Talkin' with Trav: NuSkin founder Blake Roney discusses the key to success

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 1:16 p.m. MST

Any time one can sit and learn from amazingly successful people and see what makes them tick, it’s an opportunity that begs for a notebook and pen.

I consider Blake Roney one of the finest people I know. Many know him as the founder and chairman of NuSkin, the billion-dollar company based in Provo, Utah. I have had the privilege of knowing him as a grandfather, father, husband, mentor and friend. He is one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know. And before he sets off on his new endeavor, as an LDS Church mission president, in Lyon, France, I sat down with him to talk about success in life, and in his words, this is what he had to say:

Hansen: What is the key to success?

Roney: Success in almost anything is accomplished in the same way generally. You figure out what you want to accomplish. You figure out the best steps to get there. You work harder than everyone else and rabidly persist in implementing your plan. (This is the uncomfortable part.) You evaluate, adjust and rabidly persist some more.

Works in sports. Works in business. Works in marriage and family ...

The problem with success is it often over-focuses us on one tiny aspect of life and it can keep us from succeeding in life itself. I will define “success in life” to mean being happy and at peace now and forever.

Hansen: How important are goals?

Roney: People are not very good at working two jobs at the same time. So achieving success in life while achieving success in some more specific endeavor should be too hard. Of course, it is not too hard for true achievers as long as effort in one endeavor helps achieve in both. How do you do that?

You start by having the life success plan all worked out and planned, and then you make sure the other endeavor fits within it and never takes you a single step in the wrong direction for the life plan. So, let’s say that you have come to know that the Savior Jesus Christ figured out the path for success in life and you are intent on following his plan. Also, you have determined that you want to be an amazing basketball player. Let’s say you come upon a performance-enhancing drug that could accelerate your quest. Oops, that is taking you off of the Savior’s plan; don’t do it. Perhaps your early success offers you special access to immorality. Oops, that is counter to the life plan.

Notice how in this scenario, living the Savior’s rules of good health can help you achieve the other goal, and striving to work harder than everyone else in your basketball goal can put you in a position to influence other people to follow the Savior — which means one activity helps both goals. That works.

Only you will know if you are doing both things. Other people will tend to want to pass their own judgment about your life success, but luckily, they are not in charge of judging you.

Hansen: How do you achieve proper balance?

Roney: When someone does exceedingly well in one endeavor but fails to accomplish a life of peace and happiness, that is the ultimate tragedy and gives everyone a stomach ache to hear about it.

It is ironic that basically all of humanity has the goal of being at peace and being happy. That is the very thing that drives them to achieve in some specialty. We get confused into thinking that becoming the best basketball player (or the richest guy on the block or the smartest person in the class) will make us happy and give us peace. In fact, it takes us away from our true goal more often than not. It is a little like focusing on one basketball game with our whole energy and all our resources to the point that we are not ready to play the rest of the games for the season so we don’t make the playoffs.

I loved (BYU) coach (Dave) Rose’s response after combating cancer some time back. When asked something like this: “Coach, is your newly grey hair a result of the cancer treatments?” He responded something like this: “No, it resulted from cancer helping me to realize that my hair color doesn’t matter.”

I think he was always a good person and a good coach, but he became a great coach when he completely gelled in his life success vision and plan, and his every decision and effort began to help both places.

Now, since it should matter to everyone on earth, let me summarize how to succeed in life.

God said it best: “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” Since no one loves us more than him and he created the earth plan, we should trust that he knows the secret.

Therefore, our job and plan should be to learn what his son, Jesus Christ, taught and obey it. We should do so with rabid persistence and complete confidence that we will have succeeded in the end.

Roney’s words ring loud and with clarity. And he’s backed them up with his life.

Travis Hansen is a former BYU, NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and Euroleague basketball player. He co-founded the Little Heroes Foundation and is married with three children.

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