Over the last eight years I have transformed my diet (and the way I look and feel) by committing to a daily regimen of nutritionally dense food products and supplements, combined with meals that are primarily plant-based. Over that period of time I’ve also significantly reduced, but not eliminated, intake of meat and dairy products (I still love an occasional hamburger or pizza). After turning 60 last year, I have no doubt these dietary changes are serving me well as I am fit and energetic as ever, and wish I’d started earlier. But making these types of lifestyle changes is easier said than done. I can totally relate to anyone who says “your nutritional system is not for me,” “I need to eat real food,” or “I can’t live just eating plants”…because that was definitely me just a few years ago.
Growing up on a dairy farm in rural eastern Ohio meant that my mom prepared meals centered around fresh whole milk with meat, potatoes, and vegetables. As my four siblings and I grew and got involved in sports, fast and convenient often became the meal of choice. And as I became a high school athlete and later a college football player with rigorous training schedules, I believed I could eat anything I wanted with no ill effects. The use of vitamins, protein shakes, or any nutritional supplements was never on my radar. That same mentality towards food combined with my passion for fitness continued throughout my adult life and into my fifties, and thus I never educated myself on the importance and lasting benefits of good nutrition. While I still felt good by the time I reached 52, there’s no doubt my metabolism had slowed, a couple arthritic joints were limiting my activity, I felt sluggish at times, and I was carrying 15-20 pounds more than I needed.
So my motivation to finally make some changes in my eating habits did not come from any health challenge or a need for significant weight loss. I was simply fortunate to have a wife who is passionate about living her best life and willing to go against the norms to make it happen, and she brought me along for the ride. It helped that with my busy lifestyle as a father and corporate executive, she was able to show me the benefits of convenience and ease of use that came with the nutritional product line she introduced to me.
I knew on our second date that life with Cyndi might require me to think a little differently about “norms”. I had asked her out to dinner for the second time but she declined citing a previous commitment to a party. I inquired if I might attend the party with her but she said “it’s not that kind of party.” At the age of 21 Cyndi had entered the world of home-based direct sales to generate some extra income to put herself through college, and she would be lugging totes of her wares into someone’s home that night to sell (I picked her up after the “party” and we had a nice dinner).
Thus began a 20-year saga for Cyndi of home-based direct sales, 10 years with one company followed by 10 more years with a second, entailing her to store boxes upon boxes of products in our basement, loading and reloading the boxes into our mini-van, and spending hundreds of nights in peoples’ homes in an effort to create a little extra income and enabling a stay-at-home-mom with four kids to enjoy adult social interaction. Interestingly and unexpectedly is what compounded over the course of those 20 years of persistent effort: 1) a tremendous personal network, and 2) the development of Cyndi’s savvy communication skills, assets that would serve her well in the future.
My satisfaction and approval of Cyndi’s efforts in home-based direct sales centered solely on her enjoyment and the creation of what I perceived as “hobby income.” Cyndi was making some extra income which supported shopping trips, nice Christmases for the kids, and some remodeling projects, but it was certainly not a real way to make a living and could not be counted on as such. I was supportive of her efforts but knew that I needed to continue focusing on my own career to financially support our family so that we could maintain our mutual goal of having Cyndi raise our kids not someone else. This general attitude remained in spite of Cyndi eventually building a business after 20 years of consistent effort that generated over $65K in net income…not bad for part-time work and a stay-at-home-mom, and earning some nice trips for us to boot!
Then in 2012 when our kids had become relatively self-sufficient teenagers, Cyndi announced to me one day that she was abandoning her home-based business she’d worked so hard to create and was forfeiting the handsome income it generated, to launch a new business from scratch. A new business that would allow her to pursue her passion for health and wellness, and to serve others by helping transform their lives through proper nutrition. For weeks she had researched all the Health and Wellness companies in the direct selling industry until she was sure she’d found the best based on the quality of their products and compensation plan. I was excited for her and told her she had my full moral support, but not to count on my help or a change in my eating habits because I knew whatever she was doing was not “a real way to make a living,” and I was not going to “start eating food based on the latest fad diet.”
Compounding my skepticism towards Cyndi’s new venture was that she was partnering with a privately held company, the developer of the nutritional product line, which would compensate her via commissions from “relationship selling” better known as “network marketing.” The Arizona company had chosen a non-traditional way of introducing their high-quality products to the market which meant instead of spending millions in expense for traditional marketing and advertising to earn retail shelf space, they would instead exclusively support independent business owners like Cyndi to build their own sales distribution networks and reward them with commissions based on volumes of product sold.
The “network marketing” business model chosen by the company was certainly not new as it has been around for decades with some very successful and well established companies (Avon, Tupperware, Amway, and Herbalife come to mind). The network marketing industry also generates a staggering $180 billion globally in over 100 countries and involves 120 million distributors, but I knew the industry’s reputation had been tarnished over the years by start-up companies that failed to live up to promises, as well as unprofessional distributors or failed distributors who make unrealistic claims about their products or business, or blame their failures on their company rather than their own lack of skill and/or effort. I had my own personal experience being “pitched” by distributors over the years for various products and network marketing business opportunities. Needless to say there was a reason Cyndi called me “Skeptical Scott” when it came to my opinions about her new product line and business opportunity.
The one thing I had not considered when contemplating Cyndi’s new venture was the exponential power the internet now provides for this business model, and the recent rapid expansion of e-commerce in response to the convenience of online ordering and direct home delivery. The new “Sharing Economy” allowing nearly any product or service to be offered directly by provider to user on the internet, combined with an established and growing demand for health and wellness/nutritional products, created a legitimate opportunity for someone with the necessary skills, work ethic, and personal network…all of which were in Cyndi’s wheelhouse…married to a lineup of quality products and service.
But what about the company? How did I know they could be trusted in an industry historically fraught with shady operators? And as far as the products…I just wasn’t interested in using them and didn’t think I needed them. Skeptical Scott would just keep his head down, keep working, and stay out of the way while Cyndi enjoyed her “hobby business” and made new friends.
So what changed for Skeptical Scott with regard to these nutritional products and the business model? Well it was a series of steps, each very impactful and collectively as a group over time: life changing.
The first step was not when we received our first box of products because I had no intention of using them. But it was about four months later after watching Cyndi use the products on a daily basis. There was a noticeable change in her appearance due to weight loss and more energy and there was no denying her excitement in sharing it with others. Honestly I started having some FOMO and as mentioned previously I had 15-20 pounds I could stand to part with. I figured what did I have to lose to give it a try? That was the first step: I did not want to get left behind! I got started by simply substituting my normal SUBWAY lunch (foot long tuna or meatball, chips, bottle of Gatorade, and a cookie) with a meal replacement protein shake. It took me a while to find the right consistency and flavors that really made the shake enjoyable, but once I did there was no turning back. The shakes tasted great, they were filling, and as much as anything I loved the convenience of not having to leave the office to find lunch somewhere. I was hooked and soon began substituting my breakfast with a second meal replacement shake. My normal dinners continued without changes (heavy on burgers, pizza, and chocolate milk) but nonetheless within two months I had released 15 pounds. I know there are many ways to lose a few pounds but I’m not sure there’s a more convenient and enjoyable way than this. So that was the second step: I had my own physical transformation from using the products and I realized it was a minor lifestyle change not a diet.
The third step was the financial impact of Cyndi’s new venture. Cyndi’s excitement over the products made it easy to share with others…just like sharing a good movie or a good book. With Cyndi’s direct sales experience, personal network, and communication skills converging with the trends of the industry and the power of the internet and social media, her business grew rapidly. In Cyndi’s first year of her new venture her net income nearly doubled compared to the highest year with her previous company. And yet I remained skeptical. I continued to enjoy my two shakes per day and my two inch reduction in pant size, but I figured she better keep getting while the getting was good because it couldn’t last with a network marketing business model.
Finally after three consecutive years of financial growth, I knew I needed to investigate and get more educated about the company, their products, their method of distribution, and their compensation. So began the fourth key step. In 2015, three years into Cyndi’s new business venture, I decided to attend my first Isagenix business conference at Hilton Head to meet the owners, the management team, the product developers, and begin educating myself. Several things happened at this conference which got me more excited and more confident about Cyndi’s business. I saw the professionalism of the company and its leadership, I saw the rigorous science that backed the quality of the products, I gained an understanding of the company’s generous compensation plan that rewarded skill and hard work based on movement of product, and a vision for the future to leverage technology and new products. While we had planned to fly home a day early from the 3-day conference due to our daughter’s high school prom that weekend, I decided to stay at the conference the extra day while my wife returned home, as I was anxious to learn more. Most importantly that weekend I was introduced to Isagenix’s most valuable asset: it’s culture and people. I found myself surrounded by like-minded people with shared values and interests, and I met professional men of similar age who were making significant incomes in an industry traditionally dominated by women. I met former professional athletes my age who looked like they could still compete. After not attending an Isagenix event for three consecutive years, I have not missed one since.
The second Isagenix conference I attended was in Phoenix and was called “University in Action,” which I assumed meant I would gather additional technical information about the products and the business that I was hungry for. Had I any idea what I was in for I never would have stepped on the plane. Isagenix trainer and personal development guru David Woods had me get so far out of my comfort zone talking to and hugging strangers that I was praying for “Scotty to beam me up” just to get me out of there. At the end of the day I knew I had benefited by David forcing me to be uncomfortable, but it was someone else that spoke at that event that had a greater influence in blunting my skepticism of network marketing. A middle-aged guy named Jeremy Kirkpatrick got up on stage and after reviewing his background of 30 years in the banking and finance industry, started talking about his prior skepticism of the network marketing business model and how his wife had to hide money in her underwear drawer to buy her first box of Isagenix products. He talked further about his disinterest in being involved; not participating in the opportunity meetings his wife held in their home; and initially not using the products. I sat up in my seat and hung on his every word thinking he was talking directly to me as he related his eventual departure from his corporate job to join his wife full time in building their business. Serendipitously at the following group session immediately after Jeremy’s talk, I was partnered with an older woman who I discovered was Jeremy’s mom. I felt like this was more than coincidence and I insisted she introduce me immediately. I’ve enjoyed a mentoring relationship with Jeremy since and have grown through his example and education relative to spouses working together to build a truly professional and lucrative network marketing business.
After those early events, I was motivated to strive for further improvements in my performance and health while taking baby steps to get more involved in the business. I recommitted to consistent exercise while expanding my use of Isagenix performance products and supplements and released an additional five pounds. More recently with further education and coaching from my vegan daughter I have transitioned to mostly plant based meals and plant based Isagenix products. Now when my wife and I travel, it is no longer her but I being careful to pack all the Isagenix products in a separate suitcase and double check to make sure nothing is left behind. The convenience and availability helps deter us from making bad food choices while traveling, not to mention the savings from eating out. Another financial benefit exposed to cost conscious Skeptical Scott!
Then in 2016, Cyndi’s Isagenix business provided a gift money cannot buy: time freedom to care for a loved one in need. My father, a very healthy 79 year old, was diagnosed with an aggressive and lethal blood cancer combined with a destructive auto-immune disease. It was a grueling and cruel 7-month battle but thanks to the Isagenix business and the income it was providing, I was able to confidently reduce my work responsibilities and devote myself fully to provide all the support my Dad required in his battle. Time freedom is truly the most valuable asset one can have, and it was at that moment I could truly appreciate what Cyndi’s Isagenix business had provided us.
Besides being passionate about health and wellness and serving others, Cyndi’s determination to build this legacy business has been driven by her desire to give me the option to leave my corporate job and join her full time in the business when I was ready. Since 2017 Cyndi and I have been contemplating the proper timing and circumstances for making that happen. For the last four years I have been reducing my responsibilities and time spent at my corporate job, and taking on more and more tasks to assist Cyndi, in preparation for that step. While there have been some cyclical dips in Cyndi’s business, 2020 was her second best year to date and 2021 is off to a fast start with a new ground-breaking collagen product release by Isagenix.
After a quick trip to Disney to celebrate my 60th birthday, we hosted an Isagenix business training event in Tampa in January and decided that the timing was right for an announcement. While on-stage at the event we performed a ceremonial tie-cutting to a standing ovation and I announced Feb. 5, 2021 would be my last day in corporate America. Skeptical Scott has officially left the building.
** Isagenix earnings disclaimer **
Income levels are not to be construed as typical or average. Income level achievements are dependent upon the individual Associate’s business skills, personal ambition, time, commitment, activity and demographic factors.
I would love to hear from you!