Only Jesus Never Knew This

By Merle Harton, Jr.

I was absolutely convinced that money, and lots of it, would solve any problems I might still encounter in life. This was not a conviction that came to me by ratiocination, or even with calculator and a dreamy look, nor was it something that hit me after a long period of worry and thought. It just sneaked up on me and occurred to me one day, and it was so persuasive that I hardly questioned it; besides, it was a comforting thought, coming to me as it did in such a complete form, with peripheral thoughts of the trappings of wealth and a built-in, ready-made goal.

We seldom think of this, of course, but one can die by drinking too much water. I do not mean poisoned water—I am talking about plain old ordinary water. But to a thirsty man the thought of water, and lots of it, is also a thought that comes packaged completely, with peripheral visions of the good that water can do for our bodies and a built-in, ready-made goal of seeking water.

I have always had a fondness for money, and perhaps that is why I am so comfortable as an American. But when you have the depth of conviction I had, and if it had come upon you with the same force as it did me, you would desire the pursuit of money with the same energy I did. Whatever family problems I had would be solved with money, and lots of it. We would be so busy spending it, and so engrossed in sprees of capitalism, that our problems would be like water off a duck's back.

My first few FAMWAY! "business" meetings helped to foster in me the belief that this was the vehicle that would get me rich—I mean obscenely rich. Of course, I had come to that conclusion when I first made the decision to become a FAMWAY! distributor, but the organization's "business" meetings only encouraged me in that outcome.

FAMWAY! business meetings are the same everywhere in the U.S. They start off with a dun from distributors for $2 at the door. This is to help defray the cost of the meeting room. The only refreshment is iced water. Two or three women sit at a table by the front door collecting money and passing out tickets. You have to have a ticket to get in. You can only get in by being a distributor or an invited guest of the distributor. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best, business attire (for men as for women) being the preferred costume. These meetings serve three purposes. The first is to introduce invited guests to the kind of people who are building the FAMWAY! business. The second is to introduce the business to guests, re-acquaint distributors with the techniques of introducing the business, and to get everybody dreaming about how much money can be made with a few simple steps and some industry. The third purpose is to reaffirm in the heart and mind of everyone in attendance of the importance of the business.

My first such meeting, after becoming a distributor, was hosted by Jack Bloodwell, a contractor who had been $500,000 in debt, due to the loss of real estate values and some scandal in the building materials industry that left him holding the bag. I was hoping to get a chance to talk with Jack, as everyone was encouraged to call him.

I paid my $2 to one of the women at the table. They were all smiles and warmth. But the friendliness was genuine. That was one trait of all FAMWAY! distributors. I took my two tickets. One I gave to a tall man at the door and the other I kept for my tax records. I admit that $2 seems not to be a lot of money, and certainly not enough to bother with recording, but when you figure that a weekly meeting, plus travel expenses, and another $2 per guest you might be bringing—every week until you were so rich it might not matter—it adds up. They encouraged good record keeping. Everything was to be above-board.

Entering the crowded room, I saw nothing but happy faces and people who were actually glad to see me. It was kind of like a cocktail party, except that the handshakes were firm and friendly and the greetings were sincere. This was the way it was supposed to be. My sponsor, Paul, was there and he came over to greet me. He was happy, but not overly enthusiastic: this was the demeanor encouraged by participants at the business meetings. We were supposed to be friendly, and happy, and sincere, but not too much of any of those things. It was a tactical matter. It is a good thing to be excited about the business, but it works against you and other distributors if you come on too strong to guests and those considering the business for the first time, for it tends to create a suspicion of insincerity and scam. Discipline was required to do the business well. We went over to the water table and I poured a glass and stood around shaking hands until Paul pointed out Jack Bloodwell.

Jack was at the Jade level in the FAMWAY! business. That put him near the top of the twelve levels one could climb. Each of the ten levels is signified by a precious gem: Garnet was the first level attainable by a distributor; the other levels are: Amethyst, Aquamarine, Moonstone, Sardonyx, Sapphire, Opal, Topaz, Zircon, and Jade; after Jade comes Double-Set Jade and, at the topmost level, Triple-Set Jade. Talk had it that Jack was in qualification for Double-Set Jade level. It was important to be in the presence of these giants of the FAMWAY! business and to benefit from their advice.

Jack was surrounded by distributors; I knew they were distributors because they were all dressed alike, with wild flower-print ties, and they were all agog. Jack was dressed in an expensive black suit, solid white close-weave oxford shirt, silk print tie, and the shiniest black leather shoes I had ever seen. He was a big man, about 6 feet tall, with a bit of a paunch. His face sported a deep tan, with hints of sunburn, as though he had just come from an island resort, or the golf course. His brown hair was full, brushed straight back over his head. I figured he was in his late forties, probably pushing 50, but his healthy glow made it hard to tell.

Paul and I moved our way toward him, but around him were so many people with the same idea that we had to keep our distance, and waited until we could move forward. The din in the room was loud, but not too loud, but loud enough to prevent my hearing any of the conversations going on between Jack and his flock. By this time, though, it was close to 8 o'clock and another distributor ran to the front of the room and picked up a microphone to tell everyone that it was time to get started and to have a seat. Slowly everyone moved into the chairs arranged in straight rows facing the front. Then the show began.

The distributor who had beckoned everyone to sit stepped onto the gray carpeted dais and introduced himself as Steve; for two years, he said, he had been "in the business" we would be previewing tonight and he was excited about it. Then he introduced our presenter for the evening, Jack Bloodwell.

Jack leaped to the dais. The platform, which was only a foot high, magnified his size. Behind him was an aluminum easel that held a white marker board. He asked if everyone could hear him, and took a second to check the small microphone in his lapel; a thin black wire trailed down the back of his dress coat and off to the side of the platform. He started off with a dozen or so jokes, none of them overly funny, but everyone laughed anyway. Then he stopped and his voice got lower and he talked slower and softer. This was his story.

He had been a contractor for 10 years, and did well during Louisiana's big oil boom and the housing growth that accompanied it, but with the economic crunches that pushed the state on the verge of bankruptcy and the loss of jobs and population that came with it, he was in dire straits to make a good living as a contractor. With the money he had accumulated, he built a complex on speculation but when things started falling apart and the population started dwindling on the Northshore, he was left with a complex and no buyers. He owed the bank $500,000.

"You can't sleep at night with a debt like that over your head. And when you finally do get to sleep, you don't want to wake up, because the debt's still there—and as big as ever."

He then announced that, because of his involvement in the business, he was now completely debt free. He sleeps well at night and sleeps late in the morning and then plays golf. His house is paid for and he has four cars and he was wearing clothes that he bought through his own business. This was a prelude, of course, to the workings of the business, for he then went down a list of things that any distributor could buy through his own business—from toiletries to auto parts, from household cleaners to appliances, from clothes to industrial supplies, from alarm systems to air and water filtration devices, from toys to garden equipment—and he pulled out a small brochure and read off a list of twenty or so brand names, all of which were represented in the business' 12,000 products.

Turning to the easel, he pulled a Magic Marker from the aluminum edge and drew three circles in blue ink on the white board. He asked who was new, and picked one person—a guy named John—from the show of hands as an illustration; he drew John’s name in the middle circle. In the top circle he put John's sponsor's name. He then asked John if he knew anyone who could use some extra money. Sure, said John, and named a friend. Was this friend married? Yes. Good. In the bottom circle went John's friend and the friend's wife. Now, do you suppose that John's friend knew anyone who could use some extra money? Of course. And so additional circles were drawn, until the board was full of circles in a downward spiral.

With each new circle was attached a point amount, derived by making each month a minimum of purchases through "the business." After some calculating, Jack was able to get John to the "direct distributor" level, cut him off from dependency upon his sponsor, and give him an immediate monthly income that was twice the U.S. national average income. Not bad for just buying from one's own business the things one would normally buy on a monthly basis, and for sharing the concept with others.

Jack then went on to outline the extended point scale, because as John's group increased in size, so did John's points, putting him on a rising series of levels that, informally, would put John's income into six figures, without any topmost figure to inhibit his purpose in life. But it did not end there, because as John's business grew, he became eligible for truly residual income—income that would continue to come in even after his death. Elvis made more money after his death than he did during his life, said Jack. Why? Residual income from record sales. This was the same thing. Imagine that! Doing something now, and later having the income just flow in, in unstoppable mass quantities! And what was the name of the company that put all of this together? Why, it was FAMWAY! No longer a door-to-door soap and detergent company, FAMWAY! was now a $4 billion corporation with fast-growing distributorships in every state in the union and in 60 foreign countries world wide. While not being specific, Jack intimated that his income was now in the mid-six-figure range and climbing fast. It felt so good, he said, going out to the mailbox once a month to collect his bonus check. And it was always bigger than the month before. What a business this was! Eyes were spinning as heads calculated what their lives would be like if they could do what Jack had done. But Jack was not alone; he was not the only success story.

After Jack finished his presentation and the applause died down, Steve jumped back on the dais and thanked Jack for sharing the business with us and then asked everyone in the room who had reached the 1,000-point level to stand and give their name and their current occupation. About 15 men and women stood up and, in a sequence that snaked around the room, each one delivered the required information, revealing such occupations as petroleum engineer, sales, dentist, business consultant, housewife, business owner, teacher, law enforcement, and other occupations. As the distributors spoke, a small group of married distributors lined up against the right wall and Steve then asked each couple to come up to the front, identify themselves, and tell the group what they see in the business. These were direct distributors with growing organizations beneath them. The first couple, all smiles, hurried to the front.

"Hi, everyone, we're Jackie and Tom Winthrop, and we're really excited about the potential of this business. I was a school teacher for seven years, and Tom is a real estate agent here on the West Bank. When I first saw the business, I was skeptical—some of y'all may be too—but when I got to meet some of the people in the business and saw the quality of leadership, I was curious. I really wanted something that would give me some extra income. Even with two jobs, it was hard making ends meet. And after a year in the business, we started growing and six months ago I was able to leave my job at the school and now I devote myself to growing this business full time. With God's help we hope to bring Tom home from his job. Tom?"

"Hi. My name is Tom Winthrop. When I first saw the business, I was really excited about the income potential, and I can honestly tell you, after two years in the business, that everything you've heard here tonight about the FAMWAY! business is true. I really wanted a way to supplement my income as a real estate agent. There are no guarantees in the housing market today, and it's always a roller coaster ride, and I was looking for something that would give me residual income. The FAMWAY! business is that, and more. I look forward to spending more time with my family and enjoying all the trips and bonus money from the growth of my own business. I urge you to take a serious look at this business. Study the packet of information the person who invited you gives you tonight, and decide for yourself. I think you'll find it to be the best opportunity for wealth in America today. Thank you."

"Hello. I'm Bobbie Boudreaux, and this is my husband Carl. We've been in the FAMWAY! business for three years now, and we're still excited about it. I first looked at the business as a way of giving us some extra income, but it has come to mean so much more to us now. After two years, I was making more money than I ever dreamed possible for a housewife with two small children. As you can see, we're expecting our third child. I hope you look long and hard at this business; it's been very good to us. Thank you. Carl?"

"I'm Carl Boudreaux, and I own Florida Carpet Outlet here on the West Bank. I was skeptical about the business when Bobbie first showed it to me. After all, I was running a successful business and didn't believe you could make any money just buying things through your own company. You see, I had money, but no time to enjoy it. I was working 50 to 60 hours a week and rarely had time to watch my little children grow. I left that to Bobbie, not knowing what I was missing. But after I got to meet the people in the business and saw the money that Bobbie was bringing in after only a year in the business, I started to get excited about it too. And I realized that I was spending all of my time in the carpet business and not enough of that time with my family. The FAMWAY! business is freeing up time for me and giving me money to enjoy that time with my family. Please take a look at this business. I think you'll find it to be the vehicle you've been searching for to give you both time and money. Thank you."

And so on it went, through three more couples, and then it was time to adjourn the business meeting. Steve thanked everyone for coming, reminding guests that the person who brought them here tonight would have a packet of information to take home, including a declaration form required by the Federal Trade Commission. They would be contacted within two days for a follow-up meeting, and to answer other questions. In the meantime, they were asked not to discuss what they had seen here tonight with anyone else, since they were not in a position to answer questions about the business yet. As the meeting ended, distributors got up and hurried to the back of the room, near the exit door, to meet with their guests. Pairings then took place, with distributors nodding their heads at their guests, saying "Looks great, doesn't it?" and showing them the information they would be taking home to study.

Since I had no guests here tonight, I hurried to the front of the room, instead, hoping to get a few minutes with Jack Bloodwell. Already several other distributors had the same idea and he was surrounded again by eager students. I waited them all out. Then I was standing alone in front of Jack—and I had nothing to say. All I could do was blurt out my name and some pleasantry about how nice it was to talk to him.

"Well, Marc," Jack said to me after a moment. "It was a real pleasure to meet you. I'm sorry to have to run off like this, but I lost a dear friend yesterday and I've got to make his wake tonight. Strange case. He was found dead two days ago, just slumped over in his chair in front of his computer."

"Something doesn't sound right to me," I said, at last finding some coherent words for my voice.

"I know. He was doing well in this business, too. He was at the Sapphire level and was about to break another direct, pushing him into Opal. Really sad. Do you want some advice? Keep this in mind: Always attend first to the really important things in life, because there are some things that money just can't buy—well, maybe one or two things. Anyway, gotta split. Nice talking to you, Marc."

With that, he walked out the exit door, leaving me to ponder his words. 

"In the Family Way: Only Jesus Never Knew This"
Copyright © 1994 by Merle Harton, Jr.  All rights reserved