Jim & Nancy Dornan
Create the Life You Want to Live
Jim and Nancy Dornan | 50 Founders Achievement Award Points | Founders Crown Ambassador
Dare to Dream Big – Nancy Dornan loves “before and after” pictures – glimpses of people she’s seen improve their lives. From scavenging for scraps to dining every day. From stuck on the sidelines to getting in the game. From desperate for a different life to standing on a stage. Any “before and after” story brings a smile to her face, a tear to her eye.
Jim Dornan loves to help people achieve the “after.” But he’s quick to clarify the role he and Nancy play. “We don’t make people successful,” Jim says. “We create an atmosphere and give them a vehicle.”
The vehicle might be an orphanage in India. It might be a wheelchair soccer league in the U.S. It might be an AMWAY® business in one of more than 80 countries and territories in the world.
Whatever it is, it will expand horizons. It will change lives. Whatever it is, it will not happen by hope alone. It will not depend on handouts. And it will not be easy.
With 50 FAA points to their credit, Founders Crown Ambassadors Jim and Nancy Dornan know both sides of the equation: the work and the reward. Their success in Amway is legendary. In the late 1970s, they went from Ruby to Crown in 30 months. In 1990, they started building the business outside North America, and today have offices in 26 countries. They also have a beachfront home in Florida, two vacation homes in Georgia (one on a golf course, one on a lake), his and hers (and theirs) Mercedes, and a private staff of six. To add a new element of flexibility and freedom, they took delivery of a luxurious private jet in September.
But it wasn’t easy.
Their own Amway journey started with great promise in 1970. They were bright, young Purdue grads with a new family and big dreams. So confident were they, that Nancy opted to stay home
with baby Heather. Jim quit his job at 25 to build the AMWAY business. “Two more hardworking, spoiled brats you could not have found,” says Nancy.
The birth of their second child jolted their perspective. Born with spina bifida, baby Eric required 11 brain surgeries in his first nine months of life. The hospital became their second home. Health insurance stopped paying when Eric’s expenses hit the policy cap of $20,000. At age 28, the young couple had a 6-year-old, a 2-year-old with medical needs, debts exceeding $200,000, no jobs, and a Platinum AMWAY business.
It did not feel like a high point.
But they made it a turning point. “We decided we could either spend the rest of our lives being the victims,” says Jim, “or take control of our future. That’s when we decided we were going to go for this thing. We could have easily quit the business … but by God’s grace, we gutted it out.”
They consider every experience – highs and lows, gains and losses – an important step in their journey. “Loss is the most effective teacher,” says Jim. Nancy is philosophical about their challenges. “It has added depth and color to our lives that we never would have had otherwise,” she says.
“Mom has a saying … that every life is a package,” says daughter-in-law Jules Dornan. She and husband David, Jim and Nancy’s younger son, are Emeralds working hard to achieve Diamond. “Sometimes you just want to be annoyed, but she is always there reminding you to look deeper for the motivation, the opportunity, the potential.”
“The beauty is not in identifying what people do wrong,” says Nancy. “The beauty is recognizing what is unique and special about them.” Cultivating silver linings appears to be one of Nancy’s unique gifts.
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While she concentrates on encouraging people to overcome challenges, improve relationships, and embrace possibilities, Jim focuses on helping them build their aptitude and skills for the business. He says you have to do three things to help make your AMWAY® business successful. One, admit you want success. Two, admit you’re scared. Three, ask for help.
“It’s simple enough, but not too many people choose to do that,” he says. “The business is a wonderful tool. It’s a vehicle that can contribute positively to almost anything missing in your life … confidence, significance, purpose, income. People might not choose to do it, but it’s never because they can’t.”
He believes anyone who is willing to learn and willing to work can succeed. “We don’t filter people,” Jim says. “We always assume that if they knew what we knew, they would want to do what we do. Never in 40 years have I had anyone say they wish they hadn’t built it.”
No longer driven by financial need, the Dornans say money lost its hold on them 30 years ago. But they continue to draw inspiration from the early teachings of Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.
“Coming out of the 1960s … the stuff that Rich and Jay talked about … we had never heard that before,” Jim says. “Back then, I was working as an aerospace engineer in a sea of desks. If I worked 40+ hours a week for 15 years, I might get a half wall and a plant.”
Then he went to an Amway meeting. “I heard about living with options, self-confidence, freedom, dreams, goals,” he says. “It was a completely different world. Rich DeVos could reach into your heart and get you to think differently. It became a cause for us.”
It still is. While the Dornans could certainly retire at any time, they find “looking for people who are looking for us” rewarding and fun. In North America, they enjoy great success with physicians, engineers, attorneys … people with good jobs and good titles who simply want more. People very much like Jim and Nancy in 1970. “We come along and show them a way out of the job, a path to freedom,” says Jim. He passionately believes that’s still the power of the business.
“People who think this business is just about needing more money … or loving the products they sell … are missing something,” he says. He believes the current North American economy simply increases the value of the opportunity.
“Think about the prospects in this economy! Retirees, young moms, overextended consumers,” says Jim. “It doesn’t matter to me what you’re looking for … if you’re an ambitious person, this business can help you get more of what you want.”
So they continue to retail, show the Plan, and encourage their kids to do the same. Jim and Nancy believe the best gifts they can give their children are a sense of purpose, a strong work ethic, and the confidence to succeed … so they can achieve their own dreams.
Daughter Heather says she took her parents’ positivity for granted until she realized in college that most people just don’t think that way. Now she’s focused on taking her AMWAY® business to the next level. “I definitely want to have the life I grew up with,” says Heather. “A job is just not going to do it for me. Every day, I think I just want to be just like them.”
Son Eric focuses his efforts on showing a different plan … one to develop teams for wheelchair athletes. With his wife, Abbie, cheering him on, he works with staffer David Ruelas to “build a network of Power Soccer achievers.”
And David Dornan, who was born the year his parents made Crown, hopes he and Jules have a Diamond in their future. “I had to take a big step down when I started to build my own business,” he says. “I had been to Peter Island 10 times with Mom and Dad, but I had to start at the beginning.” Fortunately, they have good mentors.
“Showing the Plan is just part of the process,” Jim says. He believes lasting success comes from building a balanced business, while equipping, empowering, and encouraging people to do the same.
By doing just that, Jim and Nancy have helped create an impressive array of “before and after” pictures:
- In the U.S.: From three soccer teams for wheelchair athletes to more than 50.
- In India: From abandoned children living on the street to a safe hostel and school.
- In developing countries: From zero mobility for disabled people to shipments of free wheelchairs, 550 at a time.
- In China: From deaf children in silent isolation to hearing aids and happy communication.
- Worldwide: From 10,000 hungry children to three meals a day for 13 years.
And don’t forget all those thriving entrepreneurs around the globe … achieving freedom through free enterprise, one AMWAY business at a time.
Given their love of “before and afters,” it might seem their own portrait … from struggling young couple to global business moguls … might be satisfying enough. But Jim and Nancy have one more goal in mind. They would like to see everyone who has prospered like them in their business experience the highest success of all: sharing their good fortune.
“What I have realized, in trying to teach our vast organization in the time we have left, is that we all need to give something,” says Nancy. “There is no success without significance.”
And success with significance?
That would be Jim and Nancy’s idea of a happily ever “after.”
The average monthly gross income earned by “active” IBOs was $115 (U.S.)/$181 (CAN.).
The percentage of IBOs who achieved Double Diamond and above qualification in FY08 was .0038%.
Based on an independent survey during 2001, approximately 66% of all IBOs of record were found to be active. “Active” means an IBO attempted to make a retail sale, or presented the Amway Independent Business Owner Compensation Plan, or received bonus money, or attended a company or IBO meeting in the year 2000.
“Gross Income” means the amount received from retail sales, minus the cost of goods sold, plus the amount of Performance Bonus retained. There may be significant business expenses, mostly discretionary, that may be greater in relation to income in the first years of operation. The success depicted may reflect income and investments outside the IBO Plan.