Kenny Lloyd has seen his fair share of peaks and valleys. Based in Houston, Texas, Kenny was first introduced to network marketing while in the midst of a thriving career in the mortgage industry.
At the time, Kenny was living comfortably, and network marketing was little more than a fleeting curiosity. Seeing no reason to change careers, Kenny continued down his same path, not realizing the potential of the seed that had been planted in his mind.
The son of the first African-American in history to play in the NBA, the late Earl Lloyd, Kenny inherited from his father the value of honor in life. It was that same honor that gave Kenny the ability to pursue an opportunity that would eventually lead him out of the darkest financial period of his life.
Today, Kenny has started life anew. After reinventing himself in a field he never imagined being a part of, Kenny was recently named Vice President of North American Sales for his company.
“The two greatest moments in life are the moment you’re born, and the moment you discover what you’re born to do,” he says. Yet were it not for a sudden and prolonged period of struggle well into his adult life, Kenny might still be searching for his true purpose. “I never let fear hinder me,” he says. “Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space, and faith will take you where your fear would never allow you to go.”—D. J.
How did you first get acquainted with network marketing?
My first encounter was through my friend James Tucker in 2006. At about 6 foot 6, he’s one of the most intimidating guys you’ll ever see. If you saw him walking towards you, you’d get on the other side of the street.
Before finding network marketing, James went through some challenges that left him penniless. When James started working for a network marketing company, it turned his life around completely. I watched him over the course of two years go from dead broke to earning seven figures a year. At one point, he began talking to me about the business, trying to get me involved. At the time, I was making a lot of money in the mortgage industry, so I really had no use for it. James was persistent, though, and he invited me to one of his events to see what it was all about, so I agreed to attend.
It was a network marketing boot camp, and at one point during the event, James was asked to come on the stage and say a few words. The moment he stepped on that stage, I could see and feel the love and appreciation his team had for him. It was incredible. He started talking about his journey—how he got to where he was and all the struggles he went through along the way. It was really moving and he started crying. I couldn’t believe this big man was crying. I had never seen anything like that from him, so I assumed it was an act.
I approached him afterwards and said “Were you acting up there?” He said, “No.” I said, “What made you cry like that?” James said to me, “My journey. What it took to get me from where I was to where I am now.” There was a powerful emotion, but I didn’t fully understand it at the time.
What did it take to finally get you involved?
It wasn’t until two years later when I was having some seriously difficult times. By then it was 2008 and the mortgage industry had totally collapsed. I thought I was prepared for the worst; I had saved about $250,000 dollars and amassed a collection of probably 21 different credit cards. I said to myself, “In an absolute emergency, at least I have these credit cards to sustain myself and my family for a while.”
For two years, I had no money coming in. I was completely broke, and we had to live off those credit cards. I’ll never forget the day I called the bank to see how much I had left on my last credit card and they told me I had $100 and that was it.
My heart sank. It was the first time in my adult life that I was honestly, genuinely scared. My emergency fund was completely exhausted but the emergency had yet to pass. So we struggled. It was a brutally humbling experience to go from a life of comfort and affluence to having absolutely nothing.
Not knowing what to do, my wife Chante insisted we get involved with a network marketing company she learned about through her best friend’s mother, Barbara Brown. We didn’t have a lot of options at the time, but I didn’t like the idea of making a business decision based on anything other than financial considerations. In my mind, this wasn’t a time to do anyone any favors; we had to make the right business decision regardless of friendships.
Chante is my better half, though, and she’s really the spiritual half. She insisted we give Barbara and the company a shot. I was reluctant, but at that point, a part of me had really shifted and been shaped by our struggles. It was a new side of me, a humble side, and it gave me the clarity to realize, “Look, it’s my wife’s best friend, it would mean a lot her, let’s just do the right thing.”
So you agreed to take a chance, and then what happened?
Barbara became our angel. She invited me and my wife to a company meeting to learn about the products and gauge our interest. I still remember walking into the room and looking at the audience. I thought, “I’m in a room with a bunch of losers,” and I felt like a loser too.
Then I saw these mannequins with women’s garments on them, and my first thought was, “I just can’t be in the right place, I’ve made a mistake coming here. Just a couple of years before, I was a top-notch financier and now I’m being relegated to selling women’s garments?”
I started texting my friends, “You won’t believe where I am right now...” I felt my mind starting to play tricks on me. It was trying to tell me, “This is not for you,” before I even found out what it was. I was about to get up and leave, until I realized I had no place else to go.
What allowed you to have a change of heart?
When you’re broke you don’t have the luxury of turning your nose up at opportunities. You really have to look at everything and see it all the way through, and I thank God for that.
The purpose of the event was to showcase a new garment by having women come to the front and graciously spin around to show their imperfections. Then these women left the room to try on the new garment.
I still wasn’t sure what was going on because I was distracted by my phone. I remember when the moment of insight struck as if it was in slow motion, because this was a defining moment in my restoration. I heard these doors open and the music came on—it was Mary J. Blige singing Just Fine. As I was hearing that song I felt the wind of the first person on my ear as she passed me on her way to the front of the room. When I looked up, I could see she had a different dress on.
As more women came to the front, I could see an incredible transformation had taken place. Each of these women had a new figure. They had been reshaped. Even though they were wearing these micro-thin dresses that show every detail, you couldn’t see any imprint of the garment they were wearing underneath.
I said to myself, “My God,” and I leaned over and told my wife, “Our days of being broke are over. We’re about to get rich, I promise you.” I always tell people it’s not the seen, it’s the unseen that changes your life. Too many people focus on the seen.
Having no money, how did you afford the start-up costs?
Well, understand that we had a truck the lenders were trying to repossess. Now, I could’ve said, “We can’t go to any more meetings, because what if they see the truck and take it?” But that’s the kind of fear that hinders people, and I never let fear hinder me. I’ve always felt that if something is meant for me, then I’m going to be protected. I knew God had a plan for me, I just didn’t know exactly what it was or when it was going to be revealed. I said, “We’re going to drive this truck to the next meeting, and if they take it from us, we’ll deal with that then.”
By the time my 50th birthday came around, we were still getting introduced to the company, and it was just a horrible day. I had dreams of what my life at age 50 would look like, and reality was totally out-of-scope with what I had envisioned. Barbara was invited to the party and she said, “How about I bring some garments and let some of your guests try them on?”
My first thought was, “I don’t want to do that, that’s tacky.” But then I said, “Hell with it, let’s do it.” She took those women upstairs and I could hear them going crazy. When she came back down I told her, “Barbara, I honestly believe in this. I just don’t have the money to get started, and I’m not going to borrow or beg anyone for it.” All I needed was $300.
She said, “I’ll give you the money. I’m not going to loan it to you; you don’t have to pay it back.” To this day, even though I’ve moved on from that company, Barbara and I are incredibly close. She became my angel because she sowed in me the seed that restored me.
Looking back, it would’ve been easy for me to go a different direction and try to make money with someone other than my wife’s friend. But we decided to do the right thing because this business is bigger than money.
The first lesson I learned from Barbara is that if you help people get what they want, then you will get what you want. Network marketing is about people. It’s about elevating and restoring people.
What was the work like in the beginning?
It was tough. My wife and I started off by going to Atlanta with $180 in our pocket. We planned to be there for ten days, and in order to save on hotels we stayed at friends’ homes. We’d wake up every morning and we’d hold hands, and we’d pray. We asked to be led to the people that needed us, and our goal was to sell at least two garments a day. If we could do that, it would give us another $180 to survive, and we could afford to eat and maybe stay at an inexpensive hotel if we needed to.
We did those trips for a while, giving home presentations. But we had bills to pay. My wife is an avid electricity saver so when we left for a trip, the house would go completely dark. But every time we left, at the last minute I’d secretly turn the porch light on. The reason is that upon our return, after turning the corner I wanted to be first to know if our electricity had been shut off. Every time we came close to arriving home, I’d become very tense. As soon as I saw that porch light on, I would just relax and exhale.
We joined the company with a modest goal of earning $5,000 a month. I figured that would allow me to restore myself and my manhood. I would be the man of my house again and the man my father taught me to be. It was also the amount that would cover all our bills, so that was our goal.
But God had other plans... Within our first five months we earned over $350,000. We hit the top position in the company and broke all records. Our fifth month we earned $106,000. It was the biggest check our company ever made out to anyone.
We ended up becoming one of the top three earners in our company and grew our organization to 100,000 members. We helped to restore a lot of people. When I tell our story, I get emotional just like my friend James. Five months into this business I understood why he cried on that stage. I understood it 150 percent.
How did you accomplish all that?
I made a commitment. My father instilled honor in me. He was selected to play in the NBA because of his mental capacity to withstand all the challenges he was going to face. He exceeded people’s expectations and he taught me to do the same. He believed we couldn’t do just enough of what we’re supposed to do. We have an obligation, a responsibility to go above and beyond. That’s when you start scratching the door of greatness.
That’s exactly what we did. First, we operated with honor. My father honored his mother, his family, and his coaches. He honored the people who believed in him, including the whites that fought to break the color barrier.
Chante and I knew we had to honor that seed that was sowed within us, so we went to work. I mean, we went to work. At that point, I didn’t know anyone. Everyone in Texas knew me as “Chante’s broke man.”
How did the nature of your journey accelerate your growth?
A lot of people see the glory, but they don’t understand the story. They don’t understand about traveling to Atlanta, Georgia and making a commitment to be there for ten days with only $180 in your pocket, going on faith. People don’t understand the spiritual aspect. Network marketing leaders who ascend to the top of the compensation plan and earn seven figures will all tell you that the ascension is mental, physical, and spiritual. Those who have reached the top don’t talk the same way they did when they first started. Their words are different. It’s very spiritual, because it requires a great deal of faith to see the unseen. We saw the unseen in the beginning. I didn’t see where I was, I saw where I was going to be. It was simply a matter of how to get there.
In order to do that, I decided to seek counsel from somebody who was a numbers person in the company. I didn’t even know her, but I knew network marketing is psychological, philosophical, and numerical. When you master each of these three areas, you begin to master the profession. When you understand the mathematics of the business, the business becomes predictable. You know exactly when and what you’re going to achieve.
What made you change companies in 2011?
The reason I left wasn’t money-related. In fact, they had given us a substantial raise. The issue for Chante and I was that our lower-level management people were struggling and needed our help through a change in the comp plan. The company had experienced incredible growth, but the infrastructure wasn’t strong enough to support it.
We were earning a lot of money at the top, and we felt the people who were helping us to earn that income deserved a break. The raise offered to us felt like hush money to convince us not to worry about those people. We walked away for moral reasons, and that hurt us initially.
I wasn’t as broke as I was when I joined the first company, but I walked out of the lap of luxury, and in hindsight it was a mistake.
For a while, I walked around in shame, because my wife struggled with me, and the woman is the spirit of the man. But she never killed my spirit from the first time we were broke, and she supported every decision I made. She allowed me to have the autonomy to be the man of the house and everything that comes with it. When I left that first company, I put her back in the jungle, but she never complained once.
My second company was a mistake because I just wasn’t passionate about it. The difference between the struggles this time and in 2008 was that I thought I had walked out of favor when I left my first company, but I just walked out of abundance. I never lost favor, because God provided us with everything we needed to survive. We didn’t have enough money to “live large”, but He gave us enough to live until we got back on track.
What did you do when you left your second company?
Initially, I was brought in as a partner to start a brand new company. We had a good idea, but we failed miserably. I thought it was a complete waste of time, but in hindsight it was preparation for where I was going. It helped me learn the skills to achieve the position I have now with my current company.
After the failed startup, I decided to pull together three couples who had left our first company and were also struggling. I asked them, “What network marketing products have you sold that made you the most money?” I already knew the answer, it was the garments. I said, “What if we could find a company that would implement those garments as part of their product line? Would you be open?” They all said yes.
Around the same time, a good friend of mine who’s well respected in network marketing approached me to help connect us with the right company. He sought me out because he knew my character. He knew I wouldn’t just go anywhere to take money from a company; I had to be passionate about it.
With his help, we were able to connect with the CEO of his company, Jack Fallon. Jack flew out to Houston to meet us and when he walked in, I didn’t even recognize who we was. We have preconceived notions of what CEOs look like. He was wearing jeans and a jacket with his shirt out, so I thought, “This can’t be him...” From the first moment we shook hands I felt his spirit. We talked, and he met with some of my other partners. We all felt he was about the people, so we said, “If the product works, then let’s do business.”
Did the product meet your expectations?
We tried the product and it surpassed our expectations. It worked big time. From there, we developed a two-step transformation system with a detox tea and a garment collection. I initially got 12 people to try both and it worked for 11 out of 12, so I knew we had something.
The concern I had was that the company had very little presence in the U.S., and the few distributors they had were mostly inactive. I was skeptical at first, but then found out they’d just never had someone who could build the U.S. market. I started feeling excited because I knew all I had to do was build my natural market. There is a common belief, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” but I don’t subscribe to that at all.
Looking back, when we joined there were only around 800 distributors in the U.S. Fast forward 16 months, we now have a team of over 130,000. We’ve recruited over 5,000 people a week and in the next 12 to 18 months we expect to have a field force of 370,000 distributors.
We have a tremendous group of people who are living above average now, and we built this organization without professional networkers. We’re not talking about shooting stars—people standing up on stage with Lamborghinis. We’re trying to create a wave, a tsunami of people all across the U.S. who are earning an extra $5,000 a month. You’re talking $60,000 a year. That kind of income truly restores people, and that’s our goal.
It’s that success and the mentality of “we” that led me to being named VP of North American Sales. This has been a beautiful run. It amazes me how people speak ill of network marketing, but this business has really given me and my family an amazing life and an incredible perspective. It has stretched me as a person, it has developed me as a leader, and it’s given me a greater sense of significance.
Kenny’s 10 Tips