Dreamers & Visionaries: Troy Brown and Jeff Bolf
always searching for a life beyond the given, scraping for time and energy, all too familiar with exhaustive evenings, the drone of fluorescents and the eternal return of the same lackluster day. It's been nearly a decade since Troy Brown and Jeff Bolf dared to dream about life beyond the prosthetic experience of living on borrowed time. The years have been kind to these two who risked it all to align with the vision of their mentor, Wayne Nugent, fulfilled their promise and reinvented themselves. This year marks the tenth anniversary of WorldVentures. The company wouldn't be where it is today without the accomplishments of two lifelong friends who got in on the ground floor of what quickly became one of the most trusted and renowned direct sales companies in the world. When you conjure a dream, you identify a need. Troy and Jeff dreamed, responding to a deficiency of time and purpose, and embraced a vision that would change their perspective, the outlook of their friends and family and ultimately their place in the world.
Take a good, hard look at Troy and Jeff: salt of the Earth; born and bred in the Southwest, where homespun values create a culture of self-sacrifice—a pragmatic, dawn-to-dusk mindset ubiquitous in every American small town. These are tough-minded, standup guys conditioned to break their backs to support a family that relies on their fortitude and commitment. For years, Troy and Jeff fell into what the world expected of them—day in, day out quietly dreaming of a life that invoked their promise. Today, they are goliaths of the industry and have earned a new lease on life—ample time to spend with their families, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude, and the recognition of being WorldVentures' first Triple IMDs.
"When Wayne introduced us to WorldVentures, I knew it was our ticket out," Jeff says. "When we saw this, my wife and I sat on a dirt road one night for three hours and laid out a vision for our family. I promised her if she'd let us run, she'd have the lifestyle we'd dreamed of. Our wives held the home and families together. It took us 13 months to go IMD the first time. Back in those days we would leave in the dark and get home in the dark. We paid the price, and sacrificed a season of our lives."
"We were willing to give up a season, and today our lives are different," Troy contributes. "We were here when WorldVentures started and we stayed for the people. Not long after that, something dramatic happened for my family. We got a call about adopting a baby, and made a decision not based on time or money. We made a choice based on what we wanted from life."
What drives someone to strive for excellence? What amplifies their intensity and inspires them to outperform expectations over and over again? For Jeff, the answer resides in a town called Freedom, in the heart of Oklahoma, population 300; this is where the Bolf family put down roots, and where Jeff's values were forged. When he left for college, Jeff took his upbringing and good nature with him, traits that his classmate Troy revered because they mirrored his own. From that time forward, these two undergraduates established an unbreakable bond—a partnership that exists to this day.
"Troy was a leader's leader," Jeff says. "He was the best athlete I'd ever seen in person and we hit it off and hung out. We always kept in contact, and as time went by the relationship grew stronger. Most partnerships don't work, but with ours there's never been an issue—we play to each other's strengths."
"When I met Jeff we just had that bond," Troy adds. "Jeff is the life of the party. There's never a dull moment with him. We always stayed in contact. It was a natural fit."
Early on, however, their paths diverged, and what they learned along the way—the disparity of hope and time so many in the professional trenches experience—had a lasting impact on their character and initiated a discussion about how the world worked, what it could be and where they wanted to take it—a plan of action they would return to and refine over the next decade.
"I thought I would get a job immediately after I graduated," Jeff says, "but six months into it I was working construction. There were times when I got off work and we just didn't have any money, and I'd be down at the creek trying to catch fish for us to eat that night. It was tough. There's many a night that if I didn't catch fish, we were back to eating Ramen noodles. I was in the insurance business for about 15 years when Troy and I saw WorldVentures. I was in a pretty bad spot: Bill collectors were relentless, my dad was going through Stage IV cancer at the time and our house was going through foreclosure. I needed something."
"When I got out of school, I was introduced to direct sales," Troy says, reflecting on his years before he deepened his relationship with his family and expanded his awareness. "I was probably the worst distributor in the history of the industry. I had no success. But I was a sponge and a good student. I was teachable and coachable. About that time, I went back to school and got another degree in anesthesiology."
Troy admits that while he found success in anesthesia, over the course of a decade his career exposed a significant shortcoming—he was time broke. He procured a paycheck, but missed out on years with his family, and was looking for a way to get back to those who mattered most. Jeff also was searching for more than life had offered him and his family thus far. Time went by, as it does—relentlessly. Together, Troy and Jeff delved deeper, exploring their hearts and minds, pursuing an enterprise that would fulfill their aspirations. Together they met someone with profound insight—an innovator with a vision for the future—and together they took a leap of faith.
"You've got to come to this business with a lot of faith, if you're going to do things the right way," Troy confirms. "Because in the beginning, you're going to be overworked and underpaid. We teach you how to take a season of your life and build on faith."
When you meet someone who gets you, who understands your worth and potential, and who pushes you to greater levels of self-awareness while asking for your energy and commitment to become who you are meant to be—consider yourself lucky, because your life is about to change. When Troy and Jeff met Wayne Nugent, they met a mentor who believed in them, and who lifted them to see where he was headed and what their life could become if they chose to embrace his vision and co-create a future together.
"Wayne is the most charismatic, outgoing guy I have ever met," Jeff says. "I knew there was something special about him. He was a true leader's leader. I knew I wanted to follow him. Some of those early years, I used to hate Mondays so much, I would try to stay up as late as I could on Sundays. When we met Wayne, that flicker of flame came back for me. He was passionate and I was ready to follow him."
"Wayne had what I wanted out of life," Troy adds. "Through Wayne we learned to lead in other ways. We learned to act daily. Leadership is in your everyday actions. People are not going to do what you say, they're going to do what you do. Wayne is who he is and you'll get nothing else."
Wayne's guidance established an ethos that reordered how Troy and Jeff understood the world and themselves. Their issues with time and money dropped away, and they were able to prioritize their family, and to receive each day without worry or obligation, at once fulfilled and open to unique experiences with new friends.
"We've been great friends with Dave and Yvette Ulloa from the beginning," Troy says. "We've been blessed to surround ourselves by great people—Byron Schrag, Dave Watson and, of course, Marc Accetta. You're going to be like who you're around. We've surrounded ourselves with the best of the best."
Who you are determines how you see the world and shapes your very place in it. You create your destiny by building your perspective, and your perspective builds your dreams. When Troy and Jeff dreamed, they put forth a request and were willing to pay the price. When you're willing to do both, make room, because what you project, you get back.
"I didn't want to die with potential inside," Jeff says. "If you never perform, you never know how good you can be.”
"We're pretty insignificant to the growth of our business right now," Troy says. "But I believe we're still significant to the growth of WorldVentures. We have a responsibility to be here. It would be pretty selfish as leaders to say we got ours, go get yours. When I'm on my death bed, I'm not going to ask for my diploma, or to see the cars I've bought. What matters now are the relationships we've built; that's what this business is about. Jeff and his family are my family, as are all the people we've met who've become more than friends."
If, like Troy and Jeff, you choose to look at the big picture through the lens of your history, you'll see your resolve, your strength, your accomplishments and setbacks. Fast or slow, you're constantly evolving, and what you do and how you receive and understand what's given to you becomes an extension of who you are. Dream as big or as little as you want: You are empowered, and will make your way in the world, if you have the heart for it and are willing to act.
"This is not for the chosen few," Troy says. "It's for the few who choose. It's about who wants to really get after it. Look across the board; IMDs have nothing in common except one thing: a burning desire to do something different. Take action and you'll get your life back. Go lead right now. Do something. Get good at something worth getting good at. Pick your season."