How Does a Man Add Value to a Business Built by His Wife?

About 80% of women who make more than $100,000 per year earn it in network marketing. In fact, women make up three out of four network marketing distributors.

It makes sense, though. The model works really well for building a part-time income and being able to do so while raising a family, or working at a temporary full-time job.

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Women are also (typically) more social than guys, and creative when it comes to marketing products.

Anyway, the reality is that women usually take the lead with network marketing business opportunities.

At some point between earning her first $10 and $100,000+, men start to pay attention. Money talks.

When it becomes apparent that this “thing” his wife does in the evenings and on weekends is more than just a hobby, he gets curious. Sometimes, husbands come around to the idea of playing a role in the business, too.

Note: Throughout this article, I use the terms “wife,” but also include “girlfriends” or “significant others.” I just didn’t want to keep writing “your wife, girlfriend, or significant other.” It’s annoying. So, please understand that “wife” could be used for any of those variations.

I got curious about five months after Vanessa first enrolled with our company. She showed me her first five-figure check.

A month later, I listened as she painted a picture of us working the business together.

Ten months after she enrolled, she surpassed my income.

Three months after that, I resigned from my Senior Director role at Life Time and joined her in the business.

Some guys jump in earlier than I did. Others take longer. But, at some point, most express an interest in contributing to their wife’s business.

I learned the hard way…there are some “right ways” to transition into the business with your wife. There are also a lot of “wrong ways.”

Before you add value, you’ve got some preliminary work to do, both in mindset and skill development.

If you read something in this article that rubs you the wrong way or even pisses you off, hold the thought for a little bit. Think about it. Chop some wood, mow the lawn, or wash your car. Then come back to it and see if there isn’t some truth here.

In my opinion, if I don’t stir a little irritation or frustration, I’m not direct and honest enough. I wish another guy would have made these points for me when I got started with Vanessa.

One other note: I presented this topic at a recent men’s event, and since I had already created the slides, I included them in this article for some “visual interest.” 

Here we go.

Don't Be a Jock Strap | Tom Nikkola

Don’t Be a Jock Strap

What’s the purpose of a jock strap? To keep your cojones in place, right? In a single word, a jock strap’s job is “support.”

If you ask most guys what they do with their wife in the business, they say “I support her.”

But what does that even mean?

Do you support her by giving her a pat on the butt when she’s feeling down, and encourage her to get up and try again (If you do, that isn’t very helpful)?

Do you mean by support, that you earn the income so she can pursue what you believe is an expensive hobby?

Or, when you say you support her, do you mean you follow along behind her holding her (figurative) balls in the air, so they don’t drop?

In my opinion, the word support takes a guy off the hook for committing to anything of substance. And when his wife uses the word, she often has a much different perception than he does.

Have you ever told a co-worker that your wife supports you in your corporate job or trade? Could you imagine a friend asking you what your wife does, and then responding, “She supports me.”

Heck no!

Stop saying, “I support her.”

Figure out what you can do that’s meaningful and enhances the business, even if it’s a short list, and do it.

I handle our schedule, write drafts of most of our content, teach classes, make travel arrangements, and deal with many of the emotionally-charged relationship issues.

I also take the dog out, clean the cat box, do the dishes, and take care of dinner (which really means I order it for delivery or walk to the store to get something quick to make).

I’m not a jock strap, though. I don’t wait for her to give me something to do, like keep a couple of balls high and tight. I find a way to add value in the business.

The cool part is, I still have time left to do some of the other stuff I’m passionate about, like running my online personal training program, writing, and consulting.

Get Fluent and Fluid with the Fundamentals | Tom Nikkola

Get Fluent and Fluid with the Fundamentals

A handful of fundamental skills form the foundation for success in almost any sport, hobby, or business.

You can read a few books no matter what it is you’re trying to accomplish, and know what to do.

The problem is when people make recommendations, though they’ve never done on their own what they tell others to do.

It’s like the fitness professional who designs exercise programs for others but doesn’t understand human movement, or how to do the exercises on their own.

Or, bloggers who write about health, fitness and weight loss. Meanwhile, they’re sick, overweight, and eat like crap. They don’t do what they teach.

I could easily get off track on a tangent here. So many people simply regurgitate what someone else wrote, and then sell their own book, course, or training program. Yet, they’ve never actually had success in that area.

I made a mistake here myself when I joined Vanessa in our business. I read books on network marketing, and figured with my experience, I knew enough to lead others who wanted to pursue the business.

From the first day I joined Vanessa, she asked me to start out like a brand new disruptor, but I didn’t listen. At least not for a while.

After about three months, I realized that I wouldn’t understand the business until I did the business like we’d expect anyone else to. I needed to master the fundamentals, to become fluid, if I was going to add value to our team.

In fitness, all exercises stem from just five movement patterns:

  1. Squat
  2. Lift (or lower body pull)
  3. Press
  4. Pull
  5. Rotation

Reading about these movements doesn’t help you do them. If you can’t perform them well, you can’t help others do them well.

Also, if you can’t perform those five fundamental movements, you have no business doing more complicated exercises.

For example, if you can’t perform a fluid deadlift, you have no business doing a power clean. Or, if you struggle to do a single, dead-hang pull-up, you’d be foolish to do kipping pull-ups.

In network marketing, you also need to master five skills:

  1. Prospecting & Inviting
  2. Presenting
  3. Closing
  4. Building Recurring Business
  5. Duplicating – Leading others to do what you do

Guys, you have to practice these five skills.

To add value to the business, you must understand the business. You don’t gain understanding from reading about it. You gain understanding from doing it.

And you keep doing it until you’re good at it.

Although Vanessa and I have personally enrolled over 1100 members, and hundreds have been through the classes she and I teach, I still take action on those five skills.

So far this month (at the time of this writing), I’ve personally enrolled four members. Not Vanessa. ME.

Why? Because, for me to lead and teach others, I need to do what I lead and teach them to do.

Don’t just be a talker. Get fluid and fluent with the fundamentals. Man Up and do the work.

Read More: The Non-Negotiable Approach to Succeeding at Fitness (and Life)

Put Yourself in Her Shoes Without Wearing Her Clothes | Tom Nikkola

Put Yourself in Her Shoes Without Wearing Her Clothes

Take this as a figurative and literal recommendation.

Women are different from men in many ways, which causes them to see things differently. Or, put a better way, we see things differently from them.

She might not have more experience in business than you do, but she does have more experience in her business than you do.

You have to make an effort to see things from her point of view. You have to put yourself in her shoes.

When I joined Vanessa, I listened to her frustrations, observed her work, and looked for ways to put my experience and knowledge to good use. And then I started making recommendations.

Not a good idea. Especially if you haven’t yet become fluent and fluid in the fundamentals.

After you understand the fundamentals of the business, you must understand the culture she created.

A network marketing team of men like you would have a much different feeling, language, and possibly even different business tactics, than the culture created by your wife.

The first six years I worked at Life Time, I worked in the clubs. Each club and region I worked with had a unique culture, a unique way of talking with the team, differences in assertiveness and even language differences.

Then, I moved to the corporate office. It was a totally different culture. I dressed, spoke, and worked differently. It took about six months to adapt to the culture. Once I did, I got into a groove, and my team and I had wild success with my businesses.

Here is the lesson, and it didn’t hit me until I was typing the paragraphs above:

When you join your wife in her business, you join a new culture. That culture is not the same as the culture of your marriage and personal life, even though the business takes place in the very same setting.

Vanessa created a specific culture with her team. I left a culture to “come home” with her. But our business, which runs from home, doesn’t have the same culture as our home.

Beyond the culture thing, our brains are wired differently.

Vanessa and I can see the same problem, challenge, or opportunity. We can share a common goal.

But the physical, emotional, and spiritual path she pictures is different from the one I see.

Mine is pretty black and white, with clear action steps and little emotion. Hers probably has more color, emotion, and fun.

Don’t misunderstand me. I think it’s just as valuable for Vanessa to hear me out and see things from my point of view sometimes, too. However, she has her “woman’s intuition,” and leads a team of mostly women, so it’s my responsibility to see things from her point of view first.

That said, the second piece of this tip is “without putting on her clothes.”

What I mean is, as a guy, we have to see things from her point of view, validate her feelings, and show empathy (which is my biggest challenge in our marriage). However, it isn’t helpful to take on her feelings, to “wear her clothes” so to speak.

If she feels depressed and defeated, you need to understand why. Allow her to feel those feelings. I tend to try to “rescue her” from them. It never works.

However, it isn’t helpful if you also get depressed and defeated. If you jump into the pit with her, you’ve got two people in the pit.

Let her know it’s okay to be in the pit for a while. When she asks for help to get out of it, help her out.

Just don’t give her directions on how to get out of the pit before she’s ready, or try to pull her out of it. Again, I’m speaking from experience and reminding myself at the same time.

Build Calluses Without Becoming Callous | Tom Nikkola

Build Some Calluses Without Becoming Callous

Brodrick, our 21-year-old son, asked me about my torn ligaments one day. He asked about my Achilles’ tendon, which I tore in 2011. And then my distal bicep tendon, which I tore in 2014.

He then asked me, “Do you think you’ll get hurt again from working out?”

“Absolutely,” I replied.

“Well, why do you do it if you know you’re going to get hurt?” he asked.

I immediately felt the significance of that question. I hoped I could come up with a memorable answer for him. Something he’d think about a decade from now.

So my response went something like this:

“The only way I’ll get stronger year after year is to push myself to a level of discomfort, even microscopic injury. That’s how muscles get stronger. If I back off too much so I can ‘play it safe,’ exercise won’t have much of an effect on my body.

“We grow in all areas of our lives only when we’re willing to push ourselves enough that we could get hurt.

“In our business, mom has gotten hurt many times. It’s inevitable in a relationship-based business. But that won’t stop her from doing what it takes to make the business grow. Although it hurts sometimes, in the end, success and fulfillment feel pretty good.

“Or, take our marriage. The only way to grow in a relationship is to have meaningful conversations. Those conversations sometimes lead to disagreements. You’ve heard us argue before. Sometimes I hurt mom. Sometimes she hurts me. Not intentionally, but it happens. The only way to avoid getting hurt is to avoid anything that would also help us grow stronger in our relationship. That’s not an option.

So, to answer your actual question, I push myself hard enough that I could get hurt because it’s the only way to get stronger, and improve my fitness year after year.”

And so it is with you and the part you play in the business with your wife. Both of you will get hurt, experience setbacks and disappointments, work through frustrations, and deal with painful situations.

If you don’t experience those things, you’re not playing all out. You’re playing small. And your business will stay small.

Each time you overcome something, you build a little callus, so you can handle the situation more easily the next time. Each time you get stronger.

I expect to get hurt in any area of my life where I want to grow. Since I expect to get hurt sometimes, I’m ready to deal with it when it happens.

I expect to build calluses. But I’ll never become callous. When some people get hurt by their friends, co-workers, spouse, or others, they hold onto it. They don’t let it go. They let it define them even.

What they need is a little suckituptitude.

Know that you’ll get hurt from time to time. Lick your wounds. Then move on.

I tore my bicep on a Monday. I put it in a sling and worked out on Tuesday and Wednesday, using my other arm and both legs. I had it reattached on Thursday and got back to working out on Saturday.

Why? Because I had one arm that was hurt, not my whole body. I made accommodations. I found a way to stay active, keep the rest of my body in shape, and carried on with life.

I’m sure I could have milked sympathy from everyone around me, and become someone with an injury for six months. I rarely talked about it, because my injured arm wasn’t me. And if I had put too much thought into it, it would have soured my attitude.

Team up with your wife. Expect to get scraped and bumped and bruised as you find your way. Man up and move on.

Build some calluses without becoming callous.

Drop the Dad Bod | Tom Nikkola

Drop the Dad Bod

Health, wellness, and fitness companies make up most of the network marking businesses.

Guys, if you don’t do anything else in this article, but take this one recommendation to heart, it would go a very long way in contributing to your wife’s business.

I’m not saying guys should have six-packs and look like running backs. I don’t have a six-pack myself, so that would be hypocritical.

What I am saying is that we need to take care of our health.

Just because you’re married, or busy, or “have a lot going on,” it doesn’t give you an excuse to neglect your health and carry an extra 50 pounds of body fat.

As a man, you need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of your family.

I understand that all sorts of emotional junk accompanies being overweight.

I’ve been there. I was a fat kid. My nickname was CP…Chubby & Porky.

I also realize that change is hard, and life is busy. But, those are all excuses. We have to do better.

If you’re traveling on a plane, with your wife on one side and your child on the other, and it starts to go down, you’re told to put your oxygen mask on first, and then help them.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help your wife and child.

You don’t have to wait for a plane crash to get this. Do it now.

It doesn’t take much time. Four hours per week is all you need to get in great shape.

You can even join VIGOR Training, and get the workouts you need, along with nutrition guidance, support, and encouragement from the team, and celebrate milestones as you reclaim your health.

The best part is, once you start making changes, people will come at you left and right, asking what you’re doing.

You’ll be able to share with them the products you use and the program you follow. And then hand them over to your wife to get signed up.

You are a walking billboard for your wife’s business.

Does that billboard scream health and fitness? If not, it’s time to Drop the Dad Bod.

Read More: Vigor: 5 Simple Habits for Better Men’s Health

Take Action

I hope that I’ve ruffled some feathers, and maybe pissed you off just enough that you’ll take some action.

Life is too short to be little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply, acts boldly and expresses himself with frankness and with fervor.

Benjamin Disraeli

These businesses that our wives started, they have all sorts of potential.

You can be a V8 outboard motor on the back of her boat that helps accelerate her growth. Or, you can be an anchor dragging behind it, slowing things down, and making her work harder than she needs to, to build a business that could change both of your lives.

The choice is yours. But is it even a choice?