Single, not solo
When Dean Kosage was young, his family owned a fleet of charter sailboats, and many of their customers were successful musicians. He was attracted to the lifestyle, showed early talent, and began making music videos when that industry was in its infancy.
But after he enrolled in college courses in film and music, he began to weigh his chances of making it in the business and realized he probably wouldn’t have full creative freedom – or financial stability. So when a lawyer he met introduced him to the Independent Business Ownership Plan, it seemed perfect: He’d build the Quixtar business first and use the income to finance his music career.
But the “backup plan” grew so quickly that Dean had to make some changes. He discussed the options with his father (then living in California) and his mother (in Washington).
“I brought them with me to a couple of seminars and introduced them to the people who were training me,” says Dean. “They saw for themselves that this wasn’t a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme – that my sponsors were experienced and had integrity. My sponsors couldn’t guarantee that I’d get results. They couldn’t even guarantee I’d show up. But if I did, they’d be there for me.” Dean made the decision to leave school and sell the restaurant he owned, and within two years, he reached Emerald.
One of the first things you notice when you meet Dean Kosage is his intense directness. He looks you right in the eye, and it feels as though you’re the only person in the room with him. He makes his points strongly, leaning in close to convince you, laughing as he sees you get the point, then relaxing while he ponders a question. While his attention doesn’t seem to waver, he’s also watching what’s going on around him – asking a team member to provide details about a recent event, reminding a colleague to pick up his daughter from school, answering his phone, sending a quick email, then returning to the conversation and picking up the thread where he had dropped it.
Dean admits to being a “type A” personality, saying it was hard at first to listen to the people who were mentoring him. But, he adds, “It’s important sometimes to let go of what you think and just follow where you’re being guided. After all, if advice always made sense to you, you wouldn’t need it, right?”
Other barriers he faced in building his business included his age, his divorce, being a single parent (to Teagan, 9), and, oddly, being ambitious. “People sense your drive and it makes them wonder if you’re talking to them just to get something. I had to learn how to shift gears, from being a go-getter to just giving people my time. It got easier when I had more stability, when I learned to relax, when I remembered how to have fun.”
Fun for Dean now includes having time to pursue his passions, including playing in a band and investing in motion pictures. “It’s just been wonderful,” says Dean, smiling, “I can play in these areas without having to worry about making money.” He runs and lifts weights, and recently learned to do a standing back tuck. He and Teagan took surfing lessons and he looks forward to making international travel his next adventure with her.
Building his team
“The guy who invited me to my first meeting saw my ambition,” says Dean. “Not how young I was, or the fact that I was single, or into the music scene, or wild at heart.”
Now, as he recruits, coaches, and trains his own business teams, Dean follows in his sponsor’s steps, looking for diversity. “I think about building a team like putting together an image campaign. I need some young singles. Some busy moms and young suburban couples. Some grandmothers and some mid-level managers. I need people who fit the demographics I’m trying to reach.”
What are those demographics? With an organization stretching up and down the West Coast, from Vancouver to points south of Los Angeles, his group is a mixture of culturally and ethnically diverse Gen Ys, movie and music personalities, rural and suburban professional couples, people in middle management and in corporate jobs, and college students and retirees.
“I don’t want to build business teams that look just like me,” Dean says emphatically. “They wouldn’t be much fun – and they wouldn’t last. If you’re willing to change yourself and look for people who are not like you, your business develops a new kind of depth and staying power.” And, as he looks out the windows that frame the snow-capped mountains turning pink in the rays of the setting sun, he adds, “If you can’t do that, I think the size of your business will always be limited by the numbers of people you can relate to, comfortably.”
While Dean doesn’t believe it’s important for his teams to be like him, it is important for them to learn the principles and skills he can teach them, like time management, conflict resolution, budgeting, and life coach-ing. As he explains, “My biggest surprise? How few people are consistent. I thought it would be about massive hard work, style, or personality. But it’s about showing up, on time, with a good attitude – something I wasn’t always so good at myself!”
He also recognizes that everyone has a different motivation for getting into the business. Some may just want a little extra monthly income, while others are actively looking for an exit strategy. Dean says, “As a leader, I have to be able to use the busi-ness as a magnifying glass, putting it in front of anyone’s hopes and then helping them figure out what they can do to reach their goals.”
Just like you
“This business is perfect for young singles,” Dean says. “You’re Gen Y, and your Boomer parents, the media, the reality of the corporate world, they all tell you a job, no matter how good, is not forever. Everyone says, ‘Remember to live life. Follow your dreams.’ So, these kids work as cell-phone reps or baristas instead of at a Fortune 500 company, in a cubicle. That gives them more freedom to drop everything and go snowboarding, skiing, or participate in extreme sports.”
He says he’s not describing “slackers,” but people with ambitions and dreams who are trying not to sell out as they explore their passions, who want to find a better balance in life than they think is possible if they follow a traditional career path. “What I can show them is that a Quixtar business may give them the financial flexibility to follow their passions, maybe in less time than the path they’re on right now.”
Single parents are another group that Dean attracts, based on his own example of how he did it solo. When his business was small, he explains that he could handle all its facets by himself, fitting the work in around his schedule. Learning that his time management was not as good as it needed to be, as he says, laughing, “Gave him a growth oppor-tunity.” Later, when his business grew, he was able to pay for a crew of assistants or managers, when he needed them. Dean’s success as a single earns him speaking invitations to groups inside and outside the Quixtar business.
Dean, who was once married, says marital status in this business is immaterial. “We went through a divorce in the public eye. I worried about what people would think. Would couples still listen to me?” Some of them didn’t, he says, but he kept reminding people in his organization why they’d gotten into the business in the first place – not to follow Dean, but to use this business to make their own dreams come true.
Ultimately, Dean and his ex-wife have been able to rebuild their friendship and have found ways to share parenting.
Success in this business lets him provide more for Teagan and gives him more quality time with her. “I can take her to games, we can do goofy things together, and she’s able to laugh a lot more now.” Gesturing to Teagan, who is happily digging in the sand nearby, he says, softly, “She may not understand all the details of what I do, but she sees me working with people and she knows it’s something that makes a difference. She wouldn’t learn that if I had a job that took me out of the house every day.”
You already do what I do
How do you attract a grandmother, an extreme athlete, a busy young mother, and a middle manager to the same business? “You start with understanding that it’s all hard work,” Dean explains. “It’s about showing up and being prepared and looking beyond the Friday paycheck. It’s about dealing with no-shows.” And then, he says, it’s about explaining that they already have most of the life skills they need – they’re already mentors and coaches.
Grandparents, he explains, have a wealth of experience in raising children, holding families and generations together, with the patience to wait for lessons to sink in and understanding to come. “Like my own mom,” he chuckles. “She goes, ‘Wait a minute. You mean all I have to do is go through the hassle of raising three kids again, only this time, instead of bills for college, I get an income?’ It’s not about the internet or about being tech-y. It’s about using your people skills.”
Mid-level managers, who may recruit and train for a corporation, are already skilled at time management, hiring, firing, and quickly spotting leaders. An athlete who loves energy drinks, protein bars, and supplements is likely to have lots of friends who want to give them a try. Busy moms juggling multiple responsibilities tend to manage time well, and often have strong networks of equally time-challenged friends who are happy to buy the products.
“Suddenly, you’re helping people reach their dreams,” Dean points out. “You won’t believe how good that feels!” Someone might say, ‘I’m a very talented guitar player and I love music, but the bottom line is I have to pay my bills and I’m spending all my time waiting tables.’ Nothing’s worse than sensing your talent slipping away while you pay your bills.” Ask people to give you a chance to earn their business, says Dean. And then send them to your website.”
Dean believes it’s Quixtar’s internet model that makes it all possible, especially the fact that the Corporation is ranked the number-one online retailer of health and beauty products. He points out that with Personal Websites, it’s easy for any IBO to create a website linked to Quixtar.com and encourage consumers to buy products through it – things they would buy anyway, like protein bars, nutritional supplements, and weight-loss, or home-care products.
The team that wins
Having enjoyed the benefits of a mentoring organization, Dean now offers it, too. And he takes risks with it. “If you get close enough to anyone, you can see weaknesses along with strengths,” he points out. “People aren’t perfect, but we expect more out of a mentor. Still, I decided the fellowship was worth the risk. If you come to dinner here, I want you to feel that you know me – and you belong here. Playing, having fun, working hard – it builds a really tight bond.”
He also reaches out to disadvantaged kids in the community, introducing them to his friends who are winners in local sports or business. “We show them what it’s like to be around people who are positive, who have good values. We show them it’s OK to dream and to be ambitious. We show them we have faith in them.”
“It’s funny,” Dean muses, “but doing this always reminds me that my life isn’t that important. What matters is, what are you doing with your life? Is there some way I can help? And for that, I can thank my mom, who convinced me it was important to try to change the world, to make a difference.
“A lot of times, I think I read a question in people’s eyes: ‘If I’m being shown this business by someone who’s pretty big, is there room for me? Are they going to help me or just make their money and leave?’ “That’s the great thing about the Plan. I don’t care how many ‘Super Bowls’ I’ve won. I’m assembling a team to win the next one coming up. I guarantee you: Whoever showed you this business, they have a game coming up that they need to win, too. They would love to find the spot on their team where you fit.”
Keep up with Dean…