Believe it or not, but many individuals get into the MLM for the first time in their life that make good money that it knocks them off balance. For Jim Spencer, however, having that cashflow allowed him to focus more on things that are important. He joins John Solleder to talk about how pivoted into network marketing from being the most widely published photographer in the world and how it empowered him to do amazing things and to be of help to a lot of people. He also goes over his list of cherished books, and shares his advice to those who want to get into network marketing.
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Pro Photographer Turns Networker With Jim Spencer
It is my pleasure to welcome a good friend of mine for many years to the show, Mr. Jim Spencer. Jim, welcome.
Thank you, John. It’s always a pleasure.
Jim, I know you’ve been in the industry for a long time, but tell me about when you got started.
That goes back to the year 1993. A friend of mine mailed me a package with an interesting product. I got intrigued with the product. I didn’t know anything about multilevel marketing direct sales at the time, but it piqued my interest. Ultimately, I joined the business. I remember one of the upline individuals decided to do a training program. In it, he made a suggested list of things to read, which up to that point, I didn’t even know what motivational books were. That’s what got me started. I was with that program and did well with it, but I was a little uneasy about some of the people in the company. After a while, I stopped doing it. I went on to another company and then another company before I settled on the one I’m with now. You always go through a little bit of a learning process when you first get started.
You’ve been with your company for many years now?
Yeah, I’ve been happy with it.
Jim, in the book, Leave Nothing to Chance, there are fifteen principles as you know in there. Is there one that grabs you and if so, why?
The chapter on creating balance was one that I have a special appreciation for. There are individuals that get into our industry and maybe for the first time in their life, they make good money. Sometimes, ridiculous money and it knocks them off balance. It’s not about so much the business as what the business allows you to do in your life, that allows you to have a lifestyle that gives you the ability to categorize your priorities. I have to say that this industry has done that for me. It’s allowed me to focus on things that are important while still having that cashflow. That allows me to do amazing things and to be of help to a lot of people, too.
Jim, when you started back there in 1993, you mentioned that you were exposed to some books perhaps that you hadn’t read before. What was the first book that you read that you said, “A-ha.” What was the a-ha moment and what was that book?
There was a list of books there that I wound up reading. The first one was The Greatest Networker in the World, a John Fogg book. I probably read many of the books that people are familiar with like Think and Grow Rich. After reading these books, it gave me an introspective look at what could happen if. It was that that made me decide. I was a professional photographer at the time. For a period of maybe ten years, I was probably the most widely published photographer in the world, so I had success in the business I did. I thought about what’s going to happen when I’m an old photographer, when I have to be out there doing the work and all in the equipment.
I made a literal thought decision that this type of business is what I want to do so that I could have residual income. It would free me to do what I consider the more important things in life. It took me a few years to find the business that gel together with what I wanted to do. Sometimes, you go through a couple of different businesses before you settle on that. In this case, it was deciding that I need to find what worked for me so I can do this. Those books helped because it exposed me to the industry.
If you were stuck on a deserted island somewhere and you could only bring three books with you, what would those three books be?You always go through a little bit of a learning process when you first get started. Click To Tweet
The book that I’d be happy to have by itself is the Bible. I first read the Bible from cover to cover when I was eighteen years old. I’ve probably read it over 50 times from cover to cover. That’s my all-time favorite. I try to read it every day. It resolves a lot of the issues that people are plagued with, so that’s number one. I enjoyed Rich Dad Poor Dad, which put into balance the type of work that I’ve done over the years and putting in a balance. I don’t know that I would have too much interest in any other books. That would cover it.
If I stopped by your house now and came into your office, what are you reading now?
I have probably one of the largest collections of religious books available. I have the Bible in over 50 translations. I have hundreds of books related to it. That’s the number one thing that you’d see. I have historical books. I have A Short History of the World by HG Wells. I’ve got travel books. I’ve been able to enjoy travel for many years to an extent that many people dream about. I’ve been to most of the continents in the world. My type of business has allowed me the freedom to do that.
There’s a lot of people that even have the money to travel, but they don’t have the time. To be able to have the money and the time, that’s the critical factor. I’ve got a lot of books on different parts of the Earth. The biggest thing you’ll see in my library is the collection of photography I’ve got. I have over 100,000 photographic slides. I have over 50,000 negatives. It’s all in my office, by the way. I have a 96-terabyte server that has more than 300,000 digital images on it, not to mention videos. My office is quite a hodgepodge. That gives you a little bit of an overview.
A number of years ago, you and I went scuba diving together. You had a camera that was ahead of its time. It was shot underwater as I recall. I’ve got some of those photographs myself that you took that you shared with us afterward. I know you do underwater photography and all sorts of different stuff with that. What was your most interesting experience? Was there a person maybe that you shot photographically or perhaps a place in the world that you want to reference?
I was asked to cover the dedication of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but anytime you are in a situation where you’re in front of one of the presidents of the United States, you have to get clearance through the FBI and other things. I’m cleared to photograph right up to the president of the United States. I did pictures of Clinton, who was one of the speakers at that, and then I covered the actual dedication of the Holocaust Museum.
I helped put together a slideshow that showed a group of international Bible students who resisted Hitler and eventually, it was made into a book. There’s a limited amount of those books available. It’s probably one of the most expensive books ever printed in the world. That was a nice experience. I’ve had opportunities to work with some high-profile people. I took portraits of the CEO of American Express. He invited me right into his office.
I set up the umbrellas and had a chat with him. I got him nice and relaxed before I took his portraits. I’ve done personal photography for Tony Robbins. I photographed his Firewalk events. The most enjoyable thing has been doing memorable events for people like their weddings. I’ve photographed thousands of weddings over the years. I did professional photography for about 25 years before I filtered out of it. I’ve gotten into aerial photography and I now have about five drone cameras. Some of which can go up to five miles away. That’s a new thing I’m getting into.
I know that’s been a passion of yours, Jim. I know you’re extremely good at it and good at trading media. Your hobby would be photography instead of your profession because your profession is more than replaced it income-wise, which is a great thing when we can do more things with our hobbies that we’re not worried about getting paid for them. It would be safe to say. Would you agree?
That’s true. I’ll never not take photography, but it’s just out of the pure enjoyment of it. It’s never been a hassle for me. With the type of work that I do, it allows me to do whatever I want to do.
Here’s a question, Jim. We’re at an interesting point in the history of the world and the history of network marketing what’s going on in it with its remarkable growth. Let me throw this at you. When I look at what’s gone on with the pandemic, I see two distinct groups of people. If I had to categorize them, I would say one group is the young people, the 25-year-olds. I know you’ve got a couple of young people that belong to you. I’ve got one here and it’s 25. Let’s say 25. They could be 30, 23 or whatever.
These young folks, a lot of them are well-educated. They’ve done the hard work perhaps in school, but all of a sudden, this thing comes along. The economy goes to a stop phase where they’ve got all these skills. They know how to use the internet, how to use an iPhone and how to communicate. That’s one group of people. The other group of people are the people who are more our age group, around 60, maybe 65, 70 or 55 that perhaps owned a business that they devoted themselves to for a lot of years. Perhaps they were a senior-level manager in somebody else’s business doing well financially. All of a sudden, the pandemic comes and their income is interrupted.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen on the back end of this thing. Maybe businesses are going to continue to be open or maybe they’re not. I’ll use one example. Here where I live in Texas, there was a pizza parlor. The guy had been in business for 30 years and he’s gone. He was right next to a high school. Because the high school closed down, he couldn’t afford to stay in business and unfortunately, had to close the doors.
Having said all that, whether we have a 25-year-old or 60-year-old and perhaps never considered network marketing previously. Perhaps they were happy with what they were doing. They were successful. They were driven by it like you were with photography at one point in your life, for example. All of a sudden, they can’t make a living and they say, “I’ve heard of network marketing.” What’s your advice to those two groups of people?
These are all good points, John. As matter of fact, I was forced to get into a different type of marketing although I’ve been in the industry for a couple of decades. I realized that I was not going to be able to do what I normally do. I normally travel each month for maybe 3 or 4 days. I’d go to 3 or 4 cities. I would do seminars. I’d have audiences of 50, 100, 200 people. That was what I did to get information out to more people. The company that I work with is in the nutritional field and the products are consumables, which I’ve learned from my first 2 or 3 lessons at network marketing that consumables are a good way to go.
Every month, you’ve consumed the product and you need to get more product so that’s going to add some real stability. We couldn’t travel. I wasn’t able to go anywhere, so I started to experiment with Zoom. I started to design programming that would allow me to have interesting things to say. I have been enjoying audiences of hundreds of people every weekend as I expanded right into their homes. A lot of young people, as well as middle-aged and older folks, have joined. I’m happy to say that I’ve doubled the size of my organization in twelve months and it’s because of this.
What’s the appeal? First of all, young people at college graduation age are not guaranteed they’re going to get a job. They’ve spent four years or more and it turns out that there are no jobs available for what they’ve studied. To be able to get across to them, here’s something that could be done out of their house safely with the center of influence that they already have with their other young friends. I’ve helped young people get to a six-figure income. What about older people? We have a Baby Boomer generation. About 1 out of every 4 people in the country are Boomers. They’re turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 people per day. That’s a lot of people.
They have one thing in common. They want to look better and feel better. They don’t want to catch what their parents caught, so they’re looking at nutritional venues. I selected a nutritional venue that is something that absolutely helps young and old. To me, it’s been all about the product. When the product makes an older person feel better, they feel comfortable talking about it. If they used it and they loved it, they’re going to talk about it. I don’t care. They’re not going to sit around. They’re going to talk about it. Regardless of what your background is, young or old, there’s the financial benefit and the health benefit that appeals to both groups.
One of the other things that are important and I know you’re good at this is getting people started and off to a fast start so they see a little bit of success and they gain that confidence going forward, “Maybe I can do this.” Jim, whether it’s a 24-hour plan, a 48-hour plan, a 1-week plan, a 1-month plan, I know everybody does it different philosophically. There’s no right or wrong answer. How do you do it? How do you get that new person started? Whether it’s that 25-year-old, 60-year-old, 80-year-old, or 18-year-old, what’s your best methodology for getting them started off to a fast start to see that success and gain that confidence going forward?
It’s called handhold. Back in 2019 BC, that’s Before Corona, I used to tell them, “I’m going to come back to your neighborhood and we’re going to rent a hotel room. I want you to invite people that you know, even people that you don’t know.” I helped them get a little momentum in their backyard. Since then, I handhold them by means of the telephone and Zoom. I have them put on a group of their friends and essentially, I give them a goal.
I tell them, “I’m going to help you get to this goal and I’m going to personally make sure that you get to that goal before I let you go.” That excites them. It makes them feel confident and comfortable. The thing is you’ve got to do what you say you’re going to do. That’s a part of integrity. You have a chapter on that in the book. Quite frankly, if you don’t have integrity, you’re not going to have people follow you. People sense it. They look you in the eye. “Let’s do this.” That’s how it works.
You said your business has doubled. Would you say that the business has been in a paradigm shift because of having to adopt all these new technologies? Not just your specific company but in multi-level, Zoom, for example, WhatsApp, and some of the other technologies. The business has grown exponentially not only because people are home but also because of these technologies. That perhaps people like you and I in our age group weren’t using them the way that somebody is. For example, our friend, Jean Carlo, is using it because he’s just at a high school a couple of years. He grew up with a cell phone in his hand, which we didn’t. It wasn’t invented. Comment on that. It’s interesting because I’ve watched what you’ve done from a distance and it’s quite remarkable. Talk a little bit about the use of these technologies to reach out and expand businesses. It would be beneficial for our audience.
Prior to 2020, I would do a typical phone call, which is easy to do. I had a call that would allow hundreds of people on a phone call. I had a lot of people on the phone, but there’s nothing like seeing people. When I started experimenting with Zoom, I called a couple of people that were already doing it and I say, “How does this thing work?” I didn’t know how it worked. They had to walk me through it. I had to learn how to set up a recurring call. I had to learn how to let people out as the case may be. I had a few people show up without clothes one time. I had to get in there and click to get them out of the way.
Anyway, I finally got them all educated that this is an important training program. It’s built momentum. When a person likes what they hear, next week, they’re going to get a guest on. I made an extra $250,000 in 2020 and I already made a lot of money anyway. When you see that, you realize, “This has benefits that are intense.” Now, I’m quite comfortable with it. I put a room in my house where I have a backdrop and I have lights. I’m a professional photographer. When I’m doing presentations, I dress up. I’ve got a suit on and I talk to people as I would with any business person.
The time is going to come and we’ll get back to that. Make no mistake. It’s a new tool that we can use for young and old. We can do little presentations during the week. I’ve had someone that calls me and says, “I’ve got a person that has half a dozen people that want to ask you questions.” I said, “Alright.” I sent out the little code. Next thing you know, I’ve got 6 or 7 people on, and I’m answering their questions. It works like a charm. You have to be willing and able to involve yourself with new technologies. Even us old-timers have had to figure it out and do it, and it works.
It’s funny you say that because I remember I was in Mexico a couple of years ago. One of the ladies I was working with said, “We’re going to do a call on WhatsApp later.” I laughed. I thought she was kidding. I thought there was a TV show or something when we were young called WhatsApp or something like that. All of a sudden, here’s this WhatsApp technology. All of a sudden, we’re using it to communicate all sorts of different things around the world. Just press a button on your iPhone. It’s quite remarkable.
Along those lines, Jim, when everything gets normalized, whenever that is, it’s going to come eventually, are you going to go back to traveling a lot by choice? I know there are places in the world you want to go certainly like I do. We can get back there and see certain people, friends and different things on a regional basis. Are you going to stay at the technology or are you going to more fit together? What are you thinking?Network marketing is fifteen times bigger than the NFL, and it's getting bigger every year. Click To Tweet
Prior to 2020, I only focused on about 6 or 8 states in the United States and it’s because I enjoyed going to those particular states. There’s my brother, my sister and my close friends. I was happy. One time, I had a dozen people from Alaska on the program. I had people from Michigan. I had people from California. I’m in areas where I would never go travel to. It’s going to be probably something that’s here to stay. There’s something to be said about having live people and doing groups like that. It’ll come back. I’ll pick and choose. The people that are movers and shakers are going to want some hands-on and some personal presentations and meetings. I’ll probably do some of them as well. I don’t think Zoom is going to disappear.
They were quite ahead of their time, whoever developed it for sure. Jim, you’ve had a remarkable career. If you had to highlight for someone reading, someone who may be once where you were. They had a successful career, but because of the pandemic, perhaps that career is not going to be the same. Maybe that career is gone. It’s not going to be there or it’s going to be watered down where they can’t make the living that they need to make. Why network marketing now versus when the pandemic got into full swing? Why now should people get in our industry once and for all and commit to it?
Network marketing is fifteen times bigger than the NFL and it’s getting bigger every year. It’s a well-structured industry. You’ve got the Direct Selling Association. It rates different companies from number 1 to number 100. There are thousands of them past the 100. I would suggest to people, do your homework first of all. There are three Hallmark things that you have to have if you want to be successful with network marketing. First of all, the company has to have a product that every single person needs, so do your homework.
Some of the most unique products in the world are done just through network marketing. You can’t get them any other way. Find out the one that everybody needs, but also find out the fact that no one else has it. There are some network marketing companies that are a me too. They have something by a different name. You could go to Costco and find them. If you want to find something, people don’t have access to it. They’ve got to be meeting it and they’ve got to have to go back to the same company to get it.
The third thing is it needs to be affordable. There are some network marketing products that cost thousands of dollars. It needs to be something that you can afford. If it is a little pricey, within a short period of time, you need to be able to make enough money that’s not an issue. Those are the three things. Do your homework. There are some things that will appeal to other people more so than others. I went through three before I found the one.
My wife didn’t even want me to do the one I’m in. She said, “You’re a world-class photographer. Why do you need to fool with this type of thing?” I had to go against my wife’s better judgment on it. Now you can talk with her and she says, “That was always my idea that things can change.” It’s allowed me to meet guys like you, John. You and I have been good friends for a couple of decades. While we don’t necessarily crossover in our business, it’s one of the benefits of this industry.
Jim, this has been a pleasure. Any last words or thoughts on the industry, on life in general, and what it’s meant to you? I know you not only have a beautiful home there in Florida, but I know you’re building or maybe you have built since we talked last in Costa Rica. That’s a retirement plan for you. Why don’t you tell us about that a little bit? Tell us about the Costa Rica creation.
I have one house in Costa Rica. I have another twenty acres on the Pacific side with waterfront views. I haven’t built anything there yet, but I love going down there and visiting. I haven’t been there in a year, I’m anxious to see the travel loosen up a little bit. I’m about to buy a house in New York because my two kids have now decided to spend most of their time up in New York. I’ll have a house in Florida. I’ll probably have a house in New York and a house in Costa Rica. I already bought a house for my mother-in-law and father-in-law as a gift.
This can happen when you’re successful in this industry. You wind up having the ability to gain assets but also do things for other people. I bought a house for my father at one point in Ohio. It was an eighteen-acre farm. He wanted a farm so I bought him a farm. These are some of the things that I’ve been able to do. To get to the crux of your comment, there’s a small percentage of people. I would say it’s about 5% to 6% of people in the United States are in this industry. That’s way more than it was many years ago. It was still in its infancy when you and I heard about it, but now it’s a juggernaut. It’s five times larger than the movie industry. Imagine that. It’s well worth giving some research, too.
When you think about it, only people that were extremely talented could get residual income in ten years past. They had to be someone that could write a book and they had to be somebody that could write a song or record music. It gave them residual. I’ve had housewives that don’t know how to play a note of music get up to six-figure income right out of their house, just following the little plan that I do. That’s it. This is something that is quite compelling. We have a way of doing things that can make you successful in the short-term and even in the long-term. That’s the type of industry you and I are in, John. If people aren’t aware of that, then they need to check it out.
That’s perfect advice, Jim. Thank you for spending time with us, first of all. Second of all, continued good health and good success. We’re on Spotify and iTunes. We’re up to seven other networks that have picked us up with the show. Jim, thank you for your time. Jim, give your last word. Anything else that you want to share with our audience?
I don’t give interviews to anybody. John is an old friend of mine and he asked me to do this. Otherwise, you’d never know about me. You won’t even find me. I don’t even exist. John, you’ve got a real classic interview with me and you may be one of the only ones that get it.
Thanks, Jim. Continued good success.
- Leave Nothing to Chance
- The Greatest Networker in the World
- Think and Grow Rich
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- A Short History of the World
- Direct Selling Association
- Spotify – Leaving Nothing To Chance
- iTunes – Leaving Nothing To Chance