10 Things to Ask Your Potential Sponsor Before Joining an MLM

I am a pharmacist and former hospital CEO who delved into the MLM industry a little over a year ago.  When I was growing up, I watched as my parents, neighbors, family, and friends joined, and failed, at several companies. They lost money and ruined trust and relationships in the process. I saw one person who was quasi-successful, but I now know it’s because she also owned another storefront where she could funnel customers- not the norm for most people. I vowed to never be a part of ‘one of those MLMs’ ever. 

Fast forward 20 years and here I am. In an MLM and actually proud to be. Proud because not only am I earning a really nice income and helping others do the same, but more so because my company doesn’t at all fit the stereotype of many others. I don’t exploit or take advantage of people. I offer them legitimate tools and an opportunity. It’s up to them to decide to run with it or not. Despite all the negativity and ‘anti-MLM movement’ out there, I know the stereotypes and generalities don’t apply to me or my business. 

While growing my business, I’ve also spent some time researching network marketing and the MLM industry in general. Here is what I found out- they are NOT all the same. There ARE some that are scams but MOST of them are not. Just because something is not a scam doesn’t mean its a sound business opportunity.  Not everyone loses money, but a lot of people do. Why? Because they approach it all the wrong way! People see something shiny or a product they like and jump in. They never give thought or consideration to what actually makes a business profitable in the long run. 

Here are 10 questions that everyone should ask their potential sponsor before enrolling in any MLM. These apply to people considering MLM as a legitimate business opportunity and are above and beyond the basics that (I hope) are obvious. Most of this will not apply to individuals who choose to join MLMs in order to gain discounts off goods they already plan to buy. I’m speaking to the people who are looking to make a real income.

Make sure you are asking your potential sponsor to answer each of these, and any other questions you have. Make sure the answers are to your satisfaction. It would be rare for a company to hit a home-run on every point, so also be listening for the sponsor to be honest where their company may fall short. It may still be a good opportunity, and you will know you are joining a morally intact organization. 

1.Is this a ground-floor opportunity?

Ground floor companies are best for long-term success. While it may be tempting to join the largest or even the oldest MLMs, presumably because they have sustaining power, it’s probably not a good idea. Why? Saturation.

Think of some of the big MLMs- NuSkin, Rodan + Fields, Amway, Mary Kay, to name a few. Yes, most have some great products. They also have a lot of people in their sales force. That means competition for customers and downline recruits. Right now, I could find 15 R+F consultants in a snap to place an order. I could do the same across dozens of other companies. Do you want to have only a 1/15 chance when someone needs your product? Or do you want to be one of the very few?

2. Does the company offer a truly exceptional product or service that has minimal or no competition that customers actually want or need? 

Network marketing is a genius logistical problem solver and the absolute quickest way for companies to get products in the hands of their end-user en masse. For that same reason, the distribution method is often used, or even exploited, for financial gain. How many shake companies do we actually need? How are the new ones really any different? That said, don’t dismiss the entire industry due to some bad companies. It’s still a great model, when used and implemented in a fair and honest way.

Treat your MLM planning as you would any other business. You wouldn’t open up a burger restaurant right next to another restaurant that has burgers as their main food, would you? If you would, you need to revisit Business 101. 

For the rest of you that agreed, no, that would be a bad idea, you are right. Don’t join a company that offers a product or service that customers can easily get anywhere else. There are a few exceptions, such as legitimately better quality or price, but in general, steer clear. You will not have long-term success.

Also, make sure the product is something many people actually need or want. Key there, MANY- not just something YOU need or want. My parents made this mistake. They found a company with products that were wonderful- for THEM. But they were also very expensive, not needed by most people, and therefore they struggled to find customers.

3. Is the compensation plan transparent & do you have a placement suite for team builders?  

Pay transparency is huge- your potential sponsor should be able to explain what commissions look like and when/how you get paid. This doesn’t mean the compensation plan may not appear confusing- there is a difference here. Comp plans in the industry often have grids and a lot of acronyms. If you aren’t used to this, you may be confused. That’s not the same as a lack of transparency.  A transparency issue is if the sponsor cannot explain it to you, has a vague answer, or cannot show it to you on a company developed template. 

For instance “I make around 40% of my sales and I’m not always sure what day I get paid but I don’t think I’ve missed a paycheck yet” is not the best answer (sadly, I’ve heard it before).  Even worse if they cannot show it to you on a company letter-head.

However, an acceptable answer might be, “I earn 4-30% commissions off sales in my organization depending on where and by whom the order was generated. I can collect 5 levels down based on my current promotion with the company, as a director. Let me show you what that looks like for each promotion level on this comp plan attachment.” 

You should also be able to make decent money through sales ALONE! If you can only achieve real success through recruitment, stay away! That’s why many MLMs get dubbed pyramid schemes. It’s ok if you can earn more money through a downline than without one, but there should be an opportunity for a single salesperson to make decent commissions off their own sales.

My final point is about placement suites. You may think it has little to do with the comp plan, but it’s actually a huge-deal! Placement suites may go by other names, but essentially it is a way that individuals can move their enrollees within their own organization. It helps them build balance but also can help enrollees to promote and earn more money. I can’t think of a reason I would ever want to be in an organization without a placement suite. It’s been crucial to my success and that of my team.

4. What are the startup and ongoing costs? 

There is no right answer to this necessarily, other than it needs to align with what you are ok with. Also, you are looking for honesty and transparency. 

Some very general rules-

  1. Startup costs should be reasonable and realistic- This may vary based on the average customer sales and that could be a good gauge in many cases. For instance, if the average customer purchase is $20 and it’s not auto-ship, startup costs of $1000 would be crazy. However, if the average customer spends $100 on auto-ship, $500 or even $1000 startup is quite reasonable.
  2. Monthly website fees and/or annual fees are not a bad thing. Again, they should be reasonable.
  3. Many companies have zero startup or ongoing fees. Let that sink in….What’s easy to do is easy not to do. These companies have a constant need for endless recruitment. Very few people will actually commit to the business because they have nothing invested in it. Be cautious.
  4. Remember, this is a BUSINESS you are starting, not a JOB. If you are not willing to invest reasonably into a business then you are going down the wrong path considering MLMs. That said, MLMs can offer the best of everything for starting your own business. You are essentially getting a website, logistical plan, product, customer service, etc tied up with a nice bow and for a price much less (assuming its not a scam- they do exist, beware) than you would pay to start the same business on your own.

5.Are the products or services sold in need of frequent replenishment? 

This one is huge! DO NOT- I repeat DO NOT join a company hoping to make long-term income selling a product that is a one-time buy or needed less than every 30-60 days. 

What falls into this category? So many MLMs- kitchen supplies, makeup (for most people, especially since the pandemic), clothing, that one “romantic” company, jewelry, etc. You will be constantly searching for new customers and competition is fierce because your own teammates are doing the same. It will wear you down.

Not only should the product be consumable and need replacement at frequent intervals, but the company should have auto-shipments with customer incentives to use it. This will help you to ‘snowball’ your customer base. If you can create just 3-5 new customers each month on an auto-shipment, in a few months you will have plenty of customers. This is one of the ways to build passive income.

6. Are there any quotas or minimum personal purchases required, and if so, what happens if it’s missed? 

It’s not necessarily bad if a company requires one or the other, but be cautious if they require both ongoing. Also, missing quotas or minimum purchases should not cause you to lose your spot in the organization. 

Quotas are often set and require a minimum number of customers or sales dollars in a certain time-frame to remain active. This is not bad if it’s reasonable. In fact, it’s great if you are truly attempting to build a team and want dedicated people. It can be bad if the quotas frequently go up or are not realistic. Also, to be clear, I’m not talking about target quotas for promotions or bonuses, I’m talking about baseline ones for everyone.

Required personal purchases is something I personally dislike. I will not join a company that requires it as I feel it can take an MLM into the realm of a potential pyramid scheme, something I will avoid at all costs. Optional personal purchases, in lieu of quotas or otherwise, may be ok depending on the plan.

Also, if there are certain requirements in place, failure to meet should not force you down in the organization. It’s one thing to have your commissions for that month affected. It’s entirely another to lose a team you recruited. I currently have a prospect who once lost his entire downline after a 2-month break while he went through a divorce. He came back to NO TEAM, they were moved to his upline. How awful! 

7. Does the company require or strongly suggest you do parties?

Oh the parties, I despise them. I feel so terrible for some of my friends. I have dozens of friends in MLMs, especially on social media. They are required to do parties either by quota or as a necessity to earn money. The problem is the companies are saturated, people like me are being invited to 5-7 every week, many times with the same company. I have personally reached a point where I decline all invites. I feel so bad about it, but I don’t have time or money for all the parties.  Neither does my network!

The other bad thing about parties- having to constantly find someone to host it for you. It’s like recruiting, but somehow worse. You wind up using your network up quickly and can easily get stuck. 

Find a company whose sales overwhelmingly come through methods other than parties. Caveat- a ‘launch party’ is perfectly acceptable. This is when you announce to your network your new business and what you’re doing. The problem with parties arises when they are frequent and necessary.

8. You said this was not an MLM, but it sounds like one?

OK, so this question might seem weird but I had to add it. Why? Because I DAILY see people in organizations that I personally know are MLMs posting on social media and claiming they ARE NOT an MLM! Yes! This is not only wrong, it’s flat out illegal! I see the majority of these posts coming from the same “shopping club”, where I have actually purchased products before and liked them. But I never will again due to the lying taking place on social media. I see many others skirting the question and not being forthright with it. If it hasn’t come out in the first wave of exchanges between you and the potential sponsor, they are not being transparent.

No, I don’t advertise ‘GREAT MLM OPPORTUNTY RIGHT HERE’ but I also don’t hide behind it. I’ve certainly never said ‘Great CBD opportunity, Not an MLM, PM me now!’

If your organization allows or encourages you to recruit more sales people “under you” from which you earn some money at any point, you are in an MLM. Stop lying and saying you are not. If you still don’t think you are, let’s talk. You have been lied to by YOUR upline sponsor.

If you responded to one of these posts, and it sounds like an MLM, just do a quick google search. If it is, tell the individual never to contact you again. They are not someone you should do business with based on their lies alone. 

9. What is the company culture like? 

This is huge! Do you see reps from this company posting vague cick-bait posts and potentially illegal claims? Or do you see positive, honest posts? Were you approached by a ‘hunbot’, or by a professional business person? Meaning, did it start out with ‘hey hun…’ or ‘Hi Lisa! I wanted to reach out to you about…’ I personally am put off by the hunbots, hey babes, and the like. It sounds unprofessional to me and I don’t want to be affiliated with it. Call me crazy, but it’s not my style. If it’s ok with you, that’s your choice, I’m just citing my own example of the type of culture I would not want to be a part of. And no, I’m not talking about if someone reaches out to a friend, I’m referring to individuals who lower themselves by acting ‘sugary’ and insincere towards people they don’t know. 

As far as culture, if it’s unclear after a conversation with your potential sponsor, there’s a few other ways to find out. Ask to see recorded videos of training, opportunity calls (or attend a live one), or speak to another company rep. A 3-way call with their upline sponsor is a good tell too. Don’t dismiss this if offered, you may learn a lot. A legitimate professional will be able to offer any or all of these options. 

10. What’s the worst part about your business? 

This can be the biggest eye opener. If the answer is “there’s nothing bad about this company or working here, I love it” then that should be a deal breaker. Even the best companies have opportunities for improvement. If someone tells you there is nothing, they are either lying or lack experience. Steer clear.

On the other hand, be open and non-judgmental if someone offers you an honest answer. The best part of this isn’t their answer, because assuming you can handle whatever ‘the worst thing’ is, you’ve just found yourself a really great person. Deciding to link-arms will ultimately depend on all these other answers, but at least you know you have someone honest if you do decide to move forward. 

So there you have it! The top ten questions I suggest everyone ask before joining an MLM. There are certainly other things you may wish to see or know- but these will help you a lot in your research. 

One thing I will add- even if the company gives you the ‘right answer’ to all, if its not a fit for you, it’s not a fit. Likewise, if there are a few answers you don’t like but they aren’t deal breakers for you, it may still be ok to proceed. My deal breaker list and yours may look different. Here are my dealbreakers- no placement suite, not ground-floor, required personal purchases, unrealistic start up costs, unfair commissions (or commissions that are so high I would be ripping off my customers), poor culture, or if I caught them in a lie.

Best of luck!

For those wondering– here is how I answer all these questions for my company and opportunity. If you would like to learn more, send me an email to myorganiccbd@gmail.com

  1. Yes, this is ground floor. In network marketing, 22k-25k active in the salesforce is the max to be considered ground floor. At the time of this writing, we have about 14k advocates and about half of them are active. Due to the nature of our products, many people join for the kit and discounts but not to grow a business.
  2. Yes! Our products are exceptional. We sell NC grown organic farm-to-family CBD. It’s true, you can get CBD a lot of places now, even gas stations. Ours is different because its USDA certified organic, not just the CBD/hemp or farms, but everything in the bottle. This is important because most CBD on the market is grown overseas and used for its ability to clean pollution from air, soil and water. That same pollution is present in most CBD on the market. We also differ because we own our farms, are vertically integrated and don’t outsource anything, aside from 3rd party lab validation. This is crucial to quality control. We offer the ONLY USDA-certified organic water-soluble nano-CBD product on the market. We also have skincare, topicals, and more.
  3. The plan is transparent and my example answer in the article is what I earned at a former rank. However, we rolled out a new plan March 1st, 2021 and it’s even better. We can now earn 4-38% depending on where it’s sold and how far down is related to your current promotion level. They’ve made promotions easier to achieve and dropped minimum sales requirements, which have been $150/month OR $100 personal auto-ship. These no longer apply as of 3/1/21. They’ve also added product credit on top of all that plus extra level bonuses. It’s really a great plan! Yes, there are some CBD companies offering 50% commissions but let me ask you this- how would you feel if a customer asked you how much you’re making off the sale? If you would feel bad answering, or felt the need to apologize for it, something is wrong with the quality or the price.
  4. You can start with my company at one of three entry points depending on if and how much product you want- $49, $299, or $499. Its 9.99/month website fees and $29/year annual fee beginning 1 year after enrolling. That’s it! Less than the business licenses where I live. All tax write-offs.
  5. Yes! Most of my customers, I would say 99%, order on autoship. They don’t all maintain it, but most do. The same holds true for most of the sales on my team. 
  6. No quotas or minimum purchases here beginning 3/1/21. 
  7. No parties, unless you just enjoy them. We do encourage everyone to do a launch party or some sort of announcement, but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Not really applicable to this because I would NEVER tell someone we are not an MLM. We are an MLM, and I believe we are the best one!
  9. Amazing! We have people from all walks of life. Moms, dads, retirees, young singles, couples, you name it! We have people with former MLM experience, and people like me with zero. Most people start this as a side-hustle, but not everyone does. What I will say is that everyone who works hard and remains consistent meets with success! We are laid back and easy-going, but we will not settle when it comes to our quality control or open ourselves up to regulatory issues. I can share examples of this to anyone who asks.
  10. Haha! So seriously, the worst part about my company is the website! There, I said it! We have grown so fast our website/servers sometimes can’t keep up! During the holidays and certain flash sales, we even locked it up a few times. It’s totally functional, and I’ve only lost one sale from this (during said flash sale) but sometimes it irks me. The way I see it, if this is as bad as it gets, I can handle anything else.

If you’d like to learn more about me, my company, or the opportunity, click here or reach out to me, Jennifer, or my sister Amy at- myorganiccbd@gmail.com .

My CBD Story- Year One

A year ago I honestly thought CBD was a fad- perhaps even some kind of legal loophole for people to use marijuana or get high. As a licensed pharmacist in 4 states, I was intrigued, but also timid to delve into it. We didn’t learn anything about the endocannabinoid system in school. They touched on THC but skipped right past CBD. I was as clueless as anyone, even with my fancy, expensive degree.

The thing was, I had a lot of friends and family members coming to me asking for help. They wanted to know about CBD, what kind to take, how to take it, and where to get it. I felt bad because I didn’t have answers for them.

I left my hospital CEO job and was shifting my life to become a stay-at-home mom. I was planning to do healthcare consulting on the side. My schedule was freeing up for the first time in years! I decided I’d check into the whole CBD-thing….

What I found ranged from awesome to downright scary.  There was no shortage of incredible stories about how well CBD was helping people from all walks of life. People were finding relief from pain, headaches, stress, GI issues, skin issues, and improving their overall well-being. Many people were very sick and CBD was the first thing that had given them their life back. I also found stories about sub-par products containing amounts of CBD very different from labeling. I found where the FDA took action against some companies for heavy metals and toxins in their products. I was sort of amazed that for something newly legalized there was very little by way of regulation. It was like the wild-wild-west!

After seeing all this, I knew I had to find a product I could recommend to those I loved. I definitely didn’t want them using any of those sub-par products. About that time, another pharmacist in my network reached out to me about Green Compass. After hearing all about the company, their product line, the unprecedented quality and purity along with amazing culture, I jumped on board.

It’s now been a year since I joined the company and I could not be more thrilled with my decision! Not only have I now been able to help countless people feel better by using our products, I’ve also been able to grow a business. This has allowed me to stay home longer than I ever dreamed I could. In fact, I haven’t really done much general healthcare consulting. Most of my time has been focused on my newfound passion- CBD.

You can read more about the specifics on my journey here. I paired up with my sister, Amy, to get started. She was the first person to support me. Now, all three of my sisters and our parents are in the business too. All of my family plus over 350 other team members- in just one year! Growth has been amazing.

My first working month, January 2020, our sales were just over $800. A year later, January 2021, our sales topped $130,000!!!!

Newsflash- you cannot sell that much CBD in a single month unless its effective, high quality, and produces results. Read up on our journey and consider if this could be right for you too! You won’t know if you don’t ask. ~blessings

Do It All!

Wonder Women (& Man)

Molly: I thought I would change it up a bit and ask a question instead of John. One of the instructors in my family nurse practitioner master’s program sent all of the students an email in the first semester reminding us that we are not Wonder Women (all female class). Her point was that we can’t do everything: work, be a student, parent, spouse, friend, etc. and we would have to give something up in order to be successful in the program. I have often thought about that email, especially as a female professional in that I feel do need to be everything. This is further reinforced by the unrealistic portrayals on social media. My secret is being resourceful, delegation, and prioritization (aka not sweating the small stuff). I am open about getting the help I need (it takes a tribe), but I am still everything. My question for my three friends – Do you feel you have to be “everything” and if so, how do you do it?

John: Everything to who, Molly? You? Trish? Jen? Anyone else? Nope. Not anymore. The only respect to me that matters is self-respect. I know who my inner-circle is, I know who I value and who want to be proud of me; and I know who I don’t. We can do everything, we just can’t do it all at once. You always have to give up something, to get something, and some of things that I gave up, were self-loathing, self-doubt and limiting beliefs. If you want to be everything to everyone, you will fail miserably and most importantly, let yourself down. That hurts the worst. I was the world champ of that. I could’ve whipped Tyson in his prime. But realistically, I used to think everyone was watching me, but they are not, they are busy living their own lives. As they should. The only way I am busy worried about everyone else and I am not focusing on what I need to – learning, growing, bettering my skills; worried about me. I have said it once and I will say it a thousand times – when you work on improving yourself, the good things happen, but when you work on improving yourself, then good things always happen. I don’t have to be anything to anyone other than me. And my dog. Because when I come home, no matter what, he will lick my face. He loves me. Kelly loves me but most importantly, I love me.

Jen: No way! I definitely do not feel obligated to do or be everything to everyone. However, I do often feel other people expect me to sometimes. And other times I begrudgingly jump in and take over, because, you know, “me do it better myself…” Last weekend my husband bought some salmon filets to cook. He is not a chef, but he can make food that is totally edible. He’s always had issues with salmon for some reason though (once baked it in >1 inch depth of olive oil, splatter everywhere, never mind the mushiness…). Sunday night I was beat and the two of us were in a silent battle-of-wills waiting to see who was going to cook the fish. He finally walked into the kitchen, and with dramatic snail-like slowness, began taking everything out to cook. I walked in and told him I was exhausted and I was not able to cook or clean up; not something I often say when someone looks like they need help. I suggested maybe we should cook something different. He told me no way, and insisted he had it under control. I left him to it and went upstairs, expecting dinner in 15 or so minutes. About 45 minutes later, I went back downstairs to see what was going on. He had side dishes prepared and already cold again and was staring at the oven holding a pot-holder. I could see the defeat in his face and took the pot-holder away and fish out of the oven. It was still raw! He had the oven on 325 degrees as opposed to broil because, “the package it came in said to do that”. I flipped on broil, made some adjustments and in ten minutes I had everything reheated and the salmon fully done.  This is not meant to be a story about traditional gender roles or to jab at my sweetheart, it just happens to illustrate that my husband lacks experience with salmon broiling. My broader point is that there are times when I have an urge to do things because I am impatient, even when others are willing. So no Molly, I don’t feel I have to be everything, but sometimes I guess I just want to be (or something like that). 😂 

Trish: Molly, I do feel like I have to be “everything”- the one who has it all together, the one to take lead, the one to lean on, the one who is the “wonder woman”! I set such high standards for myself and I am my own worst critic when I realize I don’t have it all together. Just today I realized that I paid my monthly mortgage payment to my car loan holder last month. I use online banking bill pay and the two companies are listed one after the other on the pay to list. Bad news is- I got hit with a nasty late fee on the mortgage and good news is- I will outright own my car next month after I pay the last $479 left on the car loan. This mistake hit me hard mentally. Seriously, how could I have mistaken one company for the other. I’ve made over 48 payments perfectly to each of these companies previously! I pride myself on having it “mostly together” all the time and I don’t make mistakes like this. Today was a great learning lesson to me, that I have to back myself down on trying to be the person who has it all together all of the time and realize that mistakes happen, they can be fixed (sometimes with a nasty late fee attached), we learn, move on, and most importantly, that we breathe through the process and reset. Today, I am pressing the wonder woman reset button and waiting for my next great win and my next mistake.

Originally published Dec 7th, 2018; Four Friends Molly Downhour, Patrician Graham, John Nocero, and Jennifer Rawley

Dealing With Change

By John R. Nocero, Jennifer Rawley, Molly Downhour and Patricia Graham

John: I’m a fixed person. I like what I like when I like it. I get up at 4:59am. I am in my office by 6am. I leave by 6pm. At the gym, by 6:30, vigorous workout pre-planned from the night before. I am home by 7:15, for dinner, watch the Yankees, and then make my lunch for the next day. Saturday is similar to Sunday, with pre-planned routines. Needless to say, I love my rigidity. This goes for the majority of my life. I like new things, but when I am ready for them. My question to my other three friends is, how do you deal with change?

“How do you deal with change?”

Jen: Dealing with change is eventually inevitable – we can either fight or slowly lose, or we can accept it and adjust accordingly. As human beings, we are constantly changing, even the most stubborn of us are doing it at a molecular level. Some changes are optional, such as electing to take a new job. Some are not, like when we are forced out of a job. At the core, resistance to change is rooted in fear. Fear of the known, such as knowing chemo is required to treat a cancer; or fear of the unknown, such as not knowing where you will live after an eviction. These fears precipitate the ultimate sense of a loss of control, which can be the hardest part for many of us to overcome, myself included.  Imagine for a moment a ballerina performing turns- they can be any type of turn, but I like pirouettes and fouettes best, so I think of those. (If you can’t imagine or haven’t seen these, click here to see- starts at 00:40).

This ballerina is in a constant changing motion, but she controls it in one big way (yes, I realize there are dozens of other controls in play, just indulge me for a minute). Notice her eyes are focused on a single place and it’s not until most of her body is already turned that she whips her head around too and refocuses. She repeats this each time because she is trained to find the same constant point each turn. If she were to let her head spin around at the speed of her legs, she would quickly lose balance and fall out of the turn. Having danced as a girl, I recall that missing my focal point for even a single turn could render me unable to find it again, leaving me dizzy and in the floor. This example illustrates how I navigate change, by exerting control over other areas of my life to stay grounded. I remind myself of anything that I can control, even something small, like choosing what I eat. By doing this, I feel less “out-of-control” and manage thru the changes. If I don’t, I eventually fall flat on my face. Of course, I simply jump up and pretend like it was supposed to happen, relocate my focal point and keep on spinning.

“…there are two types of change; change you choose and change that is forced upon you.”

Molly: I agree that there are two types of change; change you choose and change that is forced upon you. I like change and I recognize I can easily get frustrated with the status quo when I feel strongly there is an opportunity for improvement. I enjoy solving problems rather than applying temporary fixes and I hate waste (especially my time).

When change is forced upon you, I (like a lot of people) try to understand the rationale behind the change. Unfortunately, not all changes can be understood, such as a natural disaster or a terrifying diagnosis. As an oncology nurse, I have had the privilege of seeing so many wonderful people face the life changing diagnosis of cancer with courage and grace. Courage, grace, and determination come after denial, anger, and questions of why me. Supporting my cancer patients through this process gave me great insight on how I want to face change that is thrust upon me. I let myself experience the emotions as I feel that is a necessary step in determining my path with the change. Then I can decide if I want to fight it, embrace it, or maybe warm up to it.

Trish: Great question, John. This is a very interesting topic. As Jen mentioned, we are constantly changing and the world around us is in constant change. This change occurs with or without our buy-in, and ultimately, it is how we deal with the change that determines whether we are dealing with loss or control.  I like to think of this quote, “Change is a process, not an event.” Somehow, this thought process allows for the element of time. Time to get from Point A to Point B. Some people adjust to change with speed and grace. The speedy graceful people are at Point B smiling and cheering. Other individuals are resistant to change and fight very hard to maintain the current status quo. You can find these individuals still processing the fact that there is a Point B that exists, and heck no, they don’t want to get there at all…let alone get there with speed AND grace! I think I am somewhere in the middle, but more toward the person on the fast road to Point B. Why am I a “somewhat speedy and graceful” change acceptor? I Maybe I don’t like to feel a sense of fear and loss and focusing on the excitement of something new helps me manage the change. The concept of viewing change to be a process and not an event allows individuals time for consideration. This consideration may make a speedy graceful person slow down and discover challenges that need addressing before getting to Point B that they otherwise may have missed. Viewing change to be a process and not an event may allow a resister time to consider opportunities rather than be steadfast in opposition. The next time I am faced with change and feel like I am on the too speedy graceful side of the bell curve or I am too far to the resistant side, I hope to stop, take a breath, recognize that the change is a process and not an event and decide the best way to get from Point A to Point B.


Originally published on LinkedIN on 10/4/18; by John R. NoceroJennifer RawleyMolly Downhour & Patricia Graham

This week’s topic: Vacation

John: Both Molly and Trish are out on vacation this week, which makes Jen and I a bit envious and reflective. Both of them just knew when to take a break and recharge their batteries. I struggle with the idea of stepping away. It’s not that I am so driven that I do not feel I can, but it is truly that my work is my biggest passion in life, and is my true purpose. I also understand that the brain does better with rest, and so does the heart. Mental and physical fatigue causes stress, sloppy decision-making, and carelessness. I try to build vacations into my weekly routine – time on the weekend where I don’t look at my computer, enjoying a foot-long BMT at Subway (double-meat, double-cheese baby) alone, and time watching MLB does my heart good. I found that these short breaks allow me to disconnect long enough and meaningfully enough to recharge my batteries and I come back more responsive, more creative and more fired up to do great work. They don’t cost much – Subway generally sets me back $15, but that hour there is so meaningful, giving me great separation from work and provided inspiration as well, not to mention the health benefits.

What do you think Jen, do we not wait and go ahead and vacate too?

Jen: Well truthfully John, I am still stuck on $15 at Subway…how does one accomplish that? I had to re-read that a few times in shock.

Vacation is not something I do often. Most of my time ‘off’ is spent either on short 2-3 day quick-trips or traveling to visit family, which is wonderful of course, but to me does not qualify as vacation. Last year my family went on our first trip in years that I think qualifies. We took the kids to NYC on the train. Both the journey and the destination hit the mark and we had a fantastic time. When we got home, my daughter Addysen painted a memory for us which I will forever treasure (above). My husband’s parents came along, which was awesome – having extra adults with all the walking and crowds was a major win.

I admit that I got sucked into work a little bit, but for only worthy causes. I was needed to emergently credential a provider due to a death in the family of another. Also I was simultaneously trying to help locate a very important document remotely located inside a department that was closed for the holidays. I dropped the credentialing call in a train tunnel and struggled to speak with the second individual from wind blowing me over in Battery Park. No pressure!

Overall the trip was a success – but it was freezing cold (18 degrees!!!) and we were layered up but determined to make the most out of the time we had. The kids were whiny and sometimes crying from the cold, and every picture looks like we are in the Alps with only our cheeks showing, but we made it thru! I was annoyed by my work phone more than usual because it was buried under layers. In order to get it out, I had to remove gloves and unwrap, which was not worth it in the bitter cold. I let it ring and buzz, which was stressful for me. Here’s why- I stress more to be completely cut-off and wondering what’s needed than I do staying at least minimally involved.  I know many time management and work-life-balance experts advise against this, but it just doesn’t work for me to be cut off for more than a few hours.

Like many of you, I get hundreds of e-mails and texts most days, even over the holidays. The times I have tried (or been forced) to cut myself off from my work phone have been anxiety inducing. I worry about the buildup and what I will ‘go back to’. For the record, this is not unique to my present job, its something that has been the case since my first healthcare leadership position and prior to that when I owned a restaurant. For this reason, I function instead in a ‘critical only’ sort of mode. What this means is that I peruse my inbox 2-3 times each day mainly clearing it out, filing away, delegating, or bumping into a file I will name “do this when I get back” or similar. I set my out of office to inform external senders how to contact me in an emergency and advise them to resend the email with “URGENT” in the subject line. When I peruse the inbox and text messages, I will usually only make note of them unless urgent, even if my reply is asked for. If I am still needed a while later, I will address. Many times however, the team has already resolved the issue or determined its no longer urgent. This helps me to have some boundaries and free time. It also helps my team to stretch their skills and grow.

To answer the question, should we take vacation, I say “YES!” I was hoping to do so this month, but it’s looking more like November due to some unforeseen circumstances. I am always waiting for the right time, and there probably isn’t going to be a perfect time, so I might just pull the trigger. Maybe Molly and Trish can write something about us while we are gone, what do you think?

Molly & Trish on vacation