As the son of a single mother in working-class Birmingham, Alabama, Carlos Rogers learned early that delayed gratification can open the door to opportunity. Though he had dreams of acting fame from the time he saw Nick Cannon in "Love Is a Drug," he kept his feet firmly planted, hit the books like a dutiful student, played basketball and worked weekends at a barbecue joint. Even after he obtained his Associate's Degree in pre-business from Southern Union Junior College, he returned home to the same job to save money.
"One day I was working the drive-through and comedian Rickey Smiley rolled up," he recalls. "We struck up a conversation, and he said I should consider acting and move to California. So, I gave that some thought and, in 2005, I made the big move to Los Angeles."
At first feeling like a fish out of water, Carlos ultimately settled into the L.A. scene. He worked temp jobs for steady income as he landed bit parts in movies and on TV, including commercials for Sprint and Toyota. "I had three lines in the movie, 'Beauty Shop,' and I was a stand-in for Donald Faison on 'Scrubs' and for Hill Harper on 'CSI: NY,'" he says.
Yet, with an annual income of only $28,000, feelings of financial inadequacy continued to dog Carlos. Then one day his friend, Robby, invited him to a WorldVentures travel party, and the proverbial script was flipped. "When I heard the word 'party,' I was all about it because I thought I'd meet some girls. As it turned out, there was no one there under 70," he laughs.
All kidding aside, Carlos says he was immediately struck by the positive energy and stories of success that attendees shared. "I wanted to have that; I was working 12 to 14 hours a day. Working all those hours and making 28-grand was not going to cut it. I knew I had to do something. I had reached that point when I knew I needed to start my own business, and I saw that direct sales was a good way to go."
Act 1, Scene 1
During his first 12 months as a WorldVentures Rep, Carlos slowly gained control of his financial situation. Today, his outlook has expanded from a monthly view to a future focus. But he says his success is no license to live life in excess. He remains rooted in the principles of frugality. It's all about balance.
"Just because you can write the check doesn't mean you can afford it,” he quips. “One of the things I learned is to live below your means. Don't live on all of your income; don't go into debt. I average much more a month than I pay myself. I also pay off credit cards in full by the end of the year."
The most rewarding aspect of this experience has been the opportunity for personal development. Carlos says his life has been changed immeasurably, not just by his achievements but also by the number of times he has figuratively bumped his head and recovered.
"Traveling and having the money to enjoy myself has been pretty cool," he says. "More importantly, I am a better person—more goal-oriented, committed, persistent, thoughtful and able to communicate better. The better you can communicate, the better off you will be. I built my organization by going to the trainings and really plugging in … staying around the campfire.
"'Reach One to Teach One' is my philosophy, and I stress duplication of that process. I've also read many books that have helped me grow."
The first such book was "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," which he read at age 23 as a newly minted Rep for WorldVentures. Books that followed included "45-second Presentation," "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind," "Who Moved My Cheese?" and "The Millionaire Next Door," among others.
Lessons learned have proven useful during challenging times. Carlos shared that his lineage has declined significantly within the last few weeks, and though he is disappointed, he is undeterred. "It was difficult having people on my team violating policies, getting terminated and badmouthing the company. So now I have to shore up. I just have to keep it moving and going about my everyday life."
Carlos uses a strategy called FORM, which involves asking a series of questions as a precursor to inviting prospects to hear the WorldVentures presentation. "F stands for from: Where are you from? O is for occupation: What do you do for a living? What do you like best about what you do? What do you like least about what you do? R is for recreation: What do you do for fun? If they like to travel, I don't jump down their throat with, 'I'm part of a vacation company called WorldVentures, let me show it to you right now.' Finally, M is for message or money: Are you open to earning income outside of what you're currently doing?"
If objections arise, such as "I have no money or I have no time," Carlos doesn't argue with them. Why? Because whatever the objection, it's precisely the reason they should be involved with WorldVentures.
That makes sense. Right? It’s a strategy he learned from his upline, including the likes of IMD Gail Spears, whom he says "took it to another level" when she joined WorldVentures. He adds, "I admire her for her work ethic, her wisdom and her understanding of this business—and business as a whole."
As he ponders the question of what it means to be living rich, Carlos concurs with his fellow Reps that there are obvious material advantages, though they fall far short of the work-life balance it affords.
"Living rich means being successful, not having to worry about anything and being financially free. But mainly it's about being happy," he explains. "When a person becomes a true master in the art of living [whether rich or not in the literal sense], you aren't able to tell whether they're upset, worried, working or playing, because they're just enjoying life. They're in a state of mind, where even if they're going through a struggle, they're happy to be where they are and enjoying the process."
At 31, Carlos embraces what many people far older than him still struggle to understand. As Ruth Davis Konigsberg, a journalist and consultant to Arden Asset Management, says, "Financial independence is certainly easier to achieve with a good income. But you can also get there, or at least come close to it, by saving and investing no matter what your salary is."
That's a key principle in one of Carlos's recent reads, "The Millionaire Next Door." "At the most fundamental level, independence requires that you always live well within your means. If you are not living within your means, then you are not saving, and if you are not saving, then you are not creating wealth, you are creating the opposite: need."
Konigsberg goes on to say: "There is no saving without delaying gratification, saying no when you want to say yes—not just now and then but more often than not. Saying no, not just to the big trips or a car, but also to the expensive haircuts and the overpriced appetizers. It means being chronically cheap and enjoying it. Because every no is a yes to getting things that you really want and need."
Carlos agrees with Konisberg that building wealth entails being a good steward of your resources, "understanding that you have to teach yourself the things you don't know, whether that's fixed-rate versus adjustable mortgages or the value of compound interest, and yes, delaying gratification." After all, the most fulfilling wealth is the kind you build for yourself, dollar by dollar.
Carlos concludes, "I value wealth, but I value my freedom above anything else, and WorldVentures affirms my values like no other company I know."