Michelle Turner-Davidson on Speaking, Mentoring, and Training for MLM
Michelle Turner-Davidson is a network marketing trainer, mentor, and speaker who helps network marketers find success. Here’s her story.
Wow Michelle! I am honored to have this interview with you. You have a lot of experience within network marketing that I am curious to learn more about. So, let’s get started!
First off, how was your childhood, what did you want to become when you “grew up,” and what did your parents do for a living?
My childhood was pretty normal in many ways, I went to a local school and then a comprehensive in my town in Essex.
I was pretty academic and artistic in equal measure, I did well at school and loved learning so I worked hard. My Dad was a civil engineer in British Rail, working at Kings Cross Station in London and my Mum was a Credit Controller for a local firm. I have a brother who is a couple of years younger than me.
The major difference for me growing up was that I spent every spare hour dancing from the age of two. I danced, drew (My Dad was very artistic and creative too so it was normal to have sketch books and oil pastels on the go) studied my school work, then danced and danced a bit more.
I always knew that I’d choose dance over University – I figured that I could go back later and study (which I did in my early 30’s) but dancing needed youth and fitness – and so I followed my passion and didn’t look back.
Was there any Entrepreneurship in the household during your childhood?
I was about to say not with my parents, however my Mum did start up her own catering business with a friend which was very successful for a few years.
My Grandparents along with some of my Uncles and Aunts did have a number of businesses which, looking back, were quite entrepreneurial. These included importing specialist equipment and and making leather steering wheels for Formula 1 cars in the 60’s which started from their living room. A number of other businesses evolved and then they eventually ran a caravan site and a smallholding for many years.
I didn’t think about it at the time but it was all around me. I spent most of my holidays from an early age staying with my Grandparents and family several hours from home while my parents worked.
What career did you finally pursue and how did that experience help you later in network marketing?
I trained and worked as a dancer and whilst when I stopped dancing I went on to work in the Health and Fitness Industry as a Trainer and Lecturer, writing and running national and international courses and qualifications, it was the resilience that I learned as a dancer that I think has been the most significant aspect.
Dancing was a hard environment to be in, no matter how much you trained and how good you were, you had to start over, again and again and push through regardless.
You could be a solo dancer in a successful show with standing ovations one day and the next you were back auditioning and people making decisions over you based on trivial things such as whether your hair was the right colour (even though it could be dyed). And you had to keep training and staying on top of your fitness no matter what.
I also knew that dancing was a passion that came from my soul not my ego. So, whilst it meant making difficult choices at times, I wasn’t prepared (or able) to compromise on who I was just to reach the limelight. The spotlight was never what drove me.
When did you discover network marketing and can you tell us how you discovered it, who showed you, and what were the first couple years like?
I discovered Network Marketing 14 years ago, I’d come to a bit of a cross-roads working 5/6 days a week and most evenings sometimes weekends in several self-employed jobs in the Fitness industry as well as a part-time University Lecturer with one very young child and another on the way.
We’d been working on a ‘traditional’ business idea for some years which, although it had been exciting and the potential was great, had drained every penny and created a big black hole which had become very stressful on all levels.
I was also teaching yoga at the time and someone in my village asked if I would teach her yoga and at the same time could she show me something she thought I may be interested in.
To be honest, I was only interested in teaching her yoga! But after a couple of sessions I agreed to take a look. I decided that I didn’t have anything (more) to lose and this could give me the freedom to build an income without giving up the other things I was doing. It gave me choices and a well-needed light at the end of the tunnel.
I can’t say I got happily involved. I was challenged by many things: selling, products, launches (parties), calling people, talking to friends and family about what I was doing or about the products or business and the person who introduced me went abroad to live a couple of days after I joined (and also inherited a substantial amount of money so was no longer engaged in the Network Marketing business).
So I had to work it out myself and I did what I tend to do naturally, I stepped up. (I was always going to be self-motivated anyway – I’d learned from an early age that if it was going to happen it had to be down to me).
I did every training possible, listened to every tape, watched every video and read every book and ‘got over myself’ and started to build my business regardless of the challenges. I was picked out by some of the top Leaders who wanted to Mentor me and things started moving forward. However throughout this my instinct kept prodding me.
Whilst I understood about getting out of my comfort zone, so much I was doing was not in alignment with who I was and my personal strengths and skills. And even when I demonstrated how these were relevant to building my business, they were passed over by those around me in favour of ‘traditional’ network marketing techniques and activities.
My business began to get stuck, because no matter how proficient I became, I was working against myself and I knew that made no sense. So a couple of years in, I decided to follow my instinct – and also discovered that many other successful people were not doing the things I’d been told I needed to do either.
So I looked for and found ways that meant I would get in front of more people and build lots of relationships by doing what came naturally and really did work for me, using business networking.
As well as demonstrate team building, training and community building skills, I presented educational and thought-provoking talks across the country through my network and developed a reputation which meant people started coming to me. No phone calls, no launches, no contacting friends and family.
People were coming to me because they had already decided they wanted to work with me and were already interested in Network Marketing because of my approach and what I did. And I loved this way of working and it showed.
What was the hardest lesson you learned from that time?
That Network Marketing is too often a system that is based on numbers and a one-size fits all approach which undermines the real strengths and true potential of individuals.
If, as is the case for many people who join Network Marketing, you don’t truly understand and know what Network Marketing is (other than what you are told) before AND after getting involved, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype and a hierarchical system and ultimately wastes valuable time.
Network Marketing is simply sales, marketing and team building and there are plenty of ways to do all of those things in a way that is aligned to your values, strengths and skills. Whatever they are.
Just because someone is given the title ‘Leader’ it doesn’t meant they always know what’s best for you, often in NM it’s about what’s best for them. If you are serious about your business. Do your own due diligence and listen to your intuition.
How did you become a mentor and speaker for network marketing and who do you ideally help?
I’ve coached and mentored people in some way for many years, and my honest, open and down to earth approach and willingness to speak out was a breath of fresh air for many people both in and around Network Marketing.
In the business networking environment I came across large numbers of people who were struggling with Network Marketing in some way, uncomfortable or put off by the hype and often disenfranchised by the hierarchical approach found in many NM team structures.
And many who were feeling stressed, pressured and disillusioned. My focus is to help those people stay in Network Marketing, if that is the right place for them, and to help them to find a way that truly works with and embraces who they are and their current circumstances.
Essentially I’m a facilitator and I provide the environment for people to take back control over their business and themselves to find and work with the resources they need to identify and become their personal unique successful self.
Whatever that means for them. To be their own best self. Developing the self-awareness and confidence to look inwards BEFORE looking outwards in a world where you could be forgiven for thinking that Success is already blueprinted.
What is the biggest problem you see with new network marketers, and what should they focus on in the beginning?
The biggest problem is starting a Network Marketing business and not understanding what Network Marketing really is and how it works. The ideology that you earn while you learn gets many people into trouble and can cost dearly.
In any business understanding the ins and outs about how you earn money and the costs/expenses associated with that are vital.
If you are not business minded or experienced it is easy to get deluded into thinking that this knowledge is secondary to success.
The good, the bad and the ugly are essential knowledge for success in Network Marketing as in any business.
When you really know and understand your company’s Marketing / Compensation Plan then you can make sound decisions about where to focus your time and effort, and skill development. There are costs associated with activity, Network Marketing isn’t free.
Understanding the difference between income and earnings (net profit) is vital to set realistic and workable budgets that support you.
Most people get involved with Network Marketing to earn an income, most join when they have little (if any) disposable income and to suggest that this is easily overcome is misleading at best… The good, the bad and the ugly is where REAL business success comes.
Knowledge means solutions, contingency means building the ark and not only surviving the inevitable flood, but thriving. Burying your head in the sand is an unnecessary way to drown. Let’s treat people as the intelligent beings they are.
Let’s not overlook that as far as the Inland Revenue, the banks, and the law are concerned you are self-employed and therefore responsible for your own business affairs and accounts no matter what you are told. Ignorance isn’t bliss – especially in Network Marketing.
Knowledge is King.
How should a network marketer build their team, develop one leader at a time, or recruit a ton of people and sift through them to find a leader?
I don’t believe that throwing mud at the wall is a healthy or helpful way to build a network marketing organisation, even though it is inherent in the industry.
First of all, look for those who are looking. Too many techniques are used to draw people in and then so much effort and energy is spent on keeping them in and working out which of them is going to stay – and inevitably getting that wrong so recruit more, over and over again becoming exhausted in the process.
There is a massive difference when someone makes up their own mind that what you have (the business model / company / products) is the solution for what they want (and they already know what they want – you weren’t involved in drawing it out, they worked it out all by themselves) and that working with you, they can already see, will give them access to the resources and feedback they need to make it work.
Those people don’t need YOU to be successful. They want to collaborate with you, yes (and other member in your organisation), share ideas, learn from you and pick your brains, yes, but they are self-motivated and take full responsibility for their own success (and failures) and learning.
Your job is not to motivate them and pour your energy into them. Your job is to focus on your own learning and business development and developing a strong and collaborative community where everyone thrives and shares ideas and solutions, developing more ways to reach those people who are (already) looking and making it easier and easy for them to choose to work with you – and openly discussing ALL the information they need to make an autonomous choice especially including the good, the bad and the ugly.
Attrition is a problem. Do you have any suggestions on how to reduce it?
Recruiting the right people (as described above) is key to reducing attrition alongside a transparent approach to Network Marketing in my view.
It may seem that your recruitment numbers are low when working this way – but these people stay and build a strong sustainable business with or without your input.
And if all of the people in your organisation work in the same way – focusing on developing their own skills and collaborating with others who fill / complement their knowledge and skill gaps, looking to attract more like-minded, self-motivated individuals rather than exhausting themselves recruiting and motivating others.
When team members are empowered and supported this way then they are far less likely to drop out and neither are those who follow the same pattern. It doesn’t matter whether their personal business goals are big or small either – when each person is recruited because they have chosen to join then they are more likely to stay, even when their goals are small because they understood what that meant before getting involved. So rather than dropping out, they stay active – of their own volition – adding to group volume with no effort or coercion needed.
When we look at the high attrition and therefore relatively low ratios of people who actually stay in NM and or build any sort of long term earning from the 100s of thousands who join and the huge amount of energy expended recruiting, motivating, training – exhaustion and despondency being a side-effect cause of attrition too – with the throw mud at the wall approach versus a slower sustainable recruit the right people who recruit the right people and stay active (energised and enthused) It seems to make a lot of sense.
Unless of course the company itself is sustained by the income produced through massive recruitment… but that’s another subject.
I love your blog? How old is it, how many posts are on it, and what is the daily traffic like to it?
My blog is 18 months old. There are 20 or so blogs on it – traffic isn’t huge as I’ve stepped back from social media in recent months.
What is your favorite social media platform right now, and why?
Whilst I’m not currently as active as I have been in the past on social media and therefore not utilising the various platforms as effectively as I might, I enjoy LinkedIn because people do tend to take the time to read the posts fully and give constructive thoughtful comments even if it’s in a personal message rather than on the post.
I believe that communities are a great place for sharing, supporting and growing so FB Groups has to be a favourite because it encourages people to interact and share and discuss ideas and it can create a great place for like-minded people to get to know each other, learn from each other and build relationships.
What is your favorite book right now and why?
The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good” Self Drives Success and Fulfilment – Todd Kashdan
Self / personal development has been an integral part of my world since I was a young child and a fundamental aspect of the work that I do.
For many years I’ve never felt quite comfortable with the concept that positive thinking and positivity should hold such a high place in our tools and armoury for a ‘successful’ life.
Positivity posts are all over social media, and there are plenty of workshops, seminars, books, and support groups available on the subject and to me this is missing the point and counter intuitive at best.
This book is a refreshing, research-based exploration which comes up with some very interesting ideas that fit with my intuition and personal experiences. As the author was originally involved in the research supporting and promoting the importance of positivity it makes the findings even more pertinent.
Network Marketing is a world that jumped wholeheartedly into mindset and personal development as the panacea for success and stuck positivity right up on one of it’s highest pedestals. I’m not so sure that this has been an entirely ‘positive’ or healthy move 😉
What are your goals for 2017?
2017 is a year of growth and learning for me. I am in a phase of transition and change and it may go against the grain for many reading this, but I don’t set goals. I find goals actually stop my flow and prevent progress and opportunities.
I like opening doors and seeing where they take me – so there will be much more of that. I have a direction, yes, which is about being my own best self and exploring the way to work with more people: writing, speaking, 121 or group work and developing knowledge and skills around those areas. Ask me again at the end of 2017 and I’ll tell you what I’ve achieved 🙂
What is your favorite quote and why?
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because being true to yourself is where the magic really happens and the place from where we can make the most difference.
All the resources we need are already in us, yet it takes huge courage and strength to know yourself and stay true no matter how the world and others try to influence, change or judge you. When you are you, your best work is always done.
Many thanks again for asking me, Erik!
Thank you so much for this interview, Michelle Turner-Davidson!
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