Based in DeQueen, Arkansas, Randy Hedge was a single dad and a former insurance broker when he got involved in his current network marketing company. Today he is a top money earner leading a growing team of over 35,000 in Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, and the District of Columbia.
Randy’s innate gift for telling a good story and timing a joke, as well as his knack for mixing humor with hard-hitting business training, made him one of the most sought-after speakers in his company. Yet he is quick to inform prospects and new business partners that entertaining or educating a crowd is not what he gets paid to do.
Randy likes to point to the success of top leaders on his team who simply used the system and plugged into meetings where they never took the stage. Often a long-distance sponsor, he compares his leadership style to an “absentee daddy” whose kids knew he loved them and was there for them in case of an emergency, but who also taught them to be self-dependent.
When Randy married his soul mate Marcie in 2006, he made the commitment to never be away from his family for more than three or four days at a time. Extensive travel while building his previous business took a toll on his first marriage, and going through the loss of a business and a marriage made him reprioritize. What was one of the most difficult times in his life became one of the biggest blessings, because it allowed him to understand and protect what’s most important to him.
With Presley Swagerty and Steve Fisher,
good friends and top earners.
Entrepreneur at Heart
Growing up on Possum Creek in South Polk County, Arkansas, Randy always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. For generations his family had owned cattle, and once he graduated from college he knew he wanted to be his own boss. But he didn’t want to risk anything his parents had built, so he started an insurance business.
“I didn’t want mom and dad to sign their life away for me to have my own farm,” he says. “Insurance wasn’t my passion, but it was a great means to an end.”
In the mid-nineties, Randy was doing well running a couple of insurance businesses when another insurance broker told him about a network marketing company. Active in his church and community, Randy had been approached before, so he had his standard answer: “I wish you the best. I’m happy for you, but I’m focused on what I’m doing. If I want more money, I will just sell more insurance.”
Randy didn’t particularly trust this gentleman, so he listened to be polite, but he knew he wasn’t going to get involved. The gentleman left a little brochure behind, which Randy threw in a desk drawer and forgot about.
A few months later, Randy was working at the office one evening, feeling frustrated with the long hours he was putting in. Cleaning up his desk, he ran across the brochure and threw it in the trash, but somehow it missed. As he went to pick it up, it opened to a page that talked about how to get paid residual income by marketing telecommunication services.
“I’d always been chasing passive income,” says Randy, “whether it was with the ranch and cows or rental properties or insurance. Intrigued, I started making some calls. At that point I had been approached by five or six people about this company, several of whom had already quit.”
Randy got a hold of a gentleman who knew someone else. One call leading to the next, he ended up talking to a gentleman in Oklahoma who said he was making some money. Randy told him he was probably not going to join, and if he did, he’d sign up with the gentleman from church who had approached him first. But the gentleman in Oklahoma said, “I don’t care who you do it with. You’re just about to miss something you could be great at. I want to come down and spend some time with you.”
Randy knew it was about a three-hour drive for him, but he agreed to get together. After visiting with him and seeing proof of how the business worked, he decided he would give it a try. Even though he worked it part time, he started making some money. Because he was a great presenter, the company invited him to speak at some seminars and conventions, and it grew from there. Before he knew it, Randy earned a top position in the company. He sold his insurance agency, got rid of his rental properties, and became a full-time network marketer.
Randy and Marcie with team and friends 01.
Randy and Marcie with team and friends 02.
Presenting at company convention in Dallas.
Rise and Fall
Growing up on the farm, Randy had joined the Future Farmers of America (FFA) as a high school student. “It’s a tremendous organization that offers all kinds of leadership and business development programs,” he says, “including trainings for prepared or extemporaneous public speaking.”
Randy participated in many contests and was fortunate to be elected a state officer, and later a national officer. He took a sabbatical year out of college and traveled the world to speak for the FFA.
“I’d always had the gift of gab and was able to tell a story or a joke, but I really honed that skill as I traveled the convention and banquet circuit. I remember telling my dad my goal after finishing college was to give ten speeches for $100 a speech.”
Randy thought his dad would laugh at him, but he said, “Son, you’ll make a whole lot more than that if that’s what you want to do.”
Randy’s speaking grew from there, and by the early nineties, his highest honorarium had reached $8,000 plus expenses. But when he got married and his first child came along, he decided to set speaking aside because it involved too much travel. Instead, he focused on his insurance business and just taught Sunday school, while still giving a speech here and there as a service to different organizations.
Randy kept looking for residual income and time freedom, which neither speaking nor his insurance businesses could provide. When network marketing came along, he jumped on the opportunity and quickly started doing business presentations and trainings, so much so that people believed the company was paying him for speaking. “I wish!” he would answer. “In reality, I’m paid the same way you are—for building a business.”
Randy stayed with his first company for eight or nine years, until it went into bankruptcy. He remembers this being a hard lesson.
“In a matter of days, they were through paying commissions. I realized I put all this time in, this was my sole income, and just because of someone else’s decision, it was gone.”
Randy vowed he would never build another network marketing company. Three months after he lost his income, his wife of nineteen years left him and their two boys. He received full custody of his children and tried to raise them as a single dad. Around that time his best friend Presley Swagerty called him about an energy company that had just opened in Texas.
Randy remembers telling Presley, “No more pyramids, no more women. I’m done with both.” He was extremely negative and skeptical. He just sat on the sidelines as he watched Presley. He had full trust in his friend; he just didn’t believe the company would be able to deliver on its promises.
“When Presley first contacted me in 2005, the company wasn’t licensed,” says Randy. “They didn’t even have a name. Everything Presley said was going to happen, I told him it wasn’t. ‘They’re not going to get a license.’ They did. ‘They’re not going to get customers.’ They did. ‘They’re not going to pay you.’ They did. When I saw Presley’s success and growth, begrudgingly I decided to give it a try.”
With Tanner, Toby, Marcie, and Kenzie (left to right).
New Lease on Life
Randy felt he had a lot of excuses and reasons not to do well. He was a three-hour drive away from the closest deregulated market the company operated in. Every business partner he’d ever had, every leader he’d developed in his previous company, had the same attitude he had.
“I’d burned a lot of my contacts and bridges,” he says. “I just didn’t see how I could do it. But Presley believed in me before I believed in myself, and with God’s grace, my business started.”
A full-time dad, Randy only had two nights a week to build.
“On Tuesday nights, when my boys would go visit their mom, I’d get in my truck and drive down to Texas,” he says. “I’d attend a presentation and training, then meet with some folks. I had to drive home that night to pack lunches, make breakfast, and get the kids off to school the next morning. On Thursday nights my boys would go visit their grandmother. I’d make another trip to Texas and do the same deal.”
In the beginning Randy plugged into other leaders’ meetings. The first time he called up a leader who’d also come over from his first company and asked him if he’d be willing to do a meeting with him.
“There were seventeen people in the room and fifteen were his,” says Randy. “I remember driving home thinking, ‘This isn’t going to work.’ But I just kept calling and inviting people. Most of them were not interested, so I would ask, ‘Who do you know that might be interested in getting paid on people’s energy bills every month?’ Simply by asking for referrals, it started to grow.”
By working a couple of days a week, Randy was able to build an income that not only replaced what he had lost, but well surpassed it. For the first time he truly experienced time and financial freedom.
“In my first company I was making good money, but I was spending it all trying to grow my team,” he says. “This was the first time my business, once established, kept paying me.”
In 2006, after seeing some success in the business, Randy remarried.
“Marcie and I both had resigned ourselves to being single parents,” he says. “But our children had known each other since birth, grew up in the same church together, and it was obvious to everyone but us that we were meant to be together. So our kids sat us down and said, ‘Why don’t ya’ll just get married?’ Our families blended perfectly. Today I don’t have a stepdaughter; she is my daughter, and my boys call Marcie mom.”
Once Randy had a new partner and family support, his business really took off.
“It’s just been an amazing ride ever since,” he says. “After working my company for three years, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We knew it was terminal and that we had limited time left, so we made a decision to be with him. For the next ten months I didn’t do a meeting, didn’t make a phone call, didn’t send an email. I spent time with my family and was there when my father went to be with the Lord.”
Even though Randy didn’t work for all that time, every Friday his check came like clockwork. In fact, his income grew and he went from being the number eight money earner to number seven. Presley teased him saying, “That worked so well, you ought to take off all next year!”
Randy says his gift for speaking has helped him in some ways, and hurt him in others.
“When people see me on stage, they think they can’t do what I do. But through the training process they quickly learn that my income does not come from doing presentations or telling jokes. It comes from helping people get a check. Developing that culture within is what saved me. Some people at the periphery still believe I’m a paid speaker or entertainer, but my team knows that I get paid for doing what they do.”
On the flipside, Randy admits his speaking also adds a bonus.
“My team members know that when they go to a meeting, they can tell the leader, ‘I’m part of Randy’s group. If I can get some activity going, he said he’d come out and do some trainings.’ My team learned early on that this was a way to leverage local support, because other groups always want ‘the cowboy’ to come and present.”
For a while Randy had some reservations about using humor in his trainings, until Marcie told him, “They put sugar in cough syrup for a reason.” From that point on he made a decision he was going to have fun.
“I don’t just entertain,” he says. “I try to entertain with a purpose. There will always be some medicine that will help you if you choose to use it. What I say can sometimes sound hokey, but it applies and people can relate. It’s one of the advantages of coming from a small town and having a rural background. That folksy, common sense, cowboy humor seems to really connect for a lot of folks.”
Other ways Randy reassures prospects or candidates who can’t see themselves speaking on stage is by pointing out that the vast majority of people are not presenters, and that many of his top leaders grew sizeable businesses by sitting in chairs at meetings.
Randy also learned not to argue but simply agree with and build on whatever objection someone comes up with.
I don’t have the time to do this. “You’re right. Let’s go find three people you know who have a lot of time.”
I have to be a salesman to be able to do this. “You’re right. Let’s go find the three best salesmen you know.”
I don’t have enough credibility to do this. “I could tell by talking to you. Let’s go find the three most credible people you know.”
To those who aspire to become better presenters, Randy says there is no doubt it’s a skill set they can acquire.
“Some people are naturally good with numbers or spelling. Some have a musical ear. But just because you have that gift doesn’t mean you’re great at it. I subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of the 10,000 hours as described in Outliers. Because of the FFA and my first network marketing company, I put in those hours quickly. Even now, when I travel, I’ll do two, three, four speeches a day. It’s hard to do something that much and not be good at it. When someone tells me they want to be able to command the room, my first response is, ‘You can, but first be willing to fail. You’re going to embarrass yourself. You’re going to make mistakes.’ I just help them start on that journey of getting those 10,000 hours.”
Hopes and Dreams
Randy believes network marketing will be the answer for a growing number of people he sees who have been squeezed out of the middle class and are struggling.
“More and more people know they need a plan B,” he says. “There are many great companies now that have legitimized network marketing. Unfortunately, it still has some baggage, but so does the medical profession and real estate. Name any profession and there are jokes and snide comments about it. The beauty of networking is it’s the only career I know where a person, regardless of education, background, or even ability, can find success if they’re willing to learn and work. Unfortunately, many people aren’t willing to pay the price for whatever it is they want to accomplish. To be a good husband takes work. To be a good dad, you have to work at it, and you’re going to fail. I fail miserably everyday at everything I do, but I just keep trying.”
With Randy and Marcie’s youngest child graduating from high school, they look forward to travel more nationwide and internationally, and Randy plans to do more speaking for his company and beyond. His favorite topics are attitude, self motivation, work ethic, and how to treat others.
“It always comes back to people,” he says. “I mostly talk about those voices we all have inside or outside our heads, and how to listen to them, use them, and grow from them. My gift is to disarm even the most negative, jaded, sarcastic people. In terms of network marketing, I talk about the misconceptions of what it is and how it works. Instead of telling people how great it’s going to be, I tell them how ugly and nasty and hard it is. I make fun of it, and I show why it doesn’t really matter, because it’s worth it.”
Recently Randy has been collecting his hedge-isms or cowboy-isms in a book to be published by the end of 2014.
“In my talks I use old sayings and colloquialisms I grew up with,” he says. “For instance, my daddy always said, ‘Beware of the naked man who offers you his shirt.’ Meaning, if you’re going to take advice from someone, make sure they have the fruit on the tree. ‘Be careful not to fluff pillows on the devil’s bed,’ my grandma used to say. Her point was, too many times we do things that we know are not productive or shouldn’t be doing. We know we’re playing with fire, but we do it anyway.
“There are thousands of sayings. ‘If you want more milk, get more cows. Don’t squeeze harder the ones you’ve got.’ I use this story to talk about how to treat your team. These sayings don’t apply just to our business, they will help you to be a better dad, spouse, or student. By using humor and framing these life lessons in story format, the book will help readers remember them.”
When people who hear Randy speak compliment him on his craft, he says he sometimes feels a little guilty because they applaud a persona of who they think he is, while in reality, he is just like everyone else.
“I’m fighting the same daily battles and struggles they are,” he says. “Sometimes I’m probably not doing as a good a job as they’re doing. If we work on getting better, we’ve got a chance. Those who don’t even realize they need to be working are the ones who have a miserable, unfulfilled life. I wish I was what people thought I was. I’m trying to be. I’m certainly better than I used to be, but I’m not there yet.”