Emmanuel and Kimberly Bernstein are a dynamic network marketing couple passionate about making new friends, building teams, and changing lives. With over 20 years of experience, they’ve led organizations of more than 100,000 members in 17 countries. After being involved in a company for 13 years since the late nineties, they joined their current company seven years ago.
Reflecting on their success, the Bernsteins point to a strong focus on personal development. “It’s been in our lives for 20 years now,” says Emmanuel, “and we make sure the people who join our business are listening and reading something positive every day. Ongoing personal development is the fastest way for someone to build belief in themselves.”
Kimberly adds, “We just love building friendships, having fun, and creating additional finances together. We really get to know our distributors and their families. From there we teach them how to leverage themselves into full-fledged business builders.”
Learning to work together as a couple has been a learning process for the Bernsteins, especially when Kimberly’s role changed from building her distributorship to becoming a stay-at-home mom. They love how their company encourages leaders to bring their families to events and incentive trips. They believe when business offers a family environment, this is the best of all worlds. —J.G.
How did you get started in the business?
EMMANUEL: I always had an entrepreneurial mindset from the time I was a kid growing up in Chicago. My dad used to take me to various business seminars like Zig Ziglar’s. At the age of 12 I found myself sitting in the front row, listening in awe and learning how to be successful in life. My mom passed when I was 10, so my dad had to step in and take care of four children. He had an entrepreneurial spirit himself and I loved learning from him.
I did well in school and when I graduated, I was hired as a technical support rep doing medical installations. I was traveling all over the country, but I knew working a job wasn’t for me. It so happened that every time I checked into a hotel, I would notice a company name on the marquee that sparked my curiosity. It took me a couple of months to see it all over the place. Finally on Valentine’s Day 1997, I was at a hotel in Dallas where I was living at the time and there was that sign again.
This time my curiosity overwhelmed me so I decided to inquire what this company was about. I followed the arrows to a room and found out it was network marketing, a concept I’d never heard of. It was a small meeting and I didn’t know anyone. At the end of the presentation I waited around to speak to the presenter, an energetic gentleman dressed in a sharp suit. We exchanged phone numbers and he came to my house the next day. He showed me the opportunity and I joined.
Just like that. You didn’t have any reservations?
EMMANUEL: I was already looking for another way to supplement my income. I was hungry for making six figures a year any way I could. A little naïve, I thought my first job would lead me there, but soon realized the money my corporation was paying me would not allow me to provide for a future family. I was single at the time, but I was looking 10 years down the road.
I tried to get a bank loan to start a franchise, but the bank denied me. I tried selling exotic cowboy boots in Texas and sold one pair in one year to my dentist. I tried to sell Chicago Bulls jerseys living in the Dallas Mavericks city. I tried everything to make more money, so when I saw the network marketing model, I was in. I didn’t need any convincing.
One year later I joined another company and created some success right away doing the business part time. I started working with my first business mentor, a gentleman by the name of Coach Kelvin Collins, while still keeping my job just for the skill set training it gave me. I earned three promotions in four years and climbed my way up to a sales position while living in Dallas.
Then I got promoted to Houston, which is where Kimberly lived. We had met the previous year at an NBA All Star game in San Antonio and stayed friends over the phone. I saw moving to Houston as a double win: we could get to know each other better and the opportunity I was marketing had no active distributors there at the time. It was a wide open market, a gold mine of sorts! I recruited Kimberly into the business in 1999 and we started to do meetings and trainings together every week.
KIMBERLY: I joined Emmanuel in the business about six months after he got started. A single parent with two daughters, I needed to make extra income. I worked in accounting and I’d never been exposed to network marketing. Emmanuel helped me understand the business and became my mentor. He showed me how to sell the product and recruit people. He also showed me how to present and train.
EMMANUEL: I gave myself one year to settle in Houston, and in 2000 I let go of my job. At that point I had tripled my income, paid off all my debt, and built up a nice savings account. Earning a six-figure income part time, I didn’t need corporate America anymore, because I could afford my own benefits. Kimberly and I stayed with that company for 13 years.
What made you change companies?
EMMANUEL: The company started to move in a different direction philosophically. I knew it would be challenging for my team to build the same type of income Kimberly and I were making. I also knew I would have to make a business decision to maintain our lifestyle. Before I even started looking around, someone who was in that same company and had been terminated asked me to take a look at another opportunity.
I accepted the invitation, mostly to do her a favor. Meeting with the company’s owners opened my eyes up to bigger opportunities. I suddenly felt I had been in a fish bowl all these years and was ready to discover the ocean. I made a decision to join that company, but it was short-lived. I got caught up in the flash and the perks that came with it. At that point my antennas were out and distributors from different companies were calling me to join their opportunities. Hungry for success all over again, I wanted to find a new home to spread my wings.
A year later I was introduced to my current company by Holton Buggs and Sam Bean. I admired Holton for his leadership and the success I’d seen him achieve in different companies. I had told him, “Although we’ve never joined each other’s companies, let’s stay in touch.”
My wife and I had taken Sam under our wing in our previous network marketing company, providing him with leadership and coaching. We introduced him to the world of personal development and watched him go on to apply himself in his real estate business. He told me if he ever did network marketing again, he wanted to work with me.
This time it was Holton and Sam who called me about their new company. When I found out it was marketing nutritional coffee, I was not interested, because I was not a coffee drinker. Once Holton told me he wasn’t a coffee drinker either, but that he was a businessman who understood numbers. This by far would be the biggest thing he ever put his hands on, he said, so I became intrigued.
How did he sell you on the product?
EMMANUEL: The day we met, I had to rush off after the presentation because we were expecting a hurricane and I had to get my house ready. Before I left, I told him no for the opportunity, but wished them well. I was surprised when he said, “I knew you’d say no, but do me a favor: take these samples here and share them with some people—and see what they say.”
The day after the hurricane, our house was a total mess. The roof was almost ripped off and water was coming inside. My wife and kids couldn’t handle the humidity, so they went to her sister’s house not far away. I cleaned up the place and later joined her. When I got there, the first thing I saw was my in-laws drinking coffee. Immediately my reticular activating system kicked in. I couldn’t tell them about the opportunity I’d just seen, because I knew they wouldn’t support another network marketing company. I thought, “This is my chance to test this product.” I still had the samples on me, so I said, “Here, why don’t you try this and tell me how you like it.” They loved it and wanted me to get more.
This was the first time in my network marketing career that I had a tangible product I could put into people’s hands—something they could see and taste. I kind of blew off my in-laws’ response, but what really caught my attention was days later in the aftermath of the hurricane people were fighting for gas at the gas station here in Houston—something I’d never seen before, coming from Chicago.
One day as we were waiting in line at the pump, I noticed across the street an even longer line at Starbucks. People were buying coffee when there was no electricity and a shortage of gas. I told myself, “If I don’t get involved with this company Holton Buggs, Sam Bean, and Edward Haynes just shared with me, this could be the biggest mistake I ever make in my life.” That’s when I called these guys back and said, “I’m in.”
Did you become a product user yourself?
EMMANUEL: I sure did. As soon as I began to drink it, I started to sleep better and woke up full of energy. My wife and I try to stay pretty fit, and I noticed I could work out longer without having any pain. We’ve been a product of the product for the last seven years, during which I haven’t been sick once. All I changed over that time was I started drinking our coffee and taking the nutraceuticals every day.
I joined in 2008, but I still kept my positions in my previous two companies. When I saw people I knew from before have some substantial financial success in their first 30 to 90 days, I sat there dumbfounded and said, “There’s got to be something to this system, to this leadership, and to this product.”
I realized I was spreading myself to thin and told myself, “You only need to ride one horse across the finish line, not two or three. Let’s go full throttle with this.” Up until then I had been listening to Holton’s trainings, but I was still following my own system I’d used to build in my previous company. I switched over to Holton’s system and did everything he said do. That’s when I decided to burn my ship and immediately I started to have the same success I saw others having using this system.
KIMBERLY: Leaving a company we’d been with for 13 years was hard for me because of the relationships we forged. Women are emotional, and your team becomes like your family. Even today I’m close to many of my friends from that first company.
When we found our current company and Emmanuel asked me what I thought, I said, “Everybody drinks coffee!” At that time every morning on my way to work I stopped by McDonald’s to get my coffee. When I tried our company’s coffee, I was hooked. I fully supported his decision to join and build new relationships.
How did you go about building an entirely new team?
EMMANUEL: I created a list of everyone I knew and immediately began to contact people for their support, asking them to purchase a few boxes of coffee from me. I made another list of potential business partners to invite them to hear about my new project. I also made new friends and gave out samples using a four-question approach.
Within three days I had 50 customers and six business partners. Because of my immediate success story, it was easy to recruit people who were looking for a simple way to earn additional income. I started teaching them the same strategy and created lots of other success stories, both of people acquiring customers their first day and of people making money from developing a team.
When I started building, I was out every single day “friendship farming”—meeting people, smiling, and shaking hands. It’s like being a politician and running for President. If I saw someone who struck me as sharp, as somebody I’d like to get to know, I would approach the person.
First I would give them a compliment—whether they were male or female—to break the ice. Next I would use the F.O.R.M. technique. I would ask them if they were a business owner. Most people don’t own a business, so then I would compliment them again saying they look sharp and like they could own their own business.
Next I’d ask what they did for a living and if they worked in the area. From there I’d ask if they were married and what they did for fun. So my conversation would become casual as if we were friends. Once I knew a little bit about that person, I would ask them our four simple questions and offer them our coffee samples.
I found that turning prospects into friends within a few minutes makes this opportunity easy. When you have a product such as ours combined with the fact that it is the most socially habitual consumed beverage in the world, people don’t reject you. I call it rejection-free marketing and this allows me to friendship-farm all day, every day, wherever I am.
After “sampling” your new friends, how did you follow up?
EMMANUEL: At the end of each day, I would create a list of the people I met. In addition to their names and phone numbers, I would write a little note to myself: “Kevin was wearing a sharp pair of shoes.” That would help me remember what I complimented them on. I would call them within 24 to 48 hours and say, “This is Emmanuel, the guy who complimented you on those sharp shoes. You have to let me have that pair when you’re finished wearing them!”—or something similar to make them laugh.
I’d continue, “I figure you had a chance to taste the coffee now, so tell me how you like the taste.”
They would answer, “It tastes great!”
I would say, “Everybody says that. How did it make you feel?”
They would say, “I had this different aura for the whole day,” or “I just felt more energy the entire day,” or “It made me feel good.”
I’d say, “Everybody says that as well. I told you it’s the coffee that pays you, so let me ask you this: knowing the bad coffee you used to drink compared to this coffee, surely you don’t want to drink that bad stuff anymore, do you?”
People would always say, “You’re right. I no longer want to drink that bad stuff.”
I’d say, “I have an awesome way for you to get this. You can either get it for free, or you can get it at wholesale, or you could even get it for retail. If you buy retail, one box costs about $35 a month. Which way do you think you’d feel best getting some more coffee from me?”
Most people would say, “I’d like to get it for free. How do I get that?”
I would say, “Do you know anybody else who this coffee could benefit? Maybe I can share it with them, and if you get two people to buy this from me, you’ll get yours for free.”
How did you transition from prospecting and sampling into leading and training?
EMMANUEL: My intent is always to sponsor people right away. If they want to know how to get the coffee at wholesale or free, I get them in front of the presentation and try to sponsor them into the opportunity. The moment I enroll somebody in the business, I automatically dive into their warm market on their behalf to sign up at least 10 customers for them and recruit two people to build a team around them. This process allows me to get in the trenches with a brand new recruit to teach them the process. Introducing their warm market to the opportunity in their homes, using a philosophy of booking meetings from meetings allows me to build four to six levels deep into that person’s organization.
The more meetings I did in people’s living rooms and dens, the deeper I found myself getting into their organizations to build multiple leaders several levels down within their groups. Each time I find someone I can wrap my arms around and coach through the same process, I focus all my energy on them to develop a friendship first, then to grow a business around them, and third, to help them become a leader in the organization.
From 2009 to 2011 I built locally here in Houston. I developed some outside groups on the East Coast, but I didn’t rush out there right away—I built through conference calls and webinars. As my team started to grow internationally, I began taking trips to different countries.
How did your life and work change once you went international?
EMMANUEL: To connect with people 5,000 miles away using Skype or GoToMeeting is an incredible experience. It allows you to build almost around the clock, because while people are sleeping here, it’s daytime there. I had to readjust my schedule a bit and stay up a little later. Sometimes I’d work till 5:00 AM to reach someone in another country.
KIMBERLY: I was still working full time in the beginning, while also taking care of the household and our son who is very active in sports. When Emmanuel started to travel a lot in the U.S. and internationally, there came a point when we had to decide to either hire domestic help or I would have to leave my job. I decided to resign so Emmanuel could be free to travel and I could support him from home.
EMMANUEL: Building internationally is exciting. I found that people in other countries hunger for the success and the support of the leaders we have here. They are hungry for our systems and our products. This makes them extremely attentive and coachable. They show tremendous gratitude for the time you put in to connect with them via a conference call, video chat, or webinar.
My three previous companies were only open in the U.S. so I didn’t have the experience of growing international groups. My first international building trip was to Thailand, and since we’ve visited Kenya, Nigeria, Rome, and London.
Building internationally certainly has its challenges. I teach people to build locally as much as they possibly can. There’s income you have to put aside to build in those markets. There are security issues in some countries you may go into. It looks good, but it’s not something the average distributor wants to get involved in right away. There have to be multiple leadership teams active in that new market, with people who understand the system and are already using it successfully before I would even entertain going abroad.
What are some of your goals and visions for the future?
EMMANUEL: Our immediate goals over the next 12 months are to help 10,000 families earn $1,000 a month and produce another 10 six-figure earners on our team. To date we’ve produced 10 leaders who are earning six-figures or more, two of whom are making over a quarter million dollars a year.
Our five-year goal is to have over 100,000 customers on auto-ship. Once we achieve this long-term goal, we will have over 100 six- and seven-figure earners on our team. With the leadership, system, products, and culture we’ve built we know this will happen.
To me this is the best profession on the planet. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I was in corporate America for only five years, and I know for the average person who doesn’t have the capital to start a traditional business—or want the headaches that come with it—this is the best opportunity out there. Nothing else can give them the personal growth and the return on their initial investment. In three to five years, anyone can create an incredible lifestyle just by helping others earn a few thousand dollars a month working part time. This lifestyle and freedom comes from serving people. If you put people before profits, you can have and do anything you want.
KIMBERLY: We want to leave a legacy for our family and bless individuals around us by sharing our experience. We also want to start a non-profit organization to help children learn about public speaking and how to become entrepreneurs. We want to provide training and coaching, because many children these days are lacking social skills due to excessive technology and social media use. They don’t know how to express themselves and engage in conversations, a skill they’re going to need for the rest of their lives.
In our family we have a tradition where instead of giving each other birthday cards, we handwrite letters. We text all day and post on social media, but we hold few real conversations. Teaching kids how to express themselves verbally and make eye contact when speaking to others is so important in today’s society.
EMMANUEL: Everything we do in this business, we make sure our kids see us doing it so they can make better choices for their future. We don’t want them to be dependent on others dictating their lifestyle and telling them what they’re worth. Seeing my dad being an entrepreneur helped me when I was a young kid. It opened up my mind to finding freedom and designing my own lifestyle. Back then I decided, “I’m going to provide that for my children.” Now we want to share what we’ve learned with children and young adults around the world, showing them if we can do it, so can they.