Multi Entrepreneur Don Slepian: “I’m Grateful To Be Working In Such An Interesting Time”

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Don Slepian, distributor of Young Living Essential Oils and creator of electronic music, is a very versatile guy. He’s a classical electronic keyboardist and musical entrepreneur. His ambient electronic music has been speaking to the soul of many for a long time. More recently Don’s also busy with the distribution of natural products made with essential oils. You could describe Don as someone who likes working on three or four things at once.  “I’ll focus on a single project at a time while they’re all in progress.  Having multiple streams of income helps to keep this all afloat.”

In the Business As Unusual interview series we go in depth with inspiring entrepreneurs from around the globe. What motivates them, how did they accomplish their success and what business challenges keep them awake at night? Read what they have to say about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and most of all, what it takes to succeed.

In October 2003, Don was introduced to Young Living Essential Oils by a friend. At first he joined as an independent distributor, buying the peppermint oil wholesale. He had no interest in the business side of it at the time. But once he started sharing the products with others and connected them with his up line sponsor, Young Living gave him a personal portal so he could order directly from the company online. He started choosing new products each month and it became an entrepreneurial adventure. “I found Young Living to be more of a lifestyle than just a collection of products. I started exploring their world and I noticed that my health improved as I started replacing many common household and personal care products with the ones that I got from Young Living.”

Don now uses the Essential Oils, shares them with friends and strangers, and helps people who are interested in the business to do the same and grow their networks. He finds out what they really want and helps them achieve it. “Finding growth in network marketing starts with personal growth. “I read and study every day.  As I keep investing my time and energy and applying what needs to be done I see my organization grow every single month. I imagine that I’m already there and feel what it will feel like when my family has financial freedom.  Then I take that energy, pick up the phone, talk to my customers and see how I might help them.”

Back in 1994 Gary Young founded the Young Living company. Gary grew up as a farmer and logger. He discovered the health benefits of essential oils after using them while recovering from a serious logging accident. He noticed a lot of essential oils varied considerably in quality. There were a lot of commercially oils on the market that were perfume grade and not satisfactory for personal use. “He started the Young Living company in order to produce essential oils that were consistently of the highest possible quality by carefully controlling the entire process from planting the seeds to sealing the bottles.” Young Living now sells over one billion dollar in natural oils and related products a year.

Last year Gary turned the leadership of the company over to his wife, Mary Young. Currently he’s devoted himself to research and developing new oils. In his ‘Seed to Seal book’, you can read about the story of Gary Young. “Both the man and the company he founded are quite improbable success stories.  I carefully study them both to understand how a man with very little conventional education could start a company making unknown products and enjoy 22 years of consistent success.”

“Taking an active role in my financial future by growing my network and serving others helps me hold to the discipline and persistence needed to find success.”

Don himself came into the field of direct sales and networking with many negative impressions at first “Direct sales has been called ‘personal growth with a paycheck’. I’ve been around a lot of network marketing companies in the 70’s and 80’s and I’ve seen the many problems those companies had in the early days. But I suspended my skepticism when I got into the business myself and discovered that I don’t have to join a cult or alienate my friends and relatives trying to sell them things that they don’t want or need. In fact, network marketing has allowed me to grow a business part time while still following my love, music and science. It’s an ethical and well-proven alternative path to financial security and stability. In my case, as a musical composer and performer, it has helped me to support my family and be my own sponsor.”

Many people describe network marketing as a ‘Four Year Career’.  Something Don confirms. “It certainly isn’t a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’.  According to the Young Living’s 2013 financial disclosure, the people at my level with a passive income for fifty percent of my monthly budget, constitute three and a half percent of all company members. I think their compensation plan is one of their best products.” At the moment Don’s at the age many people retire. “But playing music keeps me happy and keeps me feeling young.” He adds: “Taking an active role in my financial future by growing my network and serving others helps me hold to the discipline and persistence needed to find success.”

Like many people growing up in a scientific family, Don had very little financial education and no close examples of entrepreneurship. “I’ve been much influenced by Frank McKinney’s book ‘Make It Big’!  McKinney uses his own life example to lay out 49 principles for success. Many of my personal qualities as a musician and artist made me most unsuited for business life. I’ve had to work on myself, study the success of entrepreneurs that I know and find mentors to guide me. I never stop reading and learning, I keep my eyes open to develop ‘street smarts’ and I get help and support from those people whom I follow as examples.”

 

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“I found Young Living to be more of a lifestyle than just a collection of products.”

Don has worked as a computer programmer and musical instrument designer. “It’s natural to blend those two interests together as I do when performing music on electronic keyboards.” He adds: “I was fortunate to be at the beginning of the internet.  In 1971 I worked for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) as a tester on the ARPANET. That’s the forerunner of the present-day internet. From our lab in Honolulu I would play ASCII terminal games that echoed one character at a time with a machine in Boston.  None of us imaged the present day.” Don was also fortunate enough to be at the beginning of live video art.  He built a performance oriented video synthesizer system and performed live image processing with dancers in Paris, France in 1984. ‘’We never dreamed that techno music and VJ’s would become popular thirty years later.”

Currently Don is developing a new device for Nokia, using computer music techniques to allow people to use their most parallel sense, hearing, to monitor parallel streams of data. “Besides using it to listen to the internet, this device can be used with low power personal radar to let blind people hear their environment and walk with confidence.” He continues: “I’m grateful to be working in such an interesting time as now.”

Don created some very impressive ambient music and he’s a globally known name in that particular music scene. One of his most famous works is ‘Sea of Bliss’. Don explains: “The title ‘Sea of Bliss’ is a phrase from Paramahansa Yogananda‘s book ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’ in which Yogananda discussed higher states of consciousness.” In February of 1980 Don used the Bell Labs Digital Synthesizer to create music along those lines. The half hour long track has become much more than listening music alone. “Sea of Bliss has been used during labor and delivery as well as in hospices for people’s passing. People use the music to transcend walls of spirit or walls of concrete.”

“I must be patient and celebrate each small step on the way.”

Being the versatile guy he is, Don’s successful as an entrepreneur in different branches. His current income is now approaching fifty percent passive. But he intends to bring it up to a hundred percent this year. “I’ve spent a few exciting and valuable years as a project manager at Lucent Technologies during the bubble, but most of my working life I’ve been outside the corporate world as a freelancer.

After trying my hand at more things that I could count I discovered a growing business from my love of essential oils and my interest in health.” He admits that working with Young Living as an independent distributor now pays nearly half of the Slepian household bills. Like building income from real estate or investments, network marketing creates passive income. “My personal challenge is to master the business so that I can give my family financial security.  This is only my first year working at the business. I was a steady customer for 12 years and this year I intend to move up to the next level of network sales by the time our company has it’s annual convention in June.  It’s good to set goals. I must be patient and celebrate each small step on the way.”

 

  

About The Author

FJ Tempelman is content creator at Rocket Hub. In the Business As Unusual interview series, FJ looks for the story behind the entrepreneur ánd their business.

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