Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM Leadership School Recap — Day 3

Getting Motivated With “Fat Joe”

With the crowd already humming with excitement, Day 3 of the Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM 2024 Leadership School opened with the highly anticipated appearance by President of Urban and Latino Development and world-famous rapper Joseph “Fat Joe” Cartagena. While he began by joking about the early hour, “9:00 a.m. is definitely not rapper time,” Joe went on to give a rousing, motivational talk that had the crowd cheering and set the tone for a day packed with life-changing messages from some of the company’s most influential leaders.

A major theme of Joe’s speech was loyalty. He said it was the first thing that drew him to JR and Loren when the two stood by some mutual friends despite those friends’ personal troubles. “I said to myself, ‘I need to be tight with these people,'” Joe recalled. As his friendship with JR and Loren grew, he learned that “loyalty over everything means being loyal to yourself. You have to be loyal to your business. If you cheat the business and only work part time, it’ll show in your progress and success.”

Joe also discussed how, despite ups and downs in our economy, Market America makes it easier to succeed by creating “an ecosystem where nothing out there affects us in Market America. (JR) was a visionary to think about this concept.” But that doesn’t just happen, Joe explained; instead, it’s a product of Loren’s unwavering loyalty to creating the world’s most dynamic company that has kept Market America moving on to bigger and better things, something that he’s seen firsthand as Loren has traveled the country on her Blueprint for Success Tour. He said he’s bumped into her in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Dallas and has been amazed at the passion and strength she’s pouring into the company.

“She’s doubling, tripling down, telling the people, ‘I’m coming to you! You’ve been coming to us for years; now we’re coming to you!'” said Joe. “This is amazing!”

Joe also shared several candid personal stories, including how he’s lobbied Capitol Hill for more transparent healthcare costs and navigated his sneaker business through rocky economic times. He also relayed the painful memories of severing ties with people from his past when he realized they were only worried about benefitting from his success. Instead, he chose to be loyal to himself and his own potential.

“What about you and your success?” he asked. “What about you? It’s your time to do it.”

Because I Said Yes

“This is an incredible company. These three days have been outstanding. What a company!” exclaimed Chief Growth Officer Steve Bosson as he ignited the crowd during the Saturday morning session. Steve shared several UnFranchise® Owners’ (UFOs) testimonials via video about why they said “yes” to starting their UnFranchise Business with Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM. Everyone has their own story, their own “why” for starting the business, he said, and Market America has proven to be the path for more than 30 years for making dreams come true for thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe.

Steve also invited seven UFOs (“legends,” he called them) to join him on stage to share their successes and goals for themselves and their organizations. He reminded the crowd to remember that they are the owners of their own global business, serving 190 markets around the world. “Market America should be a community for everybody,” he said.

Step Into Your Power

Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Loren Ridinger started her first presentation with the humility and raw emotion for which she is admired by thanking her husband, JR Ridinger. “If it weren’t for him, none of us would be here today,” she said, acknowledging his forever presence on the Market America stage. “I hear him every day pushing me. The thing about JR is that his belief still lives in the room.”

Loren shared a bit of her life story, revealing that she grew up feeling pressured to live her life how others wanted her to, but not necessarily how she wanted to. She met JR, and he was the first person to encourage her to go after what she wanted. “If it wasn’t for JR, I would have taken the wrong road,” she noted. “If you’ve ever been trained by JR, you’ve been touched by an angel.”

Because of this belief in herself that JR helped her to build, Loren now spends her time in the service of others. She discovered that helping people find their self-worth and achieve their dreams is her passion and purpose. “Together,” she emphasized, “we can help build each other up.”

She then invited Vice President Christian Vazquez, Beauty Manager Mary Floyd and Vice President Andrew Weissman to the stage, each of whom shared a personal life story. Each story provided honest, frank looks into their past experiences with hardship, low self-confidence and few positive influences, and how they each learned and grew from their experiences into the people they are today. Loren thanked them for sharing, noting that “when you can be around a group of people, and you’re not afraid to talk about your baggage, and they tell you to drop it and let it go, and we’ll help build you up — there is nowhere else in this world where you can do that.”

Loren reiterated that Christian’s, Mary’s and Andrew’s experiences have helped them all grow into incredible leaders who give back to others so beautifully. “You will never improve your self-worth unless you are giving back to other people,” she said.

Loren said that it sometimes takes a breakdown to have a breakthrough. But the power really happens when you can turn it into a purpose, and you make it a point to help other people.

She asked Andrew and Christian to find a few people in the audience to talk to, answer a few questions and say if anything the previous speakers on stage had mentioned in their stories that resonated with them.

One UFO, Carlisa, told Andrew that Christian’s story touched her deeply because she had lost a sister to violence but that she had a strong support system around her. Another UFO, Tony, said that he sometimes finds it difficult to believe in himself, but he recognizes that it comes down to relying on oneself at some point to make a decision to change. Andrew also interviewed another UFO, Jan, who said that she had moved and found it harder than she thought to make new friends in a new place; however, she was working on getting out in front of people more to show the Plan.

Loren offered to work with all three UFOs for the next six months to help them better believe in themselves, show the Plan, and become the best versions of themselves. “You cannot be better unless you’re aware of what’s missing,” she said. “You need to fix yourself first. People don’t want to listen to people who don’t believe in themselves, so we have to work on ourselves first. You’re in business for yourself but not by yourself,” she added.

A couple of the UFOs joined Loren, Christian, Andrew and Mary on stage, where the discussion continued about self-improvement and how UFOs can become better equipped to take their businesses to the next level.

“Build belief in yourself,” Loren told the audience. “Everybody was a beginner once. Stop saying ‘I should,’ and change it to ‘I must.'”

Loren offered the three participants from the audience two free tickets each to ICON in August, and Andrew had an additional surprise by inviting them to join the challenge winners on Saturday evening aboard the superyacht, Utopia IV.

Power Profile With Dritan Hodo

A crowd favorite, Director Dritan Hodo of team Flushadelphia, brought infectious energy up to the stage as he engaged with the audience, congratulating them for making the time and sacrifices necessary to be at the event this weekend. He spoke about the chain of destiny, how it started with JR and Loren’s vision to change lives, and how he wouldn’t be on stage today without the dedication of UFOs before him, like Rick Hannon and Vikki Lee, who understood the power of buying and selling tickets. Their belief in JR and the UnFranchise Business was so strong that they led to people who led to people, eventually leading them to Dritan. “What if all these people had made excuses and not attended those events? I wouldn’t be here today. You’re playing a huge role in that chain of destiny right now!” Dritan exclaimed.

Dritan then invited fellow Flushadelphia teammate and Supervising Coordinator Richard Duong to share his story on how buying and selling tickets to these major events transformed his life for the better. He attended his first World Conference in Miami in 2012. Stacy Tung’s passion for changing lives through purchasing tickets and bringing more people into the business expanded his mind and touched him deeply. He opened up and shared how he was able to be there for his dad while he was sick and how he had the freedom and time to take care of him. This wouldn’t have been possible without Market America.

Congratulations, Chairman’s Challenge Achievers

Director of the GMTSS Cullen Haskins started off the Saturday afternoon session with recognition of the achievers of the Chairman’s Challenge, which he noted to be “the most prestigious award that we give.” UFOs who complete the Chairman’s Challenge meet qualifications that show hard work and true commitment to the business. Each winner was asked to share what the Chairman’s Challenge meant to them, and it was clear from their answers that it provides powerful momentum, an incredible growth opportunity and a supportive team environment.

Executive Field Vice President Norm Roth said it well: “When I really thought about it, the reason that I really wanted to do it this time, I wanted to do it for JR and Loren. I’m doing it for them because they brought the most amazing life into our life, and we’ve had this life for almost 30 years. There’s nothing like it on the planet.”

Cullen concluded by reminding the crowd of the qualifications of the #ICON2024 Chairman’s Challenge – What Are You Going to Do with The Dash?, encouraging all to be “all in” and complete the challenge for maximum business success.

The Best of JR Ridinger

For day three of JR’s magic moments, Andrew Weissman started with the “Charles Plum Pack the Parachute” video. He conveyed how the UnFranchise Business is all about relationships — something people often take for granted. In this account, JR shares the story of fighter pilot Charles Plum to highlight the significance of relationships and the people who support each other in the UnFranchise Business. JR underscores the often overlooked yet vital contributions of individuals who help us succeed, reminding us to appreciate and acknowledge those who “pack our parachute” in business and life. This story is a powerful metaphor for the importance of teamwork and gratitude in achieving success.

Next, Andrew focused on the need for people to assess their beliefs and practices to create a paradigm shift toward success in their lives. The “Family Tradition Ham” story illustrates the importance of challenging and updating our beliefs and methods, especially in the context of the UnFranchise Business. With this anecdote, JR encourages a paradigm shift, urging us to question old practices and embrace more effective strategies for success instead of following outdated methods simply because that’s how it’s always been done.

The “French Legionnaire” is a humorous story that harkens back to JR’s mantra, “You’ll never be bigger than your thoughts.” In this video, he speaks of a Frenchman in World War II who is forced to go into battle without a weapon. The legionnaire’s reliance on belief over physical weapons is a metaphor for the limitless potential of anyone with a big vision in the UnFranchise Business. Underscoring the power of belief and imagination, JR’s message is clear: The size of your belief determines the scale of your success. How big can you believe?

Andrew reminded everyone to be proactive in their journey with the story of “The Old Man and the Flood.” JR tells this tale to illustrate that “God helps those who help themselves.” The narrative emphasizes the significance of taking action and seizing opportunities rather than waiting passively for success. It’s a powerful reminder that UnFranchise Owners need to take personal initiative in achieving their goals. JR encourages every UFO to engage actively in their success story with this call-to-action message.

JR was always mindful of how precious time is, saying it is our most valuable commodity. “He referred to the time between our birth date and our death date as The Dash,” Andrew shared. “And his was filled with immeasurable greatness.” The best way to honor JR is to make the most of our precious time left on this planet. Leaving this life with regrets, unfinished dreams and unrealized goals is the worst thing we could ever do to ourselves. We aren’t promised tomorrow, so let’s make today the day we decide to fearlessly chase our hopes and dreams and make the most of our Dash.

With the Two- to Three-Year Plan, the clock doesn’t start ticking when you register for the UnFranchise Business; it starts when you begin the result-producing activities. Andrew explained this concept, emphasizing that sometimes you have to recalibrate for your success. In the “Set the Clock Back” video, JR discusses “setting the clock back” in the context of the UnFranchise Business. He encourages UFOs to “reset their clocks” by revisiting and reinvigorating their approach to building the business. He reveals that real progress is measured by active, dedicated days rather than the mere passage of time. This message is about the power of perseverance, the potential for a fresh start and recommitting to achieve success, regardless of past setbacks.

“When are you gonna do it?” is the question JR poses in his performance of “Old Man and the Cane.” Through a series of hypothetical scenarios, JR illustrates how individuals often let various life events and challenges become reasons to delay action. The overarching message is about the importance of seizing opportunities and not allowing the “perfect timing” myth to hinder progress in building a successful UnFranchise Business. Andrew further stressed that inaction conditions us to settle and shared this JR mantra, “We can make excuses, or we can make money, but we can’t make both.”

Andrew concluded the Best of JR Ridinger by reinforcing, “You must succeed so others can achieve their dreams. JR created a business model based on mutual success. All great leaders know what they do, and some know how, but few know why. JR said, ‘Why is the most fundamental piece.’ Where we are now is because of our original ‘why’ — to change the world.”

Believe You Can Be More

Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO Loren Ridinger opened the close of #MALS2024 in classic form with reflections on the meaning of love, work and time, now made keenly poignant by the 2022 passing of Founder, Chairman and CEO JR Ridinger, still fresh in the minds and hearts of the Market America family.

“I’m still trying to find my way, figure it out — I don’t know the answers,” Loren said of her passage through her ongoing grief. “But I know this: that he left us here together for a reason. That he put belief in every one of you. I know he left his heart on this stage. I know he lived a life of significance, not just success. I know he cared for others more than he cared for himself.”

Saying that JR taught her “the noblest aspiration is to help others succeed,” Loren assured the thousands of conference-goers, “I know JR is up there looking down and proud.”

“Some of you were talking about making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just to afford to be here this weekend. I’m proud of you!” she said. “Whatever it takes, you showed up.”

Loren thanked UFOs in the audience who also volunteered to help organize and produce her ongoing Blueprint for Success Tour, which resumes April 2 in Dallas, Texas. She then sketched the outline of her early life.

Her mother, she said, was a remarkable woman who clipped coupons so the family could get by living paycheck to paycheck. Her mother would say things that so many parents of that era would, such as “a penny saved is a penny earned” and “good things come to those who wait.” But Loren came to realize that these and similar sayings, while meant with love, are nonsense.

“George Carlin was right when he said a penny saved is simply a penny,” she said. “I don’t want you to live saving pennies. I don’t want you to live where there’s more month at the end of the money.”

She described growing up working a brief series of low-wage, dead-end jobs; at 16, though, her moxie led to her becoming assistant to an executive of Sears in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In 1988, everything changed when she met JR and fell madly in love with him. (It was partly because of and partly in spite of JR’s pickup lines. “He just thought he was too cool for school,” Loren chuckled.) She and JR had no money. A big date was Wendy’s.

Things began to take off in April of 1992 when they decided to start Market America. “We had issues, bumps in the road — didn’t stop us. Because we were built on belief.”

“When you have to make it, when it’s a must, when you turn your should into something you must do, your life will change,” Loren said. For the young couple, that included the birth of their daughter Amber.

Instead of delaying their entrepreneurial dream to raise her, the Ridingers simply took Amber with them everywhere. (A popular video of conferences past shows young Amber presenting the Plan as skillfully as any seasoned UFO, while JR looks on with pride.)

“There is no alternative when you have children. You gotta stop using things as excuses,” Loren said. “Your child wants you to show them that anything is possible. You don’t live for your children; you live with them. We gotta start showing our children that there is so much more than what they’re taught in school.”

Loren warmed to her purpose as she began exhorting the crowd to get their lives going.

“What is your story? Why are you here? What is the purpose behind your life?” she asked. “There has to be a deeper meaning. Running away from problems doesn’t fix anything. There are so many friends in this room who want to help you. Stop waiting for the right time. Stop waiting for your kids to grow up. If you have young kids, that’s the reason to do it.

“What are you waiting for? The right time? You know who doesn’t have any time? My husband. He ran out of time. You gotta stop waiting for permission. Whose permission are you waiting for? Give yourself permission right now.”

Speaking of the UnFranchise Business and those gathered in Miami because of it, Loren said she knew of no other opportunity where people can so simply seek success, have such fun doing it and build lifelong friendships. But first, she said, you must commit to necessary change.

“You gotta call 911 on yourself,” she said. “You gotta bring yourself back to life. Stress comes from when we know we have to do something that makes ourselves better, but we avoid doing it. You gotta make you number one. Getting uncomfortable and seeking change when you are unhappy is the better choice.

“If you’re not sure of where you stand, it’s time to move on.”

Then, as JR so often did and as she now does to honor his legacy, Loren spoke of The Dash – “that little line between the day you’re born and the day you die.”

“What are you gonna do with your Dash?” she asked. “Time is what we want most, but we use it the worst. You cannot operate with a sense of urgency unless you understand your relationship with time. Don’t go out of this life just living one tenth of what you could have done.”

The UnFranchise Business, she said, is the best use of your time if you want to make something of yourself and help others do the same.

“Some of us are living, and we’re practically dead. Others are already dead, and they’re still alive. You spend 45 years of your life working for somebody else,” Loren said as a video of JR’s hamster wheel lesson played on stage screens. “Maybe you’re doing something for the money, but you will never win at playing that game that someone loves more than you. You gotta fall in love with something that will change your life.”

Loren continued to illustrate the role success should play in our lives and the importance of venturing outside of our comfort zones to achieve it, even in everyday ways. She recounted how she and JR practiced improving their communication, which sometimes meant changing the words she used during sensitive conversations. It wasn’t easy at first, she said, but “those little details in life will change your relationship. Those little details, acknowledging someone, will make you feel better. It takes just a little bit to say, ‘I understand.'”

Those little steps, Loren explained, can also help as you talk to family members, friends and even your spouse about their possible objections to joining the business.

Obstacles, explained Loren, can be difficult to overcome because of the messages and beliefs in our heads. To illustrate, she used an analogy that all of us can relate to: our garages. Like our brains, our garages are usually cluttered with things (thoughts) we don’t need, and as we start to clean them out, the job can feel daunting and impossible. But if you ignore your negative thoughts and keep plugging away, you’ll see results.

“When you start to clean out that garage, it looks pretty darn good,” said Loren. “Once you realize you’re done, you realize you have a masterpiece, just like you.”

Often, said Loren, those negative thoughts create the roadmap we follow when living our lives, and they never lead to success. She spoke about the need to reprogram our brains by eliminating procrastination and prioritizing our success.

“I truly believe we have to bury the words, ‘I can’t,'” she said. “Sooner or later, the one who wins is the one who thinks they can.”

With that, a large casket with the words “I CAN’T” emblazoned on the front was brought on stage. During Leadership School, attendees were invited to write their “I can’t” statements on a tombstone-shaped card. Loren and Andrew read through some powerfully personal messages as they placed the cards in the casket before a video of “Reverend” JR eulogizing the negative, self-limiting thoughts played in the auditorium.

“May ‘I can’t’ rest in peace,” said JR, “and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence. Amen.”

Loren then welcomed International Field Chairman Elizabeth Weber-Walliser, one of the most successful examples of JR’s teachings, to the stage. Elizabeth explained that her success didn’t come easily to her, especially as she worked to overcome an upbringing that didn’t prepare her for success.

“The hardest thing I had to do in the business was I had to reprogram my brain. JR helped me do that,” said Elizabeth, who used daily affirmations and other positive reinforcement to change her mindset.

“He pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I had to do things that were tough. If you’re comfortable, you’re not going to grow.”

Loren returned to the spotlight and encouraged the attendees to stop making excuses for their failures and to stop saying they must prioritize time with their kids over the business, only to spend that time on their phones and other devices.

“If you only hear one thing, hear this: The reason you’re not making it right now is that 95% of the people don’t do what they should do in order to make it because they don’t feel like it in the moment,” said Loren. “When you realize and accept that you may never feel like doing it, but if you do it anyway, you will win.”

Loren went on to clarify that anyone can change at any time, even without money; money is not the game changer. She added, “But when you make money, make it work for you.”

Crowd cheers drew her attention to the thriving Flushadelphia UFO team members who never fail to impress leadership with their aggressive, go-getter mentality and practices. Loren urged UFOs to “spy” on the exceptionally productive groups and be open to mentoring anyone who asks to shadow them. “Build each other up,” she said. “You built this community.”

After declaring, “You have the best of me now,” Loren leaned in on the struggles some UFOs may have with communicating with potential prospects.

“What’s so hard about having a conversation?” Loren asked. “Someone talked to you to get you here, right? Just connect with people. People will remember how you make them feel.”

Speaking of feelings, Loren shifted her attention to the topic of letting go of those who don’t provide the type of support you need in your life to help you move toward your goals and dreams. “Fire your friends who don’t support you. Go on a diet and eliminate those people,” she said, adding that you must surround yourself with allies.

Loren began to tear up as she urged attendees not to negotiate on their dreams. “Fall in love with people who love you. You will get loved one day by someone you never thought would,” she struggled to say, visibly moved by the love she shared with JR.

“We all have chapters that we need to rewrite and ones that end, but the best part of your book is still to come. You’re a diamond — the more pressure is applied, the more beautiful you become. The past doesn’t matter. Don’t look at how fast time goes; focus on what’s left.”

Thanking those who have stood by her side over the past 15 months, Loren imparted that empowering others comes from selflessness. And after overcoming so many challenges herself, she told everyone to “fight through your limitations, and let your haters fuel you.”

Noting how so many people lament over what they can and can’t do at any given time, Loren said it’s really about not stopping when it hurts. “It’s what you do from here that matters. Do it with heart. If you want to change the world, you must be your best in your darkest moments.”

In closing, Loren provided words of wisdom for UFOs to embed in their minds and hearts, including, “The worst thing you can do is take your power out of your hands and outsource it to fate. When you live life with conviction, the world will conform to it.” And finally, “Pursue your dreams and bring along those who deserve to be with you.”

Shawna Black

Shawna Black


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