Based in Draper, Utah, Dr. Terry and Cris Silkman have created a “health, wealth, and luxury lifestyle” they are excited to share with their growing team and clients around the world. Both successful business owners, Terry as a veterinarian and Cris as a real estate agent, they found network marketing in 2013 and recognized it as a perfect vehicle for entrepreneurs to reach their goals and dreams.
The Silkmans committed to the profession and learned how to coach, mentor, and partner with their team members. Today they provide state-of-the-art tools, resources, training programs, and networking strategies anyone can learn and duplicate.
Terry and Cris believe that with earning big money and living a millionaire lifestyle comes the responsibility of helping others to do the same. Having been married for 38 years, the Silkmans have eight grandchildren they want to help raise and mentor. Cris and Terry also enjoy supporting charitable causes, while continuing to empower as many people as possible to realize their human potential and lifelong dreams.—J.G.
Tell us a little about your background.
CRIS : I was born and grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. I wasn’t the best student, but I was determined and strong willed. I always knew I would make something of myself.
For instance, at age 15 I went out looking for a job. I ended up at a high-end clothing boutique that every girl wanted to work at, but due to my age, they were hesitant to hire me. I went in every day for two months browsing through clothes and asking if there was a job opening. The day before my 16th birthday I got hired. My job, at first, wasn’t glamorous by any means. It was stocking and steaming in a dark basement. But I was excited and saw the victory of getting this job as “perseverance that paid off.” I worked at that clothing store for six years. After that I attended college for two years, and that’s where I met Terry.
TERRY : Cris and I started in totally different places, but we had some commonalities. Both the eldest, we got mentored by and associated mostly with adults rather than our peers.
I grew up on a farm in Eastern Colorado near the Kansas-Colorado border out in the flatlands. My family didn’t have any means to speak of. We lived an austere, Spartan-type existence for much of my young life. I was often left alone with my little brother and sister, because mom and dad had to work.
Starting school was a traumatic experience. I had to learn to stand up for myself and defend myself. I spent most of grade school and junior high in the back of the classroom, going unnoticed.
When it came time to think about college, I felt that was an opportunity to change my life. Since I wasn’t really academic, I decided perhaps I could be an athlete—even though nobody else thought so. I started playing football and wrestling, which ultimately translated into a relatively successful high-school athletic career and a scholarship to Colorado State University.
In 1977 I had the good fortune of meeting Cris at CSU. It’s interesting how we got together despite our opposite backgrounds. She was the defiant little racehorse, driven to make things happen; I had more of a draft horse personality, looking to overachieve and please people. You could load whatever you wanted on my back, and I would find a way to carry it.
Our skillsets evolved over time into a wonderful partnership. After college we decided to return to Eastern Colorado to farm and raise cattle. Cris, despite the fact that she was not a farm girl, rolled up her sleeves and found ways to make things work. In spite of our best efforts, our farm went bankrupt in 1984 due to several disastrous growing seasons and 20 percent interest rates. We loaded up our little family of five—by now we had three little boys all under the age of four—and returned to Colorado State University, where I planned to pursue a degree in Veterinary Medicine.
When my friends heard I was going back to school, they all thought I’d lost my mind, but they were kind enough not to tell me. They knew the challenge of getting into veterinary school, let alone succeeding. I qualified for admission into vet school and graduated magna cum laude in 1990. Cris and I spent a few years getting a handle on the veterinary profession and we opened our own hospital in 1999.
We had an incredible first nine years, learning what entrepreneurialism entailed and how to manage a rapidly growing business. But after 2008, we like many entrepreneurs had to learn business survival and then rebuilding skills. I saw the hardships others who were unable to adapt were facing and I began wondering how I could help people become entrepreneurs and achieve the lives they desired.
Who brought network marketing into your life?
CRIS : I was introduced to it in 2013 by my hormone therapist. One day she asked me if I was at my desired weight. I said, “Is any woman ever at her desired weight?” I’d been on every diet known to man that was either injected or ingested. She introduced me to a weight loss program and I agreed to give it a try. The first week I lost 8 pounds. “This is amazing,” I thought. I wasn’t even hungry. I called her and said, “I have some friends I’d like to introduce this to. I really need to get some more product, because I have people asking me about this.”
When she started explaining the different ways of ordering product, I said, “You’re going to tell me this is network marketing, aren’t you?” She said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “Not interested. Been there, done that. I’m happy to buy the product from you retail, and I’m going to turn around and resell it.” She said, “You won’t make any money doing that.” I purchased a large quantity, 150 sets, and within 30 days I sold all of it above retail.
I called her back with a somewhat more open mind. She set up a three-way call with her upline, who explained to me how the business worked. I joined and bought the most expensive pack, because I could see it was how I could make the most money.
How did you go from being a salesperson to becoming a network marketing leader?
CRIS : The shift happened with Terry coming on board. Once Terry joined me, we took the bull by the horns. We decided to treat this like any other business we’d ever started and to invest into becoming professionals.
TERRY : When Cris started building the business, I was still running my veterinary hospital. Due to the recession, my associates had moved on and I was left to run a 24/7 hospital on my own. Seeing how I was burning myself out, and after having an incredible product experience herself, Cris told me, “I want you to take these products. I think it might help you.” I agreed, mostly to appease her.
Under massive stress, I was experiencing severe joint pain all the time, as well as some other health issues. Within a couple of months, I started to see a difference in the way I felt. My energy level and ability to handle stress improved, and the joint aches became more manageable. I started feeling more positive about the product and the business.
In early 2014 Cris was awarded Top Salesperson for North America by her company, and in 2015 we won the Ambassador Award as one of the top 10 sales representatives for “personally sponsored new representatives.” By that time, we had also qualified to attend a weeklong leadership retreat. Spending time with the company leaders and other top salespeople, getting a feel for who they were and what their vision was, and seeing their commitment to serve and help people really resonated with me.
I’d been concerned for a long time about the increasing failure of the industrial age model. I could see how working 40 hours a week for 40 years was no longer a viable model for success or contentment. At the end of that week we decided, “We’re going to do this as a career. We can see purpose and relevance here. We can find fulfillment in helping people around us with this vehicle.”
In April 2015, together we committed to acquiring the skillsets and resources to achieve what we wanted to do with this business. We also did a lot of research into the myriad of network marketing companies out there. We chose a company that had a great compensation plan and was willing to guarantee that the sales representatives would have equal stature with the company ownership regarding changes or modifications of the marketing model and the compensation plan. We wanted a company that had a good brand strategy and a vision for growing and adding product lines. Of course, we wanted high quality, ethically manufactured products and sound, proven systems as well.
Once you went full throttle, what happened the next 90 days?
CRIS : Our first challenge was our own personal delegation of duties and responsibilities between the two of us. The next challenge was to acquire the knowledge to build the training and marketing systems required to make a duplicable and teachable model. We read and studied the work of the most successful people we could find. We hired Ray and Jessica Higdon as business coaches.
Sonia Stringer is another mentor we follow. My vision, like hers, includes empowering women around the world, because so many of them live in a shell and refuse to come out. The world needs more women to step into leadership, and when their light shines, it shines bright.
The excellent work of Eric and Marina Worre, Robert Kiyosaki, Darren Hardy, Jim Rohn, Mark Yarnell, and Tony Robbins have all contributed to giving us the knowl-edge that we would have otherwise spent years acquiring.
Along with the traditional prospecting approach, we sought out advice and expertise in building an online and social media presence. We both felt strongly that investing in comprehensive, user-friendly online training for our new members would be a huge asset as our team grew. This all required significant time and money, but we felt we needed these systems to achieve an efficient business. We knew that building these systems would make it easier for others to duplicate and replicate our business.
As our online traffic grows, we still prospect extensively using warm and cold calling and personal one-to-one contact.
TERRY : We use Facebook two different ways: to promote our lifestyle, and to offer valuable content about different topics. It’s not necessarily to create interest in our product, but to provide value to people. Recent articles we’ve done include advise on ways to “lose your love handles,” how to keep your pets safe, and ways to create your own positive environment. Other articles are about network marketing: if you’re not succeeding, what’s causing that to happen? Are you trying to sell, or are you learning good communication skills? We provide a lot of education and our followers often refer others because of something we had provided that impacted them personally.
We’ve started doing videos along with our articles. We share them via Facebook Live, or we put them on YouTube and direct people to our site.
We also blog a lot of information.
In terms of offline marketing, one of the first steps I took was joining BNI. We’ve joined other Meetup groups as well. My goal is to develop a network of business people and entrepreneurs I can talk to about health and about the opportunities network marketing provides. I’ve taken it upon myself to learn how to cold call, how to communicate with people standing in line, and how to build a local network.
Cris spends more time with our team creating content for our training site. For instance, if you want to learn how to talk to people and listen for opportunities, we created a module for how to do that. You want to know how to set up your back office or your own website? There’s a module for that. Others areas we provide training for include how to set up ad campaigns, how to build rapport, how to overcome rejection, effective communication, personal goal setting, business tracking, and so on. We basically create training programs for every aspect of the business we had to learn ourselves.
The best way to learn something is to turn around and teach it.
CRIS : And hopefully get better at it. One of the biggest lessons we learned was understanding different personality types. Some people feel they have to know everything before they go out into this networking world. What happens is others are not interested in joining, because they are thinking they have to know all this information. Never assume you need to know everything; it’s better not to be the expert if you expect your team to duplicate what you’re doing.
Another issue I had to overcome was wanting it more for others than they want it for themselves. I would seek out people whom I knew this could help, but they didn’t always grab hold of the golden ring. I struggled for a long time recruiting people and pouring my time into them, and they never would achieve anything.
TERRY : A big problem I had was assuming that everyone’s interested. As a veterinarian, you listen to people’s problems, you present a solution, and they buy it. I had this presumption that you could go out and broadcast the opportunity to people, and they would join. I found out quickly that not everybody looks at things the way I do.
I had to find ways to ascertain whether someone’s interested or not. It’s more important to ask great questions and develop good listening skills than it is to become a good orator. It’s hugely important to learn to separate your personal identity from your role as a network marketer and to understand that it’s okay when someone says no. When someone says, “This isn’t for me,” this is not a rejection of you or your company; it’s only a rejection of an invitation. The key to overcoming fear of rejection is developing the confidence to ask the right questions, listening for the appropriate answers, and presenting an invitation to look at something that is of equal or more benefit to your prospect than it is to you. So what if not everyone accepts your offer? This business is for people who are self-driven and determined to build a spectacular business.
Was there ever a day where you felt like quitting?
CRIS : I believe we all go through that. I thought it was going to be a lot easier. I’ve been in sales. I’ve been a real estate agent for 28 years. It was easy for me to sell, and I found out that you can’t sell network marketing to people. They have to trust it. Often times I had people lined up who cancelled at the last minute. You set up another meeting, and the same thing happens. Several times I just threw up my hands and said, “This doesn’t work.”
It’s hard to get past that. The solution for me was to do more self-reflection, to read more books, and to do positive affirmations. Learning the Law of Attraction made the biggest difference, because I started to bring in the type of people I wanted to work with and quit attracting those I thought I needed to rescue. Ever since I’ve done that, my business totally changed.
TERRY : I had to learn not to care about what people think, even though I had some experience with that in athletics and with the businesses we mentioned. After you’ve practiced it a little, it gets easier. Having had these experiences of failure and rejection gives me more empathy towards our new recruits.
That’s part of what makes us good mentors; we understand what it’s like being new at this. I go back and read Ray Higden’s story of where he came from, or Tony Robbins’ story. Then I realize the obstacles they faced were a lot bigger than mine. Surrounding yourself with good information is key.
Another key is learning to compartmentalize. Whenever I’ve had two or three days with nobody wanting to talk to me or join, I apply the same thought process as I did when we were in sports. I say, “I cannot control the outcome, but I can go really hard at this until I make that 15th call or 20th call,” or whatever I set myself up to do that day. It doesn’t matter what happens. Stay in the game, make the contacts, endure it for a limited number of minutes or hours, and then you’re done. Whatever happened, happened.
That is useful for me; it keeps me from confusing my identity with my role. It doesn’t matter what yesterday was. I’m going to spend an hour and a half, and whatever the responses I get, 90 minutes later I’m done and I go on to other activities I planned for myself.
What makes you so committed to this business above all the other things you could be doing and be successful at?
CRIS : For me, it’s the people we meet and the opportunities we have to attend events we would never have dreamed of attending. We are building an international team and will fly to Hong Kong next year to strengthen those relationships. We love to travel, and now we can do it together. That’s a dream come true.
Everybody wants to live financially free with residual income. But it’s not always about the money. Sometimes it’s the friendships we are building all over the world—knowing people in other countries who welcome us into their homes, and who are welcome to come stay with us.
The technology we have available today is perfect for our business model, and network marketing is perfect for today’s technology. Running an international business as a network marketer is not much different than running a traditional business that covers a large city or several counties. Just like Uber disrupted the taxi industry, Tesla disrupted the automobile industry, and Amazon disrupted the retail sales industry, network marketing provides the opportunity to disrupt the traditional employer-employee business model with all of its inefficiencies and inequalities.
This business is also perfect for Millennials, who clearly have zeal and demand for new and different ways of integrating their personal and business lives. We find our business also provides a great platform for fostering collaboration and building harmony between Millennials and Baby Boomers.
Our company is currently open in 18 countries. We have team members with connections in China and Korea, and we are looking forward to sharing the possibilities of network marketing with them.
TERRY : Failure is not an option for us. Having been through several situations where we’ve faced adversity, we understand that sometimes they are the biggest opportunity to grow.
For me, there’s an emotional and an intellectual side. When I started my veterinary business, I was an excellent doctor, but I can remember almost every day thinking, “There can’t be more new stuff I have to learn.” There were vendor agreements and HR and inventory management; controlled substances, licensing, governments, taxes, payroll, and insurance. You look at those things, and it becomes very apparent why 90 percent of all startups fail. Plus, you always start hugely undercapitalized, because the only thing the bank’s going to loan you is what they can get back.
When you look at network marketing, you have an absolutely perfect model. But to succeed in it still requires all the motivation and drive you can muster. People fail at network marketing because they think it’s easy money, that you just go out and talk to people, and all of a sudden you’re rolling in the dough. It takes the same discipline, focus, and determination as any other business. The difference is, you don’t have to invest seven figures to get started and find a way to pay that money back, or develop systems for HR, inventory, product development, and all the other business responsibilities that steal your time and weigh you down.
Compared to how difficult it is to start a traditional business, network marketing is much more forgiving and doable. If people just understood this, and what this business can do for you, and how open it is to anybody who wants to deploy it—if everybody understood that, so many problems and struggles we have would disappear.
My commitment comes from knowing that there’s somebody else out there who will see it. Even when I go through 10 or 20 cold calls and get the phone slammed down, I know that just takes me closer to the next person who is ready for this. That’s why we stay at it, and why we enjoy it.
What are some of your goals and visions for the future?
CRIS : We love how our business allows us to give back to our community. We support causes like the Starkey Hearing Foundation, whose mission is to unite nations through the gift of hearing, and the HUGS Foundation that supports destitute families in the Philippines. We met some amazing people through this, and our natural inclination is to reciprocate and give back. If you’re making something big, others have always contributed to your success. One of the common traits of successful people is their motivation to elevate those around them.
TERRY : We feel we’re put on this Earth with the gifts we have for specific reasons.
People are taught, sometimes by their best friends and allies who want to protect them, that this is a world of scarcity rather than abundance. We feel life is full of opportunities for prosperity and happiness, and we want to convey that feeling to as many others as we can.
Cris and I believe we can change the world by empowering our team of motivated and successful people. Offering the vehicle of network marketing to the right person can break the chain of poverty, of broken relationships, of emotional despair. Providing this path to someone can create the time and financial freedom that unites families for generations to come.
I also have some personal goals: by this time next year I want to have reached five figures a week in compensation, because that would suggest we are doing the right things. When we reach that, we’re going to have engaged a lot of good people.
I view my life in 30s. My first 30 years I was insecure and made a lot of mistakes. I viewed life differently than what I’ve learned it really is. My second 30 years, we were fortunate enough to invest in ourselves and come up with some resources to be able to do what hopefully will be the last 30 years—a time for service and contribution. We love to share resources, knowledge, and coaching with individuals whose lives will change as a result.
We enjoy family, and we have grandchildren who within a few years are going to reach an age where they will be looking for employment. Whether they choose this profession or any other career, we will have provided them with the skills that will help them succeed wherever they go—how to be a good listener, an excellent communicator, and how to look for opportunities to help people achieve what they want. That’s my vision for how we go forward. If I make it to 90 and we’re able to accomplish that—and if I get bonus years beyond that, that’s cool—that would be a complete life for me.