Born and raised in Illinois, Dr. Steven Hryszczuk is an American anesthesiologist who is currently living in rural Honduras where he volunteers his services at a Christian mission hospital. Responding to a need, Steve moved there in January 2015 with his wife and four young children.
How was he able to pull this off financially? It all started in 2007, when he felt trapped in a job he loved, but that was stealing all his time away from his family. Some weeks it felt like he was living at the hospital, and he missed his kids. He knew he would have regrets if he didn’t make some changes.
He prayed for a solution that would allow him to provide for his family without trading all his time for money. When a friend shared a business opportunity with Steve, he resisted at first, but quickly network marketing started to make sense.
Steve made a plan, dedicated himself, and three years later, in 2010, he had created a significant recurring income stream. Today, being financially independent allows him to go wherever life calls him. He now considers it a privilege to show others how to follow in his footsteps.
Tell us a little about your background.
My parents are Eastern European and I’m a first-generation immigrant to the United States. I grew up in northern Illinois and didn’t go to college right away. In fact, I didn’t even finish high school. I left halfway through my senior year, because I thought school was kind of irrelevant. I wanted to get out into the real world and make money. I was an electrician for many years. My faith became very important in my early 20s, and I felt God had a plan for my life that included more education.
I wanted to become a doctor, so I went back to school. I wired houses during the day as an electrician while attending community college at night. Fourteen years later I finished as a board certified anesthesiologist from the University of Wisconsin. I became a partner in an anesthesia group in Rockford, Illinois, got married, and we had four children.
Everything was going well. I had pretty much accomplished my dream, which was to become a physician. Practicing anesthesia—cardiac, trauma, obstetrical, neuro-anesthesia… —was very rewarding. I enjoyed it for about 50 to 60 hours a week, but some weeks required me to work even more than that. About four years into my practice, I felt I was burning out—and my kids were missing out. I knew I needed to back off on my hours at the hospital or I would start to seriously resent my job.
As the saying goes, when the student is ready the teacher appears. I had come across Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad when I was in residency and learned all about assets and liabilities. These concepts made sense to me, but they didn’t really hit me at a heart level until I had a real need for creating income without trading all of my time. I saw the years of my children growing up as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can’t hit the rewind button on that.
Every older doctor I talked to warned me, “Watch out, enjoy the years when your kids are young. They’re going to be grown up before you know it. They’re going to be gone.” Those words I really took to heart. I wanted my family to be more of a priority, so I was looking.
Next I read Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant and those ideas resonated even more. I was making a great salary, but as Kiyosaki says, I was a “high paid wage slave.” I felt I was on this hamster wheel running faster and faster just to pay the bills and keep up with my liabilities, when what I really wanted was to be around to watch my kids’ firsts, their school plays, their Christmas programs.
How did you come across network marketing?
The first direction I went into was real estate. I evaluated dozens and dozens of properties until I found one that fit my needs. It was an office building with tenants, and I did the math—it was underperforming. I corrected that and it started to create positive cash flow. “This thing works,” I thought, “Kiyosaki was right!”
Then I called a friend who is a physician and runs an urgent care clinic in town. I said, “John, do you have a need for office space? I have this office building I bought. It has some empty space. I know you have a lot of employees and administrative staff. He said, “Maybe… but why did you buy that?”
I said, “I’m trying to create this thing called passive income.” He said, “What are you doing that for?” I said, “I’m trying to build an asset so that eventually I will have more free time, while still being able to provide financially for my family.” He said, “Let’s talk.”
This was a friend I really looked up to. He’s 10 years ahead of me in the medical field and kind of a mentor to me. He gave me a job when I was a medical student at one of his clinics. I really respected and trusted the man. We met one evening, and he showed me the network marketing company I would join. His passion was health, and the company I am with has a strong health focus. I listened to his information and liked what I heard about being proactive with your health. I happened to be having some health issues—nothing major, but enough to get my attention. My wife also had some minor health challenges, so we thought, “Let’s prioritize our health.”
John said, “There’s also a marketing component to this business.” I thought, “I can’t sell. I don’t want to sell anything. But these products sound really good.” He said, “Think about it. Whatever you want to do is fine. You can just be a wholesale customer—we call them preferred customers—or you can be a business partner. Totally up to you.” He didn’t push or pressure me. He left me a couple of flyers, and maybe three weeks later I finally had some time to sit down and look through the information.
What made you decide to join?
I saw two reasons. Number one, Kiyosaki said network marketing is a smart business model. Everything I’d heard anywhere else was, “Network marketing? It’s not legitimate. You’ll ruin all your friendships,” that kind of thing. I thought, Kiyosaki was right on when it came to real estate. I took his advice and I have this beautiful office building that creates residual income. Kiyosaki is endorsing network marketing… he can’t be wrong.
Second, I admired my friend John, a physician with a strong business mind. I thought, “John wouldn’t be in this if it wasn’t credible and legitimate.” I knew I wanted the products, so I opted to buy enough products so that it would qualify me to become a business owner, too.
I liked the way this company felt. I liked the idea of being a consultant for a wellness company. I thought if it ever went somewhere—and I couldn’t even imagine it going anywhere—this could be a company I could feel good about, like a shirt you wear well. I had no hurry to build anything, so I started the business very much focused on the product. I had an excellent product experience, and that led me to offer it to others whom I thought could benefit from it as well—my mom, my siblings, my friend, some colleagues.
A little bit of money started to trickle in, $40 here, $100 there. At one point I called the company and said, “You sent me a check for $40. I don’t know what this is for.” They said, “It’s your commission check.” I said, “What did I do?” They said, “Didn’t you sign up a Mr. Dave Hryszczuk? I go, “That’s my brother.”
Holding this check the company had sent me, I had a paradigm shift. I’m a free market capitalist. I believe you create income by serving people and providing value. I thought, “How did I create this? I simply showed somebody a product that made their life better, and this company paid me to do that. Wow, I could keep doing that, and this income would grow!”
I felt this was a valuable, legitimate way to help people. I met some friends who got in the business a few months before I did, and they said they were making several hundred dollars a month. I thought, “I can’t just raise my rent several hundred dollars a month. I would lose tenants. Here they just increased their monthly cash flow for their family simply by doing a little bit more than what I’ve done.”
Naturally that started to snowball. First I wanted to make enough money to get my products for free. After that happened, I met somebody who was making $1,000 a month and thought, “If they can do it… ” That was kind of the process that got me going, and five or six years later my network marketing business grew to the point where it literally replaced enough of my income as a physician so that my work at the hospital became completely optional.
Now you saw the possibility for a different way of life.
That’s right. I went part-time at the hospital so I could meet people during the day at coffee shops or their homes and give presentations. We started to build a team. The team began to grow. We started holding events in our home every couple of weeks. We became a little bit more systematized with emails and coordinating events to train others to do what I did. The income grew and grew to the point where I finally walked away from medicine for a period of about six months.
Now that I had time and financial freedom, I became aware of other needs. I still liked practicing anesthesiology. My wife and I had been visiting a Christian mission’s hospital in Honduras where they’d been asking for an anesthesia provider for years and years. We considered going down to help and prayed about that decision, and we felt God said, “Commit to one year.” We responded to that and offered our services. We believe that to whom much is given, much is required. We’ve been given a lot. We had a family meeting and talked about this with our children and got their buy-in. We have been down here in rural Honduras since January 2015. I provide anesthesia for the hospital and my wife is a first-grade teacher. The beautiful thing is that I get paid just about the same as if I were a full-time anesthesiologist in the U.S., yet I haven’t worked in an American hospital for the entire year I’ve been here. I work at the local hospital almost every day, but I don’t get paid a salary. My wife doesn’t get a salary as a schoolteacher. We don’t have to get paid, because we have this royalty income that supplies all our financial needs.
What was it like to adjust your lifestyle?
I’ve never lived in the countryside, much less lived in the rural countryside of a third-world country. It just rocked us. We got a strong, reliable vehicle. We drive a Toyota Land Cruiser, the kind they drive across Australia or Africa. It’s a big beast of a truck with this smokestack that takes in the oxygen, because we drive through rivers. You could drive through four feet of water.
Rural Honduras is a pretty rugged place with gravel roads and it’s very dusty for half the year. It’s very muddy and wet in the rainy season. We live on a mountainside overlooking the Caribbean, so we see and hear the water. It’s a beautiful place—luscious green and everything is flowering. The people here are very nice. They’re mostly hardworking folks who are either in some kind of small service industries, some kind of trade work, or they have cattle and run little farms.
Once a week we drive about an hour and a half to the nearest town, La Ceiba. We load up on groceries, throw them in coolers on top of the Land Cruiser and we drive back. If you’ve taken a Caribbean cruise, you may have visited an island called Roatan. That’s about 30 miles straight off the coast from us.
I’ve learned to scuba dive this past month with my son, Luke, who’s 13. There’s a couple of islands out here called the Cayos Islands, which are absolutely stunning. It’s been a blessing to be here to serve alongside about a dozen other American trained physicians and their families. My kids do things they would never get to do in America. Their entertainment here is going to waterfalls, jumping off cliffs, and swimming down rivers. There are rope swings and vines that go out into the water. There’s a children’s center nearby, which is kind of an orphanage, and once our kids finish their school work, every day around 4 pm they go down to play with the little kids at the orphanage.
Sometimes you’re waiting for cows to get up and move out of the way so you can keep driving down the road. There are roosters crowing at 2:00 AM and all the way till sunrise. There’s no air conditioning anywhere, so we’re dependent on fans. We have a generator for when the power goes out, which happens sometimes daily. The water shuts off regularly, yet we have great wireless internet—go figure that! We have a wonderful man whose mission is to provide communication services for us, which allows me to keep my business going and do things like this interview using Facetime from my home. I don’t know how that works, but it works—and we’re thankful for it.
That was my next question. How do you stay in touch with your team?
We send out a weekly email and do occasional webinars and some other online events. I organize and help lead a monthly event we hold back home in Rockford, Illinois where most of my team is located. It usually involves a nutritionally geared presentation and is a good way for our team to educate and grow themselves, build their belief, and invite their prospects to learn and grow as well.
About three years ago I hit financially what I needed to support my family. I didn’t know or decide when I would stop building, but I find network marketing really takes all of your heart to do it well, because you’re sharing with your relationships, your network. It’s a person-to-person business. You are sharing your belief, and you have to have that energy and that enthusiasm in your voice. A few years ago I hit a level that gave me what I needed for my family, and I realized I didn’t want to be gone two or three nights a week to keep building.
I’ve been pretty much happy and settled at the level we hit. Because we found a company that offers really good products, our business has been rock solid with me just being in maintenance mode. Probably a third or a quarter of the people who are in my business are builders, and the remainder would be more product users. It’s given us a rock solid royalty income stream.
Your situation provides a unique perspective on network marketing. How has the response been so far?
It probably attracts some people. We all come into this for different reasons. When I share my story from the stage, I point out different things that I know people in the audience want. What are people looking for today? We all want time, money, and health. We want time to live our lives and do the things that are important to us. We all want to have enough money. If you don’t have any money, you’re limited in what you can do, and you can’t contribute financially. You need your health. If you don’t have your health the money and time don’t matter. People also want purpose. They want to feel like they’re contributing in a meaningful way. Whenever I speak with someone I try to assess what that person is looking for, and then talk on that topic.
I’m so blessed that in the experience I’ve had in network marketing I’ve been with one company only, and it’s been about eight years. I’ve experienced all those—the time, the money, the better health, the contribution, the sense of making a difference, the opportunity for growth. I believe God intends for us all to grow. I think we’re like trees. You’re either growing or dying.
How do your kids feel about the experience?
When I asked them about moving to Honduras I was so impressed with their maturity. They said, “We’re good with that. If this is what we believe God is asking us to do, we want to do it!” Up until about the week before we left they were doing well, but saying their final goodbyes to their friends was hard. For a teenager a year seems like eternity. For someone my age a year’s like a long weekend.
It’s been difficult here for them at different stages, because even though they have some friends here, not everybody becomes a close friend. They miss the friendships they left behind, those close friends they used to have. My daughter Anna is so wise. We run in the morning, and one day she said, “Dad, I’ve been off Facebook now for several weeks.” I said, “Really? What prompted you to do that?” She said, “I just noticed that when I’m on Facebook constantly watching I feel worse, because I think of what I’m missing out on.” Now she just follows closely with her few good friends from back home, but she doesn’t want to torture herself by seeing what all her friends are doing. Leaving behind friendships and family was the hardest part for my kids, in addition to the adjustment of being in a new environment.
We deal with things like scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes. We’ve killed scorpions off the wall. We shoot geckos with our BB gun, just because we get so tired of their fecal debris all over our house.
Overall my boys have done great. There are rivers and beaches and hillsides and soccer. The boys love it mostly. The girls? They’re mature about it. They know that God called them to serve here for the year. They are growing in their faith. When our year here comes to an end, I will go back to the hospital in Rockford and work a couple of weeks a month. That gives me the rest of the month to do whatever comes up. I’ll be praying about what kind of projects to work on, whether it’s growing other businesses or growing my network marketing business more.
You made sure to capture your experience in a book.
Probably every person who’s built a successful business has learned some lessons and insights they would like to pass on to others. I’ve had a book on my computer for a couple of years, and finally this year I had the time to put it together. It’s my perspective on the mindset and the practical skills that are needed to build a network marketing business.
A lot of people disparage network marketing because they don’t know what it is. They don’t think it’s credible. Then there are people who think they know what network marketing is, and they think they can’t do it. They believe it means you have to lose all your friends. Both groups of people lose out.
Our business model has so much to offer and it’s vastly underutilized. I see such incredibly gifted people out there in the marketplace who aren’t fulfilled in what they’re doing. They’re looking, yet for some reason they’ve just turned off the option of network marketing.
I also think a physician’s voice lends credibility. I want to empower the average networker to say, “Don’t argue with me; argue with this book. Here’s an anesthesiologist who realized he had time poverty and was missing out. He took this business seriously and built it to the point where it replaced enough of his income to make a dramatic change in his lifestyle.”
Another goal of mine is to help young network marketers who are in their first year and want to figure out how it works. I pulled together everything I’ve read or listened to and presented it in a way that seems logical to me. I’m showing people how we were able to grow a big business without losing our friends. I haven’t worked on my business for several years and we’re bringing in around a quarter of a million dollars a year in residual income. That’s a beautiful thing—and it’s something more people could do if they gave network marketing a fair look.