Just four years ago, Sonia and Doug Magruder were successful real estate professionals in Florida who had no time for or interest in another business. What started out as sharing a product they fell in love with turned into a side income that quickly outgrew their six-figure real estate income. Today Sonia and Doug have found time freedom and the joy of helping others achieve their wellness and financial goals.—J.G.
A Life-Changing Product
Sonia and Doug both have roots in south Florida, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Sonia’s dad was a Greek immigrant and her mom was a first generation American with Greek immigrant parents.
“As long as I can remember,” says Sonia, “my parents were entrepreneurs with an incredible work ethic. They taught me that with hard work, focus, and perseverance, one can achieve anything.”
Doug was born in Miami, and as a small child until his teens, he lived in Asia and Europe. His father is a retired army colonel, and as an army brat, Doug loved living abroad and learning about different cultures.
Doug and Sonia got married in 1998. Both had long careers in retail, but their entrepreneurial spirit was tugging at them inside. Sonia went into real estate and was able to triple her previous income in her first year in the business. Several years later, she opened her own brokerage firm. In the 15 years to follow, Sonia and Doug enjoyed being entrepreneurs in the real estate and investment arena in the Tampa, Florida area.
One day in 2013, Sonia’s cousin Eric, a health and fitness buff, was posting on Facebook about some clean, organic nutrition products he was in love with. “I was intrigued and asked him about the products he was so sold on,” says Sonia. “At that time, we were also caregivers for my elderly mom, who had dementia and was living with us.”
The Magruders were actually looking for a nutrition solution for Sonia’s mom, and they also wanted to lose some extra weight. They decided to try the product, which not only solved the nutrition problem for Sonia’s mom, it also helped Sonia and Doug with their wellness goals.
From Sharing to Earning
The Magruders’ friends and business associates started telling them they looked great and asking them what they were doing. Sonia and Doug had such a life-changing experience that they wanted to shout it from the rooftops and share it with as many people as possible.
“Our company has a $50 gift card marketing program, so it was fun and easy to give out these cards,” says Sonia. “The people we shared them with in turn had great experiences, and they shared gift cards with their friends, and it multiplied from there.”
Sonia was so busy with her real estate brokerage and being a caregiver that she was just casually sharing.
“It was more of a fun diversion for me at that point,” says Sonia. “With so much already on our plates, I really wasn’t open to another business venture.”
But a few months in, Sonia noticed that her direct deposit from this “fun diversion” was equivalent to the income from one of their rental properties. She said to Doug, “Did you see the direct deposit today? We just got ourselves another rental property income without having to buy a property.”
That was when the light bulb went on for the Magruders. Even though at that point, the income from network marketing wasn’t anywhere near enough to cover their household expenses, and was way less than their real estate income, they could see the big picture and what this could become if they really focused on it. That’s when they decided to take a closer look at the business opportunity.
Growing and Building a Team
Working in real estate is very demanding, says Sonia. A lot of buyers and sellers expect their real estate agent to be on call practically 24/7. That coupled with caring for an elderly parent didn’t leave her much time.
“Yet I was having so much fun sharing our network marketing products and opportunity, so I played a game with myself,” she says. “I would get my real estate work done as early as possible in the day, and then my reward would be that I got to work on my network marketing business at least a couple of hours each day.”
Then in December 2013, Sonia’s mom was hospitalized and passed away. It was a very difficult time for her emotionally and she needed to take a step back to cope with the loss.
A couple of months later, Sonia realized it was time to pick herself up and move forward. From that point onward, Sonia and Doug rank advanced every month and were able to attend their first company convention at the Crown rank, accompanied by a large team.
“It was hard to believe that within a year and a half, our network marketing income had not only replaced but surpassed our six-figure real estate income,” says Sonia. “Now we have several six-figure earners on our team who have become amazing leaders of leaders themselves.”
Daily Activities Then and Now
Initially the Magruders just talked to as many people as they could. Their company was young when they joined, so they didn’t have a lot of marketing tools available. “Mostly we were just winging it,” says Sonia. “But we were able to transfer the skills we had from real estate to our new business, and then teach those skills to our team.”
Now the Magruders are a lot more deliberate and organized. They have a morning routine where they do 30 minutes of personal development, read and reflect on a daily bible text, eat a healthy breakfast, and do 20 to 30 minutes of physical exercise.
Then they reach out to their leaders and new connections, do follow-ups with their team and prospects, and prepare calls and trainings for their team.
“We have regular weekly team training calls,” says Sonia. “We do a lot of coaching and mentoring with those who want to run, and we continue to prospect and build, setting that example for our team.”
Prospecting and Finding Leads
The Magruders’ approach has been “high touch” from day one, building organically and belly to belly. However, they quickly realized they also needed to implement high tech tools and systems.
“The combination of these two approaches is very powerful,” says Sonia. “We have a Facebook prospecting group with over 11,000 people.”
Doug and Sonia both love people. Doug is a natural at making friends wherever he goes. Sonia is naturally curious and loves learning about others. In her experience, being a really good listener is the most effective tool for prospecting.
“I learned this skill from my mother,” she says. “When she was living with us, people from our congregation would regularly come and visit to encourage her. My mom loved asking people questions about themselves, their children, what kind of work they do, and so on.
“Mom was doing FORD—asking about Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams—and didn’t even know it. She just was genuinely interested. Her visitors would leave our house on cloud 9 and say, ‘We came to encourage her, but she just made us feel like a million bucks!’
Top 3 Success Tips
Sonia & Doug Magruder are Top-5 earners in their company and Sonia is on the Field Advisory Board.
Don’t prejudge busy, successful people.
We all know not to prejudge people, yet most of us have a “chicken list” of people we might perceive to be just too successful and accomplished to approach about our business opportunity. When we got introduced to network marketing, we were the busiest people we knew and we were certainly not looking for another business.
You just never know who this business model might resonate with and when. Even if someone isn’t interested at the time when you first approach them, their circumstances may change. If you develop and maintain that relationship and are consistent in building your business, you will be who they will come to when they are ready.
Don’t ever let discouragement cause you to slow down or quit.
All that does is break your momentum and gets you in a cycle of starting over again and again, and never gaining traction. Or worse yet, missing out on eventual passive residual income and the rewards that come with helping others achieve that, all because you gave up. We all experience disappointments.
I remember spending two years on a multimillion-dollar real estate deal that I poured myself into. It crumbled when the developer pulled the plug on the project. That was a huge disappointment. I could have said “real estate is a terrible profession, it doesn’t work.” Instead, I continued on and put my energy into the next deals in the pipeline. Rather than being upset and bitter, I maintained the relationship with the developer, which led to several other lucrative deals with him.
The same goes for this profession. There will be disappointments, but it doesn’t invalidate the profession. Develop and maintain relationships, keep making friends and build new relationships, and stay committed to the process. Those who stay in this business for the long game win. If you are motivated but lacking skills, your upline mentor or mentors can teach you those skills to help you succeed.
Don’t want something for others more than they want it themselves.
As leaders we had to learn to spend time with those who are showing that they want to run, who are building their business by their actions and not just their words.
I am eternally optimistic, so it took me a while to realize I had to work smarter and spend my time and with those who really want success. There is nothing more gratifying than helping others achieve their goals, watching them grow into leaders in their own right, and celebrating with them. Seeing the fledglings we nurtured soar as eagles has been the best feeling in the world.
“That’s the example I had my whole life. People love sharing about themselves and being listened to. Of course, having the gift card marketing system also makes it super easy to talk to people about our products and opportunity.”
Sonia stays connected with her real estate clients and colleagues. “Years later I still get calls from them,” she says. “Maintaining and valuing those relationships has proven to be a never ending source of prospects and referrals.”
Duplication and Leadership
The Magruders create duplication for their team by having a simple system and breaking things down into bite-size chunks, so people don’t feel overwhelmed. “When a new team member comes on board,” says Sonia, “the first 48 hours are crucial to get them oriented. We establish their why and help them really connect with it.”
Sonia asks a lot of questions to learn about the person, their communication style, and what inspires them. She gives them an assignment of a couple of easy actionable items, and then an appointment to follow up with them on those items and move to the next step.
The Magruders also have an at-a-glance getting-started guide for their team and a weekly “Getting Started Right” training call hosted by their leaders. In addition, they have mastermind calls during the week and a Monday night training call where they recognize different team members for their results and achievements.
“Our training calls are recorded,” says Sonia, “so that they can be leveraged and replayed for people who couldn’t get on live or who want to listen again.”
Culture and Community
Sonia and Doug have private Facebook groups where they promote trainings and events for their team. “We always make sure to recognize and celebrate team members,” says Sonia, “not only for major rank advancements, but also for small wins. Recognition is crucial to human performance and business success. In today’s fast-paced world, many people rarely if ever hear encouraging words, whether at home or at work. When they get recognized in our Facebook groups or at our events for something they achieved, it means the world to them.”
Sonia feels that recognition fuels people’s passion and nurtures their soul. “We really are a big family and we like to make it fun,” she says.
“We have the most amazing, fun-loving, caring people on our team. We love to do fun incentives—sometimes with small prizes and simple recognitions, other times with larger rewards.
“Recently the top two recruiters in our company were on our team. There wasn’t a top enroller company contest, but I asked the company to share who the top enrollers were and since they were in our group, we gave them gave them special recognition. It was huge for them, and it fired up everyone else on the team to achieve more.”
The Magruders have a knack for seeing people’s gifts and talents before people see them themselves. “We are objective and can recognize those gifts,” says Sonia, “where often people are critical of themselves and don’t see their own potential. Being able to mentor and nurture them to bring the best out in them is one of the true joys of this profession.”
Personal and Professional Development
When Sonia got started in the business, she went on Amazon and grabbed as many books on network marketing as she could, including Go Pro by Eric Worre, Beach Money by Jordan Adler, The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki, Rock Your Network Marketing Business by Sarah Robbins, The Four-Year Career by Richard Bliss Brooke, Your First Year in Network Marketing by Mark Yarnell, and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
“I devoured these books and couldn’t get enough of it,” says Sonia. “I loved reading about the journeys of these top leaders—where they started, the struggles they went through, their triumphs—and the pitfalls to avoid.
“Go Pro was the book that helped me flip the switch in my brain about how awesome this profession and business model are.”
A few of Doug’s favorite books are the Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
“Network marketing helps us personally develop in so many ways,” says Sonia. “I had a fear of public speaking and now I speak and train on the main stage at our company convention and other large events. It’s a common fear, so this has helped me to relate and empathize with team members, and help them overcome that fear as well, and stretch outside their comfort zone.”
Looking into the Future
The vision Sonia and Doug have for their team is to help develop more six- and seven-figure earners and take as many people as possible with them to the top of the compensation plan.
“We continue to be impressed with the heart and talent of the people we have on our team,” says Sonia. “Seeing them win seriously fuels us. There is no other profession where you can get so much gratification by helping others succeed.”
Today the Magruders’ organization is over 20,000 strong, and they plan to double that number within the next couple of years. They want to keep learning and growing and bringing value to their team, while finding and developing new leaders, and helping them reach the Diamond and Crown ranks in their company.
One of Sonia and Doug’s favorite quotes is by Zig Ziglar—“You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”