When the Rossers become millionaires they plan to give a lot of money to the church. Lately they've had to cut back their donations to the McLean Bible Church, and one of the joys of being rich will be to reinstate, even multiply, what they were giving before they hit this present dry patch.

"The tremendous wealth we anticipate, we don't want to lavish it on ourselves," says Tom Rosser. "We'll have a couple of houses, but they won't be mansions. We don't want to drive Rolls-Royces."

Lori Rosser agrees. "We'll move up a little, but we don't want to blow it on things."

What the Springfield couple would like most is the freedom to raise kids outside the two-career blur that is the lot of most middle-class parents in the Washington suburbs. They want six children, to be exact.

All this will be possible, they believe, through Nu Skin International Inc., a controversial network marketing company based in Provo, Utah, that has recently touched off a maelstrom of unflattering publicity. A sort of new age Amway, it is cannily pitched to make baby boomers both its consumers and its sales force.

There are at least 100,000 active Nu Skin distributors working nationwide, selling, in addition to Nu Skin's line of 60-odd cosmetic, hair care and nutrition products, an evangelical philosophy of enterprise that mixes personal growth with the power of positive thinking. Nu Skin is a "multilevel marketing" firm, in the lingo of direct sales, operating on the simple principle of multiplication: Independent distributors in turn recruit other distributors, and so on down the line, with the earliest distributors earning cuts of the company's profit on sales by their "downlines" -- the people they recruited.

Founded seven years ago by a Brigham Young University graduate named Blake M. Roney, Nu Skin seems on the verge of joining the handful of network marketing firms -- the likes of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway, Shaklee, Herbalife and insurance giant A.L. Williams -- that have survived start-up to become established features of the American landscape. Last year Nu Skin's sales rose to $230 million, up from $40 million the year before. And earlier this year, its mainstream respectability was fully certified by the two men who agreed to officiate at Nu Skin's annual convention: America's favorite comedian, Bill Cosby, and America's favorite former president, Ronald Reagan.

But for a company doing so well, Nu Skin is generating a lot of bad publicity. The company is under investigation by attorneys general in at least six states and reportedly is the subject of scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission. Frank Kelley, attorney general of Michigan, has ordered the company to change the way it does business in that state or face prosecution, saying, "The Nu Skin operation in the state of Michigan is an illegal pyramid franchise."

He's talking about a scheme almost as old as flimflam in America -- a kind of grown-up chain letter, in which the first participants profit by selling the scheme to others, with the promise of great wealth if each buyer can sell the scheme to still others. Under most state laws, a pyramid scheme is defined as a business primarily concerned with selling distributorships rather than products. The victims are would-be distributors who eventually find themselves stuck in a saturated market.

In the past week, Nu Skin has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a print and television advertising campaign to answer negative reports by "Nightline," USA Today, Newsweek and others. The company strenuously asserts its compliance with the law, and points out that many of the other pioneers in network marketing -- Amway, for example -- attracted and then satisfied similar legal scrutiny.

But whether or not the legal inquiries come to anything, the company's rise is a classic chapter in the romance of American capitalism. It is a brilliant seduction, all sober paeans to the work ethic on the surface, and, on a more subtle level, a siren appeal to distributors' dreams and fears.

"Nu Skin International Incorporated provides you a tremendous opportunity to achieve personal financial security," says actor Bill Bixby on Nu Skin's basic promotional video. The video opens with a jazzy montage illustrating "financial security" as a succession of yachts, ski slopes, beach resorts and shopping trips. At one point a BMW drives into view, its vanity license plate -- "NUSKIN" -- filling the frame. Printed below the company name, on the piece of plastic that frames the license, are the words "I Make People Rich."

So much for the dreams. In the fear department, a recruiting video made by a group of senior distributors advises the viewer that "90 percent of people, when they reach the age of 65, are either dead or dead broke."

In fact, Nu Skin has made some of its highest-ranking distributors rich. But for every one of them, there are hundreds of Tom and Lori Rossers, who personify the needs that Nu Skin addresses -- and the reality behind the company's alluring invitation.

The Rossers are "Lapis Executives" on Nu Skin's hierarchy of effort. When they started "working the business" full time in January of this year, they wrote down a set of goals: By December, they would be Diamond Executives, earning joint income of $37,500 a month.

Today, that figure is closer to representing their likely earnings for the entire year. Nu Skin, the "vehicle" that was supposed to bring them a new control over their destinies, has so far sliced their probable annual income by nearly two-thirds.

'Opportunity of a Lifetime' If sincerity is the best sales tool, it is hard to imagine a couple more persuasive than the Rossers. Tom, who is 35, has an open face and a shy enthusiasm. Lori, 28, is a more composed but still sunny presence. As Tom paces around the room explaining their new life, Lori sits on the sofa joggling Baby No. 1, 12-week-old Tyler, on her knee.

They entertain in an immaculate living room, decorated in shades of teal and ivory and brightened with silk flowers. The room is dominated by the collection they have arranged on the coffee table, a regiment of Nu Skin's white-and-blue jars and bottles, most displaying the company logo: a fountain, symbolizing the fountain of youth. There are more Nu Skin products in the pink-and-gray bathroom, sharing a shelf with a copy of "The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples."

"Would you like anything to drink?" asks Tom. "Some Splash, maybe?" Splash is Nu Skin's orange vitamin drink, which turns out to taste precisely like the old-fashioned Tang that you and the Apollo astronauts used to drink.

There are plentiful signs of prosperity in and around the Rossers' house, a brick split-level near Backlick Road that they bought two years ago for $199,000. The garage holds a Nissan 300 ZX and a Honda Accord. Clearly Tom and Lori are not people who had trouble gaining a piece of the American Dream; not a couple who felt locked out -- by lack of credentials or education or opportunity or aptitude -- before Nu Skin came into their lives. Until last fall, Tom says, the Rossers were making a joint annual income above $100,000, Lori as a mortgage loan officer and Tom as a partner in a local residential development firm, the Barrington Group.

But the work was a grind. Lori worked mostly on commission, and with the real estate market in a brutal slump she had to be available to jump any time a live prospect called -- which in practice meant she worked weekends, a slave to her beeper, even in church. Tom, who had been working construction and sales since before he turned 20, had the sensation of losing ground while running in place. At his company, which builds mainly condos, belt-tightening meant he had to go back into the field and supervise a lot of jobs, the way he'd done a decade ago, early in his career. He was stressed to the limit by burst pipes, unethical subcontractors, emotional owners, calls in the middle of the night.

Then, in March 1990, another loan officer introduced the Rossers to The Opportunity, as Nu Skinners always call it.

Tom says he first figured it was "some kind of scam." But then they watched the videotape pressed on them by Lori's friend and thought about the hypothetical case it offered. Suppose you sponsor five people, it said, each of whom sponsors five more, and so forth. After five levels, the tape calculated, there will be more than 4,000 distributors working under you. (Actually, if you do the math, it's 3,905.) Suppose, in a spirit of conservativism, that three-quarters of those people lose interest. If the remaining 1,000 each sell only $100 worth of product a month, that would still be $100,000 a month, of which, under the company's marketing plan, you would get 14 percent. Congratulations: You'll be earning $14,000 a month, or $168,000 a year.

And this scenario, the tape implied, is a relative cakewalk. The Rossers decided they had nothing to lose.

When Tom and Lori became distributors, paying the $35 that is Nu Skin's only initial requirement, they were part of a growing local underground. Though Nu Skin makes a point of not releasing figures about where its distributors are concentrated, the past 18 months or so have seen such exponential growth here that the Washington area supports three of Nu Skin's 70 Blue Diamond Executives, the highest rank in the distributor food chain. There are regular opportunity meetings in Tysons Corner, Bethesda and Falls Church. And several local stars have reportedly made high-profile shifts to selling Nu Skin, including Redskins wide receiver Art Monk and Todd Whitthorne, who quit his job as second-string sportscaster at WRC-TV to work at it full time.

Looking around them, the Rossers saw ample evidence that they were on to something big. They went to the Tysons Corner meeting, chaired by Anthony Antonelli, a Blue Diamond who lives in Vienna and is four generations above them in what they were learning to call their "lineage." (In other words, he makes money on everything the Rossers and their recruits sell.) They learned that Antonelli had become a Blue Diamond only 13 months after joining Nu Skin. They were shown copies of checks earned by some of the most successful Nu Skin distributors -- monthly checks, showing six figures in one case, high five figures in another.

At first the Rossers each gave Nu Skin about an hour a day. But after a while, Tom says, "we decided we were missing this thing because we couldn't spend enough time on it. So we decided Lori should quit her job."

Lori started "working the business" full time last November, and by the end of the year the Rossers had an organization of 200 people, including seven members of their families: Tom's mother and Lori's father, sister, two brothers and two uncles. Lori and Tom had sponsored between 15 and 18 people personally; the rest were people sponsored by the people Lori and Tom sponsored. This was starting to look like a snap.

So early this year they decided that Tom, too, would be a full-time Nu Skin executive. They sat down and made their plan, the one that put them at $37,500 a month by the end of 1991.

To date, the Rossers have spent about $3,000 on their business. This doesn't include the products they buy for themselves, which total more than $100 a month. But it includes samples and other sales tools (Nuskin doesn't require that distributors buy a "Business in a Box" kit for $300 and up, but strongly implies that it's a good idea if you intend to get anywhere); $1,000 in phone bills; and travel -- to Provo for Nu Skin's convention in February and to Snow Bird, Utah, for a June conference given by a distributor who markets training materials.

Tom and Lori make extensive use of these training materials, marketed by the NS Group, a partnership between two of the earliest Nu Skin distributors. They include inspirational tapes and lessons in how to improve your selling "posture," how to "move out of your comfort zone," how to avoid paying credence to "dream stealers," the inevitable naysayers who will dump on your enthusiasm. They give advice on the conduct of other areas in your life -- for example, the importance of making time every day for "Daily Planning/ Daily Exercise/ Daily Positive Reinforcement/ Daily Building of Personal Relationships."

Melding the manuals' advice with their own experience, the Rossers have refined their MO for recruiting new distributors. They work within their "circle of influence," as Nu Skin calls a distributor's friends, family, acquaintances, professional associates. If they put you on their list of prospects, this is what will happen:

First they will tell you they have encountered a fabulous opportunity they'd like to share with you. They will press into your hand a videotape or audiotape and ask you to watch or listen to it within the next 24 hours. They will ask you to commit to watching it, and will stress the importance of watching it with your spouse.

They will ask you to call once you've seen or heard the tape, and if you don't call them, they'll call you. They'll discuss it with you at some length, stressing the central concept of leveraging your time -- being paid on the efforts of others. Because they are very nice people, they will not go as far as some of the training materials advise -- they will not ask you, for example, if you're aware of the likelihood that you will live below the poverty line after you turn 65.

If you decline to take this "opportunity of a lifetime," as the company calls it, then, and only then, will they offer to sell you some of the product.

In keeping with the manuals' advice, the Rossers have drawn up a "Daily Action Plan" accounting for every hour in their day, right down to when they will consume their Appeal, another of Nu Skin's nutritional drinks. Neatly typed and placed in a three-ring binder, their schedule begins:

"7:30 Get Up

Breakfast -- Appeal

Bible Study."

The plan walks the Rossers through hours of "downline contacts" -- daily phone calls with those they've recruited, the placement of tapes with new prospects (goal: four tapes a day), three-way conversations with their recruits and prospects the recruits have in turn identified. Midmorning includes time to "review goals." The schedule does not end until late:

"11:00 Stop Work/Relax

12:00 Go to bed."

They've had to become a bit more flexible since Tyler's arrival -- Lori, at the moment, does proportionately less Nu Skin work and more infant-care work -- but this is essentially what they do six days a week.

The constant work doesn't bother them. "We know that if this works out the way we hope, we'll be like other people in Nu Skin who vacation three weeks out of every month," says Tom.

The Rossers go to the Tysons Corner Marriott every Tuesday night for Antonelli's Opportunity Meeting. This has meant giving up their Bible study group, which also meets Tuesday nights.

It is an article of faith in Nu Skin that distributors should go to at least one meeting a week to help keep their "belief level" high. After a time, Nu Skin seems reminiscent of 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous: the meetings, the occasional references in training materials to a "Higher Power," the talk of "working the business," which echoes the 12-Step injunction to "work the program."

Tom and Lori may well need all this positive reinforcement. Now, after seven months in which both have worked full time on the business, they have personally sponsored 25 people and have a total of 300 in their organization. They have almost exhausted their "circle of influence." They have recruited, among others, Tom's chiropractor, the wife of Lori's optometrist, the guy who owns the deli where Lori used to have lunch, an assistant manager at Erol's whom Lori met while picking up a movie, a former client of Lori's, several real estate salespeople Lori used to work with, the wife of Tom's best friend who lives in Tucson, several of Tom's former subcontractors and the man who sold Tom his car insurance.

But they're nowhere close to the goals they set in January. And they've discovered that the original videotape's "conservative" example contained one grim kernel of truth: Even after they persuade people to sign on to the business, three out of four drop out almost immediately.

The Look of Money "Has any of you met someone rich? Really rich?"

Several hands go up among the 80 or so people in Anthony Antonelli's audience.

Not independently wealthy, he stresses; someone who earned it, an entrepreneur. A few heads nod.

"Well, did you notice they were much better looking than you?"

Heads shake.

"Did you notice they were a lot more intelligent?"

A few people chuckle.

"Well, you know, I was surprised." Antonelli has met a fair number of rich people, he says, and it was a shock to him that they didn't have any special magic. Except, that is, for one thing: "They understand the principle of leverage."

Leverage, he explains to the flock, is what Nu Skin is all about. "It still requires work. It's not a get-rich-quick deal." But, if you follow this diagram he is drawing on the board, you will see how you can put others to work for you. He draws blobs, with offshooting blobs, and more blobs breaking away from the first blob to beget other blobs. Tapping his pen on the last blob, he says:

"We call this breakaway income, or management development income, but -- " and he smiles, a slightly overbitten but quite beatific smile that transforms him from dark-suited, reassuringly brisk exec to Regular Guy, Someone Exactly Like You: " -- I like to just call it wealth."

Antonelli is what many other people in the room are striving to become, a Blue Diamond Executive. He tells them how he built his organization of 8,000 to 10,000 people (a number that will become "over 10,000" in a later interview, and "close to 7,500" in still a later one).

He tells them that 80 percent of the people involved in Nu Skin do it just for a little extra income. "But," he tells them, "we have our share in Nu Skin, too, who make phenomenal incomes."

Because Nu Skin is a business of faith, the meetings are essentially formulated to reassure people -- both new recruits and those already involved -- that it is a solid, mainstream undertaking in which other solid, middle-class people are involved. It includes testimonials to the quality of the company's products, for which Nu Skin propounds an elaborately "scientific" pitch: Distributors rattle off the wonderful properties of avian collagen and hyaluronic acid and facial mud "poured from a Canadian estuary." Nu Skin says that because it doesn't have the high advertising and retail overhead of other high-end makers like Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder and Lancome, it can sell better products for lower prices.

Nu Skin's products range from a $9 shampoo to a $13 sunscreen to a $32 "face lift" treatment that temporarily tones the skin. Independent cosmetic chemists rate Nu Skin products as reasonably good -- though less revolutionary than claimed in brochures and sales presentations. "They appear to be competent products, but not breakthrough products," says Kenneth Klein, vice president of Cosmetech, a firm that consults for the cosmetics industry. "Then again, I haven't seen a breakthrough product in several years." The boring truth in cosmetics, scientists agree, is that given reasonably good ingredients and a reasonable degree of competence in the people combining them, the results are going to be pretty much alike.

Meetings also include quick lessons in demographic trends (think how much face cream all those aging boomers will want to buy!) and company history. Speakers emphasize the physical reality of the company -- a brand-new warehouse! A new 10-story headquarters under construction, the tallest building in Provo!

But the climax of the meeting -- the final piece, presented by Antonelli himself -- is the marketing plan, the system of compensation that will pay you on the efforts of others.

Here is how it works:

The company contracts with you as an independent distributor, offering you the chance to buy products wholesale from Nu Skin and mark them up a suggested 43 percent for retail sales to people you know. But the real appeal of the plan is that it pays to get others involved. For every distributor you "sponsor in," the company will pay you a commission of 5 to 10 percent on the wholesale value of everything that person orders -- money that comes directly from the company, which keeps track of all these sales.

But as a distributor, you can only get commissions on your "first level" -- those you recruit personally. To reach farther down the pyramid, you must become an "executive distributor." This is the beginning of a ladder ingeniously constructed to have you striving ever higher -- to recruit more people in order to qualify for more commissions on sales by others.

Once you're an executive, you can get commissions of 9 to 14 percent, reaching several levels down. But now you have another problem: The eager beavers in your organization will want to "break away" as executives themselves. And the only way you can stay eligible to earn commissions -- 5 percent -- on their recruits, and the recruits of their recruits and so on, is by continuing to recruit more executives yourself. Nu Skin executive stages are Gold, Lapis, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond and Blue Diamond. A Blue Diamond has personally recruited 12 executive distributors and therefore is entitled to draw commissions six "generations" below him- or herself. All these commissions are paid out of the company's pocket.

All along the way, at least in theory, lots of people are selling the products. This is the crucial determinant of whether Nu Skin is legal: The direct sales of product form the basic distinction, under most state laws, between a legitimate multilevel marketing plan and a pyramid scheme.

Nu Skin argues that no one is paid anything for recruiting someone: that commissions are earned only on the actual sale of products. Additionally, the company requires that its distributors maintain certain constant volumes of sales: Tom and Lori are required to buy product worth $100 wholesale every month, and together, all the distributors in the "executive group" they recruited need to account for $3,000 worth of product. Critics point out, though, that as far as the company is concerned they can stash their $100 worth of products in their basement: There is technically no requirement that anyone make retail sales. It is at least theoretically possible for individuals and groups to amass most of their volumes in buying products for themselves and selling product kits as sales tools to their new recruits.

Tom and Lori say they sell $500 to $1,000 worth of Nu Skin products every month. However, all the distributors interviewed, including the Rossers, also say they practice "retail by default": They approach people primarily as potential recruits, and only after being turned down try to sell them products. In the world of Nu Skin, it is usually someone else, down the line, who is attending to the retail side. "It's not about selling a lot," runs a frequently heard Nu Skin mantra, "it's about a lot of people selling a little."

Most of the Nu Skin representatives interviewed for this article seem genuinely to believe that they are selling to others a commodity that will do wonderful things for them. Nu Skin-as-company, Nu Skin-as-job, Nu Skin-as-product, Nu Skin-as-way-of-life; if the lines between these things are a little fluid, that is just proof of the opportunity's marvelous flexibility.

Clearly, Nu Skin profits in more than one way from this ambiguity. It prides itself on attracting lots of men, who make derogatory jokes about having shied away, at first, from being "Mary Kay Ladies." Many rationalize their participation on the basis that they are "building a business," participating in "management and training," and that they can circumvent the embarrassing necessity of talking about mascara.

Under pressure from law enforcement officials, Nu Skin has been discouraging its distributors from making specific predictions about how much money a distributor can make and has cracked down on some of the independently made recruiting videos, such as the one that hooked Tom and Lori. Still, the message goes out; one of the sanitized videos now widely in use contains phrases such as "fairy tale incomes."

"I don't mean this to be a cop-out," says company spokesman Jason Chaffetz, "but the Nu Skin literature does not say that if you work this amount of hours, you're going to earn this amount of money. ... There are some horror stories out there, honestly. But I don't think you see Nu Skin out there pushing people off buildings to do this."

The truth is that Nu Skin's fans and its critics are both correct: It is possible for a few people to make massive incomes selling Nu Skin -- and almost no one does. The company probably does sell its product -- and also invites distributors to think they will become rich by establishing a vast network of retailers to do the dirty work of ringing doorbells.

To date, no criminal charge has been filed against Nu Skin anywhere. When the dust settles, the law may find that Nu Skin -- like Amway, whose basic marketing structure has survived several legal challenges -- is on the safe side of the line distinguishing innovative distribution plan from ruthless pyramid scheme. And if both parties to a seduction are willing, it is not the law's job to find out why.

But sociologists have long been intrigued by the allure of network marketing -- especially its appeal to people like Tom and Lori Rosser, who were already making it before Nu Skin came along. They have concluded that the industry addresses an appetite at least as profound as the hunger for wealth. "You've got an organizational form that really doesn't do what it promises, but you've got millions of people trying it; it seems to me that you need an explanation," says David Bromley, a sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. "And that is the problem of work life and family life not being integrated in our society -- that is what keeps people motivated to continue trying it. ... The message {in network marketing} is: 'We're putting the family back in charge. The corporation doesn't control you.'

"Now, the drawback is that very few people succeed," he concludes. "Usually they end up working their brains out, not making it."

'What Are We Doing Wrong?' The Rossers don't want to discuss what their total earnings will be in 1991. "Close to six figures" is the most specific thing Tom ventures. But they are so helpful in explaining the company's byzantine system of rewards, and have shared so many details of their lives, that it's possible to piece together roughly what they're making. Counting everything -- their commissions on those they sponsored directly, their 9 to 14 percent override on those in their executive group, their 5 percent bonus on executive breakaway groups, their 43 percent markup on retail sales -- and then rounding everything up to the most generous possible assumption, Tom and Lori appear unlikely to top $40,000 this year.

"At the rate we're going now," Tom acknowledges, "you're close." Still, they say, this is not a fair estimate of their income.

"It isn't really fair to look at what's happening this month, as opposed to several months from now," Lori explains. Their problem right now is that they've found only three other people willing to put in enough work to be executives. And if they don't keep finding new executives, they can't keep dipping down deeper, deeper into the ranks below them. But with five months left in the year, it's possible that they could find another executive to pass the four-month recruitment and training process before December. And with two breakaway executives already, and one a month shy of breaking away, a fourth would make them Ruby Executives, and entitle them to a cut of their executives' executives' executives. And one of the Rossers' breakaways has a breakaway who's managed to recruit five breakaways, so that could be real money ...

"We have a lot of people right now who we are talking to," says Lori. "And you know, we could jump right through Ruby, to Emerald. We could be right up to Diamond. ... There's a lot of possibilities."

Not that $40,000 is a bad income -- unless you made over $100,000 last year. And unless you had laid plans to enter next year earning $37,500 a month, or $450,000 a year.

Some people -- especially level-headed people like Tom and Lori -- might be depressed at the possibility that they miscalculated their income by as much as a factor of 10. And at one time, Tom and Lori admit, they were discouraged.

"Once people started telling me no, I started reevaluating," recalls Tom. "You start believing, 'Maybe I'm being silly, maybe I'm just stupid and everyone else is smarter than I am, maybe these aren't the best products.' "

They realized recruiting was harder than they thought. Ironically, they were also being punished by the company's crackdown on the income claims and on some of the more explicit independently produced tapes. Tom and Lori were drafted with these extravagant sales tools, but can no longer use the tools to draft others.

The dream-stealers went to work on them. "People started to tell us it was a pyramid," Tom says. This was the crisis of faith. Suddenly, Lori remembers, "we just in ourselves weren't sure this was as great as it was."

"And then we went to the international convention, this past February," continues Tom, "and there were a lot of things that raised our belief levels." Blue Diamond Executives, presumptive millionaires, told tales of early discouragement that sounded just like the Rossers'. And there was so much evidence of the company's solidity: Would Ronald Reagan and Bill Cosby be involved in a pyramid scheme? "That was one thing that really persuaded me a lot," Tom remembers.

In the Rossers' situation, another couple might have looked around them, calculated the cost of their mortgage and their health insurance, worried over the imminent arrival of their baby and felt some distress -- even anger -- at their situation.

But to them, the evidence was clear: If they were falling behind, it must be their fault.

"We thought, 'What are we doing wrong?' " says Lori.

They decided that their prospects had probably sensed their lack of faith. Ever since then, they've worked on getting their belief levels up.

Tom says, "Anyone who's ever succeeded at anything knows you have to fail sometimes."

Lori says, "Success is right around the corner sometimes, and people will quit just when they're about to succeed."

Tom says, "You can't determine what someone is going to do solely by their effort and commitment. But you can say they won't succeed without it."

Lori: "If you set your goals and just go for it -- "

Tom: " -- and don't take the rejection personally -- "

Lori: " -- and just keep going, no matter what, and believe in yourself, you can do it!"

Tom and Lori Rosser, though far short of their goal right now, are already far more successful than most in Nu Skin. It's not impossible that they will meet their high goal at some point in the future -- along with their dreams of quality time with the six children they plan to have, and of vacationing three weeks out of every four. But reaching it depends on their recruiting more and ever more distributors as devoted to the business as they are; on the continuing efforts of hundreds of other people they haven't met yet.

The actual means of reaching their dream, in other words, are out of their hands.

"We thought it would be simple," says Tom, "and it's not. But anything worth having is worth working for. You can see the potential here."