This interview features entrepreneur, networker, coach, and mentor Gary Stern. You can connect with him on various social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Can you tell me a little about your background and your journey to becoming a motivational mentor, coach, and speaker?
Gary: Yeah, absolutely. I went to college for physical therapy. I had always wanted to be a doctor. I blew out my knee and had to see a physical therapist and thought, “Wow, that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.” And I did that for about six years. I loved working with professional athletes from all over the world. But, what I didn’t count on was my mom and dad getting sick. I moved home to take care of my mom in Florida and realized that I needed a little more freedom in my schedule. I went into pharmaceutical sales, and there was a lot of money to be made in that field. I thought I was really making a difference and helping people, but honestly, at my core, it just didn’t mesh with what I wanted to do with my life. I felt stuck.
I did pharmaceutical sales for almost 13 years. Then, insurance companies cracked down on brand name medications. My company laid off two-thirds of the salesforce. So, those of us who weren’t laid off were asked to cover a larger territory, spend more time at work, and be paid less for it. I realized there was more to life than that, which led me to the company LifeVantage. It was actually my cycling coach, Simon, who introduced me to something he believed would help me perform better on the bike and recover faster. And it’s in the field of network marketing.
I had said “no” 28 times to the field of network marketing. I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t think it was an honorable way to make a living, so to speak. My goodness, though, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell head over heels in love with it over the next couple of years. Quit my job in physical therapy and have been full-time with the company ever since. It’s what propelled me on the journey of personal growth and personal development.
I always tell people I had two self-help books on my shelf when network marketing found me almost a decade ago. And now I have maybe 150 personal development books on the shelf, including two that have my name on them, which is pretty freaking cool. I have a team of 3,500 people in 15 different countries. Collectively we have almost 15,000 customers amongst us. So, a total of nearly 19,000 people in the organization. It’s just a blessing. It’s allowed me the opportunity to speak on stages, write in books, and do trainings. It’s awesome.
In your opinion, why is personal development so important?
Gary: I’ve heard so many great quotes along the way, but one that stuck out to me was, “You’re either growing, or you’re dying.” Even staying still, you’re slowly dying because our minds, bodies, and nature are wired to grow, develop, and move forward. It’s the whole “good syndrome” principle when people say “I’m good,” but they really mean, “Things are status quo. I wish there was more going on. I wish there was more to life. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to do.”
Often, personal growth or personal development helps guide you in the direction you need to go next. You learn a lot about yourself in the process. What you like and what you don’t like. What you’re good at and what you’re not good at. What you can improve on. I just go back to the original quote, “You’re either growing, or you’re dying.” I didn’t want to only exist in life. I wanted to live life to the max.
You recently had a book released called Silver Linings. Is that right?
Gary: I did. That was the first time I had ever taken a stab at writing. I’m a co-author on it with a friend of mine, Jo Baldwin Trott. She’s over in the UK and is an author and publisher. She always told me I needed to tell my story, and one day we were on the phone, and she asked how I was doing in lockdown. Ironically, I said, “Jo, I don’t know if I want to say this because I know so many people are hurting worldwide, but it’s been a true blessing.” I explained how I had more family time and how both of my businesses were doing well (one is a bicycle shop and the other is in the health and wellness sector through multilevel marketing). So, I shared a couple of stories with her, and she told me I needed to put them into words in her book.
What was your experience like doing something so new?
Gary: It was fun! Jo and I would have a conversation, and through that, she would tell me which stories to write down. It brought back great memories. You know we always use the expression, “Facts tell and stories sell,” and it was so cool to tell it in the form of a story. When I looked back on the finished product, it was pretty neat. I had my wife read it. She has a journalism degree and, of course, corrected some of the grammar.
What was the biggest piece of advice or lesson learned that might help other new authors from that experience?
Gary: The thing that held me up from attempting to write my story all these years was not knowing where to start and worrying more about what the finished product was going to look like. Finally, I realized I just needed to sit down, allow the ideas to start flowing, and let go.
One of the things that helped me that Jo recommended was to write in a dictation format. I used an app and literally sat in a room by myself and talked like I was telling the story. I got it onto paper and then had a working document to go off of from there. After, I took that document and broke it into paragraphs and sentences. Then, I moved sections around to where they best fit in the story.
You just have to start by throwing a bunch of ideas down on paper. It’ll materialize from there. But if you worry about the perfected product and what it’s going to look like at the end, you’ll never start. You’ll get stuck trying to do it perfectly on the first try.
You’ve also put out another book called Network Marketing Secrets from Top Earners, with Rob Sperry. What was that book about?
Gary: Silver Linings was a bunch of feel-good, uplifting stories from our time in lockdown. Network Marketing Secrets from Top Earners teaches secrets on building better relationships and better communication skills. Essentially, things that will help a person grow in a network marketing business. I believe the audience is relevant to almost all industries though, especially other sectors that are very relationship-driven.
How was that writing experience different from Silver Linings?
Gary: So this one was different in that Rob provided us with a ghostwriter. I had no idea what a ghostwriter did. I thought I would just tell the person a couple of ideas, and then they would write the entire story. But, that was not the case. Instead, she was there to guide us along the way. Something similar was that I started writing both stories through an interview process. Like Silver Linings, I had an interview with the ghostwriter and we took notes about what was important to cover. Then it went back to me to write it.
In some ways, the experience was a lot more difficult because this book required me to speak about a topic that teaches people how to be better at something. I wrote what I believed was the best way for the vast majority of people to accomplish what we were teaching. What I wrote not only worked for me but also my team. However, I knew someone could read it and disagree. So, that was the most significant difference. Those thoughts were constantly running through my mind. “How can I appeal to the masses with this?” Silver Linings was just telling my story, and if it appealed to readers, great! Who’s not going to like an uplifting story? But Network Marketing Secrets from Top Earners was more technical, and I felt more pressure to get it right.
If people want to order these two books, where can they find them?
Gary: You can go to my website at https://www.garystern2.com/books. Silver Linings is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Network Marketing Secrets from Top Earners is only available in a pre-order format.
Is there anything else you would like to share that’s important for readers?
Gary: I need to give Nike credit for it because they coined the phrase, but the last thing I would like to share with readers is to just go do it. I hesitated because I was looking for perfection. You just have to start. I recently heard Trent Shelton, a former NFL football player, say it best. He talked about how individuals have to fail forward and fail frequently. Perfection doesn’t exist. Instead, perfection is the road that’s paved with imperfections.