It was November 2008, the nadir of the worst global recession since the Great Depression. After a 23 year career with the same financial services firm, Tom Goris discovered that his industry, though faring better than most, was not immune to the economic downturn. Many bankers had lost their jobs as their firms faced losses from bad loans or folded altogether. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 296,500 fewer people were in banking and finance than at the start of the crisis. And it became increasingly apparent that Tom might join the legions of those who had left.
"I was at a low point in my career," he shares. "I had been in financial services, in management, and there were a lot of corporate mergers and acquisitions going on. My company had changed ownership three times. I was wondering if I would stay in financial services, or take a leap of faith and go in a completely different direction."
Leading up to this point, Tom and his wife, Jill, had gone through what they call a "six—year desert"—a lean season during which they were living quite literally from paycheck to paycheck. They were what the Corporation for Enterprise Development calls the "liquid asset poor," people with income albeit an insufficient amount to live comfortably in retirement or cover unforeseen financial emergencies. And like so many of them, the Gorises' problems were compounded by the ravages of the 2008 recession.
Then Tom received a call from a friend that would change everything.
"He wanted me to sit down with him and let him show me an idea," Tom recalls. "This was a friend whom I had known for 15 years. The idea he wanted to show me was WorldVentures. Over the years, I had always been intrigued by direct sales, but it wasn't until WorldVentures that I saw a product that I wanted to talk to people about—one that brought value and savings to people. When I saw WorldVentures, it was the right idea at the right time."
Plotting the Course
Motivated by a primal drive to provide for his family, in his first four years in the business, Tom invested all of his time and energy in WorldVentures.
"We dropped everything and did it full time," he explains. "That's not a recommendation; it's just a choice that we made. It may sound simple, but it was about paying the bills. I saw WorldVentures as a way to build a financial system to support my family, and get ahead financially. In the beginning, I didn't believe it would become what it has become."
With Tom in the driver's seat and Jill at his side, the couple set their sights on the future with laser sharp focus, and quickly built a strong team of Representatives. It seemed a natural progression for Tom, whose previous career achievements hinged on his ability to build and motivate teams.
"Between our fourth and fifth year, we were beginning to see how our lives were changing emotionally, mentally and financially through the trainings, through the system that they teach and with the help of our team—our individual team and the WorldVentures team overall. It helped us experience a life that we could only dream of previously," Tom says.
Tom is both proud and humbled by the success he has attained to date. Now he's setting new targets as his team moves into even higher gear.
"I've hit a number of goals, and there's a part of me that feels like I did in the beginning when I was trying to picture that goal of hitting IMD," he says. "In a way, I feel like I'm starting over. One of my goals is a seven figure income. Another goal is an IMD on three lines of lineage, which means I've helped three teams mature to the IMD level."
Calibrating the Systems
Tom's strategy for building his business is based upon existing, tested methodologies taught by WV leaders, including one-on-ones and two-on-ones, travel parties and big events. Among the sales tools he uses are "Just Push Play," "Vacation Sooner" and (his personal favorite) Living Proof magazine, which chronicles Rep success stories. But perhaps the most essential component of Tom's growth plan is helping people identify and achieve their respective goals. This requires keen discernment to ascertain individual motivations and adjust his sales focus accordingly.
"There are different levels of desire that people come to WorldVentures with. Some people just want to be members and travel and have fun, but they don't want to be Reps. They just want to enjoy our products. It's critical that we help those people experience the product—teach them how to book a trip, use the websites, let them be our advertising."
He continues, "Second, there are people who want to be Reps and want to get their fees waived. But they can't envision doing this full time. If that's their goal, I want to help with that. Third, there are people who do want to earn extra money."
The fourth and final level, he said, includes entrepreneurial hopefuls who want to quit their jobs and do WorldVentures full time. And, having done so themselves, Tom and Jill are poised to help them reach that goal.
"We've learned that if we take a person who just wants to travel and use our membership, and treat them like they should do this full time, they don't stay with it long," he explains. "When we help them get what they want, they'll come back, and they'll want more. Then we get what we want. It's a simple strategy. So we're helping them choose their race and set their pace."
Tom and Jill also coach their team along the way to assist them in leveraging their strengths and overcoming any deficiencies.
"I remember when I started in financial services years ago, I was scared to pick up a phone and make a call out of fear of rejection and lack of skill … lack of experience," he says. "As I reflect on those years, I see it's the same hurdle but a different verse with WorldVentures. As you develop skill, you build confidence. As you build confidence, the things that once intimidated or discouraged you become non issues."
Enjoying the Journey
Today, Tom and Jill are able to experience more, give more and live more closely aligned with their purpose. That purpose, that calling, is to fulfill a basic tenet of their faith–to demonstrate good stewardship of their gifts by sharing them with others. "Faith is a big part of our life. I'm glad that WorldVentures allows us to live out our conviction and beliefs," Tom shares. "It's a vehicle to live the life I'm called to live. It's the best vehicle that I've come across."
"Spiritually, part of my development is giving." Tom continues. "It's always been an important thing. That's a big priority, and during the desert time, some of that dried up. Today, our giving is happening at the highest level it's ever happened in our life."
And after 30 years of marriage and three children, the Gorises finally enjoy true work—life balance and quality time with their growing extended family.
"We have a daughter, age 27, who is married and [at the time of this March interview] expecting our first granddaughter. We have a son, age 25, who just had our first grandson. And then there's Lydia, our youngest, who is 19 and a sophomore at Iowa State University. Our family loves to travel together, and we have taken some wonderful DreamTrips."
Having just returned from New York on spring break, Tom says he could only imagine what the years ahead will be like traveling with grandkids. "I don't know if there's a better way to build memories and lasting relationships than spending your time and resources traveling together. That's what we talk to people about every day. That gets me excited. Traveling with my family motivates me.
"I've experienced a lot of fun things over the years with WorldVentures. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, you mentally start to let go of believing that's even something to pursue. Through the desert time in my life, I started to let go and give up on having extra things in our life."
From a professional standpoint, Tom counts hitting IMD as his biggest achievement to date, followed by helping many people on his team find success.
"Another big accomplishment has been coming back from that six-year desert and building again," he adds. "The personal trials that we went through when we came into WorldVentures we had to work through while building the business. I had a lot of development that had to happen, and I refer back to the training and the leaders who have helped me stay the course."
As enthusiastic as he is about WorldVentures, he concedes it's not been easy or always glamorous. There are, of course, the granular administrative details associated with running a business. Then there's the continuous affront to the ego that all marketing professionals face when confronted with objections. But Tom's greatest challenge arises from his almost paternal sense of responsibility for his team.
"I think my least favorite parts of the business have been watching other people struggle, and wanting other people's success more than they want it," he says. "I've learned to embrace even the least favorite part. I've trained myself to not see the struggle as being a negative thing. All of these least favorite parts are part of the struggle that build the character that changes and shapes us into the leaders we want to become. We don't have anyone who is functioning at the highest level at WV who is not working with the least favorite parts daily. But they've learned to look at it as part of the price to get the prize."
To stay replenished emotionally and spiritually, Tom reads the Bible from Genesis to Revelations every year. He also devotes 15 minutes a day to reading books or listening to CDs on personal development.
"WorldVentures offers a phenomenal personal development experience. One of the keys to changing our position in life is to change our thinking," he explains. "The other thing that keeps us motivated is just the fact that there's a team of people we need to help accomplish their goals and dreams. We've had a lot of help accomplishing ours; we have a responsibility to help others."
Although Tom and Jill initially chose the WorldVentures career path for the financial opportunity, they've remained committed because of the invaluable intrinsic rewards. To them, passion and purpose beat a bigger paycheck any day.
"Jill and I have hearts full of gratitude for an amazing business opportunity and amazing company, and for making friends and having family that we get to experience life with around the work in this company," Tom observes. "I would never have dreamed five years ago that our life could be as full as it is today. We are blessed."