I'm from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, which is sixty miles east of Raleigh and a three hour drive to Atlantic Beach.
In 1986, I graduated from Rocky Mount Senior High (has it been that long?). I played football, was on the newspaper staff and active in several other things.
But for the most part, I was an average, everyday student.
Off To College
After high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a career. I figured I should go to college to find out. I also wanted to continue playing football.
During the fall semester, I was quite homesick. Thankfully, football occupied much of my time and class work kept me busy.
In December, I returned home for Christmas break. After a few days, however, I was quite bored and ready to return to school.
Afterwards, I never did get homesick again.
After going to college in the mountains and becoming increasingly tired of the cold and snow, I decided to transfer to East Carolina University. I loved the big university atmosphere! (28,000 students) It was the best five or six years of my life!
Still, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a career. It was time to declare my major, so I decided to pursue a degree in Business.
Having grown up blue-collar and lower middle class, I wanted to do something where I could make some money.
I definitely wanted to avoid the financial pain my family seemed to always be experiencing.
A Rude Awakening
As a Business Major, however, I had a rude awakening. Several of my professors gave assignments that required going to the computer lab.
Since I didn't grow up using any technology, I didn't know how to use a computer. This greatly intimidated me.
Soon I switched my major to Psychology. I suppose I was still trying to figure out what I was to do with my life. Sounds good anyway.
I continued to aimlessly attend class, wasting time, still contemplating what I wanted to do in life. I didn't have any focus and was simply going through the motions.
Several times I tried to get answers, meeting with my college advisor, as well as a pastor. But each time, I left with my quest unanswered.
This much I knew: As an adult, I did not want the financial stress I experienced growing up.
My family seemingly always struggled to make ends meet.
My father owned Carolina Cleaning & Remodeling, a small family business he operated out of the garage.
My dad used an old Ford pickup truck to haul equipment and men to job sites.
My mother did everything from keeping the books, to cleaning houses, to painting and hanging wallpaper.
My younger brother and I also worked in the small family business, so that the bills were paid, food was on the table and a roof over our heads.
As a kid, my main interest was sports. When I wasn't playing ball somewhere, I was reading about it or watching a game on television.
When football wasn't in season, I played basketball all over town, wherever I could 'get a run' against the good competition. Quite a few times, I would be the only white guy on the basketball court.
(That's me on the left)
Introduced To "The Business"
After transferring to East Carolina University, I decided to join a health club near the campus. Before long, I came to know the owner quite well.
One day while working out, I saw him using an Amway spray bottle to clean the mirrors. I thought, "That's what I'll do. I'll do Amway."
My parents had been involved in Amway during the late 1970's. Since they could not afford a babysitter, they dragged me and my little brother to most of the meetings and rallies.
I remember the atmosphere being upbeat and positive. Mom would cut magazine pictures of her dream home and vacations and put them on the refrigerator. She was always excited and this made a lasting impression on me.
So in that health club was how I got started in 'The Business.'
My experience was a paradox, in that it was one of the best and worst things to ever happen to me.
While in Amway, I changed dramatically on the inside. I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and do things I never dreamed of doing.
I prospected, made sales calls, and did public speaking. I talked to people about 'The Business' and did many other things that made me highly uncomfortable.
On the other hand, I ended up losing a considerable amount of time and money. I also became quite disillusioned.
Worst of all, I never graduated from college.
Born with a Hearing Loss
Let's quickly go back a few years to my youth.
As a toddler, my mother noticed I did not respond well when she talked to me. Consequently, I was taken to several specialists.
It took several years, but eventually they discovered I had a significant hearing loss.
By the time I was in second grade, I was fitted with a behind-the-ear hearing aid.
As a preschooler, I had a slight speech impediment, at times sounding like Elmer Fudd.
When I used words containing the letter "R", they sounded like the letter "W".
Later, I would get on the school bus and kids would say, "Hey Paul, you waskerley wabbit!"
I became exceedingly aware that I was 'different' from the other kids.
Because I was self conscious, I wore my hair a little long to cover my hearing aid.
I was shy and socially awkward throughout my school years.
I managed to hide much of my feelings of inadequacy during this time period, but it wasn't easy. I tagged along with several friends who were into sports and did my best to fit in.
But I was still very much an introvert and didn't feel comfortable in most social situations.
It didn't help that I also had a condition called hyperhidrosis.
From the moment I woke up in the morning, I would begin to sweat excessively on my hands, my feet, and under my arms.
At the time, I didn't know it was a condition. I thought it was learned behavior due to some sort of social anxiety, as a result of my hearing loss.
Yet, I would sweat profusely even when calm, alone or resting.
My every waking moment would be consumed with thoughts about my severe sweating.
I absolutely hated it.
I cannot even begin to describe how embarrassing was my ordeal.
I always tried to wear white shirts, in order to hide my underarm sweating. Throughout the day, I would put my shirts in the dryer or change into a new one.
If someone noticed and asked me why I had on a different shirt, I would say I had spilled something on it.
Also, my my socks would be soaked with sweat and my feet would develop ugly rashes.
I would try to make the situation better by changing socks several times a day. But within minutes, my feet would again be soaking wet again.
In class, I could hardly take notes, because my hands would drip sweat all over my paper.
I also washed and dried my hands many, many times during the day.
At all costs, I would avoid giving a 'high five' or shaking hands with anyone.
When I went to parties or other social events, I would make sure to hold a wet, cold drink in my right hand. This way, if I absolutely had to shake hands, I could first wipe my hand on the back of my shirt or pants leg and not look bad.
Cold weather would somewhat alleviate my condition, so I looked forward to the winter. (I almost never wore a coat or jacket, because the cold would temporarily keep me from sweating.)
Hot weather made my situation worse, however, so I absolutely dreaded the summertime.
At night, I would lay in bed and pray for God to heal me. This condition absolutely dominated me.
In 1999, I married and moved to Conway, Arkansas.
One day, on an impulse, I decided to do an online research about my situation.
I had little hope of actually finding anything.
After an extensive search, however, I found several websites related to excessive sweating.
What I eventually discovered was such a relief. The cause of my sweating was physical and genetics. It was NOT psychological.
I finally had some answers!
Soon I was booking an appointment to see a specialist in Little Rock. Six weeks later, I had surgery.
It took me several months for me to fully recover from my surgery.
I now feel like a new person.
I still have sweating issues in the warm summer months, though, especially with my feet.
My hands will still sweat a little, particularly my right hand.
The good news is I no longer have sweaty armpits!
Its been over ten years now and I've never felt better. I am extremely thankful.
What Was I Thinking?
Let's go back again to my college days at East Carolina. So here I am, shy and introverted. I have a significant hearing loss, to go along with my excessive sweating problem.
What do I end up doing?
I get into the Amway business!
It involved shaking hands on a regular basis, wearing stuffy coats and ties, talking to new prospects all the time, and struggling to hear what was being said.
What was I thinking?
I guess when God said brains, I thought He said trains, and I didn't get any!
Fast forward to the spring of 1999.
In the world of Amway, there was quite a buzz about a new sister company that was being launched, Quixtar. Essentially, Quixtar was Amway with a new name.
Amway wanted to shed its old image and build a new presence on the Internet.
Of course, it wasn't explained to us this way. I discovered all of the dirty details much later.
This ended up being the beginning of the end for me.
Eventually, I found out the 'dirty little secret' about Amway/Quixtar. Eighty percent of the incomes of the 'big pins' come from the sale of motivational books, tapes, and functions - not products.
Yet people are deliberately misled and never told this truth. I would never do that to somebody, and never thought it would be done to me. It's not ethical.
So in the fall of 1999, I walked away from Amway/Quixtar.
Life has had its challenges for me. With no college degree, I've worked a variety of lousy jobs in order to help support my family.
Because of my entrepreneurial spirit, I also owned a successful lawn care business. However, in the end, this turned out to not be such a great decision.
Live and learn.
Along the way, I've learned a few things.
One of the biggest mistakes a person can make in life is to work for money.
The key to being happy and successful is to find what you love to do and somehow make a living doing it.
Because once you find what you love to do, you'll never 'work' another day of your life.
And because you love it, you'll willingly put in the necessary time, effort and work that's required in order to be good at it.
So how do you find what you love to do?
Ask yourself this question:
If you won the lottery tomorrow and never had to work for money again, what would do for free?
The answer to that question is likely what you should be doing with your life.
Well, there you have it, warts and all. I tried to be as brief as possible, so I left out quite a bit. But I managed to convey the main points.
Sometimes the road best traveled is not always the smoothest path. Many times the lessons in life are learned only when circumstances are difficult, not when things are easy.
Learning from failure is as important as learning from success.
I believe everything happens for a reason. We are tested and molded in order to fulfill our ultimate purpose.
At the same time, I don't pretend to know or understand why things happen in life. They just do. Everybody has to pay a price, whatever that price may be. To whom much is given, much is required.
Why did I hang some of my dirty laundry for all the world to see?
Well, I've reached a point in life where I'm no longer concerned with what others think of me. As long as I do the right things for the right reasons, eventually everything will work out.
Thanks for reading.
Paul F. Eilers
November 15, 2005