During the Corona virus I decided to provide free 20 minute phone consultations for any past or present member of the MLM Training Club.

During one of my consultations with a Shaklee Supervisor I learned that Jim Burke, the man I credit for mentoring me in network marketing had passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Today, I wanted to take a minute and pay tribute to Jim Burke.

Here is his obituary I found online:

RAPID CITY- James E. Burke, 83, passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at home with his wife and family by his side after a two year courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Jim was born on August 26, 1936 in Aberdeen, SD to Andy and Irene Burke.  He and his family moved to Pierre, SD where he attended school, graduating from high school in 1954.  From there he moved to Aberdeen and attended Northern State College graduating with a master’s degree in Chemistry.

On June 6, 1958, Jim married Loa Hall in Pierre, SD.  They had four children.  In 1961, they moved to Rapid City, where Jim worked for the State Health Department for one year.  After that, he started his career at the Clinical Laboratories as a medical technician.  Early in his career, he spent one year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where he studied histology and cytology.  He then continued at the Clinical Laboratories in cancer research.  In 1971, his marriage with Loa ended.  At that time, he got involved with a nutrition company known as Shaklee. 

In May of 1975 he married Mary Jo Skulborstad, the “Sunshine of my life” (his words).  They went on to build one of the largest organizations in Shaklee.  Jim will be remembered for being very motivational and inspirational to so many people around the nation.  The owner of the company said, “he was always ahead of the curve.”  Jim traveled all over the world with his company and got to take his whole family with him to many places.

In 1980, Jim discovered a new passion, golf.  He attacked the game with vigor and became successful at it, making four holes-in-one!  He enjoyed duck and goose hunting with his family.   

He and Mary Jo wintered in Arizona for the past 30 years and enjoyed their time golfing together.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Jerry Burke.

Jim is survived by his wife of 45 years, Mary Jo; his children: Tim (Gretchen) Burke, Tammy (Dan) Kveene, Todd Burke, Tori (Kevin) Eickelman; his stepdaughters: Janet (John) Herman, Jamie (Bob) Overgaard, Lori Faessler; 11 grandchildren: Kara Kveene, Tyler (Bre) Kveene, Rachelle (Braden) Williams, Elizabeth (Alex) Westhoff, Logan Burke, Landin Burke, Lauren Jo Faessler, Sydney Faessler, Jordan (Jake) Lutonsky, Jessica Sloan, Taylor Pesicka; 10 great grandchildren and his brother, Dave Burke.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.


I don’t know if I would have ever made it in network marketing if not for Jim Burke. Those of you that have heard my story, some of this will be a rehash and I apologize.

I joined Shaklee when I was twenty years old. I was actively looking for a business, I could start on the side. At the time I had responded to dozens of ads from opportunity magazines I had bought on the newsstand. Anyone remember these? I had shared with a good friend of mine what I was doing, and that I was going to find a business I could start.

At the time I was working at IBM in Lexington, Kentucky on the assembly line putting the keyboards at motor on the Correcting Selectric typewritter.

I also was staying busy working my part-time gig as a semi-professional magician. I loved magic, and stayed busy performing for parties in the race horse industry, corporate events, kids birthday parties and more.

My goal was to find a part-time business to supplement my magic income, leave IBM and not have to live my life building someone elses’s dream. I was in pain spending 8 hours a day around people I didn’t care to be around. I had spent a couple of years in that corporate environment. That was enough time to know that I would go crazy if I stayed there. I had to get out, I had to have a business of my own.

Early in my magician days, I am the kid in the white coat.

Several years later as a twenty year old semi-professional magician.

Today, I promote magic as a hobby to everyone I can, every way I can. I believe it the best hobby a young person can have. Better than piano lessons, Karate lessons, or any non-team sports activity. (Team Sports have there own benefits)

Magic is never about what people see, it is about what they think they are seeing. It taught me that people see things as THEY ARE INDIVIDUALLY, but not always as they really are. I believe magic as a hobby develops an unusual EQ emotional intelligence that will serve your children or grandchildren well throughout their life. I have used many Magic metaphors in my live training’s, podcasts and webinars.

So if you have a child or grandchild looking for a hobby, my suggestion is magic for the reasons I wrote about here.

Back to my story. About a week or so after my conversation with my friend, he is knocking on my window at 3:00 in the morning. He was returning home from and event he had attended with a girlfriend in Dayton, Ohio.

He gave me an audio called Baker – Burke On one side of the audio was a guy named JK Baker he was more country talking than me and from Jackson, Tennessee. On the other side was some guy from Rapid City, South Dakota that used to be a research scientist named Jim Burke.

To make a long story short, I listened to the audio, and it took me two weeks, and multiple phone calls for my friend to finally let me know where I could find a meeting to get my questions answered. (That is a clue, I had to run him down) You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person, and you you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person. Recruiting is about FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE, AT THE RIGHT TIME IN …….THEIR LIFE.

To shorten the story, I joined Shaklee and my friend quit two weeks after I joined. When he quit he gave me the packages he received from the Dayton, Ohio meeting he had attended on the night he first stopped by my home with the Baker Burke tape. In the packages was an order form where you could order cassettes from other Shaklee events.

So I ordered 10 my first week. Over the next few months, I lauched my business going as hard at it as a I could handing out those tapes to everyone I knew.
At the end of my first 90 days we had a growing business, and had invested in over 400 tapes from different events around the country listening to every leader I could, trying to figure out how to systematically build a team.

Then with one order of tapes they sent me a new tape list, and I started ordering from that list, I noticed a tape by Jim Burke, and ordered it. It was called When Do You Make Money in Shaklee. During this presentation he said:

“Your long term income in this business model is based upon the number of leaders you develop on your team. We are in leadership development business.”

I ordered a few more Jim Burke cassettes and the more I listened the more he made sense. He treated his business like a business and he understand it was not just about sponsoring people it was about finding the people that have big dreams, see the big pictures, and wanted to maximize their upside potential.

For many years I never listened to another network marketing audio cassette from anyone accept Jim Burke. I attended multiple events and listened to hundreds of motivational audios from Art Williams, Les Brown, Zig Ziglar, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Og Mandino, and many many more MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS, but my Network Marketing Training Mentor was Jim Burke and only Jim Burke.

Since that day, I have believed and taught that if you are going to build a network marketing team stop searching for network marketing tips, tricks and nuggets, and FIND ONE MENTOR. I wrote a detailed article on the subject called Network Marketing Mentor.

I worked my rear end off that first year. I scheduled 30 appoints a month, EVERY MONTH. This is back in the day when you sat around somebody’s kitchen table with a pitch book. I knew that if I scheduled 15 appointments I would complete at least 15 and if I could get in front of 15 I would sponsor at least five. I knew if I sponsored 5 new people a month I could control my financial destiny with the Shaklee business model.

Those of you reading this post who are members of the mlm training club, have probably heard “If you can get your skill sets, mindsets, and activities to the level where you sponsor 5 new members a month you can control your own financial destiny” many times. Now you know the behind the scenes story to that philosophy, and it is as still as true today as it ever has been.

At the end of the year we had not only qualified for the Shaklee new supervisor convention in San Francisco, California, we found it we were going to be recognized as on of the Top 5 New Supervisors in the company for the volume of business we did.

At this event they bring in one of the Top Dogs, one of the National Marketing Directors, the top position in the company to speak at this event. The speaker for our event …………….. Jim Burke.

It gives me chills writing this. My mentor, the guy that I had listened to for eight hours a day on my job with a Sony Walkman was going to be the special guest speaker at our event. That was the first time I ever met Jim Burke, and I couldn’t tell you what I said.

The second time was about two month later when he and another National Marketing director, Gary Burke (no relation) where doing weekend events called The University of Success. I flew by myself to Minneapolis, MN to attend this event, I knew I had to be there.

He recognized me from the new Supervisors Convention, not just because we were one of the Top 5 award winners but also because frankly I was one of the youngest people at the convention. When my wife and I walked around the event, they thought we were brother and sister and there with our parents.

Those where the only two times in my life I met Jim Burke. I was around him a total of 5 minutes both times. Many years later, after I had made millions of dollars in the industry and built a team of over 60,000 people he tried to call my office once after seeing our infomercial playing in Rapid City, SD.

We played phone tag a few times, and finally I just wrote him a letter, thanking him for the positive impact his leadership development philosophy had made on my life and my business.

Here is the thing. I know his top leaders on his Shaklee team, and I KNOW THAT I LEARNED MORE FROM JIM BURKE THAN ANY OF THEM DID. The guy was a genius, as his obituary said, he was always ahead of the curve. His teachings and philosophies were deep and way ahead of the industry, and they never caught, up and maybe never will.

It is sad to me to know he is gone. I hope he will remember the letter I sent him, I hope it meant something to him. I hope when he saw the infomercial when it played in Rapid City he knew that none of my success would have ever happened without my Shaklee mentor, Jim Burke.

Rest in Peace Mr. Burke

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