The arena is humming with energy, pulsing with camaraderie, entrepreneurship and hope.
I feel a little bewildered, like a six year old going into her first candy shop.
Eight weeks ago Arbonne was a product I used and loved, and there I was sitting in Las Vegas at their annual conference.
How did that happen?
"You are not defined by your setbacks, but rather by your comebacks." says the inspiring keynote speaker, Cecilia Stoll, who came from quite literally nothing to become the top income earner at Arbonne. The crowd explodes, 14,000 people leaping to their feet to thunderous applause.
I think about network marketing, as I clap and cheer right along with everyone else. Prior to the past seven weeks to say network marketing made me skeptical would have been an understatement. I just didn't get it, and nor did I want to.
It's got to be too good to be true, I thought. There has got to be a catch.
All the promises of earning thousands of dollars a month or earning a brand new Mercedes just seemed - I don't know - seedy somehow.
I was very, very wrong.
What I witnessed at this conference was women (and men, too) that were empowered, self-confident, and helping each other succeed. I love that I'm part of a company where a woman can stand on stage and announce to an arena full of her colleagues that her goal is to be the number one income earner and have everyone - and I mean everyone - explode into applause.
That never happens in Corporate America. Or Retail. Or Entertainment. Pick any other business structure, and the only way to the top is to step on the heads of the people in front of you.
In network marketing - and especially at Arbonne - the more successful you are personally and financially, the more your colleagues benefit. Not just financially but emotionally, and - this part surprised me - spiritually.
I expected the speakers at this conference to tell us how to sell, sell, sell. They must be consummate salespeople, I thought before I arrived, to make that much money.
I was wrong again. They are storytellers, like me.
They shared their adversities, their challenges - each speaker told very personal stories about their hardships, and their why. Why they finally dropped the skepticism (because we're all skeptics when we start - nobody says as a child 'when I grow up I want to be in network marketing') and joined Arbonne. Their why is what motivates them to each and every day. They talked about how their self-esteem blossomed as their incomes did, too. And not just because they are making more money - or any money - but because they are introducing clients to products that improve health inside and out, all while stretching and growing themselves as they face fears and do it anyway.
Women, in particular, are sheepish about talking about money when it comes to working, I think. Or about advocating to make more money, or something. Not all women, of course, but many women. I know I am.
But here is my reality: both my kids are in school, my jewelry business helps to support my non-profit endeavors, but I need to make money. I want more financial independence, but I don't want to go back to an office job.
And I'm SO not a salesperson. SO. NOT.
I've been chasing heart dreams so long that I worried I'd never find something that could increase my income AND blend with my heart song of empowering women, sharing story, and improving the world.
I never, ever, thought that would come in the form of a network marketing company. EVER. I've learned a lot about it in seven short weeks, though, and it IS the wave of the future. I want my efforts - my talents - to benefit me and my clients. Not some Corporate Muckity-Muck in a corner office.
I want to choose when I work and how I work. I want to be surrounded by interesting, funny, talented and compassionate people. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to make more money.
I get ALL of that - literally EVERYTHING on my list - with Arbonne.
These women are not ashamed of their success. They give so much back in the form of charitable donations and in helping other women succeed - whatever their definition of success may be.
I don't need to make thousands of dollars more per month, but at Arbonne that is a possibility. I'm only limited if my own vision for myself is limited.
One thing is very true - that first Arbonne check I received felt pretty damn good, considering I feel like I'm just out having a ton of fun.
"There is no illusion greater than fear". Cecilia Stoll quoted Lao Tzu during her speech.
I had to overcome fear to join Arbonne. Fear of asking people to host workshops, to consider buying product, to consider joining Arbonne with me. The only reason I can do it is I believe in this with my whole heart.
My body looks and feels great. My skin looks and feels great. I am having so much fun. These products are incredible - safe, pure, beneficial - they are revolutionizing skin care and health and wellness.
It's not hard to ask someone if they want to be a part of that.
And, surprisingly, I'm okay with "no". This doesn't have to be for everyone. Networking marketing people used to scare me with their pop-eyed zeal. I get it, now. I'm trying not to be too pop-eyed, but it's hard, because I feel part of something bigger than me, something that is putting control back into peoples' lives - how they spend their time, when they work, how they work, and even how much money they make - this business can shrink and expand to fit into your life, instead of you shrinking or expanding to fit into working life.
What's not to love?
"Courageous people get outrageous rewards", Cecilia said toward the end of her keynote.
I feel outrageous, sitting there in a huge arena in Vegas. I feel the ground shake underneath me, a paradigm shift in my life. Anything is possible. Anything.
Everyone - and I do mean everyone - I have approached about this opportunity starts with the 'why-nots'. We are so quick to do that - at least I am - to come up with all the "can'ts". And they don't hesitate because they don't like the product, or because they don't like Arbonne.
They hesitate - like I did - because they don't think they can.
"I'm not a salesperson". "I don't know very many people." "I can't speak in front of people". "I can't be out a lot".
I'm not interested in what you're not, or what you can't do. Because you can. The beauty of controlling your own working life is you play to your strengths, you do this in the way that suits you the best.
Courageous people DO get outrageous rewards. You learn more from your comebacks than your setbacks. When you stretch yourself - just a little - the world is yours.