Austin Zulauf is a top achiever and trainer who has been the #1 income earner in three network marketing companies. He got started selling insurance door to door, then had his share of trials and learning experiences in a handful of network marketing opportunities.
A seasoned sales trainer recognizing the importance of structure and systems, Austin started his own training company working on the corporate side and with top leaders on all aspects of the direct selling profession.
Today Austin focuses on teaching his own team how to build businesses leading with what he calls the three Fs—fun, freedom, and friendship.
“A millionaire in network marketing is someone with a million friends,” he says. “With close to 8 billion people on planet Earth, I feel I can find at least a million who will like me enough to call me a friend.”
Austin’s passion is to offer his friends a simple, proven SYSTEM—which stand for Save YourSelf Time, Energy, and Money—to compress time and experience the magic of residual income.—J.G.
A Farm Boy from Kentucky
I grew up on a farm in Edmonson County, Kentucky. I was related to virtually everybody in the county, so I didn’t have any problem socializing. Networking to me was like saying hello to my cousin at a family gathering. It came naturally.
After my family’s house burned down, I moved to the city when I was 12 and didn’t know anybody there, but I made friends quickly. Being adventurous, I got into trouble throughout my teenage years, but I decided to make a turn for the better when I was 19. I started my career in direct selling with an insurance company in 2002, two weeks after my 19th birthday.
It probably saved my life, because it gave me an outlet. Not only did I find a way to make a good living, it also gave me personal self-development. I now had everything I needed to become an entrepreneur and a better person.
I discovered W. Clement Stone and started living by his quote, “All I want to do is change the world... make it a better place for this and future generations.” He became one of my earliest mentors, and ever since I turned 19, I make sure I go into the world with that quote in mind.
I also read Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World. The second scroll or chapter in that book starts with, “I will greet this day with love in my heart.” Whenever you’re trying to change the world for the better and leave a legacy, I believe the best way to go about it is to enter each day with love in your heart.
These are some things I learned from working with this insurance company. It was door-to-door, business-to-business sales. I did it for about seven years and developed leather skin. I’ve had guns drawn on me, multiple times. I’ve been picked up and thrown out of businesses, which is pretty easy to do, considering I’m 5’9” and never weighed more than 165 pounds.
I experienced a lot of rejection, but I got used to it. It makes network marketing easy, because you don’t have to go door to door. I can do this from my home, from my phone, and no one’s going to pull a gun on me or threaten to kick my tail.
Winning and Losing
I did so well with the insurance company I made sales manager my eighth week in the field, which tied the regional record in Kentucky since 1930. Only I and one other guy had done that.
About a year and a half into it, I was offered the position of divisional sales trainer for Dallas, which was a huge honor. I was the youngest sales trainer in the company’s 100-year history. Everyone in that company who was hired for the state of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Arkansas either drove or flew in for a two-week-long class with “just” me.
Little 21-year-old Austin Zulauf was teaching people who had been in sales for over 40 years how to have success. About half that course was personal development. The other part was sales techniques and principles, and the psychology of selling.
It was a wonderful opportunity. Trained by the best in the company, I had a chance to really grow and become certified as a sales expert. Then in 2008, like so many other companies, we had a corporate restructuring, and I ended up losing my job.
I was forced to start from the bottom again. I figured, “I can put my resume out there. I’ve trained tens of thousands of salespeople. I’m a distinguished sales professional. Who wouldn’t want to hire Austin Zulauf? I’ll get a six-figure-a-year job in no time. Shoot, I’ll be turning down offers.”
That didn’t happen. I put my resume out there, and no one cared. I had to go work for hourly pay and ended up in a warehouse making $12 an hour.
Going from a multiple six-figure income to $12 an hour, I foreclosed on my home I was living in and was sleeping from couch to couch. Some days I didn’t have a couch, so I was sleeping in my car, which was fine... until my car got repossessed.
I ended up moving in with my mom, who wasn’t doing much better. It was a really difficult time in my life, because I got to a point where I had given up hope on things ever being as good as they had been.
One day, I was on Facebook searching for answers. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I had no idea what network marketing was and had never even heard of the biggest companies that have been around for 50 years, which was weird because I had been in direct sales for so long.
Facebook had “friend suggested” a guy named Brandon Hayes, from Bowling Green, Kentucky. His profile picture looked great. He was wearing a suit, looking sharp. It said he was a Diamond Executive with his company. I thought, “I don’t know the company, I don’t know what a Diamond is, but I know he’s doing better than me. Let me ask him what’s up.”
I messaged him and we started a conversation. He did exactly what he was supposed to do: he appeared to be busy. He put me off, told me he was at dinner with some colleagues, and asked, “If I send you a 10-minute video, when would you have a chance to watch it?”
I told him, “I’ll check it out right now.”
We set up an appointment and had a three-way call. I was excited as can be. I told them my background, which got him excited. He saw something in me. A few days later he drove up two and a half hours with another guy named Kevin Brassell to talk to me about the business.
We met at a Starbucks. I drove a 2004 Oldsmobile Alero with busted taillights, missing a rearview and side mirror. You couldn’t open the door without holding the window, because it’d fall into the door. It had an expired registration, illegal tint, and no insurance. I brought a bottle of water from home, because I couldn’t afford to order water.
Kevin and Brandon explained the opportunity and it was exactly what I had been looking for. They drew some circles on a piece of paper, showed me a compensation plan, and for the first time in a couple of years I saw hope.
Here I was, stuck in this factory killing myself, and I saw the answer. It also scared the hell out of me, because hope can be dangerous to somebody who’s hopeless.
Joining Network Marketing
I told Brandon, “This sounds great, but I have no money to join. I mean, I have nothing. I’m practically homeless. I’m eating at the Salvation Army.”
He said, “I understand, Austin, but if I told the right person about this, they’d snatch that TV off the wall and run to the pawn shop with it. They’d do whatever it took to get involved.”
Since then I’ve come up with better responses than that, but it worked for me. As the saying goes, in our business you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person. I was the right person.
I sold everything I owned that had any value, even DVDs. I then took an entire paycheck from work, and I joined at the highest level the company offered, because that’s how you could earn the most. I even kept up the $200 a month auto-ship for a few months.
The company didn’t offer much training back then, but I tried my guts out, doing home meetings and everything I could think of. It took me about two months before I sponsored my first person. Not being very good at it and lacking a system I could follow, I gave up on it.
Then a good friend reached out to me about an energy deregulation company. He had a system for how to make $1,000 the first week. It was so easy to do we built an army of people making $1,000 their first week, teaching others how to make $1,000 their first week. That was our single focus, and it worked.
Thinking the grass was greener elsewhere, I got involved in something else, and it turned out it was crab grass.
I then joined a marketing tool suite type of company and built a team of 34,000 people in 12 months. I became the #1 income earner and built a huge network. It was an international company, so I had a chance to meet people all over the world. One day I was expecting a large deposit in my bank account, and it was $271. The company had gone under. They were operating illegally, and I didn’t have enough business acumen to recognize it.
Next I got involved in the first ever cannabis MLM. It was a health and wellness company. I was excited and did that for a little over a year and a half, but it was difficult to get professionals to put cannabis behind their name, despite all the proven health benefits.
Becoming a Trainer
Then one of my best friends, Seth Fraser, approached me about a travel company. I’ve always enjoyed traveling. It sounded like an easy build. I got involved and built a team of 8,700 paid members in the first 90 days. About 70 percent of the company was my organization. I was the #1 income earner and the company did well for the first six months, but the owner wasn’t supportive of the CEO. Seeing a lack of alignment, I realized it wasn’t my last company so I put the brakes on and decided to just focus on my trainings.
I’d been doing training for network marketing companies and leaders since 2011. That’s what I’m good at. It’s my passion. Giving it my full focus for a few months, I really took it to the next level and was having a lot of fun.
I dabbled in another company, until I got a call about the company I’m with now, about 10 months ago. I said, “Me and wine? I’m in.” This is the third company I’ve been the #1 income earner in, and it’s the easiest build I’ve ever done. I’ve finally found something I feel I can build and make money at for the rest of my life, while not feeling like I have to sell or convince anybody.
It’s a little bit different from what I’m used to, like a breath of fresh air. After 10 months I still don’t feel like I’m having to work. I’m just mingling and socializing, because wine inspires the right activity and behavior for building a network marketing business: it encourages socializing, sharing, bonding, networking—and happiness. There’s nothing wrong with any company out there, I love them all, but I’m having fun here. I’m still doing my trainings, but now I’m training my team.
This business just fits my personality. I’m a laidback, relaxed guy. I’m extremely simple. I’m a ninth grade dropout, and I’ve never had aspirations to go to college. I can’t sit still and shut up long enough to learn anything they would have taught me anyway. I understand the importance of training and support as well as structure and systems, but I also know how to keep it simple so anyone can do it.
Creating a System
When new builders join our team, we refer them to our training site which I built. Step one is the fast-start training, designed to give people the right focus and direction. We don’t want them to start thinking, “Now I have to recruit, now I have to gather customers, now I have to do all that?!” Instead, we simply teach them to put people through a process.
Step two explains that process in a training we call the 7 Ps: posture, prospect, pique, point, pass, plug, and promote.
In step one, we ask four questions:
Once you know how much time you have to work with and how many people you can get in front of the information per hour, then it just becomes math. If you’re new in the profession, you’ll probably get 1 in 10 to join on the initial follow-up. Knowing this can take all the pressure off yourself and put it on the system, on the numbers.
After people complete step one, they text us a picture showing how much time they can devote. Then step two explains the whole process of how to do it. Step three teaches them how to launch their business taking a “land, air, and sea” approach: social media, launch calls over the phone, and an offline launch party. Covering all bases, this gives them an initial explosion of growth and people to follow up with for months to come.
In my training company, we train people in different areas of direct selling—not just network marketing, but also debt collection, door to door, business-to-business sales, furniture sales, car sales, and so on. Over the past five years we’ve helped retire over 400 families from their full-time employment, often using the vehicle of network marketing. In my current company we already have a lot of full-time professional networkers.
This is what I’m most proud of, because in network marketing, as Eric Worre says, “we do have a better way.” There are people out there who get fired from five or 10 jobs a year. I know, because I was one of them. I’m not good at showing up on time every day. I’m not good at having to ask permission to go use the restroom if I’m on an assembly line in a factory. I’m not good at working in 120-degree weather. I’m unwilling to accept that my life is worth only $20 an hour. It’s depressing!
For people like me who have difficulty conforming, network marketing is the only answer. Owning any other business like a cell phone store or a paving company wouldn’t be a solution, because I’d have to keep track of inventory, overhead, and all the other business aspects.
In network marketing, I get all the benefits of entrepreneurship and owning my own business without having to perform all the other functions. I have a back office that manages everything for me. Corporate is taking care of the whole infrastructure. I can build a team and a culture within the company. It’s perfect for anybody who is serious and open-minded.
Preparation Time versus Production Time
Preparation is learning your pay plan, learning your back office, making your list, and so on. Production time is doing income-producing activities. If you have only 10 hours a week, spend no more than 2 hours on preparation, so you still have 8 hours for production. If you talk to four people an hour, that’s 32 people a week.
Seeing the Magic
Here’s a story I use to explain residual income. Let’s say you and I are each building a house. Your hourly pay is $20 an hour, so you get a 20-pound brick each hour. I only get one dollar an hour, because I’m building residual income. While you’re building your house by yourself, I go out and tell Steve, “Hey man, if you help me build my house, I’ll help you build yours.” Steve says, “Makes perfect sense. Let’s do it.” Now it’s me and Steve and we get two one-pound bricks each hour.
Steve and I go tell Johnny and Sara. “If you help me build my house, I’ll help you build your house.” They say, “Cool. Let’s do that.”
Now we’re getting four one-pound bricks each hour. You’re still over there beating us by five times with your 20-pound brick each hour, but all we have to do is tell a few more people each, and now we’re doubling your bricks. Soon we have 40 one-pound bricks every hour, and you have one 20-pound brick.
We go tell one or two more people, and teach a few who teach a few. Next thing you know, after 10 months my team is nearing 10,000 active and excited builders. We’re about to launch two new countries and multiply the size of our team. We now have close to 10,000 one-pound bricks to your 20 each hour.
I don’t even have to be around anymore, because I’ve “taught a man how to fish.” All my people are helping each other build their houses. I can take phone calls from the beach and say, “This is how you put that brick on the wall.” Meanwhile you’re over there sweating with one 20-pound brick each hour.
That’s the magic of residual income. We have a saying, “Network marketing is a speedboat for winners, not a life raft for losers.” I wouldn’t want to call anybody a loser. It’s totally up to them how they want to live their life. But it’s so true that this is a speedboat for winners.
It certainly isn’t the only vehicle. There are many other options, businesses, and ways of leveraging yourself. But even there, to an extent you need the same skillsets as network marketers. You still have to find people to market to and sell what you have. I once made $11,000 in a weekend selling R2-D2 bathrobes from Star Wars on Shopify, using nothing but Facebook ads. There are many ways to market and sell in today’s world.
Network marketing is definitely for those who have a natural love for people, and it’s a higher calling. It’s almost like teaching special education, in the sense that it’s tough, but very rewarding. You’re going to have bad days, but you have to love what you do more than you dread the toughest days. Network marketing is only tough until you get used to it. It’s like wearing new dress shoes. It’s tough for little bit, but after a while, all you really see is the shine.