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The Numbers

Anybody who has ever spent any time with me knows that I’m a “numbers guy.”

The “numbers” are why I’m in the industry…and I LOVE them…but all too often they are used to “mislead” people.

So let’s spend some time talking about the numbers…and what they REALLY mean.

Just about everybody has seen a presentation where the speaker stands up and starts drawing circles on a whiteboard.

And that spiel goes something like this…

This is you as a new distributor in the company.

Progressions 03a

All you have to do is go out and recruit 3 people.

Progressions 03b

Who each go out and recruit 3 people.

Progressions 03c

Who all go out and recruit 3 people.

Progressions 03d

Who all go out and recruit 3 people

Progressions 03eWho all go out and recruit 3 people

Progressions 03f

And so on… And so on… And so on…

Now, while this is exactly how network marketing works… most of these presentations leave out one KEY component…and that my friends is where people get “misled!

They would have you believe that all you have to do is go out and recruit 3 people…ANY 3 people… and somehow like magic…your business will grow to the point you can sit back and retire.

I’m here to tell ya…THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!

The key component that they’re leaving out is the word ” leaders.”

This is one of the reasons I feel people get very disillusioned and disappointed in network marketing.

I’m going to digress a bit and tell a short story…

A number of years ago, when I was fairly new to the industry, I’d done well enough to win a cruise with some of the top leaders in the company.

I, like everyone else new to the business, was trying to figure out “the secret” to the industry.

The Company’s top income earner was the host of the cruise, and one evening, while onboard the ship,  I had the opportunity to sit and pick his brain over a nice glass of wine.

This was it…I was going to get the chance to find out “the secret!”

As it turns out…there isn’t really any big “secret”…but I did learn some of the most important lessons of this industry that evening.

Being a “numbers guy”…this one of course stood out…during the course of conversation my mentor told me that most of his income came from just 5 legs of his business.

Furthermore, he told me that throughout the industry…most people’s income comes from 3 to 5 legs of their business.

I have to tell ya…I was a bit stunned by this tidbit of information.

AND, as it so happened, all of his leaders were on this same cruise!

So I spent the following day seeking each one of them out and having a conversation with them.

Sure enough…each one of them had the same story to tell…most of their income came from 3 to 5 legs of their business.

I’ve been in the industry a lot of years now, and I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with many of the top leaders. I’ve made it a habit to always ask them the same question…and, without fail, I get the same answer…3 to 5 legs of their business provide most of their income.

It’s a plain and simple “truth” of the industry.

So in truth, the graphics that everyone uses are exactly how the industry works…they just neglect to include the word “LEADER.”

And leaving that simple little word out…unwittingly sets people up to be disappointed.

I’ve seen it happen countless times…a new Distributor is fired up…goes out and recruits a few people…and none of them do anything.

The new Distributor had been promised that all they had to do was recruit a few people and they would be living on easy street!

They try to “motivate” their team…coach them…train them…hell maybe even bribe them…but nothing seems to get them going.

So, frustrated that the system isn’t working as promised, they give up and quit the industry.

POOF…Network Marketing doesn’t work!

What should have happened is someone should have told them the truth about how the numbers actually work out here in the real world.

In this industry, just like any other, the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule holds true.


You will find that 80% of the people you recruit will do absolutely nothing!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news…but it’s a cold hard truth…if you go out and recruit 100 people…80 of them are going to leave the business without ever doing a damn thing!

But…there is some good news…

If 80 out of 100 quit…

That means that 20 will stick around!

Now…before ya get too excited…I’ve got to tell ya a bit more about those 20…

You can apply the Pareto Principle to that group as well…and when you do, you’ll find that somewhere between 15-17 of them are only going to do a “little bit” of business.

They will “dabble”…

They will usually work enough to get their initial investment back…and then trickle off…it’s more of a hobby for them than a business.

However…they are EXCELLENT users of the product…and often stay with the company for years…consistently purchasing products…and occasionally bringing in a new Distributor.

OH…and there is some REALLY good news…

Out of 100…80 will do nothing at all…15-17 will do a little…

Which leaves us with 3-5 that will become LEADERS!

These are the individuals that pick up the ball and run with it!

They understand the numbers…and they make the decision to build their business come hell or high water!


The “magic” of the numbers is…if you just keep recruiting long enough for the numbers to work…you WILL eventually find Leaders.

Right about here is where I’m usually interrupted with…”But WHEN will I find my Leaders? I’m working my ass off and nobody else is doing anything!”

Unfortunately…I don’t have a crystal ball…so I cant give you a definitive answer.

I have a friend in industry that the second person they brought into the business went out and built a HUGE organization.

And I’ve met a shit ton of people that have never found one. (Remember the 80%…they quit before the numbers have a chance to work in their favor)

The reality is, you simply cant look at a group of people and pick out who the Leaders will be…believe me I wish I could!


All too often the individuals whom you think are going to be monsters in the business quit before the numbers start to work for them…and the ones you don’t think stand a chance go out and build a big organization.

So…I cant tell you “WHEN” it will happen. You could get lucky and find a Leader right out of the gate…or you could be incredibly unlucky and have to recruit several hundred people before your Leaders emerge.

But I can tell you that it “WILL” happen if you simply keep recruiting long enough for the numbers to start working in your favor.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Nobody EVER fails in Network Marketing…but a lot of people ‘quit’ before they succeed.”


~ John Deckard


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The Numbers — 19 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. As someone who is at the beginning of the journey it is very valuable information to learn!

  2. Very interesting blog. I always wondered what that missing piece was. I think you explained it perfectly. But there is one thing you blog doesn’t mention. Talent. Some people are just not sales people. It killed me to watch a good friend try and try to make herself into a saleswoman while ignoring her real God-given skills. It always seemed to be such a waste. She finally quit after TEN YEARS. Is it true some people aren’t cut out for the sales business? Are they part of the 15-17 that stick around but go nowhere?

    • “Sales” is an acquired skill set…yes some people are more “naturally inclined” to the skills…but anyone can learn them. One problem is that people tend to see “sales” as trying to “convince” someone to do something that they don’t really want to do…that is dead opposite of what I try to teach. Stop thinking of it as “sales” and try thinking of it as “showing”…just “show” it and then let them make their own decisions.

  3. Now this makes sense. You have what seems to be the perfect opportunity. You sign more than a hundred and nothing seems to be happening. My question is, is there a way to reach these people and get them motivated? It seems to me that the answer is in the lines of communication.

    • There are many schools of thought on that idea…my personal belief is that “motivation” is on the individual. I can teach someone all of the skills that they need to succeed, but I can’t make them get out of bed in the morning and go use those skills. Trying to “motivate” the “unmotivated” is an exercise in futility.

  4. Hi John,

    your post makes perfect sense to me. I had my own company and recruited well over 100 actors… very few were proactive and only 1 generated $. While I did quit the business before it could flourish, I don’t completely regret it. At the time, I didn’t have the mindset to realize that my business, like almost all businesses are Network Marketing models. One door closed, but it’s opened other doors and windows… It’s been nearly a year of trying to realign myself to a growth mindset, and now some opportunities are starting to arise… I fully intend to learn from each one and grow from them. Thank you for putting some more perspective on business for me with your post.

    • Hey Mario…glad I could put some perspective on it! Oh…and dont feel like the “Lone Ranger” we all go through ups and downs in business…its just a matter of learning from it, both good and bad.

      Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your new path.

  5. John,
    I was one of those people that fell into that thinking. If 1 of 20 would get you your diligent aggressive sellers then you only need to find 20 people to work with. Easy peas! But never once thought that out of those 20 I still may not have found “the one” which becomes a part of that 3-5% down the road but you might have talked with 20 or maybe it isn’t until you have talked with 300 people.
    After reading your blog this thinking cleared up for me. It seems silly now to have thought like that. But perhaps it is upline that sets the stage for that thinking as you have sited in your blog.

    • Fran…that’s the funny thing…it does work out to about 1 in 20…give or take…but you may have to recruit a LOT more before you see those numbers materialize. IF ya start off with the understanding that it may take 100 people before ya really start to see any growth, then you’re less likely to be “frustrated” when the first handful dont do anything. AND…if ya get lucky and find one quick, ya know that it’s a blessing!

  6. John, I read the post several times. I agree with your post. Too many join for the promise of big return. In reality, nothing comes without hard work and perseverance. Having leaders/mentors would have laid out a road map for success. I wonder how many true leaders exist 3-5 legs of their business. Are they great salesmen or leaders? A true leader must possess the ability to develop future leaders. I am sure many of the 80% had no interest in learning the business. They were in it for the fast return on their investment.

    • In my experience they are not “natural born leaders”…they are simple individuals that REFUSE to give up. Everybody in the industry can tell you sad stories about things going wrong…however, the leaders will tell you their “sad story” while they are about the business of building their team! They continue to work on building their business no matter what happens…good or bad…they simply will not quit until they succeed.

  7. John, this post kind of “hits home” in that I have a friend who was heavy duty in network marketing. He was very successful. Then the guy at the top died. Most, if not almost all, of his “leaders” gradually all dropped out of the business. But he went from being well-to-do to being just about broke. He never recovered. Might have been because he mostly gave it up before being successful again. Maybe he was just worn out worrying about it. He’s not sure.

    • Hate to hear that…but it happens. Some people manage to recover…and some never do…which I find “odd” because they already KNOW how the industry works. It’s devastating when your whole organization collapses…but you have the KNOWLEDGE of how to build it…so, ya pick yourself up…dust yourself off…and get back to work!

      If your friend wants to get back into the mix, have them contact me…we’ll get them pointed back in the right direction!

      Oh…and a bit of advice to whomever is listening…when you DO start making the “big bucks” hire an asset manager who can insure that, should your business collapse, you never have worry about money.

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