Edwin Haynes is a multimillion-dollar earner in network marketing with a growing organization of a quarter million people worldwide. Yet this is only one of the multiple businesses in Edwin’s portfolio. While he’s all about diversification, he has a special love for direct sales: he knows the value of residual income, but what he values even more is how the business requires people to change and grow.—J.G.

Tell us about your life do prior to network marketing.
I grew up in Greenville, a small town in Mississippi. My mother worked for a large corporation, and when she was transferred to Houston, we moved there. This gave me a big city view and increased my already strong desire to be successful. I didn’t have a privileged childhood. I thought I was going to be an attorney, because I liked the prestige. In high school I used to carry a briefcase when other kids had backpacks. I knew I was destined to make money somehow.

After high school I looked for something to do and was introduced to the music industry. I got started in concert promotion and moved up to artist management and eventually owned my own label. I went to college for one year, but I knew that I had more in me than what I was going to get from having a degree. When the music industry changed from physical to digital products, I had to look for other ways to generate income. I had made pretty decent money in that industry for 13 years and enjoyed a good lifestyle.

I tried everything out there, including the no-money-down system, because I ran out of money. That’s how I came across direct sales. I had heard about it, but I didn’t know anybody who had any real success in it. I was hungry and looking, so I began dabbling in network marketing for a little while, without any major success.

I was actually tricked into the business by a friend who lived in my neighborhood. He would always catch me outside doing something and then ask me to go take a look at an opportunity, but he would never tell me what it was. I knew what he was trying to do, so I told him I was not interested.

How did he trick you?
He invited me to a cookout at a good friend of his in the next neighborhood to us. When he asked if I wanted to go, I thought, “Free food, a little drinkā€¦ I’ll go with him.”

He picked me up, we went over there, and the first thing I saw was a board on an easel. I wanted to leave but couldn’t, because I had come in his car. I walked over to the kitchen, because I didn’t want to be in the living room.

I asked the host, “Who’s going to do the presentation?”

He answered, “Holton Buggs.”

I had met Holton before, and when he came in, he recognized me. He asked me to take a look at his company and I reluctantly signed up. I wrote everything wrong on that paper except for my name. They could not process that paperwork.

At that time, I had a partnership in a medical case management business. Holton visited me at that office and spent about three hours with me talking about his vision and what he was going to do. He said he’d show me how to do network marketing the right way, because he had been making money.

It’s been about 20 years since I was reintroduced to the profession through Holton Buggs, and we’ve been joined at the hip ever since.

What was it like getting started?
It took me about two years to get my footing, because I was trying to build the way I was building my traditional business. I was the company owner, so I had a title, CEO, and I had people under me. When I became partners with another company, and we had even more employees. I thought I could go in and apply the same methods to become successful.

I fell flat on my face. Holton finally said, “Listen, whenever you want to learn it the right way, I’m going to be here for you.”

Once I decided to submit myself to what he was teaching, I started seeing some success. Part of it wasn’t even the money. I tell people, you don’t build this business for money; it’s something that’s going to change you. Let me explain what I mean with an example.

At the time Holton and I had become best friends. He’d had some experience, and I didn’t. He had performed in such a way that at company events, he was able to sit at the very front of the room. For this particular convention, leaders had a certain door to go into, and in the morning they had a VIP breakfast prepared for them.

I didn’t earn the right to be there, so I didn’t have access. My goal has always been to be at the front of the room. If I was going to attend an event, I didn’t want anybody’s head blocking my view. I wanted to hear exactly what was being taught. This was my mindset. I would hustle to the front of the room, even if I had to skip breakfast.

I’ll never forget, I had my notepad on my lap ready to take notes. I always try to stay close to my leadership so I was sitting near the area where Holton was eating breakfast. At one point he threw some grapes at me, and then took a fork full of pancakes and ate the pancakes, while I was sitting there with my notepad on my lap. I looked at that and said to myself, “Next year there is no way I’m going to be struggling and missing breakfast. If they’re serving breakfast, I’m going to earn my right to be at that table.”

The next year, not only did I earn my spot at breakfast, I had my own table with my own leaders. I tell people, some pancakes and grapes made me go out there and perform. My point is, the recognition was more important than the money for me. I knew the money was there, but that didn’t move me. Something about that event changed my life, and I’ve never been the same since.

How did you go from where you were to where you wanted to be?
I did whatever it took. The phone became lighter for me. Many people are afraid to make the calls, but all I could see was the end result. My heart, my full desire was to be there, and I knew I had to go through a process.

There was another factor in play. I wanted my wife, Andrea, and our daughters to see me win. Our three daughters were younger at the time, but I wanted them to see their father succeed. I wanted to make a better life for them. I knew I could go out there and do it with the vehicle of direct sales, so I played tricks on my mind. For instance, I put our daughters’ picture over the phone I was using. Every time I would look at the phone, it forced me to make calls, because I didn’t want to let my family down.

I also began to submerse myself in the different readings my mentors were recommending. I learned from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones that the difference between who you are today and where you’ll be in the next five years is what you read, what you listen to, and the people you associate with.

I know this to be absolutely true, because I lived it. I became a student of my profession, and a student of leadership, because I was now leading a volunteer army. When I was working for my own company, I could tell people what to do. That was positional leadership, as Dr. John C. Maxwell teaches, as opposed to leading from influence.

And increasing your influence comes only from growing yourself.

Absolutely. This was in the early 2000s and I didn’t like to read before. It wasn’t a big part of my life. Now I had a harder time packing my physical books than I did my clothes. I knew I had to not only read, but what I learned had to take shape and form in my life in order for people to see a change.

I read and listened to the right information. I surrounded myself with the right people. I followed exactly what was asked, even if it hurt, even if I didn’t feel like it. There was no procrastination. I knew I had to be at that breakfast table, and I could not let my kids down.

Motivation goes back to simple things. Network marketing leaders talk about their whys. I took those teachings in at face value, I let them permeate in my life, and it changed everything. We hear it and teach it all the time: if you are looking to succeed in this profession, you’re going to have to find something that will drive you past the money. Because once people get to the money goal, if they ever get there, then there’s nothing else to keep them going. I made sure I had something that would continue to drive me.

Naturally, the more you talked on the phone, the better you became. Action makes you better, so you could only go up from there.
Yes, and action made me “no-proof.” The “no’s” no longer mattered to me. I played games with my mind, if you will. I always say the mind doesn’t know the difference between fact and imagination. I told myself at the time, “I’m looking for no’s. If I find a yes, it’s just a bonus.” I was expecting no. I conditioned myself to literally celebrate the no’s. I kept in mind that a no won’t do anything for my business. It won’t push my business one way or the other, but if I find the right person to say yes, it can make a world of difference. I chose to psych myself out in order to win.

When did you go full time and did you let go of your other business?
Three years into it, I sold my portion of the business I had a partnership in and was able to do network marketing full time. I tell people, “In direct sales, just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you’re full time.” I made sure I had enough income to fully take care of my household and our lifestyle, so I didn’t have to struggle.

As Jim Rohn said, it was a better story for him to have a job and a side business in network marketing, because it allowed him to tell people he worked full time at his job and part time on his fortune, even though the part-time business was outdoing the full-time job.

Are most of your leaders doing the business part time?
Yes, a great majority are doing it very part time, and that’s all they wanted. Most people in my organization are probably making anywhere from $500 to $5,000 a month working part time. In any industry, for a person to make a six figure income is a great accomplishment. I don’t take it lightly for someone to get involved in this business and make a passive income of $500 to $5,000 a month—and some people get to $10,000 a month or more. Earning this kind of passive income is very different from going to work for $10,000 a month.

We typically present our opportunityas a part-time business, because we want to manage people’s expectations. Most new people think that because they connected with somebody who’s making a significant income, they can come in and do the same thing. They can, as long as they also look at the experience level of the person who’s earning that type of money. What type of connections and influence did they have? How coachable were they? There are different dynamics involved, and success is going to happen differently for everyone.

A person needs to realistically look at themselves, see what they’re willing to put into it, assess and see the influence and connections they have, and then be realistic about the outcome. If you never made $10,000 or $20,000 a month, you’re probably going to have to learn something new in order to do it here.

Because of the statistics, most people see network marketing as side business. But if they really get to understand it, they will see that they can scale it to what they want it to be. In most cases, it’s going to require you to change, and most people are afraid to face that. That’s one of the things I teach: you need to acknowledge, accept, and then look to recondition, if you want to make that change.

I like how you see network marketing as part of your business portfolio.
As an entrepreneur, I would suggest to anybody, I don’t care what industry you’re in, that it would be a wise decision to have a network marketing or direct sales business in your portfolio. One reason is to lower your taxes. I just learned how to play golf, and I’m writing some of that golf time off now, because of the business meetings we are having on the golf course. Sometimes as we are playing, we are planning things out for our team. Having a network marketing business allows you to do some fun things and write them off. You can’t easily do this with a traditional business.

Do you focus on recruiting business people?
Every day I encounter people who are stuck in some kind of way. They may be earning $50,000, $60,000, or even $75,000 a year in a job. They’re okay with the income, but they know they can do more. They want that six-figure life, but they don’t know what to do, because they’re maxed out educationally. The only way they can get to a higher income is to go back to school, and they’re not willing to do that, so they need a vehicle to generate that income. I’m able to show them how to make the extra money part time to get them to that six-figure income, allowing them to save more and live a better life outside of what they’re doing.

I also come across people who are at a higher level. Maybe they’re making $250,000 a year and they want to get to a million dollars. I show them they can do that in our business. What they’re willing to do in order to accomplish what they are looking for is up to each person.

I tell them, “This is what I’ve done. I can speak from experience. I got involved in direct sales looking to make a significant amount of money to be able to change my family’s lifestyle. I decided to be the last broke Haynes.

“Nobody I knew in my family had made millions of dollars. I wanted to be a change agent for my generation, because I believe that generations should progressively get better. My goal is for my kids not to start where I started from, but start where I’m leaving off, and carry on to make the next improvements.

“Someone had to start that trend, and that was me. Network marketing may not have been the easiest way, but it was one of the simplest ways to do it:

Wealth-conscious people today look for multiple streams of income. How has network marketing allowed you to create diversity?
A few years back, because of the neighborhood I was able to move in, one of my bankers called me and said, “I want you to meet some of the people around you who are very well off and are in different industries.”

One of the industries was oil and gas. I reasoned, “I don’t know anything about oil and gas, but it’s always good to have a connection.”

Because of network marketing, I had people in my organization whom I had encountered all over the world, and as I met these individuals in my neighborhood, they exposed me to a whole new industry. I ended up dabbling in the oil and gas industry by connecting people with one another.

Initially I wasn’t making any money from the connections, but once I asked how to do this, they showed me a way. They included me in a few things and ultimately I became a service provider for oil and gas companies worldwide. I now have a company called Haynes Global Services that does outsourcing work for the major oil companies in the world. Our services include refurbishing of well parts and developing manufactured pieces. I started that company about five years ago now, and it’s growing very well, because the service side of things will always do well.

How else are you “diversified” as an entrepreneur?
There are five things I want to have in my portfolio in some way: agriculture, real estate, technology, media, and minerals. Why agriculture? People always have to eat. Real estate? People will always have to have places to live and do business. Technology? That’s the way of the world. We’re into the internet of everything now. Media? They control what’s going on in people’s mind. We watch TV, we read, we’re doing a magazine piece right now. Minerals? The world is still needing them to function. We’re doing less coal, but we still need oil and gas, and different minerals. If I can have that going on somewhere, I can survive. That’s why I ended up in oil and gas.

Next, I saw that technology was going to be a big piece. I learned from direct sales that if you ever want to become successful, you find a need or a void, and you fill it. Different techniques I learned from this business have helped me thrive in other areas of business, like this technology place. I have a technology company that I’ve put together to advance the manufacturing process. It’s a manufacturing piece, a technology piece that we’re doing, called Athon Systems.

How do you manage all your different businesses?
Every day I wear three to four hats. Number one, I have to service my team. I have over 250,000 people collectively in my organization now, and we are growing like crazy. I was on the phone this morning with some people in different parts of the world doing different video conferences. That’s a part of my day.

Then, I have to wear the hat of CEO for my manufacturing company. I make sure the companies I work with are getting their material or parts located or serviced, or whatever I need to do.

Then I’m in the process of doing a startup with this technology plan, which I had to learn.

I can tell you everything I learned in direct sales has helped me succeed in those multiple areas, and I’m so grateful for that. More than the money I’ve earned in this profession, I value the person I’ve become in the process. You can’t take away what this business has done for me and to me, and that’s one of the biggest benefits I point out to people. You have to go through that process, because your life will never be the same.

That’s a huge gift, indeed. Is what you have created for yourself duplicating in your team?
It has to be something you desire to do. I always tell people, “First, create success in one area before you expand in another.” I didn’t expand my portfolio until I had a thriving network marketing business and a sizable residual income.

People come to me saying they’re going to diversify, and I’m like, “No, you’re not diversifying. You’re just moving on and doing something else, because you weren’t successful in the first thing.”

I’m quick to tell them, “Stop trying to spread yourself too thin. Go through the process in one thing. Become successful, and let that fuel the other ventures you may desire to do. If you never become good in one area, you may never become great anywhere else.

I got it down to a narrow area of focus, and I made sure that I went through the process. Most people had never heard of me. I was behind the scenes making tons of money, because I didn’t care for the public recognition. I got in it to get paid. I wanted to provide for my family. I served my team. I stayed in my lane. I didn’t watch the successful people to duplicate their results.

I teach people, “Don’t study the end results. Study what successful people went through in order to achieve the end results.” I made that the center of what I worked on every day. I wanted to know their process—and I fell in love with the process. I knew if I got the processes down, the end result would have to come.

How do you see the future of network marketing?
Today more people are earning significant incomes, and more have the belief they can earn significant incomes, than any time before. As a result, others are more open to looking, because the evidence is there. Our profession has evolved so much, partly due to the technology piece. Social media is giving people an inside glimpse that it actually works.

Every day more products are being developed or manufactured with fewer people involved. That means technology continues to take over the world. Young people are still going to school, especially in the US, but they’re being educated in subjects that will be obsolete in the very near future. As students are graduating, they’re realizing they’re now overqualified, or there’s no place for them, or they’ve been educated in areas that have become irrelevant. They end up looking for something that can give them the freedom and lifestyle they desire.

That’s where we can fill a void, especially for the Millennials. They are a free spirited group that doesn’t like being confined to the four walls of an office.

Network marketing will play a bigger part in our society than it did before. Our role as leaders is to properly represent what it is we offer.

I consider myself an ambassador of our business. I don’t try to over sell it. I believe the truth is good enough. It’s okay to let people know there is big money, but don’t put the focus there. Sell people on things that they have not been able to experience before in their life. Give them a realistic approach. I focus on the more achievable money, and let them be surprised, if you will, when the big money comes, because I know it’s possible.”