Mentors are important to us at any and every stage of our lives, and I am fortunate that the mentors I have met during my network marketing career have all been giving of their time. I can call on them when needed; they are natural teachers; they taught me to dream; they fed me with their excitement and stories.

I started out sitting in the audience watching and listening to the top achievers on stage. Just from listening to them I became inspired and hopeful that I could do this and build my dreams on a solid foundation.

Shauna Ekstrom

When there was a speaker who caught my attention at a deeper level, I would always work out some way to meet him or her and develop a relationship. Some of them became my mentors, and I owe them a great deal. In fact, I am not sure I would have reached my dreams without them. Each one helped me take a step forward.

Mentors are your personal coach. They show you the way and help you to stay on track. They encourage and inspire you to keep going and help reinforce your growing belief in yourself and your dreams. They won’t do the work for you—that’s your job.

I have many stories about the wonderful mentors I have been fortunate to work with over the years in network marketing. There is no way I would ever have met these incredible people, let alone become friends with them, outside of this business. The opportunity to come across these people just doesn’t occur in everyday life.

At my first events, I realized I was a student and a beginner in this new profession. I was hungry and excited, and my early mentors never knew how much they gave me from the stage.

Early on, I met Tom “Big Al” Schreiter at a generic training event. His message was powerful, yet simple and common sense. Through his training, I began to see how I could do this. I had nothing to lose and practiced on everyone. Joni, Angela, and I had so much fun learning our “new language” and we practiced on each other. It was like studying for a college exam, but way more fun. We knew we passed the test when people joined us.

Looking back, I always had a mentor—a wise person I looked up to for insights into the challenges and experiences he or she had already faced. My mentors had the wisdom of the years I didn’t have at the time.

My first mentor in hairdressing hired me right out of beauty school. He taught me to come in early and stay later than others, build clientele quickly, go to all the shows, and compete in the hair competitions. Watching and observing him with his clients was invaluable in gaining confidence. This experience and relationship with a mentor was powerful for a 17-year-old girl working and living in an adult world. I had someone who could answer my questions and guide me.

(Excerpted from Beyond the Red Doors: The Dawn of Heartfelt Network Marketing)

As a young mom, I sought out wiser, older people with more life experience to help me. One such person was Burt Chamberlain, a child psychologist I met through a parenting class. His advice was exactly what I was hungry for at the time. Learning from his experiences and stories guided me through those early years. He also taught me to keep a sense of humor above all else. Burt was such a valuable advisor for the most important job of my life: being a mom.

That takes us to 18 years ago, when I discovered network marketing—a whole new career to experience and grow into.

My first company had many good speakers who inspired me from the stage, but I realized I needed something more: a wise person I could learn from and build a closer relationship with. Being able to see someone you admire and respect in action is priceless. Network marketing gives you that experience. You can see, hear, and learn from the top achievers, and over time you have the chance to develop relationships with some of them.

I never walked up to someone and just started asking questions. I first showed them I was hungry to make it in the business and committed to my team’s success. After they could see I was serious about personal and business growth, they were happy to help me.

Over the last 13 years, I have enjoyed learning from a great coach and wise mentor named Carole Taylor. After listening to a particular problem or concern, she usually says, “I think you have just answered your own question.” That’s the power of a great mentor—helping you to recognize you have the answers inside; it just takes a good listener to bring them out.

Through Carole I met another great teacher whom I love and appreciate just as much. His name is Jimmy Smith and he became a student of network marketing at age 57 when he was forced to retire due to an injured back from his previous career as a butcher. He was fascinated with the geometric progression of the numbers. I love listening to him teach. I am so grateful for the 13-year friendship I’ve had with Jimmy. I love sharing the valuable lessons learned from his vast array of experiences in network marketing from the 17 companies he has participated in on his own journey.

I strongly believe anyone can do this business if they find mentors and don’t quit. Make your strengths productive and your weaknesses irrelevant. Having mentors on your journey along with your own commitment to be a true networking professional will help you stay the course.

SHAUNA EKSTROM built her multimillion-dollar business from behind the chair, as a hairdresser and owner of The Red Door salon in Enumclaw, WA.  She has been in network marketing for 18 years, is a mother of 3, and has 3 grandchildren.  Shauna and her husband, Scott, live in North Texas and share the passion of network marketing.

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