What do you do when you’ve built an organization of 24,000 people, you’re at the top of the pay plan with a six-figure income and the company goes out of business? Why, join Shaklee and become the fastest growing leader in their history. How did you first learn about and become involved in network marketing, Kathi? The answer to that is very simple; basically I was a commercial real estate broker. I was very successful, however, I lived in Fairbanks, AK, which was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Unfortunately, because real estate is not a migratory business, if I left Alaska I would be starting all over with no income. My husband was at the top of his field in the banking industry and it was the same thing. If we left and moved to the place we wanted, which was Portland, OR, we would lose all our income. My husband would earn less than 30% of what he was earning in Alaska. NULL In order for me to get out of there I really was looking for some way to transition my income so I could build up enough residual to be able to afford to leave Alaska and maintain the lifestyle that I had. I started off in the telecommunications industry because it made good sense to me. I was very excited about that and excited about the financial opportunity, but I really wasn’t sure whether network marketing was going to work for me or not.
So, I went around to some prominent people in our business community and shared that I was exploring this idea and I asked what they thought of it.
I sat down and went over the numbers with them as best as I could. Before I actually signed my paperwork I had signed up eleven other business owners in my community. I was pretty excited, because not only did it make sense to me but it made sense to a lot of people that I respected. Was this a strategy you created in order to get people involved with the company or was this a genuine “tell me what you think” question? It was totally genuine. My perception was of a pushy person, I’d been ‘tricked’ into network marketing meetings before, so my reaction to network marketing was not entirely positive. I wanted to know if my friends were going to laugh at me and make funny statements about me or if they would embrace the concept because it made good sense. So I put the concept in front of them to see what their reaction was. I figured if I could get enough of them interested then people wouldn’t be laughing at just me. I got it. So then? I flew down to Oregon to get trained. I was very excited. I saw the money and I saw the potential and I had all these people to go back home to and train. But when I got back home and we began to work to gather customers, I was informed by the company that we did not have service in our state! It was in all 49 other states but not in Alaska!
So, now I’ve spent money, signed up a bunch of other people and I had absolutely no product to sell.
It was basically working what I learned to work and sponsor; A: using leads, B: using long distance and C: I began using the Internet in order to find customers and potential distributors. How did you do it? I actually went and found a mentor. That mentor was also just learning to use the Internet. What we did was we sat down and put a plan together for me, to build a system that ultimately became the system that allowed me to migrate seamlessly from one company to the other when I had too. Because my entire team was connected by a recruiting site it helped us to be able to sponsor regardless of where someone lived. We had a product site to help us explain the product and allow people to make a selection based on what they were likely to use. And we had a training site that was specific to my team showing them how to get started, what to do, the steps to take to get started. I was able to cross any barrier not only from my state and across the country, but ultimately I built an organization in Europe and Canada and other countries, because of the online system that I created. So the solution I created to solve my small problem of not being able to gather customers locally turned into something big. Okay, I already know that your relationship with the telecommunications company came to an end— and it was a fairly painful one. Can you tell us about that? I sure can… now! There began to be signs about two years earlier, so frankly I had been somewhat aware that there were problems. But we had had problems before and gotten through them. This time I actually gave thought to leaving that company early on, but…
I had 24,000 people using my system and building businesses. I was earning well over six-figures a year; I was the number 37 earner in the company. So, I had this group of people that were relying on me and I didn’t feel that I could abandon them.
At the same time I was looking at other options in case something happened. During the last few months, right before Excel filed bankruptcy in November of 2004, I had reviewed a large number of companies. By the time we made the selection I had looked at over 70 companies. And there were some amazing companies out there. Company’s whose product appealed to me, whose pay plan appealed to me, but none of them had the story of Shaklee and Roger Barnett. None of them have the history and the amazing things going on. So, while I was looking at multiple companies I kept being drawn back to the Shaklee story. Kathi, were there one or two key things about that story that really got and held your attention? Yes, it really was the rich history and quality of product, that was number one, but it really wasn’t the main thing. Shaklee has been an awesome company for 49 years, it has a great history. But it was looked at by most network marketers as rather flat. And in fact that was true. Until a little over a year ago when a 40 year old billionaire, entrepreneur entered the picture. That was important to me, that he had the money to support the stories about the things he was planning on doing with Shaklee, because I didn’t want to be in a company that went bankrupt again. He had the ability, financially, to support what he wanted to do to grow this company. His plans are to double it in size in the next five years and to multiply it by ten over the next ten years! I saw somebody who had already built four billion dollar companies, he understood marketing, he understood the concept that we were looking at and he knew that Shaklee needed to grow internationally. That was a huge opportunity for me, knowing that I had a support system that could allow for international growth, and here was somebody who wants to grow internationally. I believe it was that story that kept bringing me back there. Roger’s ability to do again what he had already done four times. Let’s go back a moment. You must have felt something close to panic when Excel closed down, yes? Well, yes and no. I obviously had a very large income, but fortunately I’d been wise like many of us are, and invested my money in other things and multiple streams of income, so I did have other income there. I was preparing for the worst and I told my team, about 90 days out, to do the same thing. I shared that we were concerned about the future of the company and that they needed to make sure that they were protecting themselves and their families. That if they could not survive on what they had coming in that they might even need to look for a part time job right now. I actually prepared them for that because I did somewhat see this coming.
In the meantime, we began planning for a fluid, simultaneous move to another company. Within seven days we had done that. We moved the team pretty much in tact.
Not everyone, of course, came with us but the bulk of the builders did make the m
ove with us and brought their team. We actually examined Shaklee’s pay plan, sat down and figured out how we would put people into the business to maximize the income so everybody could have an immediate income from Shaklee and we were successful in doing that, for the most part. Did you work with the company on doing that or did you figure all that out by yourself? This was an interesting thing. Just to show you what Shaklee was going through as Roger was coming into the company, I looked at their pay plan on the Internet and what I saw was that they were not even explaining their pay plan correctly. They had built a five by five matrix.
- Carolyn Wightman– Who Leads the Leaders by John Milton Fogg - September 1, 2013
- Ørjan Saele– Seeds of Greatness by John Milton Fogg - August 1, 2013
- Sarah Robbins – The Big Picture by John Milton Fogg - July 1, 2013