For her first nine months in AmeriPlan (eight years ago), Melodee tried almost everything she could to find a better wealth-building opportunity. She couldn’t. She didn’t. And now she’s a National Sales Director and $100,000 Founder’s Ring Club Member and… she leads with the business. Melodee, what did you do before network marketing? I was in communications and cultural anthropology and I was in commercial real estate for a time and in ‘high end’ real estate in Washington, D.C. as the manager of a community— I did community building basically. I’ve also been a producer, director, and writer for public television back when there was a lot of money for educational programs. What an eclectic background! Yes! I love communications and film-making and television. I was on air in television for a time, too. How long have you been in network marketing? Just eight years. Actually nine years if I’m telling the truth, but I tried not to get into it for the first nine months. NULL was it about network marketing that got your attention? Residual Income! Repeat monthly income; an income producing asset like a book or film, which has royalties is always attractive. I’d worked very hard for other people building their businesses and a very, very wealthy friend of mine one day said, “Melodee, you’re only going to build wealth if you own your own business.” So for me, the residual income and feeling like I would want retirement were the first attractors. So, how did you go about your ‘looking’? I fell into it. An old friend from college told me about this and asked me to do him a favor and sign up, because he needed to meet a quota to reach a new pin level. He bugged me about it and the more I looked at it the more I thought, “I can do this!” I was thinking about getting into insurance, but insurance wasn’t something I gravitated toward because I felt that it preyed upon people’s fears. I looked at the income structure and actually tried not to do this, because this was just a ‘little dental plan’. How could I tell my friends I was marketing a dental membership? I’d have had to move out of town! So, you signed up as a favor. Then what happened? I kept looking at this. I would go out on job interviews or for special projects and the thing about special projects is you do them and they’re wonderful; You know, American Film Institute, the Kennedy Center, I had wonderful special projects that I would do, but at the end you would be looking for another special project— and you would use up all your money between projects supporting yourself. So, I kept looking at this and thinking I could do this and seeing the reality that it provided repeat income?
Oh my heaven, this is too simple! I was used to something so much more complicated. I wanted to downplay it. I thought maybe I could do it part time and not tell anyone.
And that’s essentially what I did! I decided to open a brand new market, so I picked up and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. I learned just how difficult that was to do— especially with a new product, a new brand, a new market niche. It was actually something that no one had experienced before, so people were skeptical. The company was only in four states at the time and they weren’t quite opening yet in Georgia— and then south Florida caught on. Miami was going gangbusters and they needed leaders to open Ft. Lauderdale, so I went down. Frank Jarvis and my sponsor David Gwinn were there, so I went down to help open Ft. Lauderdale. You just up and left everything and went into Ft. Lauderdale? I did, but I really did it cautiously because I was doing it as a business decision. I’d lived in Washington, D.C. for many years and I’d kept my condo in D.C., which was lucky, because I invested into this business using credit cards and I ended up selling my condo to pay my credit cards debts! I thank God I had the condo to sell, because I put everything into my business in order to build it. What kinds of things did you put into it? Well, you know, time, long hours, ads in the newspaper, learning about cold call responses, and an education about why this business was better than any other business.
I had to explore whether or not this business would be supporting me 10, 20, 30 years down the road, because I was reaching that ‘magic age’ where I needed to consider being able to support myself through my retirement years.
I also read a lot of books and that was a time of getting a lot of phone calls and invitations from other businesses inviting me to take a look at them. I wanted to be sure that whatever I was putting my time into was worth it— I even went to Bali, Indonesia, to find out about a travel business, because I still believe that concept that if you do what you love, with passion, you’ll do well. So, you were in the company, you had moved to Ft. Lauderdale to build your business, but you were still looking around? Yes, because I was still new to network marketing. I had never done this before, I had no warm market to go to and there were so many scams and there was so much hype out there eight years ago. I didn’t want to succumb to a ‘get rich quick’ scam. Though I thought I would like to get rich faster and I learned there really isn’t any ‘get rich quick’. I learned what really does have value in business and what defines, for me, a really good business. I ran across Michael Gerber and the E-Myth, working on your business not in your business, and I had anE-Myth coach and that was very expensive. I quickly saw that in my business, AmeriPlan had all of the back office systems in place and I really didn’t need E-Myth or a whole lot more. From Good to Great, the Jim Collins book and the whole idea of getting the right people on the bus had a big impact on me. When I did my quick visit to Atlanta thinking about opening that market, I had a case of Mother Teresa syndrome and I was taking a homeless guy to lunch. That was great and I was giving him a lunch that he needed, but… he had responded to one of my ads and he really didn’t have a vision that matched mine at that point. He might have had it in a couple of years, but the whole idea of getting the right people on the bus really spoke to me because I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I was getting a lot of the ‘wrong’ people, and I’m not implying I was wasting my time, certainly I learned a lot, but even think of their time.
You want to get people in a business that is going to be productive for them, not one that’s going to waste their time or money.
I had wasted a lot of my money on scams I learned later weren’t real businesses. You know, just looking for a couple of concepts; looking to see if it was something that could really evolve or something that had a market potential. I loved the travel and seminar market for the brief trip that I took, but realized there was no ongoing product that was going to support me five years on down the road. So, the more you began to experiment the more value you saw that network marketing presented to you? Oh yes, you bet! And I never stopped working the business. Was there a moment that you ‘got it’? When you said, “Hey, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m going to focus on?” Sure. And there were actually many moments like that. It goes back many years. I simply love to learn. You know Kurt Wright, he and Patricia are outstanding coaches, and in his great book he says if you’re a learner in life, that’s what motivates you, that’s what you enjoy. Well, my love of learning, that’s something that I can never shut off, but it doesn’t mean I have to change in order to be a learner, I just incorporate that into what I’m doing and there was a lot of c
omfort in reading Kurt’s Breaking the Rules book. I was a “rule breaker” in finding my way in this business, but I have to say that Leaders like Mark and Tracy Jarvis have been a key to my joy in learning good leadership. They’ve used a disciplined, repetitious approach to build over a million dollars a year in income. I found that approach caused me to lose motivation, so I had to find my own way to build my business that had meaning for me— otherwise I could not have stayed with it. Mark and Tracy’s great gift to me was accepting me despite our differences— that’s humble leadership and that is the best! So, AmeriPlan just kept proving itself stronger and stronger.
I think it was W. Clement Stone, who stated the five things that distinguish the ‘perfect product’— high perceived value, low cost, needed by the masses, resells itself and does so on a monthly basis.