The ONE Thing

Send to Kindle

I’ve been blessed to be in this network marketing profession for 25 years now.  And during a career like that, you have time to reflect on how you choose the right company…

I analyzed the subject in depth when I wrote How to Build a Multi-Level Money Machine. Spent more time quantifying it as I developed recruiting materials over the years.   In terms of how to evaluate what kind of products work best, how compensation plans should work, evaluation of systems and support structure, I honestly believe no one in the world is better qualified to analyze these factors than me.

I can tell you exactly the components you need to look for to determine if a company can succeed.  And after what I’ve learned over the last six months I know this:

Forget it.

If I was going to start over today, I wouldn’t look first at the product, comp plan, marketing materials, or any of the other usual suspects.  Because I’ve learned the single most important element for your success.  That ONE thing is…


If you were starting all over today, my best advice to you now would be to be confident in the character of your sponsor and the executives at your company.  Everything else – products, comp plan, marketing materials, etc, would come in after that.

If they have character, then any challenges with the products, comp plan, or other issues will get resolved.  If they don’t have character, you’ll be facing a losing battle your whole career.  Character is everything!

You want a sponsor that actually does the things he or she trains about on the platform.  That tells you the truth.  Has your highest good in mind.

You want a sponsor that will work in depth in your group, regardless of whether someone is in the pay line or pay range.  Someone that models the behavior you want to develop into team culture.  Someone that actually works, instead of sitting on their ass collecting overrides on you.

You want company executives that will tell you the truth.  Operate with integrity.  Make their money by salary and dividends – not by taking secret spots in the structure.

You want to know that you operate on a level playing field and have the same compensation plan and incentives as everyone else.

If they don’t have character when you start, don’t think they’re going to develop it later…

Either their mama raised them right or she didn’t.  You ain’t going to change them now.

Now don’t get me wrong:  YOU still have to build your business.  Your sponsor can’t do it for you, and neither can your company.  Your success is your own responsibility.

But if I could go back in time and tell a younger version of myself what to look for, it would be all about character.  Yes the products are important.  Yes, you want a comp plan that rewards the right behavior.  Yes, you need good marketing materials, training and all that other good stuff.  But if the character isn’t there, it simply isn’t worth it.

What do you think?


Related posts:

  1. Mega-MLM: Time Sensitive Update
  2. What is Your System?
  3. How You Make Money
  4. Making the Numbers Work

Affiliate Relationship Disclosure

49 Comments on “The ONE Thing”

  1. You are spot on on the character issue Randy.

    Without it or the willingness to develop it the whole process stops or goes nowhere.

    Great post as always.

    – Warren Little

  2. Dawn-Michele Okamoto says:

    That was excellent. I have two people all week who have been toying with me asking me how much I make, how much I work, You are so right, all that doesn’t matter really, it is charater

  3. bernardo palomar says:

    Excellent. Character and good reasons are fuel in this business!

  4. Joe Marujo says:

    Excellent point Randy, it was a deciding factor for me…

  5. WealthyRocketWoman says:


  6. Julie Boyer says:

    I agree with you 100%. I also think that it’s important to not only choose a sponsor with character, but to choose the company that is right for you and that resonates with you as a person.

  7. Trey says:

    Amen Gage!

  8. Trey says:

    Btw! I can’t wait to get my link to the Mega MLM package!!!!

  9. KH Koh says:

    Character and integrity are the vital foundations for all business, indeed all human endeavour.

    It’s a question of whether we are choosing to build on a rock or some shifting sandbank!


  10. Cynthia says:

    Good article Randy but here’s my question:

    what do you do when you’re in a network marketing company and one (or more) of your upline goes to another company, the other upline stays and your corporate office is in turmoil and no one is communicating to the field what exactly happened so you’re not sure who you should trust.

    It’s easy to say judge your company by the character of your upline and corporate executive officers but in real life, most of us don’t live anywhere near our corporate execs or upline enough to be able to observe the corporate staff or our upline to see what they actually do on a day to day basis. So how are you able to make an evaluation of character in order to determine which company to join in a situation like that?

    • Randy Gage says:

      You don’t have to live near people to know if they have character. Their actions always show the truth.


    • Natalie says:

      Cynthia – I live in another country to my sponsor, and company.

      And in my heart – when I’m down, out, frustrated with myself and the world – I begin to doubt, but only because I’m not playing full out.

      Then I pause when I feel quitting… and I ask myself if there’s any other company that lights me up? Is there any other company that I’d rather be with? And there isn’t.

      And upline has gone – and the company is going thru changes and I’m confused, and I ponder “will I let that affect me?” When I met them once I felt their genuineness. They didn’t feel slimy or pushy. Their hearts were grand.

      I know that my sponsor has remarkable integrity. He keeps going and keeps growing. I see his consistency. His inspiration. His income is getting greater… I know he’s his word. I experience it – he responds mostly within 24 hours to me. He’s available. I said I’d never do MLM again unless he was my sponsor. I think he’d haunt me if I quit…

      Now I’m working on MY character… and becoming someone with the discipline like him… What does your heart say? Who are you becoming?

      • Warren Wong says:

        Excellent comment Natalie. We build our character to reflect what we want out of our upline as well. Would we follow our ownself if we were our own upline. What becomes of us?

  11. Dick Whitman says:

    “You want company executives that will tell you the truth. Operate with integrity. Make their money by salary and dividends – not by taking secret spots in the structure.

    You want to know that you operate on a level playing field and have the same compensation plan and incentives as everyone else.”

    Really… so what happens when you find out your company execs do have secret spots… that many top leaders have special deals (the one legged wonders)? Where’s the integrity… where’s the level playing field? What happens when all the smoke and mirrors disappear and your left with a company that can’t find the word integrity in a dictionary and a level playing that is so lopsided only the insiders have a real shot?

  12. Randy, this is such a powerful message on so many levels. As I read through this I thought, “whoa, Gage has opened up a can of worms here!”
    I do think your point is totally valid though; you can have absolutely everything right in a company, but if the owners are shifty snakes, all will be for naught as eventually their character in handling things comes through.
    Thankfully, the MLM world is filled with honest, understanding leaders with character who lead the way. It is a major reason I have stayed and will always be with my company. The one’s without solid character are few, and they soon find themselves on the outer anyway, stumbling from company to company hoping their past can be hidden. It can’t.

  13. Tony Scarcia says:

    You got it Randy. This is exactly the reason I left my previous company.
    Great post. Thanks.

  14. Al Rod says:

    Yes…Yes…Yes! You absolutely nailed this one Randy. Character as you described it is Numero Uno…

  15. Jacki Smith says:

    I totally agree, Randy. If you want to be a leader ,aligning with a company that has character and having a sponsor that that is dedicated to your success should be the number one thing you look for. I have been involved in Network Marketing for 25 years and have met some wonderful people with integrity that continue to be leaders in the industry that I now call my friends. Then there are those you mention with the fly by night offers and behind doors shenanigans and many of these companies and leaders do not last, or if they do their reputation proceeds them. Great post.

  16. Yes Randy, you nailed it on the head.

    Would it be OK if I shared a story with you?

    Several years I was an IT professional in Silicon Valley when the Computer Industry was growing at an explosive rate. Companies struggled to hire people fast enough & the skill requirements just increased faster.

    Their delimina was, how can they hire the best people during this rapid growth? It quickly became apparent that they needed to hire over-qualified people for a position. Which qualities were the most critical? Over & over, we observed that they hired people with a Strong Character & Positive Attitude. We heard them say, “A new person can learn more Technical Skills, but they can rarely change a poor Attitude or Character.”

  17. the truth is that the lack of character and honesty is what destroy peoples business , we´ve faced that in our career but if you have character and the rest don´t you can still succeed beleive me …. Character is what real leaders should have to stand up when they need to do it , to speak when they need to do it … real leaders have Character that´s it !!!!

  18. Brady Jex says:

    I too have been in the MLM industry for 25 plus years and I could not agree more. Character is what has kept the longest running MLM companies in business. Your insight on character is a reflection of your own success. Keep up the good work!


    Brady Jex

  19. Gina Koinski says:

    Well said! Sharing this article.

  20. Denise says:

    Randy, Fantastic post! I am new to network marketing, and often feel overwhelmed and overloaded with so much info. Then I receive an email from you, I click the link immediately to read it, and everything is clear and simplified. I love how you always hit the mark, and make it all so simple, clearing out all my “overwhelm”.
    Thank you for everything you so generously share!

  21. Jeffery Yong says:

    Picture this: same company, same products, same comp plan, system, etc. Top Leader Mr. A (whom I regard with great respect) leaves, sighting that the company is out of integrity. Another top leader Mr. B (whom I also have the highest regard for) decides to stay.

    So, does integrity/character mean different things to different people? How can two leaders have totally opposite takes on the integrity of the same company?

    So, it’s easy to say “look for character in the company and leaders”, but how do you practically do it?

    What’s your take on this scenario, Randy?

    • Randy Gage says:

      Then you look at the character of the individuals. Do they do the things I discussed above? And there may be times when two leaders disagree: After all people have different opinions. Then look at your own personal experience and intuition. It’s easy to run away and look for greener grass on the other side of the fence. But don’t do that if it’s just avoidance or escapist behavior, instead of applying yourself completely where you are.


  22. I agree with most of you guys on this one. I do believe that without being plugged in to the leadership it might take awhile to realize the lack of integrity on their part. It can be hard to notice a snake in the grass when you’re standing up straight!

    I believe one of the biggest cons in this industry is when the company charges an assload for tools and training materials.

    I guess it all boils down to faith and doing your best… If you get knocked down just brush yourself off and do what Randy said and find a new company.

  23. Magomed says:

    Thanks Randy for the great post. Honestly, I always first look at the product in the company, then look at who the leaders of the company, whether the experience and character, as you say. Good leaders will always know the leaders of the company. I can not find out about the CEO, but will I know the leaders and great leaders know better. In the company where I am, there are two great leaders and I am going for them, they have a strong will and strong character.
    Thanks Randy, always a pleasure reading your posts.

  24. This is so true!
    Character is a main thing – and character builds a group or it destroys it.
    You must be able to trust and rely that you upline/sponsor is honest and fair.

    The problem is that for a new person to NWM, or even if you are a few years old in the industry is that you have to trust your first feeling.
    You normally do not stay beside and study the company, the sponsor or the leaders first for 6 months or a year. You get excited and jump right in and starts to work. (Hopefully =))
    It is when you really get to knew the person you find out the real deal!

    Then you could decide to stay or to find another opportunity – a few experiences richer.

    If you have Character yourself, and find a company and a sponsor/upline with character – then you have a magic thing going! Regardless of everything else…thats for sure!

  25. nilesh says:

    i m not an expert but whatever little experience that i have i really appreciate your point about character
    would like to learn more

  26. Lene Jytte Hansen says:

    Hi Randy!

    I believe you can build character, even if you do not have it yet! But you have to be willing to see it and work at it. And if your nearest upline do not have that, you have to look further up, and follow the example of what and how that person is doing things to be successful and help others to be successful. That even might inspire your nearest upline to get off their bud. Am I wrong for thinking so? I do believe you can change anything in yourself if you set your mind to it, and do what it takes to get there.


  27. Alex Tita says:

    I choose to step aside from the MLM profession for a while so that I can create a situation where all my people can have the same chance and control as me.
    Until now I could create the condition that no matter what happen to the company me and my group will be fine, but until now I could create the conditions that no matter what happens to the company and the leader that put the infrastructure in place my people will be fine, have control and could go further on. Because MLM is great it gives you duplication and a business system that most people wouldn’t be able to build in 3 life times, but it also takes their control away. They don’t have control of the company and don’t have the control of the system created by the leader, and they do not have proper channels of communicating (same as the leader/creator of the educational system) so if they decide to stop working for that company or with that group they don’t benefit from their leverage and the organization that they help created.
    I so much appreciate my life experience because i was exposed to such contrast that gave me such clarity that now i figure it out how to truly give people the same chance and control no mater what happens to the company or the the leader/creator of the educational system.. and at the appropriate time i’ll introduce that to the world. It all started from asking me the simple question if i would sponsor me?… and the answer was not! because i couldn’t give myself the same leverage as i have as the creator of the system(central hub of our team education for mlm success) meaning i will not attract leaders and only followers who puts their trust in me, that’s great but that “me” (which one of me?) is also changeable and their “me” (which one of their “me”) is changeable and can choose not to continue with our business the same i could decide not to continue with our business, and in this situation people start loosing the leverage that they work for. That is a challenge and i solved the matter it now just take some time to implement it and this will revolutionize mlm because it will truly give people control over their assets no matter what happens to the company(or if they decide to leave that company) or what happens to the leader(creator of the educational infrastructure). This sets up the conditions necessary to work in a win-win-win situation and give all life to all, and requires the leaders of the company to have the appropriate character, and the leaders in the field to have the appropriate character, because if not all people have control and can benefit from all the organization that they help created and if they have the right character they would move to another company that have the appropriate character or start their own.
    So yes this is a great topic and it was inevitable to come to this conclusion Randy. This conclusion puts our loved profession in the right direction giving people all the benefits of mlm but also giving them the control that until now MLM the way it is done does not provide.
    Love you all.

  28. Lea Sedan says:

    Hey Randy
    “people join people, not companies. If your focus is on a company, or on a compensation plan, or on products, then your focus is wrong. To build a lasting long-term network marketing income, your must focus on building relationships”

  29. Clayton S. says:


    I have been silently following you and others for sometime now. Not ever really putting anything togother; however now is the time for me , to start getting with the concepts.


  30. Your is the real truth.We should follow people greater than us and character qualifies them to lead!!!

  31. So the great thing is everyone makes mistakes & picking a shady company leadership is no different. Good thing about that is people follow leaders not companies, so if you are one & operate in integrity you let your team know what’s up & make a decision to all stay together & move together when you find a new company that has character & all those other things rather than waiting around while the company implodes.

    There’s a well known company in this industry, that starts with an A & ends in a y with 3 letters in between , that was founded because 2 guys ,that were reps in a company that wasn’t handling it’s finances right & couldn’t ship product fast enough, decided to do what was right. It worked out pretty well for Rich & Jay.

  32. wencel says:

    It is one of most important thing in the LIFE – character, not only for MLM,

    thanks Randy.


  33. powerfly65 says:

    thank mr gage

  34. Sam says:

    Randy, Spot on. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. I just re-read your book Making the First Circle Work. You mentioned that you lead your organization based on 10 Core Principles. Would you share those? I’m sure most of them relate to character. Thanks Randy.

  35. George Steciuk says:

    Randy, you’re absolutely right about the company founder and the executives having character and integrity. Without them there is no trust.

  36. Lotta says:

    Spot on!!! That’s one of the reasons that I decided to committ to the company that I’m working with now and forever… the people and who they are. It’s all about the people. If the leaders have the right attitude and do the work, the followers will duplicate… Rock’n roll!!! ;O) Thanks Randy for sharing great knowledge and inspiration. Namasté, Lotta

  37. Gabresuarez says:

    Randy. Please can you be more specific to define character in networkmarketing? Beacause what i know as character is to have the knolege of you want and what you don`t what, but maybe is not the same for MLM. Please. Thanks Gabriel

  38. Joe Garcia says:

    Wow your best post Randy can make a great topic for a book. I personally just got back from a business trip to Western and Eastern Europe and this very topic was discussed during an intense Leadership workshop I did in beautiful St. Petersburg Russia. One of the attendees had shared that the most “treasured” leaders in the history of Russia were the ones that “exude” character. Something to think about!! “Time will other expose you or promote you” Show me a person who has been earning serious residual income for more than 7 years in Network marketing in 1 company you will probably see a person with great character and integrity…….

  39. Rachel Henke says:

    Totally agree ( for once!) A sponsor who cares about you and a sponsorship line that stick their neck out for you are worth more than any product or company. It’s all about trust and relationships. My sponsor is probably the main reason I’m still in the business today after lots of ups and downs. On the other hand people that blame their lack of a good sponsor for their results drive me nuts. If your sponsor stinks go upline until you find a good leader to work with!

Leave a Reply to juan carlos garduño

Comment Rules: Okay kids, we want to hear what you have to say. Critical is fine, but if you're crude, rude, or tacky, we'll delete your stuff. Please don't put your URL in the comment text and please use your name or initials and not your business name, as that just looks like you're spamming us. Have fun, be brilliant, and add to the dialogue.

Keep my identity a secret.Upload a photo to use with your comment.