Zija Awards Brandon Hayes Entrepreneur Of The Year

Brandon Hayes, Zija International


Zija International continues to attract promising and talented Distributors as the company experiences steady growth worldwide. In recent years Brandon Hayes joined the successful network marketing company and grew his team to a substantial success.

Hayes had previously worked with other direct sales companies but was drawn to Zija International for its impressive corporate leaders, effective products, and rewarding financial opportunity. He received Zija International’s coveted “Entrepreneur of the Year” award onstage at Zija Summit 2015 thanks to his excitement, success, and team-building acumen. Watch him accept the prestigious award here and read about his Zija journey, in his own words, below:

God truly has blessed me and guided my steps over the last 10 years. I first got involved with network marketing at age 18 with a huge multi-billion dollar company that was well established, debt-free, and had great leadership—but was over 50 years old. Timing wasn’t great for me. I made a little money, but wasn’t a major success story in that company. BUT, here is what that experience did for me: it opened my eyes.

I saw a world of opportunity that I never previously knew existed. I saw people who made a lot of money, but that’s not what really impressed me. I was attracted to the fact that, not only did they make a lot of money, but also they had time freedom. They were married to their spouse and not their boss. They spent all day with their kids instead of in a cubicle or at a job site. I had met plenty of other people who had a nice income, but I had never before been exposed to the fact that you could have both financial freedom AND time freedom and that, my friends, is called LIFESTYLE. I wanted to be an active participant in life and an active member of my own family, not just a provider.

I ended up leaving that company for personal reasons and didn’t have a lot of success. But, I had fallen in love with the profession of network marketing and I knew that it would be the vehicle to help me achieve my desired lifestyle and earn my freedom. At age 18, while I was still at that first company, I actually wrote a resignation letter to whomever my future employer would be when I would make the decision to walk away from Corporate America for good and ‘retire’ from my job.

I dated that resignation for four years later. Well, four years passed and at the age of 22 I wasn’t in a position to walk away from the ‘rat race.’ I wasn’t even close! What would most people have done? Given up on their dream and worked a job the rest of their life! What they don’t realize is that your dream will be tested. It always is. Life will determine whether you really have a dream or just a wish. I had a dream and nothing would keep me from it. I decided to make some adjustments and course correct. I simply set another goal. I wrote that resignation letter a second time.

This time I put a little more pressure on myself and decided to give myself only 2 years to find a way out of the corporate world. Here’s the kicker: I wasn’t even involved with a network marketing company at that time! I hadn’t yet found the vehicle that would provide me with my freedom. But what I did have was BELIEF and DESIRE. I said to myself: ‘At the age of 24, I’ll own my life. I’ll never have to answer to a boss. I’ll be free. My family will have the lifestyle they deserve.’ I kept this in front of me at all times and reminded myself DAILY.

Over the next few years I began to develop a criteria for what I thought would make a ‘legacy’ company inside of network marketing. I pulled from my experiences and also began to do research. I kept my eyes open for the right opportunity, but I wasn’t willing to simply jump on any ‘fly-by-night’ or ‘flash-in-the-pan.’ You know, the ones that are ‘here today and gone tomorrow.’ No matter who pitched me their opportunity or how much hype, I used my criteria to match it up against the company they were presenting. If it didn’t match up, I didn’t join. I was looking for a HOME not a HOTEL.

Though I loved network marketing, I wasn’t willing to spend my entire career hopping around from company to company. There is nothing wrong with that I guess, but it just seemed like another job to me, starting over all the time. I was looking for THE company that I truly thought had the potential to stand the test of time because it had a solid foundation. I was looking for somewhere I could plant my flag for good, really dig my heels in and put in some consistent, focused effort for a few years to build a residual income for my family that would provide them with the lifestyle they deserved.

That leads me to how I found Zija. It was in 2009. I was 23 years old. I had paid a price for my patience. I was BROKE! Can you imagine? It was like being unplugged from the Matrix, but choosing to remain inside it. I knew that network marketing was out there for me. I knew that freedom was possible. But, I was patiently waiting, looking diligently for the right opportunity. I found myself working three jobs, burning the candle at both ends and living paycheck to paycheck.

My primary job was in the restaurant industry. I was the general manager of a small fine dining restaurant in Kentucky. One night in 2009, at that restaurant, I met a young guy named Kevin Brassell. He and his wife were on a date. After their dinner we had a short conversation where he gave me one of the typical network marketing curiosity piquing questions; something like: ‘Hey man, you seem pretty sharp. Do you keep your income options open?’ My response threw him off a little, I think. I said something like: ‘Yeah absolutely. It’s network marketing, right? Which company are you working with?

He looked like a deer in headlights, but I assured him I LOVED network marketing and in fact, I had been actively seeking out the right company for a few years. He passed me the info and the company, of course, was Zija International.  I spent the next couple of days doing some research on the Founder, the executive team, the products, the financial stability, the compensation plan. etc.

For the first time, after years of evaluating companies, I felt like I had found the one! Then Kevin introduced me to his Upline leader. I wanted to make sure that his group had a simple system and support team in place. The guy he introduced me to was a young teacher and coach from a small town in Kentucky named Chris Estes. At the time, Chris had doubled his primary teaching income working Zija part-time and he had retired his wife to stay home with their little baby girl.

After taking a deep look at Zija, meeting some of the leadership and then seeing that a system and support were in place, I got started. Now, those two guys, Kevin and Chris, are both top 10 Zija reps globally (Chris is #2 worldwide and #1 In the U.S.) and now two of my best friends. We’ve been able to travel the world together helping people. Both of them, along with about 75% of the other top income earners in Zija, are first-time network marketers, meaning this is their first network marketing company (that’s a clue).

So what made me jump on board with Zija after all that time and patiently waiting? Why did I decide, after meeting a complete stranger, that this was the vehicle that would lead me to the freedom I had been exposed to at age 18? Well, here are a few answers to that question. They say that ‘success leaves clues’ so I like to call them clues:

  1. Ken Brailsford. Ken, Zija’s Founder, is the primary reason why I joined this company. There are no guarantees in life and there are definitely no guarantees in business. But when I saw Ken Brailsford, I saw the chance to partner with someone who was as close to a guarantee that I’d probably ever see in my lifetime. The writing was on the wall. It was obvious and apparent for me very quickly. He has integrity. He has character. He is a man of faith. He is a family man. He does things for the right reasons. He loves people. All of his values lined up with the ones I hold dear. But, that wasn’t enough for me to partner with him. When it comes to business, he is equally impressive. Ken has a track record of success in the industry that is unmatched—it is unprecedented. This is not his first rodeo. He is no rookie. This is not some young guy that decided to try his luck, roll the dice and start a company. He has already done this twice before and BOTH of his companies STILL EXIST and grow to this day. I knew that attaching myself to the right person/people was key. I understood that in order to WIN I needed to attach myself to WINNERS. What does Ken Brailsford do when it comes to business, specifically network marketing? He WINS. Whether you’re the best or worst player on the championship winning team, you still get a championship ring and you still get a win. I knew I wasn’t the best at everything, but I still like to win!


  1. Financial Stability. Because of Ken and his financial status, the company has been debt-free since day one. It is fully integrated; meaning Zija owns everything top-to-bottom, including the pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing facility. This is BIG. Some companies spend their early years battling debt. Zija was never in this predicament. Zija has been grown organically, making the correct financial moves along the way in terms of acquisitions and decisions for growth.


  1. Moringa. When I got started, Zija only offered one product division, Zija Core Nutritionals. These are all Moringa-based products and that was enough for me to get excited about from a product standpoint. I saw all the validation on Moringa oleifera that I needed to know that I wanted everyone that I care about to consume it and it was something the world needed to know about. It is a category creator and Zija was first to market it on a global scale. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense botanicals on the planet (in Kentucky we call that a ’no-brainer’). We began as the Moringa Company, and now Zija has even more Moringa-based products inside of the Zija Core Nutritionals Division as well as two other divisions: Améo Essential Oils and Ripstix Fitness Supplements. The opportunity is now even more robust than when I started. There is a wider net to cast because of these two new divisions. This forming of three separate divisions is a very strategic move. I’ve studied many of the other billion-dollar brands out there and I truly believe it will be the catalyst to take us a to a billion-dollar GIANT in the coming years.


  1. Executive Team. The team at Zija Corporate has over 150 years of combined experience. As if looking at Mr. Brailsford’s track record weren’t enough (it was enough for me), take a look at the other members of the management team. Zija’s President and CEO, Rod Larsen, knows what its like to help take a company at the stage that Zija is at now and move it towards a billion-dollar brand. Why? Because he’s done it! These are not rookies. These are not people who, out of the blue one day, decided to start a network marketing company without a good reason.


  1. Joshua Plant, Ph.D. Dr. Plant is Zija’s Vice President of Research and Development. He graduated first in his class (not second, not third, but FIRST) from a school you’ve probably heard of—Harvard Medical School. He did it in record time. Our products are based on science, not fiction. This is not some voodoo or magic. It’s not snake oil or jungle juice. Our products deliver real, measurable results based on real, empirical science. Evidence of this can be seen in the thousands of product testimonials worldwide in my organization alone or in the staggering re-order rate of the product. The fact that Dr. Plant came to Zija on his own, through no coercion on the part of Zija is a major clue in and of itself.


  1. Compensation Plan. Zija’s compensation plan is the most aggressive out there, in my opinion. At least, as aggressive as possible while still sustaining long-term growth and rewarding the correct activities. It pays for front-end activities, middle/in-between activities, and long-term/backend activities. It incentivizes the three most important actions: enrolling new people, Rank advancement, and leadership, all while encouraging teamwork. Many companies have what seems like a great compensation plan, but it is not built with longevity in mind. Unfortunately, many companies financially implode on themselves due to lack of foresight.

These are only six of the top reasons I am partnered with Zija. The deeper you look at Zija, the better Zija looks. My decision has NEVER waivered. It gets better each year. I’ve never questioned whether I made the right move. Our team has grown steadily from day one. Not major peaks and valleys—just steady growth over the last several years. I’ve never had to question whether the leadership was doing things for the right reasons. I ‘ve never had to question whether the integrity of the product was intact. I’ve never once worried if my paycheck was going to make it to me on time.

I’ve never worried that I would wake up one day and the rug would be ripped out from underneath my team. I’ve never had to worry about my reputation. This is why I was willing to wait. This is why I was patient. This is why I wouldn’t just join any company that was pitched to me, no matter how many people told about the “ground floor” deal they had. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. We are now poised and ready for momentum. The cement on this solid foundation has dried. We are attracting leadership with all different types of backgrounds because they can see what is on the horizon with Zija International.

Many people do claim just that and are just as passionate as I am. And I guess one could argue that in cases like this, it can be somewhat subjective. But, these are not mere babblings from arrogant ignorance. These are deep convictions stemming from irrefutable logic. Regardless of one’s opinion, facts are facts and documentation beats conversation. I can boldly, unapologetically ask anyone to join me on this journey with Zija, because I know the end of the story. And the end of the story is: WE WIN. PERIOD. Every single time. This is not ‘maybe.’ This is not ‘we’ll see.’ This is intentional. This is calculated. This is on purpose.

I have found the place to plant my flag. My heels are dug in. My family has the lifestyle they deserve. We’re now going out and fighting for the freedom of others. We’ve been able to help multiple people create a full-time income inside of our team to walk away from the corporate world themselves and WIN for their family. We will continue churning out top earners each year like clockwork because of the solid foundation and infrastructure we have. We are time, health, and financial freedom fighters! The flag that we fight under is ‘Zija Nation’ and our battle cry is ‘Life Unlimited.’

Life Unlimited for me is Freedom. I live in one of the freest countries on the planet, politically speaking, but most people in my country never get to experience true freedom in their lives. Most are in bondage to and at the mercy of a job, money, poor health or all three. Make no mistake: there is NO TRUE FREEDOM without TIME FREEDOM, FINANCIAL FREEDOM and HEALTH FREEDOM.

Oh, and by the way, remember that second resignation letter I wrote at age 22 before I joined Zija? Well…it happened! At age 24, I walked away from Corporate America just like I had written down. At the time I wrote it, I had no idea how it would happen. But I had an undying belief that it would happen and the relentless desire to go out and make it happen. Zija came around just in time and it did happen. I wish for everyone reading this nothing less than massive success and prosperity in all areas of your life. God bless you all!’

About Zija International

Zija International, a privately held and privately funded business founded by Kenneth E. Brailsford and run by Rodney Larsen, develops natural health, wellness, nutrition and fitness products. The company operates in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Zija has seen consistent growth every year since it was founded over 9 years ago and was recently named the “Fastest-Growing Company in Utah” by Utah Business Magazine. It has also been recognized on fastest-growing and top-revenue lists by Inc. MagazineDirect Selling News, and Utah Valley Magazine, to name a few.

With corporate offices located in Lehi and more than 4 million sq. ft. of state-of-the-art warehouse, shipping and manufacturing facilities located in Utah, United States, Zija International employs more than 200 individuals and has the capacity to grow to more than two billion dollars in annual sales.







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