Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MLM Herd/Group/Mob Mentality

There are many different terms used to describe people following the pack, and in this particular blog post I will refer to this as Herd Mentality. People tend to follow the herd, because we are programmed to be non confrontational (for the most part). According to psych central, in larger groups as little as 5% of the group can sway the other 95% to follow their lead (http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/02/15/herd-mentality-explained/1922.html). This is important, because it doesn't take many people to bring change, but it is extremely important to have numbers or people may not listen to what you have to say. The herd mentality is extremely powerful, as it can make people compromise their values, lose the ability to critically think, or worst of all, become violent.

Herd Mentality as defined by Wikipedia: Herd mentality, or mob mentality, describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors. Examples of the herd mentality include stock market trends, superstition and home d├ęcor. Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligencecrowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_mentality)

Have you ever been hanging out with a group of friends and picked on someone because everyone else was doing it? You know it is wrong to bully others, and normally you would never bully if you were by yourself, but now that you are with these other people, do you find yourself joining in? This is a completely normal response, because you don't want the herd to turn their negative attention toward you. Whether your fear of the group is rational or not, human beings are programmed to survive by avoiding confrontation and pain. Our subconscious takes over, and we begin to exhibit unusual behaviors based on our survival traits. 

Does MLM use herd mentality to their advantage??? Unquestionably yes! MLMs thrive on forming people to fit a particular image or stereotype causing extreme discomfort for people trying to rebel. This is why they teach people to look the same by dressing in their suits, act the same by never talking about or bringing up negativity, and to listen to the designated upline. It is easier to convince someone or prove legitimacy if there are more people involved and they all look and act the same way. Once a group is formed, it becomes extremely difficult for a prospect or a lower member of the MLM to challenge the instructions or information they are given, because they do not want to make the herd mad. MLM's thrive on the downline's basic programming to survive and yearning to be a member of the group. This gives the MLM and uplines much more authority and power.

This also is a reason for why people don't report abuse from MLM. MLM is big and daunting, and the group is very cohesive. If MLM chooses to bring you into their group, it is exhilarating because there are many people love bombing, recognizing, and appreciating your existence. However, that can also be reversed, and you can be the subject to extreme ridicule or worse because of the cohesiveness of the group. It is much easier, and healthier for the downline or prospect to simply walk away and never return. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

MLM Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning: The use of consequences (reinforcement or punishment) to modify behavior. This idea was first proposed by the psychologist, B.F. Skinner. He felt that most things that made us behave in certain ways were external and that we should try and look for these patterns in daily life to see what made us the way we are. (http://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/operant-conditioning/)

Operant conditioning is where we get the terms reward and punishment in behavior training. Every action we take has a positive or negative reaction, and this in turn forms our day to day decision making. We learn to make certain choices based on the result we expect to receive. An example of this is the way we are punished for committing a crime. We learn that certain actions are not acceptable in society based on the repercussions given for those actions. People learn right from wrong because they do not want to punished with jail time, fines, and labels (such as felon or sex offender). 

Operant conditioning can be very subtle such as trying to calm a child down by giving them what they want. When a child acts out in a public space, it is often easier to give them what they want, rather than to punish them. This is known as false positive reinforcement. Instead of teaching them that is incorrect to act out by taking something away, a person may give them exactly what they want because it is easier than dealing with the problem behavior. That person may not realize that this will trigger more bad behaviors down the line, because they are conditioning the child to believe this behavior is acceptable. An example of this may be a child throwing a temper tantrum at a restaurant because they want a dessert. Instead of teaching the child it is a privilege to go out to eat by not taking them out for a while, the parent may cave in and give the child a piece of candy. This is a false positive reinforcement and teaches the child it is okay to throw a temper tantrum to receive what they want.

How does operant conditioning work in MLM? It is actually a complex system that involves both rewards and punishments. MLMers have very harsh conditioning to get their downline to perform in their ideal practices. They will use love bombing and positive reinforcement constantly when the MLMer is attending functions, showing the plan, or purchasing products for their "business". This helps the MLMer to strengthen their opinions and resolve, because they are being rewarded for this behavior. Likewise, when they are caught doing something that is not approved by upline, then they will be scolded or worse, which leads them to more strongly follow the instructions of upline for fear of ridicule. This snowballs into upline expecting more and resulting in downline making harsher and more drastic life changes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Amway Partner Store CONditioning

Today is an unordinary day for the blog, because I have to explain a particular CONditioning issue with IBO's from Amway. This blog, again, is not meant to target specific MLM's as a whole, but there may be pertinent issues that need to be explained. This particular issue involves IBO's claiming Amway is legitimate BECAUSE of the partner stores. These stores include most major retailers that people shop at on a regular basis such as Apple, Target, Microsoft, Sears, and many many more. My goal is to give understanding on why these stores partnered up with Amway, and help to prevent people from being misled into thinking that this gives Amway credibility.

First of all, when running a business your objective is to provide a good or service. There are no successful businesses that only spend money buying and consuming products instead of selling products (hopefully I am stating the obvious). The Amway business is simple. You spend money to buy a membership with Amway, and then you spend money on their products at a wholesale price, that you are then supposed to sell to customers at a retail price. This is what makes an Amway IBO a distributor. You are distributing their products, and then they are paying you a percentage to sell their products.

Now for the confusing part...You can also make money based on the sales to OTHER distributors you have brought into the organization. They call this building a team, and it entails going out and recruiting new members to also sell the Amway products. You get paid on their PURCHASES of products, not on their sales, because Amway pays you a commission based on the amount of money spent with Amway. This is where the pyramid like structure develops. Your main focus now is to ensure that the downline keeps making monthly orders, because that is where your money is being made, rather than helping them to move the product to customers so that your downline is making money.

Eventually, you start to hear pitches similar to this: Instead of buying groceries from your regular store that give you nothing in return, you can buy from YOUR store and make money. They have now completely transformed the business from selling a good or service to making you a glorified residual customer that is only concerned with purchasing and then teaching others to purchase. This is only successful, because of the way Amway pays you a commission based on dollars spent, and not products sold. This style of generating revenue based on the money spent by your downline is not sustainable, because it takes many people buying products before someone can earn money, and there will always be more people spending money instead of making money. This leads to a very high turn over rate.

I'm sure people are wondering why I spent so much time on this, since the topic is about the Amway partner stores, and not the Amway business as a whole. I can now get to the root of the topic, but keep the previous two paragraphs in mind when I explain this part.

Most Amway IBO's believe they are starting a business, but they are getting confused with buying versus selling products. This confusion gets magnified when it comes to the partner stores as IBOs are not selling products, but rather purchasing for their own use or consumption. YOU ARE NOT A DISTRIBUTOR OF PRODUCTS FOR THE PARTNER STORES. The partner stores are using Amway distributors as a solid customer base to sell more of their products. Amway then rewards you by giving some money back in the form of PV at the end of the month (I will provide a link at the bottom of the page). IBO's are glorified customers, and they are given access to more products to purchase for themselves which makes more money for Amway.

This does not make Amway more credible or legitimate. This is an extra revenue stream for Amway, and should be treated as such by the IBO's. Major companies utilize different marketing techniques such as commercials, signs, coupons, and mailers. Amway is just another form of marketing for them to sell their goods to a large devoted customer base.

Please refer to this link for a direct description of the Amway partner stores from Amway http://www.amway.com/Support/Ordering-Product-Support/Shopping-Partner-Stores-Services.

Also, please refer to the FTC's rules for MLM at this link: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/multilevel-marketing.

The main paragraph to look at and understand is, 

"Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money."

***UPDATE 10/21/16***

More IBO's have been speaking up about Amway's partnership with blue chip companies, and continue to mention companies that don't make their own products, but rather are retail distributors for other companies. Examples of these include Best Buy, Sears, Macy's, Home Depot, Amazon, Bass Pro Shops and many many more. I understand some of the companies listed above manufacture their own line of products, but the vast majority of their products sold are created by other entities. How can you partner with companies that are not the manufacturer and expect to get the best prices? For that matter, if you are trying to be a distributor of products, why would you go through another distributor to get the products instead of going to the manufacturer? Adding more middlemen in your chain will only decrease the ability to make a profit, if your intent is even to sell the products rather than consume them.

Amway already has an issue with too much competition in the field, because people are more focused on adding downline instead of retailing products. With partner stores, it is the same haphazard situation where IBO's are not able to retail the products for their businesses, because they have added in two extra middlemen before they get the products. First, the partner store gets the REAL wholesale price from the manufacturer because they buy in bulk, and then they sell the products to Amway for less than they would to retail customers, because they too buy in bulk. Finally, they sell the products to IBO's for full retail and give them a small amount of money back at the end of the month. This is not beneficial at all to building a business.

If you have a story involving abuses from your upline and would like me to share it on this blog as a guest post, then please e-mail me and I will be more than happy to post it! Your stories are not as unique as you may think, and your stories are some of the most impactful resources we have to fight MLMs. I will keep your anonymity upon request.

Friday, September 16, 2016

MLM Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a fundamental way to teach people meaning. It is used to trigger a subconscious reaction to a stimulation that does not have any natural meaning. What I mean by this is, classical conditioning is designed to help people make connections between what they are experiencing and what they are taught.

Classical Conditioning: A form of learned association whereby a subject is trained to associate a neutral stimulus with a second stimulus of some significance, either positive or negative. (http://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/classical-conditioning/)

In other words, one action that does not have emotional significance can trigger a reaction that does have an emotional significance. 

A great example of this is, the old dinner bell to signal dinner is ready. Old cartoons had a person hit a triangle (musical instrument), and in turn that would let everyone know to stop what they were doing and come inside to eat. The triangle itself does not have a positive or negative connotation, but the people have been trained to hear it and understand they are going to be fed. This in turn can lead to a subconscious reaction of your mouth watering whenever you hear a triangle played. 

Do MLMers use classical conditioning??? Absolutely! One of my favorite examples of classical conditioning in MLM involves the way people dress. Everyone has watched enough television shows or seen enough people in business suits, to connect that attire with a certain status (usually a significant status). People who wear suits tend to demonstrate success, power, wealth, and importance. MLMers utilize this to their advantage to help build self-confidence in otherwise fragile people. This also helps MLMers to build credibility when approaching another individual, preferably someone who is also wearing a suit. Many subconscious questions about that person can already be answered simply because of the associations we have with people wearing suits. 

One other important way that MLMers utilize Classical conditioning is through the videos and presentations. They rent out conference rooms and stadiums to show significance and success. They show videos of mansions, sports cars, and trips to also show wealth, success, and power. These are carefully designed to create CONfidence in the new MLMers. 

If you have other ways that MLMers use classical conditioning in their "business" please share them in the comments below!

Monday, September 12, 2016

15 Common Defense Mechanisms/Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the term used to describe people who are both good listeners and good communicators. Usually people fall closer to one end of the spectrum or the other, and it is important to realize the positives and negatives associated with these traits. A good listener is someone who can hear and understand people with empathy, while a good communicator is someone who can give direction and confidence to the people around them. These are both very important traits, and must be carefully balanced to achieve the assertive defense mechanism. As stated in previous sections, there are pro's and con's to most defense mechanisms, and they all strive to be as helpful as assertiveness.

Assertiveness: Assertiveness is the emphasis of a person’s needs or thoughts in a manner that is respectful, direct and firm. Communication styles exist on a continuum, ranging from passive to aggressive, with assertiveness falling neatly inbetween. People who are passive and communicate in a passive manner tend to be good listeners, but rarely speak up for themselves or their own needs in a relationship. People who are aggressive and communicate in an aggressive manner tend to be good leaders, but often at the expense of being able to listen empathetically to others and their ideas and needs. People who are assertive strike a balance where they speak up for themselves, express their opinions or needs in a respectful yet firm manner, and listen when they are being spoken to. Becoming more assertive is one of the most desired communication skills and helpful defense mechanisms most people want to learn, and would benefit in doing so. (http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/2/)

Have you ever had someone that you could come to about anything, and they would be able to give good advice on the subject? Usually this is a parent, mentor, or teacher, but these traits are found in many other people as well. These people are there to first listen to the concern, internalize and understand the concern, then give a response based on experience. An example of this could be confiding in your parent about a problem with bullies at school. The parent will first listen to the issue, then console the child, and finally give helpful advice to help make an adjustment for the future when dealing with similar situations. If the parent is only a good listener, then they can be there for the child's needs, but they cannot help to prevent the situation from occurring again in the future. A parent that is only a good communicator will ignore the child's emotional needs, and only give a list of ways to deal with the problem. Striking a balance between the two is necessary to completely handle the situation.

Do MLMers use assertiveness??? Probably some, but for the most part, an emphatic no. MLMers tend to be on both ends of the spectrum, rather than having a healthy balance in the middle, and they do this on purpose to create programming. It is important for the downline to be good listeners and never question or speak up about their concerns. While it is important for the upline to be emotionally separated from the downline to show superiority as they continue to give orders and repeat programmed messages from their uplines. Assertiveness in MLM will often be confused with aggressiveness and upline uses aggression to keep their downline in form.

This concludes the segment on common defense mechanisms, and we will be moving towards classical vs. operant conditioning for the next couple of articles.

I have also had requests to publish guest articles and public stories. I am hoping to move forward on that in the near future as well, and help to break down and understand some of the common underlying themes. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

15 Common Defense Mechanisms/Compensation

Compensation is a very common adult defense mechanism. It is used to emphasize a particular strength in place of a weakness. Compensation is one of the most effective ways to make a person look larger than life, and can help to raise self-esteem when admitting you have a weakness. Compensation is extremely effective in building other people's confidence in your abilities. One of my favorite examples of compensation is, people driving lifted trucks to make up for their genetic traits. The person may be far shorter than the national average, but they are far larger than anyone else when they are on the road.

Compensation: Compensation is a process of psychologically counterbalancing perceived weaknesses by emphasizing strength in other arenas. By emphasizing and focusing on one’s strengths, a person is recognizing they cannot be strong at all things and in all areas in their lives. For instance, when a person says, “I may not know how to cook, but I can sure do the dishes!,” they’re trying to compensate for their lack of cooking skills by emphasizing their cleaning skills instead. When done appropriately and not in an attempt to over-compensate, compensation is defense mechanism that helps reinforce a person’s self-esteem and self-image. (http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/2/)

Have you ever had a friend that always wants to do the same activities? They are compensating for the fact that they don't know how to do other activities, and don't want to show any weaknesses when attempting something new.  A great example of compensation is, choosing where to go for a first date. A person who is not a great conversationalist may choose to do an activity such as dancing or a movie. These activities give the person an opportunity to focus on other strengths and distract from the weakness of not being able to engage in a dialogue.

Do people compensate in MLM!??!! No doubt! People use MLM to compensate for everything else in their lives. There are various versions of compensation that are dependent on your position within the MLM. Here are some of the different people who compensate in MLM:

1. Top Tier Members (TTMs) - These are the people showing videos, flashing trophies, bragging about their wealth, and continuously focusing on tangible possessions to edify themselves.  These people will exaggerate the opportunity to have success, and even suggest it is possible for everyone to have their lifestyles. They are compensating for the overwhelmingly bad statistics involved in the business by showing what you can have if you achieve their level of success.

2. Middle of the road members (MRMs) - These are the people who are just starting to turn a profit,or have a larger downline than most, but aren't even close to the top tier members. These are the people who will constantly mention retiring soon, and talk about all of the wonderful trips and free products they have gotten from the company. These people are compensating for the grueling hours, loss of friends, and lack of income after committing large amounts of time, energy, and money to the MLM.

3. New members (NMs) - These are the people with little to no downline and are losing lots of money each month on seminars, trips, tools, and standing orders. These people will have the most upbeat energy, and consistently show an outward appearance of perfect bliss. They will say they are investing in themselves, and that they are already seeing returns in their learning and friendships. These people are constantly compensating for the agonizing bills, the long nights, and the instability in their lives.

Compensation is helpful to keep people motivated and positive. However, compensation can be used to deceive and manipulate as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

15 Common Defense Mechanisms/Sublimation

Sublimation is designed to uncomfortable feelings and turn them into something that is more manageable. Sometimes it comes out in the form of laughter after an extremely difficult situation is encountered, or if the person has just received bad news. Sublimation is a more advanced way to deal with trauma and anxiety.

Sublimation: Sublimation is simply the channeling of unacceptable impulses, thoughts and emotions into more acceptable ones. For instance, when a person has sexual impulses they would like not to act upon, they may instead focus on rigorous exercise. Refocusing such unacceptable or harmful impulses into productive use helps a person channel energy that otherwise would be lost or used in a manner that might cause the person more anxiety.
Sublimation can also be done with humor or fantasy. Humor, when used as a defense mechanism, is the channeling of unacceptable impulses or thoughts into a light-hearted story or joke. Humor reduces the intensity of a situation, and places a cushion of laughter between the person and the impulses. Fantasy, when used as a defense mechanism, is the channeling of unacceptable or unattainable desires into imagination. For example, imagining one’s ultimate career goals can be helpful when one experiences temporary setbacks in academic achievement. Both can help a person look at a situation in a different way, or focus on aspects of the situation not previously explored. (http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/2/)
Have you ever had a friend that is constantly diminishing the severity of a situation? What I mean by this is, someone who seems to make light of a situation that would otherwise be very significant. They can do this in the form of joking, trivializing, or distracting themselves. An example of this is dealing with the death of another being (human or pet). Instead of showing sadness, a person may pretend like it never happened. The person may also make a joke, and laugh at their misfortune. These are ways to lighten the intensity of the tragedy. 
Do MLMers use sublimation??? Most definitely. MLMers are constantly focusing on the dream and the future rather than consistently negative reports of their business's financial situation. They make light of the fact that they are losing money hand over fist, or they completely ignore it. MLMers have found multiple ways to use sublimation to strengthen their resolve.  MLMers joke about the 95+% failure rates, and pretend that they are exceptions to the rule. Also, MLMers use the perceived negatives in their lives to fuel their energy and passion for the business of MLM. Finally, MLMers trivialize their losses by suggesting it is part of investing and growing their business. These forms of sublimation are all used to cope with the fact that the business is bad, the products are ordinary, and their efforts are in vain. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

15 Common Defense Mechanisms/Undoing

Undoing is an over-the-top reaction to involuntarily offending someone else. Instead of adjusting the behavior so that it doesn't happen again, a person may try to reconcile the situation by giving gifts or continuously apologizing. The person who is using the undoing defense mechanism is struggling internally with the fault they committed and feel they must do extra to reconcile the issue at hand. An example of this may be closing the door in someone's face. Instead of apologizing and moving forward, a person may offer to buy them lunch, help them with their errands, or pay unnecessary compliments. This defense mechanism looks like a person taking responsibility for their action, but it is largely about the turmoil they are dealing with inside of themselves.

Undoing: Undoing is the attempt to take back an unconscious behavior or thought that is unacceptable or hurtful. For instance, after realizing you just insulted your significant other unintentionally, you might spend then next hour praising their beauty, charm and intellect. By “undoing” the previous action, the person is attempting to counteract the damage done by the original comment, hoping the two will balance one another out.

Have you ever had a friend that feels overly apologetic for every wrongdoing? They might be overly politically correct about everything they are saying, or make outrageous sacrifices to fix the most minor of issues. Another example of this might be making a joke at the expense of another person. The joke's punchline might involve making fun of blondes, or saying something about certain foods being consumed more regularly by particular ethnicities. In any case, it is not meant to be an insult, but rather making light of a commonly seen situation. Yet, a person may take it the wrong way and get offended. Instead of the person making the joke being apologetic, they may go out of their way to say they don't actually think this way and that they are extremely open-minded.

Do MLMers use undoing??? Absolutely! MLMers are constantly turning their negative thoughts into positives. Undoing can be based on actions or thoughts, therefore if an MLMer is thinking a nasty thought they may react to it by acting overly positive. An example of this is when an MLMer loses a downline. Inside, the MLMer will be angry because that is a part of their income being lost, but on the outside they may be overly nice to the other downline and tell them how much more valuable they are than the other MLMer who quit.

A personal example of this occurred when I was at an FED and I listened to Brad Duncan speak. He talked about the real statistics and the numbers were embarrassingly bad. He told everyone that 95% of people in attendance would quit, and that .1% of people there would ever make it to diamond (essentially 0). Without blinking an eye, he then said that this was the greatest business on Earth, everyone in that audience had an equal opportunity for success, and the business had the power to change lives. The third part was accurate, but probably not in the way he intended it to mean. This was an incredible use of undoing, and the people cheered for him as he continued on with his speech. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

15 Common Defense Mechanisms/Rationalization

Rationalization is the process of taking a traumatic event and then give meaning to it. Rationalization is an extremely powerful tool and is best used to bring sanity to a difficult situation. An example of this is not getting the job you wanted. You applied, had a great interview, are qualified, and yet they chose someone else instead. Your brain may justify this result by suggesting they needed to hire more minorities, or a different minority, which is why you didn't get the job. While this may seem logical to you, it is probably far from the truth and actually very irrational.

Rationalization: Rationalization is putting something into a different light or offering a different explanation for one’s perceptions or behaviors in the face of a changing reality. For instance, a woman who starts dating a man she really, really likes and thinks the world of is suddenly dumped by the man for no reason. She reframes the situation in her mind with, “I suspected he was a loser all along.” (http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/2/)

Have you ever had a friend that seems to have a made-up justification for everything that happens to them, even when it clearly was out of their control? This person is displaying a high frequency of rationalization, because they can't deal with the fact that the issue was a random, traumatic, or unforeseen circumstance. Another example of this could be justifying why you were in a car accident. Let's say a person was trying to merge and they didn't see you in their blind spot. They clipped your front end and now your car has serious damage, or worse can't be used. This clearly is not your fault and there is nothing you could have done to altar the outcome. Yet, you may justify the randomness by thinking if I had just gone a little slower then this never would have happened. This is a form of rationalization to justify the randomness of that moment.

Does rationalization exist in MLM??? You betcha! MLMers are constantly being told the key to their success is following the fool-proof system being taught by their successful upline. However, they are also told that failure is a direct result of their actions. This in turn leads to a strong use of rationalization as the MLMer is losing money. The MLMer may think it was their fault because they didn't listen to enough hours of tape, or they didn't attend enough meetings, or they weren't prepared enough to host the meeting. These are rationalizations to make up for the overwhelming factor that over 90% of all MLMers in all MLMs fail regardless of their efforts, and that .1% of MLMers ever reach the highest ranks (far from fool-proof numbers). Upline manipulates MLMers into triggering this defense mechanism to avoid being blamed, but it also helps to edify the upline because they are never seen at fault. It is a perfect tactic to keep MLMers loyal and keep upline powerful.