Steve Fisher understands what it feels like not to have instant success in network marketing. Though he is currently a top earner in his company, his journey did not start without challenges. Today Steve uses his experience to encourage others in their own journeys, and to help them develop long-term vision for their businesses.
Initially coming to network marketing through his brother’s invitation, Steve immediately fell in love with the business model and the opportunity to shape his own destiny. He eventually dove in full time. Since then, he has not only risen to the top in his company, but helped many others fulfill their own dreams.
Always ready to share, Steve has condensed his twenty years of experience building teams of over 65,000 associates. In his new book, Residual Millionaire, he shares his passion for developing residual income. Steve and his wife Diane currently live in Colleyville, Texas. They have been married 26 years and have three daughters and a son-in-law.
In the Beginning
In 1994, 25-year-old Steve Fisher worked as a baggage handler for American Airlines at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. One day his brother, an executive at Delta, called him and asked if he would accompany him to a business opportunity meeting. Steve had enormous respect for his brother, and felt so honored by the request that he didn’t even ask any questions—he just said yes.
Steve recalls, “When my brother picked me up, he told me not to pay attention to the person doing the presentation, but to listen to the numbers and see if they made sense. If they do, he said, then let’s do business together and make some money.”
Steve remembers the presentation itself wasn’t that great, so his brother’s advice kept him focused on the opportunity itself. The concept made total sense to Steve. He looked at his brother and told him he planned to sponsor 10 associates that week. He already had in mind a running list of people he “knew” would get involved with him.
Steve signed up that night and took home his “pizza box” kit of materials. He didn’t exactly know what he had gotten himself into, but he was excited. On the way home from the meeting he made his first phone call to some friends—a husband and wife who were both air traffic controllers at Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
Steve told them to brew a pot of coffee and that he had something to show them. When he got there, Steve opened the pizza box of information at the kitchen table and invited his friends to go through the contents. He said, “Tell me why this won’t work.”
Steve’s friends dove right in, asking all kinds of questions about the business that he couldn’t answer. They all ended up pouring over the information and learning together. At the end of two hours, much to Steve’s surprise, they said, “This looks great. We’re signing up!”
Proud of his first efforts, Steve called his brother right away and said, “I haven’t even been home yet and I’ve already sponsored my first associate. I told you I could do this!” But the reality did not keep pace with Steve’s ambition. Within six months, his first associate—the friend he had shared the opportunity with on his way home from the original meeting—had 89 people on his team. Steve still had only the one.
A Top Earner Comes to Town
Even though Steve’s patience was being tested, he still stayed committed to building the business. When he learned that a top money earner was coming to town for a big meeting, Steve decided this would be his week to shine. The entire week he took massive action making calls and ended up inviting 30 people to the meeting.
“At this point I had grown tired of individuals saying they were going to do something—like attending a meeting—and not following through,” Steve says. “This had made me a little aggressive with people. If they said ‘yes, I’ll be there,’ I almost wanted them to sign in blood that they were going to come. At the end of the week, I had about 15 people committed to being there.”
Steve recalls showing up early at the meeting, dressed to the nines, and counting dollars in his head. “I went up to the top money earner,” Steve says, “totally excited. I told him I had 15 people coming to this meeting. I even added that I’d grabbed these people by their shirts and that they had all assured me they’d be there.”
Steve laughs at what happened next. “This top earner just stood there looking at me and I could tell he felt sorry for me.”
“Steve,” the top money earner said, “don’t get upset if they don’t all show up.”
Sure enough, at seven o’clock when the meeting started, not one of Steve’s prospects had arrived. No one showed up at all.
“That night I quit network marketing,” says Steve. He told himself this business just didn’t suit him. He went back to his job the next day at American Airlines, out of the business. Or so he thought.
On the tram ride the next morning from the parking lot to Steve’s work site, one of the 15 people he had invited to the meeting sat directly across from him. As Steve glared at him, he looked up and said, “We really wanted to be there, but something came up with my wife. Can you come by the house tonight and show us the business?”
Steve remembers thinking to himself, “I already quit,” but he says something else just came out of his mouth. He said, “Absolutely!” Steve went to this couple’s house after work and they signed up. The next day, another person approached him saying he wanted to be there but couldn’t, and he signed up, too.
With these new recruits, Steve promoted to his company’s first leadership position. He went on to achieve the top-100 category in sales in that year, a remarkable feat for someone so young and new to the business. “That was a lesson for me in my network marketing career,” he says. “Push through and keep building no matter what happens.”
Overcoming Life’s Challenges
From 1994 until 2002, Steve continued to build his network marketing business part time. He hadn’t left his job at American Airlines, though he had taken an extended leave of absence. That choice ended up being beneficial for his family as his network marketing company began to have some issues right around the time his wife became pregnant with their third child. Steve’s status of being on leave from the airline did not provide health insurance for his family, and they knew they would need it for a necessary Cesarean when the baby came. Steve decided to return to full-time work at American. But over time, after making it through three layoffs and even a pay cut to keep his position, Steve became tired of the rat race.
“I just didn’t want to continue to climb this corporate ladder,” he says, “so when I got a call about a new opportunity from a trusted friend—a former member of my own previous downline—I eagerly listened.
“I had a lot of respect for this gentleman. When he told me about this company launching in Dallas in January 2005, I became interested. I knew the track record of the owners and founders. I recognized that being a part of this startup was a terrific option for us.”
What Steve didn’t know was that on the Wednesday before Christmas of 2004, he would be laid off by American Airlines, after a 17-year career. When he was given a six-month severance package, he decided to use this as seed money to launch his new business.
“I still firmly believed in network marketing,” Steve says. “My experience had taught me to also believe in myself, that I could do it. I said to my wife, ‘Just give me a chance. If in six months we’re not making it, I’ll do whatever I have to do.’”
Knowing he had to replace his income fast became a huge motivator for Steve. He says this experience took him to a different level of thinking and action.
“I really came out swinging,” he says. “I learned a lot through that experience. I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been put in that position. Imagining the answer to that question is kind of scary. When we are comfortable, we tend not to push ourselves to the limit the way we might otherwise.”
The company Steve joined launched successfully that January, but within a framework that some might have considered a negative—the company could conduct business only in one state. Since he had to make this opportunity work for his family, Steve chose to look at the positive side. “That one state was Texas,” said Steve. “It’s a big state.”
Steve was right. In just four years time he was able to build a team of 40,000 in that one state. He adopted an attitude of focus and commitment, for instance he would not hesitate to drive five hours or more to meet with one prospect.
“I did whatever I could to find those leaders who would take the ball and run with it,” he says. “When we found them, we locked arms to help them build as quickly as possible.”
Learning to Empower Others
As his team continued to grow and mature, Steve began to transition into more of a leadership role. He created tools and training that equipped his growing team to develop other leaders across the state. His leaders began duplicating Steve’s methods and trainings in their own businesses.
Twice a week for the last ten years, Steve has been delivering webinars to his team explaining the business opportunity and offering a variety of training. He also includes presentations from different leaders and recognition for achievements. Everyone can plug into the online events, as well as into his weekly conference calls. Steve says, “We have also had a ton of success with private webinars. This is when a leader wants to get five or six people together online and go through the information in a more personal setting. This allows us to stop and answer questions, and anyone can duplicate this.”
Developing leaders did not come without its challenges, however. Steve went through a transition of becoming comfortable with giving up control and learning to turn the spotlight on others. “Empowering new leaders means allowing them to shine and take center stage,” he says. “You know the transition is complete when they basically don’t need you anymore, because they are the ones running their teams.”
Steve is proud of the number of leaders in his downline who are managing teams of thousands of their own. He also couldn’t be more pleased with the financial rewards those individuals are reaching.
Steve has worked hard over the last 10 years to create the level of success and achievement he and his family now enjoy. “I like to say I own my life,” he says, “and that’s a great feeling to have. It allows me to do things differently.”
Though Steve is on the road far less than in the beginning of his networking career, he still travels to conduct meetings for his team, which has long since grown past the Texas borders and into other parts of the country. He knows his business is still a relationship business, even though he sees the Internet as an effective tool for team building. “I believe relationships are better built face to face,” he says. “That’s why I still like to visit with team members who are committed to building and making an impact.”
During those trips, Steve focuses not just on building the team, but also on strengthening the bonds of relationship. Activities might include cookouts, fishing, or golf. “I want my team to see me having fun as well as working,” he says. “There is a balance to life that is important here. If my team members see me working all the time and never taking a break to smell the roses, they might think, ‘I don’t want to live like that.’ One of the attractions of the network marketing profession is that while we work hard, it gives us the ability to play hard, too.”
Leading by Example
Steve says he emulates many practices gleaned from other leaders within the network marketing community, including Jordan Adler who was cross-line from Steve in his first company. “I learned a lot about the business from going to Jordan’s trainings and hearing him speak,” says Steve.
Lee Lemons, Presley Swagerty, and Eric Worre are all on Steve’s list of great teachers and mentors who have influenced his success. “I learned from them not only how to build a successful team, but also how to develop and empower leaders so that you create long-lasting duplication. You don’t want to grow a dependent team that is waiting for you to do the work. You want to develop leaders and empower them to teach their teams as you taught them.”
Though Steve has reached the highest rank in his company, he still practices the basic business activities of prospecting and adding new recruits to his front line. His team greatly benefits from watching him do this and hearing the questions he might ask a new prospect. Steve believes in doing business while going about daily life, rather than going out to prospect and recruit.
“Network marketing is not something you go and do. It’s something you do as you go.” No matter where Steve goes, he finds ways to share his story.
“If you ask questions, you can get people to talk about their lives. If you ask the right questions, it doesn’t take long before they start complaining, and if you can get them to complain, they are basically opening up to you and saying ‘I have a problem here.’ Perhaps they hate their job, or they don’t get to spend enough time with their family, or they haven’t taken a vacation in five years. I can then present my business as a solution to their problem.”
Getting others to talk about their everyday lives can prevent initial walls from going up, which can happen when launching into the business presentation first. According to Steve, people are much more open to listening when you present your business as a solution to the problem they’ve just described. This method of sharing his work wherever he goes through conversation and relationship building keeps Steve excited, not just about his business, but about his future.
“I love this business model and profession,” he says. “I love my company and I see myself continuing to do this for the rest of my life. I want to help as many people as possible to change their lives by building a residual income. I want to show them just how powerful it can be to own their lives and have time freedom.”
Passionate about changing the way people think about income, Steve coined the phrase The Residual Life. He explains:”Most of us are locked into thinking about earning a living with a linear income, working for somebody else and getting a paycheck. It’s not a bad deal in some cases, but if I can show people how to create a passive residual income, then I’m excited to do it.”
The Power of Personal Development
Steve is grateful he discovered the teachings of the legendary Jim Rohn early on in his career. “I was like a sponge,” he says. “I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I devoured whatever material I could get my hands on and made personal development part of my daily life.”
Steve’s favorite Jim Rohn CD is Building Your Network Marketing Business. He bought it in bulk and handed copies out to his team.
“I would give one to each new associate,” he says, “because it gets people in the right mental state to build a truly successful business.”
Other inspirational mentors have been basketball coach Rick Pitino, whose book is titled Success Is a Choice. Pitinopoints out that success is a mindset, something you choose rather than wait for or complain about when it’s lacking. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is another favorite book Steve rereads every couple of years. Steve also learned a lot about leadership from reading John Maxwell’s books, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He and his wife Diane were fortunate to be able to spend private time with John at a recent leadership event.
Looking back, Steve even credits his rapid success climbing the ladder at American Airlines with the personal development he underwent in network marketing. Starting out as a baggage handler at age 19, he worked his way up from there to crew chief, and then into management. He ultimately achieved the position of Senior Analyst of Airport Operations for the company, without having obtained a college degree.
“As you focus on personal development, you begin to believe in yourself,” he says. “This confidence then carries over into your relationships, your job, and every part of your life. Personal development transforms you at the deepest level.”
Steve remembers a recent company trip in the West Indies where he enjoyed sitting with his company’s top earner Presley Swagerty on a gorgeous beach. Presley said, “Most people in network marketing spend their time looking for leaders rather than becoming the leader they are trying to attract. If they would just become thatperson, then the leaders would begin to migrate to them.”
This was an aha moment in Steve’s career and continues to influence his thinking about how he manages his business. It is also an underlying reason why he continues to pursue a life rich in personal development.
One of Jim Rohn’s beloved sayings echoes this idea: Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better. This principle has had enormous impact on the way Steve thinks about his own experience when he joined network marketing.
“My story is a perfect example of not starting with success,” he says. “I always tell people not to get frustrated with the process. I had a lot of adversity to overcome, and I did. Sometimes when people get involved in network marketing, they have wrong expectations about earnings, thinking if they aren’t making a giant sum the next month then it must not work. I hate to see people quit their businesses before they have an opportunity to experience the real difference it can make.”
In order to manage the expectations of new recruits, Steve advises teaching that the “why” of joining the business be all-encompassing. He believes it should include not just the person you want to become and the goals for your business, but also people you want to help. He says, “When your focus is on pouring yourself into the success of others, that’s what leads to your success.”
One of Steve’s current pleasures is spending relaxed mornings at home and having breakfast with his wife. He plans his day around the phone calls he wants to make to new team members and those who are advancing in rank. These days, that list is pretty long. As part of his home office, Steve has an in-home recording studio where he can make professional training videos for his team. “These videos give me another way to leverage myself,” he says. “I shoot the video once and it gets used over and over.”
Steve says he’s not finished working yet, though he certainly could afford to retire. “I still feel I have a lot to accomplish. I am definitely at a point in my life where I want to focus on contributing to others. I want to help budding network marketing leaders, regardless of what company they represent. I simply love this entire profession.”
Steve’s ultimate goal is to live a life of significance. He feels this is measured by the number of lives you touch and compounded by the number of people you can help change their own lives.
“The joy this provides is the true reward of our business—the reward money can’t buy,” he says. “If you believe in people, you eventually get them to believe in themselves, and that’s when anything becomes possible.”
Today Steve has become a true champion of the network marketing profession. His goals include helping society at large understand the benefits of network marketing as a force for good. His belief in the power of the business to transform lives is getting stronger every day. “To quote Eric Worre,” he says, “we do have a better way.”