When Orrin Woodward first introduced me to the world of word-of-mouth marketing almost two decades ago, I was skeptical, to say the least. In my very uninformed opinion at the time, I had the impression that networking wasn’t a “real” business, that people who were involved were never going to be successful, that someone was ripping someone else off, and that it was a place to go for those who couldn’t “make it” anywhere else. With this predisposition and negative bias, it seems nearly impossible that Orrin got me involved. First of all, the fact that he won me over speaks to the esteem with which I held (and still do) Orrin and the belief I had in his ability to follow through on his commitments. It also proves the power of information to change a mind. I was determined not to get involved, but the pull of the truth was too strong. As I investigated I found out just how much I didn’t know about the possibilities. What I discovered was that people were making money, there was a way to help others with the types of programs being offered, and they were indeed legitimate.
But that was the good side.
What I also discovered over the years was that although I had been largely wrong in my original negative opinions, unfortunately, I had also been correct. There are networks out there that aren’t legitimate, there are organizations that exist merely to fleece its participants, and sadly there are groups of people being deluded into thinking they’re going to make it financially in a situation in which the game is stacked against them. It was these ugly truths that drove Orrin to say to me one day nearly 14 years ago, “We’ll fix anything like that we come up against! No matter what it takes or costs!”
To this Orrin Woodward has been true. Our story (along with many other leaders of very strong character and caliber such as Tim Marks, Bill Lewis, George Guzzardo, Claude Hamilton, Dan Hawkins, and thousands of others), has been one of overcoming obstacles on the route to making this concept what it can and should be. Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of great companies and great groups out there. But this industry still has a portion that can best be analogized to the “Wild West” where guns are slinging and bullets are flying and only the quickest on the draw survive.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Our goal in launching LIFE was to establish a Whole New Industry by finding the space between trends. Namely, we would combine the categories of 1) Community Building, 2) Personal Development, 3) Life Coaching, and 4) Networking into a unique blend never before attempted. We would do so by keeping the good and leaving out the bad inherent in each of these four areas. The overall goal would be to offer a business better than we could have dreamed of so many years ago when we were just starting out.
This would mean that such a business would have to eliminate many of the problems common with the standard fare in each of these four categories. Our goal would be to maximize the number of people prospering and the difference made in people’s lives. Instead of trying to make a fortune we’d focus on trying to make a difference. There would be no private perks or hidden benefits, no tilting of the scales or breakages back to the company. In fact, as we had always done, the founders were responsible for every bit of travel and lodging expense for our board meetings and would receive not a nickel of consideration for their service. These types of expenses would never be covered by money taken from the field, but would be paid for out of the pocket of the board member himself as an investment back into his own business. We had seen too much of the opposite in other scenarios where people make a living serving on boards and committees (where compensations for such “services” could run into six figures annually) instead of earning their lifestyle fighting alongside the leaders in the field. We also wanted a pay plan that went beyond fair, with as much compensation as possible returned to the field to inspire future growth and reward the performers responsible for making it all happen. And we wanted to build it all around a product that couldn’t be commoditized by copycat parasite marketers with no concern for customer quality or longevity. Also, we wanted to come in as a low cost supplier, undercutting what appears to be a trend among personal development companies to charge higher and higher prices as their popularity grows. Concerned with lasting change, we wanted a subscription program that would provide little bites over time, not enormous, expensive, “drinking through a fire hose” type programs designed to bring in a bunch of up-front money no matter the effectiveness of the training. We are convinced that small, correct steps, taken consistently over time, are much more affordable and effective for transforming lives.
Orrin Woodward was right when he told me so many years ago that there was a lot of opportunity in personal business ownership. He was also right when he told me we would need to fix some things. He has been true to his word every step of the way. And with the launching of LIFE, it’s time to make a difference in a whole different way!