This week, I decided to interview a good friend of mine, Jason Donnelly. I first met Jason Donnelly in the basement of a small bank nearly two years ago as he talked about the health and nutrition company that he works for, Advocare. I expected him to simply try to convince my wife and I to purchase the products, but instead he told us about how he spent his first few years out of high school working at a factory, and then later laying asphalt for roads and driveways. This type of work was not only hard on Jason physically, but more importantly it kept him away from his two daughters for long periods of time throughout the week. He spoke about how the burning desire to be a stay-at-home dad had motivated him to start selling the health and nutrition products part-time. In only a few short years, Jason turned this small income into a full-time position, one that now allows him to stay home with his children. He no longer misses important schools events. He does not have to punch a clock for twelve hours a day or spend weeks burning in the hot sun as he shovels another load of rock.
In the process of growing his business, Jason has created a following of thousands. The team he has developed beneath him spans numerous neighborhoods, cities, and even multiple states, but Jason has found a way to work each individual differently and still create a culture of success.
How does he do it? What makes Jason such a great leader for the thousands of men and women beneath him? And now that he has been so successful and has accomplished his initial goals, what continues to motivate him to push forward? These are the questions I asked, and I hope you enjoy his answers.
Question 1: What was the initial motivation behind starting such a large movement?
Jason: "In many direct-sales companies, women are the drivers of those businesses. In fact, nearly 80% of all people involved in direct-sales are women. But when I was introduced to Advocare, I saw three men who were leading and who had created full-time incomes through their business.
But my interest in doing it was that I was laid off from my asphalt job for the winter, I was unemployed, and I saw it as an opportunity to make part-time income instead of having to go out and get a part-time job. I could do it on my own time.
Question 2: As your business began to grow, talk about any doubts or fears you experienced. How did you combat those fears?
Jason: "There are a lot of fears. Before I began, I was not someone of influence, in my own opinion. My background was construction. Prior to that, I was in factories. So, I did not have a huge network of people to tap into, and those fears were, 'Would people listen? Would people follow? Would they do what I do? Would they buy into what I say'
And honestly, I accidently starting getting success through my fears. What I mean by that is that I would start getting results on products and my friends and family starting getting results, and by the time that I began to feel those fears of doubt, I looked up and I was already leading a small group of people. It may sound cheesy, but that phrase 'You fake it till you make it." You look up and you're leading small organization of people.
Question 3: Now that you have such a large group, how have your goals changed?
Jason: That's a transition that people either fear or they step up to the plate, and I've kind of gone through all of those phases. And there's a huge difference between my initial goal of making $300 a month selling products to my friends in the gym to being a leader and changing lives either physically or financially. I'm a huge leader with really no leadership to look to in my are for Advocare, and that can be incredibly scary. I realized that it was no longer about just myself. Now, it's about the challenge of leading others through their struggles. And we're all so different. My personality may not connect with a different personality type. So that's probably the most difficult thing.
So you really have to decide, 'Do you really want to grow?' It was scary. The higher levels of success bring on so much more responsibility, and it took me nearly three years to decide that I wanted to grow to the highest level.
Question 4: How does the motivation play a role in your success? Why do you some people succeed while others fail?
Jason: I think a lot of that has to do with, 'What motivates you'? For me, my motivation changed from making $300 a month to the possibility of being a stay-at-home father, which is something that I've always wanted to do.
There was a time when I actually became complacent in my business. I had accomplished all of the large goals I had set for myself. But there are others factors that motivate me outside of money. There's a competitive nature inside of me that when people tell me, 'You can't do this', I like to go out and do it anyway. When I learned what I had my hands, I became very competitive in facing adversity. People in my community told me that I wouldn't be successful in this business. Looking beyond just what I do, I know that that very few people make it to the highest level in any profession. You can be a journalist, but very few people write for The Wall Street Journal. But just reading personal development books, self-help books, biographies of successful people...All of these people have a common theme of adversity before they reached success.
Knowing that, I knew I would face adversity. But I accepted that. And when people told me that I would fail, I thought 'I already know a little something about you in that you quit trying a long time ago'. And that may or may not sound offensive, but it's true. I had to realize that outside opinion does not matter. These individuals quit dreaming.
So the motivation carried me all the way through the doubts. I set goals and accomplished them. And you have to reevaluate your goals. You either reevaluate or quit. As you do that, do not just focus on the destination. You have to learn to love the process and the journey. Don't just celebrate the big wins. Celebrate the team victories, the team wins. Because in the end, if I'm the only one who is successful, what does it matter? So I can be alone at the top? That's not success. Once you taste your own success, people often quit. They never help others succeed.
And why do others fail? It's understanding what you're doing this for. Money is not a motivation. You don't work your butt off so you have a nice figure in your account. You work your butt of so you can't use that money in a beneficial way. Why do you want to make $5,000 a month? To replace your job? Well, that's not good enough. The reality is, if all you're doing is trying to replace your crappy job, what's the purpose? So you can go home and be bored to death? Is it because you want to spend more time with your kids or your spouse? Why are you doing this? Find a purpose bigger than yourself.
And a lot of people are so scared to dream. They're afraid to have dreams because they're told so often they'll never accomplish them. Look at when we had the billion dollar Powerball Lotto. Everyone was showing their dreams all of a sudden. They're saying, 'Oh, I'd leave my job tomorrow and spend a week in Cancun or Thailand'. Sure you were, but if the Lotto wasn't an option, you would be so scared to say those things because people would look at you like you're ridiculous.
So the difference is, some people are willing to dream. And I am willing to dream and I surround myself with dreamers. You're the average of the five people you spend the most time around.
Question 5: How do you set your goals? Are they long-term (1-3 years) or short term? And once you have the goals, how do you take action?
Jason: I have embraced large long-term goals, and I believe I will accomplish those goals in two years. How I do it is, I set for long-term goals. But then you have to set the road map. Because you can say you want to accomplish this huge goal but if you don't take action, those are just words. I can go home and write that goal on my whiteboard at home. But what does it take? So you have go say, "This is my goal. But here are the smaller goals I need to accomplish this year to reach that. And here are the goals in the next six month. And then here are goals I need to accomplish in the next 30 days, and then two weeks."
Breaking down these large goals alleviates some of the fear of being so successful. And you have to take the action. It comes down to, 'Start reading the right books and stop watching two hours of television at night. Like, read 15 pages out a book. It's the slight edge of the things that are so easy to do but so easy not to do. It's incredibly easy to pick up a self-help book and read the lessons within those pages. But it's incredibly easy to push it off until tomorrow. Or I'll read it when I'm on the bus. But people refuse to read it instead of watching Grey's Anatomy. People that will do the easy stuff...it builds on top of each other.
Question 6: Now that you've accomplished your initial goal, what motivates you to continue?
Let's say I wanted to take a food chain and make it the most successful burger joint in the country. And I wanted to make Jason Donnelly Burgers consistent across the nation, I have to make the process duplicatable. So if I can go and help build these other locations, the processes are the same...it helps build my brand.
So if I can train those beneath myself, it helps them grow and it's a reflection of me. Even though the men and women beneath me are in charge of their own responsibilities, it's about building leaders beneath you. And once you do that, go out and find more people and build them up. It's about finding the 5, 6, or 7 people that are willing to work, and once you've found them you have to help get them going. It's no longer about me. It's about helping the team win. If you don't help those beneath you, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Question 7: What is the one thing you struggle with in terms of leading so many people?
Jason: Originally, it was boundaries. In the very beginning, it was the mentality of 'I'm always open for business'. My wife and kids were incredibly important to me, they almost took a back-burner to someone txting me and asking me about products. Or it was this guy that I would meet with and talk with, but then I wouldn't hear from him for two or three months...he would call me out of the blue wanting me to talk to someone to help close a sale and it would be while I was trying to lay my kids down for bed. And I would take it. And that was stuff that I didn't understand when I first started. There are boundaries that you have to establish. Knowing that it's okay to tell other people "No". My day is Sunday. I don't work on Sunday. I don't care what time it is, Sundays are my family days. I'll stay up as late you need me on Mondays or whatever, but when it's my boundary time, it's my family time. It's Daddy time.
For today, I had to take the time to listen to the people beneath me. They had concerns or questions about creating larger businesses, and my initial response was, "Well, man up and do it yourself". But my second response was to help organize events to help them succeed. So let's set up these things. If it takes me to simply step up, then lets' go. Let's build that structure. But the thing I struggle with the most is getting the leaders to buy into that structure. So it's, 'You asked for it...You wanted it. Here's exactly what you asked for. Will you buy into it?"
The biggest struggle past that is getting others to believe in themselves. I believe in someone so strongly but they don't believe in themselves. So how do I get that point across to somebody? How do you grow other people's confidence? And it's when people won't get out of their own way and surround themselves with better influences. They won't get out of their own way to lead, to be followed by others.
Question 8: How would you describe the role consistency plays in success for you?
Jason: It's everything. It's absolutely everything. Consistency is the number one word I would use to describe successful people in my business. You can do this business badly and still see success. But they were consistent. They consistently showed up and put in the work, even though they didn't fit the traditional mold.
When my business dropped off last year, it was when I quit putting in the work. It's when I coasted. When can you coast on a bicycle? When you're going downhill. You can't coast if you're trying to climb a hill. You can't coast when you're trying to succeed. So consistently trying to do the daily method will help build success. It's the in-and-out work consistently.
Question 9: What books have changed your perspective and helped you succeed?
Jason: One of the first books that blew me away in understanding people and how they relate to direct sales was Go Pro by Eric Worre. It's a book completely about succeeding in network marketing. To relate it to my business, it talks about how you can introduce someone to this business, show them all of the products we offer, show them results, show success...And then pass the responsibility to the individual. So you're eliminating right off of the back and saying that if you fail, it's your fault. Everyone has the same products. The only variable is you.
Another thing I learned from that book is that if someone doesn't do what they said they would or didn't live up to expectations, don't cut them out of your life or treat them differently. No, accept people for where they are because where they are is exactly where they want to be. That's what they're comfortable with. Do you sometimes want to grab people and shake them? Sure...But I've learned to be okay with that. I have to be okay with the idea that some people don't want to dream anymore.
The next book is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. That book is so good because it just gives so many real-world examples of how certain laws are applicable.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is another great book. I'm halfway through that one right now, and it really talks about the perceptions of people's mindset. One Dad in the book teaches his son how to make money work for him and the other Dad teaches his son how to work for money. And once you can break free of that mindset, it's very very freeing. Ya, you might work a job, but you can also make money work for you.
Finally, I would choose the Bible. I would consider the Bible one of the greatest self-help books of all-time. Let's say that you don't believe in God or religion at all...If you read the Bible just as a simple self-help book, it's powerful. There are so many great passages in the Bible. I'm not a largely religious person, but you read the Bible and you realize that you've experienced so many of these things in your life. How does this person get through it?
Jason: Let me start by saying that everyone would define success differently, but I would define success partly by starting with financial success. In that, I wake up and I'm not stressed with any type of debt. I don't anybody anything.
Secondly, if my girls were raised right to accomplish their dreams and their goals, that would be a success for me as a father. My goal is not just to raise good children. My goal as a father is to raise great adults, eventually. I don't want my oldest daughter just to have a great childhood and then fail as an adult. That's not my definition of success as a father.
Success in a different way is not the title that you earn. It's not because you do amazing things in the spotlight. For me, I could earn a ton of money through Advocare but if I can help single mother earn $200 a month to help pay for daycare or so that she can take days off of work to be with his child, that's success for her. Success isn't big bank accounts. It's about influencing others. Success is what makes you happy. Plain and simple
End of Interview