The Ugly Duckling Theory


As kids growing up, I think we all heard the story of the ugly duckling. Nine ducklings were born, with eight of them being beautiful, fluffy, and yellow. The last one was born white and without much fluff, so all the other ducklings made fun of the one ugly duckling. The ugly duckling felt left out, ostracized, and ended up trying to find ways to fit in with his brothers and sisters. As time went on, the ugly duckling almost gave up hope. One day, while looking at his reflection in the water and he noticed that he was not a fluffy yellow duck, but a beautiful white swan. He went and found the other swans, and they flew away together and lived happily ever after.

Similar to that ugly duckling, if you aren’t a natural networker and feel like you don’t belong, you can still become one.  In fact, you can become one of the best.  The fact that you don’t feel like a networker can help you to understand the average person’s fear more than someone who has always been fearless and charismatic.  There are obvious strengths and weaknesses to every skill that we have, but a lot of that comes from your perspective.  You will be able to relate better based on your experience.  You can turn your weaknesses into strengths.  You can always use your so called “weaknesses” as an advantage. It all depends on your perspective and what you do with your unique strengths.


I’m sure you’ve heard the question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” One answer could be that it is half empty. A second answer could be that it is half full. A third answer, and my personal favorite, is that it is completely full because it is half water and half air. Your perspective is everything. You can become what you want to become if you believe in yourself and are willing to work hard.  This article will help you


While growing up, a young man was shy.  He refused to go to his neighbor’s house without his younger brother Mike.  At the age of 10, although he had played baseball for years, he refused to swing the bat due to fear.  This kid wouldn’t even swing the bat once!!!!  As he grew older, his confidence grew slowly until his siblings passed him in height. His 12 year old brother Mike and 10 year old sister Tiffany were both taller than this 14 year old kid, and that really hurt his confidence.  Finally, high school came and his confidence grew in different areas.  His local church leader begged this young man from the age of 15 to the age of 17 to speak at church.  The church leader even showed up at this young man’s house to personally plead with him to speak at church.  It was taboo to refuse to speak, especially when your church leader shows up at your house.  Even though this young man’s confidence had grown in so many different areas. He still said no.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, this young man is me.  I was the shyest kid around.  I was quiet and reserved.  I am still that way.  I am not a different person, just a better version of me.  For most people, networking is a learned behavior.  The myth that you are either a born networker or not is truly a load of crap.

When I started network marketing in 2008, I had by that time become a great networker, but I was an awful presenter. Each industry requires different skills. In network marketing I felt I needed to become at least a decent presenter.  I was great at getting people to come look at the products or opportunity, but I was so soft spoken that I couldn’t present anything in front of a group of people very well.  Understanding that, I knew I had to practice to become great at presenting.  Just as networking was a learned skill, I knew that presenting would be one as well.


E.M Grey spent much of his life studying what makes one successful.  In his essay The Common Denominator of Success, he sums up what the secret of success is.

“The secret of success of every man who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

As uncomfortable as it was, I requested to speak at every meeting, even if it was just for a few minutes.  Each time, I would ask everyone I could where I could improve.  It wasn’t comfortable.  I didn’t love doing it.  It went against my nature, but I knew that if I wanted to have success, I had to leave my comfort zone.


One of the most profound insights I have learned from studying all of the greats is that each one of them possess the ability to learn how to learn.  I don’t know if there is any greater ability.  No one person is naturally the best at anything without deliberate practice.  In order to become great at anything, it takes time, and usually lots of it.

With that time comes learning.  All of the greats, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Elon Musk, have this uncanny ability to learn.  Knowing this gives me hope that where I am weak, I can become strong.  You can become great at anything that doesn’t require a physical skill. I leave physical out it because I can’t give someone more height and certain people will never be able to jump out of a gym like Michael Jordan did.  Of course, everyone can improve their physical abilities and push the limits of their own bodies, but anyone can be great at anything that doesn’t require physical ability.  All you need is the ability to learn, and then deliberate practice.

Your weaknesses can become strengths
Greatness is learned
The ability to learn is a MUST
Be willing to do whatever it takes even when it is uncomfortable

My last 3 articles

Why M&M’s will kill your business

Why M&M’s will kill your business

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important.” – Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

No one likes melted M&M’s but selfish people just don’t get this basic concept! Most people love talking about themselves. If you are trying to expand your network and build meaningful relationships, do you think you should spend more time talking about yourself, or asking questions so the other person is talking about themselves? I know that is a common sense question but even though most of us know this we rarely focus on how much or how little we dominate a conversation. You want to make the other person feel special, so ask lots of questions and listen to what they have to say.


One thing I’ve noticed is that people love giving advice. You should ask constantly for advice.  Not only do you make others feel important, but you learn more.  Nobody wants to be around the person who thinks they know it all.  It is okay to be assertive and confident, but you should always seek different perspectives. Melted M&M’s are Me Monsters who are all about THEMSELVES. Learning to not be a Me Monster forces you to focus on others and evaluating your ROI (Return On Investment).

Johnny Appleseed
For many, he was a great American folklore hero.  Today, I regard him as one of greatest pioneers of networking. Johnny Appleseed is a great example of longevity. Ten years is the average amount of time it takes for an apple seed to become a fruit bearing tree, and that includes Johnny Appleseed’s trees.  As a boy, I remember reading about him.  The legend had him dressed in ragged clothes, wearing a tin pan for a hat, talking with animals, and planting apple seeds everywhere he traveled.

Born on September 26, 1774, Johnny Appleseed’s real name was Jonathan Chapman. Though he did not wear a tin pan, he often wore ragged clothes and carried around a leather pouch full of apple seeds.

Each day, he walked for miles on dirt roads in search of one thing–fertilized land.  It was the absolute key to becoming successful in his industry.  And so, Johnny’s networking would begin with a simple door knock.  He was a man of enthusiasm, sincerity, and charisma.  At times, his reputation preceded him, but more often than not, Johnny had to build rapport with complete strangers in a matter of minutes.  He simply had the “likeability” factor. It never took long for landowners to trust Johnny and catch his vision.  His intentions were clear, his character shone through, and most importantly, both parties benefited, not just him.

Upon reaching an agreement, Johnny would take the reins from there and begin the hard work of fencing in the land with fallen trees and logs. Following that, he prepped the soil and then sowed the seeds.  Once Johnny was finished, he was off to the next city, leaving the care of the seedlings in the hands of the landowner.  Every year or two thereafter, he would then return to help tend the nursery and divide up the profits.
Over the period of fifty years, Jonathan “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman accumulated tens of thousands of acres.  His fortune was built seed by seed, apple by apple, and tree by tree–all because of his ability to properly network.  Even until the day he passed away, his friendships and relationships remained intact.

I often wonder if we will see the fruits of our networking the same was as Johnny Appleseed did?  Are we ourselves willing to plant seeds today that may not be fully appreciated until weeks, months, or even years from now?   If the answer is “no,” then I’m afraid we don’t understand the value of networking, nor do we truly understand how to properly network.  We may be looking at the individual seed and failing to see the potential of apples and orchards.  As Alan Collins, the author of “Unwritten HR Rules” once said, “Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity, and time.”

Focusing on others will help you to avoid becoming a melted M&M (Me Monster). Once you learn that by focusing on others you will not only help them but you will help yourself, everything becomes more clear.


An ROI is a Return On an Investment. Quite literally, it allows you to evaluate whether the time or money you are investing into something is worth it based on the return you are or are not receiving.  As you sit down to read this book, you are making a decision that learning how to grow and maintain your network will have a positive ROI on your life. My network has helped me in so many ways that I can’t possibly list them all, but I do my best to share lessons I’ve learned over the years with you in this book. Sometimes measuring an ROI can be about how you feel, and sometimes it can be statistical. Most people and companies, however, are unable to fully assess a true ROI.

I worked for a company for a long time before deciding I wasn’t receiving a good ROI and decided to move on to something else.  I provided this company with a lot of value and we parted on good terms. Because of the way the company pay structure worked, I thought that meant I would continue to get paid on any residual sales that were generated through my services. I had made it a point to keep my new business venture separate from my affiliations and contacts associated with this company. However, they decided to stop paying me. Them paying me wasn’t a tremendous amount of money to the company, but the fact that I was now having success with a different company compelled them to stop paying me.

This same company had former employees in other competitive companies, and continued to pay them residuals.  The money wasn’t the issue for me; it was more the principle.  This is a very large company, and I believe the return on their investment for continuing to pay me would have had huge benefits for them in the long term.  Instead, for a very little amount of money, their pride got in the way.  What good did they really do by discontinuing their payments to me?

On the flipside, they could have created a ton of goodwill.  I have had many referrals since then that I could have, and probably would have, sent their way had they handled things differently. However, I don’t want to send people their way not believing they will be taken care of.  It’s easy to let pride set in, but you always need to look at things long term and think, “What’s the true ROI?”

Connections Count

Another way to look at this is to ask yourself the question, “Will this benefit me now, or over the long run?”  The rich think long term while the poor think short term. Invest into your friendships and relationships with no expectations of getting something in return. The fruits will pay out dividends for years to come. Typically, things that benefit you now and not over the long run are things you want to avoid. Many jobs that pay a flat wage are only beneficial over the short run. You show up to work, clock in, get paid, and then walk out. You are not building any assets by doing that, and you will not be paid any residual income for that work but there still can be great value. Instead of solely focusing on the short term benefits of a job remember that the long term benefits are the relationships. Even at a dead-end job you can be very profitable in the long term because of one simple networking concept. Connections count! You never know who you will meet. You never know what ideas they will give you. You never know who they know and what connections they can help you with. You also should always think bigger than just the connections. Nothing is more important than collecting more lifelong friendships. Your next connection could have huge upside and that upside may have nothing to with money.

Don’t be a Me Monster. No one likes melted M&M’s.

Return on Investment goes hand in hand with long term mentality. As I said earlier, “begin with the end in mind.” A long-term mentality is especially important when it comes to building your network. Eddie Cantor said it best when he stated, “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success.”

Focus on:
Talking less and listening more
Asking for advice
Consider potential R.O.I from the right perspective