Juan Carlos Barrios and his beautiful wife Hortensia are Diamond Directors in one of the fastest growing network marketing companies in the world today. Living in Mexico with their two young children, they are their company’s #1 income earners for Latin America, leading a growing organization of over 100,000 customers and distributors in 42 countries, most of which they have visited in the past year.
Juan Carlos was introduced to network marketing at age 22 when he had just started his career as a concert pianist and violinist. Becoming an entrepreneur or business owner had never been on his radar, but when his brother introduced him to a network marketing opportunity, Juan Carlos was moved by the same feeling that had made him decide to become a musician at the age of eight. His passion to bring joy and freedom to the lives of others drew him in and kept him going through the many challenges he faced on his journey.
Thanks to their hard work and focus, Juan Carlos and Hortensia have created a lifestyle that allows them to travel as a family and share with others the joys of time and financial freedom. They love showing and teaching people that when you take full responsibility for your life, no dream is impossible.—J.G.
When and how did you get started in the business?
JUAN CARLOS: My younger brother attended a meeting and joined our first company in 1990. He came home very excited and right away planned his “business launch” in our parental home. Nobody showed up for his presentation, so he asked me if I could be his guest. When I saw the opportunity I had zero interest, as I couldn’t connect it to anything I was doing at the time. Music is a completely different world from speaking or selling products or inviting people. I could not see myself doing this at all.
My brother who was smart—or naïve—took me to the next event, which was a seminar. This was a real eye-opener for me: I was blown away by the trainers’ ability to inspire people, give them hope, and help them see and fight for creating a better life. I saw how network marketing is an environment where people can grow personally, and a vehicle that can bring them financial freedom. During that seminar I made the decision to join. It was 25 years ago.
It was mostly an emotional decision. It touched your heart.
JUAN CARLOS: Exactly. Mentally this didn’t fit into my life at all: I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the talents, I didn’t have a network of people. I didn’t know the products, I was not a salesperson, I’d never spoken in front of people. I was very shy. But what I saw was a platform that could help me develop myself and learn about success principles, and especially the possibility to offer this one day to other people.
There is a parallel here with how I fell in love with music. When I was a young boy, I heard a girl play the piano, and I observed myself getting so excited just by listening to one person moving her fingers and putting out into the environment a combination of notes that creates this beautiful thing called music. That day I told my mom I wanted to be a musician, because I wanted to create that feeling for myself and others.
At that seminar, when I saw those speakers bringing hope to the audience, a desire sprung up in my heart, “What if one day I could be on the stage doing exactly this?” My first dream in network marketing was to be able to impact and touch the hearts of others the way my heart was touched that day.
What did you do the next day?
JUAN CARLOS: I was scared to death. I didn’t know what to do, and my sponsor was my younger brother who had one week more experience than I had.
I realized that the key to success in this business is to invite others and build a team, instead of just selling products. I planned my first meeting and invited one friend, in addition to my brother’s sponsor. My friend came and brought another person, but my brother’s sponsor never showed up.
We now had a problem, as we had no idea how to present the business. This was before cell phones. We delayed the presentation, but after one hour we realized our sponsor was not coming, so I decided to do the presentation myself. I learned an important lesson that day that set the tone for the rest of my network marketing career. In that moment, I had to take the role of the upline, not the downline. I had to be the father, not the child. I didn’t have time to cry or complain, because there was no one to complain to. I chose to take charge of the situation and my business.
That day I realized I have all the control in my hands of what’s going to happen in my life. I didn’t need to depend on anyone, or on whether my upline was going to show up or not. Since that day and up until now, never, ever have we had help with presentations from any upline. We took complete control of our business, and whatever happened is because we decided to make it happen.
This experience helped me understand early on that the business depends on us. I took the position of a mature builder, a professional, instead of taking the role of a little kid. Today I teach my people from the beginnin to grow up fast and not depend on what others will or will not do. I push people to take control of their life and future.
What a wonderful life lesson to take full responsibility instead of being a victim. It was sink or swim, so you decided to swim. What other challenges did you face? How did your team grow?
JUAN CARLOS: Network marketing was completely new in my country. My company was the only company in operation in Mexico, and people were skeptical of the business model. Since my company was U.S-based, we didn’t have any Spanish training materials. I didn’t have any mentors or systems, because I didn’t speak English.
The second challenge was my personal belief: I didn’t think anybody would want to follow a 22-year-old musician with no business training. I’m from a poor family and I didn’t believe I could be rich. I didn’t have anything to show for. I didn’t even own a car. I just knew music, which in my culture is considered a hobby rather than a career or a profession.
Thirdly, all my friends at that time were musicians. None of them were interested in getting rich. Not a single person I knew wanted to build a business with me. I was in the wrong environment.
However, seven years from that day I became a Diamond in my first company, and I built my entire team with new people. If somebody had told me when I joined that none of the people I knew would join, but that I would have teams of thousands and thousands of people, I would have never believe that. But this is what happened. I knew I had to reach out in different environments to meet people who were qualified to do network marketing, so that’s what I did.
Of course, in the beginning because of these reasons—my poverty mindset, not knowing the right people, not being in the right career, my company being new—my business wasn’t growing very fast. It took me probably two years to start assembling a small team.
How did you find the right people eventually? What shifted after two years?
JUAN CARLOS: We didn’t have Facebook or social media at the time. Since I couldn’t work with my friends, I asked them to connect me with their contacts, including their parents. For example, I sponsored my sister, and she sponsored her boyfriend, who was well connected and had a solid career. He introduced me to others, which allowed me to sponsor a few people and expand my network.
A second way I ventured out into new environments is I went to the U.S. to study English. I had a dream to speak English and won a scholarship to attend a university program for one year. There I met a lot of people from different countries and built a lot of international connections. Because of this university experience, I started developing my first quality list six months into the business, and it is why to this day I have a lot of international business.
A third way in which I grew my network was by attending personal development programs. I realized I was meeting interesting people in every single seminar. My entire focus was to grow myself and build a network of friends I didn’t have when I joined.
How long did you stay with your first company?
JUAN CARLOS: After 10 years, I decided to quit my first company, because I was ready for a change. I had met Hortensia through my company. We were crossline. Since there were no other good companies in Mexico to join, I started a traditional business manufacturing kitchen cabinets. A year and a half into that, Hortensia and I started going out. Getting that business of the ground was painful, because we were working a crazy schedule. Two years into it, we were exhausted and had accumulated a lot of debt.
Everything changed when one of my friends came to my house and introduced me to another network marketing opportunity in 2005. It was as though we saw a light in darkness. We joined and started building again, and between that point and now we have made more than $4 million USD. It was wonderful to have the incredible chance to start for the first time working with our current company owners, Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis, in their previous company.
Since we knew what to do, we created a lot of success quickly. It was such a contrast after trying to build a traditional business and realizing how difficult it is—how easy you can go broke and lose everything. The mistakes you make in a traditional business are costly—and we made every mistake possible. In network marketing the worst thing that can happen is that you lose your team and have to start over.
When my friend showed me a new opportunity, I saw the potential and my heart started beating again. I felt hope and remembered everything I had done in network marketing. We took a plane to Orlando to visit the company headquarters, and when we met Randy and Wendy, we knew we had to join.
In three years we made our first million in that company, building a business all over the world. Hortensia loves traveling, and so do I. Traveling with family is our passion. It was beautiful how quickly we recovered. We still like traditional business, including real estate, and we invest some of our money there, but we choose businesses that do not take our attention, because our entire focus is on building our network marketing business. It’s wonderful to experience how earning money attracts even more money and opportunities. There are opportunities everywhere, but when you are frustrated working full time in a job or a business, it absorbs all your attention and energy so that you cannot see other opportunities.
How did you go about building the second time?
JUAN CARLOS: We decided not to invite a single person from our past company, because their business was working and we did not want to touch that. We started with new people we had met since we left, again from different countries. It was such fun to move from deep frustration to freedom in a period of six months. Our level of happiness, the way we smiled, everything changed. It was impressive to see the way we were growing, and it attracted a lot of people to us.
Since that day it has been an incredible journey. We were with Randy and Wendy for three years, and then that company had some challenges, so we decided to move on. We joined a brand new company with little experience and paid the price, but we learned a lot. It took us four years to make $1 million as one of the top distributors, after starting from scratch for the third time.
Then that company made some decisions that undermined our belief in where we were headed. We knew these decisions were going to kill the market, and that’s what happened. With our experience we could anticipate that. It was painful, but we had to make a move and take care of ourselves and our people.
At that point I had accumulated so much experience working with different companies, old and new, that I became a network marketing consultant for six years. I helped company owners to be creative and specialized in compensation plans. I learned how many owners don’t have the distributors’ best interest at heart. When Hortensia and I were facing challenges in our previous company, there was only one thought in our mind: if we need to move, we want to go back to working with Randy and Wendy again, because we know the heart of this couple. We know how hard they work, and how deeply they care about the distributors—like a mom and dad. Even when we were not working together, we always remained friends.
When did you join your current company?
JUAN CARLOS: Two years ago, in July 2013, we again took a plane to see Randy and Wendy like we did nine years ago. We were apprehensive about starting over in an entirely new direction. You never know who’s going to follow you. You have to be willing to work hard. I remember on the plane to Orlando telling Hortensia, “Probably no one is going to join us, but I believe this is what’s best for our family. Are you willing to start all over again?” She told me, “We always start from scratch, and in every single company we join, we go to the top. Why not? This time will be no different!” I gave her a kiss and said, “This is my wife.”
We visited the office, and as we were talking with Randy, Wendy, and their son Scott, we saw in their eyes how committed they were. Their vision was to take this company from where it was at that time and bring it to the very top. I could feel that. I could see that. It’s something you cannot express in words. It was a feeling you develop after 25 years of building. When we returned to our hotel room, we had no doubt that we had found our home. It was going to be our last opportunity, and we joined with all our might.
When Wendy showed me the compensation plan, I asked her, “What’s a good level where you can make a lot of money? What’s a serious level here, not a rank that sounds good but doesn’t make money? What is a good rank to focus on right now?”
She told me, “It’s the rank of Ruby, because it means you are doing 200 cycles, which means you are making $7,000 to $10,000 per month.”
I said, “Who has been the fastest Ruby in the company, and in what period did they do it?” She told me, “In Asia we have people who became Ruby in two months.” I said, “Perfect, we want to do this in one month.”
We had a talk with our people and made the decision that day that we were going to be the fastest Rubies. There was not a single doubt in our minds, so we did, and we also became the fastest Diamonds in Latin America. Right now we are the top earners in Latin America, and in the top 20 in the entire company after only two years.
It’s beautiful. I show everyone we’re the ones who work the most, who travel the most, who speak the most, who present the opportunity the most, who train the most, and who are willing to do the most. This is our philosophy in the business. We build by example. We didn’t teach people what to do, we showed them what to do.
Hortensia, what’s your perspective on the journey?
HORTENSIA: I think with all this history we have, because of our story, it was easier for us to invite people, because we know what we are doing. We believe this network marketing opportunity can save people from the struggle they are in. That’s why we are so passionate about it. We are very focused on our team. Our family is important, of course, but when we focus on our people, the business just runs and grows fast. It’s beautiful to have a lot of people telling you, “Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for inviting us to join you.” That’s the reason we are so happy in network marketing. It’s an opportunity for a lot of people to completely turn their lives around. I like to tell people, “If you decide to join us, you can build it fast, or you can do it slowly. It’s better and more fun if you do it fast.
“If you work two years—learning, going to events, attending trainings, and staying connected to the company and to us—you will see a big difference in your life.”
I tell my people that for us every single day is Sunday, because it’s a beautiful day where you get to do what you want. It’s the sunniest day in the week, because you don’t have worries. You are with your family, very relaxed and happy. I want our people, and a lot of people, to have this feeling that every single day is Sunday. That’s the way we do our business.
JUAN CARLOS: This is what financial freedom is: being able to live every single day the way you want; to be free of a job or an imposed schedule.
When people ask us, “What’s it like to be a Diamond? What is your lifestyle?” we have to think, because we are so used to it. It means we can decide to do whatever we want—to play with the kids, to do a lot of fun things, to travel and work with people we love. It’s so much fun. Not a single job will allow you to travel that much, or to wake up whenever you want, or to stay up late at night because you can. Our Sunday is exactly the same as any other day in our lives.
How do you see your family and business future?
JUAN CARLOS: Our dream is not to make more money. As top earners in our company, our income is already very high. We don’t have the ambition to want to make more money.
Instead, what drives us is to be able to help our friends and family. We want them to experience and feel what financial freedom means, because we’ve seen them suffering, struggling day after day. We know network marketing is a powerful profession that can completely transform your lifestyle. I’m not talking about earning $100,000 a month; $10,000, $5,000, $2,000, or $1,000 per month can really make a difference in most people’s lives.
HORTENSIA: Once you have money, you realize there are more important things in life. Money is just a tool, but you have to have it. Money allows you to think differently and have other priorities, such as helping others.JUAN CARLOS: Our passion is to help a lot of people. We love helping people to make money for their children and help friends who sometimes have struggles. We have friends who have other businesses, but they are still stuck, because of the financial problems. It’s beautiful to be able to help people who need support. Someone recently asked us, “Why are Hortensia’s family and your family not doing the business with you? They see your lifestyle. They see how you travel all over the world. Why don’t they join you?”
I said, “Because that’s life. Not every single person needs to join network marketing. We have a wonderful relationship with every single person in our family. I never push anyone to join.” I respect that each and every person has to decide exactly what to do with their lives. We’re coming from big families. I am one of seven brothers and sisters, and Hortensia is one of five. Sometimes there is more than one with big troubles, and it’s so beautiful to be able to help in a way that doesn’t hurt us financially, and without creating irresponsible behavior. One millionaire in the entire family is enough to help everyone.
HORTENSIA: We work like crazy every day, but we have our space to enjoy our lives and to travel with family. Our big dream is to be with our family and friends, to share that freedom with them.
JUAN CARLOS: I’ll share a story as an example. We love cruises. We have done a lot of trips with our family. Every year we reward our leaders with a trip fully paid by us, not the company, to build friendship. Three months ago we took them on a high quality cruise to the Caribbean for a week. This kind of experience really glues the relationships and builds teams forever.
Then Hortensia and I thought, it would be fun to spend New Year on a cruise, so we asked the cruise line, “Is it possible to book this ship for New Year’s?” They said, “Sure, we have space.”
Hortensia became a little melancholic, because she loves to spend New Year’s with her family. She said, “What about my family? Every single year in my life I’ve spent New Year’s together.” So I said, “What if we bring your entire family to the cruise?” We asked the office, “How many cabins do you have?” We were bringing an additional 20 people to the ship. They confirmed and we paid for all the cabins, plane tickets, hotels, and every other expense for our entire family. It was so much fun and such a wonderful feeling.
This is what financial freedom means—being able to do whatever you want to do with the people you love. It was so touching to announce this surprise gift to them. For all of them it will be their first cruise. The kids talk about it. Every single person in Hortensia’s family is talking about it every day. I can’t wait for New Year’s to share this experience with them and create happy memories together.
I’ve traveled the whole year. I was out of the country 50 times this year. When people ask me if I’m lucky, I just smile, because there’s no “lucky” in this world. There is focus and hard work. That’s it.
This will be our third cruise in 2015. We were in the Polynesian Islands. We were in the Caribbean with our leaders, and our third cruise is our New Year’s cruise with our family. For me it will be the most exciting one, because I see the cruise through the eyes of all our family members. I feel in my heart how excited they all are. This is what it’s all about—sharing joyful experiences with the people you love.
When we look back and see how hard we’ve worked, we believe the price we pay is too low, because the reward is so high. The things this business enables you to do in life are beyond the imagination and incredibly fun. During times like this you realize you are truly living.