From butcher to network marketing billionaire? Maybe it’s not too far a stretch for Jimmy Smith, Isagenix’ number one money earner. I’d be willing to bet on the former butcher who said, “I can do this!” At age 78 you’re a font of wisdom, Jimmy. Maybe we could start by having you share a bit of your background? Well, I was born the son of a butcher. My father was a butcher and his father was a butcher. As a young fellow I loved sports. Then I found girls and I liked girls a lot. My mother wanted me to go to college, get an education and be successful. My father wanted me to become a butcher. So, I had to make a decision. As that young man, my father said to me, “Let me tell you something. You come down to the butcher shop and let me show you how to cut meat, and you’ll have a job for the rest of your life. I worked all through the last depression. I had the butcher shop and I had college-educated men working for me because they couldn’t find a job. The last thing people are going to stop doing in this world is eating meat. People are going to eat meat until they die.” NULL In those days you built your meal around the meat. So he said, “I guarantee you, kid, you become a butcher and you’ll have a job the rest of your life.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll become a butcher.” I respected my Dad, I loved him, and I looked up to him. That meant I won’t have to study too much because I knew what I was going to be, right? So I graduated from high school just to please my mother and right after I graduated I went down to the butcher shop. And I loved it! I enjoyed it like my Dad enjoyed it. He was very passionate about it and I became very passionate in what I did! So I did it for 40 years. Now… I did have a job. I never missed a paycheck for 40 years. But my father didn’t tell me how hard I was going to work, how little I was going to make, and he didn’t tell me I was going to end up getting arthritis of the spine. So there were the hidden things that I didn’t see. But I loved my work, and did it with a passion; I wanted to be the best butcher on the block! And that’s what I strived to be. I ended up working for a big chain store. I was the meat manager and I was very proud of that. I cut a good stock of meat every week, made money every week and ended up being promoted to meat supervisor. I worked for that same company for almost thirty years, until I was 56. Then, in 1983, I hurt my back for the last time. I used to hurt my back about once a month because I was a little guy doing a big guy’s job. In those days I weighed 150 pounds, lifting those carcasses of meat that weighed more than me, sent me to the chiropractor all the time. But in 1983 I hurt my back pretty bad. I laid in the hospital for 14 days and they wanted to operate but I wouldn’t let them. The company gave me a full pension. That was in 1983, when President Reagan was taking blind people off of social security, but I got full disability, because the back injury was that bad. So, here I was at age 56, all I had ever done was cut meat, I don’t have an education and they tell me, “Go find a new career. Thank you, you served us well”. Well, without an education there wasn’t a whole lot out there. My wife even suggested I get a job as a school crossing guard. I’d raised six kids and I thought, I’m not going to stand out at the corner in the rain and cold crossing somebody else’s kids across the street. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not something I wanted to do. You know, I raised six kids, educated them, I sent them to private schools. I was just over broke for forty years cutting meat. I never, ever made over $20,000 a year cutting meat. I raised those kids on bare minimum so I know what just over broke is to experience. Now, my kids have told me they thought we were rich, I don’t know how they figured that, but we didn’t want for anything. We had a nice house, nice furniture, nice clothes, a nice car and of course we ate well, with all good cuts of meat. We had a good life, but there I was at age 56, too young to retire so I started looking around.
Six years later, 1989, at age 62, I stumbled on network marketing. I was fascinated by it!
The first meeting I went to, I wasn’t too crazy about the product that they had. I wasn’t too crazy about the comp plan they had either and at that time, I didn’t even know how any of this worked. But something didn’t feel right about it. Jimmy, did someone invite you to that meeting or how did you happen to find yourself at a meeting? Oh, yes, a dear friend invited me to an ‘opportunity meeting’. I didn’t know what that meant so I said, “An opportunity for what?” and he just told me I should come and see this information about an opportunity to get into my own business. I said, “Oh, really?” And he said, “Yeah, you need to see this. People are making a lot of money. It’s network marketing.” And I told him I didn’t know what the term ‘network marketing’ meant. So I went to this meeting, which was for NSA water filters. The guys in the front of the room were really sharp guys, they did a nice presentation, they did the numbers on the board, get five people and they get five people and they get five people and for the first time in my life I saw the geometric progression of numbers. At that meeting a guy gave me a video called ‘The Don Failla Napkin Presentation’. That video changed my life. I watched that video over and over and on that video, Don Failla, who is still out there in the industry, was standing in the front of a room in his Hawaiian shirt, with a white board, showing that geometric progression of numbers. You know— how you get five people in your first level and help them get five people so you now have 25 people on your second level, and they get 5 so you now have 125 on your third level and so on. Those numbers get big so fast and I thought, “Wow, that’s awesome! That’s powerful!” I never saw that before and when he started talking about a percentage of the people spending $100 a month on product and you receiving a percentage of that, how it could add up real fast, it just made sense and was so powerful! I watched it over and over until I really got the numbers down. What I did was learn the mathematics of network marketing before I really knew anything about the industry. So I joined that company, although something didn’t feel quite right about it so I never really did anything with it. Several months later a friend of my in Montreal, Canada calls me and says she’s starting a network marketing company. So they flew me up there to see the warehouse and everything and I joined that company. I spent $15,000 on water filters and I was going to be a National Director in the United States because they were just entering into the U.S. So I bought all of the water filters and had a big kick-off event. The President of the company came down, and the Regional vice-president from Canada came down. I had 150 people in the room, had supplied coffee and tea, I didn’t know what I was doing but I did it anyway. I didn’t even understand the plan but it all looked good to me. So I had this big kickoff and 15 people joined right away. Three months later the company went bankrupt. My first check, for $3000, bounced! So here I am with $15,000 worth of water filters and I’m still excited about network marketing. My wife asked me how I could possibly still be optimistic when she felt like network marketing had just ‘stolen’ $15,000 from us. I said, “Look, I know the numbers. I’m going to make ten times that amount. I just have to find the right company and the right product! I get the numbers and I know this will work!” Incidentally, my kids and everyone I knew got water filters for Christmas and many other occasions. I was new at the game but I absolutely knew it would work. But I learned a little lesson; not to join a startup company until it’s proven itself. It was just part of the learning curve for me. That’s an interes
ting statement, Jimmy. You wouldn’t join a new company until it’s proven itself. What kinds of things would you look for that would ‘prove it’? That’s a really good question. And I’ve heard people say that over the years, “Don’t join a new startup company!” but then, as the years went by and I saw more in the industry, I’ve seen that when people join a brand new company early on and they make it… they usually make a lot of money! A few years back I missed an opportunity. I was in a company and making $5000 a week, and I was very happy, but I had a couple of guys in my downline who weren’t doing too well. They left and went to a new startup company that happened to make it big. Those guys made almost a million dollars their first year and their second year they made over a million.
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