Network Marketing hit turbulent times in the 1960s and 1970s.There were no MLM laws. One of the MLM star recruiters was Glenn Turner. At local rallies he pulled 15,000 to 20,000people. Coupled with "head hunting" commissions, his companies boomed. Federal and State Governments struggled with complaints from all MLM consumers. Nothing was really "illegal" at the beginning. The MLM laws enacted in the 1970s give us the basis for Network Marketing today. A prime example is, the impact of the Dare To Be Great motivational training program (and copies) created laws that make it virtually impossible to pay commissions on training.
Before reading TURNER, TURNER, TURNER I was convinced he was a villain. As I read the book, I realized I was looking at him from the perspective of the 90's. During the 70's he was basically on "free range” until the governments roped him (and a lot others) in by creating laws. It increased my depth of feeling for the history of the industry. When I interviewed Glenn, I expected a con artist. Not so, I spoke to an honorable man who took complete blame for all that transpired including his incarceration. He is filled with common sense and laid back. Put his books on a must read list if you are going to be around the industry for awhile (See link below).
Glenn How does it feel to be a legend in your own time?
I was just trying to make a living at the time, do right and help people. I was a country boy when I started out, and was too trusting, especially of lawyers. I ended up a ping pong ball between my lawyers and government lawyers. I'm not done. I hope to become a better "legend" in the future. In the past I was young and cocky and was going to stand up for what was right.
Glenn In your book TURNER, TURNER, TURNER you said Holiday Magic trimmed your commissions when you became a star distributor. This seems to go on today. Why?
Executives of some companies get jealous because distributors are making more than they are, The execs underestimate what it is going to cost to run a company, especially in the area of legal fees. My legal fees ran over 19 million dollars.
Why did Holiday Magic get shut down?
Bill Fraser, the head of the company, ran against Ronald Reagan for governor. He got 5% of the vote. It attracted the wrong kind of attention to him and the company. With the attention, they ran into more and more trouble.
Why did KOSCOT Interplanetary and Dare To Be Great run into so many problems when there were virtually no laws regulating them at that time?
We made some of the same mistakes that Holiday Magic did. We hired hot salesmen out of the field to run the home office. They didn't know anything about business and governmental cooperation. We didn't realize we had to play ball with regulators and didn't know how to do it. Our problem was that they were making up laws as they went along. It made good political press, especially because I had the harelip and traveled with two dwarves. I was an odd ball and made a good target. Holiday Magic had started things rolling by regulators and we caught the full brunt.
If you had it to do again would you build in a system of handling complaints from distributors and customers from the start?
Most certainly, but in those days complaints weren't a priority in almost any MLM company. On top of that, in 1973 when gasoline prices boomed, 100 gas stations in Florida went out of business. Each owner lost over $30,000. Nobody paid any attention because Standard Oil was the franchiser. I was signing up 800 distributors a month at $5,000. I didn't realize that 90% of the people couldn't do what I could do. Because I was a harelip dropout, I thought anyone could be successful. At that time the lawyers said; don't pay anyone back because if you do, you have to pay them all back. Now if I get one complaint, it is going to be handled right away.
You have been credited (or cursed) by many people for the patchwork of MLM laws in our 50 states. Why is that? It seems unfair!
Different states worked with us different ways. There should have been one standard across the company. They really were sporadic about changing state laws in those days. I think things are a lot better today.
You tried to set up separate companies in each state to comply with that state's laws -Why didn't that work? It seems like a good idea.
It was too little, too late. I gave the companies in different states to my strong people in that state. The financial pressure had been too great on the home office; we were running out of money because of legal pressures.
Did hiring F. Lee Bailey (the most famous lawyer on earth at this time) hurt more than help?
Yes, there were cases that the law used, against me, to get F. Lee Bailey in court so the lawyers could "go up" against F. Lee. Different State AGs liked to get big headlines by going to court against him. In the postal trial, he made the postal lawyers look like keystone cops. I don't think they ever forgot that.
What was the total $ that you spent fighting the Federal and State AGs?
Twelve million dollars, which by today's dollars would be about forty eight million. It really crippled our operations. Like I said, if I had it to do over I would have rolled over and done what they wanted. It would have been a lot cheaper. I just didn't want to because we hadn’t done anything wrong by the laws in effect in those days.
I had an ex -AG tell me that your own lawyers hustled people to complain to State AGs when they needed to increase their billing hours?
Yes, in later years I was told that this happened but I never had direct proof. There are a lot of good lawyers out there, including AGs. F. Lee Bailey worked for a year for nothing (except using my airplane) and got his reputation hurt. A lawyer by the name of Tatisch in Orlando helped me with the Federal Trade Commission. He was good and way undercharged me.
Do you think that your cases prove the MLM WatchDog premise that all MLM companies need to watch states where AG's are up for election?
I hope not, but I suppose some of that still hangs on. We have to worry about MLM because it is the only business in the country that a poor man or woman can start with and end up making good money. Let's hope MLM companies don't get bad publicity.
Tell me about The Federal Government vs. KOSCOT Interplanetary. Your book didn't mention it much. Why was the case tried in an Oregon Federal court?
I should have gotten some good business lawyers to handle the case. I should have hired professional managers for my companies. A lot of the controversy was not the government’s fault. I was too cocky, I wasn't doing anything illegal, so I was going to fight the government. There weren't any wings on my back. The case was tried in Oregon because one of the lawyers in the FTC who was trying to get me was a friend of the federal judge in the district court in Oregon. They wanted a friendly judge.
Elizabeth Dole was on the board of the FTC then. Do you think she pushed the FTC Case?
No, I don't think she took any part of the actions against me. She may have known about it but that was all. It was the little bureaucrats in the FTC that kept dragging the complaints on.
This is why Glenn is a Great man - Like All Great Leaders He Takes the Blame On His Shoulders
You said that one of your key mistakes was to appoint unqualified men to high positions, could you expand on that?
I was not qualified to run a company of that size. The people I put in those positions to run the company weren't either. So, out of the whole mess I have to take 90% of the blame. I only blame the government for 10%. We just didn't knowhow to play ball with the government and stay out of harms way. AMWAY was a lot smarter and had more savvy.
I understand that President Nixon’s CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect The President) had you on their hit list right below E. Ross Perot. (NY Times page ie June 99th 1974). This sounds like extortion and the NY Times article indicates they were legally gunning for you?
Yes, that hit list was for people with high income that refused to donate to Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972.
What killed your company Nature’s World? The liberal media or AG's? (per previous paragraph)
We started Nature’s World and merged with Sunshine Resources of Miami. They were a public company. We had a lawyer that cleared everything with the FTC. We started a secondary stock offering and the FTC put a stop to it. The company never recovered.
What happened in Arizona? Murderers seem to only get 5 years in prison, why the discrimination?
Every lawyer I've ever had said, “Turner they can't do this to you, or I can't believe they are doing this." I heard that statement at least a hundred times. The AG in Arizona wanted to make an example of me. They offered me a 3 year sentence that I turned down. They stacked the counts and counted them as consecutive offenses. That's why the outcome was so bad, I was an example.
The Prision Warden in Arizona didn't really think you were a criminal I see in your book.
No, he made me his driver and and I spent a lot of nights in hotels while driving him all over the country.
In the long run do you think that you helped or hurt Network Marketing in America?
In the short run, I probably hurt it; in the long run I helped MLM because at least we have laws on the books across the country. I sure would have preferred that someone else had done it. What I should be is a consultant to new companies on how to stay out of harm’s way.
Who had the bigger influence on MLM laws, your court cases or Amway's case?
AMWAY did it right, they had over a hundred lawyers and stayed right after the AGs. We owe a lot to them for getting the final determinations they did.
What are you doing now?
I'm doing motivational speeches and lectures. We also sell a series of tapes on motivational training. The company is GWT Associates. I spoke to the Postmasters several years ago. That year, they made money for the first time and nobody shot anybody in a post office!
How Is Your Company GWT ASSOCIATES GOING?
We are growing strong with no complaints from anybody. We’re putting a lot of emphasis on training and treating people right. Everybody loves us!
Have Glenn W. Turner Speak to your Organization!
Ed. Note: Get Fired Up & Educated > Get Glenn Turner books From the Greatest himself GWT
ALSO COMMING UP: YOUR EDITORS ANALYSIS OF THE RISE OF CONSUMERISM
Starting with Unsafe At Any Speed (Ralph Nader). By the end of the 70's the large groups that promoted consumerism were put out of business by the new laws. What happened? They loved sucking in money from the public and switched over to Enviromentalism to keep their income growing and conning the public out of money. Gee sounds like Ponzi scammers