What really is the network marketing industry, and what makes it so great? In this episode, Izzy Matos shares his personal passion for network marketing and how being involved in the industry not only elevated his profession to a whole new successful level but also changed his perspective on life. Izzy is the Founding Independent Business Partner and Presidential Director at Stemtech, and has been in the network marketing industry for 43 years. That’s right, 43 years! So tune in now and learn how network marketing can grow your profession and change your life!
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Busy With Izzy Matos
It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce a new friend. We hit it off well on the phone. I thought we could talk all afternoon. How are you?
I’m doing awesome. Thank you. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. This is Izzy Matos. Izzy lives in Puerto Rico part of the time and he lives in New York part of the time. You’re down there enjoying the sunshine right now.
It’s a beautiful, bright day. It’s in the 90s. It’s not too hard to take.
It’s not too bad at all. Let’s talk about your story because it’s a remarkable and inspiring one. Let’s start at the top. How long have you been in the industry?
Congratulations. It’s incredible. Where did you get started? How did you get started? What were you doing? You were a young guy many years ago. Did somebody knock on your door or handed you a flyer? How did that happen?
Honestly, it was a crazy situation. In my youth, I knew that I wanted to get into something that would pay well. Someone told me, “Get into sales.” I did. I became a door-to-door insurance salesman. I didn’t make a nickel because I was selling to businessmen. When you’re knocking on their door during the day, during their business hours, they want to talk to you. One particular day I figured, “Let me pick a day when nobody’s going to be in these stores.” It was during a hurricane. I drove about 15 miles to this little spot on Long Island, where I live. I walked into this Portuguese tailor and I told him my tale. He looked at me. It was either he took pity or he saw something. He said, “I got something for you.”
They gave me a cassette player with a cassette tape and he said, “Sit in here.” He threw me in a closet. I got thrown in the closet. I sat there listening to that cassette tape for the better part of two hours over and over. That cassette tape changed my mind, changed my life, quite frankly. I’d never heard anything about positive attitude, other people’s money, and all motivational things we now take for granted. Many years ago, this was new to me. I was moved by what I heard that I got a business card from the guy who was selling those tapes. I quit my job. It took me three months to hunt him down. That’s how I got started in network marketing. He enrolled me in Shackley. It was an exciting adventure. I spent three years at Shackley.
I got up to a level of what was called key coordinator. This is back in the day when network marketing still had an inventory on product ship to product cut the checks. It wasn’t what it is now. I was pretty content. I was making $3,000 a month, which many years ago was serious money considering the fact that my father was a dishwasher and my mom was a seamstress. I don’t think they made $500 a month between the two of them. This blew everybody’s mind. Where it got interesting was on the second venture. I was in Shackley for three years, then I met my mentor. My mentor said, “Kid, you got to come with me.” I did. I took $6,000 worth of inventory, put it in a box, and my then-wife thought I was out of my mind.
“Who does that?” I put it out at the curb and cut my ties. My second month in business with my mentor, I went from $3,000 a month to $60,000 a month. I never looked back. He changed the way that I saw network marketing. He simplified everything for me. Everything on that tape originally came true because he knew the guy on the tape. That was my start in network marketing. Over many years, I’ve been with ten companies. I’ve been fortunate in my career. I had my ups and downs, but it’s been life-changing, to say the least.
I got to ask, who was the mentor?
Glenn W. Turner.
The great Glenn Turner.
That cassette tape was called Dare to Be Great. It took me the better part of nine years after that first encounter to meet Glenn. I was interviewed by something that was called MLM News back then. It was about Glenn because they heard my story about listening to the tape, getting into network marketing, and all this that had happened. I agreed to the interview under one condition that they put me in touch with Glenn. They did. I forged the relationship with him afterward. That had nothing to do with network marketing. Meeting the man who recorded that tape was incredible for me. Anyone that knows Glenn knows exactly what I’m talking about.
He’s a powerhouse, to say the least. It’s funny because some of our readers are 25 years old, 30 years old, they don’t know some of these names, but they learn them on the show. I was sharing I’d interviewed Ben Gay III. Ben is from that era. Larry Thompson’s from that era and a few other guys from that era that knew Glenn as well. His name comes up as a huge influence on many people’s careers.
In my opinion, anyone that’s had any real success or done anything in this industry, it’s based on the basics. The basics trace their roots back to Glenn. He played a huge price for all of us to do what we do. Those are the early days of network marketing. When it wasn’t networking, it was a much less nuanced business. Nevertheless, those principles endure. Everybody that teaches out there can trace their roots back to him, but he did it. He took a piddling amount of money, correlated it into a massive fortune in its day, and he validated all the claims. To make it even better, he became a huge speech handicap to do it. He created more millionaires on his own than almost all the gurus now put together. I owe a lot to Glenn. I miss him dearly. He was a good friend. I love him.
It’s a great story. You’ve done some pretty amazing things on your own and you’ve mentored many people. How important has self-development been to you over the years?
Please, if you’re not engaging in any of that, you’re missing the boat because that’s what this business is all about. I was a dishwasher’s son. I didn’t go to college because I had to stop going to school to support my dad. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed or the brightest crayon, but I’ve read all the books that I needed to, Think and Grow Rich, The Magic of Believing, The Greatest Networker. All those books help to influence your perspective in life.If you're not engaging in personal development, you're missing the boat because this business is all about elevating. Click To Tweet
There’s a poem in Think and Grow Rich on page 36 that I love. It’s called I Bargained with Life for a Penny. People need to read that poem because it speaks to where your perspective and your attitude impact what life gives you. People settle for so little. It’s that growth ability in network marketing that allows you to transcend lifestyles and then share those insights with others. It’s hugely important.
You’ve had many years of experience. You’ve seen some great companies. We don’t talk a lot about specific companies or organizations here. We got people from a multitude of different companies reading. In your opinion, one of the things that make a great company because you’ve had a bird’s eye view now for many years, the ones that have hung around and the ones that have gone away. Our readers can benefit by your vast experience.
I’ve had this conversation countless times with other leaders, some that you’ve mentioned in the industry. The industry’s in a state of flex. The companies that seem to do best are distributor-oriented and consumer-focused. They have true legacy-type products. If you don’t have a product in your company that people can become viscerally attached to, there’s no guarantee of longevity. Granted, management skills have a lot to do with that.
Over the many years that I’ve been in the industry, I’ve noticed that the ones that do best are the ones that are totally transparent. They do have a real consumer-centric focus, not just on the product side, but on the distributor side, and are built with anything other than an exit strategy. You’ve got what I call a lot of disco light and monkey for companies.
The latest trends out there, those won’t last. You see people joining and leaving and joining. There’s this huge transposition of people going everywhere. Yet you don’t see that with the legacy companies that have that visceral type of connection. The ones that do best are the ones that invest in quality. That’s why companies, the big A, the big S, all of those guys, have stuck around because they make that investment and they’ve got that long view.
The ones that are pandering to prevailing trends or non-products, those are short-lived. That’s based on my perspective over the many years. History has repeated itself, maybe not what this trend, but gifting programs and the affiliate-type things come and go. The ones that are built on real value, those are the ones that have lasted. Those are the ones that created the legacy individuals that you mentioned at the beginning of the show.
It’s amazing that you say that. I met somebody. There are two big A’s. There’s the one that you and I think of as a networker, and there’s the other big A that’s been around since 1886. Our mutual home state of New York started way back. I was talking to a lady in that company who’s been there for twenty-plus years. She was telling me about their company. I went into her store and I walked out and I spent $300 on the product. I bought it retail because they had many different products that I wanted to try personal care products. It isn’t a network marketing company, but at the end of the day, it I was so impressed with the products that I was like, “I need this. I need this. I need this. My wife needs this.”
Long story short, I got this huge bag of stuff when I came home. My wife’s like, “Where were you?” I said, “I was passing a store and it had a name of a company in the network marketing world. I stopped in and I bought a product. I had a lovely conversation.” This gal’s going to be a future show guest as well. I couldn’t agree more. I see the world in such a similar way that if you don’t have something at the consumer would want to buy retail, then you’re never going to recruit them.
Companies need to have sustainability. All companies hit rough patches. Mine did. We at one point went to bankruptcy. I used that as a badge of honor because one of the attitudes in our industry is if there were no compensation plan, would you buy the product? Everybody says, “I will. Sure.” When the real test comes and that situation occurs, it doesn’t seem to ring true. Yet even during our adversity, we still had people buying product consistently. It spoke to the value of the product that we brought to market.
There are a lot of companies out there that have gone through similar challenges, but are sustained by real products with real values. Yet these contemporaries that are flashy, shiny, what Randy Gates calls the bottle rocket companies. When things slow down and if the value isn’t in the product, then the company tends to go away. We see that again and again.
That had to be your greatest moment and your greatest challenge in your business. The distributors are calling and saying, “The company’s bankrupt. What do we do? Are we going to get our checks? Are we going to get our product?” How’d you handle that? There’s a lot of teaching in those moments.
I got thrown out of my company, thrown out by the owner three times because I value the distributor relationship more than the company itself because that’s all you have. Your equity is not in the company. It’s in the relationships that you build. Being contentious because I want it to stand up for things that were being done that were at first of the field, I got my little butt thrown out three times. The last time was during that bankruptcy situation. The company ran into some extreme challenges between management, founders, things of that nature. I took a position that the owner didn’t like and I got thrown out. How did that feel? It was gut-wrenching. I had invested fourteen years of my life at that point into this company.
I traveled the world and opened 50 markets as the face of the company. To see it ripped apart like that, it was worse than any divorce you can imagine. It was pitiful. I left in such a way that I left my entire organization intact. I did not take one person because I did not want my reputation tarnished as someone that would then pirate his own company. I was vilified for doing what I did. There were some pretty nasty things that were said. In the final analysis, when the company came out of bankruptcy with new ownership, because of what I’d done and because of the way I left, I was invited to come back. It was like rejoining your high school long lost sweetheart type of thing. It was the most exhilarating thing I’d ever done.
I experienced both aspects of that. I sympathize with people that invest their time in the company and watch it go away. It’s heartbreaking. You fall in love with the company, the product, and the opportunity. You invest your soul in it. It is a gut-wrenching experience. On the same token, I also think that a professional networker needs to experience that at least once, if not twice. It breeds humility and gratitude. It’s an education that you’re not going to get anywhere else. If you didn’t master the basics, you’re not going to rebuild. You got to go back and relearn those. If you did master the basics and you did your job honorably and ethically, the next go around is that much easier because people can trust you. They know that your values are that.
Several years now that you’ve been with that company that threw you out three times. I’m sure you guys must have a few good laughs now that everything’s worked out.
Our president is someone that I interviewed for an original job several years ago. He likes to tell people he is around longer than me because I was gone for two years and he said, “No, I’ve been here longer now. I’m sorry. I was here. I slept on the warehouse floor. I was the original customer service rep. I did all of that.” There are some great stories. Quite frankly, my best stories aren’t even with my company. It’s with the relationships with the other leaders in the other industry. I may not talk to them. I know them, but watching them succeed and watching the principles they espouse and some of the stories that I can relate to, that’s the most fun.
What’s amazing is that we’re living in a time in the network marketing or multi-level marketing world. I’d love your response to this. Part of the problem is investment banker owners buying companies. Some of them are smart guys. They’re certainly smart guys. They’re well-educated. They generally either come from a lot of money or they represent a lot of money. I go back like you do and I look at where I started my firm, Herbalife. Mark Hughes was the first distributor. Mark Hughes was a successful distributor before he started his company. He sold the first products out of the trunk of his car. I was to a little warehouse there, the famous little warehouse in Beverly Hills, a wig factory.
By the way, it still had hair hanging around it. When I was in the bathroom, I was like, “There’s hair on the floor. I thought someone was making a haircut.” He said, “It happens all the time. Stuff’s like in the walls or something.” He started there. I live in Dallas. I’ve been in the Mary Kay Museum. I have friends that are executives at Mary Kay. They’ve given me that beautiful museum tour. If you ever have a chance, go down this way. It’s remarkable. Here’s a lady who starts her company with her husband and the same day, he passes away as she starts the company. Now it is what it is. Once again, she was with Stanley before that. She was a direct selling person.
She started a company. She was the first distributor. She took the products to market. You mentioned Doc Shaklee. Doc Shaklee, you know his story better than I do. I did a little work with that company at one time. Shaklee started with the environmental products because he was afraid his kids were going to swallow poison. He started out with there and started with it. He was the first distributor.
Jay and Rich were California Vitamin Company originally, and then they eventually bought that company and they were the first two guys that went out and said, “I got this opportunity. I got these products.” They knocked on the next-door neighbor’s door or whatever. All of a sudden, fast forward, our industry has grown, which is a great thing. It’s a testament to people like yourself and so many other folks we’ve interviewed who have done amazingly hard work over the years and helped build companies in the industry.
We became attracted to the investment banking world. We get these guys in and they don’t get the value of the top. They think somehow, “Izzy’s only buying $200 a month of product. Why are we paying them X amount of dollars per month?” They don’t get that without the Izzys of the world, there is no company for them to buy. A lot of times, they buy it and they run it into the ground until somebody comes and says, “Let me tell you how this business works.” Some of them have done tremendous recoveries. Thank God they have. We’ve got friends in their companies and everything else and all worked hard.
I want to see every network marketing company that’s got a legitimate product succeed as you do. We’ve had that conversation. I’d love your response to that because you’ve been in the industry longer than I am. You’ve seen these family-owned little businesses that have grown and all of a sudden, somebody dies or retires and they sell it to another group of people and those groups of people come along with a different philosophy than what built that company in the first place. I’d love your thoughts on that.
I sat in both of those situations. I remember a few years ago when one successful company in our industry was getting started. They flew me out to Utah, their main office. It was the typical dive in the world, Wall Street, blue suit, red tie guys. They admitted that they didn’t understand the nuances of network marketing. That’s a situation that’s repeated constantly in our industry. Whether the company’s being bought because it’s in trouble or because they see true value in creating it, there’s a duality here. First of all, there are many nuances to what a network marketing company is that unless you’re willing to step back and understand the interpersonal relationships that make a network marketing company work, you’re never going to succeed at it. It’s going to be that much more of a challenge.
It’s not a B2B2C concept. There are a lot of constructs that go into making a successful network marketing company. Unless they dive in the world, Wall Street guys, these investor types, understand that you need people at the helm of this that are willing to invest in that relationship nuanced situation, you’re not going to be building the right type of company.
On the flip side, successful distributors don’t often make or seldom make successful owners because there are skill sets in ownership that you must master. You can take it so far, but if your degree of hubris is such that you don’t recognize that there’s a skillset that you don’t possess and you bring in the right talent, you’re either going to stymie or kill the growth that feeds your company. Mine was a perfect example of that. MBA owner took it to a certain level, but we didn’t grow beyond that because there were unwilling to relinquish the reins.
Not everyone can do what Zuckerberg does. Zuckerberg doesn’t have all those skillsets, but he surrounded himself with the people that did and they were in the background to take it. I don’t know that there’s a quick answer to either one of those. If the dive in the world executive is astute enough to hand over the reins for the people that can do it, you’ve got a great situation because they’ll provide the finance and you’ve got the right people providing the leadership. That’s what got us out of our bankruptcy issue. We had those guys, the super experienced business builders that have built the billion-dollar deals and the investment teams that have taken companies public, especially in our industry, buy us out.Not everyone can do what Zuckerberg does. He doesn't have all those skill sets, but he surrounds himself with those who do. Click To Tweet
They were astute enough to realize, “I don’t understand your side of the equation. You guys run that part. We’ll stay in our lane.” It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve also worked with the owners on the other side that wouldn’t do that. They thought that as distributors, they had all the answers. A bottle rocket collapsed because they didn’t bring in the right people with the right skill sets to build a nine-figure-a-year company. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw and sometimes just skill, but it is what it is.
That’s a great viewpoint on it. We are seeing some of these investment banking firms that have come in and they’ve said, “Distributors, we don’t understand what you guys do, but continue to do it because that’s why we made the investment.” The owner doesn’t all of a sudden say, “I’m the top distributor. I know better than John. I know better than Jeff or Dan or whoever.” They get to your wording perfect. They get their lane. If they do that, we grow together. We’re seeing that happen in some cases and we’re seeing, in other cases, the decline in that.
I’d love to ask you another question. Let’s come back to our lane, the distributor lane, the lane that we both are familiar with. Let me set this up this way. We both know people that have looked at guys like yourself and said, “What they do is great. They got this little home-based business. They get to work from home. I don’t know if the guy makes any money or not.” The guy was doing well. Let’s say a 60-year-old guy doing well and maybe pre-COVID he’s getting to the end of the road with his business. Whether he’s senior level management, owner, whatever, he is saying, “I want to hit the golf balls, spend the time with the grandkids.”
He’s got a 25-year-old son that’s a well-educated kid, went to school, got a degree, started his business career a couple of years back, and was doing well. Maybe he had a good job somewhere growing with the organization. We know what happened 2020. COVID comes along. Dad’s income goes from XYZ to let’s say X because he’s compensated based on sales and performance. Those things are generally down.
Same thing with the kid. Maybe the kid even got laid off and he was living out. He had the apartment or the first condo and all of a sudden, he says, “Mom, dad, I got to come home and live in the bedroom I grew up in.” All of a sudden, they say this afternoon, “Izzy’s home. The lights are on. That network marketing stuff that we poo-pooed, maybe we should go down and knock on Izzy’s store and see if he’ll give us half an hour of his time and explain what he does.” Now they’re open-minded.
By the way, I do believe this is happening not only here in the US but across the world right now where people are saying, “I need that plan B or something from the gig economy,” or whatever reference point you want to use, that there are many folks who are saying, “Job A was great for 40 years or 30 years, but it’s not so great anymore. I don’t know what it will be like going down the road because who knows what other curve balls we’ll be thrown? Hopefully none. Probably, you’ll be thrown some.” They come down and knock on your door and they say, “Izzy, could you give us a half hour of your time?” You got a 60-year-old guy and a 25-year-old guy sitting in your living room this afternoon and they say, “Why network marketing here going into 2023?”
You are you talking to my real house. That has happened to me so much during COVID. For me, COVID was the ultimate validation of what we do. I got friends and family that joked about what I did for the last many years, “Are you still doing a pill and potion motion pyramid thing?” They’ve come back saying, “During COVID, you were able to buy the condo or do all of these different things. What’s going on?” I’ve had that happen. In fact, growing up, my kids had difficulty explaining to their peer group what dad did because I was around for everything. I was at every sports event. We led a great life. I remember going on one college with some of the families, “What the heck do you do? Are you a drug dealer or something?”
Those same people have now come back and wondered why I look the way I do? Why do I live the way that I do? “Please, tell me about it.” Friends, family, all alike. COVID was the ultimate validation for our network marketing industry as a whole. Everything that we espoused back on the Shaklee days, work from home, have your own business, leverage your time, enjoy time freedom, people didn’t see that. People didn’t think that you could earn an income from home until COVID hit. Even the more traditional jobs gave people that opportunity. They’ve grown accustomed to that. You’re not going to find that in the day-to-day situations. Those people are being called back into a work environment. Whereas those of us in this industry continue to enjoy what we enjoy.
COVID was as decimating and as bad as it was overall. I lost fourteen friends and family during the COVID area. It hit me emotionally and it hit me hard. By the same token, my organization grew like never before because of that work-from-home aspect. People went, “I get it.” That was a unique time for us. We have to evolve. Network marketing is no different than any other business. Everything that worked that you and I did in our early stages of our career still work. Did you have to modify? No. The COVID era has given us a better way to do our job. I remember the beginning of launching my particular company. I would hop on a plane and fly down to Miami, California, Mexico City, or Taipei for a meeting with twenty people to get things established.
I don’t budge out of the condo for less than 50. I’ll put 50 people on a Zoom call. When you guys get 200 people in a room or 100, I’m there. That’s the ultimate validation for us. It’s that lifestyle change. A lot of people aren’t earning what they used to earn. Here in Puerto Rico, which is unfortunate, the minimum wage was $750, then they upped it to $850. The next day, they increased the utility rates by 15%, which might doubt all of that. How do you protect yourself against that? With a gig like what we’ve got, which is for all intents and purposes, not as susceptible. I’m not going to say it’s recession-proof. We still get hit, but it’s not like it affects other companies and other businesses. We’re at a better point than ever. The new tools and circumstances we’ve lived through make building more logical for people. It makes more sense.
What do you tell a 25-year-old and 60-year-old? What’s the best bottom line?
I love the Richard Brooks line. Richard has a great line. You can invest four years in college education and wind up $150,000 in debt, or you can learn what we do over the next four years and possibly earn $150,000 residual income. What makes more sense to you? As a 25-year-old way, where do you see your time investing? Quite frankly, most of the 25-year-olds that I meet don’t want to join the same club that our parents did or their parents did. The 40/40 club, 40 hours a week for 40 years to retire and 40% of the income and by 40 times sooner and shackled to a desk in office all that time. They want time freedom. They want the liberty to do what they want to do. Basic job environment isn’t going to do that. I don’t care what the career title is.
That is the appeal to those guys. You’re 25 years old. If you invest five years in what we do and you do it intelligently and you’re coachable, your life stands before you. You can retire comfortably and you can live a good life. “Dad, you’re 60 years old. I’m 64. You don’t want to go work at Walmart as a greeter, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what are you going to do with the balance of your life?”
Invest two more years in what we do and then use that to supplement your retirement. I don’t think it’s a get-rich-quick scheme. I know not everyone’s going to earn what I earn. Not anyone’s going to earn those lofty incomes. Quite frankly, that’s misleading as well. Not everybody needs $50,000, $60,000 a month. If you can’t live on $5,000 to $10,000 in most areas as a supplemental income, something’s wrong. Let’s paint this the real way, the way that Dr. Shockley used to talk about it. Keep it real, keep it honest. Those two arguments seem to make sense to people.
Look at what you’ve got, but prepare for the future intelligently. When you’ve got that income stream, Mr. 25-year-old, create multiple streams of income. That’s not joining eight different companies. That’s not multiple. Get an Airbnb, start a carwash, buy some established businesses, or invest in REITs. Make your money work for you. That way, God forbid something goes wrong, you’ve got all this coming in. Multiple income isn’t multiple companies. It’s multiple opportunities.
I have a son who’s in his first semester of college here in Texas. His girlfriend is in her second year. She’s a sophomore. Both of them are working with me, with my company a little bit. Fred, three months in a row, he was one of the top retailers, believe it or not. He got a little recognition on the internet and all that stuff in the company. It’s funny because I’m going to have him listen to what you said, because 18 to 25, you and I know that goes fast. 25, you might as well be say 75. I said to him, “by the time you get out of college, you will never need a job if you keep on the path that you are, figuring out the stuff you’re figuring out, being mentor.”
I’ve had him talk to Larry Thompson, Jeff Weisberg, Dan McCormick, and different friends of mine. They’ll call the house for something. I’m like, “Talk to my kid for five minutes.” He doesn’t even know who he’s talking to. Afterward, I’ll be like, “Let me tell you who that guy is or what he’s done.” To your point, there’s this tremendous amount of youth out there. They have all the skills because they grew up with a cell phone in their hand. They can launch a space shuttle with their telephone. They get all these skill sets and not a lot of opportunity if they don’t look at what we do. There are other things in the gig economy, but at the end of the day, they can use all that they’ve learned and played with even, because they played video games, most of them.
There’s an aspect to that that is absent in most mentorship. I got a young couple in Mexico that are now making some serious money. In Mexico, let’s face it, the income levels aren’t what they’re. One of the lessons that I teach them is a mistake that I made. My wife, God bless her, always reminds me of this. When I started making that ridiculous money in my early days, I lived like a drug lord. I bought cars. I did all kinds of stupid things. My mentor forgot to tell me one critical lesson that I didn’t learn until late in life. That is, it’s never going to matter what you earn. What’s going to matter is what you’re keeping.It's never going to matter what you earn. What's going to matter is what you're keeping. Click To Tweet
If you’re making this substantial income, especially at the early stages, bank like Matt because you want to guarantee yourself that future rock solid. Not everything lasts forever. Not everybody’s going to get a 17-year run like I got. You may only get 2 or 3 or 4 years. Not everybody hits it right on their first venture. It’s a learning curve. As you’re learning, spend to make it valid. Buy yourself the good watch and some nice clothes, but make sure you bank the resources. If I had to speak to 25-year-old Izzy, I would say, “You’re about to do some interesting things in your life, but make sure that you are taking care of that life as you go forward.”
That’s a lesson that we often forget. A lot of the companies out there, not naming names, bring in the youth under the hype of this accelerated lifestyle. “Go get the BMW. Go get the car.” You’re bankrupting these kids before they start. I go the other way. “You’re going to make some serious money. Set it aside. Be prudent. Let’s look at this long-term.” As a mentor, that’s my obligation to get that message across.
I had a good lesson in that early into my career. My first company was Herbalife. You remember what happened. April ‘83. I joined. Everything’s great and wonderful. In January ‘84, we start hearing rumors about the FDA and Mark Hughes having some issues. By January ‘85, the company’s at $90 million a month in sales. I had to fly from New York to Charlotte, where my upline was, rent the U-Haul truck with my sponsor, who was also from New York, drive to the Atlanta distribution center. We get there 5:00 in the morning and we’re number 175 on line or some ridiculous thing.
By the time we pick up our product, it’s afternoon. To drive it back to New York because we didn’t get this stuff fast enough and then what happened? FDA, big issue between the company and the government and wasn’t handled real well, honestly, by the Herbalife folks. That could have been handled differently. Our checks start to disappear. I didn’t have big checks to begin with. I was making a living, but I didn’t have a big income. I used to go to meetings. You know this place, Saddle Brook, Marriott, Saddle Brook, New Jersey.
That’s where my upline would do his meetings. I would go there on whatever it was, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. All of a sudden, the Jaguars, the Mercedes, the Porsches are replaced by Volkswagens and the equivalent. You could see that transition. They’ve done an amazing recovery through the years. God bless them. I’m glad they not only survived but flourished.
To that point, I saw that. To your point, and most importantly, all you young guys and gals reading this, save the money. Pay your taxes. Don’t get yourself in tax trouble. Don’t get yourself in another trouble. Save the money for that first home, condo, or place you’re going to live so that you’ve got something. If it only does last 2 or 3 years, you got something for it and then you move on. The skills are transportable to the next business that you go into.
Towards that point, I’ll share a personal story real quick. We talked about gurus and such. This business isn’t complicated. People want to make it more than what it is. It’s nothing more than emoting your story, having faith in your product, and sharing with conviction. That’s it. You add some other stuff in there, like proper tools and whatnot.
Once you’ve mastered those basics, then you become impervious to situations that would cripple others. In the early 2000s, I was involved as the cofounder of a pretty successful network market that came out of nowhere with an American icon. If I showed you his picture, people threw money at us. We associated with this guy. It was remarkable, the most highly regarded businessman of his day. We went out and rented an entire hotel at Delray Marriott in Delray, Florida.
We invited the top network marketers into that arena so they could join us. It was mind-blowing. In the final analysis, that individual bailed out on us. I remember I lost my entire life savings. I had put everything I had into this company. My family invested in it. When it went under, we got wiped out. So much so that I remember being at that meeting on the eleventh floor, listening to the fact that this individual would no longer be with us, realizing we hailed. I was leaning over the railing thinking, “Where should I land? I’m about to get humiliated. I am not dead broke.” My son put his hand on my shoulders and said, “Dad, you’ll survive.” I went into a year-long depression. When I finally snapped out of it, I had lost it all.
I had a jet, yacht, the whole nonsense, all the stupid trappings. The lesson that I learned was it didn’t matter that much. It was humiliating, but it taught me gratitude. It taught me to appreciate what I did have and what was left over. I was grateful that I’d mastered the lessons I did because the company I’m with came into my life. The lessons that I learned helped me to rebuild. Within about four years, I was more than back on my feet enjoying this particular lifestyle.
It’s not only important to be a prudent guardian of your assets, you need to understand what this business is. Eliminate the noise and the trappings. Be real and human. Share your story. Follow the basics because those basics will pay dividends over time. Don’t complicate this. Network marketing isn’t complicated unless you make itself. It’ll redeem almost any mistake you make. I speak from experience.
To your point, we can always recover because our skills are transportable. You went through that terrible circumstance and yet, at the end of the day, you knew how to sponsor people, retail product, recruit, train, and lead, most importantly. You had all of that and you said, “Vehicle A is broken, so I’m going to find vehicle B.” You did. Here you are and you obviously more than recovered extremely well.
I remember it was Christmas after that debacle. I had no money for Christmas. I was so broke that they cut my lights off and took the meter off the house. The story is gut-wrenching. That’s how big a fault it was. I took a job at Toys “R” Us when it existed at night so nobody would see me because everybody knew me. I remember my job was to stock Barbies. This eighteen-year-old kid is telling me to ask my boss what to do.
I remember sitting there looking at Barbies. I freaking hate Barbie, thinking, “I ran this huge multinational organization and I’m stocking Barbies.” That was my a-ha moment. I got up, I walked out, walked home, and told my wife, “Enough. We’re starting over.” Here we are. It’s the basics. We’re human. We forget what we learned. We give it that moment of grief, but we move on. This industry is wonderful for rebuilding and giving you a second chance or that first chance. I believe in it with all my heart.
There’s a certainly a lot of teaching moments in that. You’re standing there and you’re having that George Bailey moment when he is standing at the bridge and it’s a wonderful life and saying, “I can bail or I can persevere.” You persevered, obviously. What was your greatest lesson? Having to stock Barbies, that’s bad enough. What was the greatest value that you hoped now from that experience?
There were a lot of issues. Number one, and my wife reinforces this, I had built my self-worth of what others had thought about me, but more about what I had than others didn’t. In other words, the stupid trappings of the day, the big boat, the big car, all of that nonsense. I placed way too much value on the material aspects that I had. When they disappeared, so did what I thought was my self-worth. I learned that that doesn’t matter. What other people perceive to be my success isn’t my success. It was in my children. It was in the respect that I garnered for my friends. Once I let go of that, life became so much easier and things came that much quicker. I remember my first date with my wife when I met her.
She said, “Of all the things you want, what would you like back?” I said, “I’d love my plane back.” She looked at me and said, “Who the hell are you? The pope, the president, you can’t fly on JetBlue?” Those are lessons that you sometimes forget. It’s not in what you accumulate, it’s in the relationships that you develop. I’ve got relationships with people in this industry that I don’t do business with, that I’ve never met, but that I regard almost like family. I learned that lesson the hard way. It wasn’t the assets that made me what I was and it wasn’t the accolades, it was the relationships that I forged. That was a hard lesson to accept. I grew up poor. I thought you got to have all these things to make you look a success. Once you stop faking it until you make it and you try to project it until you perfect it, that’s bull.
I’ve learned that my greatest success in this industry has come from standing naked in front of people and letting them get to know me with no humor, no ego. If you want to do business with me, great. John, you and I will never likely do a network marketing company together, but the reality is, now that we know each other and we understand each other, I could call you up on the phone and go, “John, what are you doing? You come into Puerto Rico. Let’s go break bread.” That’s the value. That’s the lesson that I learned.
It’s the greatest industry in the world. Some of the friendships that you and I have, some of the guys we met. Our friend, Joe Garcia. Joe’s not in your company. Joe’s not in my company, but what a great guy he is. He is such a great connector and such a quality human being that you get to meet these people and it’s like, “I never would’ve met these people if I had done what my degree said I was supposed to do when I graduated college.” I couldn’t find a job, and network marketing walked into my life when I was still in college.
Towards that end, on social media, you’re not going to find me doing a lot about my company. We’ve created such an echo chamber on social media. People tune it out. If you look me up on Facebook, I share humor and my lifestyle, the things I do with my wife, my kids. Every great now and then, I’ll put something up on about the company. I find that when people get to know who you are, absent the mask, that’s when the relationship forge. That’s where the interest comes in, in what you do. How do you do all this stuff? The last three people that have joined were because of that. Never once talked about business could care less about it. I’d much rather go that route, which is the fundamental about network marketing. It’s about the relationship. A lot of us have forgotten that.Network marketing is about the relationship. A lot of us have forgotten that. Click To Tweet
I can tell you from a personal standpoint, as a family, we went through a tragedy. It was with my oldest daughter. She doesn’t mind me telling the story. I’ll share it with you because I don’t think you know this story. She had gotten into a bad relationship and gotten addicted to a bad drug. Thank God through the grace of God and good medicine that we got her in a place where she got cleaned up. Now, she is a preacher, believe it or not. She lives in California. She’s preaching a gospel, thank God. When we went through that, I found out so quickly, the arms that went around me and my family, we had people praying for us. My Mexican organization, for example, one of the girls down there started a WhatsApp prayer group in Spanish.
I speak about seven words of Spanish. Now I speak about nine. Anyway, a prayer group. It wasn’t just my company. It was in the industry. People that I hadn’t talked to in years and said, “I heard about this. I’m praying for you and your family.” We saw the power of prayer, number one. It inspired my wife and myself to recommit to our faith. As importantly, there were all these great network marketing people. Some of which were in a company that I built years ago in Canada that reached out to me.
In some cases, I was surprised they themselves when they were younger, had experienced something like that. I’d love to have you to talk about that because you’ve had life experiences as a result of these relationships that don’t make you money necessarily, but they’re more important than the money in the grand scheme of things.
Those relationships for me span the globe. I’ve got a gentleman in the Philippines. He got Corey Augustine. Corey’s out in the Philippines. He was the publisher of MLM News, MLM Insider. Corey and I have never met. Corey’s a cranky guy. A lot of people would turn off when they see his post because he’s out there. Over the course of the last several years, I’ve gotten to know the inside of Corey. While he may be a prickly pair on the outside, that’s a relationship that I value deeply. Through sheer happenstance, someone that you’re going to feature I know on one of your calls, a gentleman named Paul. Paul’s a top earner in his company.
Paul and I hit it off. We share a commonality and similar perspectives. We’ve had lunch together. I’ve appeared on some of his calls. He and I will likely never do anything within the industry, but because of his insights, mannerism, and perspective, our mutual love for what goes on has a relationship that I cherish deeply. There are countless people across the spectrum that I will never ever meet. Like Joe Garcia, another one. Joe’s been at his company as long as I have. We’re not going anywhere. I’m not recruiting him. He’s not recruiting me.
We share insights that are unique to this industry. It’s a result of social media, obviously. These are experiences that you’re likely not to get anywhere else. The places that I’ve been through in the world, how the heck would I have been there? Fifty-some odd countries, hundreds of cities if it weren’t for this industry. You and you and I, this is a casual get-together that led to a phone call. Now I know that you and I are going to bump into each other constantly and reach out to each other.
I get emotional about stuff like this because I do cherish these people. My wife often thinks, “Why do you wax on about so many of these folks?” I’ll never meet them, but they’ve made an impact. They’ve touched me in certain ways. The same thing holds true to my reps. I’ve got reps around the globe that I never meet. In fact, this young couple that I’m talking about, I’ve been working with them now for a few years. I haven’t met them. I’m going to meet them in four weeks in Cancun because he qualified for one of our trips. I love these kids like family because of their spirit and drive. That’s something that you get to forge in networking that you don’t get to do in many businesses.
I love what you’re saying there. You’re so right because it enriches us. It’s like you get the same question I do, “When are you going to retire?” Retire to do what, talk less? What are we going to do? There are only so many golf balls you can hit.
That statement makes me wonder. There was a time when I thought, “How will I do this in my old age? How am I going to get it on an airplane at 70, 80 years old to go meet with these people, assuming I’m still doing what I do?” The reality is that the newest iterations of this business are predicated on what social media and technology are affording. You’ve got 80-year-old people, 90-year-old people doing this.
One of the top earners, look at Tommy Smith over in Isagenix, he’s now probably in his late 70s, early 80s. He’s still as active as he ever was. Why? It’s because he doesn’t have to run around to do it anymore. You do the Zoom calls, you go out to the conventions, you meet your people. This has become an ageless industry because of the advent of what is afforded now.
Technology, you and I are old dogs. I’m sure you’re using some. What do you like? What don’t you like?
I love that I can be here in my condo with my wife in Puerto Rico, enjoy the environment, and still build globally. I don’t have to hop on a plane in a week, a month and accumulate a gazillion miles. You might call it a bit of laziness, but at 64 years old, it’s a nice convenience. In my 40s and 30s, that was great fun, but now in my 60s, I like this a little bit better. What do I miss? Exactly that, the fact that I don’t have that one-on-one contact, that immediate feedback that those give. Technology has been both a boom and bust. People think you will build a massive organization via social media.
I only know a handful of people who have done it to an extreme. The ones that have been successful at it, I admire like nobody’s business. Naming names, take a girl like Amber Voight. Look her up. Amber is in longevity. She went from, to quote her story, to paraphrase, trailer home to custom home. She did it all online, but her product line was geared towards that. She was able to do cosmetic parties. Not every product is going to allow you to do that.
In the younger market, people like John Melton over at Modere. John has been able to tap into a youth market because he’s in that category. He’s used social media correctly to engage in that. Social media can be a boom or bust, depending on how engaged you want to be with it, how you want to capitalize on it.
I don’t make a big deal of it. I’m an old dog. I still love the basics, but the basics of adopted to this. I don’t post a lot of business stuff on social media. I’m not that aggressive. Maybe it’s because I have the luxury that I don’t have to be. I’m not in that super-duper-aggressive mode where I’m recruiting tons of people. I have the luxury of being in that established mode. COVID did do a lot for us. It allowed us to continue to grow. It did validate the work-from-home aspect. It depends on where on the equation, where on the fence you sit.
We have the same opinions. My favorite technology, though is what we’re doing right now, Zoom. Think about it. In the old days, it’d be like, come to Dallas and we’ll go down to Dallas Sound Lab and I’ll spend about $3,000. We’ll shoot some video and then we’re going to have to get a guy to edit it. I showed Randy Gates and Larry Thompson, Dan, all the guys this. This was how I started in 1996, 1997. I left a company and I went my company several years ago. The funny part is my son about a few years ago is cleaning the garage. He comes in the house and he says to me, “What is this?”
I start the sales pitch. I said, “Let me tell you, this is what I put together.” He’s looking at me. He goes, “What are you talking about? Dad, what is it?” I go, “It’s a cassette tape. This is what we used to stick into car stereos.” He’s like, “I’ve never seen one.” All of a sudden, I realized it’s not just the technology itself, it was the delivery system of the technology that’s changed.
To that end, I love the fact that many of our companies are now app driven. To your point, back in the day, it was either a cassette tape or a DVD. We had to mail it out. There were postages. You had to wait through the delivery time. You didn’t know if they saw it. Follow up became an arduous process. This whole going from brick-and-mortar to the click-and-order concept has been transcribed down to us. With the apps, most of us have them, you can deliver that video instantly.
The app, in most cases, will even tell you he saw it, how much of it did he see. You can do the follow up. It’s such an amazing world. It’s sped everything up and made it, in my opinion, so much more fun, practical, and easy to duplicate at this point. Everybody knows how to use an app. Everybody knows what a video is. We all text. I love this new era that we’re in. I’m enjoying it immensely.
Wrapping up, because I know you got the owner of your company calling you there. I’m sure that that’s pretty important. Let me tell you, guys, reading, If you listen for the first time, a little bit about where you get our book, Moving Up: 2020 and Beyond, which came out in 2020, not knowing that 2020 would be 2020. Anyway, it’s still available on Amazon, Amazon bestseller. What I do in my books, by the way, is I put in a lot of stories about people in our industry. It’s not about me, it’s about them and the teams that we’ve built and people we work with. Joe’s in a couple of these books, by the way. I know you know him and some of the other guys.
By the way, these are all digital. They’re also available. Izzy, I know a lot of your team speaks Spanish. They’re available in Spanish as well. They’re digital and they’re all on Amazon if you’re interested. I don’t make money selling books, folks. I make money building my network marketing business, but the books are certainly an aid. We’ve got a lot of folks written about in these books. Once again, it represents a multitude of different companies. Izzy, let’s come back to you for the last word. You’re a happy guy. You’ve had an extraordinary life. Tell me what the future looks like.
The future for the industry, in my particular case, my company is part of a rocky story. Not rocky in terms of rocky. It’s that comeback story. I love that. I love being part of a continuing legacy that helps change lives in many different aspects. Not just for my company but the industry itself. I love network marketing. Network marketing has not seen its golden era yet. This new phase with these new technologies will be creating some amazing stories. I love some of the real leaders, the proven ones that are coming up the ranks. It still validates what network marketing was all about, that solid ethical core and the companies that offer real value-driven products. By the same token, I’m waiting patiently for this latest phase of network marketing that’s driven by these shiny light-type things to dissipate what we can give back to the core companies.
Over many years of my career, I’ve seen it peak and go. I’ve seen iterations of this happen. It’s the normal biorhythm of the business. I couldn’t be in a better place. I couldn’t be associated with better people. I couldn’t have more fun than what I was doing. I can’t imagine a better point in time to join our industry, as you asked, as that burgeoning, exciting 25-year-old superstar or as that 60-year-old wondering, “What do I do next? How do I correct what I’ve done?” There’s a world here where everybody can fit if they’re willing to learn the basics, put in the time, and have some faith in what they’re doing, mostly in themselves, back to that self-improvement. You got to fix you before you fix the world.
Great advice. This has been a fun interview. It’s been great. Folks, I hope you’re taking notes because this is somebody who’s done it. This is not a network marketing guru. This is a network marketing leader. There is a difference, folks. I don’t mean to slam the gurus, but most of them aren’t earning a check in the industry as independent distributors like Izzy does each and every month. Listen to some of the wisdom that he shared. There is stuff here for the ages, my friends. I want to thank you once again. I look forward to getting to know each other better. I will get down to Puerto Rico. It’s starting to get cold in Dallas. You never know. I might show up knocking on your door in the next couple of months.
The first round of piña coladas are on me. This is where they were invented.
I didn’t know that. Thank you so much.
- Izzy Matos
- Ben Gay III – Past Episode
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Magic of Believing
- The Greatest Networker
- Moving Up: 2020 and Beyond
About Izzy Matos
Founding Independent Business Partner/Presidential Director at Stemtech.