There is no fixed recipe for success. Dena Holmes, MLM industry veteran, shares her views on success and how success is defined differently from person to person. As she joins host and good friend John Solleder, Dena talks about how being an automotive supplier of seatbelts got her into the MLM business and how that changed things for her. John and Dena also discuss how their values carved their way to success and how they found a family in the MLM industry. Learn more about how Dena became an MLM super success and her non-negotiables when it comes to network marketing, money, and ethics.
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From Seatbelts To MLM Super Success With Dena Holmes
It is my privilege to introduce somebody who is doing a terrific job in network marketing and has for a long time. She’s lighting it up in her company. She lives in the beautiful state of Florida with her husband and daughter. It is my privilege to welcome my good friend, Dena Holmes. How are you?
I am doing wonderful. It is such a privilege to be here, John. Truly, thank you. I’m a huge fan of your show, so when you asked me, I was like, “I would love to.”
It’s my privilege to have you on. I know what you’re doing in your company and a little bit about what you did in your past company. Why don’t we start there? How did you get started in network marketing? How long has it been?
It has been years. How I got into this industry is quite interesting. Prior to network marketing, I was in the automotive industry and always on the supply side of things for about sixteen years. I had started in that industry as a high school co-op at an automotive supplier of seat belts and airbags. Throughout those sixteen years, I put myself through night school. It took me ten years to get my Bachelor’s degree. Throughout that time, I was slowly working my way up that corporate ladder at various companies I was with.
At the end of those sixteen years, I found myself successful in terms of what most people would define as success. I was an executive in the industry. Outwardly, it probably looked like, “Dena’s got it all.” I was young. I had the title, money, cars, house, successful husband, and kids, but I didn’t have the dog. The dog was missing. Looks can be deceiving, though. The stress of the job, the lifestyle, and all of that came with a price. I found myself emotionally and physically, even spiritually broken. Around that time, I was introduced to network marketing. I was so grateful because it was a means to make money but on my terms, schedule, and ethics.
I started with a company that had some great people and products. In June of 2020, I started taking a product that had a truly significant impact on my health. Over time, I made the decision to start working with this company and I’m so grateful that I did. I got to work and meet amazing people like you and many others. I have been able to help people on their physical journey to better health. I have met many who were like me all those years ago. I wanted to learn a way to make money on my schedule with my ethics to have time to do the things that I love. It has been awesome.
I love a lot of what you said there, but the thing that jumps out is to find something that you’re passionate about. Find a product, service in some cases, or network marketing that you believe in because then you’re never going to work. You’re sharing something that you believe in. What’s better than to get paid for sharing something that you say, “This is good. You ought to do it too.” You have read Leave Nothing to Chance, which is a book that I co-wrote with my good friend Foster Owusu. There are about fifteen principles in that book. Is there one that stands out to you?
I remember reading this book and Chapter One, Wake Up For The Day Excited, had a huge impact on me. It was my favorite chapter initially because of the rawness of Foster’s story. It’s hearing about how he was raised, the death of his mom and his father and reading about your journey and Josie’s with your daughter, Alice. There were very personal things that you shared. I am sure I went through a couple of Kleenex as I was reading. It moved me to tears, but it meant so much to me because I felt like it was so important to let people know no matter what we’re doing, bad things are going to happen and some crummy things are going to continue to happen all the time.Find something that you're passionate about. Find a product or service that you really believe in, and you're never really going to work. Click To Tweet
I’m no stranger to those things either to this very day. There are things going on in my life that moved me to tears that are painful and can hurt deeply and yet I wake up every day excited, grateful, and with a plan of attack. I feel like people look at me sometimes and think, “Why are you still happy, Dena? Nothing ever happens to you, Dena.”
That is so far from the truth, but here’s the point. Happiness and waking up excited is a choice. I love my life. I live in gratitude. For those of you who are not wired that way or don’t understand how or why it’s so important to wake up excited, the end of that chapter is so beautiful. You gave clear and specific suggestions for habits for people to implement that allow them to do that.
I resonated with that because what helped me turn my life around was when I started with a fantastic morning routine. I wasn’t a morning person by nature, but I have turned into one. My morning routine is my lifeline. I linger in deep prayer for a while, take time to meditate and read the Bible, spend a lot of time doing gratitude journaling, and get my pop out the door. We go for a 1.5-mile walk. I come in and do some Pilates and then I am ready to start my day. Does it take effort to wake up early? Do I have to wake early to get this done? Yes, but it’s so worth it to me. I look forward to going to bed at night because I’m excited to start a new day when I wake up.
What was the other principle?
It’s Chapter Thirteen, Success Doesn’t Just Happen. Success happens just. Network marketing sometimes has a bad rap for a few reasons. We think back about companies that had these illegal pyramid schemes. People would tend to associate reputable direct sales companies with things from the past that were some illegal get-rich-quick joke. You and I know and other people in our industry reading this will agree.
There is no get-rich-quick anything about our industry and this chapter, to me, encompasses the formula that people need to be successful. Success does not happen by chance and success is defined differently to whoever we’re talking to. Whatever that means for you, if you want to be successful, it’s not a random outcome. That chapter talks about actions, mindset, commitment, caring about your team, and remembering your why, “Why are you doing this business anyway?” Success doesn’t just happen. It happens just. That’s very important for people to understand.
Even though we wrote it, it sounds so good coming from you. Here’s somebody that’s like, “That makes a lot of sense.”
There are highlights and notes throughout that whole book. It’s one of my favorites.
Let’s talk about this. Self-development is very important in your life. What was the first book way back years ago where you got that lightbulb moment? What was the book?
My answer may surprise you. I am positively not trying to come across better than that or this is what I’m supposed to say, but 100% for me, it was the Bible. In talking about my days in the automotive industry, I told you how I found myself broken in a lot of different ways. I remember clearly one day looking in the mirror and I didn’t like the person that I saw. I had been raised as a morally upright person. It was a Christian household, but when I was in my early twenties, I was like, “Peace out.” I wanted nothing to do with that life. For a lot of years, I was doing my own thing and that didn’t work out so great for me. I still have some of the battle scars to prove it.
One day, I thought to myself, “What do I want out of life? What do I believe?” I had been searching for something. In that 10 to 12-year timeframe, I looked at different religions and various ideas of spirituality. One day, I said to myself, “I’m going to sit down and read the Bible front to back.” It took me over two years to do it. Honestly, it impacted my life in so many ways.
Even to this day, it’s the book that has given me the principles on how to have the best life, operate my business with success, handle personal challenges, and get along with people. How do I lead with integrity? That’s another chapter from your book. It’s how to be an honest and morally upright person and lead with love. I got that from when I read the Bible.
Let’s go one step further. I’m envious. I know where you live but let’s say you had a better choice. Let’s say that they show up at your front door and say, “Dena and Nate, grab your daughter. You’re going to a deserted island.” It’s beautiful. There’s plenty of food and water. You can only bring three books. One is the Bible. Are there 2 or 3 others that you would have in your briefcase that you would bring with you?
There are a few other gems. I have them in two categories. I have the feeling many people reading this are fans of yours like I am. I love when you ask for these suggestions because we’re looking for ideas, habits, and principles on how to make us successful in our businesses. For me, I have three of those. One that I read early on that’s an easy read, but it’s so powerful is Making the First Circle Work by Randy Gage. That first circle is not, “How can I get these people below me to start doing something?” The first circle is you. How are you going to lead by example so that people want to follow and imitate what you’re doing? It’s an excellent book.
Another easy read was one I read years ago, ROCK Your Network Marketing Business by Sarah Robbins. There are great points from there. One of my all-time favorites is from the legendary Larry Thompson, The Millionaire Training. For that one, it took me a while before I read it because I thought, “I’m not sure if I resonate with this.” That is a phenomenal book. I usually recommend my leaders to get the original audio of that training from Larry’s website because when you hear Larry giving that training versus reading it, it’s a different experience hearing his enthusiasm. You can hit repeat while you’re walking the dog as I do. I have listened to that over and over as you have on cassette tapes back in the day.
As a reference point with The Millionaire Training alone, as you know, Larry is like family to me. We’re very close friends, he and his wife, Taylor, and Josie and I. We’re social and business friends. We have been friends for years. They live here in Dallas, where we live. I was telling Larry’s wife, Taylor, when we were having lunch.There is no get rich quick anything about our industry. Success does not happen by chance. Click To Tweet
I said, “I went through over 30 of The Millionaire Training tapes the first couple of years I was in the industry.” I used to wear them out and they would break because they were on that cellophane tape. They break in the tape machine and you got to take it out. It’s like, “I’ll throw this one out and buy another.”
I love all those books. Sarah Robbins is great. Randy Gage is going to be a guest on the show. He has become a good friend and he’s another brilliant guy. To that point, there are a lot of brilliant people in network marketing. You take Sarah, Randy, and Larry. If you put them in any other business environment, they would be successful there too. What some people don’t realize when they look at our industry is that we got some smart people. I don’t know Sarah, but I know Randy well and I know Larry intimately well. He’s almost family to me.
They’re good people and they care about people being successful. That’s the thing about our industry compared to so many other businesses that are dog-eat-dog. People do care in this industry. They want you to succeed in our industries. Let’s go in another direction here. Let me ask you this. We’re talking about the industry and you’ve got years in it now. You’re already successful. You’re going to be super successful. I’m watching what you’re doing in your company and I’m keeping tabs on you there.
Let’s say that there’s a 60-year-old woman and a 25-year-old daughter of that woman. Maybe they’re a neighbor of you there in Florida. The mom has never been in network marketing. She has had friends that have been in the various companies that have had a little bit of success, but she has always stayed away from it and thought, “I don’t understand it. I don’t like it. I don’t want to be in it.” The 25-year-old daughter is a good kid. She went to school, got good grades, and got a good education. All of a sudden, we know what has happened through the years. Life has changed dramatically.
Whatever the daughter was trained to do didn’t materialize. Maybe she started in it or she was the last person hired and the first person to go because of her age and inexperience. She’s back living with mom and dad. They’re having a conversation and it’s a beautiful day there in Florida. They say, “Let’s take a walk down and knock on Dena’s door.” You’re home and you say, “Come on in.”
They sit in your living room and say, “Dena, we’re here for a specific reason. We know you’re in network marketing and you’re successful. We have never been in it, but we’re considering it.” Start with either the 25 or the 60-year-old. Why should they look at our industry now as opposed to years ago before the pandemic? Why is now such good timing to do what you and I do?
That is exactly where a lot of people are at. Their life has completely changed over the years and they are looking for opportunities. Some people are desperately looking and trying to figure out, “How can I get a new side gig? What am I going to do next? How do I plan for what’s coming in the near future?” This is a lot of uncertainty. That’s how people are feeling.
I’m going to start with the 60-year-old. What I would say to this person is, “You have a significant opportunity, whether you are 60, 20, or 40.” Age doesn’t matter for this business. It truly doesn’t. What I love about our industry is it does not have to have a cookie-cutter approach, “You have to have this skill already, be good at this, and be a salesperson.”
No. The skills that are needed to be successful in our industry can be taught. You have to be coachable and willing to be consistent and do some things at times that take you out of your comfort zone, like talking to people, reaching out, and things like that. Maybe it’s uncomfortable for some, but you have the ability to grow a business wherever you want to take it truly. My husband and I have successfully helped through our business people in their 70s and early 80s to make a nice supplementary income because their whole life changed and even things for people that are on Social Security.
The cost of living is going up. In the last time you filled up your car with gas, you’re going to know that or see some of the prices at the grocery store. Maybe they didn’t get any adjustments on their Social Security. To be able to help these ones, you don’t have to be on social media even. Many of our team members at certain age points or comfort levels are not on social media and we’re helping them to be successful still. You have to be coachable and consistent. At times, we may encourage you to step out a little bit of your comfort zone but then be ready to completely blossom and grow into a person that you didn’t even know possible. This industry has been called a personal development program that you get paid for and that’s so true.
For the 25-year-old, this is not your mom’s business. This is a beautiful business model for people that are early in their early twenties. I have been moved to tears at times, thinking about how my life would have been different if I had been introduced at a younger age. I wasn’t afraid to work. I have always been a hard worker. I started working outside babysitting from the time I was eleven years old, but I started working when I was fifteen. I have been a hard worker. I just didn’t always know what options were out there. I thought you had to get the degree and go to some corporate company. That was the road path to success. That came at a price for me.
For young people, if education is for you, that’s great. I’m not telling people, “Don’t go that route,” but I’m telling people that you have the opportunity truly at a young age to use the things that you’re good at. You know that cellphone better than anybody. You know some of these apps that are out there or social media platforms that you are using to be able to incorporate that into a business where you can do it from the comfort of your home at the times that are convenient for you. Some of those same principles apply that are outside of age is being coachable and consistent and still doing some things that are outside of your comfort zone. I say that no matter what age you are.
I love seeing people in our industry like our good friend, Gian-Carlo Torres. He was a broke nineteen-year-old when he started on this business. He’s a Diamond-level leader within our company and soon to get onto the next level. He is one of many that are doing extremely well in our industry. Those ones that got that degree and they’re struggling to find that job or like me, you’ve got the job, but you have no joy, it is sucking the lifeblood out of you. It’s not paying what it needed to and you need to get that side gig now. Instead of working for Uber Eats or something else, talk to somebody that you know in this industry and ask some questions, “How would I get started?” You will be amazed at truly how easy it is for anyone.
In your years in the industry, you have sponsored a lot of people into the companies that you have been involved with. How do you get somebody started? In that question, how do you get them to that point where they start to believe in themselves? They might believe in the company and product, but when they start to believe that, “Dena, I can do what you’re doing.” How do you get them there?
There’s one that I’ve done right and one I’ve done very wrong too. For any people that are reading that I worked with before, they’re probably like, “Thanks, Dena. Launching us was like trying to figure out the Rubik’s Cube.” I have overcomplicated things that time and that overwhelms people. What does the confused and overwhelmed mind do? Nothing. One thing that I have learned the hard way to learn from my experience is that every consultant is different. You’re going to have some people who are truly looking to make a couple of hundred bucks a month. They have very limited time in what they can put in toward their business.
You’re going to have some other people that may be in a desperate situation to replace an income that they lost or an existing income that they need to get out of that job. Their financial goal is significant, so I have to know where someone is at to know how to best help them. I’m not going to treat the person who has five hours a week and wants to make a couple of hundred bucks a month the same way that I’m going to work with someone who needs to make $10,000 a month. It’s a bit different.You just have to be coachable and consistent, and you’re ready to blossom and grow into a person that you didn't even know possible. Click To Tweet
I have to respect where each person is at so I don’t either scare them off or be on the opposite side. Maybe I’m not giving them enough time and attention to help them get to where they need to be. It’s a fine line. I have to figure that out first. However, either way, that I launched them to get them started has to be a logical and easy-to-follow system that guides them on exactly what to do no matter what their financial goal is. For the company that I work with and me, it’s getting what we call this NCO into their hands. It’s a New Consultant Orientation.
Things with 12 or 14 pages, have them fill them out. We get together on Zoom and I then guide them on how to make that happen. What I have found is that the sooner someone has succeeded in getting that first customer or consultant, that starts to build that belief that, “I can do this. This does work.” It’s getting that feedback from people once they start using that product. You’re hearing how great they’re feeling or helping their first consultant make a couple of bucks and they’re excited. The joy you get from that is like no other.
Tools have become so important and they always have been important. I have been doing this for years. We had tools like The Millionaire Training tape in 1983 that came into the distributor kit with the first company that I joined. We have always had tools, but they have changed radically and gotten so much better and more user-friendly over the years. Since the lockdowns and the inability to go and have a cup of coffee at Starbucks with a prospect in the business that so much has changed, how important have tools become to you? How are you utilizing them to grow your organization not only there in Florida but also throughout the world?
You know as well as I do that tools are everything in this business because tools and duplication go hand in hand. If you’re doing something that doesn’t duplicate, your growth is going to be slow and you’re going to have to work a lot harder than what you want to. As that saying goes, “We want to work smarter, not necessarily harder.” That’s what tools allow you to do. I feel very strongly about utilizing the tools that each company has. Our companies have great apps that anyone at any age can use.
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t love the cellphone and you’re a text messenger, these tools are built in a way that if you give us a few minutes, we can train you how to use them. It’s going to make your job so much easier because the day of getting together in hotels, conference rooms, or with a ton of people at your home is not happening in a lot of places in the world. We know that many of us have contacts all over the United States and the world.
When we use these tools to send a video or sample, it’s something that can be duplicated no matter where you are. What’s beautiful about that is it’s a psychological impact on the person that’s on the receiving end. Who are we trying to attract? We love our customers. Ultimately, I hope my customers turn into raging fans that want to be consultants or, even better, if that someone looks at what I’m doing and says, “Is that all this takes? I can do that. I want to do what Dena does.” That’s what tools allow.
What you said there is if you complicate, you can’t duplicate.
That’s my Rubik’s Cube analysis because I had a tendency to complicate things. That has been a part of my growth as well. It’s trying to stick with tools that allow people to duplicate. You don’t have to be an expert necessarily in the product that you’re working with or have your super high-tech system that comes with a ten-chapter catalog on how you got to do this business. These tools are simple and they allow you to grow rather quickly because they’re easy to use.
What’s your best advice for people that are in the industry? Most of our readers are in the industry and whatever company they’re in. What’s your best advice for them? How are they going to make 2022 the best year so far in their career and life accordingly?
You asked me about my first personal development book. I told you my story with the Bible. I meant that with every fiber of my being. I’ll tell you a mistake I made, though. After that and I was getting started in this business, I didn’t think I needed personal development. I thought to myself rather arrogantly like, “I was an executive in the automotive industry. I worked with high-tech automotive components. I know what I’m doing. I don’t need personal development.” I was wrong. There is a mental component to this industry and you get a lot of noes. You have awesome days and some bummer days too.
By taking a few minutes out of your day to read a couple of pages from a book or listen to a podcast helps fuel your fire and motivation. I remember it was February of 2021 and I was working hard to get to a certain rank within our company. You had an episode where you had interviewed Mariluz Torres and her son, Gian-Carlo. I loved that episode so much. I listened to it twenty times that month to get me through the tough times because I found what they said and the points that you brought in throughout the interview so impactful. It helped keep my motivation going. I did achieve that goal that month and have achieved it every month since then.
I bring that up because 2022 is going to be no different from some of the other years where some days are great and some days are difficult. When you feed yourself, you’re able to keep going. That is one huge lesson that I learned way too late in the industry. I wish I had worked on personal development much sooner. The other tip that I would say is consistency. Consistency is the foundation of growth in this business. In one of your books, Moving Up: 2020, you talk about the DMO or your daily method of operation. With my team, I have talked about IPAs or your income-producing activities.
Whatever acronym you use, you have to focus on those income-producing activities. If you quickly get into management mode, checking your back office and volumes, and mentoring, those are important, but no matter where you’re at, 80% of your business needs to be on those income-producing activities for you to continue growing. That’s going to show your team the leader that you are and help them to appreciate things that they need to be working on in following your lead and example of still bringing in new customers and consultants. It’s important.
I’m a very structured person. I work this business part-time so that I have time to do the things that I love, and because I’m working this business part-time, I have to be structured in what I do. That is a time to put the phone away, have it on do not disturb, and have a schedule that allows you to know what those most important things that you’re going to be working on each day so that no matter how much time you have for this business, the time you’re putting into it is going to be those direct lows. You’re not going to be punching into the wind.
Let me do my little commercial here as long as you started it for me. Moving Up: 2020 is available on Amazon along with Leave Nothing to Chance. Folks, Dena is such a great interview and a great person. I have enjoyed this so much. We write these books and do these shows because we want to give back. They’re not a profit center. The show is free. It doesn’t cost you money to read. It cost me money to do it. I do it because I love this industry. I love people like Dena and her enthusiasm, growth, and work ethic. I love everybody I have ever interviewed. I have learned from them.
I want to give you this, Dena. I would love your response to this because we’re also friends, as you can tell. Dena and her husband Nate are wonderful people and it has been a blessing knowing them. You do these shows and you still write down notes. I was interviewing Dan Catto. Dan is a tremendous distributor. There are 1.5 million people in his downline and everything. He has been in the industry a long time. Dan said, “What are you writing down?” I said, “I’m writing down what you’re saying here because it’s new to me.” Folks, you’re never too old or successful to learn. I was talking to Randy Gage. Randy is another icon in the industry.At a young age, you have the opportunity to truly use the things that you're good at. Click To Tweet
Randy said, “I’m still learning the industry.” He has been at it for years, I have been on for years, Larry Thompson has been at it for years, and we’re still learning because we want to still learn. Dena, you are the poster child for somebody who is a sponge in this industry. I’m going to give you the final word on the show on how people should work to continue the learning process that takes place from day one as a distributor until the day that you close your eyes the last time. As you said earlier, this is much more than just a way to make money. It’s a great life experience. I’d love your thoughts on that.
I appreciate that and try not to get emotional. This industry has allowed me to have the life and schedule that I never thought was possible and that I dreamed of for so long. I talk to other moms sometimes. It’s that pain of leaving your kids. I think about the times when I felt like I had a better relationship with the cashier at the Disney Store in Houston and my layovers coming back from Mexico than I did with my son. I think about how I love to help people. I spend a lot of time in volunteer work.
That is what this business and industry have allowed. I have to be honest. I was one of those people who had a negative opinion of this industry earlier. I looked down like, “You’re one of those.” I was ignorant. My ignorance cost me years of some poor decisions and I regret that. Don’t judge those people necessarily. They’re misinformed. I was misinformed for a long time. I didn’t understand what a beautiful business model this is.
When you have a company with an incredible product and incredible leaders like we have at our company, it is a vehicle that can allow you to have the life of your dreams. This life that we live, is it perfect? Not at all. The better and real life is to come. In the meantime, it allows me to have the best life possible now and I am so grateful for it. I thank you and other leaders in this industry who give so much out of your love for people and life that you truly do what you do to pay it forward and help others like me get to that goal and my why.
My dream is to have my husband right here next to me. He’s out of his soul-crushing job at times. He has been pounding a keyboard for years. He wants to have the flexibility like you and I have. That’s part of our way so that he can have more time for the things he loves. I don’t know if any of that made a ton of sense, but I’m full of gratitude and grateful to be here and be part of this industry. Thank you for all the help you have given to our family. It means so much.
Dena, you’re amazing and you’re going to have an incredible year. To everybody else reading, you can have an incredible year. Read not only what Dena has shared but also read the previous episodes. They’re all archived on LeavingNothingToChance.com. They are there for you to use and abuse. You can read them repeatedly, like how Dena referenced one with Gian-Carlo Torres and Mariluz Sanchez. She happens to know those people. They inspired her, but they didn’t inspire her crazy where she was jumping up and down in her living room. They gave her some stuff that she could run on.
Every episode that we have done gives you some meat and potatoes and some stuff that you can do in your business. Whatever company you’re with, whether you represent a service company or a product company, it’s going to give you some meat and potatoes. We have had amazing people, huge earners, and people who were making a six-figure income, and people that are part-time sharing some of the things that they do. It’s there for you to use. Please do so. Dena, you’re amazing. That’s a great job as always.
It was so awesome being here. Thank you, John.
Thank you, Dena.