Art learned that the people who really grow your team, and who ultimately become most important in the success of your organization, are almost always people you don’t know in the beginning. Art Burleigh grew up in Birmingham, Michigan, 16 miles north of Detroit, in a middle-class, suburban environment. Art says he was blessed to have both his parents throughout his whole life. His dad is still alive— almost 93— and his mom passed on about 11 years ago. Art had a brother, Keith, three years younger than he was. They went to public school together. They were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts together, too. Keith died of a heart attack when he was only 35. Art misses him greatly.
If there is such a thing as a born entrepreneur, Art was one.
NULL He had a paper route from the sixth through the 12th grade. He was responsible for delivering the Detroit news every day; rain or shine or snow or sleet, or worse— and there were times when it was. Art had a lot of customers and serviced them well. He really did a great job and got lots of nice Christmas tips. Art always felt he was pretty wealthy, because he didn’t have any expenses: No phone bill or heating bill or car payment or anything. All the money was his. In his junior year of high school, he invested that money in a trip to Europe with an group of Explorer Boy Scouts. They toured Europe for six weeks. “Travel really opens your eyes,” Art says.
“Travel is not a luxury. It’s homework for a meaningful life.”
“I’ve always enjoyed traveling,” Art says. “Not only for the fun experiences that I’ve had, but the perspective on life that it gives you.” It’s been Art’s life-long passion. After high school, Art went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He joined a fraternity and majored in speech and theater. After college, Art went to California and a through his growing network of connections got a job in the Mailroom at Universal Studios. He had no aspirations of being an actor. Art liked the technical, producing side of theater and musical theater best. He went to law school at night and eventually worked his way up to the legal department and a lot of contract analysis and copyright work. Then he got a job over at United Artists in Hollywood, putting together movie distribution production deals as a business affairs executive. Remember “Heaven’s Gate”? The 1980 movie was a way over budget ($44 million) box-office bomb ($3 million), and it crushed the studio. Art’s boss was out of a job and so was he. Through a friend (networking again) Art shifted over to a marketing career where he worked successfully for the next dozen years. In 1988, a friend through a neighbor, introduced Art to Network Marketing. “I was pretty fascinated with it,” Art says. He was with a water filter company, for four or five years, but never really made the kind of money he had hoped to. “I was new. I didn’t have great training. I was doing it part-time. Maybe I missed the growth curve of the company,” Art said. “Who knows. But it was very educational.”
Art learned about relationshipping, about sales, about promotion, about recommending and about word-of-mouth marketing.
It was his first experience with a business model where you could build a team and generate an ongoing stream of mailbox money from residual income. Art knew all about royalties from Universal. He’d done contracts for directors, movie, producers and production companies, and he knew what kind of residual income was built into all those deals. Art wanted a piece of that, too, but until Network Marketing, he had no idea how to get it. And now, he knew. He explored several companies during the early ‘90s, was with some for only a few months, others longer. One particular company really looked to Art like it was going to fly, but closed right out from underneath him. It was a crushing experience for Art. “We’d worked really hard,” he said. “Got things going. We had a good group and it seemed like we had a lot of momentum. But their product was overpriced and it wasn’t consumable. I didn’t understand all these nuances then, like how important consumability is and correct pricing for the market. So, that one didn’t fly.” But all those experiences introduced Art to more people, and the relationships and friendships he formed led him to the company he would stay with for 14 years. One of those friends sent Art a fax about a new company that was being launched, with some little stories, some testimonials. More faxes kept coming and finally Art read them to his wife Marlyn in bed one night. He said, “If these stories are true, I think we could have a lot of fun building a business with this company. This is a very beneficial product.” So that was the start of Art’s career with the company that he had the most fun with so far. Art and Marlyn sponsored 12 people in the first two months. Eight of them went to sleep and four of them went to work.
From that group of four they grew an organization of 150,000 around the world.
“It only takes a few people to really catch the vision,” Art says. “They went to work with us, and we connected with people that they knew and we brought on some others in the course of the first few months. We kept prospecting, so did a handful of others and that grew the team. “I think there’s always an element of luck in the building of any large Network Marketing organization,” Art said. “We were lucky to find a lot of distributors who were looking for a new home, because the company that they’d been with was deteriorating and they wanted something better. Some of the people I didn’t know knew them and attracted them to our group. That really caused huge growth. Art was an Eagle Scout when he was in high school, so he learned leadership at a young age. In college, when there were meetings at the fraternity house, Art noticed that when he spoke, people listened. And he thinks that’s because first, he listens to them. Art had the ability to listen pretty thoroughly to both sides before he put in his two cents.
Leadership and listening are skills that have served Art extremely well in Network Marketing.
Art also had a lot of training in reading detailed documents through his law background. At the movie studio, he had to write what’s called “digests of contracts,” which are two-page summaries of 85-page contracts. So he was able to summarize complex things like the pay plan and create the kinds of support materials the company and his group needed. Through his years of experience in marketing, Art also knew that stories were very important, because “Facts tell, but stories sell.” “Testimonials were starting to come along about our products,” Art said, “so I collected those; put snappy little headlines on a whole bunch of them and published them in an eight or nine-page set. We kept getting those fed out to our organization either by snail mail or by fax.” Art always tried to keep nourishing the leaders on his team with the best support resources he could find or create, whether they were books he’d recommend or articles or summaries of the pay plan or business or product success stories. Most people in Network Marketing are part-time. Art knew the best way to stimulate production, cooperation and excitement with a volunteer army like that was to nurture people’s imaginations, their hearts and their dreams— to feed their hope that they can really do this. “People need to have resources that build their belief in the company, the products, in Network Marketing and in themselves,” Art says. “So any and all of those things that I could find that helped with that I passed along.” And Art listened to his team’s concerns and passed those concerns along to the company. He was the Chairman of the Executive Advisory Council, a grou
p of leaders that kept the company and the field connected and in communication. After 14 years Art’s company abruptly went out of business. The recession, some bad financing strategies and other factors behind the scenes that Art had no control over destroyed the company. Suddenly one day, the commissions just stopped flowing. “It’s very depressing and discouraging,” Art said, “because we worked so hard for so many years to build a great team, and we poured our heart and soul into it. We thought it would live for a long, long time.” “We sort of knew it was coming,” he said. “We just didn’t know when. So we had plans to make a shift, but starting over is starting over. It takes time to rebuild an organization and restore the trust and belief system of our team members who will stay with us and want to come over to something new.” One mark of a true Network Marketing leader is not simply building a big organization once, but doing it again.
And Art Burleigh is doing it again— and it’s going great!
Art believes what it will take to recreate his success is focus, perseverance, communicating honestly and openly, and a willingness to take responsibility for being the harbinger of the hope for dozens and hundreds and thousands of people. Art has always tried to do what’s best for the people on his team, even when it didn’t seem to be in his own personal, immediate best interests. “Because long-term,” he says, “if we’re honest and open and supportive of the people on our team… Well, I think what goes around comes around.” Give to get. That’s important to Art. “I think the law of the harvest is a major factor in how we succeed,” he says. “Because we’ve got to do a lot of planting and nurturing of seeds in order to expect a harvest. And we really never know where that harvest will come from. If we behave in integrity and with consistent smart actions, the harvest, I think, is bound to come.” After a few years in the business, Art learned that the people who really grow your team, and who ultimately become most important in the success of your organization, are almost always people you don’t know in the beginning. That was certainly true for him. The people Art brought on board initially lead him to the leaders that really grew his organization, and created the most growth for the team— and the most income for everyone involved. As he sees it, Art’s “job” is to help people achieve their dreams.
“We give people hope to get where they want to go in life and then we help them get there.”
Art thinks the time freedom and the financial freedom are the most important things that Network Marketing provides. “It’s life changing,” he says. “And, I should add the personal development is life-changing as well. It improves our awareness of what it takes to become and be a better person.” “And,” he adds, “Network Marketing allows parents to stay home, to spend a lot more time with their kids. There are so many single parents and latchkey kids who aren’t able to spend time with their parents. It’s really important for parents to be there with their children, so that their kids have great relationships with them and learn more from them.” “That really was a blessing for our family— the time we got to spend with our son Seth. Being with him. Being there for him. At soccer practice, taking him to school and back, the wonderful vacations we took together as a family.” “That’s the real gift. That’s the gift of Network Marketing.” ___________________________ From The Greatest Networkers in the World
- 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