Local spotlight

October 19, 2007

Local spotlight

Optimism is a way of business for Yes!

University of Michigan grad gives professionals positive thoughts on DVDs, at seminars.

Maureen McDonald / Special to The Detroit News

WATERFORD — As a standing-room only crowd fills the largest theater in the United Artist Commerce complex in Walled Lake last month, Michael Jeffries urges people to sit closer to the front for the cameras.

Four hundred sales executives from Metro Detroit real estate, financial planning, technology and retail outlets pay $50 to $100 hear Jack Canfield, star of the self-help documentary, “The Secret,” give tips on attracting wealth and happiness. Thousands of people around the globe buy the speech on DVD for $89.95, watching animated guests interact with world class speakers on business-building topics.

Jeffries, the legal stage name of Michael Weisbart, 43, runs Yes! Network and Seminars on DVD out of a home office in Waterford. He said he built a $1.6 million house and two thriving business by listening to motivational speakers and applying their wisdom. It started with a voice emanating from his car radio.

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“A friend lent me some audio cassette albums by Mark Victor Hansen that were incredibly inspiring. Transformed my vision for life, ideas began flowing. I saw myself establishing a club for positive thinkers, people like me who were sponges for new thoughts,” Jeffries said.

Just two years out of the University of Michigan with a degree in economics, he started the Yes! A Positive Network in 1988, offering six to eight seminars a year with the top-drawing motivators on the National Speakers Association circuit. By 1990 he had over a thousand members in his network, some who continue to attend the seminars.

“Everyone in my agency is encouraged to attend the Yes! Network seminars. I believe there is a direct correlation between people who are successful and people whose minds are filled with positive thoughts, said Randy Hoover, owner of Hoover and Associates, a Bingham Farms financial planning agency. He has attended “Yes” seminars for almost two decades, hooked by one led by Denis Waitley that inspired confidence.

Jeffries calls himself a life-long entrepreneur. At age 6 he ordered packets of seeds through an advertisement in back of Jack and Jill Magazine, earning $40 in the spring to buy a used dirt bike to ride around his northern New Jersey neighborhood scouting out more work. By age 11 he secured contracts with Manhattan talent agencies recording voice-overs for Meow Mix, Pepsi, Fritos and Cheerios. He used his earnings over the next six years to subsidize attendance at Walden High School in Manhattan and U-M.

“Michael invigorates everyone around him. He sets a stage for like-minded people to congregate and plug in a little motivation,” said Del Reddy, co-owner of Immortal Investments, a publishing company in Wayne.

Jeffries invests two or three days a week in leading free 60-minute seminars around Metro Detroit and Toledo on business building techniques. He offers Yes! Network discounts to corporations buying multiple memberships. With the strength of pre-paid sales he obtains discount rates on world class speakers such as Shawna Schuh, Les Brown, Brian Tracy and Bob Prichard, taking a cut on all books, CDs and DVDs sold at the seminars.

On seminar days he hires video production crews, registration aids and greeters. He edits the DVDs himself and organizes the material by self-help category and speaker name. The products have sold in 33 countries, including sales on Amazon.com and MindPerk.com. He expects to boost business to 4,000 DVD sales a month and add additional staff.

Maureen McDonald is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

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