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From Adversity to Achievement: Erik Prough’s Remarkable Transformation Through Gene Slade

Sailun Tires

If you’re in the mood for a story that will inspire you, no matter what you are working to overcome, this story is for you.

In a special video interview, Lead Ninja System CEO and Founder Gene Slade sat down with his student Erik Prough to talk about Prough’s journey from living in his car with his wife to owning his own home and being able to literally buy a $16k horse for his daughter.

“I’m not sleeping in my car anymore wondering if I’m going to be able to put food on my kid’s plate,” Prough shared, holding back tears. “Their future is bright, because I have money coming in. I’ve been with the same girl for a long time. We’ve been through ups and downs, but she stuck by me. I am so grateful for that.”

It’s an inspiring tale of how Prough became a success story with the help of Slade’s Lead Ninja sales techniques. We also reached out to Slade himself for added insight about the interview.


“When I met Erik, I didn’t think he would amount to anything,” Slade shared with us. “He couldn’t put two words together. He was super down in life, because he was living in his car with his wife. Now, he’s the most popular guy at the mansion*. Everyone who attends wants to learn how to be him.”

Prough started working with Slade in 2021 through Lead Ninja, a program Slade created to help people in HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work earn more money in less time. Prough was failing at this, and he realized that getting to know Slade better would make a difference.

“I knew Gene could help my future,” Prough said in the video. “I reached out to him and told him, ‘Hey, this is what I got, this is what I’ve been doing.’ I told him my monthly revenue for that month and he’s like, ‘Hey, I wanna help you out more.’”

And help, Slade did.

*Prough signed up for the Lead Ninja Mansion Event, a tough three-day training at the Grandhalla Mansion in Orlando, Florida. From there, he went on to do the continuing education program, Lead Ninja Mastermind, which can be purchased online. But, anyone who goes to a mansion event or has Slade come to their business for an on-site training gets a special 40% off discount.

Before joining Lead Ninja, Prough made about $500 a week, sometimes less. Using Slade’s techniques, he bumped that number up to $100k in his first year. Next, Prough chose to spend his own money — because his boss wouldn’t sponsor him — to go to the August 2023 Lead Ninja mansion event. His boss even told him to ‘slow down’ after the mansion because Prough was selling too much.

But Prough didn’t slow down, reaching an amazing $2.7 million in total sales in 2023, which is double what he sold the year before.

“I would say my biggest factors in doubling my revenue from 2022 into 2023 would be taking action; not just ‘being on the stands,’” Prough said. “I’m an introvert. I kinda keep to myself, let things go as they are — just let it be. But I said to myself, ‘You have to take action instead of going out and running around with your buddies all night and drinking and not remembering what you’re doing the next day.’ I decided to put my mind to something that would enhance my brain and communication skills to a point where I can help customers, and then help myself, and help my family. I have a 10-year-old and I’m definitely helping her out more, so that’s number one.”

Slade elaborated in our later discussion, saying, “Not being on the stands is like getting on the court to actually play. The players of the game make the money, right? The ones in the stands are paying to watch. That’s an analogy we use all the time.”

Prough learned to try new things even if it was a bit scary or different for him. He learned a lot of useful skills, but what really made a difference was being around people who were investing in themselves just like he was, to be the best in their field. These people were ready to work hard and improve themselves, and they really inspired Prough to work hard like them.

Today, life looks so different for Prough. He started to see himself and what he could do in a new way. With Slade’s help, he knows how important it is to take action, talk to customers, and grab chances.

“You’re surrounded by people that want to do great and want you to do great. It’s hard to explain,” Prough said. “When you come to the mansion, words can’t really describe your experience. It’s more of an actual transformation: When you look in the mirror and brush your teeth at the mansion, you see a different person than when you saw yourself in the mirror at home. You’re confident, you’re energetic — just, ‘everything.’ Everything it gets so intense and it’s just like, ‘Wow, this is where I need to be.’” [edited for clarity]

Slade elaborated later, saying, “He is definitely an introvert until you put 6 guys around him and tell them he’s the best thing since sliced bread and that he can help them. You should’ve seen him at the last mansion event he attended, guys just swarmed him.”

Grab the Tissues

Remember the woman from the beginning? She stuck by him through it all. When he had nothing, she was still by his side. “She sees these deposits coming in, and she’s like, ‘Eric, we don’t have to worry anymore,’” Prough said. “That’s all I care about. That’s why I wake up. So, just keep going everybody. It worked out for me, and I hope it works out for you, too. I love you, Gene, I really do.”

Slade shared more with us, stating, “Erik’s daughter always wanted a horse. He could have bought her any horse, $1k horse, $2k horse. Well, his daughter really liked this one horse, and Erik asked the guy, ‘How much is it?’ And the guy said, ‘Mr. Prough, that’s probably a little outside the budget,’ and he goes, ‘How much is it?’The guy says, ‘$16k plus $600 per month to board and feed it.’ Erik said, ‘Who do I make the check to?’ His house is paid off. Cars are paid off. Money in the bank. So he says, I’m gonna buy my daughter the horse she wants. It’s incredible.”

Prough got a promotion recently and he’s really hoping to earn $500,000 in the year 2024.

Looking Ahead

When asked if Prough had any advice for listeners, he said, “Just don’t give up. Life’s full of challenges and ups and downs. People smack you in the face and it’s up to you if you wanna get up or not. Growing up, I didn’t do too well in high school. There were a lot of times I would just sit in the car or sleep in my car. I had a kid when I was 16, so that was a hit in the face. I didn’t know what to do at the time. So, I would say to anyone struggling, just keep going. There were times where I would just sit there, hating myself. I brought a kid into this world and here I was sleeping in a car. I couldn’t provide for my child or my girlfriend. I was trying my best, but I couldn’t.”

Prough tells his story to give others hope and inspire them to never give up. His complete turnaround proves that everyone has the ability to face tough times, do well in their job, and find happiness.

To close out the video call, Slade had these beautiful words to say to Prough: “I got your back, and I got your front man. I promise. Thank you for sharing that with me man, I’m so proud of you. And, you deserve it. You really do… all the success that you’re having, and all the success that you get in the future. I truly believe you’re going to be a multimillionaire. You don’t realize it, but you just helped somebody else. Thank you for that.”

To those who are struggling, keep Erik Prough’s words in mind: Just keep going. If you are grinding it out in the HVAC, plumbing, or electrical industry, we highly recommend checking out Lead Ninja System to experience Gene Slade’s caring and transformative mentorship for yourself: 

The Lead Ninja Mastermind is Slade’s online training, which is twice per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 AM ET, on Zoom.

Erik Prough still attends weekly mastermind sessions, and is now a trainer at the mansion events, working to get others to where he is today.

About Gene Slade

Gene Slade, CEO of Lead Ninja System, is a pioneering force in the realm of sales training and business development. With a steadfast commitment to empowering professionals in the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical trades, Gene offers transformative coaching experiences that revolutionize the way business owners approach sales and growth through personalized guidance, community support, and access to exclusive resources. For more information, please visit


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