At the age of 29, Brad Russell retired from the corporate world to become one of the top network marketers in the Southern hemisphere for Isagenix health products. His story is one many of us who've been stuck in office jobs can relate to and be inspired by. Brad asked me to act as a copywriter for his personal brand narrative.

Do you remember George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart’s everyman character from the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life? He was born with his eyes on the prize. At a very early age, George knew what he wanted from life: to travel the world. He was a star athlete and the pride of Bedford Falls; he had nowhere to go but up.

George Bailey dreamed big. RKO Pictures/via tumblr.com

But somewhere on George Bailey's march toward success, the day-to-day got in his way. His seemingly straight path became snarled with the realities of life: losing his father, then keeping his family business afloat through the choppy waters of a Depression-era economy. So George hunkered down for a while, helping the people of Bedford Falls achieve their dreams while he watched his own dreams drift further and further away.

Brad Russell's Wonderful Life

Aussie Brad Russell with his two loves: his girlfriend and his beer. Source: Brad Russell

Network marketing entrepreneur and SEO expert Brad Russell is like George Bailey: he was born with his eyes on the prize, too.  Making money was his hobby and his passion. When he was 12 years old, Brad collected stocks like they were baseball cards. “I would ask for shares in companies rather than traditional birthday presents,” the Perth, Western Australia native told me in our interview. “I was always thinking about ways to make extra pocket money including doing lawn mowing rounds, delivering newspapers, et cetera.”

The future was wide open for the athletic Aussie. “Straight out of university I created a multiple six-figure eBay business selling entertainment packages. When that died down I created Swish Plastic [a website selling polycarbonate glassware to the hospitality industry] with a friend of mine.” Brad was proud of his successful business ventures--with good reason. It appeared the life he dreamed of was just on the horizon.

When Life Gets in the Way of Your Dreams

Like George Bailey, unfortunately, Brad’s goal of owning his own business became obscured by the realities of life. Lured by the promise of steady money, he began working a 9-to-5 desk job for a kitchen supply company. His SEO expertise helped a small family-owned business sky-rocket into one of Australia’s top online retailers.

The company’s success had a bittersweet effect on Brad, however. While his employers enjoyed the fruit of his labors, Brad says, “I always felt that I was working hard to realize the long-term dreams and goals of my boss, rather than myself. For example, if we had a great month and achieved new sales records, it was great for the company - but my income stayed the same.”

Watching someone else achieve their dreams while your life is in a holding pattern takes its toll. “There was no incentive to work harder as I had already achieved the highest possible position in the company (besides owning it).” Brad told me.  “Over the course of five years I became unmotivated and unwilling to extend myself.”

George Bailey contemplates the years he wasted and the dreams he let slip away. RKO Pictures/Source: giphy.com

Taking the Plunge into Self-Employment

In It’s a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey realized the business for which he had sacrificed his dreams was about to fall into ruin, he contemplated taking a long jump from a toll bridge into icy waters. Brad Russell contemplated taking a risky plunge, as well— when a friend approached him about a network marketing opportunity, he decided to shut his eyes and make the leap from employee to business owner.

“I thought ‘what have I got to lose’ so signed up and started using the products,” Brad told me. “Five weeks later and I had quit my 9 to 5 forever!”

Like George Bailey, Brad Russell discovered his true home. RKO Pictures/Source: giphy.com

If you think his decision to make the jump from full-time employment to at-home network marketing sounds a bit impulsive, you aren’t alone.

“When I first told my friends and family I was quitting a well-paid 9 to 5 to work from home on a network marketing venture, some supported the decision and some did not,” Brad confessed. “No one ever explicitly told me not to do it, but I definitely had my doubters. My mum was one of those but she quickly came around as just 3 months in to the project I was earning double what I previously had.”

When I say Brad took a leap, I mean the guy took a leap. A big one. Source: Brad Russell

Is This Guy For Real?

Let’s stop here for a minute.

I have something to confess: as I was putting this article together, a cynical voice in my head kept asking, “Where’s the story here? This guy never seems to trip up in his climb toward his goals; he just got side-tracked for a few years. Where’s the struggle?”

But then I realized something: Brad Russell’s story isn’t in his struggle. Just like George Bailey, Brad’s story is in his dedication. He refused to let life erode his dreams into nothing. His journey took a momentary detour, but he found his way back to his path. And his dedication to his work is so authentic we can’t help but root him on.

“I personally never had any self doubt in my decision. I had a list of goals to achieve in the first 12 months and even though these were quite lofty, I achieved every single one of them,” Brad said.

That’s the thing I’ve noticed about people when they discover their purpose: it’s like falling in love. They can’t stop thinking about it, they want to be near their source of inspiration all the time, and even when people doubt it will work out, they pay the naysayers no mind.

Finding one's purpose is like falling in love. RKO Pictures/Source: Giphy.com

The Harsh Realities of Multi-Level Marketing

Network marketing has plenty of naysayers out there. Depending on where you get your information, the success rates on Multi-level marketing (MLM) businesses earning profits within the first twelve months can fluctuate from 50 percent to less than 5 percent. Either way, the numbers show that simply signing up for an MLM company doesn’t ensure automatic earnings.

Brad's total Isagenix earnings up to March 2015. Source: Brad Russell

The Secrets of Online Network Marketing Success

Brad Russell, however, took to network marketing like a koala bear to eucalyptus. He decided to invest in companies that reflect his passions for fitness and wellness; over the past five years, Brad has become Australia and New Zealand’s top distributor for Isagenix health products. He’s also the owner of FitCoffee.com.au, an online distributor of Organo Gold beverages, and SkinStyle.com.au, which distributes Jeunesse personal care products.

When I asked how he managed to bring qualified traffic to so many websites, he replied: “My skills lie in SEO (search engine optimization). A huge part of this is content creation. As such, I aim to publish at least 2-3 pieces of content across my network of sites per week.”

It’s important to note that while he creates much of the content on his websites on his own (he’s a top contributor on Moz.com), he occasionally brings on a hired hand to write blog posts or to produce captivating copy for landing pages.

Brad  is now focusing on his brand as a network marketing influencer. Source: Brad Russell

Personal Brand as a Product

What makes Brad different from your typical direct salesperson is his approach to network sales. He stands behind his products but more importantly, he stands behind his personal brand. His story is his biggest product to sell: he’s a young guy who retired from the corporate world at the age of 29 to pursue his dreams of financial freedom. “My blog portrays me as the leader in online network marketing in Australia. This drives a lot of quality leads,” he says.

And like George Bailey, Brad’s biggest source of pride isn’t in the dreams he’s realized, but in helping others find financial freedom. “My greatest passion in life (other than football) is helping entrepreneurs reach their full potential,” his website says.  

 

Shooting for the Moon

His next step, he tells me, will be taking that passion for helping entrepreneurs succeed and turning it into yet another online endeavor. “I am creating a website with a business partner called Sponsor Monster. We hope this attracts some big players in the network marketing industry. The site will feature videos/interviews, network marketing training and more.”

So what are some of the biggest lessons Brad thinks entrepreneurs seeking digital marketing success can learn from his story?

  1. No matter what you do, there will always be competition. “I learnt this the hard way when my Isagenix business was flying along in leaps and bounds, until someone started outranking me in Google. I had to learn to adapt, work hard and regain that top position. It’s a constant struggle, but it’s taught me not to rest on my laurels.”

  2. Don’t use a scattershot approach.I research trends and Google search volume to come up with suitable topics. Once the content is written I ensure it has the correct keywords in it so that Google finds it and I rank high for my chosen terms.”

  3. Considering working for yourself? It can’t hurt to try.Go for it, you only live once! If it doesn’t pay off, brush yourself off and try something else!”

If you’re thinking of taking your own leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship, feel free to get in touch with Brad. Nowadays, he’s less like George Bailey and more like Clarence, the guardian angel who helped George to see just how wonderful his life could be. “If you’re a fellow entrepreneur on the road to personal success, I can be your guide.”

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." RKO Pictures/Source: giphy.com

If you have a personal narrative about your decision to become your own boss, I’d love to help you tell it!  Check out The Yarn submission guidelines here. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to get in touch to discuss how I can help create meaningful content for your business blog.