Lenny Izzo stands before the 50 or so people gathered in his office on a chilly Saturday and utters a single, thrilling word: “Wealth.”
“The fact is, most of us have not been conditioned, have not been mentored, have not been coached, have not been inspired, have not been motivated to go out and generate wealth,” he says with the rat-a-tat-tat delivery of a televangelist. “Yes or no?” he asks, scanning the crowd intently. “We’ve been motivated, inspired, encouraged, taught—to do what? To work hard. To get a steady job. And where has that gotten us?”
“Nowhere,” grunts a ruddy man holding a Dunkin’ Donuts cup. The crowd murmurs its assent, as Izzo knew they would.
Izzo knows how the people in the room feel because he used to be one of them. Two and a half years ago, he’d looked up from his desk at the Huntington, Long Island, wellness clinic he’d run for 30 years and realized he was stuck. All of the responsibilities, all of the stuff he’d accumulated—the mortgage payments and car payments and insurance payments and credit-card payments and student-loan payments for his son and daughter—weighed on him, as if he were a hoarder whose collection was collapsing on top of him. “I realized I didn’t have an exit strategy,” Izzo says a few days later, sitting among the collection of self-help books, swords, and dream catchers in his office. Tall and pale, he has intense blue eyes and a head that, once you get to talking to him for a while, seems not quite bald but more like the hair has made way for all the ideas churning inside.
Then Izzo was saved. Not by Jesus, but by a cold call from a woman who told him he could get rich selling vitamins. Well, she didn’t say that, exactly. She presented him with an opportunity to change his life by distributing vitamins through a business model, pioneered by Amway, called “network marketing.” Izzo was skeptical. But for some reason he stayed on the phone.
It worked like this, the woman said: He would order the vitamins from a company called Ideal Health. She would earn a commission on the sale and he, in turn, would become a part of her team and encourage other people to buy the vitamins. For those sales, Izzo would earn a commission, as would she (his “upline”), and then the people he sold the vitamins to would become part of his sales team and would go on to create their own sales teams, who would go on to create their own sales teams, etc., ad infinitum, all of them funneling commissions from their sales up to Izzo and the woman on the phone. As he listened, “something clicked,” Izzo says. “I saw the beauty of the business model. And I said, ‘How can I do this, and do this big?’ ”
In two weeks, Izzo had signed 30 people onto his “downline.” His swift work caught the eye of Ideal Health’s president, Lou DeCaprio, who called him at the office. Izzo doesn’t remember what DeCaprio said to him that day, but “he touched my heart,” Izzo says now, tearing up at the memory. “When we got off the phone, I set some pretty amazing goals for myself. I realized I had to stop being a healer and start being a leader and a teacher.”
Izzo has not yet achieved all his goals—network marketing hasn’t enabled him to quit his day job. But it has changed his life. And every week, he holds seminars encouraging other people to change their lives, too. “This is a time,” he tells the crowd, “where extraordinary things are going to happen for ordinary people. This opportunity that has called us is so much bigger than we can imagine. And what it’s about is about making ordinary people experience extraordinary wealth.”
They just have to believe. “A big part of this is believing this is real. You have to believe in yourself, believe in the products, and believe in Donald Trump.”
“The name is hot!” Donald Trump booms over the speakerphone from his office at 725 Fifth Avenue, where, ever since The Apprentice breathed new life into his brand, he has presided over an ever-diversifying array of businesses. He is, of course, speaking of his own name. “It’s on fire!”
In March 2009, Trump purchased Ideal Health, rebranding it the Trump Network. Though the packaging has now been imprinted with the Trump family crest, the product line is still much the same. There are the two multivitamins: Prime Essentials and the more expensive Custom Essentials, the ingredients of which are determined by the Trump Network–branded PrivaTest, a urine test that claims to determine which vitamins the user needs. There’s also a line of healthy snacks for kids called Snazzle Snaxxs, QuikStik energy drinks, and a Silhouette Solutions diet program. With the Trump investment, the company has added a skin-care line that goes by the seductively foreign name BioCé Cosmeceuticals.