Business leaders are called to hone their knowledge and skills to the highest levels in order to inspire and navigate their team well. The first step to accomplishing this is by leading through reading: learning from other people whose expertise and advice are embodied within the books they have written. John Solleder sits down with his long-time friend and co-author of the book Leave Nothing To Chance, Foster Owusu. Foster shares how sifting through the pages of inspirational and informative books helped him survive the challenging life in Canada and found success in Canada through network marketing. Together, they underline the most important foundation every entrepreneur must establish their business upon: the desire to touch other people’s lives through love.
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From Ghana To Canada With Success With Foster Owusu, Co-Author Of Leave Nothing To Chance
This is a show based on the book, Leave Nothing to Chance, written by myself and a gentleman you’re going to meet, my co–writer and good friend, Foster Owusu, up in beautiful Toronto, Canada. Foster has got an amazing life story. We’re going to be introducing you to people who have amazing life stories. They happened to be network marketers. They happened to be able to share lots of information but they’re interesting and compelling people. I want to invite you to follow us. We have a WhatsApp group that we’re developing for this, Leave Nothing to Chance, underneath that name. We’ll be having some other groups on social media as we develop the show. This is the very first one. I felt like who better than my cowriter, Foster Owusu, to be the first person that we would interview about Leave Nothing to Chance, something that’s been his baby and my baby now for a few years since we started working on this.
It has been long delivered but here we are, John.
Neither one of us can relate to having a baby physically but launching a book and a brand is not as close as you get but we have felt some similar growth pains perhaps growing this product.
I said to somebody some time back, I said, “It’s a major task when you have two professionals, two individuals that are equally of competitive nature put in a project together.” It’s almost like we wanted to get this perfectly done. That was partly part of the reason why it took us long because we were not satisfied with producing a book. We wanted to produce a very high–quality book. I’m glad that we waited and gave it the due time.
We did. There have been things that have happened in the world before we launched this book, things that we didn’t foresee happening, things that even happened within the network marketing industry. I want to go back, Foster. You have such an amazing life story. The path that you’ve walked as a human being long before you knew about network marketing is an interesting one. Starting in Ghana as a child, share a little bit about your youth some of the things that happened and influenced you both may be on a negative level and more importantly, on a positive level.
You and I have known each other for years. It’s always good for people to get perspectives on life. Part of my journey is one that has a lot of dark sides but on the positive side, life has been good. I was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. Unfortunately for me, my parents died when I was young. My mom in particular died when I was only seven years old. Before I turned fifteen, I had also lost my dad. That part of my journey was dark. It’s been very painful for a long time. To this point, when I’m talking about it, I get emotional.
I’ve shared this story many times. Sometimes, you hold your tears and make sure that people don’t see too much of you breaking down. The truth of the matter is it was tough, especially growing up in a country where there’s a lot of love but there’s not a lot of social infrastructures that support situations like some of this death, that requires some grieving and a counselor that will make a person realize that life must go on somewhat.A person must have this desire for life to have meaning. Click To Tweet
That type of counseling wasn’t available for me. Fortunately, I made it to North America to a beautiful country called Canada. This is where the real magic happened. I saw the opportunity where an average person with an extraordinary desire to want to do something, not only for himself but for the greater good can do more and become more. This is where the journey of this conversation is going to take on because it’s been many years now since I embarked on this journey. It‘s been such a beautiful journey.
What month of the year did you arrive in Canada?
I came to Canada in May of 1986. I experienced this climate shock, not culture shock. I remember in May, I first landed in Montreal and I had to go to a particular farm. It was cold picking things like tomatoes and stuff from a farm. I thought that was winter. I was freezing. I remember being told that, “If you think this is winter, you wait. If there’s something worse than this then I’m in trouble.” Thankfully, many years later, I’m still alive.
You’re living and working in Toronto for all the years that I have. I have a lot of friends like yourself that are from Ghana. I’ve got another friend from India and we all share that laugh. It’s like, “Did they warn you guys about what winter is like in Canada?” It doesn’t sound like they gave you the real view of what a Canadian winter was going to be like.
There’s nothing like having that experience firsthand. Anybody that has gotten some education understands the basic geographical locations of almost every country. Simple things like History, Geography, Math and English, are the basic standard course that you must take even to finish high school. We had a general knowledge but to know that there is a climate, in a typical winter could be almost like being in a freezer. That was not something anybody could have described. Imagine I’m from a tropical country. I know that you love your fruits and you love all that natural stuff but if you have never tasted a banana and somebody had to describe a banana to your taste, that is not an easy job. As simple as it is banana you said, it’s sweet, you can’t give it a sweet taste to somebody without them practicing it and having that experience. We knew about winter but I’m telling you there was nothing like touching and feeling how cold it can be.
You have been in Canada for a long time. You built a wonderful family. Your wife and your children are all doing well. You’ve had this very successful career in network marketing now spanning many decades. You wrote a book prior to Leave Nothing to Chance. What’s your other book?
The book, How to Fire Your Boss and Hire Yourself, was an inspiration where it got to a point where you are doing okay but our business is not about just you doing okay. You’re trying to find ways to inspire others. I thought the title How to Fire Your Boss and Hire Yourself, normally is a very catchy title. It was a goal to use that as a recruiting tool and to use it as a training book. That gave me a little bit of leverage where not only that I could say that I’ve been in the industry for over two decades at a time, I could prove that I have experienced some level of success. The moment you put your story in a book, it is there to stay. That book, not only started gaining attention, as we put in English and Spanish. Every place that I have had the opportunity to step foot, has given me the recognition that we all need and deserve. I’m glad that I took that project.
A few years back now, you and I had lunch in Toronto and I said, “Foster, we should do a book together.” I had done the Moving Up series, the three books of Moving Up at that point too. We decided on this and this concept of Leave Nothing to Chance but let’s talk about it. There are fifteen very winning principles in that book. What’s your favorite?We can read all the books, but it takes more than just being excited about life to survive this journey. Click To Tweet
For me personally, I’d considered a tough question, John and I would say tough in the sense that I love all the fifteen principles. If I were to pick one, it would be principle number nine for a very simple reason. You and I would not have put this book together for me personally if it wasn’t because that principle talks about love. Here we are now and books are being sold but you and I had cash in a check but yet we’ll put out our money and our time to put a project that not only has our name on it and it’s going to become our legacy book.
It’s also a book that is going to touch many lives, that is our goal to make sure that what we’ve gone through, the lessons that we’ve learned will be able to benefit somebody. This would not have happened if it wasn’t for love. The fact that we’re in an industry where a real achievement is based on how many people they have helped or how many lives they have touched. In this industry, everything that Principle 9 talks about is about love. I personally don’t know of any profession where the person at the very top is reaching to somebody at the bottom and say, “Come to where I’m at.”
Most of the time, this industry gets labored in many ways. If somebody has a beautiful home and that person is trying to encourage somebody to have a beautiful home, if a person is not careful, they will say things like, “You’re being materialistic.” It’s the only industry that I know that the person who already has something wants somebody else to have it. Where I used to work, I never had a boss who wanted to teach me everything that he knew so that I will become as good as he is.
I’m giving a long answer but to say that when you and I sat and started thinking about this idea, one of the things that we agreed on, we said, “We’ve done a lot of great things together. We’d been friends for all these years. If tomorrow you and I are not here now, our children will not know the relationship we have. Worst of all, we may probably go in our grave leaving some great information unprinted.” This book has been inspired by a lot of things because we are at the stage in our lives, you and I, if we decide to be very selfish, which we are not, there’s no way we’re going to stop.
You and I will be able to take care of ourselves. If we don’t think about families, if we don’t think about friends, we can survive. There’s a lot of love in this Principle 9 that I believe if a person is going to build this industry, they need to take that to heart and realize. You and I have a background in faith that we believe that we’ve been instructed, that the greatest of all command is to love. I’m glad that we’d put that in there.
It’s biblical where it starts and finishes, Alpha and Omega and love is a great principle. I share that with you as a couple of others that I’m passionate about but now it’s about you. Let me ask you this, you are an extremely well-read individual. I know that from personal experience because every time I get your car, you’re handing me something else that you’re reading right then, that you need me to look at either quick or you’re giving me a copy of. Young Foster Owusu comes from Ghana, lands in Canada, gets his job, starts to pay the bills, starts to struggle as most people do coming from another country. Somewhere along the line somebody either handed you a book, you purchased a book, you tripped across a book. Tell me the story. What was the first book that ever influenced Foster Owusu?
There’s a book called The Magic of Thinking Big. This is by Dr. David J. Schwartz. That book does something powerful. For me, it changed my environment, the way I think for the past few decades since this book got introduced to me. It’s like an affirmation book of everything that I had believed but could not put my finger on something. The Magic of Thinking Big is one of those books that helps you to look alive and put things in perspective for not that everything has to be big but it has to be big in the way you think. You can’t think small.
It‘s one of those books that brought a total transformation in my life. My first network marketing company was big on personal development. It was my very first book that I experienced. I was glad that it landed on me because the president of that company was an individual who also believes in personal development. Not only that, that was the first book. It did not end there. It put me in the driver’s seat where it’s almost like every single month from that time to now, there’s not a single month that has gone by that I have not invested in a book. That book unlocked the freedom there for me.Ego can get out of hand once you have accomplished something and having the feeling that you should get all the attention. Click To Tweet
From that book, that was maybe the one that influenced you earliest on. I know you read constantly. I know this is tough. Give me the three most important books that you’ve read in this lifetime.
One book for sure that I will go for is an excellent book called Man’s Search for Meaning. It was a book written by Viktor Frankl. When I read this book for the first time, it was one of those survivor books, those survivor stories. He’s an individual that has written a book from firsthand experience. He’s a Holocaust survivor. When he wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning, he was making the case that the people who survive were the ones who wanted to live. I also like the fact that he pointed something out saying that, “There were people who wanted to live and they still died.” He wasn’t trying to belittle the fact that the ones who did not live, it was their fault.
What he was trying to say in the book, at least the gist of the book is, a person must have this desire to want to live, for life to have meaning. If not, it’s easy to surrender. We’ve had an amazing career in this industry but it did not come without a price. It did not come without growing. It did not come without stretch. It did not come without making sacrifices. All these things are what keeps us in the game. You and I know that people who have joined this industry, the same time you joined, the same time that I joined and they’re nowhere to be found. They have moved on to other things, maybe greater things. We don’t know. What I know is it’s not everybody that stays in the game. That’s one thing that this book talks about. I am so much into loving some of these live survivors’ stories.
Another book that I love is by Nelson Mandela. A book called Long Walk to Freedom. Not only that Nelson Mandela is a great example of a person who has the determination to fight and stand for what is right. This man has something that I would say most people would not have. I’ll give you a good example. When he was in prison, besides the fact that he was in prison for 27 years or slightly longer than that, his first son died. By the South African culture, he had to bury his first son.
The only way he could have had that opportunity to bury his son was to somehow surrender and withdraw everything that he was fighting for. He had to denounce certain things for them to allow him the opportunity to go and bury his son. He flat out refused because that would have caused him to lose the fight. If that does not tell you something about that individual, I read a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. and it says, “If a man is not prepared to die for what they believe then they are not fit to live.” Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes.
The third book for me is on leadership. This is why this book is important. In our business, we can read all the books but it takes more than being excited about life to survive this journey. There’s a book that I read called The Servant. It’s written by a fellow by the name of James C. Hunter. He talked about leadership but more so from a servant leadership point of view. You and I have admiration for somebody like John C. Maxwell. He’s written more books on leadership using biblical principles. What I like about James C. Hunter’s book is the fact that he told stories that almost the average person can relate to. To paint a picture and closing on this, we know somebody like Warren Buffett. Imagine this business icon that we all admire, assuming he disappears and we don’t hear about Warren Buffett.
You and I decided to maybe one day go on a retreat. You checked into a lower lodge, not a hotel, nothing fancy, only to find out that your toilet is leaking something is wrong. You call for a plumber and guess who showed up? Somebody that looks like Warren Buffett. Who can tell that this is Warren Buffett but you couldn’t call him Warren Buffett because now he’s using a different name? In no time, you get to realize that it’s Warren Buffett coming to fix your toilet. He told us the story in such a way that if a person like Warren Buffett can serve you and me. You and I have examples in the Bible where we know what Jesus did before. He went on the cross. He washed His disciples’ feet.
You and I are nothing new but what I’m saying is to the average person who is in the business world, written a book like that. We’re in a business where you know that our ego can get out of hand because once you have accomplished something, you feel that you should get all the attention. That can get in the way of even bigger success. Reading books like that on leadership for me is humbling. I’m all in for such knowledge.Nobody can do something without knowing the why behind it. Click To Tweet
To add to that too, when you write like you and I have a few books in our lives but you realize what some of these people were going through to your point, to be able to capture it and after we live it, in some cases. Sometimes very horrible experiences, for example, but let’s talk about now. You share in the philosophy that I do, that all leaders do, that all leaders are readers and all readers are leaders. It works both ways. What are you reading?
I’m reading a book that happens to be right in front of me is a book by Dr. Alan Zimmerman. It’s called The Payoff Principle. I‘m reading this book because we had a point in our lives where from day one, we had our why before us. Every time that I talk about why I want to be very careful because for some people being driven by why, they think you should have your how before the why. For me, it’s the opposite. If I did not have a why reason, it would be difficult for me to get up every single day and do what I do. If I did not have the family responsibility, if I did not have the desire to make sure that I am there to support my family and to give them the best that life has to offer, I could be the average lazy boy. Some people have chosen that, they’re minimalists. It’s okay and it’s working for them.
Even now when I’m doing something, even if it’s to reward somebody first, I still want to know that payoff. I still want to know, am I doing this knowing that is going to better somebody’s life? If it is going to better somebody then there’s a payoff. It doesn’t have to be my payoff. I don’t know how a person can get anything done without a big why behind it. On the same note, when I wrote my first book, chapter one, I talked about having this emotional why. I use the gazelle and the lion. The reason why I’m passionate about this why is because I have been on a safari. I have watched the way the lion and the gazelle operate when they’re on this safari.
When the gazelle wakes in the morning, it knows it must run but it doesn’t end there. The lion also knows it must run but it must outrun the gazelle. Otherwise, it’s going to go to bed hungry. At the same time, that gazelle also knows that it must outrun the lion otherwise it’s going to be dead. When you know that you’re going to become somebody’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, don’t sit back and relax. It’s easy to cross your fingers and say things will work out without an action. Even though you and I believe that this will work out because almost every challenge that we face, either collectively or individually.
One of the things that I like about you and our friendship is you always come out with this, “We’ll figure it out.” It doesn’t mean that it comes easy but it’s almost like, “Let’s find out what the problem is. Let’s come up with a solution.” This type of creative way of solving the problem would not have happened without some level of knowledge and also a reason why we need to do those tests to solve the problem because they can easily get in the way of our success, distractions here and there. The Payoff Principle is a new book that I’m reading and is exciting.
All the other ones you mentioned I’m very familiar with but that’s a new one, for me and for our readers. Once again, Foster, I know you share the same sentiment. We‘ve written books so we want people to read. If you’re in network marketing, you should read them. We’re from the trenches. We do this for a living. We support our families through network marketing. When we write a book, you can bet we’ve done the stuff in the book. You can’t always count on that with some folks. All these other books too are going to bless you. Build an abundance of books. When you’ve gone to the next life and your kids go through your stuff, make sure there are good books. Some books that they’re going to value, that they’re going to read and share with your grandkids.
Your TV set will be replaced. It will be outdated probably by the time they get it anyway but books never get old, concepts never get old. Let’s talk about another concept, Foster, unrelated to books. Everything relates back to reading and knowledge. We’re in an industry where a lot of new people are joining the industry because of a lot of factors. The biggest one being the pandemic has forced people that perhaps were never thinking of getting involved in network marketing and say, “Let me make sure I’ve got a Plan B.”
Your advice to a new person getting started to get off to a fast start. What are the things they can do the first two days, the first two weeks, the first two months to ramp up and get their business started even if they’re part-time? They go back to do whatever they did previously when the pandemic goes away, hopefully it will. When it does, if it does, or if it doesn’t for that matter, what should they do to build a business quickly and efficiently to get themselves started in this extra time that people now have being home so much?Television will get outdated and be replaced, but books will never get old. Click To Tweet
If a person has already made a decision but they are fairly new, my recommendation would be to work closely with the person who introduced you to the company but please find out somebody in that line of leadership, find out somebody who is successful somebody who has attained a level of success, somebody who has something that you want. This is the person you want to start speaking with and talking to on a regular basis. It is something that most people don’t do but I’m telling you, it will save you a lot of a problem and time. More often than not, you have somebody come into our type of industry and they are looking at the person that introduced them. That person may not necessarily have the drive. You may come from behind but you want something bigger and better. If you don’t have somebody that can inspire you, that can hinder your success. You want to quickly get ahold of somebody. That’s the very first thing.
The second thing is you want to start learning everything but learn in a way that you’re going to start thinking about how I’m going to teach it to somebody. If you are learning something with no future plans of teaching it to somebody, you can be very casual about it. In our business, real success is not about how well you’re doing but how well you and your team are doing. Everything that you’re going to be learning, make sure that you’ll be able to teach. To do that, you have to learn it well. You and I know that every time we sit in front of somebody that we’ll consider a mentor, the moment they start speaking, we grabbed pen and paper. We start taking notes.
The reason why we do that is that we don’t want to miss anything. I was talking to somebody and made it into something very deep. I could see the person was sitting there listening. All I had to say to this person was, “If you know that this information that you are taking from me is something that you’re going to have to teach somebody, would you change the way you are listening to me?” Right away, the person grabbed a pen and paper. You see the difference. He was relying on his memory but the moment he realized that at some point he may have to go and teach somebody, it changed the attitude. You and I would not be here, doing what we do if we have not taken notes. We’re not the smartest people but frankly, there’s enough evidence that we were good students. That’s why we’re where we are now. Be a good student, for sure we can bet on that.
He’s been gone for a few years now and he was up there in years. A lot of people never got a chance to meet him but I know you spend time with one of the greats, one of the pillars of this industry, Mr. Rich DeVos, way back. What was that experience like?
I didn’t know you were going to go there. This man has been gone a few years now but I can tell you his spirit lives in my home because I have stuff in my home with his name on it. That was personally presented to me. It says “You are the difference.” His name is Rich DeVos. When I first joined his company, there was a contest going on, similar to our incentive trips. I was new in the industry. I’ve never joined a network marketing company but I was hungry for something. The recommendation from my leader at the time was if you want to meet this man, the way you’ve been talking about, you need to qualify because that’s the only place you get to meet him.
I said, “What do I need to do?” He showed me how at the time you need to qualify for a particular rank. All I can say is not only that I achieved that but I achieved it in a timely manner. At this particular banquet, he came and tapped me on my shoulder. I’m meeting this man for the first time. Imagine being tapped on the shoulder, he goes, “Son, you have the right posture. You keep doing what you do. I guarantee you will become successful someday.” That feeling has never left me. If you imagine even way back then, there was a list of the World 101 Richest People on the Fortune magazine. He was somewhere around number 65 and these were all billionaires. Apart from his wisdom, his life accomplishments alone to say that, not only that I’ve read a lot of his books but to have met this man who tapped me on the shoulder, that was the best blessing.
I’ve seen some of the pictures that you have with him. It was special because those are early pioneers of our industry. You and I were lucky to know one or more of. Some of the newer folks that we’ll be interviewing on here never had that opportunity to meet those people. It’s a blessing. You stand on the shoulders of giants when you are in the industry as long as you have been. You started where you started and you met Rich DeVos or Rich DeVos believed in you before anybody probably believed in you besides you. You got to believe in yourself first or you wouldn’t have shown up but what a blessing that must have been. Last couple of words of advice to the folks that are going to reading this across the world over the next few years.
The industry has changed quite a bit. Particularly during this era of the pandemic, there was a time when you tell people that you can build a successful home–based business. Since the beginning of this pandemic, there are a lot of corporate executives who have made it possible for their staff to work from home. People are beginning to realize that you can work from home. The opportunity is real. Among many things that I admire you from the time you left college and now, you’ve been very consistent. That focus has proven itself that when a person finds something that works, it can build a lifetime and some of this generational wealth. Here we are talking about your success, my success but more so about the ones to come, future leaders. Even if you have something going for you right now, stop thinking about plan B and plan C. What that means is don’t hold on to that full-time job.
When I wrote my book, How to Fire Your Boss and Hire Yourself, it was more a security statement than trying to eliminate an employer. I’m not trying to but my philosophy is if somebody gives you a fish, it will only last you a day and that’s all you have. If you can learn how to fish for yourself, you can feed yourself and your family. That’s where our type of business comes in. Even if a person has a job, there’s no better part-time opportunity than this. Think about it, even if you have a part-time job and I’ve worked a part-time job in my early years working for UPS, going to school and working.
After working with UPS for say a year, if you’re putting in twenty hours at night, after a year you get your last check and you’re finished. The same way you put the same twenty hours a week in our business part-time, a year from now, a good company like ours, you will still have something to hold on to for the rest of your life. It goes to show that when you find a good company and every company has something to brag about but I tell people, you have to know something that is in alignment with your core values. You and I have found a good company and hopefully, our children and their children will be able to. It’s a good thing to consider.
Foster, I want to thank you, first of all, for your time, your friendship, your cowriting, everything else that we’ve gone through with Leave Nothing to Chance. It’s been a worthwhile journey. It’s funny because we both agreed when we finally saw the final copy, it was like, “This is good.” Not because we wrote it. It was good. It’s exciting to put your name on something that you invested, not only money and the money is the easy part. It’s the time and the brain, which is unique. More than that, it’s something here that’s going to help this generation of network marketers and next-generation network marketers and generations beyond.
We’ve got some young people in the book like Theresa Rogers, for example, down in Florida and Gian-Carlo Torres in Atlanta and a couple of others that are in their early twenties. They’re killing it with their companies and doing a great job. They’re the next generation and they’re in the book. We’ve got some of us old guys in the book. We got some of everything in there. I want to thank everybody for reading. This is our first show. They’re only going to keep getting better and better but the content that you learned now can’t be improved upon. Foster Owusu is a unique individual, a man who has worked hard at building, not only his business but building himself. That’s the message of this show is that you can do what Foster has done. Thank you for your time. Look forward, there’s more to come.
Thank you, John.