April 11th, 2016
NCC – Your Struggle is Your Story
As I look back on my network marketing career it becomes crystal clear to me that my story would not be inspiring if I hadn’t gone through the fire to get to where I am today. In fact most inspiring stories stem from obstacles, setbacks and comebacks. When we hear about the convicted felon that turns his life around and becomes a championship boxer, were inspired. When we learn about a boy that was born with no arms and no legs and yet grows up to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and then become a famous public speaker it gives us hope. When a scientist discovers the cure for a disease that has killed millions of people we hold him or her up in high regard. When we watched passionate southerners rebuild New Orleans after hurricane Katrina turned it into a bathtub it makes us feel proud. Those that rise from the ashes go on to inspire hundreds, thousands or even millions of others.
I get asked often, “Would you do anything differently if you had to do it again . . . “ And I understand why the question is being asked. In that answer, someone may find a shortcut or a lesson that could shave off some time on the journey, but the truth is, as difficult as it was at times, I wouldn’t change anything at all. The last 17 years have been out of this world, but the first 11 years on my journey were really tough. Although I have fond memories of friends and experiences, financially and emotionally I was a train wreck! Virtually every week I was dealing with a personal financial crisis and it seemed to just snowball year after year. And most of it stemmed from small thinking.
You won’t believe what I’m about to tell you but I was working as a salesman at a gym in the 80’s and making less than $10,000 a year. My rent was $200 a month. They had this young annuity guy come into the gym named “Wayne Stutzer”. It was so long ago and I still remember his name. I remember he was very smart. I wanted to learn from him so I set up an appointment to go into his office. We sat down and he asked me my goals and dreams. I can remember my answer and today it just seems just so outrageous to me but this was my level of thinking at the time. I told him that my goal was to have a paid off mobile home and 2 years of canned food. I was a small thinker and I settled for mediocrity for so many years. I had to learn to think bigger. The result that I kept getting was pathetic because my level of thinking was so small. At the same time, I had a steady diet of macaroni and cheese sometimes mixed with some tuna fish. For years I ate this as my staple.
Today I look back and its hard to believe that I am the same person.
One drizzly evening in Arizona I was so depressed that I walked out to the railroad tracks and walked with my head hanging low for a few miles contemplating my life. I had been reading personal development books and I was so down on myself because after years of this, I was making no progress at all. The cold wind was blowing sideways and I cried as I walked along the tracks. I was trying to figure things out. Later on I realized that walking the tracks is probably not the best environment to find inspiration! Actually this was a turning point in my life. And although it was painful, it changed the trajectory of my life. Its in these moments that we completely give up on ourselves OR we find a new path. Thank God I found a different path.
I had been driving a 1979 Jeep Wrangler in the early 90’s. It was called a “Golden Eagle” and I remember that “Doo” (Doolittle), Loretta Lynn’s husband drove one. It had a smashed front end and a broken windshield from an accident that I had been in with an uninsured motorist. I kept getting pulled over for having shattered windshield that was nearly impossible to see through by me or the police officer. The top had been stolen at a swap meet and it was about $1000 to replace it. So I had a little bikini top for it and drove around topless. In the summer in Arizona it can typically be 115-120 degrees and the wind is like a blast furnace. More than once I was driving to an appointment soaking wet from sweat. One time I had an appointment about 30 miles from town and I was driving back. My gas was on empty it was 112 degrees and I was so dehydrated I started to have heat stroke. I had no money in my bank account and there wasn’t a gas station or business within site. I really thought I was going to die that day. And more than once, I walked out to the jeep and the bikini top was filled with water from a storm the night before. I owned one suit and I would attempt to push from the bottom of the bikini top to force the gallons of water that had accumulated in it. As I would do this the water would inevitably end up all over me and my suit.
And then it wouldn’t quite want to leave the jeep. It would pour from the bikini top into the footwells. Trying to drive like this meant being ankle deep water that sloshed around as I turned every corner. I never did find a solution to this except to cut the top out of a plastic gallon water container and proceed to bail the water from the footwells of my jeep so that my shoes and socks didn’t get soaked when I went to drive off. Every time I ended up soaked from head to toe.
At one point, the water pump went out. I bought a rebuilt one at Pep Boys and somehow installed it backwards and blew the engine when I tried to drive it. It sat in the street for 2 years and I had no vehicle.
I was bouncing 5-10 checks a month at First Interstate Bank on Mill Avenue and my income was less than $15,000 a year. One time I walked from my office at America West Airlines to the ATM and put in my card to get $20. My card never came out of the machine and I didn’t get my $20. So I walked around the corner and into the bank. Brent Pasnoe was working in the bank and I had become a familiar customer. I went up to him and told him the machine ate my card and I needed it back. He told me I’m bouncing too many checks and he can’t give it to me. I said, “Brent, you don’t understand, I need my bank card.” He again told me he can’t give it to me and he kind of laughed when he said it. He told me I was bouncing way too many checks! We went back and forth as I got more and more angry. He never did give me back my card. Two weeks later after clearing up the mess, I got it back.
In the early 90’s I finally got a group growing under the 6th or 7th distributor I sponsored into the business. It was under a friend in Phoenix. She had a friend in Peabody Mass. He and his friend were excited and were able to grow their team to 40 distributors. They asked if I would come visit. I had maxed out 22 credit cards but had enough accessibility on one card to make the trip. It was mid winter and they were predicting a massive blizzard on the day of my trip. I boarded the flight and when I landed, the storm hit full force. It was a white out. I rented the car and hit the road. I landed at 5pm and the meeting was scheduled for 7pm. This was before I owned a cell phone. Cars were flying off the road into the ditches and I could barely see the road in front of me. I drove like a grandma and arrived at their home at exactly 7pm. The lights were out. I checked and double checked the address. Correct address . . . no one home. I stood on the doorstep after traveling 2000 miles on borrowed money. I made my way to an outdoor payphone at a gas station. I was cold, wet and tired. The wind was blowing and the snow was coming down in full force. The entire city was getting ready to shut down. I made the call and the answering machine came on. It was my only quarter and I had no cash.
I found a budget motel and found a warm bed for the night. The next morning, I flew standby to head back to Arizona. I never talked to those guys again. The entire team of 40 had quit the business, but no one had told me about it. They got upset over a technical issue that our company was having.
I remember having a serious conversation with myself that night. Again . . . this was a defining moment. There were people making money in this company. I thought I had finally found my runaway leg . . . but it fizzled as fast as it started. I had quit 11 companies prior to this one. Do I quit again or do I persist and rebuild? I chose to stay in this time. I chose to fight. I refused to give up this time around. Quitting hadn’t served me for over 10 years. I was so tired of struggling. I wasn’t going to let this beat me. I went home and hit my business hard. Over the next 10 years I made $8 million with that company. And they wrote this story in a book. I don’t know if Tom Alderink (that was his name) ever read what happened as I stood on his doorstep in that snowstorm. But I did send him a copy of the book with his name in it and a note saying, “You’re famous!”. He never contacted me and we never talked again. I really believe that if I had quit that day, I wouldn’t be a top money earner in network marketing.
For many of you, the first half of your story has already been written. Your story of struggle is as important, if not more important than your success. But it doesn’t have much impact until you can get on the other side of it. It will take enormous fight. Your obstacles will seem insurmountable. Many times you will question whether they are even possible to overcome. And you will either persist or settle. Settling will never lead you to your dreams. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. And think about it. In 100% of the cases . . . the greater the struggle the sweeter the reward. There is no triumph without struggle. A story without a struggle is un-inspiring. To move people your story must have a difficult beginning. Entire books have been written and entire movies have been produced because the underdog came out on top after many hours of hardship, turmoil and fight. If you are struggling, fighting or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, congratulations, you are on track to becoming a top performer in this profession . . . as long as you continue to move forward and not quit.