Decades and millions of dollars later, the former Danville resident feels he has done something great with his life and now he's sharing his story with others in a new autobiography, "Something Good's Gonna Happen!"
The books recounts Orberson's journey through the direct selling/network marketing industry, how he started out making less money than he had as a teacher for Boyle County to eventually making more than $1 million a month, retiring at age 39 and then later opening his own company, Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing.
Orberson did not start out with aspirations of becoming a millionaire.
A Danville native, Orberson received his bachelor's degree from Western Kentucky University and his master's from Eastern Kentucky University. He taught for several years - first in Bowling Green and later at Casey County High School, Kentucky School for the Deaf and Boyle County High School - and he also was a basketball and baseball coach.
"I thought I was going to be a school teacher, retire after 27 years and find something else to do," Orberson said.
His life turned out a lot different than he'd planned.
'I really didn't expect to make any money'
While at Boyle County, Orberson was asked by Assistant Superintendent Bob Gorley to attend a meeting of Excel Telecommunications, a long distance, wireless and data services provider.
"I really didn't expect to make any money," Orberson said. "I went there because Bob Gorley asked me to."
Orberson decided to give Excel a shot and became a part-time agent for the company.
"I was tired of being broke all the time," he said. "Money is not the most important thing in my life, but lack of it sure wasn't doing me any good.
"I loved coaching and I liked teaching. I just could never see myself being financially comfortable."
He didn't start off making millions.
"The first two years I starved to death," said Orberson, adding in the beginning he was only bringing home about half of what he'd made as a teacher.
Despite the initial financial hardships, Orberson didn't give up.
"When it gets a little tough, most of us tuck our tail and run."
Orberson wasn't ready to run, though, and finally his dedication started paying off.
"The people who are the most successful are those who grab on to something like a bulldog and don't let go until we get what we came for," he said.
Coming out of retirement
After retiring, he moved to south Florida in 1996, but decided after about four and a half years he was ready to re-enter the business world.
Along with Tommy Mills, former superintendent of Boyle County schools, Orberson opened Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, which operates out of Lexington.
Orberson said the business has grown kind of like his career had before, and today there are more than 85,000 representatives across the U.S. and Canada.
"I get to live my life through them," Orberson said of his new role as a mentor. "And I get a big grin."
Orberson said there is a misconception that only those with business degrees can work in the business arena.
All types of people can be successful, even school teachers, he said.
"There are dozens (of companies) that were started by school teachers," he added.
Coaching experience helped
Orberson said his experience as a coach helped him when he entered the direct selling/network marketing industry.
"Coaches (are) competitive. You're used to losing every once and awhile. You've got to stay motivated," he said.
In the business world, "nobody cares who's ahead at half time, at the first quarter. Once you make up your mind, finish it."
That's the message he hopes comes across in his autobiography, written by authors David Mills of Richmond and Randy Mills of Frankfort.
"Most of us are great starters; most of us are not great finishers," he said, adding it's not about getting lucky.
"Anybody of average ability can do whatever you make up your mind to do," he said. "Luck ain't part of it."
Orberson is quick to acknowledge, however, that he did not succeed all by himself.
"I'm not an island," he said. "I've had so much help. People encouraging me from Danville and other cities.
"I would thank everyone in Danville, Ky., that had anything to do with my life."
That would include Wanda Medaris, who saw something special in a young boy long before he was able to prove her intuition correct.
* * *
How it works
Representatives in the direct selling/network marketing industry serve as advocates for certain products or services the marketing company they are contracted with represents. Their income is based on the amount of products and services they sell directly to the customer, who often finds dealing with an individual salesperson rather than with a large company more appealing.
Some of the products and services represented by Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing include: Dish Network; Travel FHTM; Fortune Wireless featuring AT&T, Sprint and Nextel; GE; True Essentials; and Lamas Beauty.
For more information on Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, visit www.fhtm.net.
* * *
If you go:
Paul Orberson will sign copies of his recently published biography, "Something Good's Gonna Happen," 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Abby's Bookstore in Danville Manor Shopping Center.