Bernie and I met in 1991. I was working at a bank as the Manager of Customer Service and Operations for eight branches, and our main branch was scheduled for renovations. The construction company awarded the contract had just hired a new Superintendent, Bernie Dohmann, to be in charge of those renovations. We married in 1994.
Both our careers progressed, to where I became VP and Area Manager responsible for sixteen branches; I was working seventy hours a week, feeling pressure and hating the politics that came with the position. On the surface, people saw me as outgoing, successful, and loving my career. But I was living behind a mask and experiencing a lot of anxiety. I felt cornered because I did not know what else I could do.
We lived for our three-week annual vacation. You know the kind: the first week is simply to try and unwind, the second week you really enjoy, the third week you start feeling uptight again because you know you will be returning to a pile of work that has been building up the entire time you were away… That was all we knew; never once did we think we could live a different kind of life.
In 1998, a series of events changed our lives forever. Bernie had developed a lump on his knee that was very painful. Doctors thought it might be cancer. While waiting for the elevator to go down to join Bernie on his appointment to the Cancer Clinic, a coworker asked me how I was doing. I broke down. She ran to her office and offered me a health product. “Have Bernie try this,” she said. “It might help him.”
Fortunately Bernie did not have cancer. The health product did alleviate the pain—and that’s how we got introduced to the world of network marketing.
We began to dream again, we began to see we could live a life of freedom, and we shared what that meant to each of us on our personal development journey. For the first time in our lives we had mentors—bestselling authors like Bob Proctor, Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, Vince Poscente, and of course Jim Rohn; and leaders who were vested in our success, like Michael DiMuccio and Garrett McGrath, both of whom have since become good friends.
After three and a half years in network marketing, our part-time home-based business was generating as much income as we were making at our stressful careers full time, so Bernie and I “retired” and never looked back.
Our journey working together as business partners did not come without challenges. We were not used to being around each other 24/7. It became apparent we had different strengths and areas we could work on.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
Working together this closely, you discover the quirky little things about each other you never knew before. And they can drive you crazy if you let them; what he feels to be important may not seem a priority to me.
We had to learn to honor and respect our differences—and leverage them. We did this by sitting down and being honest about what was working and what was not, what he was good at, and I was not. For example, Bernie is great at prospecting and follow-up; I also prospect but prefer coaching, developing leaders, and reaching out to help others succeed. So we tag-team and work in our areas of expertise.
Bernie is excellent with technology and event logistics, while I am better at preparing content and agendas. It’s easier to be organized if your roles are identified and responsibilities are clear.
Remember You Are on the Same Team
At times it felt like we were on opposing teams with different objectives, different timelines, different everything. We had to learn to express our goals and dreams and share our excitement about them. Every New Years, we each make a dream board to express in pictures what we want to create in the areas of finance, health, relationships, vacation/travel, business growth, and personal growth. Our dream boards hang on the walls in our offices. Every six months we revisit and re-set our goals so we can stay on track. This also reinforces our partnership and commitment to achieve and do whatever it takes. Every morning we meet and discuss the day ahead—what needs to happen, who is calling whom, and so on.
Make Fun Part of Your Plan
Building a large team and supporting a big network marketing organization can be all-consuming if you let it. And we did. We found that we never stopped thinking about our business, talking about our business, planning and meeting new people for our business, so there were days we came to resent it. We had stopped having fun. We encourage you to schedule time to just go have fun. We sometimes take in a matinee on a rainy afternoon, we set a golf date once a week, and we regularly head out to our cabin to rest and relax.
Our partnership is like our marriage: we love, honor, and respect each other through sickness and in health (this applies to our business health as well). We have discovered and learned more about each other than we ever could working separate careers. We have grown together as a couple and our company travels have taught us a lot about different cultures around the world. In the process, we’ve come to recognize that globally we all want the same things in life. Network marketing is a business that unites the world and ignites passion for helping others. We are forever grateful for the people who introduced us to this wonderful profession.
CATHY and BERNIE DOHMANN are active network marketing leaders based in Delta, British Columbia. Having reached the rank of Ambassador in their company, they are passionate about instilling hope around the globe and helping to create millionaires.
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