For Kyra Pauley, was a former deputy director in the voluntary sector earning a good corporate salary but it was network marketing that was the key to unlocking her doorway to financial freedom. We caught up with her to find out more.
Paul: Welcome to KWIB Radio. Today we’re joined by Kyra Pauley, founder of Kyra Pauley International.
Kyra: Hi Paul!
Paul: How are you doing today – all good?
Kyra: Yes, I’m really good. Thank you.
Paul: Thank you for joining us and I know that we’re going to get into your life journey as we go along but what I’d like to do is to start to understand your upbringing as usually this shapes our attitudes to life. So, if you could start by telling us a little about your parents, their occupations, siblings, growing up… that kind of thing so we can get a real understanding of your background.
Kyra: Sure. Well… I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the Troubles which was a ver contentious time I would suggest. At the time, my mum was a lecturer in a teacher training college and my father was a lecturer in Queen’s University and taught Irish as well.
I was the second oldest in a family of five – three girls and two boys. It was a busy household growing up as well. With education being very strong within our family we were really encouraged to work hard and do well at school. My parents had a very strong work ethic as well which was taught to us at a very early age, hence I had my first job at the age of nine which was to deliver 22 newspaper in my local area for the grand total of £2.10 a week which I thought was an absolute fortune! It very often went on Wham Bars, I have to say…
Because my dad taught Irish in the Troubles, he had to leave his job; he was a musician and he travelled the world as well and was a bit of an entertainer. I think I have some of those traits from him because I do like to entertain, be on stage and have a bit of fun and craic as well. We travelled a lot as children over to the States where my parents would try to get us away as often as possible because of the Troubles in Ireland. From the age of 15 I’d spent every summer out in the States working, doing au pair work. So I’ve always had a strong work ethic.
Unfortunately my mum was ill and she struggled a lot with her illness. Because dad travelled a lot, it meant that I had to take on a lot of the family responsibility for looking after my siblings. What that meant was that because dad was travelling I ended up having to leave school at the age of 17. Mum was hospitalised for a while and I had to rear my younger brothers and sisters.
Although I was offered a place to go on to university, I wasn’t able to take it. But that’s okay as I do believe that everyone in life has a pathway that they have to follow.
Paul: It must have been a university of life I guess in some ways?
Kyra: Absolutely! The university of life and believe me, I may have had to look after my siblings but I still had a lot of fun. I was a bit of an alternative in the day, Paul, I was a psychobilly – and for those that don’t know what that is, it was mixture between a punk and a rockabilly so I would frequently be seen with my head shaved and my hair in a big quiff.
I was often referred to by the neighbours as “the road sweeper” because you could turn me upside down and brush the street with my hair! So, yeah, I had good fun as well! I met my husband at 18 and we’ve been together now since 1991 which is quite a long time.
Paul: Quite an achievement! When you were in America, did any of that culture rub off on you as I guess they are seen as more entrepreneurs and ‘making yourself’?
Kyra: What really blew me away about America was the money… there was so much money about and I do like money and I love shopping! When I was in America, you could see that people were building their own businesses. It was not something you would see in Belfast because of the Troubles. People were very restricted to what they could build and develop because there was no stability at the time; it was such a divided country. I went to work in America for over seven years running and it did really show me that there was a different way of life. I remember thinking ‘one day I want to live in a country where it’s warm and I can walk out to my own swimming pool; be near a beach and just have that incredible lifestyle’. Because I worked for families in America that would have had quite a lot of income, they would often have houses down by the New Jersey shore. I often thought “do you know what, one day I’m going to have this”. I’ve always known that I would be a millionaire but I often wondered how I was going to do it.
I thought I would win the lottery but it hasn’t happened yet. But I do believe that I’ve won the lottery by coming into network marketing.
Paul: Before you got there though – in to network marketing – you worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years, including being the Deputy Director of a woman and children’s charity. Why did you choose to work in this sector?
Kyra: I can’t say that at the initial start-up that it was a choice. I believe, as you say, it was the university of life and it was a journey. I started working in childcare which then developed on into working in to the lead play organisation in Northern Ireland which was a voluntary sector organisation. From that, I was very much working with Stormont and policy and development and I was also working on quality assurance practice and premises that worked with children across Northern Ireland. What this meant was that I was in a lot of areas where there was poverty and deprivation. I felt a real pull towards those areas as I could see that, using the skills I have and experience that I had gained, there was some way that I could maybe help make a change. For me, I believe that every child should have the best start in life; they should have a chance.
For a long time, I also ran the play projects for traveller children. These were children that had absolutely nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing. We are all really, really rich people when you consider what conditions some children in this day and age live in. I really put my efforts in to self-education myself and I was actually pregnant with my second child when I did my degree and ended up with a first class honours. I was working full time and did that at night in a year and a half which is something I’m personally very proud of. I went on to do my post-grad in integrated children’s services. With the skills, experience and the knowledge I had, I wanted to be able to advocate and that’s why I found myself in a lot of the working groups in Stormont. So I was then approached by the charity to come along and work for them. What frustrated me a lot was that you had to fight for funding for change. You had to fight for funding to get money to be invested and real good businesses and charities that were making a difference to people’s lives but nobody was listening. I just felt it was such an injustice to the children. The work that I done would have been around child protection and domestic violence. I could see that frequently women were disempowered because of their lack of financial independence. I really felt that if you could create an opportunity for people to have their own personal financial empowerment and give them the tools that could change their whole future.
Paul: I wonder how much of this sense of community was engendered within you at an early age, especially given you were looking after your siblings?
Kyra: Yes, very much so. And also, I was very much involved in cross-community work as well during the Troubles. As I said, Belfast was very divided as was the whole of Ireland. My parents were really, really focused on peace building and I went to the first integrated school in Northern Ireland as well. That’s where my real sense of community came from. From my parents firstly and then from being in the integrated school where you were able to cross barriers and meet other people and build relationships. I believe this is where I first learnt how to communicate as well. I believe communication skills are very, very important. It’s where I learnt to find my voice by going to Lagan College which was the first integrated school. They really worked with us as individual children to find out own voice and to be empowered to speak up for peace and justice for all.
Paul: I’m aware that you have some strong opinions towards financial independence for women and wondered what shaped those opinions?
Kyra: I think from the very start of the work I did in the community sector that I could see that domestic violence was very prevalent. Especially in areas of multiple deprivation where poverty was in existence, I could see that whoever held the purse strings in the household had the power. When you work in domestic violence, people think it is all about physical abuse but it’s not; a lot of it is about emotional abuse. I could see in different scenarios where women were really held to ransom because they didn’t have the money to go out and buy food, to buy clothes or just even to buy themselves something special. When there is poverty, women always put their children first so the money always goes on the children first and themselves second. What I always say is that you can’t pour from an empty jug but you can refill it. So if you can find some way of refilling that purse, then you can then give yourself a better lifestyle. Something that really frustrated me at the time with the welfare reform changes around universal credit was that there wasn’t more recognition that if one income came into the family instead of two, that this was going to create more of a power divide with regards to finance in the household.
When I came into the business of network marketing, I could see a way that we could introduce an opportunity for women to get financial independence. From that it is going to give them the power to create difference for their children and also themselves.
Paul: I think it is slowly being recognised now. There is work being done by the Chartered Insurance Institute – Insuring Women’s Futures – where they have worked out these 12 moments that matter in a women’s life from education, through to getting married and divorced (although I’m not sure how much divorce there is in Ireland), women living longer than men and providing for a pension. How do you make them more financially independent which will also give them greater security. So it does seem as if there is more recognition in society…
Kyra: I also think that women are cleverer with money (no disrespect, Paul) than men. But if you give a woman £20 and a man £20, a woman will make that £20 stretch an awful lot further than a man. They’ve always had to be savvy with money because they would have had to look after their family also. I think if women were in charge of the world and politics that we’d have a much better place to live in!
Paul: What shaped your decision to start your own business?
Kyra: When I was introduced to network marketing, I wasn’t actually looking for my own business but a friend of mine contacted me as I think he could see how hard I was
working and how little time I actually had. He offered me an opportunity for me to look at. I didn’t feel I had the time but when I researched what Forever Living was, which was the network marketing company I was introduced to, and what it could offer me, I was absolutely astounded. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been aware of network marketing as an industry, never mind Forever Living as a company. I’d never heard of it before so I was very much having a first introduction to both network marketing and Forever Living. I had built up entrepreneurial skills because I did run two different social economies businesses within the charity. I knew I had a bit of business acumen that I could maybe transfer across; I had transferable skills. Because of the very low start-up costs for network marketing, I thought ‘okay, I’ll give it a go and I’ll take a chance’. I’m very, very thankful that I did take that chance.
Paul: Network marketing can sometimes be tainted with the link to pyramid selling. That didn’t put you off – was that because of the research you did?
Kyra: To be honest, when I was first approached, I did think about pyramid selling but I wanted to go away and do the research. I knew that pyramid schemes are first of all illegal and when I sat back and reflected on what a pyramid scheme, I kind of likened it to our own government or schools or big private industries – someone is always earning off someone else! But what I liked about Forever Living and the whole of the network marketing industry is that it is actually multi-level marketing. What that means is that you move up through the company because of the volume of product that you retail; it’s not about recruitment. I think because there are often different positions in network marketing businesses that people perceive it as a pyramid but that is absolutely not the case. I think it is our job to educate people out there to understand more about what network marketing is.
Certainly I can give you an example. For myself starting in the business, I have by-passed the three people directly above me in the business. Anybody who comes in and joins me in the business and I do exceptionally well through product sales and support others to do well through product sales, they can by-pass me and I would be very happy seeing their success.
Paul: But why did you choose Forever Living products? You said you did some research – what was it that resonated with you?
Kyra: I spent about three or four days researching because as I said to you, I felt quite ignorant that I hadn’t heard of this industry. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the marketing plan. I did take the time and look at other network marketing companies because I needed to see if they were like for like or why Forever should be the company I should go along with. One of the first things that really resonated with me was their mission statement – and I’d welcome anyone to take look at the mission statement. It’s all about treating people with dignity and respect but in the mission statement it is also about having financial independence and also about having fun. I’m a fun person, Paul, and I like to have fun! I like to travel. The marketing plan was the most generous plan that I could see on the market place and I really liked how there was no set targets. So, for example, in some network marketing companies you have to maybe reach a certain target before you maybe make profit. With Forever, from day one, once you join the business and move onto the first level of the marketing plan, then you are immediately in profit. For the initial investment, it is a very manageable initial investment and I was able to get my return on that within 10 days of the business and I was working a 50-60 hour week at the time so you can see that
Forever worked for me from day one. I was able to match my corporate salary within a six month period. Within 10 months I was able to walk away from my full time job and use the terminology that I love to use which is I was able to ‘sack the boss’ and work from home from my kitchen table.
Paul: That sounds fantastic! Was starting your network marketing business difficult?
Kyra: I wouldn’t say it was difficult. I was very excited about having my own business and when I first tried the products because as I said, I hadn’t even heard of the company before, nor had I tried the products, I was absolutely blown away by the quality and the range of products. The difficulty for me I suppose at the start was just learning the product knowledge but Forever Living as a company has huge, huge investment in training and support. Even though I was in Belfast and my upline as we call them, was in England, I was able to access support online at any time. The infrastructure that the company has in place meant that I could pick up the phone and get product support, business support, online web support whenever I actually needed it. When I was then introduced to the concept of bringing people into the business alongside me, I got excited about that because what I find very rewarding is coaching and mentoring other people to have that personal success. There is something lovely to see someone hit a goal whether it’s a personal or business goal and that they have done that themselves. They seem to stand taller and they seem to smile wider and they get very excited. That passion and excitement is absolutely infectious. One of the things that Forever focus on is recognition. They love to see people succeed; the marketing plan within Forever is designed in a way to ensure that you are supported and recognised at every stage. It is a business that I’m absolutely passionate about, as I’m sure you can tell, because of the difference it has made to me and many others alongside.
Paul: I guess it resonates back to your financial independence for women in that respect. Do you think that more women feeling empowered and confident about themselves and running their own business is contributing to the growth of network marketing?
Kyra: Absolutely. Network marketing is a fabulous industry for women because it can be worked in the pockets of time. It can be worked from the kitchen table; it can be worked from a mobile phone. Frequently I work it from my car as I’m waiting for my children to come out of school. So, it is so flexible it allows you the freedom to work it around your family if you do have family. I have to say Paul, that I’m finding so many people coming on after retirement because what’s happening is that our pensions are so, so restricted now; they’ve been reduced and, you know people have worked for so many years to retire. What they’re finding is that they don’t have enough to live on and we’re finding that we have a whole influx of people coming into the business who are getting that extra £300-£500 by doing a few hours a month which is now helping to make ends meet because the pension is so small. It’s filling the gap.
The other thing for women as well is that frequently, when you have two or three children, it doesn’t pay you to go out to work anymore because childcare costs are so, so high. Many women who have maybe worked hard to develop a career are suddenly in a position where they’re at home and they’re not getting an opportunity to use their skills that they’ve spent hours and hours training and years educating themselves. Network marketing gives them the opportunity to still be successful but to be that mum at home and also work their business. What you can do is very much work your business part time but get a full time salary and not miss out on any element of their children growing up. How powerful is that?!
Paul: It sounds like a win-win.
Kyra: It is a win-win Paul but you still have to work very hard.
Paul: Is network marketing just for women?
Kyra: Absolutely not! For example the top earner in Forever Living is actually a man. We have a lot of very successful men in our business; a lot come from very varying backgrounds – as do the women. For example within my own business, I have a pilot, I have a solicitor, I have a bank manager, I have someone who works in accounts, I’ve also got people who work in childcare. I have mums at home, I have admin workers, I have chambermaids – every background – I’ve nurses…
Paul: Very varied backgrounds then. I thought airline pilots were paid quite highly…
Kyra: You know what, when you train to be a pilot, you may have to pay quite a lot – possibly over £100,000 to get trained so you know I always say, it’s an opportunity for everyone!
Paul: Running your own business can badly impact your work/life balance. I think you mentioned earlier that you can do this business from your car. Is that one of the things about work/life balance?
Kyra: Work/life balance is very important and, you know, the nice thing about Forever Living and network marketing is that the products are already developed. For many people who run business for themselves or set up their own business, they are always having to go out and think of product development or think of a new social media strategy but we have a phenomenal company. Forever Living is a phenomenal company. We have this big machine working in the background for us independent business owners: they’re doing all the social media work for us, doing the marketing, doing the product development and they’re doing the clinical trials and they’re also putting all the training and support in place. That takes a lot of the pressure away from us in that element in the business. For us it’s just getting out and talking to people, communicating with people and offering the products to try to see if it is the right fit for them or offering them the business opportunity. We’re very much guided by our private life versus our business life. Certainly when I coach and mentor the people I work with, I tell them to map out their family life first to see what space is left work around their business. The reason why you go into business for yourself is usually to improve your family life. You have to get that balance.
Paul: It never happens in reality though does it? Not for a normal business anyway?
Kyra: Well, especially not for a traditional business and yes, sometimes you have to work hard and fast for a few years. Network marketing is no different but because you are helping other people you have that amazing time leverage element of network marketing that your business can grow at such a phenomenal rate that by working hard for 5-10 years, you can maybe retire earlier or you will have that royalty style income where you can sit back in a few years and enjoy your family life as well.
But, as with any business, it depends on your personal work ethic. People in traditional business – there will be some that work very hard and some that will skive. It’s no different in your own business.
Paul: Do you have a typical day?
Kyra: No – absolutely not! No day is typical at all. I do try to put structure around my day but my structure is built around my children – they are my absolute priority. No two days are the same. I would get up and I would connect with some of my business partners, maybe meet people and show them the business. I look after my customers and yes, I can’t say that there is a typical day but I can say I enjoy every day. Nothing is the same…
Paul: Your business is thriving Kyra and I do know that you are known as the “Irish Wonder Woman”, how have you achieved this?
Kyra: Well, I’m called the Irish Wonder Woman because I was a child of the 70s. Wonder Woman was the top programme on television at that time. I’ve funny story around that… In Belfast, very few people paid for their TV licence during the Troubles and one day a guy came knocking on the doors and I answered it. I was asked what is your favourite TV programme and I said Wonder Woman! He asked me what time it was on and I felt the big hand of my father pulling me back in by the scruff of my collar…and, yes, we were caught not paying our TV licence so that’s Wonder Woman’s fault. I suppose I often refer to Wonder Woman as I see her as being a woman who really, really put forward women’s rights and empowerment. She was someone who wanted to make the world a better place, went about her business and didn’t want any attention and I suppose I’m a bit like that as well. I just want to help as many people as possible and I do have a pair of fabulous Wonder Woman shoes that I do like to wear when I’m talking on stage – that’s why I have been named that – and also because I have done quite well in the last four years in a very steady way. I’m still very much at the start of my network marketing career but I’m very passionate that it is going to be my career for the next 10-15 years.
Paul: So Wonder Woman goes on stage and helps you talk to thousands…
Kyra: Yes, I wore my Wonder Woman crown and shoes recently in Stockholm where I had the opportunity to speak at our global rally in front of 17,000 people.
Kyra:: Yes, it was pretty special and a big, big honour.
Paul: How far are you on your journey to financial independence?
Kyra: Well, Forever has allowed us to clear financial debt and it has allowed me to match my corporate salary and earn a little more than that. For me, I’m not a greedy person; I wanted to have the opportunity to be at home with my children and Forever has allowed me to do that. It has allowed me to work from my kitchen table, be around full time for my children and you know, we talk a lot in network marketing about ‘the compound effect’. It’s no different from any other traditional business: it takes maybe 5-10 years to get a business established and network marketing is no different. You will come across the odd few people that will absolutely rocket but this wouldn’t be standard. It’s an exciting way to build financial independence but I’m comfortable and I’m looking forward to growing that further.
Paul: This sounds fantastic and so, if I was thinking about starting my own multi-level network business, what advice would you give me?
Kyra: I would say to you to do your research, make sure you go with the right company and make sure that you know what you have to invest. Make sure they have the support systems in place because you want to go into a network marketing company that is well established and will support you in your business growth. One that you also believe in and are passionate about. Then what you need to do is to learn how to discipline yourself; you need to learn how to enjoy life because network marketing has a great element of fun and enjoyment and then just work on your mindset. Treat it like a business and treat it with the respect it deserves because it is still a business – a phenomenal business.
Paul: Does it need a certain type of personality?
Kyra: No – I call Forever Living the equal opportunity company because you don’t need to have any qualifications; you don’t need to have a particular background but what you do need is that you need to have a work ethic that will help you succeed and you need to put the work in. If you are a good communicator and if you are fun to be around and ready to put the work in, you can succeed in network marketing.
Paul: Finally, can I ask you what drives you on and want more success? What makes you want to continue to champion women to become financially independent? What keeps
Kyra: My children are my absolute drive for success but I also want to be personally successful because I want to show women out there that they can achieve absolutely anything they set as a goal. I have two daughters and already I can see that they are developing really strong work ethics; they’re really good communicators and they’re very, very positive and look for the best in people. They are also very good at setting and achieving goals. That’s going to give them a good foundation for life and they’re also building up resilience because sometimes in life you have to fall down to get back up again, which we have all learned. We all have up days and down days – there’s no one who is happy and smiley all the time is there? We all have life that can challenge us. What drives me as well is that I want to put Ireland on the map; I want people to know that network marketing and Forever Living in Ireland is the business to be in . I want to help people grow and develop in their skills and financial independence. You know, in my team, I have over 200 people and within that I have five or six men so I’m looking for more men to join and grow their network marketing businesses as well. But, for a woman to have a second purse – how amazing is that! The fact that network marketing can be worked very much part time. The majority of people that are my business partners all work either part time or full time and do their Forever Living in the pocket of time around that. That has given them family holidays, that’s given them family days out and it’s given them that extra money for Christmas or summer holidays – why wouldn’t you want that? It’s amazing.
Paul: Kyra – thank you for coming today and thank you for sharing your story. Your enthusiasm is infectious and there’s plenty there for our listeners to reflect on.
Kyra: Thank you very much for having me!
Paul: That’s it for us today on KWIB radio. Tune in next time…