to Melbourne, and texted him my arrival time. I didn’t want to call him because I was afraid he might cancel, and I really wanted to sign him up to expand my interstate business.
“The first time I visited him, he took a serious look at the business but didn’t sign up. One week later, I followed up. He told me if he had any further interest he would call me. I told him I was going to Malaysia to see my team and might miss his call. ‘How about I stop to see you in Melbourne on my way?’ I asked. He said okay. The second time I visited, I was able to sponsor him. Now he is one of my key leaders and expanding my business in Hong Kong and China.”
When Val and Helen lived in Sydney, Shelley was able to visit them often, but a few months into her business they moved to Gold Coast and mainly stayed in touch by phone.
“Even though we couldn’t meet in person on a regular basis, Helen and Val continued to give me tremendous support and guidance,” says Shelley. “Other mentors of mine are Val’s son Anthony Wolfenden and his wife Megan. At an early stage in my business, they came once a month to conduct a meeting for my team.
“I also found mentorship in books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People. Another book that helped me was Mark Yarnell’s Your First Year in Network Marketing. Think and Grow Rich was also an important book for me. I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad to my team for understanding the differences between traditional business and network marketing. I also read many Chinese books written by successful entrepreneurs.”
Leading a team of 70,000 people spread out over different cultures, Shelley credits her success to her ability to quickly build trust.
“I am not a high tech person,” she says. “Whenever I can, I spend face-to-face time with my leaders. My Australian team is really good with online marketing and setting up webinars. I use the phone to train leaders, but I encourage others to do it their way. Everybody has different talents and we can all learn from each other.
“To work with my Malaysian team in the early stages, I went there four times a year to maintain and build leadership. Between visits, they call me when they have challenges and I give them guidance so they can continue to build. The next time I visit, I motivate and influence their team and set goals for them.”
Shelley’s business in Taiwan and Thailand mainly grew as a result of her leaders expanding in those countries.
“While I like to build internationally myself, I focus on training leaders so they can grow their own international teams.”
Shelley has lined up and groomed about twenty of her Chinese leaders from Australia and Malaysia for her company’s impending launch of mainland China.
“At least we will not have any cultural or language barriers,” she says, “which can be a challenge. For instance when I built my team in Japan, I found out how different the Japanese culture is. In Thailand, I discovered that the people are not like Malaysians. They speak only Thai and I only speak Chinese and English, so we had to work with interpreters. Also, Thai people are so nice they can’t say no. Their culture doesn’t allow them to, so it’s difficult to know what they’re thinking. It takes much more time and effort to understand people in other cultures.”
Another challenge Shelley mentions is the income disparity between regions. In some suburban areas of Malaysia and Thailand, an order of six cases of juice equals twice the average monthly income.
“Even to convince people to buy just one case, I have to spend twice as much time explaining how every business requires an investment, how it’s an investment in their health, and so forth.”
Another obstacle is that in some regions people only use cash and don’t trust credit cards.
“Even the banks will stop credit card charges,” she says. “This can slow down our business growth, but fortunately, people there are hungry for opportunity. For some, if we can help them make even a small commission check, it can turn their lives around. Another advantage is that these regions are densely populated so we never run out of people to talk to. We just have to find those who are open-minded, who are willing to acquire a credit card and follow our lead. Building in those regions is harder, but can be extremely rewarding.”
Enjoying a cruise with a good friend and great key leader.
On holiday with her key leaders.
Black Diamond trip to Alaska with family.
Shelley’s team is over 60 percent female, which she says is no surprise. Used to running her traditional businesses with her husband, she believes her current business is even more suited for women.
“Women have many talents and a knack for entrepreneurship. We are detail-oriented, understanding, passionate, and we love sharing with our friends.
“In network marketing, our advantage is that we are more often willing to listen and be humble. I have huge respect for women who retain responsibilities as mothers and wives while consistently and persistently working to build their network marketing business. I aim to be a great mom and an excellent wife. And I truly believe that success doesn’t happen without family support.”
Shelley likes to motivate her female distributors with stories that show them ladies can become leaders, even if in cultures that restrict women’s freedom.
“There was a lady in my downline who was interested in doing the business. Her husband was in charge of the family as the sole income earner, while she was a full-time mom with two daughters. I sponsored her as a consumer, but after hearing me talk about the business opportunity, she really wanted to build her own business.
“She talked to her husband and his first reaction was that he would divorce if she persisted in her idea. When she came to me for advice, I said, ‘Don’t rush. Family is more important than business. Just affirm your husband’s values.
“I also said, ‘Communicate with him and let him understand more. The first step is to get his support to go all in.’ I encouraged her to show him how she saw herself creating an income. It took her about six more months to convince her husband to let her study the business and attend seminars.
“Little by little he started listening, and after one year he gave her the green light to start a business. They put away enough money for the family to live for one year and the husband quit his job so he could stay home and look after the children. Her husband was now fully supportive, but he also told her, ‘You must be successful within one year, otherwise never ever mention network marketing again and I will go back to work.’
“This lady came to me and said, ‘Shelley, that’s the deal. What should I do?’ I asked her, ‘What does your husband mean by successful? She told me if she could replace his income, he would be satisfied. Soon she started making double and triple the income her husband made. She became a Diamond within a year and she is now one of my key leaders building her own international business.”
Dreams and Vision
As a result of their previous business success, Shelley and her husband had a comfortable retired life when they found network marketing. But Shelley felt young and eager to grow. She wanted to become a better person and help others.
“Making money is not my purpose,” she says, “It’s only one of the results of becoming successful. Once I understood this business, I became so happy. Now I’m just a messenger of good news.
“In traditional business you make money but you’re time poor. I enroll many high profile people—executives, bankers, investors, entrepreneurs—not only people who’re struggling. I tell them we all can be better than where we are. We can be healthier, happier, and live more balanced lives.
“Another message I bring is that network marketing is big business. From day one I treated myself as an entrepreneur and I built this business bigger than anything I’ve built before, just by working hard. I always tell people I’m very ordinary. I’m a mom of two children. I’m a wife. I’m just a normal person who believes and has a vision to be an example for others, including successful entrepreneurs.”
A third message Shelley likes to convey to the world is that network marketing is a profession, and that anyone committed to being a professional networker can become more, help more, and do more.
Yet Shelley’s deepest motivation is to be a role model for her children.
“I want to inspire my children with my example,” she says. “I want to prove to them that even though mummy didn’t speak fluent English and sometimes needed their help in writing an email, she was able to reach her dreams. If you want to become something, even if you’re not good at it, you can do it, as long as you commit and are willing to do the work. I want them to know they are in charge of their lives. They can achieve. They can be happy, wealthy, and healthy.”
Even though Shelley is a Presidential Black Diamond, she is proud to work alongside her leaders in the field.
“I can’t stay back,” she says. “One day, when I achieve the highest rank in my mind, I may do something else, such as write a book and contribute another way. But now, with my team growing bigger and bigger, I need to be with them and lead by example. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that matters to people. I want to be a role model for my team and help my leaders achieve total financial freedom as well as create a more meaningful life.”
Back to top