There is probably no name in all of network marketing more storied than that of Mark Yarnell. After building a gigantic organization in the mid-eighties, the minister-turned-networker became one of the best known and most passionate advocates for the profession. A featured speaker at the very first Upline Masters events in the early nineties, Mark was the first (and only) career network marketer to serve as contributing editor to Success magazine. With Dr. Charles King, he cocreated the first certification course in network marketing, taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and in Seoul, Korea. His bestselling book Your First Year in Network Marketing, published in thirteen languages, is considered a veritible bible of the profession. If there was ever a true lion of network marketing, it would have to be Mark Yarnell.
His passing a month ago, has left a void in the Network Marketing industry that is not easy to fill. Mark was a dear friend of Networking Times and a faculty at Networking University. Today, we look back at an interview he gave us for our September 2010 issue, to remember and honor a man who touched and transformed so many lives.
What’s your favorite thing about your life in network marketing?
I’m a voracious reader. Reading has always been my hobby, and the joy of my life in this business has been that it’s given me the freedom to read all I wanted. Every morning, from 5:00 to 7:00, Monday through Sunday, I’m in my lakeside office, reading.
How did you get started in this business?
I graduated from seminary years in 1979. My first church was in Knoxville, Tennessee; then I had one in Kansas City, Missouri, and then one in Austin, Texas.
By the time I wound up in Austin, the economy really was cratering. People had quit tithing and all the biggest contributors were going Chapter 11. In April 1986 the church had to cut my salary in half.
Our head deacon, Bill Dye, felt so bad about it that he came to talk to me. “You know, Mark,” he said, “I’ve heard about this new business you might be able to do part-time and, you know, maybe bring your income back up to where it was.”
That was how I first got involved in network marketing—a deacon felt guilty about my plunge into poverty.
How did this new endeavor affect your ministerial career?
It changed everything. I still do sermons for my minister friends when they go on vacation. But I never had my own church again.
I still do a lot of lectures all over the world, and many of them are for ministers of different denominations. But mostly, it’s been network marketing, and writing books—and reading.
The business gave you a new pulpit.
Exactly. The difference between the ministry and network marketing comes down to five words.
In seminary, they taught us five magic words: “I will pray with you.” If people come in with a marital problem, “I will pray with you.” If it’s a financial problem, “I’ll pray with you.” Someone gets fired, got kids on drugs, “I will pray with you.”
Network marketing allowed me to change that to five new words: “How much do you need?”
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not being cynical. I believe in the power of prayer. I’ve seen some wonderful things happen with prayer. But it’s amazing to be able to say to people, “How much do you need?” because that really changes things.
You’ve always had a fascination with taking this thing apart and explaining how it works, haven’t you?
That’s been kind of my passion. But it’s easy to understand once you grasp that it’s work. A lot of magic formulas have emerged over the years—none of which have worked long-term. It’s really about core values and work ethic.
The truth is, I’m still using the technologies and strategies of the late eighties, and for me, they’re more effective than ever. The way I do it is the way I’ve always done it.
Everything tends to explode if you work hard.
What, if anything, has radically changed about the business since your bestseller book Your First Year in Network Marketing appeared? If you could rewrite it today, what would be different?
I’ve tried to get Random House to take it off the market three times. I’m dead serious! They won’t do it because it’s selling so well. It earned more in royalties last year than it did twelve years ago when it first came out.
A lot of it wouldn’t be different at all. The stories would just be more topical and more relevant to today. But one thing that’s changed has made my world a whole lot easier, and that is the advent of technology—but not for the reasons you might be thinking.
There’s a perception that everybody in the world is carrying around a text feed and checking their iPad. That’s not true. It’s only 40 percent of the people who really spend a lot of time online. As long as people are caught up in the delusion that says everyone’s online and tweeting all the time, those of us who actually understand relationship marketing have got it made.
Most people in my age group care very little about technology—and it’s that same group of people who need the money the most. They’re in the biggest hurry to replace their retirement losses. So I don’t really have any competition—as long as I keep myself focused on that group.
What’s more, most people in this business keep battling over an incestuous group of a few million people who jump from deal to deal to deal. I don’t want network marketers. For one thing, I don’t have to undo any bad habits or unravel those strategies that have never worked yet which people continue to use.
I don’t even go after networkers. I target non-networkers. I’m looking for the 75 million baby boomers who are desperate and in a hurry to create a replacement emergency retirement capital.
The last ad I ran in USA Today said, “I will not talk to you if you’re under 50.” And I got calls like you wouldn’t believe. People related to it.
Read the rest of the interview from Networking Times archives here.
(Editor’s note: Networking University is proud to offer Mark’s books in a very special package. Click here to order The Lotus Code and get a copy of the bestselling Your Best Year in Network Marketing free!)