Senior Platinum | Immunotec
John Solleder’s Millionaire Training Story
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I was about to graduate from Seton Hall University in Northern New Jersey. It was 1983. At the time, I was working part-time selling health club memberships in a Nautilus facility (if you remember back to the old Nautilus equipment that came out of Florida). A friend of mine named Tommy Husted, a very elite wrestler at Lehigh University who worked out at that facility introduced me to the health club’s owner, Dave.
Dave starts to explain to me about this business that he and Tommy had gotten involved with called Herbalife. He explained to me that I could have my own business as well for $32. At that time, $32 was a lot of money for me. To put it in perspective, my vehicle at school was an old U.S. mail Jeep, like the ones they still use today.
I gave a check to Tommy and asked him to hold it for a couple of days so I could cover it. He graciously did. That night, I got home did my schoolwork, and finished up around 10 pm. I pulled out my new Herbalife Distributor Kit and looked through the magazine, The Herbalife Journal, that came with it. On the cover was Tish Rochin. She lived in a place called Plano, Texas. I didn’t know who Tish Rochin was and I didn’t know where Plano, Texas, was, but what I did know from reading the magazine was that Tish had earned $250,000 the previous year. For someone who had trouble covering a check for $32, this was inspiring.
I opened the career book, and inside were circles and diagrams. I started to look at the marketing plan and took out a yellow legal pad. I put some names in some circles; I stayed up until 4:00 am that morning, putting names in circles and making mathematical projections of what would happen with this Herbalife pay plan. By 4:00 am, I had made $1 Million on paper!
I thought, This is a pretty simple business. This plan makes sense. Whoever, whatever genius had put this business together, it was making total sense to me. Fast forward 30 days, I graduated from Seton Hall University. At that point in my life, I was very liberal thinking, a left-wing person. I believed that business was bad, and if you owned a business, you were probably getting one over on people.
At my graduation, I found out the commencement speaker was going to be President Ronald Wilson Reagan. I didn’t like him for a variety of reasons, one of which was that he had fired the air traffic controllers. I felt like he was a union-buster, and I am from a very pro-union family. I didn’t want to go, but my father who was still alive at that point said to me, you know what, we respect the office even though we don’t like the guy. You need to go. You worked hard all these years to get this degree. You need to go. I’m glad he had that position on things. I ended up going begrudgingly, and I was one of those guys – I had my arms folded the whole session.
During the speech, President Reagan talked about some basic ideas, things like entrepreneurship and freedom. He discussed that when he was young, he met a wealthy man and asked him, “Can you help me find a job?”
The wealthy man replied, “Well, do you really want a job, or do you want a career?”
“I want a career.”
“That’s something you have to find.”
That day, I began to understand that I already was being mentored a little by my upline in Herbalife. I’d been to several small meetings at local hotels, but there was going to be a much more extensive training the following month with the co-founder, Larry Thompson. I had heard so much about Larry; I felt it was an excellent time to take the next step and attend.
The problem was nobody in my upline had reliable transportation. I had my mail Jeep, but that wasn’t going to make the four-hour drive from New Jersey to Hartford, Connecticut. My friend, Tommy, didn’t have a car either, so he ended up asking his dad to borrow his old station wagon. Thankfully, his dad said yes, so Tommy, me, and three other people we had recruited drove up to Hartford and stayed overnight in a hotel. The next day, we got up and went to the training. I had never been to anything like that in my life. There were at least 2,000 people there from Boston to New York, and D.C., a vast area.
When Larry comes out on stage, it is a magical moment. There was a lot of outstanding leadership in the room and having Larry there in-person speaking was a huge deal. There were compelling things Larry said that day, that I still use in my business 36 years later. The number one being the mantra he had learned and passed on to us, “For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better.”
It was the first time that I had heard those types of words articulated by someone. Larry’s a stranger to me. He’s an executive in this big company that I joined, and I’m just a total nobody. I’m just a kid out there in the audience, but that message was crucial not only for my career but for my life.
My upbringing was one where everything was the government’s fault, or it was the politician’s fault, or the union’s fault, or the contractor’s fault, or somebody else’s fault. Failure was always somebody else’s responsibility, not your own.
That day, I got “For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better.” I can say it in my sleep. (And, I can even say that in Spanish and French, believe it or not!)
Larry was communicating a message related to him, and he was already hugely successful in his professional life as a result of that messaging. Hearing that one idea from Larry was incredibly eye-opening and it pointed me in the right direction mentally.
When I initially joined Herbalife, my distributor kit came with Larry’s The Millionaire Training tapes, but I hadn’t listened to them. My U.S. Mail Jeep didn’t come with a cassette player, and I didn’t own a cassette player at home, so I had no way to listen to the tapes. However, on the four-hour drive home from that training, we all listened to them in Tommy’s dad’s car. I couldn’t believe how funny Larry was on these tapes. He could be a standup comedian with the stuff that’s on there. But what was right, is that in all that humor, there was also so much wisdom. What also spoke to me when listening to those tapes, was the fact that conceptually anyone could do this business. Larry and the other people who spoke at the meeting that day illustrated that point, especially Tish Rochin, the lady truck driver, who was making $250,000 a year.
Mark Hughes and Larry Thompson created a brilliant business plan with Herbalife. Take ordinary people and get them successful. Show off every day common people having success.
When I joined Herbalife, the company was having a $140 million year. I understood this was a concept-driven business. Today, I listen to some of our colleagues in this industry who are trainers, and they’re trying to teach technique instead of teaching concepts. I got from Larry that day in Hartford and listening to The Millionaire Training were concepts. For example, he didn’t say, “Go down to the local bank and stand in the bank line at 10 am, talk to the first three ladies wearing dresses.”
Larry said, “Talk to anyone who breathes.” Now, that’s a concept. Do they have to wear dresses? No. Could they wear shorts? Yeah. Could they be young? Yeah. Could they be old? Yeah. That’s what I got from The Millionaire Training back in 1983: concepts vs. techniques. That is a big difference.
The Millionaire Training was straightforward because it was only two cassettes. It wasn’t like you bought this big, huge 7-week training program and had to listen to 19 different tapes. It was simplified. You would listen, flip the tape over, and then listen to the other side. That was where we started. What Larry taught was simple enough. If you listened once, you got some, and if you listened a second time, you got a little more. If you listened a third time, you got a little more, but you metabolized it as you listened to it repeatedly.
The Millionaire Training had so many concepts that I needed to hear over and over; I say 9,000 times. (I’m not exaggerating how many times I listened. I actually wore the tapes out and had to buy a new set about every six months because I’d listen to them so often.) How you learn something is by repetition, where you continually listen to something until you get it, and then it becomes yours once you get it, but you still keep listening to it because you always miss something.
What I’ve found with the tapes is that there’s so much information that you have to go back, listen again, go back, listen again, read again, however you are learning. To become professional at something, experts say you have to do it 10,000 times. When it comes to learning, part of that involves hearing the same thing repeatedly. Then, of course, the other part of that is applying what you’ve heard. It’s one thing to listen to it, but if you don’t apply it, you didn’t learn. The best teacher in our business is the tell, show, try, do. And we all know the do part is the hard part, right?
I was fortunate enough to meet Larry’s two mentors, Jim Rohn and Bobby Depew, who inspired Larry’s training. I met Jim at a long lunch meeting in Dallas many years ago. I met Bobby through Larry back in the early 1990s. I would go out to California occasionally and visit Larry at his ranch. One time, when I was in New York he called and said, “Hey, Bobby’s going to be out here when you’re out here.” I couldn’t believe my luck. I was going to meet the famous Bobby Depew! I went out to California and spent an afternoon with Bobby. I don’t know whether Larry had something else to do or he just figured, Hey, you know what? Let me stay out of this. You talk to him directly. I was skipping a generation. Larry was my mentor, I’m talking to his mentor, and Bobby and I sat on the back deck for five hours. I just listened to this guy and relished the fact that I was getting to talk with one of the original creators of this industry. He helped orchestrate many of the compensation models, pay plans, and training that Larry would often reference.
He passed shortly after that, but what an afternoon that was. As I look back on my 36 years now, getting to spend an afternoon with my mentor’s mentor and pick his brain, just two guys, sitting on a back deck in California, chewing the fat. It was a great opportunity, and somewhere I’ve still got my notes from that day.
What we do affects so many people generationally; we don’t even realize the lives we touch. I have a huge organization of Hispanic leaders in my company, and one of them last week said to me, “You’re Tata.”
I speak some Spanish, but I was like, Tata?
I know that’s good. Because tata means grandpa in Spanish. To put it in perspective, if I’m the grandfather, then Larry is the great-grandfather. Even though my distributors don’t know Larry, they know me. How many organizations are like that? Then Bobby and Jim Rohn as well. We have a responsibility to teach the right things to the next generation.
The last three years have been incredible, and currently I’m working as hard as I did when I was young. Maybe not that hard but working pretty hard, traveling a lot, and seeing new parts of the world. After the recent passing of my insurance mentor, it caused me to reflect on the people in my life that helped me along the way, and Larry is one of them.
I look back on that day Larry came to Hartford to speak. He didn’t know there’d be a guy in the audience who got it. He probably hoped there were a lot of guys in that audience that likely did get it, but one got it at least. My oldest daughter is starting to do some public speaking on a situation that came into her life that was a very negative situation, and she’s trying to turn it into a positive.
A couple of weeks ago, she was asked to speak to some people who are on the same road that she’s on. Before her speech, I called her and told her something that Larry had taught me. That is, if there’s one who gets it, you did your job. If there’s one who changes something, you did your job. Yes, you want them all to get it, but they’re all not going to get it. They’re going to be distracted. There are days when they are going to be on their cell phone. They’re going to be thinking of something else, whatever. If there’s one person, one person’s life you impact that day, you did your job. You can put your head on the pillow that night and know you did do what you’re supposed to do.
I’m going to tie in another concept of Larry’s as well. When my daughter had her challenge, and we were leaving the institution that she was treated at, I said to her, “You know what begins now?”
She said, “I know, dad. One day at a time, a brick at a time, process by process.” The funny thing is that’s construction talk, that’s not multilevel. I tell that to my kids and distributors all the time. It’s a phrase that applies to everything. So once again, how do you take all the stuff that we’ve done in our business and use them in your life? How do you apply those things when things are dire? Well, one day at a time, a brick at a time, process by process. My daughter got it, and she’s working at it, and it’s a struggle, but she’s doing great.
Larry has a legacy that has done so much for so many. When I think back on the influence he has had on me, I think of several things. Number one is being a good student. I would say that is something many people wrestle with because we all want to be authoritative in our field and be good students. That takes a continual application of listening, reading, taking notes, and asking questions. Secondly, though, by being a good student, this is an applied science. In my other non-multilevel life, of course, I’ve coached many different sports, and I tell people, the only way to figure out what you’re doing is to get out there and get your nose bloodied. Nobody likes to get their nose bloodied, but that’s just the reality of sports, the reality of business, and the reality of life. Your nose gets bloodied sometimes, and it doesn’t feel good, but that’s how you’re going to learn.
To build on that, even if you listen to everything, you read everything, and you’ve got a million notebooks filled with notes, if you don’t go out and talk to somebody, I guarantee your business won’t work. If you don’t speak to your next-door neighbor this afternoon when you see him getting his mail and mention it to him, whatever it is that you’re marketing, all the information you learned is for not. It’s an applied science.
You have to know how to work with people, and these are things I learned from Larry and from other men who were serious about discipline as well. If you said you were going to do this, you better do this. Hold them not because you’re trying to be nasty, but because you want them to succeed, and if they succeed once, they can succeed again and again and again. That’s another concept I learned from Larry. If one can do it, all can do it.