By Kate Northrup
When I was 16 my parents got divorced and I witnessed them both going through a lot of financial upheaval. At the time my mom realized she’d always deferred to my dad to make financial decisions. She’d just assumed that he’d be better with money because he was a man.
At the age of 50 she realized she needed to get educated about money fast. She started reading books about money like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. For some reason I had an insatiable appetite for books about money too, so I traded in my young adult novels for everything in the personal finance section.
In Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad he says that if you really want to learn about business and creating a residual income you should spend 5 years with a good network marketing company. When my mom and I read that we knew we needed to do more research on the industry.
I started my business when I was 18 years old as a Freshman in college. I’d followed the “equation for success”: work hard in school + get good grades + get into a good college = get hired by a great company that pays you well and will take care of you for the rest of your life.
I was at Brown University amongst some of the top students in the world. But, what I quickly learned was that companies weren’t swooping in to take care of graduates. Instead, many of my friends who were graduating either had to move back home with their parents, live with 5 people in a one bedroom apartment in order to afford to pursue their dreams, or they were taking jobs that they hated just so that they could manage to pay back their student loans and have money to live on.
None of those three scenarios sounded good to me. Instead, I decided to build my network marketing business during my summer and Christmas vacations. I took a full class load at Brown while performing in a dance company and plays. But I still managed to fit my business into the nooks and crannies of my busy life.
When I graduated from college in 2005 I had built enough income from my network marketing business that I didn’t have to get a job.
When I started my business my dream was to create financial freedom (having my residual income greater than my living expenses) by the age of 30 so that I could stay at home with my kids one day.
I was able to achieve the dream of financial freedom by the age of 28 and I’m looking forward to having a family with my fiancé Mike in the next several years. The fact that our kids will never know a reality where both of their parents aren’t home with them during their most formative years is so 12 exciting to me.
I’m a life long learner and my favorite thing is to connect with people and build relationships. As a result I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become close friends with a lot of amazing entrepreneurs in many different industries.
I’ve learned so much from all of them and I have great respect for anyone who decides to take their financial life into their own hands and build a business. As I’ve studied the different business models I’ve been exposed to, whether it’s sharing information digitally or in print, teaching courses, having physical products, or innovating in the tech space, I realized something really important: there is no business on the planet that will allow you to create true freedom like network marketing. It’s one of the only businesses I know of where you can truly have leverage and make yourself dispensable, therefore making you free.
Because of my solid residual income in network marketing I was recently able to write and publish a book with a major publishing house. My book, Money: A Love Story, Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want, launched September of 2013 with Hay House.
What most people don’t realize about becoming an author is that unless you’re constantly on the road hustling to sell your book with speaking gigs and media, books don’t sell. And unless you’re constantly writing book after book, you can’t make a living solely as an author.
Even though my book hit #1 on Amazon in Finance and I was featured on the Today Show on launch day, my financial future still lays in network marketing. It’s so easy to get distracted by thinking that the path to true wealth comes from writing a book, becoming a professional speaker, or getting lots of 13 media attention.
The truth is that without my network marketing business I’d have to be on a plane all the time, doing speaking gigs every weekend, and teaching workshops constantly to be able to survive as an author. Instead, I get to pick and choose where I go and when based on what sounds fun to me and what will help my team grow.
After 12 years in this industry the most important thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple. The mistake I seem to make over and over again is reinventing the wheel and over complicating things.
Luckily within the last two years I teamed up with Mike Watts, my business partner and fiancé. Because he thinks differently than I do, he also approaches business in a much more systematic way. The great thing about being systematic is that you can create a program that your team can follow and duplicate.
I’ve wasted so much time over the years creating different systems and ways to build my network marketing business that are creative, but not duplicatable. What Mike and I are focused on now is really building so that our team knows what to do when and how to teach others to do it too. That way when we’re ready to start a family in a few years we’ll be able to be focused on our kids and our team will know how to move forward without us being as involved in the day to day aspects of the business.
I would say the most critical aspect of my success in network marketing and also in my speaking and writing career is being willing to work on myself. I’m always reading books to learn more about human behavior, productivity, communication, health, and business. When my team comes to me with a question or a challenge I usually have a book to recommend to them.
The cool thing about building a network marketing business is that it teaches you great communication and 14 relationship skills. Since communication and relationship building are critical to personal success, as well, these skills have impacted my personal life in huge ways. One of the ways I’m most blessed in my life is my circle of amazing friends. Many of them are incredibly successful authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.
The other day I was asked how I’ve become friends with so many influential people. My honest answer is that I learned how to talk to, relate to, and be of service to absolutely anyone through my network marketing business.
When I was 18 and I started my business I was terrified of talking to strangers. But I knew that I had to overcome this fear in order to be successful in my business (and life in general.) Someone recommended Barbara Walters’ book How To Talk To Practically Anyone About Practically Anything.
In the book I learned that people are just people and as soon as you can tune in to something that’s important to them, you can connect with them. So, I started practicing finding something to talk to strangers about that they were excited about. And very soon they were no longer strangers. They became friends. This single piece of advice, that people are just people and we all want to have someone be interested in us, changed my business and my life.
I absolutely credit my success in network marketing, my success in other business endeavors and my strong network of personal friends with applying the lesson I learned from Barbara Walters.
Even though I satisfied my original goal of creating financial freedom so that I can stay home with my kids, I still build my business for 3 reasons: 1. I love it. 2. I want to continue to expand my horizons and what’s possible for my team, my family, and for me. 3. The feeling of helping someone else achieve their dreams is intoxicating and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.
Life is full of surprises and adventure. I’m not sure what my future will hold, but I know one thing for sure: network marketing and the amazing people who are part of this industry will always be a part of it.
To learn more about Kate Northrup and her book Money: A Love Story visit www.katenorthrup.com. When you visit the site you can take her free quiz that will tell you what your relationship with money says about you.