Tag Archives: Leadership

Pick Your Curve – Life Leadership and Power Curve Success

I have often taught that we don’t know what we don’t know. But sometimes, we don’t know what we think we know. And this second condition can lead to erroneous conclusions and frustrated efforts.

When I was a child in elementary school, one of my teachers had the nerve to teach me something I didn’t want to learn. She shared with us how the colorful objects we see really aren’t that color, but rather, the range of light waves of the color spectrum that are reflected by the surface of the item make it appear to be that color.


And then my Dad taught me about the “birds and the bees.”

Double woah.

Here I was, cruising along on my BMX bike, wearing tube socks and thinking I had the whole world figured out. And then in an instant I discover that the way I thought everything worked was entirely wrong – twice!

Unfortunately, this condition isn’t confined to childhood. As adults, we are susceptible to the same “knowledge bias.” We think we know how something works when we actually don’t. And usually, we are very cock-sure in our incorrectness. It’s a condition I like to refer to as passionate ignorance. We are wrong, but we are certain we are right.

At Life Leadership, we are in the business of setting people free. For the vast majority of people who are in debt and struggle with their finances, we offer debt freedom through our Financial Fitness product suite. For committed, hard-working high-achievers, we provide a compensation program that authorizes people to sell our products and build teams of people who do the same thing. This is a shot at financial freedom. And, perhaps most importantly, for the few who are disenfranchised, disabled, or victims of disaster, we offer functional freedom through our Life on Life Initiative. We developed this terminology about “setting people free” and the three categories of freedom to explain our fundamental mission and how we strive to offer something for the whole spectrum of people and their particular situations.

But there is more to the story.

Most of us, without even realizing it, think of the world like the old “bell curve” we remember being graded upon in high school. We automatically think people and their performance fall into a normal distribution, or what is officially known as a “Gaussian” curve of distribution. I am sure you are familiar with what it looks like, but here it is nonetheless.


And in the case of the population of people in the markets in which Life Leadership operates, as described above, this bell curve of normal distribution describes very well what we see. A few at the high-end choose to take advantage of our pay plan and actually build the business. Most people are in the middle, merely using our Financial Fitness products to whittle down their debt (these people may or may not be “signed up” in our business). And a few are at the “bottom” of the curve in dire need of our help, because they truly can’t help themselves.


But when it comes to describing the actual performance (read: results) of those who attempt to achieve high-level success, those who embrace our pay plan and determine that they want to use it to make money, things don’t follow the Gaussian bell curve, or normal distribution at all.  For this case, we must dig into the reality of how success actually “works.” You see, when it comes to success, and especially high-level success, what we think we know just isn’t so.

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s consider an endeavor totally outside of Life Leadership, such as being a professional actor/actress instead. The stage, the screen, the lights, the money, and the fame all have a strong appeal on those with such talents. We hear of high paychecks and we see outlandish lifestyles. We see the glitz and the glitter and the glossy gossip magazines. But we all know that only a few are fortunate enough to make it to this high level, and, thinking the bell or Gaussian curve describes the situation, we assume there must be a lot of people, in fact, most actors and actresses, who are somewhere in the middle, with a few terrible ones down at the lower tail of the curve. We all know this intrinsically, and yet we have it wrong!

According to leader of Google’s “People Operations”, Laszlo Bock, in his book Work Rules!, Screen Actors Guild data published in 2008 show that the financial results of actors does not follow a Gaussian curve at all, but rather what is called a “Power Curve” (or perhaps also a decaying exponential).

Power Curve

According to Bock, “Very roughly, the bottom third of active SAG members made no money from acting in 2007, and the next third earned less than $1,000. The next group, between the 68th and 95th percentiles, were paid between $1,000 and $100,000. The 95th to the 99th percentile actors earned between $100,000 and $250,000. And the top 1 percent earned over $250,000. The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent earned even more: Will Smith was the highest-paid actor, with over $80 million in earnings, followed by Johnny Depp ($72 million), Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers ($55 million each), and Leonardo DiCaprio ($45 million).” [italics added]

So for professional actors/actresses, the curve of distribution, roughly plotted, looks like the following:


Notice that it is not the normal Gaussian bell curve at all, as we all would assume it would be, but rather a power curve. Notice also that the super high achievers at the extreme top end pull the average income way above the median. This means that most people are not average, but actually – wait for it – most people are below average! Stop and think about that for a minute. Most people are below average! (Oh! They’re not going to want to hear that!) Notice that fully 1/3 of the actors/actresses made no money! And the next third only $1,000! That’s two thirds of all the actors and actresses making next-to-nothing!

All of this goes against what we think we know. But if you really study this and understand it, you’ll quickly see that this curve for actors and actresses is exactly how success works in all categories where a government or artificial imposition is not placed upon results. Plot the financial results of people in professional sports, country singers, those who launch tech company start-ups, and even authors of books, and the results are similar – following a power curve and not a Gaussian bell curve.

Enter Life Leadership. In November of 2011 we proudly launched our company with world-class personal, professional, and financial development information and service products. We authorized distributors to sell those products for an immediate sales margin of 25% (a higher margin than many professional salespeople are paid), and then added a compensation plan on top of that sales margin to reward them for also building teams of people who did the same thing (merchandise our products and build teams to do the same). We worked really hard to minimize costs to run the enterprise and formulated a pay plan that paid very generously to the people making the sales.

Next, people joined, worked hard, sold our products, and built teams. Some people prospered and made enough money to live on, making the building of our business their professional career. A handful achieved really high levels of income, while many others only made a little. Many signed up and never did anything, riding off into the night after buying our starter kit never to be heard from again.

Each year, we publish a comprehensive “Income Disclosure Statement” designed to show the exact results of everyone who joins, whether they ever worked the business hard or not, or just signed up and rode into the night. And inevitably, someone looks at this data and says something like, “Only the people at the top make any significant money,” or, “most of those people aren’t making any money.” This criticism didn’t make any sense to us, from our angle, because we simply put a compensation plan out there that pays extremely well, and fairly at various levels all the way along the path of progress. It doesn’t discriminate in any way based upon race, creed, color, age, gender, or anything you can name. It is strictly pay-for-performance. So we have tried to explain it in different ways. But still, there will always be someone out there who says, “only a small percentage make the money.”

In a way, we can see their point. Why shouldn’t more people make more money? Why shouldn’t there be a bunch of people making a medium amount, for instance? How come there isn’t a larger percentage of people “in the middle” making the money our pay plan delivers for those levels? We’ve got a pay scale that rewards effort along the entire journey! And the 25% sales bonus is paid to everyone at every level no matter how long they’ve been with the company or how big their business is. What gives?

What gives is that our population of Life Members is not properly described by the Gaussian bell curve we all carry around in our heads, but rather by the Power Curve that depicts the results of all true performance-only systems (such as professional acting described above). Leave people free to achieve and perform in any endeavor, and you’ll get a power curve. Life Leadership and its compensation plan are no different.

This is very important to understand, and it applies to all areas of life, not just participation in Life Leadership’s compensation plan. High achievers are way ahead of the rest of the pack, and their results skew the scale and pull the average way above the median. What this means is not that one should avoid undertaking a performance-based endeavor, but rather that one should not falsely impose an erroneous bell curve in order to “analyze” the “odds of success.” With power curve situations averages are misleading because they are pulled upward by the lofty achievement of the top performers. And in true performance-only situations, there is no comfortable middle where a large percentage of the participants can hang out and do “pretty good.” Ultimately, one either makes it within the upper 1 or 2 or 5th percentile, or one doesn’t see much reward (at least financially speaking). As we said before, just apply this reality to professional sports, the arts, business start-ups, direct sales, and the like, and you will see that it is true again and again. Our false application of the bell curve simply won’t properly describe these “free to perform” situations. Such a map, in essence, doesn’t match the territory.

This is simply how the world works. In fact, the only alternative is to create a system wherein outside forces eliminate the upper possibilities based upon performance so that everybody instead gets a decent result but nothing big is available for high achievement. This, in fact, is exactly what most jobs provide. In such scenarios you will never hit it big (it’s not even available), but you can count on a steady flow of at least something for the fat middle of the pack. Some will get a little bit more, others will hang out at the bottom, but most people will be kept clumped together in the comfortable middle.

And this brings us full circle to the exact reason we launched our company in the first place. We wanted a legitimate alternative to a closed system of enforced mediocrity. We wanted to provide a legitimate shot upwards, without restriction, that would be available to anyone who chose to work that hard, learn that much, and stay at it that long. As cofounder Orrin Woodward often states, “We don’t promise easy. We just promise worth it.”

So ultimately, we have two choices in life. Find a closed system with outside forces that artificially impose a safe and “comfortable” bell curve, a situation with no chance of high highs but very little worry about low lows. Or, conversely, enter into a power curve situation where there is not much reward unless you perform mightily. It is one or the other.

It is ultimately up to each individual to choose which is right for him/her, and what God has designed and called him/her to accomplish. Just don’t apply bell curve analysis to a power curve situation and call it “unfair,” or a “scheme” or a “pyramid.” And then likewise, those who live in the power curves of life shouldn’t denigrate bell curve situations for being stifling and without upward mobility. Each is for whom it’s for.

Just make sure you choose wisely. Bell curve people are miserable in power curves, and power curve people are miserable in bell curves.

Pick your curve and live it with verve!


Chris Brady

Smile - Version 2

Life Leadership: Don’t Scam Yourself

“Sometimes You Need Outside Eyes”

Lead Yourself Through Life: Perspective

This talk was obviously part of a longer piece of teaching, but I think it stands by itself as a great reminder that we often are too close to a problem to find its answer.  When faced with a conundrum that appears to have you beat, try the following:

1. Attempt to gain a new perspective. Take a look at the situation through a different lens, or, as in the case with my 9 year old son, through someone else’s eyes.

2. Take a break.  As I said in my book, A Month of Italy, sometimes you need to get away in order to get a way.  This means that often, as soon as we break with our normal routine and take some time out, our brains, allowed the freedom to work on the problem in the background, will eventually pop out an answer.  So sometimes, paradoxically, the best way to solve a problem is to do nothing about it for a while!

3. Seek new combinations.  The late Steve Jobs once said that all innovation is really just creative combination.  So ask yourself what new things you can mix together that have never been tried. Often the solution is not a stand alone thing, but rather a blending of a couple of your best ideas.

Live Your life with eyes wide open

Mark Twain once called himself a “prodigious noticer.”  I love that phrase. It encourages us to make active observation a normal practice. When you look, really see.  When you listen, really hear. Try to take in your surroundings in a fresh way, opening your senses to things you might be missing.  And above all, live your life with eyes wide open.

So don’t scam yourself out of a rich and abundant life by seeing only what you are used to seeing. Remember these simple techniques and see and feel anew the world around you.  Not only might it help you unlock answers to nagging problems, but it will for sure lead to the living of a richer and more fulfilling life.

Rock on!

Chris Brady


Life Leadership Scam and the Leadership Train

Is Life Leadership a Scam?

Have you ever seen the movie Revenge of the Nerds? It’s an oldie but a goodie. Actually, I can’t really say that, as I haven’t seen it since I was a wee teen.  However, the premise, that the nerds outsmart their good-looking, athletic, popular, jock counterparts has really come to fruition in our times.

For instance, have you ever realized that those geeky bespectacled kids you used to push around at the bus stop are the ones responsible for terms like “iOS8” and  “PDF” being part of our normal vernacular? Or that we are all now living under the tyranny of baud rates and hyper text markup language? It’s as if they all got together and decided to get revenge on those of us who are too impatient and too, well, un-geeky to care about ones and zeros.  WE JUST WANT OUR STUPID PHONES TO WORK!!!!

Ah hem.  Anyway, there seems to be no end to what the nerds will come up with next.  Take the latest round of web address suffixes.  As if getting used to .com and .net and .org and .gov and .edu wasn’t enough, some hyper-smart geek got the notion that if those “web properties” (there they go again!) were so valuable, why not create like, I don’t know, 1700 more!  And just like that, we’ve got a whole bunch of new cyber real estate to pay for.  Suffixes such as .hello, .tattoo, and .plumbing may even make a little bit of sense.  But one is left wondering just how far this will go?  How many new suffixes could possibly be introduced over time? The answer? A limitless amount!

Some of the more troublesome ones, however, are the curious ones such as .scam and .sucks. Wow. Really? Are there that many people and entities out there being paraded through the mud?  With just a few key strokes and a handy-dandy search engine, one can quickly confirm that yes, Martha, nearly everything is being called a scam online these days.  From the 9-11 attacks to Mother Teresa, and everything in between (and let’s face it, there’s a lot betwixt those two terms), it seems some mole in an hole somewhere is getting his nerdish satisfaction from hurling the term “scam” or “sucks” at it.  So much so, in fact, that one of the many minions in the nerdosphere has seen fit to create a whole suffix just for such purposes.

What a wonderful modern world in which we live!

So, when one asks if Life Leadership is a scam, I guess it should be no surprise!  If they’re questioning Mother Teresa . . . .

Is Network Marketing a Scam?

And, further, if anything and everything gets hit with the scam label, why not an entire profession that’s been around for 150 years? Sure!

So what are the answers to these intellectual questions of infinite profundity?  Glad you asked.  NY Times best selling author and Guinness World Record Holder Orrin Woodward has just released a new book that addresses both of these questions in a most interesting way.  Written as a novella with interesting characters and real life questions about the profession in general and Life Leadership in specific, the book is so much fun that I read it in one sitting! (Others are reporting the same). I believe that the questions as to the validity of the networking industry and Life Leadership‘s key position within it are answered eloquently and thoroughly. Of course, I am also biased, as I’ve enjoyed my time in the industry now for over two decades, and can’t imagine life without the opportunity to Have Fun, Make Money, and Make a Difference (all three in one place).

Is Orrin Woodward a ScaM?

Oh man, will the tough questions never stop?

Sidestepping the obvious rebuttal that a person (reference Mother Teresa above) cannot actually be defined as a “scam,” one has to wonder what drives such slander? Is there possibly such a thing in the nerd world as digital assassins? Could there possibly be those who benefit from tearing down a competitor online from the cowardly comfort of anonymity? Could it be that there are actually paid positions to do so? Let’s face it, if the nerds are capable of capitalizing on a .scam suffix, one is left to conclude that anything could be possible!

But I digress.

What I really want to do is introduce you to Orrin Woodward‘s excellent new book, which I technically already did, but forgot to give you the cool photo of its cover, or the interesting video trailer in which Orrin introduces it.


(And you nerds? Well, just to let you know, I loaded all this media onto this blog post all by myself! So there.)


Chris Brady


Orrin Woodward Forbes – Facts

Forbes Magazine Article – Orrin Woodward

“All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news.” ― George Orwell, Why I Write

Forbes Magazine has been a respected source for business news for decades. As a widely respected publication, it has produced consistently excellent articles on business, investing, and leadership, and I have been a reader since my college years. However, even the best sometimes get it wrong. For instance, the 2008 article featuring Orrin Woodward and Network Marketing is an inexplicable outlier from the publication’s usual journalistic standards. There is so much wrong with the piece I almost didn’t know where to begin. If you’ve ever had the opportunity of being on the inside of a news story, and felt the befuddlement of comparing your experience to what was actually reported, you’ll know how I feel. The following is my briefest attempt to clean up the startling inconsistencies and omissions.

Orrin Woodward Forbes Facts

  • At the time of the article, Orrin Woodward was in a major legal dispute with Amway/Quixtar. Somehow, this important fact was not mentioned.
  • At the same time, Amway was funding a major advertising campaign in Forbes (no links online, but see 2008 Forbes Magazine for Amway ads).
  • Some of Amway’s principals were supporters of Steve Forbes and his political aspirations. (Click here)
  • Forbes figures have been in public support of Amway (Rich Karlsgaad, Forbes Editor in Chief, appears in an Amway promotional video three different times (Click here))
  • Newer, small companies such as Orrin’s at the time (approximately $42 million in gross annual revenue) typically do not merit attention from Forbes, which generally reports on the world’s largest and most influential firms.
  • At roughly the same time as this article appeared, Newsweek wrote a similarly negative piece on MonaVie founder and President, Dallin Larsen, even though Larsen was a year away from winning the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award (Click here). Orrin Woodward had just partnered with MonaVie, and Amway/Quixtar had promptly launched litigation against MonaVie.
  • Amway also had a major advertising campaign in Newsweek(Click here)
  • Neither of these publications ever featured Orrin or Dallin before the legal dispute, nor have there been any after its settlement.
  • Although the Forbes journalist admitted she had never heard of John Maxwell (#1 world renowned leadership expert (Click here)), Pastor Bill Hybels (the pastor of the largest church in her city (Click here)), and had no experience with Network Marketing (Click here), she wrote an article on leadership practices, Christian teachings, and Network Marketing.
  • Of all the people the journalist interviewed for the article (Orrin gave her complete access to everyone in his organization), the only person she quoted from her many interviews (other than Orrin himself and one guy standing in line to attend a meeting), was the negative husband of a woman in Orrin’s team that had never attended a single event, nor participated in any way. In contrast, not one of the many positive people interviewed were even mentioned.
  • When Orrin invited the journalist to his company’s international convention, offering her full back-stage access to everything and everyone, she politely declined because she had purchased tickets to attend a Willie Nelson concert instead.
  • The journalist referred to Network Marketing as “pyramid selling schemes,” proceeded to give a very incorrect description of how they supposedly function, and then wrote, “sounds like a chain letter, doesn’t it?”, even though networking companies operate legally in all 50 states every business day.  AND Forbes itself has done many positive (or at least professionally balanced) articles on the industry, as recently as last month (Click here).
  • The journalist stated that as a result of Orrin Woodward’s split with Amway, his “tools” business sales “plummeted.” This wasn’t the case. She had been given the actual sales data showing that sales increased after Orrin’s departure from Amway/Quixtar.
  • The journalist also stated that Orrin’s exit from Amway/Quixtar “left Woodward with motivational tools but no product to motivate people to sell.”  This is also false. Orrin’s leadership material was on the NY Times bestseller list (another fact not mentioned in the article (Click here) ). Companies were buying it to train their employees, professional athletes were reading it and talking about it in major publications (Click here), and churches were listing it in their annual suggested reading lists (Click here).  Orrin’s informational products did not need to be associated with any networking company’s products in order to be valued in the marketplace. In fact, this is exactly what a Michigan judge concluded when he ruled to allow Orrin’s company to continue to function even though it had severed  its association with Amway/Quixtar.

Orrin Woodward Since the Forbes Article

  • Since departing from Amway/Quixtar, and after a brief time of partnering with MonaVie, Orrin Woodward and several of his partners launched a company called Life Leadership to provide personal and leadership development materials to individuals and organizations.
  • Life Leadership products have consistently won industry awards for design and quality (Click here, and here, and here).
  • Life Leadership has attracted customers in widely varying industries and applications that don’t have anything to do with Network Marketing (Click here).
  • Orrin Woodward’s works continue to win awards and recognition (Click here, and here and here and here).
  • In 2011, Orrin Woodward was awarded the Kettering University Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
  • In 2014, Orrin Woodward was named to the Inc. Magazine Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts list (Click here).
  • Also in 2014, Orrin Woodward set an official Guinness World Record with the most book signings of his latest best selling new book, And Justice for All: The Quest for Concord. (Click here)

Keys to Happiness: A Life Leadership Commentary

Chris Brady

3 Lessons for Developing a World Class Organization

Life Leadership

Orrin Woodward Sets New Guinness Record

Life Leadership and Orrin Woodward

I don’t know if you’re like me, but as a kid growing up I was mesmerized with The Guinness Book of World Records. The whole concept of setting a “World Record” was fascinating, and so were those women with the really long nails or that guy who was eleven foot tall. I remember laughing at all the obscure records and categories, and wondered who would be crazy enough to do most of those things.

GuinnessThen a friend of mine (who shall, for the time being, remain anonymous. Let’s just call him some guy (spelled Sum Gui)) suggested that for a promotional idea for the release of Orrin Woodward‘s new book, And Justice for All: The Quest for Concord, that he (Orrin, not Sum Gui) should break the record for the number of books signed in one sitting. As soon as he made the recommendation, all my childhood memories of looking through friends’ Guinness books came flooding back to me. My initial reaction was, “Is that stuff real?” But then, having lived a few years here and there, I realized that, of course, it was real, and quickly deduced that there must be a real company somewhere that kept track of these things and made sure they were “official.”

Realizing that Sum Gui had come up with a really good idea, we quickly found out that the previous record was held by a guy (different guy from Sum Gui) named Sammy Lee from China, who signed 4,649 books in January of 2013. We also learned that, yes, in fact, Guinness had a process for all this, and you could get the services of their “adjudicator” to bless the proceedings and declare them official (assuming that you did, in fact, set a new record).

All it would take was thousands of people, a book to sign, and a signer willing to subject himself to the grueling marathon of signing book after book for hours on end.

Orrin Woodward would be perfect!

All we’d have to do is make sure he felt sufficiently challenged, and then, as everyone who knows him knows, there would be no way he would quit until victorious. So we promptly told him about our idea, that it would be a fun way to launch his new book, and that we were quite sure he could never do it (this works in basketball, too, if you ever happen to play against him. Just trash talk him a bit and you’re toast). So voila! We had ourselves an “Official Guinness Record Attempt!”

And would you believe it? Orrin broke the record without taking even one of his allotted five minute breaks, and he did it in less than half the time of the previous record holder! But that wasn’t the end. Orrin continued on until he had not only broken the record, but shattered it! The final official count was 6,786 books!

Congratulations Orrin Woodward, Obstacles Press, and Life Leadership! What a great, fun victory! And thanks to everyone who participated and now has a coffee table book like no other!

Now, if I could only think of some kind of record to break . . . maybe I’ll start growing my nails . . . .


Chris Brady