December 7th, 2018
In Honor of Tony Bowling
When Loren got a call from Pam Bowling at 2am this morning, we knew it was not good news as she never is up at 2am. It was the last thing we expected. Suddenly everything that was so important that had been consuming us became unimportant. The world suddenly came to a standstill. We were in utter disbelief and shocked. Yes, Tony was recovering from a terrible stroke a year ago and we checked on himand Pam regularly in her selfless struggle to help him recover. The man was so resilient and miraculously invincible and stoic that I believed 100% that he would recover and maybe not be quite the same, but would sit again in the front row and let me know if I was on track by his eye contact and expression. He was my barometer and confidence. I knew we would sit again and talk about the business and our people. The grim announcement put us in shock and sudden speechless grief. We couldn’t even comfort Pam. I know no one lasts forever in this life and that we will inevitably transcend this physical Body, but Tony not now! A life time on our clock is but a second on God’s watch. Life is so fragile and short. But I can say this man made it count and lived it to the fullest, but most importantly had an impact beyond what he ever understood. He was and still is soimportant.
There was never just a Tony Bowling. There was never just a Pam Bowling. There was only ever a Tony and Pam Bowling. Although diabolically different and Titans of strength individually on their own, they are inseparable and perfectly compliment and balance each other into the epitome of the classic Ying & Yang presence of invisible strength and perfection. They don’t need to speak to know exactly what the other thinks. They already know. So when I speak of Tony you have to understand that means Tony and Pam and that is exactly the way he would have it!
I have to say up front, that I do not believe that we would have made it or would be here as a company and organization (family) today if it was not for Tony Bowling. That is how important he is. He is an immensely important person and an unsung hero in our lives. He is a foundation block in who I am and what we have become and been able to accomplish or achieve in Market America. To a large extent he is responsible for my confidence. He was one of the first people with credibility to believe in me and the concepts or MPCP and Unfranchise. More importantly he was willing to risk everything for it which made all the difference in the world.
The funny thing is we really never thought about being here 26 years later. We were so consumed with just making it year to year that we were delighted when more people succeeded and hit income or pin levels and our incomes were solid. We just thanked God for making it each year and growing and never anticipated it become this big or successful. Tony keptme humble and I kept him thinking a little bigger. It was a beautiful balance. We were always more concerned with our people making it than with what we made.
They came into my life and Market America in the first months of the start-up of the business (if you want to call it a business back then) and had already lived a precarious, immensely successful, wild and crazy life in another world and business and had been to the mountain top and back that brought experience, pain, and wisdom that one can only come from by having made the journey. They were victims of a changing market, technology and economy and hit near bottom hard. Like Loren, Pam had married her mentor or Boss (LOL) so we had things in common. They had already committed their lives to JC so they were in a good place in spite of everything they had been through. They were tempered as the anvil of life shatters glass but forges steel.
I don’t like to say we merely met because our lives more or less collided in an intersection of life serendipitously or maybe it was God’s Will or destiny. Looking into their eyes was like looking at a movie projector telling a story of 1000’s of experiences. Timing was such that I was taking my one all or nothing jump in life off the entrepreneurial cliff with my culminating and inspired idea resulting from 15 years of battling a paradigm that was flawed with what Loren and I believed was the ANSWER for the industry and average people. Similarly, Pam and Tony were desperately looking for the answer and we crossed paths or collided in what turned out to be a miraculous journey. It was not easy convincing them, but know ye the truth and the truth shall set you free. However, we had nothing to prove it with and although they saw it as the answer it took a leap of faith. We had no proof of concept, products, literature or anything.
They were one of the first to “get it” and believe and committed and risked everything to making it happen. They sold their home, lived out of a van and hit the road with me and they started out of a small office they had left over from their previous business and life. We held 100’s of meetings and one on one’s and Loren and I drove many lonely roads to work together.
It was a magic moment and gave me hope in the 1styear when 2 huge figures in the industry I had come from and had been involved with in the last company I consulted for sponsored Tony and Pam. In that 1styear, thetwo “Self-proclaimed Icons” decided they could do it better and went into competition trying to steal our new product formula (ThermoChrome 5000). They tried to persuade Tony and Pam to go with them. I got a call one night that they needed to talk now. His sponsor had quit and was trying to get them to leave with him. Tony thought it was his fault (LOL). I immediately drove 5 hours that night to Joe Theisman restaurant in Baltimore and Tony gave me the chance to tell him why they should stay. I spoke to him from my heart why I knew we would succeed and I needed them! “It will work because it is an idea whose time has come and cannot be stopped and it will work because we will make it work” He asked me if I would be his sponsor. He looked me in the eyes and said: “JR, I believe in you and I commit my life to you and Market America. We will make it work!”
That was a magic moment. A magic moment is when the future is uncertain and unproven or undetermined. But by a single individual’s decision and commitment actually determined the future in that very moment. That was a magic moment and turning point. If they had left or ‘sold us out’ we probably would not have made it. They determined the future and gave me the belief and confidence to continue. I would have given up otherwise. Since that night there are been 1000’s of meetings together, and apart. The trials and tribulations and insurmountable challenges we overcame are too numerous to recant as it is a saga of volumes. Tony is the embodiment and reality of Market America. They were my true north and beacon light. Tony, with Pam became the ultimate example of a true UFO. He was and is my confidence.
You know, most people go through life and regardless of their accomplishments, achievements, accolades or financial success rarely positively affect or change a single life for the better. If someone positively changes one life they have done what millions have never done. What can I say about someone who changed 1000’s of lives including my own. And Tony and Pam had the uncanny ability to influence and bring people to the organization that were even bigger or strongerthan themselves. That is evident in the top UFO’s in the company they lead to and 100’s of Directors. Through the last 26 years I have always counted on Tony for an honest and unbiased answer on anything we considered doing. He was never, ever a “brown-noser” and told it like it was. He exemplified, stability, balance, and honesty. It was impossible for him to do the wrong thing. Tony was, however, judgmental. He had an acute perception on ‘sizing’ people up! But he accepted them for what they were and loved them as they were unconditionally. He often told me: “JR, it takes all of us to make it”. “Everyone is the way they are for a reason so understand the reason and you understand them and their true value”.
Tony is a character. He has certain traits that just make me chuckle. One was his personality when it came to Golf which he genuinely enjoyed and lived on a gold course. He was emphatic about golf etiquette and would judge someone’s character and ridicule their behavior for the smallest infraction. He played by the rules and expected etiquette to be strictly observed to humorous extreme.
However, Tony carried a simple and quiet posture. He and Pam were not highly visible people except in Market America circles. They did not get the spotlight in their communities. As great and as accomplished as they were they did not get news headlines and although they were iconic they were not treated as celebrities in public. They did not make a great stir when they walked into a restaurant. Their stature and accomplishments certainly warrant it more than the public stars and celebrities of today in the spotlight. They to a large extent are invisible or transparent to the world and public and just great American entrepreneurs living life. However, his legacy, the effect of his consciousness, his charisma and example, his belief in people is MONUMENTAL.
No, he is not a historic figure that normally statues would be placed to in the halls of infamy in public places or parks. There are no statues to critics in parks because they create or accomplish nothing. There are only statues erected to people important enough to be recognized for changing lives and to make the world a better place. This man’s life was somewhat invisible and he never sought-after notoriety. But his impact on me and the 1000’s of lives he impacted makes him important to me and those who he affected that shall reach far beyond those he directly touched.
For that reason, I am commissioning a statue to be made of Tony Bowling who is the most important person I, Loren and my life and is largely responsible for what this company has become and what we have become. We will pronounce the Tony Bowing annual award for the creation of the most significant magic moment annually. Thank you, Tony, for being you and all that you have given us.
-JR and Loren
List of Tony Bowling accomplishments and awards at Market America:
- Market America Pioneer
- Executive Field Vice President
- Million Dollar Club member
- Advisory Council President
- Advisory Council Chairman
- Advisory Council Member
- Local Coordinator
- District Coordinator
- Regional Director
- Jerry Siciliano Award recipient
- James H. Ridinger Award recipient
- President’s/Chairman’s Award winner
- Certified Trainer