Based in Florida, Steve and Gina Merritt are top achievers in a ten-year-old international network marketing company. Their organization includes over a million members worldwide, of whom about 150,000 are actively building the business. Over the past eight years, the Merritts have earned more than 50 million dollars and helped 158 leaders on their team become millionaires.
Before their success in network marketing, Gina was a flight attendant and Steve a World Champion barefoot water-skier. Together they started a successful international water-ski company and training center and always enjoyed working as a team. When Gina’s pay got cut in half and Steve retired from competitive skiing they needed to find a new income for their family of four children.
Ever since his first encounter with network marketing, Steve saw it as an option to pursue for leveraging his time. Naturally outgoing, Gina had honed her people skills working for the airline. When the couple got involved in their first network marketing company, they plugged into a system, became students of the profession, achieved top positions, but didn’t see the financial returns they expected.
They took a break, went back to their careers, and when they joined their current company in 2007, they hit the ground running. They reached the rank of Black Diamond (million-dollar earners) in just 125 days after making their first call while both remained employed full-time.
Today Steve and Gina’s system teaches their team how to build a successful network marketing business alongside their jobs or existing businesses, allowing for quick duplication through simple processes. The Merritts are releasing a generic version of their training system which they believe will produce results in any company. In 2015 they will be sharing it with the world as part of their mission to help network marketing professionals succeed across companies and continents.
Discovering the Circles
Steve and Gina were first introduced to the business by a friend who was also the landlord for their water-ski training center and ski shop.
“We met up and he showed us the circles,” says Steve. “I was so blown away, I never forgot them from that point onward. We joined, quickly reached a top rank, and stayed there, but the company didn’t have a compensation plan that paid us well. After eight years of building it successfully, we walked away and went on with our lives.”
Steve became a sales rep while Gina continued as a flight attendant, but they always kept thinking about those circles and the unlimited potential the network marketing opportunity offers.
Steve worked for a water-skiing school for ten years, and then owned his own training center for fifteen years. His customers were mostly kids and adults from high-income families around the world. Not only would students pay thousands of dollars to train with Steve, many told him they wished they could be him. He’d say, “But... you’re an attorney!” They’d say, “You don’t understand. We have to sit in court all day.”
“This is how I got a lot of my street-smart education,” says Steve. “Every professional who came to me, whether they had a business or high-paying job, wished they were in the boat and skiing every day. They all wanted to escape the pressure, become free, and have the lifestyle of a pro athlete. After experiencing this conversation for years with so many students I came to realize that to achieve the freedom they were looking for, they simply needed a way to duplicate themselves. Using a proven system to build your network marketing business allows you to duplicate yourself over and over to the point where you can have both time and money, which is what allows me the lifestyle to ski every day.”
When Steve was no longer able to compete, he had to go out and get a job. At that time he was pondering, “This J.O.B. feels like prison. Why did my network marketing business not work the way I’d expected?” He knew God would never put a dream in his heart without offering a vehicle to achieve it and he really wanted to bring his wife home from work.
Presenting at company event in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Gina on fire, inspiring with her contagious personality.
Finding a Vehicle
While working for the airline, Gina kept looking for something to supplement her income after her salary and benefits got cut. When the Merritts’ sponsor called about a new network marketing opportunity in 2007, Gina said they were interested, but to call back when Steve was available.
Steve avoided taking the call for at least a month, even though he knew he needed something. He actually prayed it would not work because he did not want to do network marketing again.
“I’m just as cool as anybody else,” he says. “It’s like in the article that came out recently in Forbes magazine. Many people consider network marketing only when they realize they have no other option to ever build their retirement income. The article shows how even though you might not want to look this way, it really does work—and it’s happening for thousands of people.”
Steve remembers for the longest time telling himself he was not going to do this business. When he finally took his sponsor’s call, he signed up just to be nice to Gina, but then did nothing for 90 days. Then one day he received an email that said his sponsor was making thousands of dollars a week.
“I was mad that it worked,” he says, “because now I had to admit to myself that I had no other way to create the extra income we desperately needed. How do you replace your full-time income so you can retire one day or have the freedom and lifestyle you want? As the Forbes article points out, there aren’t many options out there. That’s why today one of our taglines is we give people hope. No one who has a job can possibly become free in the next two-to-five years like you can by building a network marketing business. Those who own a conventional business realize that the bigger their business grows, the more it owns them. I could go on with story after story of people who told me no and later decided to join. For many, it’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when.”
Getting Started Right
When Steve first asked how to get started, he was told to hold a party at his house. After inviting many of his friends, relatives, and neighbors, only eight people showed up.
“Two fell asleep and two were my parents, so apparently we had only four friends,” he says. “This business is a wake-up call showing you how some of your friendships are a façade. We easily could have quit, but my dream of bringing Gina home from work was bigger than giving in to the disappointment of a few no-shows. Later we discovered network marketing allows you to develop real friendships: once you start helping others succeed, they’ll go through any length to figure out a way to help you and your family, because you helped them.”
“This is a people business, not a product business,” Gina adds. “Once you understand that, you have the key to success. You have to become a better person and build relationships. Many people approach this like they would any other business and miss the importance of lifting up people.”
“Today the franchise business model is very popular,” Steve continues. “People purchase a franchise because of the turn-key system it provides. The problem is, you are taught how to run your own store and basically bought yourself a job. Network marketing offers the same turn-key system, but not only do you learn to succeed, so does every person you get started personally and train in depth around the world. When you understand this, it will keep you up just dreaming of the possibilities. As J. Paul Getty said, ‘I’d rather make 1 percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.’ This principle is what helped us create so many millionaires and thousands of six-figure income earners in our organization.”
“Another important concept to understand is you need to be coachable and follow others who are succeeding in the business,” says Gina. “You must also cut out all unproductive activities such as watching TV, then learn how to think bigger, relate to people who are looking, and roll up your sleeves to help them. You can’t look at others and expect them to make you rich. You have to take responsibility: I’m going to help this person succeed, and then I will succeed.
“For our first home party, our upline came over and did the presentation. She brought all the supplies and product, and I watched everything she did to a tee: how she shared the product and handed out brochures to everyone; she even had pens for people who were ready to enroll. I literally copied everything she did, and from there we duplicated the process by teaching it to others.”
Sharing the stage with John Maxwell.
With Royal Black Diamonds Johnny Chia
and Samantha Ng.
With European Blue and Black Diamonds in Poland.
Having fun on Alaskan cruise with their leaders.
To populate their first home presentations, the Merritts simply called their cell phone contacts, people on their wedding list, neighbors and acquaintances, and added new contacts daily.
“To this day that’s how we do it,” says Steve. “Many might think that in order to go from broke to millionaire in such a short period of time you have to call and enroll other networkers who move their networks over to yours. This is not true at all. We broke every record in our company in just 36 months simply by helping others launch their business and we were rewarded with a million-dollar bonus and a Murciélago Lamborghini. To this day we still pack out parties, meetings, and events everywhere we go. Because of the energy and the excitement, whether people in the room believe they can do it or not, they sign up because they do not want to be left behind.”
In just six weeks the Merritts’ network marketing income had replaced Gina’s salary, but she kept working until their team had grown to 42 Black Diamonds in their organization around the globe, because she wanted to make sure they had secured their family’s financial future before leaving her job.
“We teach people not to quit their jobs too early,” Steve explains. “This is a secondary income to help pay off debts and to give themselves some retirement money in the bank. Of course your attitude about your job changes when you know you’re making the same amount of money on the side.”
“Attitude is everything when building this business,” Gina chimes in. “When my salary was cut in half, I had to do the same job, wear the same polyester uniform, and work more hours. Knowing we were building our business just put a smile on my face and made me feel grateful for my career. We had to step it up, work hard, and trust that if others had experienced success, so could we. We looked at each other in faith and locked arms because we knew exactly where we were going.
One of the Merritts’ biggest dreams was to build an international business they could run out of their home. “This truly manifested for us,” says Gina, “simply because one person knew one person who knew one person.”
Today the Merritts have multimillion-dollar earners in Malaysia and million-dollar earners all across Southeast Asia
“I just returned from a memorable event in Australia where we broke a brand new Imperial Black Diamond and three Black Diamonds. Our business grew into Australia because we sponsored someone locally. We simply invited a neighbor our daughters were babysitting for over to the house to take a look at the opportunity. She eventually joined and ended up building a business with us that spans the globe.
“Last weekend we were in Poland where we spent time teaching over 2,000 people,” says Gina. “We now have teams in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Peru, Brazil, the U.K., and Germany. We just opened Italy this week and network marketing is booming there. We’re opening China in December, realizing our dream of having a business upon which the sun never sets. We feel having a business that generates income 24/7 is needed to keep up with today’s volatile economy.”
As part of their compensation, the Merritts have enjoyed 34 free trips over the past eight years.
“You can’t imagine this when you have a job,” says Steve. “For hitting just one of the higher ranks, we were awarded a trip to the destination of our choice on a private yacht with a private chef and servers. We have been to Hawaii so many times we lost track, and traveling with thousands of friends at a time is just spectacular.
“Thanks to this business Gina and I get to travel together instead of her being out of town with other flight attendants and pilots and me on the road with my boss. If you like to travel, this is the business to be in.”
While the Merritts work with teams all over the world, North America remains an important market for them. Recently they hosted a big conference in Orlando and they are producing new six-figure income earners each month.
“You can only do this if you have a foolproof system everyone can plug into,” says Steve. “North Americans are realizing more and more that the rewards versus the risks are so much better in network marketing compared to the daily grind of rush-hour traffic and working nine-to-five. We are excited to be a part of changing people’s perception of this business model and believe in the near future it will be as acceptable as the franchising model is today.
“The article in Forbes magazine said network marketing is poised to break records in the next few years. I totally agree. Why? One reason is the population explosion. With so many young people entering the workforce every day, the job pool is getting smaller and smaller. Your boss knows all those people want your job. Talk to any employee in North America and they’ll tell you their jobs are getting tougher every year. Young people will work insane hours because they know there are others lining up to take their place. Many are looking for some way to create a secondary income, and there aren’t many ways to get started without a significant investment and the risks that come with it.”
With their team having a blast on private yacht in Hawaii.
On a snorkeling trip with European team.
With Imperial Black Diamonds Shelly Ke and Victor Xu and their team.
Improving Public Perception
The Merritts believe the biggest competition network marketers run into is not other companies, but the perception most people hold of the business model.
“They don’t even know what we do and in many cases close their minds prematurely when we try to explain it,” says Steve. “That’s because they were told by their great-grandfather, their grandmother, their parents, and their professors that you need to get a solid education, get a good job, work hard for a company, and it will take care of you for the rest of your life. This outdated belief is not only prevalent here in North America, it extends to most countries. People are waking up to the fact that they have to do something different. They don’t know what they are looking for until we show it to them. Then the timing needs to be right, meaning the opportunity has to coincide with their willingness to learn and readiness to awaken to the possibilities. Next, all they need is the right vehicle, a proven system, and a team of people like us to lead and teach them how to succeed.”
“Next, they need to take ownership of their business,” says Gina. “Nobody’s going to build it for you. If you understand this, you will not say to someone you just sponsored, ‘Call me when you need help,’ which is what often happens. Instead, be the leader and say, ‘Let me help you make phone calls and conduct meetings so we can make you successful.’
“Some ask, ‘Do I have to make phone calls and do the meetings for everybody in my group?’ No, you just show a few what to do. If I show you how to make phone calls and do meetings and follow-ups for your sister, your coworkers, your mother, your neighbor, they will see what I did for you and help their friends do the same. Eventually everybody understands they have to help their new recruits get started properly. If you duplicate that, you’ll have a huge organization around the world.”
To help change people’s perception of the business, the Merritts recommend reading books by economists such as Paul Zane Pilzer, financial experts such as Robert Kiyosaki, and celebrity investors such as Donald Trump and Warren Buffet.
“I also like Go Pro by Eric Worre,” says Steve, “because his goal is to change the perception of this business by teaching people how to become professionals in their trade. This includes respecting other companies, developing yourself, and honing your people skills. If you don’t behave professionally, you just give our business a bad name.”
Network Marketing Masters:
Your Blueprint to Create a Six-Figure Income
By Steve and Gina Merritt
Other books in Steve and Gina’s success library include The Richest Man in Babylon, The Magic of Thinking Big, and Breakout by Joel Osteen. Steve also loves listening to Joel and others such as TD Jakes and Jim Rohn in the morning to start his day on a positive foundation instead of listening to the news.
“My favorite book that helped me build my business is How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he adds. “The most important skill I learned from it is complimenting people. Most grown-ups rarely get complimented anymore. If you learn this skill, you will significantly increase your chances for getting someone to take a look at your opportunity. We teach our team that eighty percent of the people in this business had their first look at it in a one-on-one or a two-on-one meeting. I’m not saying they all signed up this way, but it was their first exposure.
“If you first compliment people and they later ask you tough questions about the compensation plan, they will be more forgiving. Especially if you’re new, make sure to use this principle Dale Carnegie teaches. When someone asks you, ‘How does that work in your compensation plan?,’ answer with a smile, ‘That’s a great question!’ If you don’t know the answer, instead of trying to make something up, simply applaud the question. If you knew all the answers, your prospect might think, ‘I don’t want to do this; you need to know too much.’ If they ask a product question, ‘That’s a great question’ takes the pressure off and makes everyone feel good.
“Another favorite book of ours is John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, because it teaches how important personal growth is in you becoming successful in all areas of our life, including your network marketing business.”
“Finally, people need to be patient and give themselves time to win,” Gina adds. “The lives you change, the freedom you experience, the people you meet, and the amazing places you visit, are so worth being patient for. Realize your time is coming. Stay focused on the dreams and goals you have for your family and they will give you the stamina, energy, and persistence to succeed. The more people read, the more they’re out there meeting folks, the more they will grow. Self-improvement is going to help them win at their career and win in their network marketing business.”
Hanging out in Hope Town.
Cruising in the Bahamas.
Mission and Contribution
Because of their involvement in network marketing, Steve and Gina have been able to give more than they ever imagined to causes locally and internationally.
“This business creates some of the biggest givers of both time and money,” Gina explains. “What’s most interesting is the people you help succeed become incredible givers as well. You can actually create a dynasty of givers simply by building a successful networking business.”
“Another thing we love about our profession is it offers a level playing field,” Steve adds. “You cannot buy your way to the top. This allows anyone at any level in society or ethnic group an opportunity to succeed. The difference between moving up in rank and receiving big awards in our business versus in a job is when you’re promoted in your career often someone else had to lose for you to win. Here everyone can earn the same rewards, recognition, and income, which is a big mind shift causing many to look at network marketing as the best alternative to a conventional job or career.”
Since the Merritts have coached thousands around the world how to succeed, they see themselves as experts of their trade.
“The system we are teaching is not theory,” Steve says, “it’s proven, as we have now created 158 millionaires. The more millionaires we help create, the easier it is to change people’s perception of the business. After helping thousands of people on our own team become six-figure income earners, we have decided to bring our system and processes to the network marketing community so everyone can benefit from our knowledge and experience. We’ve never let this training get out of our own organization before, but the time has come to share it with the world.”
“One of our biggest reasons for having continued long-term success is not looking left and not looking right,” says Gina. “Too many folks think the grass is greener in another company or team, only to find out that it’s the leader’s skill sets and habits that create success. One of our biggest goals is to lift people’s opinion of network marketing and for that reason we take the high road. For instance, we do not encourage recruiting anyone from another company. This is not a good practice to build a strong foundation. Even though some feel this way of moving groups of people over is a shortcut to the top, these same folks who jump ship most likely will jump again when the next big deal comes around.
“Steve and I build with a system that allows people to learn and grow, then duplicate the process. Just like compounding interest, the numbers of informed people being trained to become successful leaders multiplies faster and faster by each having their own thriving network marketing business.
“We want to bring this information to network marketing leaders and encourage them to apply our success principles, processes, and systems, so they can win where they are. Stay in your plan, and just as thousands in our organization have succeeded, you too can win exactly at what you’re in when you follow and implement our program step by step.”