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The dawn of the digital era of network marketing brought in both positive and negative trends. John Haremza is here to discuss the right way to evolve with the times and avoid getting left behind. He joins Patrick Shaw to share how he helps businesses as a master distributor in coping with today’s fast-paced world. John explains why sticking to the fundamentals of duplication is still the best way to go and how not to fall prey to the misleading overnight success of social media. He also talks about the most important thing every company owner must uphold to win in the networking marketing space: trust.
John Haremza: Evolving With The Times
In this episode, I am with John Haremza. John, you have got a bio that’s almost too hard to deliver in a short amount of time here but I can tell you one thing that jumped out at me. Not only your tremendous success but that dyslexic piece resonates with me as some of the readers know. It is cool to see somebody get through it, leverage it and use it as a strength. You have had some incredible success in the industry and it’s great to have you on the show.
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Many years in business with earnings of over $27 million, talk to us a little bit about your experience on both sides, both from a field leader and dealing with corporate or being involved in that side. There are nuances with each side of it. Kindly share a little bit of your background diving in here.
It’s funny because my first ever experience in the industry was a water filter. I was 24 years old. I had just gotten married. I was working in a factory in a potato chip snack food company. I had dyslexia so reading and spelling were difficult, which affects my self-esteem and self-confidence. I wouldn’t even say hi to someone unless they said it first. I got invited to look at this water filter at a home party.
I thought they wanted me to build a display or look at the quality of the product. Certainly not sell it. I got super excited in this world of network marketing, being around people willing to pour themselves into you, that personal development, versus when you’re at a job. The upper-level management is you can’t even talk to them. They’re of a different social and economical statuses.
You come into networking and the personal development, the warmth and the team building changed my life. I thought at that time that there were two companies in the world. The one I was with at Amway and I thought I had the deal and then some things happened. I learned and realized what I needed. I was 4 years there and made about $400,000. Making $9 an hour was life-changing.
I was in the dining room where all the excitement was going on. My second company was a much bigger leadership role. I came into it with some knowledge and contacts, with an understanding and belief in network marketing. In my first-ever experience, I remember there was a major hiccup with new skin at the time. It’s like, “I knew the whole industry was too good to be true.” It’s like your whole world collapses and then you take a breath and realize that it’s not over.
To be ultra-successful, you got to believe in this networking that is simply a better way to live, work and bring products to a consumer. When you first come in your very first deal, you want to, you see it but you’re still fragile. I came into my second experience with that large level of belief. Maybe I got to peak in the kitchen a little bit to see a little bit more of what’s happening behind the curtain. I spent twelve years there.
It’s almost dangerous though. You got to be careful when you see behind the curtain. Sometimes you see some of the parts that aren’t great about the industry and it affects your belief in the field. How do you balance some of that?
There’s nothing out there that’s perfect. There are issues with everything like in our households. If you live in a world where you expect everything to be perfect, you’re going to be disappointed your whole life. You got to believe that there’s a lot more good than mistakes and bad. It’s funny because I remember my second experience and I was there for twelve years. I was getting along in the first few years. I came into it with excitement, belief and a little handful of knowledge and people.
If you live in that world where you expect everything to be perfect, you will be disappointed your whole life.
I became one of the board members of the company. We had this fruit bar that went accompanied by a fiber drink. I remember the president of the company. I was doing an event in Colorado. We were at the Radisson in Colorado and he’s like, “John, this is unbelievable. Is there anything I can do to help you out?” At the time, they had these fruit bars that were like cardboard but when you opened them up, bugs or moths came out of them. I remember I said, “If you could get the bugs out of the fruit bars, it’d help us out.”
For a lot of people, it was a short window, bad batch or something like that but for most people, that’d blow them out of the water. I spent 12 years there and made $4 million thinking I’m going to be there for life and then the company got sold, merged and sold. At the end of the day, I tell people this is all about belief. You got to be able to keep belief and belief in the future but there also comes a time when you lose belief. When you lose belief, that’s when you’re faced with, “I got to make another move.”
I spent the next twelve years as a master distributor and that’s where I hit my biggest money. I made $12 million in 12 years thinking I’m going to be there for life. The company decided to go a different direction and I got very upset. I don’t know if you call it sometimes wisdom, good fortune, hard work or a combination of everything but I’ve been fortunate in my career. Even though when I’ve had to make moves, I’ve made millions and helped others make millions.
I look back to everyone. Even when I had to move, the experience was incredible. Also, the financial. You see so many talented networkers. They get desperate. They don’t think it through. They get caught up in the hype and they enter that network marketing rollercoaster or treadmill and keep missing. I haven’t had that.
You talk about leadership and its important role. That speaks to your character and leadership. We don’t know each other but when you see people that have done it 3 or 4 times, it speaks to the fact that it wasn’t luck. Do you attribute some of that to identifying companies with real value propositions? Do you attribute it mostly to any particular aspect?
Two things I want to share in that area. Number one is you could take one of the best networkers or me. If you put me in a messed up deal, I’m going to struggle. You’re only as good as the company. One of the mistakes these people make is they start reading their press releases. They think this success is because of them and they don’t realize they worked hard but they worked hard in the right environment. If you work hard in the wrong environment, you’re going to get a different result. You have to understand that, number one.
What I understand is all of these companies are made up of five critical elements, the company, the product, the compensation, the timing, training and support. If 2 or 3 of those things are missing, depending on how bad because you can strengthen those areas if you’re in sync with corporate and stuff but ultimately if those areas are not in place or get messed up, you’re going to struggle. You look at two people. Let’s say they got similar talent and work ethic and are all things equal but different companies. One’s making $10,000 a month and the other’s making $200 a month. What’s the difference? It’s the vehicle.
You do want not to get too philosophical but you almost wonder where you came from educationally, upbringing and all that. You got such a dose of humility young that you learned not to read your press because you’ve been on the other side of the equation. Honestly, for some people, if they’ve never had that and have too much success and haven’t had a dose of humility, sometimes they forget what it is. You never knew what it was to have a rough patch.
I always tell people that real leadership shows when things are difficult. It’s easy to be a leader when it’s blowing out. When you’re in momentum and the worm turns, that’s when it gets tested.
Talk to me a little bit about the change in the industry. You referenced this a little bit. I certainly believe the same thing. You’re seeing some trends that aren’t particularly good for the industry in the long haul, whether that be these quick-pay influencers or the shallow nature of some of the organizations. You see comp plans that are even geared more towards very shallow because there’s a lack of leadership, depth, culture or personal development. What can companies and leaders do to try and offset some of that? Is it picking the right model? What do you think about that whole arena?
That’s part of it, picking the right model or if you’re in a model that doesn’t create an environment to support that, maybe you can take and do that for your team to build that depth of leadership because of the social media influence. These people are overnight successes because of a video or message that they did that they get bought into their being so good. They don’t realize that can be gone in a minute.
The other thing is people are becoming way more successful in their personal development than their development and that’s risky. There’s always going to be a hiccup and they’re going to have no idea what to do. I grew up in that NSA and those pioneering companies where, the personal development, the three-way phone calls, the in-trenches, the follow-up and all of that stuff is ingrained in me. We need to add that.
Although, technology and social media are a massive part of our business. You have to bring them together and make them work a little bit where you can provide that mentoring and long-term leadership, keep people’s egos in check but teach them some of the core fundamentals. You and being old timers can learn from them. It can be a very strong dynamic to go back and forth. “I’m impressed with what you’re doing. I can help you be more successful and you can help me be more successful.” That’s something as well.
The fundamentals don’t change but the environment and the tools being used do. When you see somebody pop up in leadership and you know that their personal development hasn’t reached their income, which is happening a lot, are you trying to have a heart-to-heart? What are you doing that’s different than maybe you did in the past to deal with some of that if anything?
I do think it’s getting them into personal development like Jim Rowan’s rock-solid core philosophy. One of the things that pop into mind that Jim says is, “Wouldn’t it be a shame for your income to grow and you didn’t?” You have to grow with your income. Your income can grow faster but if you don’t catch up, you’re not going to hang onto it. It is a bit of a balancing act because you’re dealing sometimes with some crazy egos and arrogance of these overnight successes.
I grew up in an era where you had a VHS tape or a cassette, a fax and a phone bill for $700 a month. That’s how you built. In many ways, it was simple. Duplication wasn’t hard because they’re like, “What’d I do?” It doesn’t matter. You can hand them this VHS, call them or fax them but in this digital world, you’ve got all these people. You don’t want to stifle that but at the same time, it creates problems of duplication. Are you dealing with that? Do you try to address it or do you let them have a free for all in terms of what they’re doing? What’s your approach to that?
When they’re on something and running, let them run but it’s the same notion. You got to nudge them to backfill. I do believe you need to do that and they got to be willing to take that input and advice. Sometimes I think doing it is like, “I want to learn what you’re doing here and understand it better. I can help you understand how you can make this long-term by developing some of the things that I’ve learned over the last years.” Maybe approach it with that give and take a little bit because nobody likes to be told what to do. That thing can shut people down if you don’t approach it correctly, especially when they’re making money.
You talk about being a distributor and running a company being two different sets of skills. Can you dig into that a little bit?
I’ve never run the company. I’ve been a master distributor for the last many years so I work very closely with the company. Sometimes you’re dealing with people at corporate that have built in the field. They understand what it is that we do. The point is they forgot. They understand but they’re losing touch with it. You have people that have never been in the field and know how to run a business. That’s even sometimes more difficult because they don’t get us at all into what we do.
One of the things I tell corporate all the time is, “Whether you want to believe it or understand it or not, your business is the field. The field is your business.” Every decision you make has an impact on that field, on their mindset and their attitude. Either it’s going to impact them positively or negatively. When you’re making decisions, understand the sales force is king. The decisions you make are going to affect that.
Sometimes those decisions are to lower CV or cut this or cut that because they want to make more money. It compounds on itself because you affect the mindset and the checks and then the whole thing starts turning on you versus, “Let’s maybe look at this from another aspect. How can we put more money in these people’s pockets, get them recited and motivated and they’ll bring the business?” There are a lot of different dynamics and it’s very difficult sometimes to deal with corporate. I’m sitting in my situation, having had a great working relationship and then some other people came in and start listening to the wrong people. In a matter of 10 months, you lose 70% of your business.
We talk about your website and you have written several books. It’s incredibly challenging I’ve got to think for companies. I’ve seen a lot of it where they want to serve the distributor but they’re struggling with this new environment. If you’re seeing some companies that are selling against the field and they don’t understand that belief and trust, part of belief is trust and you talk about how important it is. Is that one of the single most important things as a company owner that have to appreciate that trust is paramount?
Yes. When people ask me what is the most important element for success, I say it’s belief. Belief people by people. When belief is high, sales are high. When the leaf is low, sales are low. Every decision you make affects that one way or the other. If you’re making too many that affect the belief, your sales are going down. The barometer is belief. That needs to be the number one consideration you need to be asking yourself. I’m one of these types of people who’s like, “This sounds like a great idea. Let’s run it through the mill.” What can go wrong here is they react too quickly. They don’t think things through, depending. This has been a frustrating experience. That’s a big part of it.
Here’s what I was going to say. The sales force and leadership are so valuable but what happens is sometimes the leadership gets so powerful and has so much influence. The companies feel threatened by it because they’re like, “If this person leaves, it could destroy our business.” They do things that ultimately force that person to leave. They try to decrease and the reason we get paid so much is because of our ability to influence, move and motivate people. They then try to take that from us because they get scared of our influence. They lose it and it does the exact opposite of what they think it’s going to do.
I’m curious about what you mean because I feel the same way. I want your perspective on this. You talk about hating the exaggeration of numbers and success. It’s a slippery slope because you keep compounding the numbers. It catches up with you. Talk about that. You see it’s prolific in the industry. Maybe it’s always been this way.
I’ve certainly seen it for many years but it almost seems more prolific when one other aspect is that some of the younger generations don’t care as much about money but at the same time, we’re doing the Kardashian, TikTok and free-ride mentality. As a leader, how do you guard against it when it seems to be so prevalent and almost necessary in some people’s minds?
It seems necessary in some people’s minds. They’re getting caught up by the lifestyles and all this stuff. To be honest with you, all of that lifestyle stuff they’re trying to keep up is not real. It’s designed for enticement. They’re like, “You can live like me.” Meanwhile, they’re flat-ass broke. You have to try to help them balance that because it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.
If you get that balance off, you’re putting a lot of stress on your people and yourself. When I’m talking about not exaggerating, live within your means. Don’t exaggerate your income, other people’s incomes and company sales volume. I’d rather underestimate. The reality is when you exaggerate, where do you stop? They eventually know the number and then it’s like, “What else did you lie to me about?” Numbers are too easy to prove.
It goes back to that belief. The way you deliver the message, the confidence in which you deliver it and the conviction are different because, in the back of your mind, you’re making it up.
To that point, that’s one of the things. It ties back into this belief thing. Every time you talk to somebody, you’re either buying or selling. You’re either buying somebody’s story about why something is not going to work or you’re selling your story about why it is going to work. Whoever has the greatest level of belief or confidence is going to have influence over the other.
Every time you talk to somebody, you’re either buying somebody’s story about why something will not work or you’re selling your story about why it can work.
Even if you don’t know and it happened to me earlier on in my career. Somebody says something negative about what I was doing. You could almost feel the air come out of your sales versus having that posture that you’re wrong. Whoever has the greatest level of belief or conviction is going to have influence over the other person.
John, it’s been fantastic. You’ve got a website. You wrote the book Right or Almost Right. Tell us what the book’s about.
The concept behind the book is I meet so many hardworking, talented networkers seemingly doing everything right but yet they’re struggling. My contention is that they’re doing it almost right. It’s the little things that can make a major difference. From doing a three-way phone call, are you doing all the talking? Are you asking questions and getting to know the person?
It takes every little part of our business and breaks it down to likely what you’re doing that you think is right and making that little adjustment. You look at tighter woods versus a good golfer. By looking at them up front, they both look like they’re doing the same thing but Tiger’s doing something different. It’s a little subtlety.
It’s not enough to get 9 of the 10 digits right on the phone number. That’s awesome. The website, people can find you at JohnHaremza.com.
There are links to my social media and Amazon for my books. You can get a free download of a chapter there. I got all kinds of short little training videos that come out of the book. No mention of any company or anything. It’s all generic things that you can learn from and grill.
I love those little booklets. You’ve got four of them. You probably passed out or provided to the team tens of thousands of those from Jim Rome back in the day and Paul J. Meyer. You’ve got four of them. What are those four subjects?
The first one is called Small Steps and the essence of it is everything counts. Regardless of how small or insignificant he thinks something is at the time, it does make a difference. Overcoming Objections talk about some techniques on how to overcome objections. It’s a very important point. A lot of people get stumped about why network marketing. This one is on mindset. This whole business is tied to belief and everything else. I tell a story in this book of an Earl Nightingale tale that for me is like, “I got it.”
How many times have you listened to The Strangest Secret?
It’s unbelievable. That’s fun. It has been fantastic. I love that people know where to reach you. I’m sure you and I will be talking in the future as well. John, thanks so much for being on the show.
Thank you, Patrick. I will see you soon.
About John Haremza
John Haremza’s journey is something feature films are made of. He started out as a blue-collar worker, earning $9 an hour at a potato chip company to a network marketing veteran with over 33 years in the business with earnings over $27 million. He achieved a new high of $3.6 million in 2019 but his all-time proudest accomplishment has been leading his people to earnings of over $300 million and changing countless lives on his journey. John’s story is a true rags-to-riches tale, going from a trailer park in a small town in Minnesota, to a world-class network marketing leader, success coach, and motivational speaker.
He graduated from high school with a severe learning disability, dyslexia. John and his family never thought he would amount to anything in life. However, his fortunes did a sharp U-turn when he entered the world of network marketing. When he was introduced to network marketing, John was working as the maintenance manager in a potato chip factory. He had never sold anything in his life and had no business experience. Back then, he had one objective—to be invisible.
In 2019 John was ranked in the top 20 network marketing earners in the WORLD and most recently inducted into the network marketing hall of fame. All this from a guy who felt fortunate just to get a high school diploma. In the first four years of his network marketing journey, John was able to earn $400,000, an unimaginable figure for someone who thought being a machine operator at a potato chip company would be the best job he could have.