Distributor Development

Direct Selling News, December 2007

While their motivations were different more than two decades ago when they became direct selling distributors, Ivan Earle of Primerica and Julie Weaver of Mary Kay credit their companies with changing their thinking and changing their lives. And both say they can't imagine leaving their company.

Earle worked in a manufacturing plant and, although he was single, he didn't make enough money to pay his bills. To make it worse, his plant announced imminent layoffs.

"I needed to be sure I had some income, so I started looking for something to do part-time," he says. "I knew people who had always done things on the side, so I started talking to them. One guy directed me to Primerica. I went to a meeting the following Monday, liked what they said, and joined the company right then. I didn't think that, four weeks later, I'd be making more money with Primerica than on my job."

Four months after he started his Primerica business, Earle quit his factory job. Why not? Through Primerica, he had already far exceeded the $20,000 a year he earned working for somebody else.

Four months was the magic time for Julie Weaver, too. Her yearning to stay home with her two kids fed her back to Mary Kay in 1987. She had put her toe in the pink water when she was 18, but she left to pursue a "real job." As she considered how she could leave that "real job" behind, she remembered Mary Kay. Especially appealing was how well Mary Kay's priorities of God, family and career matched her own. So she jumped in, initially working her part-time Mary Kay business in addition to her full-time job. Four months later, she earned her first career car. "When the 'want' is huge, the 'how' will appear," she says, quoting the company's namesake. "I can't tell you how I did it that fast, except that I was so determined. I shared the Mary Kay products and opportunity with every person I knew or met, because every time I did it I was one step closer to my freedom. I was a woman on a mission with a vision and a passion." Today, Weaver is a Mary Kay Elite Executive Senior Sales Director.

Development: An Inside Job
Weaver and Earle credit their respective direct selling companies with teaching them goal setting, money management, discipline and effective work habits. Over time, the companies also changed the way they think about their businesses and their goals.

"Primerica has allowed me to develop my mentality," Earle says. "It's nothing more than a personal-development program with a high compensation program attached to it. It sets an environment in which you believe that you can achieve more than the average person in America achieves. I am totally different now than when I came into the business."

Mary Kay, teaches its beauty consultants to be "others" focused, and the heart of Weaver's business is centered on what she can do for other women.

"My goal now is to help women to be able to afford to stay at home with their children and to help families become debt free," she says. "The debt ratio in America today is mind blowing. It breaks up a lot of families. Our family has become debt-free through Mary Kay, and I've come to look at what I do in a different way. It's almost like my ministry. It's something I can give back to other people.

"I love who I've become and what I stand for," Weaver says. "What I do will outlive me long beyond my Mary Kay years – the women I've helped stay at home or leave bad or abusive marriages or go after their dreams. I've helped people achieve these things by offering the opportunity and mentoring them through it. I would do it if I didn't get paid!"

Today, 26 years after he jettisoned his J-O-B, Earle leads a Primerica business that has 675 representatives and 22 regional vice presidents. He is a Primerica Senior National Sales Director and Chairman of Primerica's African-American Leadership Council. Earle earns about $900,000 a year, and his goal for the next three to five years is to double his income – not out of ego or greed, but to create a legacy for his family. He hopes that, one day, his children will go into business with him.

"I want to earn and invest and save enough money so my family will be financially independent for generations to come," he says. "I want them to be debt free and truly live the American dream." But his goals extend beyond his family. "I want to develop a downline of 30 to 50 regional vice presidents who are making $100,000 to $1 million a year."

For Weaver and Earle, the phrase developing downlines means more than recruiting. It also means helping others succeed. Weaver has begun taking Spanish lessons so she can expand her business into the growing Hispanic community in her hometown.

"I tell others that I began Mary Kay because of a need for money, but I stay because of who I've become in the process," she says. "Inwardly, I look forward to transferring my skills outward. Since Mary Kay has been my family's sole income for 15 and a half years, my definition of success has changed. I'm now being paid to do something I love and that will make a difference in others long after I'm gone."