The MLM Napkin Presentations by Don Failla: My Interpretation

Today, I’d like to review Don Failla’s 10 MLM Napkin Presentations. I had the pleasure of working with Don Failla for two years in his MLM Company, Life Plus. I HIGHLY respect the guy. He is a legend in our industry and his book The 45 Second Presentation is one of the best-selling MLM Books of all time. If you haven’t his book, you should definitely check it out.

I’m going to cover each of his 10 MLM Napkin Presentations by summarizing the key points, and then I will add in my own thoughts on each presentation. Enjoy the information.

The MLM Napkin Presentations

MLM Napkin Presentation # 1: 2 x 2 = 4

  • You don’t need to sponsor a lot of people to build a big network marketing business.
  • This industry is about a lot of people doing a little bit.

My Thoughts: In theory, this presentation sounds great; however, in my 20+ years in this industry I have not seen it work out like this even once. Most top earners have personally sponsored 100 to 500 people, to find a few key leaders who go on and build a big business. While the goal is to get a lot of people to each do a little bit, the truth is, most people do absolutely NOTHING to build their business.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 2: The Salesman Failure Syndrome

  • Salesmen think they must recruit a bunch of people who will go out and sell for them.
  • In network marketing, we take a different approach. We sponsor people and help them succeed.
  • To be duplicated in network marketing you must help a person go three levels deep.
  • Some people have recruited hundreds of people, but never duplicated themselves even one time.
  • Our job is to teach people to teach people to teach people.

My Thoughts: Skilled salespeople can do great in our industry. They just need to be taught the importance of duplication and following a system, since most of their team members will not have the skills that they do. Don’s point about teaching people to teach people to teach people, in my opinion, is the most important takeaway from the book. Out of all the MLM Napkin Presentations, this one is worth remembering.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 3: Four Things You Have to Do

  • You must get started by joining the business.
  • You must order and use the products.
  • You must get in gear and sponsor your first person.
  • You must help that person repeat those same three steps.
  • You must repeat this process with lots of people to build a successful network marketing business.

My Thoughts: This is how network marketing works.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 4: Digging Down to Bedrock

  • Your network marketing business is similar to a tall skyscraper; skyscrapers have solid foundations.
  • You must build the foundation first, then the building.
  • It can take several years to build the foundation of a big building.
  • While you are building your foundation, the money comes in slowly.
  • Once the foundation for a big building is built, the rest of the building is built quickly.
  • Be patient, it might take one to two years to get a good start and get your foundation built in your MLM Business.
  • Go deep, not wide.

My Thoughts: Digging your foundation in network marketing is everything you do to find your five serious people. In most cases, you’re going to need to sponsor at least 100 people to find those five serious people, and sometimes much more than that. Once you have your five, life becomes much easier.

MLM Napkin Presentations

MLM Napkin Presentation # 5: Ships at Sea

  • There are three types of people who join your business: empty ships, gold ships, and silver ships.
  • Empty Ships are people with no ambition who aren’t coachable and won’t do anything.
  • Gold Ships are people with the desire, they are coachable, and they are hungry. They will follow your system. They will do what you teach them. They are on every call. They are actively retailing and recruiting.
  • Silver Ships describe everyone when they first join the business. They have the potential to build the business, but who knows how things will turn out.
  • Your commission check is based upon what type of ships you have in your team, and how many you have.
  • Spend your time with the gold ships.

My Thoughts: Spend your time where it is deserved, rather than where it is needed. Work with the willing. This represents, at most, 5 or 10 percent of your team.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 6: 3rd Party Invite

  • Use an indirect approach when prospecting people.
  • Ask your prospects if they know someone who might want to make some extra money or start a side hustle, rather than asking them directly.
  • Launch as many ships as you can by talking to as many people as you can.

My Thoughts: Realize this business is a numbers game. Use third-party tools and talk to as many prospects as you can, as quickly as you can.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 7: Where to Spend Your Time

  • Once you sponsor someone, your job is to help them sponsor someone quickly.
  • As your team grows you spend less and less time on personal sponsoring and more time working in depth.
  • If you just recruit, and don’t build depth, you are simply playing the game of adding and subtracting, but when you work in depth you multiply your team.

My Thoughts: Work at the deepest level in your organization with the newest, most excited distributor. This is known as taprooting.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 8: The Sizzle That Sells the Steak

  • Instead of opportunity meetings have sizzle sessions.
  • This is when a group of two or more people get together to share ideas and strategies.
  • The more people you have attending the sizzle session, the more energy there is, just like the more logs you have in a fire, the hotter it gets.

My Thoughts: Get people together whenever you can. This creates excitement and synergy, which is contagious.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 9: Motivation & Attitude

  • Building depth is the best way to motivate your team members.
  • Build your business from the bottom up.
  • Work with the newest, most excited distributors at the deepest level of your organization.
  • The deeper you work in your organization, the more people you help and motivate.

My Thoughts: I wish I would have learned this sooner in my career. Depth is where the big money and long-term money come from. If you don’t have depth, you have an unstable business.

MLM Napkin Presentation # 10: The Pentagon of Growth

  • The business grows faster the deeper it gets because of exponential growth.
  • The number of people on the 4th or 5th level of your team can, and more than likely will be, bigger than the first three levels combined

My Thoughts: While it takes a while to put into effect, once momentum kicks in, your business takes on a life of its own and grows rapidly.

don failla quote

My Favorite Takeaways from the MLM Napkin Presentations

  1. Your job is to teach people to teach people to teach people.
  2. You aren’t duplicated until you are three levels deep.
  3. Build your business from the bottom up.
  4. Work with the willing.
  5. You only need a few serious people to build a big team.
  6. The first couple of years in the business are the hardest, while you are building your foundation.

Don Failla Quotes

Here are a few additional Don Failla quotes from his book The Basics: How to Build a Successful Multi-Level Marketing Organization.

# 1: Remember that network marketing or MLM is building an organization in which a lot of distributors all retail a little. This is far better than a few trying to do it all.

My Take: If you want to build a large team of distributors and customers, your job is to get a lot of people to do a few key things consistently over a sustained period of time.

# 2: It is a responsibility of a sponsor to teach the people they bring in the business all they know about the business.

My Take: You must invest time with each person you personally sponsor, to help them get started right, IF they are coachable. Most people, about 90% of the people you sponsor, will not be coachable or want your help, so focus on the 10 percent that do.

# 3: From the lowest Private to the top brass in the Pentagon, nobody has more than 5 or 6 people that they are trying to directly supervise.

My Take: If you sponsor too many people at once, you won’t be able to work with them properly. The average person can only handle about five direct reports. If you sponsor more than that at one time, they will end up quitting because you can’t work with them adequately.

# 4: You have to go three deep.

My Take: You haven’t duplicated yourself in your network marketing business until you’ve helped your new person go three levels deep. That means you help Joe sponsor Mary, you help Mary sponsor Tim, and you help Tim sponsor Steve.

# 5: Most people who have made it big in MLM don’t have a sales background.

My Take: The most successful distributors are coaches and teachers. They are good at helping others and showing them how to succeed. If you are a salesperson you might be able to sponsor a lot of folks, but most of those folks you sponsor won’t be able to do what you did. So, be a good coach and teacher, not a salesperson.

Its important for me to go out and help them sponsor someone

# 6: After I sponsor someone, it’s more important for me to go out and help them sponsor someone, than it is for me to sponsor someone else.

My Take: When you sign someone up, you only have one job: HELP THEM sponsor their first person. And then go work with their new person.

# 7: Quit looking for people who want to sell. Do start looking for people who want to earn an extra $600, $1200 or $1500 per month without having to go to work every day.

My Take: If you’re only looking for superstars you are making a big mistake and leaving a lot of money on the table. Try to find people who want to earn an extra $300 to $1,000 per month. Do that and you will naturally find some superstars along the way. If you talk to 100 people you might find one superstar. If that’s all you are looking for, that means you are ignoring 20-40 good prospects who would like to make an extra few hundred to few thousand dollars per month.

# 8: People will run faster to stay ahead of crowd than they will to catch it.

My Take: Fear of loss always trumps the hope of gaining something. Show people what they can lose and you will keep people around. Light a fire in the basement and everyone gets excited.

# 9: The only losers are quitters.

My Take: In any endeavor, you will fail more than you succeed. Temporary setbacks are normal. Nothing worth accomplishing is fast, free, or easy. The only way to fail in network marketing is to quit. If you stick with it, and learn from your mistakes as you go, you will eventually succeed.

# 10: If someone tells you they will give it thirty days to see how it goes, don’t waste your time.

My Take: If people have the lottery mentality, avoid them like the plague, and do not sponsor them into your business.

# 11: All you need to do is find five serious people who want to get serious about the business.

My Take: Five good people can make you wealthy in MLM. You might need to personally sponsor 100 to 200 people to find these five people, but once you find them you should spend most of your time helping these folks achieve success.

# 12: When you have five serious people you should be spending 95% of your time working with them, 2 1/2% of your time servicing your customers you have from your friends and 2 1/2% of your time planting seeds.

My Take: The sooner you can start working in depth the faster your business will grow.

# 13: There isn’t anything that will motivate people more than to have someone under them DOING SOMETHING.

My Take: Light a fire in the basement and watch the heat rise.

MLM is building an organization in which a lot of distributors all retail a little

# 14: Some people in MLM get discouraged after only a few weeks. I don’t think they have a right to be discouraged unless they have had at least six months of MLM School.

My Take: There is a learning curve in every business. It’s going to take you six to twelve months to acquire the basic fundamental knowledge about network marketing. You go to school for 12-years and then college for another four years to gain knowledge, yet never question it. Why not give MLM at least a year or two?

# 15: The more distributors you have between you and the company the better.

My Take: Joining a new company or pre-launch company comes with a big risk. The more successful distributors you have in your upline above you, the better. These folks can help you, motivate you and train you. If you are one of the founding distributors, you won’t get much support, because you won’t have anyone in your upline to help you.

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Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading my summary of Don Failla’s 10 MLM Napkin Presentations. I hope you found the information helpful. Which one of the MLM Napkin Presentations is your favorite and why? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

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You can check out Don’s books on Amazon via the links you see below.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

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4 thoughts on “The MLM Napkin Presentations by Don Failla: My Interpretation”

  1. These MLM Napkin Presentations are amazing. I love how Don keeps everything so simple. All you need to do is follow his advice, put in the work and make it big. I really like how he teaches about duplication, training your team, and working in depth. These are lessons I wish I would have learned earlier in my network marketing career.

    1. Brandy,

      With Don Failla’s examples (presentations) you can see that he worked the business, made mistakes, and had a lot of wins based on his results. He found what didn’t work, then he took what did work and implemented it to become successful. I like his Ships at Sea example. It’s sad that there are so many “Empty Ships”, but when you do find the Gold Ship we need to treat that person right and don’t take them for granted.


      1. You are so right about the empty ships. That’s okay though. Most of those folks are really just customers. Either they don’t have the skills, motivation or desire to build a business. Most people are content having a job and that’s perfectly fine. We are ultimately looking for self-motivated people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired and are ready to work, be coachable and follow the system. That might represent 1 in every 20 people you sign up.

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