William Riggs
Network Marketing

     You and I have something in common: we’re both illusionists. There are differences, of course. I perform my classic illusions on stage, cutting your top distributor in three pieces, floating another in the air, or making your CEO appear from an empty vault. But all of us perform much more elaborate illusions in our minds. Faulty beliefs about the marketplace, other people, and especially ourselves formed in early childhood now play havoc with our adult lives, arresting personal growth and crippling business. Stripping away these illusions, then, is an essential ingredient to a contented and successful life. That’s why network marketing companies hire me: I’m not just an illusionist; I’m a Dis-illusionist. I reshape attitudes by demolishing the faulty beliefs that prevent success.
     The art of illusion is more than a hobby, or even a vocation, to me. It is a vehicle through which I have the privilege of setting people and businesses free from the crippling illusions we all carry around in our heads. Ironically, I was “disillusioning” hundreds of people as a speaker and counselor before I ever saw a parallel between the advice I gave hurting or confused people, and the large-scale illusions I performed on cruise ships in my other life as a professional magician. Abracadabra! A new career appeared out of thin air.
     The result is a spectacular presentation of world-class magic for network marketing companies that also carries with it a paradigm-shifting message on life’s grandest psychological illusions. Several years ago, during a very difficult time in my life, I discovered that disillusionment was actually good. Indeed, the very word “disillusionment” implies that one has been living under illusions, right?
     It is as though all of us wear virtual reality visors superimposing a false world over the real one, distorting our perspective, and filtering reality through an elaborate grid of assumptions and defense mechanisms. Consequently, the message our conscious mind perceives is often quite different from reality. The result is a life and a business that limp along, stymied by the difficulties created by these mental illusions. For example, if I perceive that my upline’s unwillingness to train me is the result of his or her laziness, but the real problem is with my own bad attitude, then all of my attempts to heal that rift will fail miserably. Or, if I believe that my sales volume is low because the economy is slow, while the real problem is with my sales presentation, I will feel powerless to remedy the situation. Hence, in most circumstances my ability to formulate a workable solution to a given problem will be directly proportional to my ability to correctly identify it, which requires that I first be dis-illusioned.
     Nowhere is this principle more true than in multilevel marketing, because networking is more than a revolutionary business model; it represents a radical paradigm shift that must occur in the mind. Network marketing is first and foremost a set of beliefs. In order to succeed, one must become passionately convinced in four arenas:
First, successful networkers believe in multilevel marketing as a legal and ethical form of business. Entertaining even the slightest doubt about it’s lawfulness or legitimacy, will cause uncertainty to ooze from every pore and alarm would-be prospects.
Faith in the integrity and long-term stability of one’s company is, for similar reasons, the second belief necessary to success. My first multilevel marketing experience deteriorated from boundless enthusiasm to disenchantment as I discovered that the company was not honoring promises made repeatedly to distributors. Needless to say, my burgeoning downline crumbled, as I could no longer promote my company with a clear conscience.
Thirdly, a networker who succeeds (and can still sleep nights) believes in the efficacy and value of his or her products, and evidences this fact by using them religiously.
Finally, an effective networker believes in himself, and in other people. To me, it is quite sensible to deduce that if one’s keys to success at multilevel marketing are proper beliefs, then one’s greatest obstacles to success are false ones, which I call, “grand illusions.”
     I have identified what I believe to be the four greatest illusions preventing independent distributors from realizing their full potential. Even if we are unaware that we carry these false beliefs, such illusions reach from the recesses of the subconscious mind to paralyze our creativity and prevent the remarkable success enjoyed by a select few in our industry. During my magic show, I seek to demolish each of these grand illusions, propelling distributors to greater confidence, motivation, and success.
     Victor Hugo, once said, “An invasion of armies can be stopped, but not an idea whose time is come.” He was right. And network marketing is an idea whose time has come.
GRAND ILLUSION #1 – Network Marketing is a scam. Set against the backdrop of firmly entrenched conventional business models, it should come as no surprise that many view multilevel marketing with suspicion. The eruptions and subsequent disappearances of a myriad of Ponzi schemes and pyramid scams reinforce the belief that a networker’s ancestors sold snake oil on the western frontier. Worse still, even legitimate network marketers are infamous for stretching the truth from time to time. Nevertheless, this most formidable of obstacles can be overcome with the right strategy and information. When presenting your opportunity to a prospect, don’t be shocked if the person narrows his eyelids, leers at you from the corner of his eyes, and says, “It sounds like a pyramid to me.” When confronted with this objection, the best response is to look puzzled and say, “Of course it’s a pyramid. It’s just a legal, ethical, moral one. They do exist, you know. The Federal Trade Commission ruled that way back in the seventies!” I recommend that you follow this statement by reminding the prospect that almost everyone works in a pyramid organization, if you define such as a company with a small number of rich people at the top, and a comparatively huge number of minions at the bottom. “But,” I would say, “the advantages of our new, improved pyramid over your conventional pyramid are staggering!” What are those advantages?
     The ability to work your way to the top of the pay scale in a matter of months rather than decades, the right to be paid commensurate with your effectiveness, not your position in the organizational chart, and the freedom to set your own schedule and be your own boss are only a few.
     In further defense of the legality and integrity of multilevel marketing, I point out that every incipient method of distribution was initially opposed. For example, in the 1920’s a precocious man named W.T. Grant created the department store, and was promptly vilified in the press. Under pressure from more conventional “mom-and-pop” stores, the U.S. Congress actually passed legislation in 1929 aimed at putting department stores out of business! Decades later, when faced with an uproar over yet another distribution model, Congress in 1958 outlawed franchising!?! In the 1960’s, the FCC banned infomercials from the airwaves. In each case, however, common sense eventually prevailed. Victor Hugo was right. And network marketing is an idea whose time has come.
GRAND ILLUSION #2 – Network marketing is free money. I have seen, on occasion, a disturbing wanderlust in the eyes of prospects being exposed to a new networking opportunity. In his mind, the prospect drifts into a dream world, and speculates to himself: “If I were to sign up Donald Trump, Lee Iaccoca, and Rupert Murdoch, I could move to Tahiti next week! I wonder if they’ll mail my checks to Tahiti? Hmmmm.” While early in my networking experience, I viewed this look as a promising sign, I now regard it as deadly. I quickly learned that distributors who enter the business under the “illusion” that networking is free or even easy money, will 1) do nothing, 2) earn nothing, and 3) become disillusioned.
     Far wiser it is to “disillusion” the prospect with cold, hard reality before he or she becomes a distributor. I now deem it better to present the networking opportunity as a wonderful part-time job that can earn the prospect a few hundred extra dollars per month if they work at it, and perhaps a lot more if they prove to be gifted and work diligently over the long term. Network marketing is work (which is why it’s not called netplay marketing!). Successful distributors see their business as their vocation, and give it all the respect they would give a conventional job, if not more. A weekly work schedule must be set and honored as though an impatient boss were tapping his foot and looking at his watch. Payday for the networker stands in lieu of a formal job evaluation, and rewards his or her performance for each pay period with a symbolic pat on the back, a kick in the rear, or a slap in the face. In reality, networking may be the most difficult job one ever has, but it can also be the most rewarding both financially and personally.
GRAND ILLUSION #3 – Network Marketing is a sales position. A successful networking company holds dear the core value that building people is more important than moving product. If this value permeates its downline, even a company with mediocre products can succeed . Similarly, effective networkers are those who recognize that their business is not so much about selling products, as training and edifying distributors. The enroller becomes a sales manager for each recruit in his downline. This is why it is essential that regular verbal (if not face-to-face) contact be maintained with one’s downline at all times. My hard and fast rule is this: never let a week pass without talking personally with every person in your downline! Each call should be made with the goal of encouraging, teaching, and training, while simultaneously nurturing the friendship. This rule, of course, is adjusted as the organization’s size makes calling every distributor impossible. Effective distributors see themselves as sales managers; the elite few who achieve stratospheric incomes go even a step further, and see themselves as managers overseeing a team of sales managers.
GRAND ILLUSION #4 – Success at network marketing is luck. I would never go so far as to say that no distributor has ever made big money in network marketing by a stroke of good luck. But I do know that I have never met one. The successful networkers I know earned their success with passionate and relentless work, often into the wee hours of the night. One distributor even told me that she finally had to get stern with her (highly successful) recruiter and tell him never to call her after 3:00 a.m.! Far from a lottery, network marketing is a science, and the trail of success has been blazed a thousand times to mark the way. During the 1992 presidential election, Bill Clinton’s campaign was kept on track with a simple watchword coined by political advisor James Carville: “It’s the economy, stupid.” I’ve modified that statement to keep networkers on track: “It’s the monotony, stupid.” I’m not denigrating anyone, nor was James Carville. The motto merely states in a memorable way a very simple, but elusive principle. Successful network marketing is the result of years of monotonous, simple tasks like writing thank you notes, making prospecting calls, leading meetings, and encouraging distributors.
     Just as seed planting can be monotonous for the farmer, the nuts-and-bolts activities of a networker can be tedious and even boring. But the ennui of planting is soon overshadowed by the thrill of the harvest! My advice? Just keep repeating to yourself, as I have my audiences do in my performances all over the country, “It’s the monotony, stupid.” It’s disillusioning, isn’t it? But then, disillusionment is good.
     For network marketing conferences, my blend of magic and motivation has benefits that go well beyond just its disillusioning content. I find that it has an incredible mnemonic advantage over a stand-alone speech. As distributors retell year after year the story of how “Jim lost both of his shoes, and ended up with a bucket over his head, and has no idea how it happened,” or “Billy Riggs put a squashed banana in Mary’s purse, and then made it vanish without a trace,” or “He took Janet up on the stage, and made her float in the air, and she swears she doesn’t know how he did it,” they also call to mind and reinforce the powerful points those magical moments were designed to illustrate. In other words, when they recall my illusions, they also remember the positive disillusionment that went along with them, and again receive the benefit of the presentation.
     The blend of entertainment and a message also serves as a real attention-getter. I’ll never forget speaking and performing on one occasion in the Great Lakes area. It was, for the most part, a wonderful audience. But one gentleman sat in about the fifth row not even trying to hide his disdain for yet another speaker. When I began my presentation, he was actually reading a fully unfolded newspaper, holding it high in the air, and noisily turning the pages from time to time! I suspect that this was his attempt to make a nonverbal statement to the meeting planners about how mundane such conferences had been in the past.
     But as the presentation progressed, the gales of laughter, the gasps of amazement, and the content slowly began to work on him. He began to occasionally peek over the newspaper, then eventually he folded it and laid it in his lap. For the final twenty minutes he sat in rapt attention. Afterwards, he approached me to purchase a recording of my speech and remarked, “You’ve restored my faith in motivational speakers.”
     To be sure, communicating in a television age is a tricky business, but… I’m a tricky guy! Although my calling in life is to improve the quality of people’s lives and businesses through my presentations, I would be less than honest if I didn’t also acknowledge how much I also enjoy the entertainment end of my business. The howls of laughter, the repeated looks of utter bewilderment (on the faces of people who only minutes before had assumed they couldn’t possibly be fooled!), and the delightful interaction with dozens of members of the audience in every presentation make my work delightfully fun. And I still genuinely love every minute of it. The only thing that could make me love it more would be to “disillusion” those at your next event.

William Riggs

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