The History of The Millionaire Training

and Network Marketing Industry Timeline

Ron Henley

by Ron Henley

Network Marketing | Historian

The date is February 21, 1981. It is a bright, sunny morning in Los Angeles, California and we find ourselves at the Bonaventure Hotel. We’re there for the first and only event of its kind, an event called, The Millionaire Training.

Forty-eight hours before the event begins, sensing the enormous value of what was about to be shared, Mark Hughes decides to record what is said. A man is hired to record the event and is paid $150 to capture the audio. He duct tapes a microphone to the center seat in the front row and turns on the recorder. 

It’s time to get started and Doug Stuntz walks up in front of the room. The boisterous room goes quiet as he gets everyone’s attention. After a brief introduction, a 35-year-old, excited Larry Thompson takes the stage. 

Once too shy to stand up in front of his classroom and give an oral book report, he is a walking example of everything he is about to share. He brings everything he has to the small and enthralled crowd. 

Four hours later, he has given what has been called, “One of the greatest business speeches of all time.” With zero edits, the now world famous The Millionaire Training audio cassettes are distributed to the field and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Speaking of history, where did Larry Thompson learn all that he shared that day? Who did he learn it from? That, my friends, is a fascinating story. One I am honored to share with you.

Larry learned all he shared that day from some of the original founders of the network marketing profession. What he shared came from a unique set of circumstances that had begun decades earlier. Circumstances that gave Larry Thompson credentials that few on the planet have.

To better understand The Millionaire Training, we must go back to the place it all started:

1934: Carl Rehnborg starts selling a vitamin and mineral supplement. He names his new company, California Vitamins, Inc. 

1939. At a cost of $69.56, Rehnborg renames California Vitamins, Inc. to Nutrilite Products, Inc. At this point, it was still a direct sales company.

1943-1944: Having too many customers to personally service, Rehnborg asks people in key areas to buy a little extra product and service a customer base. He agrees to pay a commission and later, overrides, to these key people, loosely creating the business model that becomes network marketing.

1945: Sensing the huge opportunity of the supplement business, two men named Lee S. Mytinger and William S. Casselberry make a deal with Rehnborg to become Nutrilite National Master Distributors.

Here’s where things get COOL.

1948: Rich Schnackenberg joins Nutrilite and develops the core foundations that finish out the business model started by Rehnborg while building the largest known team in the company.

1949: Neil Maaskant joins the Schnackenberg organization in Nutrilite. Knowing his cousin, Jay Van Andel, was always looking for a good opportunity, he tells Jay, and his partner, Richard DeVos, about the opportunity.

Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos (future founders of Amway) join the Schnackenberg organization in Nutrilite, but after only selling a single order of product, they completely lose interest in the business.

A few weeks later, Maaskant talks Van Andel and DeVos into attending a Nutrilite company event in Chicago where they hear Rehnborg, Schnackenberg, and other leaders speak.

The event rekindles their interest and the two men go to work. Over the next decade, they build a thriving organization of over 2,000 distributors.

About this time, the FDA really goes after Mytinger and Casselberry for many infractions including false advertising and bogus product claims.

Rich Schnackenberg tries to warn the two men and advises against their strategies to no avail. Frustrated by all of this, Schnackenberg tries to buy controlling interest in Nutrilite but Rehnborg would not sell. Rich maintains his distributorship but stops actively building.

1953: Dr. J. B. Jones, a direct student of Napoleon Hill, tours the country giving lectures on Hill’s Laws of Success. Seeing the promise of food supplements, he starts a company that couples the philosophy of abundance with vitamins and christens his new company Abundavita.

Dr. Jones, having watched and admired Rich Schnackenberg from a distance, and knowing of his current frustrations with Nutrilite, recruits him as Executive Vice President of Training for Abundavita. Reluctantly, Schnackenberg resigns his position with Nutrilite. Excited about joining a success philosophy with selling food supplements, he throws himself into this new enterprise.

Within months, the new company is thriving. While giving a lecture on Napoleon Hill’s success philosophy in Long Beach, California, Dr. Jones recruits a pants presser named J. Earl Shoaff. 

Shoaff and Schnackenberg become best friends and, under Schnackenberg’s watchful eye, Shoaff works his way up to Executive Vice President of Sales in less than a year.  Dr. Jones promises the two men lucrative stock options once the company hits $1 Million per month in sales so they throw their heart and soul into it.

1955: The two men cross the country building Abundavita until, one night, in October, they find themselves in Pensacola, Florida. There, a 25-year-old Sears stock clerk, Jim Rohn, blown away by what he had heard the two men share, joins the company. He borrows $200 from his parents to get started.

About this time, Shoaff and Schnackenberg are left in charge of the company as Dr. Jones begins an around-the-world vacation spanning a year and a half. The company explodes under the two men and they quickly hit their $1 Million per month sales goal and sales kept climbing.

1957: Upon his return, Dr. Jones’ ego could not handle the fact that Shoaff and Schnackenberg had tripled the company without him. Jones not only reneges on the stock deal he made with the two men, he cuts their pay. They resign on the spot.

Frustrated beyond belief, they ponder on everything that has happened to them while considering their next move. After much discussion, Schnackenberg convinced Shoaff that they should try to buy controlling interest in Nutrilite. They made their proposal, but, again, they could not get Rehnborg to sell.

The men meet in Schnackenberg’s living room and decide to start their own food supplement company from scratch. In July, the Nutri-Bio Corporation is born. They flip a coin to decide who would become President and Shoaff won the toss. Schnackenberg would be Executive Vice President.

Jim Rohn, along with a huge chunk of Abundavita distributors, leave to join Nutri-Bio. It was here that Shoaff and Schnackenberg absolutely thrived. Jim Rohn, under the direct mentorship of the two men also thrived.

So many legends and icons of the profession got their start in Nutri-Bio, such as:

  • Jim Rohn (who had come on in Abundavita)
  • William E (Bill) Bailey
  • Robert “Bobby” DePew
  • John Fleming
  • Les Brown
  • William Penn Patrick
  • Zig Ziglar

Both Shoaff and Schnackenberg become multi-millionaires while helping create unheard of fortunes for their distributor base. Nutri-Bio begins outselling Abundavita, Nutrilite, and every other food supplement company in business at the time.

1959: Van Andel and DeVos, also frustrated, leave Nutrilite, and with many of their top earners, begin their own company called The American Way (Amway) selling liquid soap called Frisk.

1961: When Shoaff and Schnackenberg decide to expand Nutri-Bio into Canada, they hand pick Jim Rohn to be Executive Vice President of the Canadian Division. At 31 years old, the huge bump in pay along with lucrative stock options make Jim a multimillionaire with a net worth of $2.3 Million.

1963: Nutri-Bio folds. Schnackenberg and Rohn decide to launch a new supplement company called Bio-Lite but are shut down before they can launch. Rohn, realizing the value of all he had learned, gives his first public speech at the Beverly Hills Hotel which starts a speaking career on the side.

1964: Shoaff wants completely out of the food supplement business and starts Ovation Cosmetics, Schnackenberg comes on as Executive Vice President. The company is still in business today.

1964: William Penn Patrick starts Holiday Magic Cosmetics. Bill Bailey and Bobby DePew come on as executives with Bailey becoming the first president of the company.  Zig Ziglar joins and quickly becomes one of the top earners in the company. It was at this time that a sewing machine salesman named Glenn W. Turner joins and becomes a top earner.

1966: After a disagreement with Penn Patrick, Bill Bailey resigns from Holiday Magic and starts Bestline Products selling a biodegradable soap called Zif. Bobby DePew joins as Vice President of the new venture. Larry Huff joins.

1967: Glenn Turner leaves Holiday Magic and starts his own company called Koscot Cosmetics. He also later starts a motivation company called Dare to Be Great!

1968: Bobby DePew invites Jim Rohn to a Bestline meeting in San Jose, California. Mike Fuller invites a co-worker named Larry Thompson to that same meeting where both men join the company that night.

1969: John Fleming (future president of Avon West and gig economy expert) joins Bestline Products and is introduced to the network marketing business model.

1972: Les Brown joins Bestline Products. He’s at the Neil House Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. There for another meeting, he hears Bill Bailey’s voice through the walls and decides to check it out. Bill introduces Jim Rohn and Les is blown away and joins the company.

All of this is filtering down into that fateful day of The Millionaire Training. Here’s where it really starts to tighten up.

1978: A suit salesman named Mark Hughes joins a supplement company called Slender Now. It is in this company where Mark attends his first Jim Rohn seminar.

1979: A pivotal year. Slender Now goes out of business. Larry Huff starts a new company called Golden Youth that markets supplements and a piece of exercise equipment called a Slim Gym. Huff invites Larry Thompson to take a look. Mark Hughes is there, too. Mark and Larry Thompson meet and both men join the company that night. Mark quickly becomes a top earner and Thompson becomes Vice President, so the two men form a solid friendship.

Within a few months, Golden Youth folds and Mark decides to start his own company. Thompson, needing a break, and missing his family, moves back to Texas to be closer to them. Mark is serious about starting this new company and wants Larry to be a part of it. Larry is hesitant to jump back in but gladly consults with Mark about products, marketing, compensation plan, etc. Jim Rohn was also consulting with Mark offering his guidance from the beginning, too.

1980: Mark launches Herbalife International. Selling products from the trunk of his car, the company does $24,000 in sales their first month. $48,000 the second month. By May, Mark and Larry shake hands on a deal for Larry to officially become part of Herbalife, but it’s not until October 7th that he actually does so.

Mark wanted to make him vice president of the company right away, and just like Jim Rohn had done in Bestline, Larry said, “No, they’re not going to accept me unless I build a team.” So, he went to work building a team.  On January 4, 1981, Larry became the official Executive Vice President of Herbalife International.

Six weeks later, on February 21, 1981, Larry hits the stage and delivers The Millionaire Training. It was a culmination of all Larry had learned over the previous 13 years.

Here’s a simplified view:

Rich Schnackenberg started it ALL and is the man this entire profession can be directly traced back to and he was an avid student of Napoleon Hill, Orison Swett Marden, Wallace Wattles, Dale Carnegie, George S. Clason, James Allen, and more.

Rich Schnackenberg poured into Earl Shoaff.

Both men poured into Jim Rohn, Bill Bailey, Bobby DePew, William Penn Patrick, Zig Ziglar.

Jim Rohn, Bill Bailey, and Bobby DePew poured into Larry Thompson.

Jim Rohn and Larry Thompson poured into Mark Hughes. 

The same ideology that created the legends and icons of this profession, the same ideology that had been poured into Larry Thompson is what he shared that day in The Millionaire Training.

The people in this book are all products of what was shared and captured that day. Some were there in person. Most of us were given the audio and wore out more cassettes than you can count.  All that Larry had, he poured into us. Now, with this book, let all of us pour into you.

You are holding a time machine in your hands that reveals every secret, every nuance, every foundational principle that created, sustains, and will build and maintain this profession forevermore.

The 2nd edition of The Millionaire Training is being written at this very moment by YOU. It’s being written by what you do with all that you learn here. It’s being written by the people who use the knowledge in this book to change lives.

Let me share an insight with you that can make all the difference with your mindset and your attitude. Remember this as you read, study, and implement what you learn in this book:

We are all part California Vitamin Company.

We are all part Nutrilite.

We are all part Abundavita.

We are all part Nutri-Bio.

We are all part Amway.

We are all part Ovation.

We are all part Mary Kay.

We are all part Bestline.

We are all part Holiday Magic.

We are all part Koscot.

We are all part Dare To Be Great.

We are all part Slender Now.

We are all part Golden Youth.

We are all part Herbalife.

And so many more.

Past.

Present.

FUTURE.

Just as much as we are all part of the companies that came before us.  Just as much as we are all part of the founders of this profession.  So are we ALL a part of The Millionaire Training!

The DNA from the very beginning.

The DNA from The Millionaire Training.

Is in our blood.

In our hearts.

In our minds.

A treasured few like Larry Thompson are still around.

Most have gone away.

But the lessons they taught.

The skills they sharpened.

The attitudes they forged.

The hope they brought.

The lives they forever changed.

The legends and icons they created.

Are within us ALL!

The failures taught us what not to do.

The successes taught us what to do.

We carry all of that force with us.

To invest in today.

To invest in our better future.

As individuals.

As leaders.

As companies.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

Together, we can pay it forward.