You can build the business of your dreams and have more joy in your life. This is what successful entrepreneur, trainer, and leadership development coach and mentor Leslie Hocker believes. Leslie is the International Marketing Director for LeslieHocker.com, where she helps people start their home-based businesses, grow their teams, streamline their operations, and improve their efficiency online. Today, she shares how she got started with her own entrepreneurial journey, the business model she uses, and how it’s helping her create a legacy. Tune in to hear insights about entrepreneurship, self-development, and why the time to start your own business is now.
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What Does Legacy Leadership Look Like? With Leslie Hocker
It is my honor to introduce my good friend, Leslie Hocker, all the way from Houston, Texas. Leslie, how are you?
I’m great. I’m excited to be here. Thank you for asking me. It’s an honor.
It is so good to see you. I can’t wait to see you and Ron personally. It’s been a few years. We were visiting offline about that, and how many of our friends in the industry we haven’t gotten to see up close and personal. We will soon. Let’s start at the top. How long have you been in the industry, and how did you get involved?
I started when I was two. I’ve been involved for 39 years. It’s been amazing. Here’s what happened. I was in the generation where my parents wanted me to go to school or university and get a degree so I could get a good job. I did that. I worked my way to the executive level. When I got there, I looked around and thought, “I’m going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. I don’t have any free time.”
I make great money. I love to travel. I love to hang out with family and friends. I love to do new things. With a job like that at that level, I had no life, so I was looking. I don’t know if you want me to give you the long version, but I’ll laugh. I have a degree in Business. If you’re looking at this business model, do not let that scare you. In school, all they taught me to do was how to work for somebody else. They didn’t teach me how to evaluate a business. They didn’t teach me how to work for myself or anything. I don’t even think I knew what the word entrepreneur meant. I said to myself, “I’ve got to do something different. I need to start a business.”
I was an athlete. Believe it or not, when I graduated from college, I had a 16-inch neck. I weighed 145 pounds. I found an exercise called Pilates. It was a private gym owned by the Houston Ballet that they opened to the public. I thought, “I’m going to start a Pilates studio.” Everybody that’s reading this is going, “That’s amazing.” This was 1984. No one taught me anything about timing, business, ownership, and all of that.
I did start that Pilates studio. At the same time, my next-door neighbor who had no degree in business and knew nothing else or anything shared with me this business model. You can call it referral marketing, affiliate marketing, or relationship marketing. I call it share-the-love marketing. I fell in love with the products. They were unique.
My next-door neighbor was a hippie. They were health and wellness products. That’s how I got introduced. At the same time, I had this Pilates studio that did not work out, was working full-time on my job, and started in network marketing. It was an interesting start. I was looking to have more choices in life. That’s the bottom line.
Let’s talk about that. Let me give you a hypothetical. Let’s say that one of your neighbors there in Houston is looking down the street. They see the lifestyle that you have, not only the home, the cars, and all the trappings of success, but the real success that you make your own schedule. Let’s say that it’s a 25-year-old woman and her 60-year-old mom.
Prior to COVID, they had no interest in network marketing for whatever reason. It wasn’t for them Maybe they even look down on it for whatever reason. They look at people like us and think we’re snake oil salesmen or whatever. All of a sudden, they start to realize. The 25-year-old had an education and started her business career. All of a sudden, a couple of years ago, we know what happened, so she’s not doing all that well.
The mom maybe was on the other end of the pendulum where she was starting to look at retirement, raising the grandkids, and doing all the things that she wanted to do at her time. All of a sudden, we know what happened. Not to mention even the inflation, which we’ll get to in a minute. At the end of the day, they look down the street and say, “We see Leslie’s home today.” They come over, knock on the door, and say, “Could you give us an hour of your time and tell us why today, in 2023, we should look at this network marketing industry?”
It’s interesting you asked that because if I go back to when I first started, a lot of my friends think about a corporate executive or petroleum industry if I had arrived. When I started network marketing, a lot of my friends told me, “That’s not a real business because you don’t have a store.” In your scenario, the 25-year-old is not a player. It usually is for somebody who’s in their 60s.
What happened with 2020 and ‘21 is we accelerated 10 years. I’m talking about us as an entire society. We accelerated to where you bought online or you couldn’t get toilet paper. All those toilet paper memes are the one thing that sticks out for me about that period of time. Fortunately, I was working with a company that had started as an eCommerce online. The whole world went to, “We’re buying everything online.” What has happened is people are more aware. In that scenario, people aren’t asking me so much why they should start a side gig. They’re saying, “I know I need to start a side gig. Help me with the process of what I should be looking for.”
I love your scenario because I started when I was 28 in this space. I’ve considered myself a young entrepreneur my whole life. Young entrepreneurs like to travel. They like to have fun. I don’t want to be in a box. For the 25-year-old, it’s a way to have more control of your life and your finances and dictate your own schedule.Network marketing is a way to have more control over your life and finances and dictate your own schedule. Click To Tweet
You know this from working with my husband, Ron Forrester. His thing is we all have a business, whether you’re a network marketing, an employee, a stay-at-home mom, or a stay-at-home dad. Whoever you are, we all have a business, and that business is how you are going to live when you retire. I came from parents where my dad and mom were both college educated, but they didn’t talk to me in terms of making investments and planning for the future.
This business model, even if it gives you an extra $500 to $1,000 a month and you set that aside and then invest it, can give you the avenue towards retirement living the lifestyle you want to live. In other words, would you be able, if you didn’t have a job, to live that same lifestyle? A lot of people figured that out during the pandemic. They’re like, “I need a plan B. I need something to fall back on.”
I love this time in our history of network marketing because we do offer people a way to have control of their time and flexibility. Also, there are a number of us, like yourself and myself, that have gone through ups, downs, and crazy. We’ve been through recessions and depressions. We’ve been through boom and bust and how to make this model work no matter what the economy’s doing. It’s perfect no matter what your age. I always look for people that want more out of life.
You and I have known each other for so long. We worked together in England in 1990-something.
It was 1990 and 1991.
It was many years ago.
I met you and Ron at that company. That was where I met Ron. I did not know him prior to that. That’s fun. That’s a little piece of history.
When you think about that, we were in our 30s then. It was a different time. These years come by and we’re on the other end of it, like that 60-year-old woman, for example. It’s to have a current income where we’re not eating up our life savings. Many people do not have some level of income from a network marketing company where they’re living on social security or their pension.
There is sometimes more month than there is money. That’s what makes it such a great option for me. When I’m talking to people in our age group, it’s like, “If you don’t have a check in this industry, get with a good company. Get yourself going and get yourself a check. Don’t touch those retirement savings until you have to and you have no other choice.”
In fact, in my very first year in network marketing, I was still working. I worked as a corporate executive until they laid me off because I made too much money. Thank God I had a plan B because the oil industry crashed. It’s crashed multiple times since then. That first year when I paid taxes, I freaked out. I told my CPA, “Are you sure this is correct?” I got so much money back. I got mad. That’s where I figured it out.
I’m glad that you do this show so we can help people be aware. If you’re tuning in to this at least in America, Canada, or North America, and you don’t have a home-based business, you’ve given up the right to be free. It was crazy how many living expenses became business expenses. It was legit. I’m not a tax attorney or a tax accountant. You need to refer to somebody, but I will tell you that you should find something. That’s my best advice, if nothing else, to have some more spendable cash.
How important has self-development been to you over the years?
For those of you reading, I didn’t know what John was going to ask me in advance. I popped on here and felt like I could share my heart and my experience, which is what I love doing. Somebody asked me a few years ago, “What’s your secret?” It’s somebody in the company I’m with. They were like, “What’s the number one thing?” It’s personal growth and personal development. It’s so key. It’s the secret weapon to moving forward. I can’t even tell you how important that is.
Here’s what’s interesting. The company that I joined, my very first company, about a year later after I joined, a young man by the name of Anthony Robbins joined. That’s how I met Tony and ended up working with him. He was 25 or 26. I loved the whole focus on personal growth and personal development. Another one of my mentors is Jeff Olson. He’s the author of The Slight Edge. I’ll never forget it. He told me one time, “Your business will never be any bigger than you are.” That was in the late ‘90s when I had already arrived. I was like, “I’m here.” That was the wake-up call, kicking you in the stomach that was like, “I better get busy. I still need to work on myself.”Your business will never be any bigger than you are. Click To Tweet
Before we became $1 million-a-year earners, Jim Rohn’s quote was, “Make it your goal to make $1 million a year. It’s not for the money, but for the person you have to become in order to be worthy of that.” That’s what I focus on. It is, “Who am I becoming? Who can I help? Who can I empower?” It’s a constant learning business.
I spend at least 30 minutes every day on personal growth, sometimes 1 hour. One of my favorite people, and he is not in network marketing, is Joe Dispenza. He was saying, “People that are busy need to meditate even longer than people that aren’t busy.” I took that into thinking about personal growth and how important it is to spend that time. I answered your question which is huge.
I want to put a plug in there too for our book, Leave Nothing to Chance, or you can get my other book, Moving Up: 2020 and Beyond. It is almost the same name as the show. The show is Leaving Nothing to Chance, but the book is Leave Nothing to Chance. It turned out a bank owned the title for a show of this. I was able to use it for a book, but they owned the show. People wonder about that all the time. Page 163 to page 169 in this book is more of Leslie and her wonderful husband and my dear friend, Ron Forrester. It has some of their story and some of the things Leslie shared about self-development. She’s been a student of it for many years.
Let’s talk a little bit about the experience though. You have been all over the world. Every time I look at your Facebook, it’s like, “There they go again.” You’ve been everywhere. I thought I was everywhere, but you guys have been everywhere. If you had to pick one experience of a lifetime with him, is there one place maybe that you’ve gone or one life experience that you said, “I never would’ve done that in the oil business in Houston. I never would’ve had that life experience if I hadn’t gone over to the network marketing world.”
I never would’ve traveled like that because I was in the domestic exploration side of the business, which was exciting. It was travel to north Louisiana, Southern Arkansas, and East Texas. It’s a beautiful country close to the Ozarks. People that work for me tell me, “Bring your own pillow and light bulbs.” You’re in trouble when a man tells you that. I’ve been blessed to travel to many different places.
When you asked that question, what came to mind was an experience. I do love Asia. I got back from South Korea. I hadn’t been there since 2019. I do love the Koreans and that country. It is because of that team that I had the opportunity to travel to Dubai for a trip that the company had sponsored. The experience was having a cappuccino with real gold on it. I had a gold leaf cappuccino. I have no idea how much it costs. I wasn’t paying for it fully. I’m sure it has solid gold on top. It was overlapping the edges of the cups. That was a pretty cool experience. Apparently, drinking gold is very good for you. That was a cool experience. I have to dig that picture up.
Also, going to the top of the Khalifa Tower. That’s the one with Tom Cruise in one of the Mission Impossible movies. He did that stunt himself. Going to the top of the Khalifa Tower was pretty cool. That was Dubai in the UAE. I don’t know that I’d want to live there. I know a lot of people have moved there. Those experiences stand out.
I’ve never heard that before about the gold.
It was very cool. I’ll dig up those photos.
Somehow, in East Texas, I don’t think you would’ve had that experience. That’s a great story. I love that. Let’s talk a little bit about this economy that we’re in. Here we are. We’re doing this interview. It’s mid-April 2023. We’re going to air in May 2023. By the time you folks check this out, who knows where the economy will be? We know where it’s been. That’s made everything more challenging between COVID and then COVID ending. All of a sudden, the economy decides to tank the way that it has. We’ve seen utility prices, gas prices, and food prices double. It goes on and on.
What are some of your tips for people in terms of how they’re thinking and what they’re doing when they run into a prospect who says, “I’d love to start this business, but all those other things have gone up in price? I don’t know if I cannot get into business because the entry point is fairly low, but I don’t know if I can develop the business.” What are some of the strategies that you’re using when people have that pushback so that they see that this is the best time for them? There is no better time. How do you get them to think properly? That is my question.
Statistically, this being the better time is with us. Most people don’t realize that, or a lot of people don’t, because they haven’t been through the ups and downs that you and I have been through. It is a very different time because everybody was, in 2020 and half of 2021, all at home and online. What I have experienced is that people want an experience with what they’re doing. They want to be connected to people.
As far as the business goes, the money is there. One thing I’ve learned over time is there’s always money. If people want something, they’ll figure out a way to get it. For example, I have friends that have owned med spas. Women will bring in 2 or 3 different credit cards and cash, and they’ll figure out a way to spend hundreds of dollars on something that a lot of us would go, “What?”There's always money. If people want something, they'll figure out a way to get it. Click To Tweet
There was a time when we went through a phase before we had the internet and we did everything in person, and then we did some stuff online. During the pandemic, we went online. This time, it is a blend of in-person and then using technology. People like getting together for an experience and to have fun. If you can create a community and a culture that supports and helps each other, you can have success. This is the time because the awareness is there. There are people looking.
I don’t know if you saw that statistic. It came out of several online publications in 2023. Ninety-three percent of Americans looked at a side gig whereas, in the past, it was probably 40% of people were looking at a side gig or a side hustle. The focus is on keeping in mind that an extra $200 to $500 a month would help anyone, I don’t know anyone, even yourself or myself, that would say, “An extra $200 to $500 a month?”
The timing is huge because people’s awareness is there. Even when we come out of this recession, people’s awareness will be there for years. That was something they experienced and they don’t want it to happen again. A lot of people got caught with this one. I have analyzed this because Ron and I came out of retirement in 2011 to help launch a new company. I was thinking, “Why do we have skyrocketing success?” It’s because we had a recession in 2008. In 2011, we were rebounding. People were still aware and they knew, “I need a backup plan.”
The question that Ron always uses that I mentioned already is the question of how you are going to live when you retire. Have you thought about doing business? Have you thought about funding that business, which is your lifestyle when you retire? The timing is huge. The key for you is to find people that can mentor you, work with you, and help you, and that you connect with the culture and the community. To me, this is the only way I would never go back.
Early on in my network marketing career, I thought, “Maybe I should get a job.” I lasted two weeks. I’m not a good employee, apparently. I am not anymore, not after I tasted the freedom of having my own flexibility. I’m not saying I haven’t worked hard. It is hard work. It is rewarding. I’ll tell you one thing. All of you that are reading, and you may have thought the same thing, when Ron and I said we were going to come out of retirement, the whole thing was, “As long as we’re having fun.”
We used to talk about how much fun we had in the company where I met the two of you. We were like, “As long as we’re having fun, we will do it.” When things start to get crazy and overwhelming, because sometimes they do when you’re dealing with people, life, and issues, it’s always like, “Take a breath. Let’s have some fun. Focus is fun and to enjoy what you’re doing.” I don’t know if that works for other people, but the fun has got to be in there.
Fun, simple, and magical, right?
Yes. Simple and flexible.
I know you’ve got young people in your family that are younger than us. They’re adults. One of the things I’m looking at, and I would love your response to this, is I look at that next generation. We were talking off camera about my nineteen-year-old son who you watched grow up on the internet from being a little kid to being a lead hockey player to being in his own business in network marketing. I look at him and some of these other young guys that I meet or young gals that I meet. Some of them are in their teens. Most of them are in their early twenties. They call them Generation X. I’m not sure what they call them.
At the again of the day, those young folks that are getting into our industry have a different set of eyes than you, me, or Ron have in the respect that we see it as, “Let me do the home meetings. Let me do the hotel meetings. Let me do the event.” They see it as, “Why would I do any of that? Let me pick up my cell phone, create a group chat with ten of my friends, and tell them I found this great energy product, this great weight loss product, this great skincare product, or this great whatever product.” They see who responds and build a business from there.
I’ve watched this happen, not only with my own son but with a number of people over the years. I would love your thoughts about the fact that these younger folks have grown up with something you and I didn’t. They got a cell phone in their hand and all this technology. They can put that to use. They already got the skills. Why should they look at our industry as a place where they can apply some of those skills for very little cost and build a business for themselves as their plan B starting out rather than living in mom and dad’s spare bedroom forever?
Could I give a plug for following me on Instagram?
I use three-way chats, three-way Messenger, and three-way WhatsApp. It is still a third party. One of the things that’s interesting is people have asked, “Why would X, Y, Z sell this product or service through network marketing?” I’m like, “It’s called referral marketing.” I love using third-party Messenger chat, etc. because it gives me more time to be able to pop in there on my own time. I probably use 80% chat and 20% actual. There are times when it’s too long to text. I won’t do voice. For a young person that is savvy with social media, using voiceover internet and platforms is still brand new.
Truthfully, I use Facebook. I have a private Facebook group for the team. We do challenges. We give back. We work to add value. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years. Fortunately, I started it right at the beginning of 2020. For a young person, it’s easier than probably that 60-year-old mom to figure that out. In the last few years, the majority of my customers, since we went all online, have come from social media. It was either Facebook or Instagram. I am not doing TikTok, but I’ve worked to master reels.
My Instagram is @Leslie_Hocker. I have a funny story for my age group. I had one that was my name. It’s still there. Don’t follow that one because I couldn’t figure out how to log back into it. I started a new one when I decided, “Maybe I should learn how to do Instagram.” I’ve been doing reels. I’ve been working to do short lives and add value.
This is the stage that you’re at as well, which is why you wrote the book, Leave Nothing to Chance. I want to give back all the years with all the falling down and getting back up. It took me six months to find somebody to mentor me. I got fortunate that there were people in the company I was with beyond my sponsor. I like having fun, giving back, and helping the next generation. This model is about legacy. When I’m gone, my girls will inherit the business.
They cheer both of us on. They love that our grandchildren are seeing, “My grandparents are entrepreneurs. They’re in business for themselves and look at all the various different fun things that we get to do because of their business.” It could be a week off at spring break for Ron to do nothing but go fishing with the grandson.
You struck a nerve. I have two questions about that. It was because of the whole COVID thing that we had to learn about Zoom. There was a lady in Mexico prior to COVID. I was sitting with her. She said, “I’m going to do a Zoom this afternoon with some people in Mexico City.” I was in Monterey. I looked at her and said, “What’s Zoom?” She goes, “I’ll show you.” I thought she was kidding. I didn’t know what it was. All of a sudden, I’m like, “There are people looking at me on her computer. How are you?” They spoke English, fortunately, which is another problem with me speaking one language.
All of a sudden, there was Zoom, and then all of a sudden, we know what happened. If this had happened earlier on in our careers, I don’t know if we could have maintained our businesses. You look at everything you mentioned there as tools from the reels to the Facebook to the Instagram to the WeChat to the podcast and all of this stuff. I’m jealous. I wish I was born when my son was born when I’m a teenager for a lot of reasons. From a business standpoint, the tools that they have to build an international business without necessarily having to run around the world as we did, what an opportunity. I would love your response to that, and then I have one final question for you.
I will tell you that I started using Zoom pretty much when it first came out in 2016 or ‘17. That’s simply because the US is so big and I was spread out over the US and Canada in almost every state. I embraced the technology earlier. I’m kicking myself from here to the other end of the block for not buying stock. I remember that I started seeing it at airports when I was traveling like, “I’ve been using that.” I don’t know if you remember, but we used to have to do conference calls where we daisy-chained people probably going, “What is she talking about?” I call you and you call someone else. We had 30 people on the line, and the 30th person could barely hear what the speaker was saying. It’s amazing.
I will tell you this though. What I’ve experienced is there’s still nothing like connecting with people and building a relationship. In the company I’m with, we will do, for the whole company, monthly training instead of in-person. We are doing in-person conferences again because people want, from all over the globe, to come in. People want to connect. There’s nothing like that connection. You’ve got to leverage both. That’s all I’m saying. That’s been my whole focus. If I can help enough people and empower them to have more choices, then I win and they win. In some respects, it might be even more challenging. If you only do the tech, you’re going to miss out on that personal connection that drives longevity in a company. Am I making sense?
I could not agree more. We finished our corporate convention. It was so good to be able to hug people again that you hadn’t seen. In a normal circumstance, you might not see somebody year-to-year in your down line, and all of a sudden, you see them. Let’s come back to my last question for you. You mentioned it, but let’s go a little bit further.
You and Ron have built a business. Hopefully, you’ll be like your mom and you’ll make it to at least 99. You have a long way to go. Having said that, generationally, the kids are involved in the business to some degree. The grandkids are watching what mom and dad are doing and what grandma and grandpa are doing. They’re saying, “That’s what I’m going to do when I get to that stage.”
How does it make you feel that you’ve helped not only your family but other families that are having that same level of success? It is where their families have a future that they can count on from their network marketing business versus people who are out there maybe in a regular job for 40 years. They retire and have nothing to leave the kids outside of whatever’s left after. They get done living the balance of their lives. How does that make you feel? You’ve helped tens of thousands of people that you’ve inspired around the world to do that.
That’s why I’m still doing it. Something funny happened. I’m the oldest of five children. My sister right behind me was very successful. She still works in a corporate environment. She was a petroleum geologist. We both started in the oil industry at the same time, but then I got laid off because I made too much money. They put two people in my job that made less together than what I made. They made less together than what I was making, so I was overworked and underpaid if it took two people.
The point is she’s had a successful career and is still working. We were driving down the road together. She looked at me and goes, “When are you going to retire?” I looked at her and thought, “She is asking me this because she’s getting ready to retire.” I’m a couple of years older and I’m still traveling the world. By the time you read this, I’ll probably be in Spain because we’re headed there next.
I looked at her and said, “What am I retiring from? I have the joy of being able to have fun and empower people. People have more choices in life. People are looking for more out of life. What am I retiring from?” I get paid to have fun. I worked hard to get to this stage. It can be fun the whole way, but it’s more fun when you’re getting paid. It was so interesting because it gave me a whole different perspective.
That’s a tip for all of you. Even at high levels, we all need people to coach us, mentor us, and help us. I asked my coach, “Is something wrong with me because I don’t want to retire?” She was like, “No. It’s your hobby. In other words, your business is your hobby.” I don’t treat it like a hobby. I want to make that distinction, but it’s something that I enjoy. It’s fun. I also enjoy gardening and yoga.Even at high levels, we all need people to coach us, mentor us, and help us. Click To Tweet
I don’t want to stop doing business because I love the thrill of being able to make a difference in others’ lives. You’ll find that’s probably true with most top leaders in our model, especially those that are older. You look at them and think, “Are they still having to work?” It’s not work. It’s play. It’s like working 24/7 and playing 24/7. Your work is your play, and your play is your work. There are some parts of it that I don’t enjoy, like being on the plane to Asia for seventeen hours, but I know when I get there how excited they are to see me and learn.
I’ve got families that have gone from living in one room to having the choice of where they want to live. It’s amazing. There’s nothing like it. I know you know this. For anyone reading that’s been wondering if you should start your journey to network marketing or you should continue your journey, keep going. It’s a journey. I tell people, “You can’t compare yourself to me. You can’t compare yourself to John. You can’t compare yourself to Ron. We’ve been practicing for a long time. We’ve fallen down a lot, and we get back up.” That’s the difference.
This has been a privilege. I appreciate you so much. I know you got a crazy schedule with traveling to your convention and everything you’re doing. I so much appreciate not only your time but also your great wisdom. You are going on 40 years of leading people, and you’ve done a tremendous job. I want to thank you again on behalf of everybody in the industry that you inspired and will continue to inspire.
Thank you. I appreciate the honor of being asked to do this. Wherever John posts this, drop a comment. If I can answer a question, I will. If I helped you, then let me know. There’s nothing better than being able to help somebody along your journey to success in network marketing or to the next level of your success in network marketing.