Most people have, at some point or another, worked in retail or hospitality with a manager who likes to be called ‘boss’ and can talk for hours about their lead-from-the-front style. Whether or not these managers are effective, there’s an unavoidable power dynamic that traps workers between the weight of management and the pressure of customers and clients. Tony De Gouveia spent 22 years as a retail entrepreneur before he’d had enough of that, moving into network marketing and pioneering a new way of doing things, which he calls The Ultimate Business.

Today, Tony will answer a few questions about his new management style and The Ultimate Business that he’s built.

Q: To start with, Tony, what made you want to get into network marketing?

Tony: “I started my profession 13 years ago, in 2010, after I had been in retail for 22 years. After taking a sabbatical for a year, I decided that I wanted to do online business, and I wanted to do business all over the world, but to do it as effectively as possible. The best industry for me to do that was network marketing. I fell in love with this industry and chose to do it full-time as a profession.”

Q: What’s the biggest difference, for you, as a leader in network marketing compared to running retail businesses?

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Tony: “I had to learn that it’s not about telling people what to do. It’s about showing people what should be done. So, where in my profession as a retailer, I was telling people what to do because I had people working for me. In network marketing, nobody works for you. You’ve got a volunteer army that goes with you to the battlefield. So you need to create core team leaders who are with you and a whole field of support, as well as customers and other leaders who follow you.”

Q: Even in network marketing, though, that’s not how most teams were led before you got started. There was a very top-down organization in most networks, with a leader out in front managing everyone behind them. Why did you see things so differently?

Tony: “So, firstly, I started understanding in real terms the power of network marketing, how big and massive this can become if you implement the skill sets and rules of what we’ve learned as network marketers. And so, as a leader, it is important to understand that it’s not about you. For me, it’s all about identifying the next core leader in my team and then helping and mentoring them to go to the next level.”

Q: Are you seeing a lot of transformation in your team?

Tony: “I used to do things for other people. And that’s not empowering them; that’s disempowering them. So, I had to learn how to help people by empowering them with their skill set so that they can do it for themselves. And that creates strong, strong leaders around you who are more independent. And that’s what I’ve been able to achieve over these past few years, where I have been able to have leaders who can stand on their own feet and lead their own teams to the next level. I love that part of the industry where I become like the fire, the seed, the inspiration.”

Q: You really do seem excited about this work! Is that why you call your brand The Ultimate Business?

Tony: “For me, it’s The Ultimate Business because it gives us back what we didn’t have in any of the traditional businesses, which is time. Freedom oftime. Freedom of choice, freedom to choose whatever we want to earn in this industry.”

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. There’s a lot to learn about network marketing from what you’ve done with it, and it’s fascinating to see how the industry has changed in response to what you’ve built. It feels like you’ve set a challenge for the rest of the industry to match what you’re doing, provide their teams with more control and support, and let everyone in on the kind of freedom you’re talking about. You are one to watch, Tony, and it will be interesting to see how The Ultimate Business grows and changes in the future.

Written in partnership with Tom White.