Some look at my success today and feel that I must have been lucky or born into what I have. However, I still clearly remember growing up as a child in the Ponce De Leon projects in Tampa, Florida. I watched my mother work multiple jobs to take care of me. Just like many children of single parent households, I was dropped off at daycare run by the neighborhood baby sitter.
During those days the only qualifications for someone to have a daycare were a roof, electricity and food. There were no special educational, sanitary, or student to teacher ratio guidelines like today. The lady who kept me had a high school level education. She earned less than $1500 a month. She was a good person, but given the fact that I learned more about who died and came back to life on all the popular soap operas, rather than how to count, read, or write, she wasn’t the most ideal person to be watching children at the beginning of their learning years.
But my mother had to do what she had to do. Even though she knew I wasn’t in the best environment, she’d always uplift me. As a result, instead of taking the sitter’s words at the daycare and growing up to be a big chicken in the coop, I took my mother’s words and created a way to soar like an Eagle.
Environment is everything, so in school I created an environment for me to be a provider. When I was 14 years old I cut hair to make money. I then got tired of doing all the work myself and discovered leverage by buying candy in bulk and recruiting people to sell it for me. One of the 12 people I recruited was Earlene Lilly. She is now Earlene Buggs, my wife and best friend.
I went to College to get an Engineering degree. However, I realized the salary of an Engineer would not afford me the lifestyle and financial freedom I desired. In 1996, at the age of 27, I started my first of many businesses. My wife Earlene and I owned a furniture company. Although we had money, a nice house and nice cars, we were time poor. I was a slave to the business because no one could do what I needed done better than me. The economy got bad overseas so the cost of importing sky rocketed, and like many businesses today I passed the cost on to the customers. There were larger furniture companies with more resources. They could do things I could not compete with and eventually we went out of business.
I knew I had to do something different so I heard about this thing called Network Marketing from a friend. I started and for 7 years I never earned more than $500 for the whole month. My organization never grew to more than 50 people. Moreover, those 50 were not all in at the same time. Many, including my wife, thought I was crazy for sticking around like I did, but because I found a Champion who had all the things I wanted, I listened to him instead.
I would find all the successful people in the company and while people were asking for autographs and pictures I was standing to the side listening to what they were saying, taking notes, and recording them with my tape recorder. While people were at home sleeping, I was up late at night reviewing my notes and listening to what I had recorded over and over again. I did this so that I could absorb all they knew and apply it for myself.
In 7 years of never earning more than $500 in a month, I never missed a meeting I qualified to attend. I knew the value of the information and knowledge at the events. I was mentored from afar by a Billionaire who now earns a million dollars every 17 minutes in Network Marketing. $250,000 in debt from our furniture business, 45 days away from foreclosure, with my Lexus repossessed, something had to change. Then I got the call that changed my Network Marketing career and laid the foundation for where I am today.
Change for Process
I joined my next company. Due to the right timing along with having the right people on my list that even though I was afraid to call, I did anyway. We earned millions of dollars and helped a few more families do the same in a very short period of time. Many people looked at us thinking we were lucky. The truth was it was really
and us paying the full price. Just like the story of the Chinese Bamboo tree which grows underground for years with no sign of growth above ground. Then suddenly it shoots up to over 100 feet tall, in what seems like just a few days. It was preparing a foundation and because of the strong root system already in place, exponential growth was possible.
I never join a company if I feel there will be an expiration date. Therefore when we did part ways with that company, we made the decision to do so based on what was best for our organization and their families. When you are in the frame you sometimes cannot see the picture. However, due to my position in the company, I saw the full picture and it was not aligning with what we knew would be best for the long term. So after 5 years of building with that company we parted ways.
Transitioning a group of any size is not an easy task. Many become so attached to the company that they lose sight that it is a business decision, thereby creating a false sense of security. So when we began telling them it is time to go, here come the “we hate you”, “beware”, “hide your money and run” online bloggers. Funny story – I was at an event somewhere and one lady said she Googled me and she was really excited about meeting me. My response was “Huh? You Googled me and you STILL wanted to meet me???
I invested time looking for another home. And the company we found really looked like it was it. I loved the leadership that was in place and the culture at the company. We headed over and shot straight to the top. Due to our success, we got a lot of calls from people wanting to recruit us to different companies or fly us in or something. Since I believe in building relationships, I would at least listen to them out of respect. One day I got a call from a business associate of mine jumping with excitement, telling me he had found the best product for Network Marketing.
At this point I had been in Networking Marketing for 18 years. We had sold everything you can think of. I could only begin to imagine what he was talking about. Perhaps they found a way to market “wireless electricity” or something! I asked him what it was. After posturing and pausing so he can deliver what he thought was incredible, he said “coffee”. He might as well have said “coffins” because I wasn’t any more interested in coffee as I was coffins. I didn’t drink coffee. I told him I wasn’t interested but I would wish him the best. He wanted to send me some for free so I gave him my address. If he came to visit, I at least wanted to serve him his products and not something else, out of respect.
I got the product and set it in my pantry never to think of it again. I wasn’t looking for an opportunity. Everyday, I would go in the pantry and get my zebra cake snacks, which sat right next to the box of the product he sent and kept on about my day. We continued building with the company we were in having a good time, planning for a long term run. Then the unexpected happened.
Our company faced some legal issues we had no control over. The press had a field day and so did the online bloggers. As a result, people panicked. Business dropped drastically and so did everyone’s checks. As a leader everyone was looking at me for the answer. My household was financially secure but many on my team weren’t. I went to get another zebra cake and the first thing I saw, for the first time in four months, was the box of the product. I was suddenly open for an opportunity, and there it was. Even though it was there in my face for months, I refused it. Immediately, I felt convicted because here I was teaching everyone about being open to opportunity and I had been so closed.
I put in a request for more products so I could get more feedback. I shared samples with my neighbors. 7 out of the 10 I sampled wanted to purchase or become distributors. The other three wanted to know if they could invest in the company. My neighbors are pretty well to do financially, so I expected them to recognize and support my entrepreneurship endeavor. I needed some real feedback; and nobody gives real feedback like negative broke people. Therefore, I called my family. We joke about that every time I share it because no matter how successful you are, 9 times out of 10 your family will always see you as who you were when you were growing up and give you the hardest time.
I sent my mom a box of the product and asked her to just taste it for me and let me know how she felt. I never told her I was evaluating a business. She just thought I was sending her a product. She called me after I sent it to her. My mother told me she needed more because she SOLD two boxes. I just told her to sample it, not sell it. She said she wasn’t trying to but since I wanted feedback, when she took the box in the break room at her job and gave free samples to her co-workers, they all came back talking about how it made them feel good and they wanted more. At that moment I knew we had found it.
My mother has been in every Network Marketing company I have been in. She had never earned a commission check with her name on it. She earns less than $2500 per month at her job and so do her friends. We would tell her to build a list of all her friends, she would call them and as soon as she told them how much the product was, both of them would tell her no – she never got further than two friends. Here she was on her lunch break at her job after just giving free samples to people she knew drank the product already, and she’d earned $40. If my mother could do it anybody could!
I immediately called a meeting with my leaders. We launched our businesses on September 28, 2008. There were already about 7000 distributors in the company. So I wasn’t the very first to get in. I started as a distributor with a Gold Pack just like everyone else. For the first 90 days, I worked the business as if I was $250,000 in debt, 45 days away from foreclosure and facing repossession again. I hardly slept, ate, or saw my family – a sacrifice well worth it because I knew those 90 days would set us up for a lifetime.
No matter my title, I am a distributor at heart. Every decision I make is with the field in mind first. I am a business man who simply uses Network Marketing as a platform to distribute goods and services. When you judge someone, the best way to do so is by their fruits.