My Story

The Real Story: How and Why I got started with Home Based Income

englandfans1 My Story

England fans…

If you’ve been to my facebook page or to my Schoff Global Investments page, you already know the gist of my story: how I dropped out of college to pursue my first business venture which took off and grew across northern, central and southern California and eventually to Europe, where I worked and lived  for two years in England.

Well, what I didn’t mention is what business that was and the how and why – the most important aspects of that story!

So let me take some time out here and fill you in…

That first business I started – which completely altered the direction of my life – was a home based business.  It wasn’t my first exposure to to the industry though; the internet in those days was just starting to become useful back in the mid 1990s and I had somehow discovered an opportunity online to make money by purchasing some vitamins.  I was sold that by doing so I could make money as other people also joined and bought these vitamins from me…

It sounded like a great idea at the time! Heck, I don’t think I was even 18 yet but the concept of being able to make money without having to go to a typical job really intrigued me!

I didn’t realize what I had gotten involved with at the time – which of course was network marketing – and once the small box came I had no idea what to do with it or how to market it (at maybe 17 years old I no prior sales or marketing training), and since I didn’t magically get rich overnight like so many people in this industry are hoping to do, I put it on the back burner until someday

My First Real Network Marketing Exposure

My first real exposure to the industry was over a decade ago in the spring of 1999, just a few months before I graduated high school (yes, I started young!).  I was taking German at Sac State University as a high school senior and it was there on my way back from class one day when I was approached by a guy in his late 20′s asking if I was interested in making money.

Was I ever! Summer was approaching, I was about to move down to San Diego in the fall for college and I was getting low on funds – of course I was interested! Again, I had no idea what he was going to present to me; the only way I knew how to make money prior to this was by the hour – and the most I had ever been paid was around $6 an hour.

pyramid1 300x145 My Story

Watch out for those pyramid deals…

Up to that point, I thought the only way to make a decent amount of money was to go to school to get a degree and then and only then could I make real money; in fact, I was so brainwashed or misinformed (like so many people still today), I believed that even to become a movie star or athlete I had to go to college.  I was convinced that if I wanted to be successful and make any real money in life I had to go to college – that was how everyone else had done it, that was what I had been told, I didn’t know any better at the time…

So I met with Erika complete stranger, mind you – who approached me as I was walking across campus.  I didn’t know if I was going to a job interview or what.  He could have been with the university for all I knew.  Sure, I was somewhat skeptical and unsure about all this, it seemed somewhat out of the ordinary, but I was a high school student taking classes on a college campus – what did I know?  Everything at that time was new and foreign to me; all that mattered is I was open-minded, curious and eager to make money.

As I listened to his presentation, Erik began by pointing out various magazine articles building the case for this company Excel as well as featuring other business publications specifically mentioning the company and the opportunity.  I had heard the names of these magazines before, knowing they were credible sources, and therefore in my mind I had no reason to believe what he was telling me was for any reason untrue.  It all sounded logical.  Then he got to the money part.  Boy did I get excited:

“I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, some new way of making money that had just been invented and that I must be one of the first to know about it because I had never heard of anything like this before.”

Marketing the services aside, I saw how I could make an easy $100 to start by simply getting one of my friends to join me and do this as well.  $100 a person! And then when they started doing it and telling their friends I would make more money, including this new type of money called “residual” income – wow!  I was going to be rich!

When he told me how I could get started, I immediately filled out the paperwork thinking there must be a catch; was I qualified since I was really only a high school student?  (I was 18 though.) The only real requirement was to pay $245 to get my marketing kit – then I could start making money immediately – and this guy and his team were going to train me and show me how to make money?!  Sure beats a $6/hr job!  What a deal!


atm cash 150x150 My Story

Literally gave him cash out of the machine

We went straight to the ATM machine on campus and I gave him the CASH on the spot; call it naive, but my belief was there – I was going to be rich!  Not once did it ever enter my mind that it could be a scam or that he was simply taking my money - I didn’t know about those things.

He showed me a credible company (via those magazine articles), his Excel business cards, the Excel independent representative application that I filled out and so I gave him cash (I didn’t have any credit cards yet).  Yes $245 for a high school senior was a lot of money, but in my mind it was well worth it, in fact, given my situation (age/education/experience/etc) it was the best investment I could ever make!

So what happened? I went back to school at lunch, full of excitement to tell my friends how I was going to be rich and how they could be too!  I tried to explain it from the one presentation I had seen, and even though I was taking multiple AP classes and taking college classes a year earlier than most of my peers, I obviously couldn’t explain properly what I had just seen and paid money for – even with all my excitement!

As a matter of fact, I vividly remember my best friend cutting me off before I could even finish explaining what I was so excited about, with a story about how his cousin had done something like this, selling vacuum cleaners or something, and lost thousands of dollars doing it; in short, he told me it was a scam!  He laughed at me, saying I had been sold…

My First No

devastated1 e1296975647504 My Story

I was devastated to say the least.  My first No.  Knocked the wind right out of my sail.  Could he be right? I had never even considered it to be anything but 100% legal and 100% an incredible opportunity to make money.  I had seen the articles and still believed it was legit, but my belief had now dropped like a rock.  If for no other reason, my friends were not going to do this with me so I didn’t see how I was going to be able to make money now.  So now what?

Well, I didn’t give up.  I later on told my younger brother about the opportunity and maybe he had never heard of potential scams before either because he was as excited about this as I was.  He just went right out and started getting a few customers.  My belief went back up and now I had some (friendly) competition (we had the same family members, ie, potential customers)!

Unfortunately though, we didn’t plug in to anyone or anything and never really got trained; without that needed support and training, school and life kind of took over, again pushing Excel to the back burner…

Fast forward to my freshman year at San Diego State University: I had gotten a very part-time job over the summer as I focused more on having fun before going away to college than making or saving up any real money.  I was trained to think that I would just get a student loan and focus on school.  I had been looking forward to it – another new experience – and just went with the flow for the first semester, doing the college thing.

But then, in the spring of 2000 I began to notice a certain group of college kids on campus passing out flyers, handing out cards and promoting meetings about making money.  I was again interested in making more money having already fallen into the credit card debt trap just a few months after beginning college.

So I went to one of these meetings and couldn’t believe it: it was Excel!! I saw dozens and dozens of college kids my age making money with the same company I had heard about nearly a year earlier!  I knew it could work! My belief shot back up along with my self-confidence after realizing I had made a smart decision to get involved.

The other thing I realized though, was that just being involved doesn’t make you moneyYou have to do something, produce results. And that I had not done.

I went back to my dorm room all excited and pulled out my Excel training manual, blew off the dust, and read through it for the first time, looking for the secret that I must have missed that must have enabled all these other college kids to be able to make money with Excel.

I was so excited I told one of my good friends at the time and he too began to get real excited.  We decided that if this other group here could do it, we could do it too.  He whipped out his credit card and we filled out his application so that we could both work this business together and make some good money.  His kit eventually showed up and we started talking to everyone we knew in the dorms about it, knowing now for sure that this vehicle could make us significant money.

The problem was, we still couldn’t get it to work.  We didn’t know how to do it.  We were intelligent, willing to work hard, full of excitement and energy yet the two of us still couldn’t make it work…

Jeff ended up moving back to Sacramento which we thought would be better as no one (that we knew) was doing Excel up there.  Maybe he’d have better success there?

Well, after another month or so, we had nothing but frustration to show for our efforts (and everyone in the dorms now making fun of it whenever we brought it up).  We started to resent these other college kids on campus with their meetings and flyers because we couldn’t make it work (we were bitter and envious)…

I Was Ready To Quit The Home Based Income Industry!

enough e1296976326949 150x150 My StoryFinally, I had enough. I couldn’t stand seeing everyone of these college kids around me seemingly making money day after day and living this great lifestyle while I struggled.  I decided I would go to another one of their meetings and find out what it was they were doing differently.  And that’s where it happened.

The meeting started, a couple of college kids swaggered to the front of the room, talking about their lifestyle and the money, presenting the same info and magazine articles I had been shown a year earlier in Sacramento when I first joined.

But then another speaker I hadn’t seen or heard before stepped to the front of the room.  He was different, he was supremely confident and although young appeared wealthy.  He began speaking, not so much about the company but rather passionately shared what the opportunity had done for him: how it had changed his life, the options he now had, how he didn’t have to rely on the school system to make serious money and become rich, how he was now in control of his life…

One by one, he shattered all my previous self-limiting beliefs about creating wealth, becoming rich, the school system, all of it. He had freed me from what I feared might be a life of mediocrity and working for the man so-to-speak. There was another way, in fact, a better way than the path I was on (which I resented, constantly fought with, and was at times depressed with!).

So here this Mehdi character was helping me to envision my dreams and realize that they were within in grasp but I had to do something different.  School wouldn’t do it for me.  A job or career couldn’t do it for me.  I had to take control of my destiny, I had to align myself with a vehicle like Excel that could help me achieve and live those dreams.

The Biggest Turning Point Of My Life

When he finished and the meeting was over, I knew what I had to do.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this vehicle Excel was it.  In fact, I believed it was the ONLY way for me going forward.  My life was changed and there was no going back. It truly was one of the most incredible moments of my life – the biggest turning point of my life, bar none.

no return My StoryThe other thing I realized – after failing for over a year trying to do it on my own – was that I needed a leader to follow, a mentor, someone who could show me the way. I realized that I needed Mehdi as my mentor – he was the key to the whole thing.

So I went out after the meeting and followed him until he was free and I could talk with him in private.  I looked him square in the eye and told him with definiteness of purpose that no matter what I had to do, I HAD to work with him. I would do whatever it took because I knew that with his help I could be successful with Excel and in reaching my dreams.  I would not take no for an answer. I would put everything on the line in order to work with him.  I would burn all bridges and never look back.  I was betting my future and I was all in.  (This was before I ever read Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill; yet this was exactly the same successful approach Mr Barnes took in his desire to work for Thomas Edison)

Undoubtedly, Mehdi saw my passion and my seriousness and told me to call him the next day at a certain time to see what he could do.  After that meeting I was so full of hope and joy, thinking about my dreams, floating on cloud 9…  Nothing that anyone said to me, nothing that occurred around me or in my life could change my state.  I was elated and focused on my dreams.

It was truly an incredible feeling!  I knew it wasn’t a done deal, and I didn’t even know what work lied ahead if he did accept me onto his team.  My only focus was on making that phone call the next day to find out what the next step might hopefully be, the first step of my new life!

I called the next day, and he agreed he could work with me if I met certain conditions.  To be honest, I don’t remember the exact conditions I had to meet because I would have done whatever he told me I had to do, it just did not matter.  This was my big break.

Finally, I could get in control of my life and be able to live the life I had always dreamed of and desired. I had won the lottery, it was just a matter of time and eventually I would be rich.

I Was Going To Be Rich!

futuremillionaire 150x150 My StoryNow I’d like to be able to say that I immediately achieved success, got rich and lived happily ever after.  But that was not the case unfortunately.

I did get started, and I went to a training his group put on.  I was welcomed into the family so-to-speak, a like-minded group of my peers all looking to do whatever it took to achieve their dreams and goals and upset the status quo.  It was a whole ‘nother world; finally finding something in life I could really latch onto and believe in (can you tell I didn’t like school much?)

The training was great too!  There was a logical system of how to make money – it seemed so simple.  I could see why I had never made money before.  Mehdi and the team helped me with my first calls and helped me trigger my first check, which only increased my belief further.

But I then had to prove myself. I had to go out on my own and prove to Mehdi, and more importantly to myself, that I was capable of achieving success and getting results; that I had the resolve, the drive and a strong enough reason “why” to be able to reach my goals. I had to go out and market my business using the training they had provided me.

Although simple, it was not easy; it was a bit intimidating at first, and I struggled for several weeks.  I had already burned through my warm market having approached them all the wrong way and therefore was limited to cold-market marketing methods offline (the internet was still in its infancy).  I passed out thousands of flyers and sizzle cards, hundreds of tear-offs, approached countless strangers and hosted dozens of “free pizza” parties among other things in my attempt to hit the Regional Director promotion.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was in the process of hitting this promotion – not the achievement of the promotion – that transformed me into a leader.  I did whatever it took in order to reach that promotion – even going door-to-door to get the last few customers necessary to become Regional Director.

Becoming A Leader

Hans Schoff and Kenny Trout 300x198 My Story

Excel Founder Kenny Troutt in 2000

I had to really push myself and get out of my comfort zone. Anything that would help me develop and get there faster I would do, devouring books recommended to me (though I rarely read for my college work) and putting myself into new situations to force myself to grow.  The team pushed me up into leadership as I presented parts of the presentation to a room full of new prospects, hosted several nation-wide conference calls packed with hundreds of guests as well as taught important concepts during trainings.

The culmination of all these things is what transformed me into a leader, reaching Regional Director which enabled me to develop other leaders to create a team of hundreds of new network marketers spanning two continents.

It’s one of the most incredible feelings ever to see your efforts being duplicated, like when I’d travel back from Europe to attend one of my key leader’s meetings and see all the new faces of people in my organization who joined my team in California (through my leaders) while I was building in Europe.  Once you experience this kind of duplication – the kind that creates serious residual income – you’ll never again give up on your dreams.  It can happen for you as well.

It was the lessons and experiences I learned along the way – 6 years of marketing, business building, training, developing leaders, and expanding into new countries – that allowed me to spring-board into a completely new industry in 2005, achieving success relatively early on with my commercial real estate & management businesses as well as other real estate development ventures and investments.  The same fundamental business skills I learned through network marketing allowed me to jump right in and bypass most of the learning curve in these other industries, achieving success there as well while still in my early 20′s.

Network Marketing put me through the University of Hard Knocks, having to learn what it takes to achieve success when going against the grain and doing something different.  What a priceless lesson – especially in these difficult and uncertain times we face today.  Virtually anyone can go and apply for a job.  But who do you have to be to demand more for yourself from life?  Who do you have to be to stand up and take control of your life, your finances, your retirement, your future?  Who do you have to be to achieve financial independence for yourself and for your family?

The following passage comes to mind from Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think and Grow Rich”:

“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

“For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

“I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.”

Starting my first real business in network marketing with Excel back in 2000 was the best business and life education I could have ever received.

It was priceless. It has given me the ability today to go into whatever industry I desire and do whatever I want, knowing I can make it work by simply applying the principles and lessons that helped me achieve success in network marketing.

Today, I have moved on from Excel.  In addition to my investing and real estate businesses, I now work with another great network marketing industry leader, incorporating both new online marketing strategies and tactics as well as the profitable strategies and techniques from the offline world that I cut my teeth on in the early days over a decade ago.

If your goal is to create an additional couple hundred dollars a month around your schedule, I can help you do that.  If your goal is to create a substantial secondary income to eventually replace your current income, create a nest egg or any other type of retirement or supplemental income source, I can help you do that as well.   And of course, if your goal is to become one of the industry top earners and live a lifestyle that others only dream about, I can show you what to do to create that as well.

If you’re serious and have a passionate desire, a strong reason why and you’re coachable, click on the Work With Hans tab at the top of the page to find out the next step.

I can’t work with everyone but nor is this for everyone – I’m looking for leaders. Just as Mehdi took the time to help me develop into a leader, I too need to ensure the success of my team, by only working with a limited number of serious and committed candidates at a time to be able to develop them into highly profitable leaders to ensure they reach their goals as well.

If you feel you have what it takes, if you have the same desire for success that I had starting out, let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

But if you’re not quite there – just curious or want to learn more – feel free to peruse this site, read the articles and use the tools.  You can follow me on facebook or twitter and you can also sign up for my latest free tools and strategies by filling out the form below.  By doing so you can be the first to read my new blog posts and articles full of tips, strategies and my experiences which can help you in your journey to financial freedom and beyond.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you!


Did you find any part of my story or background interesting, inspirational, entertaining, educational?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and comments – just post them below!  Also, if you think anyone you know may benefit from hearing my story, please share, like, buzz or retweet this page – I’m sure they’d appreciate it as would I!  Take care and I’m looking forward to your reactions!

Thanks again!

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