Who says you can’t have more than one best friend? My husband of thirty years, Glenn Head, is one. My friend of forty-five years, Gail Hoag, is another. Both are also my business partners.
Initially, Gail and I didn’t know we were starting a networking business. A mutual friend introduced us to products for “happy hormones” that we could get wholesale if we signed up as associates. To get the best price, we signed up at the lowest level—together!
Our remarkable product results attracted friends who asked what we were doing. Initially uncomfortable with network marketing, I answered, “I’m taking new supplements; would you like me to add some for you in my next order?”
When cases of products arrived, Gail and I scrambled to claim bottles for friends. “I need one for Donna and Jill!” I might say. Gail would quickly reply, “Better save some for Toni, Mary, and Dr. Yasmin.” We didn’t know it at the time, but this simple act of emptying cases of product was the beginning of what would become healthy competition between us friends.
Time for Business
Neither Gail nor I was looking for a business. We were not interested in becoming network marketers. At least not until our sponsor called one day and said, “You know those products you’re taking that you love? Well, simply by telling everyone I know about them, this month I got checks for $7,000 in the mail!” I was shocked. As this information moved from the disbelief in my mind to the joy I felt for Marion (my upline) in my heart, tears welled up. Marion and I had enjoyed service work in the world; I knew the good this kind-hearted friend would do with her newfound income.
I called Gail to tell her about Marion’s fortune. “Marion doesn’t even know anything about business! She’s a nurse and seminar leader,” I said. “We’re business consultants; if we focused just one day a week on letting people know about these supplements, we could make even more money than Marion.”
We bankrolled our business with $4,000 for marketing and training materials, personal and professional development, and travel to events. We had no doubt we would earn it back—and much more.
Fueled by Fun
Every Monday morning we began by taking a walk in nature and discussing strategy. We set goals and cleared potential blocks to success. We returned to our offices to take action, each making phone calls and in-person presentations.
Healthy competition motivated us to push our limits to exceed the other. We stayed close so we could instantly celebrate successes, laugh at our mistakes (a.k.a. “learning experiences”) and help each other to stay focused and upbeat. No doubt having fun was key to attracting other team members.
Our team grew quickly, even though none of us had any network marketing experience. At our first training, we started with a blank flip chart and asked our eager friends, “What do we need to know?” All contributed ideas for training topics; then each signed up to learn enough about a topic to be able to teach it to the rest of us! A community of strong leaders emerged who supported each other across lines for many years. Gail and I got the bonus of additional BFFs (best friends forever).
Eighteen months after moving from being customers to focusing on the business, we received our first five-figure check. Woohoo! Now it was really getting fun.
Would We Do It Again?
Many ask if we think it would have been easier or harder to do the business on our own. My answer is consistently, “I’ll never know. I would never have done it on my own!” It’s so much easier to share the load. It’s fun to create something out of nothing together, help people, get paid well for it, and then celebrate with your best friend.
At six months we could see the exponential progression working just like the network marketing books said it would. We let go of other business ventures to focus full time in this new playground.
Weekly gatherings to share the products and business outgrew our leaders’ homes and we moved to a public venue. Our initial commitment to work one day a week grew organically to encompass our lives. We enjoyed traveling, training, speaking before audiences of thousands and living the lifestyle our business promised. One of our convention speech titles declared, “You Can Have It All!”
Gail and I are often asked for advice about partnering with friends. We say, “Business partnerships are as serious as a marriage; our decades of close friendship and shared values made it possible.” We suggest friends consider being upline/downline partners instead of owning the same business or distributorship—unless their relationship is strong enough to “marry” each other.
One of the advantages of partnerships is that when life brings new opportunities to one of the partners, there’s someone left to run the business. About seven years into our business, Gail decided to start her family. She wound up taking five years off to do it.
Fortunately we had written business agreements. During our enthusiastic startup phase, we had forced ourselves to pause and answer the questions, “What will we do if we want to stop our partnership? What will happen if one of us dies? What should we do if one of us starts putting less energy into the business?”
Additionally, we had communication agreements based on shared values of honesty, respect, and appreciation. For more than a decade leading up to our business partnership, we practiced these agreements with business friends, clients, and family members. These agreements served Gail and me especially during times of conflict and later became the basis of my book, Revolutionary Agreements.
Because our husbands had their own downlines, we decided I would recruit new associates into my husband’s line during Gail’s absence. He started selling our sports products in his snowboarding clinics.
Our plan was that when Gail returned to work, she would recruit into her husband’s business. He had been placing product inserts into his mail order catalogs for his other business. These successful “family” lines would of course benefit their upline, Leaders Network International—us!
Partnering with My Husband
Glenn wanted in on the fun. He joined me in the Head Family business and began to play with the magnificent leaders who had built that strong leg over the years.
It was a difficult transition for me. I wasn’t playing with my girlfriend anymore; I was working with my husband. Although Glenn and I had worked together successfully for many years in other businesses, we were not aligned in network marketing. I had started the business and wanted Glenn to do it my way.
No way! Glenn was all about socializing. He took his time with everything. He would say in his Texas drawl, “Go slow to speed up.” (Read that again, s..l..o..w..l..y.) I was all about getting the job done efficiently. My East Coast, type A personality said, “Tell me yes or tell me no, but tell me quick, I’ve got to go!”
It was the toughest year of what was otherwise a stellar twenty-year marriage. I constantly criticized Glenn for what he did—and especially for what he didn’t do but should be doing. It’s a miracle he didn’t leave.
Despite my criticisms, he persevered and added new leaders to take his business to the next level. In short order he achieved the same top leadership status as Gail’s and my primary business.
Ultimately, we discovered how our different strengths complemented each other. Glenn loves socializing; he took the lead in finding potential “new best friends” who indicated interest in our business. I love systems; I followed through to enroll and provide nuts-and-bolts training.
In 2004 it was my turn to take time off from the business. I turned my focus to writing Revolutionary Agreements. Our network marketing company had already adopted a form of these agreements as their Leadership Agreements and top leaders used them for personal development and team alignment. With the publication of my book, I began traveling to share these Agreements with other companies, teams, worship communities, and individuals around the nation.
We often hear, “Network marketing is a personal development program disguised as a business.” To accelerate your personal development, simply add a partner! I am eternally grateful for my personal development/network marketing business, my partners, and my best friends forever.
The Revolutionary Agreements book and poster are available at www.NetworkingTimes.com
MARIAN HEAD is the award-winning author of Revolutionary Agreements: Twelve Ways to Transform Stress and Struggle into Freedom and Joy. GAIL HOAG is a transformational advisor, accomplished artist, and also partners with her husband Gregory in their business, Metaforms. Marian and Gail have been honored in the top 100 income earners for seven consecutive years and are members of their company’s “Million Dollar Club.”
GLENN HEAD is cofounder and Dean of Networking University and author of
Plan C: A Proven Path to Financial Freedom.
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