Monday, October 24, 2016

Dr. Doe's personal connection to MLM

I was hesitant to make this post, because I wanted this MLM blog to have a particular direction involving psychology and MLM while avoiding the mostly personal anecdotal nonsense. However, this blog, much like myself, is evolving rapidly and I feel a personal touch adds more to the blog than it takes away. Many of my recent posts have asked for people to offer their personal experiences, and it isn't fair to ask you to share without knowing details about me. I have shared my story many times on other blogs and with other people, but today, I am officially making it a part of this blog as well. I must warn you, I tried to include as much detail as possible. This blog post will not be nearly as short as the others.

If you have been following my blog so far, then I hope you can relate some of the other blogs posts I have written to my story and understand that these conditions and defense mechanisms are very real. Part of the healing process is to explore the problems that you experienced and bring meaning to them. This is key to moving forward in a positive direction and not continue to make the same mistakes. With that being said, my story begins in September of 2015 after I had graduated college.

My first job was in telemarketing (yes I was one of those people), and I was trying to get people to switch their credit card processing. This was one of the worst jobs I think anyone could ever have, and is the epitome of what MLMers describe as the dreaded opposite of their business. If all other jobs were like my telemarketing job, then MLMers might actually have a point on this one. Anyways, I met a guy from one of my previous posts who I referred to as Fred. He was the only other person at this job that didn't have some sort of criminal history or inability to function outside of a cubicle, and he was electric.

We immediately clicked, and we would hang out together at lunch every day. One night we went to watch another co-worker at a comedy club and he mentioned his goals for the future. He had big aspirations to be successful and take care of his family, which immediately got me intrigued about his strategy. Instead of getting into the details, he asked me, "If you had to shovel shit for 3-5 years without pay and then make $250,000 a year for the rest of your life, would you do it?" I didn't even have to think about my answer, because I had just graduated college, had the worst job ever, and never even thought of making money like that. I immediately replied, "Absolutely, I was only hoping to make $50,000 a year after graduating, and I spent a lot of time in college not making money, so I was already used to this." He was elated with my response and didn't mention anything else for the rest of the night. I was confused, but was also excited, and at that moment he had me hooked on anything that he would've brought to me.

The first time we met to talk about the opportunity was at a Starbucks. I showed up early, because I wanted to be sure he knew I was serious. He showed up right on time, and immediately we began to talk about my history. It was kind of like an interview, but it was much more casual and he had a great ability to listen and relate. We talked for at least two hours, before he finally brought up Robert Kiyosaki. He asked me, "Have you ever heard of the billionaire Robert Kiyosaki?" (it is important to note that Kiyosaki is not a billionaire, and is not even worth 9 figures), to which I replied, "No, I've never heard of that guy before". He was stunned, and gave me some story of how he became successful in real estate, and then pulled out his book. I felt like an idiot for not knowing who Kiyosaki is, but was excited that this guy had a plan and had a billionaire helping to lead him. He still had not told me about his business, network marketing according to his terminology, but said this book would explain everything. The book was Robert Kiyosaki's, Businesses of the 21st Century and he only gave me four days to read it. Luckily, the book was only 100 pages long, and I was excited, so I knocked it out that evening.

***EDITORS NOTE*** Kiyosaki's book and history have been reviewed by many sources such as John T. Reed, and I would highly recommend reading his analysis. It is both enlightening and devastating to Kiyosaki's credibility and can be read here (http://johntreed.com/blogs/john-t-reed-s-real-estate-investment-blog/61651331-john-t-reeds-analysis-of-robert-t-kiyosakis-book-rich-dad-poor-dad-part-2).

The next day I returned the book to Fred, and he was again stunned. He asked me what I thought, and I said, "I didn't get it." Most of his book was talking about his history as a pilot, and some nonsense called the "cash flow quadrant". The book was written like a fifth grader, which makes sense, because he talks about how useless traditional education is, even though his father was a teacher and head of education in Hawaii. In this case, the apple fell very far from the tree. Anyways, my friend Fred said, "That's okay, the next step is to go see our business at a seminar, because they will do a better job explaining it than I will." Most people would call this red flag number one, but I interpreted it as he was trying to give me the best possible resource for learning the business. The seminar was scheduled to be on a Friday at a church in the middle of nowhere.

I had some trouble finding the church, because it was in a random place that was not especially well marked. I initially felt like I was going into a trap, until I arrived and saw the parking lot was completely full. It was exhilarating, and immediately my fears were washed away as I saw tons of people in suits heading toward the front. The people were all different ethnicities and ages, but most were between 18-35 years old. This was exactly what I was looking for.

I walked up with another co-worker to the church, who was also trying to get involved at the time, and we waited for Fred. He arrived a little after us with his wife, and we proceeded as a group into the church. Before we got into the meeting we were greeted by a man who was shaking everyone's hand before we entered. His name was Shawn and he was an Amway Emerald (this guy is important to remember for later). You could feel a connection with him right away, even though he only saw us for a second. There was a way he looked, smiled, and touched you, that immediately made you think he was one of the best people you would ever meet. Little did I know at the time just how wrong that feeling was, and how fake he was.

The church was full of a couple hundred young, hungry, and enthusiastic people all dressed in suits, much like myself, and were buzzing before the show began. My sponsor had brought a small group of us together, I believe it was a group of 5, and we were slowly meeting others when he made us stop everything, because the main attraction had arrived. His name was Mike Carrol, and he was an Amway diamond of close to 20 years from San Diego, California. Immediately he was surrounded by a group of 15-20 people and was shaking everyone's hands. He was the epitome of everyone's dream encounter with a celebrity, iconic yet humble, bold yet sensitive. He was the perfect role model to look up to, until he started to speak.

Mike took the stage with his wife Robin, and she spoke first about how they met, how wonderful the business was, and of course how wonderful he was. She was well spoken and a good fluffer for Mike, much like a comedy show, she got the crowd to connect emotionally and be excited about Mike's speech. Then Mike started to speak, and he was not a great public speaker. He fired from the hip with some slightly inappropriate jokes, had many basic English issues, and overall was unprepared to host a business meeting of this size. He would get lost at times, and ramble on tangents with no clear purpose. He spent most of his time talking about his history as a navy seal, how he found the business, how he fell in love with the business, and how the business made him filthy rich. He also talked about the stupid "cash quadrant" from Kiyosaki, and how this business would launch people from the "E for Employee" and "S for Self-Employed" quadrants into the wonderful "B for Big Business Owner" and "I for Investor" quadrants. He supposedly paid for everything in cash, and did whatever he wanted when he wanted. After an hour and a half of this nonsense, I was frustrated because I had learned nothing of significance. Finally, he got to his little white board, and began to talk about the business. He said the number one thing that makes this business wonderful is the ability to "duplicate". He then talked about shopping at "Your Store" versus shopping at "Their Store", and drew circles on the board. He said, each person should find twelve people (an astronomically high number for this type of business), and show them how to shop at their store, instead of the local store. Then you were responsible for helping each of those twelve people sponsor their own twelve. After that, it would essentially become "residual income". I was completely lost. I didn't understand at the time how that would ever make me money. It looked like all I was doing was spending money, and then trying to get other people to do the same. I had no idea that I was ahead of the curve for a future reality check with this business. The worst part was the ending. He brought out a credit card, yet he supposedly paid for everything in cash, and said every time he makes a "schwipee" he gets paid. Then he said, whenever his downline makes a "schwipee" he gets paid, and that is how he makes his money. He had literally admitted that he was at the top of a pyramid and I was too blind to see it, but then again, so was everyone else.

After the meeting my friend Fred asked what I thought. I didn't want to be brash, so I simply said, "I don't get it, and I don't think Mike did a very good job of explaining the business. Is there more to it?" He looked at me stunned and said, "That was it! Some people need others to explain it better, but Mike is one of the best." I told him, "But he didn't go over any of the numbers, and all he did was talk about himself for most of it." He told me, "That's okay if you don't get it, I'm going to host a meeting at my house, and my sponsor, Tom from my other blog post, will go through the numbers." I agreed, and he set the meeting for the following Friday.

Fred held the meeting at his apartment, which strangely was in the same apartment complex I lived in at the time.  This time, there were even more of us, and we were still dressed in our business attire. We did a nice little meet and greet before the meeting began, and that is when I first got to see and try one of the products. It was XS energy and it was supposed to be a competitor to drinks like Rockstar, Monster, and Red bull. They didn't even give us a whole can, but rather a little cup (similar to the cups at a salsa bar), which was fine because it was late and I didn't need to drink a whole can of caffeine.

The speech began with Tom's wife, we'll call her Susie, and it was nearly identical to the speech Robin gave, but more geared to people 18-35. She was also a perfect fluffer for Tom, and was able to help us relate to their situation as well as their future goals. Then Tom's speech began, and he actually had a Power Point presentation! I was surprised at first that he was more organized than a 20 year veteran of the business, but I felt like I could finally grasp this business opportunity. However, he quickly reverted back to the "Mike style" and talked more about the emotional journey he has taken with his wife rather than the business opportunity. In fact, he ended up skipping through about 90% of his lecture, because it wasn't emotional fluffy garbage. It wasn't until the end where he started to go through the same "cash flow quadrant", "my store versus their store", and then the "circles", that I should have realized this was not the "business" for me, but instead I was getting more excited and the conditioning was beginning to take hold. They had captivated me based on my own needs to feel wanted, and I truly believed they wanted to help me.

I was falling for the emotional stuff, and was showing a weakness to the "Herd Mentality". Worse yet, they were giving me a hard time because my wife (fiancee at the time) was not on board, and they were afraid I couldn't make a great commitment to them if she wasn't supporting my decision to follow this business. I was in denial of what my wife was telling me about the opportunity, and I wasn't listening to my family either. Even though the meeting content was bad, the people were wonderful and I still thought there had to be success since so many people were doing it and were happy. Also, Fred told me that there was a once-a-year seminar happening the following weekend called FED (Freedom Enterprise Days), and this seminar would help make everything clear. I still felt like there was hope to make this thing work. I just wanted to make my family to be successful and happy.

The FED was even farther away than the random church meeting, and it lasted for three days. It started Friday evening and went all the way to Sunday evening with very little down time. I had a full day of work that Friday, and then had to travel 50 miles in the worst rush hour traffic, but was only a little late. The FED was held in a convention center, and they recorded 8,000 attendees from across the country. It was mind boggling how many people were there of all different ages and ethnicities. Fred met me in the front, and gave me a free guest pass since I wasn't technically in the "business" yet, and he was given extras with the purchase of his own tickets. I went inside, and the place was buzzing. There were people selling books, cds, suits, and much more! Then I went into the main stadium and it was filled with energy.

The crowd was roaring as the speaker was talking about the history of the country and how our founding fathers would be disappointed with the status of the United States. He was an awesome spectacle of energy and facts, and as a history buff he had my undivided attention. He was a little into religion, but it wasn't to the point where I would have been concerned. That opinion would change later in the weekend as other speakers would take the stage.

I honestly couldn't tell you who the second speaker was, but they were a diamond couple and they began a long line of repetitious motivational nonsense that would continue through each day of the FED.  Each diamond's speech started by lowering the lights and showing a very loud video on the jumbotron of their life and how awesome it was to have their money. Each diamond couple that came up had a specific order in which their speech was presented. First, the wife would come up and say some nice things about their life, how proud they were that their husband was a man making lots of money and giving them the opportunity to stay home with the kids, then they would introduce the husband to the audience. The man would then talk about seizing the moment, how this was the smartest decision we would ever make, and other exciting things the diamonds had done with their money and with the business. These speeches went from approximately 7:00 pm to 12:00 am, and then I went to get food with Fred because I wasn't allowed to get dinner during the show, which made my arrival at home close to 2:30 am.

After the first day, I was more hooked than ever. This network was huge, and everyone was extremely friendly. Most importantly, I was seeing success before my very eyes, and I thought that I was just as talented as the people on stage. What I hadn't realized was my fogginess and inability to sense deception. I was lacking sleep from being up for more than 18 hours, and I was blinded by the emotional fluff and excitement. I had lost my ability to assess the situation, but that would change as the weekend progressed.

The second day began at 9:00 am, and I was very groggy from the previous day. However, I was still pumped and ready to learn more about the business. Sadly, the day began just as the last one ended, and I was beginning to lose my buzz. Furthermore, I couldn't relate to the speakers as well as I could to Tom or Fred, because they were all 55-90 years old (that isn't an exaggeration). One of them was so old, I think he set a record for slowest speaker ever, and looking back, I can't believe I didn't realize this guy should have been retired before many of the people in the audience were born. He certainly wasn't living up to the 2-5 years retirement plan with "residual income", but then again none of them were. These speeches went on until 1 pm, and then we were given a 3 hour lunch break.

During the break, I got to meet some new people and learn a new lesson. I first met two people that were around my age and were already in the "business" for many months. I asked if they had any tips, and they replied, "No, that is called cross-lining and it is strictly not allowed. If you want help, go ask your upline." I was bewildered at the time, and later I thought, "Why the heck couldn't they tell me what they were doing? We were all doing the same business, weren't we?" So, we chatted for a little longer and then I went exploring. The three hour break was exhausting in itself and completely unnecessary, until I found out what they had done inside.

The day resumed, and they had transformed the inside into something out of a child's fantasy book. They had a gigantic red carpet, and fencing along each side of it. After many more diamond speeches, it hit 9:00 pm and they had a special concert! It was a Christian rock band, and they were performing before the "diamond crowning" began for Trevor and Lexi Baker.

At this point, I was finally starting to rebound after nearly being bored to death from the repetitious speakers. I was extremely excited to see something different. The experience was unreal as people flooded to the fences before they began to walk down the carpet. Then the moment came, and they were greeted like the royal family. Trevor was dressed in an extremely nice 3-piece tuxedo, and Lexi was in a dress that was fit for a queen. She had more sparkles on her big poofy white dress than the ball they drop in New York on New Years Eve. They were the perfect couple with their twin girls, and the best part, they were only 30 years old. Their parents, Glen and Joya, were waiting for them on stage, and they were also congratulated for improving to Executive Diamond. Their transformation into diamonds was completed with a nearly identical speech to the other diamonds, but I didn't care because that moment made me want this more than ever. This was the moment I needed, my tipping point, where I would have been ready to do anything to succeed. Until that night's speakers came on stage.

The heavy hitters came on after the "diamond crowning", and they were welcomed with applauses that I had never seen before. The only important speech the entire weekend was presented by Brad Duncan. He was a "Crown Ambassador", the highest rank, and a member of the "board of directors" for the organization (Side note, that organization did not technically have anything to do with the MLM and is a completely different entity). He was a charismatic man, and there were legends that surrounded him. One person said he turned down an offer to run for president from the Republican party because, "He didn't want to take the pay cut." If there was anyone to hear it was him, because he was the epitome of success. He started his presentation with some nonsense about himself, but then he actually got to some of the real facts about the business. This guy had testicular fortitude as he said to a crowd of 8,000 hopefuls, "95% of the people in attendance would quit, and 1/10 of 1% (.1%) of people would become diamonds". He then followed up that terrible statistic by saying it was also possible for anyone to be successful as long as they listened and worked the system. I was in a daze. I knew I didn't have the ability to beat everyone else in the stadium and I wasn't about to try. I was looking for something a little more fool-proof than that. Luckily, the speech was softened by the leaders of the organization as they took the stage before the night ended.

Finally, the leaders of the organization, Jim and Georgia Lee Puryear,  stepped onto the stage, and they were greeted with an applause that blew the rest away by a mile. It seemed like it would never end as people literally lost their minds for 10 minutes clapping and stomping their feet. In fact, it was so long and so loud the leaders were unable to stop it and ended up running late on their speech. They were a soft spoken couple and spent most of their time giving their gratitude for our attendance. Then, they said some more emotional stuff and wrapped up the evening.

After the second day was over, I was completely wiped out. The total time spent working and at FEDs the last two days was somewhere in the neighborhood of over 33 hours, and that didn't include travel time. I told Fred, I didn't think I would attend the morning Christian service the next morning, because I was really tired and felt uncomfortable with it. I didn't see a purpose for a morning service at a business seminar, and I'm not a Christian. I thought he would understand, but it was quite the contrary as he guilted me into coming. He told me it was extremely important, and I seriously believe he wanted me to share in his Christian beliefs which was extremely awkward. I was too tired to fight him on it and I decided to attend. I'm glad he pushed me into it, because it was one of the most enlightening experiences of the weekend.

Sunday began at 9:00 am again, and I was so tired, I actually started to get a weird silly energy. It was the kind of energy that simply doesn't make sense, and it was hard for me to take anything seriously because I was so loopy. This matched up perfectly with the Sunday service as I watched a real life 70 year old televangelist. This guy was electric as he bounced around on the stage talking about a particular part of the bible and how it would help us in the business. Unfortunately, my hero from the first night decided to be a lot more religious day three as he accompanied the wild preacher throughout the service at various times. Finally toward the end of the service two very strange things happened at a business seminar. First, he had many people come toward the stage to give their energy to him so that he could send it to a terminally ill cancer patient (hence the real life televangelist). Second, he actually got the higher ranking members of the organization to go around and collect donations. I was stunned, because we were supposed to be learning how to make money, and here he was getting money from these people! Not only that, but he had a minimum (I believe it was $5.00) which was magical! I had never seen something like this, and this was step one of three toward my departure from the opportunity.

Step two came when the Emerald I met at the church, from Mike Carrol's presentation, had a personal chat with me. It started when Fred wanted me to talk to him, because my wife still wasn't on board and the Emerald had personal experience with the same situation. Keep in mind, I don't know this guy, and saw him for about ten seconds previously. We broke the ice by talking about why I was there and what my goals were, but then Fred led into the personal stuff. Shawn was a well spoken man and a lawyer previously which made me have more respect for him than most of the others, because he was educated and still chose this business. However, that respect was quickly lost when he felt he could comment about my ability to be successful in this business with a partner that was opposed to it. He told me about his wife not supporting him initially, yet eventually she came around when they started being successful. He also said he would have left her and chosen the business if she didn't come around, or did not allow him the opportunity to try it out. He then told me, this business can't be done without two partners being in it together, and encouraged me to "reevaluate my relationship". This guy was the most narcissistic person I had ever met. He was ready to leave his wife for the business and told a complete stranger to leave his fiance for the business. I looked at Fred stunned, and Fred stood their nodding and agreeing with everything Shawn was saying. This felt like the twilight zone as Fred told me he was in the business because he wanted to provide for his family's future, but now it was reversed as it was about making the business successful first and having a family second. The hypocrisy was mind boggling, but it didn't stop there as step three came.

In the middle of the day, I was pulled out of the stadium because the speakers were lower level members, and my group didn't think they were as important as the diamond speakers. Also, the people on stage were essentially doing their test runs before they would be "crowned diamonds" which was strange. Tom and Fred brought me to a food stand and Tom gave me a piece of paper. He then stuck out his hand and offered me a chance to join the business. I initially accepted with immense gratitude, but after looking over the expenses, I was less than thrilled with what I was getting. I was going to have to pay for a yearly membership to the parent company, a monthly membership to this side company (the side company has nothing to do with being successful in the business), cds, books, a voice mail program, and then I would have to pay for my monthly supply of products. This was step three of me getting out of the business, because I told Tom that the expenses per month didn't make sense and that I could figure out ways to eliminate some of these silly costs. Tom didn't take it well and basically rescind his offer. He had said this was how his team was going to operate, and if I wasn't going to follow this particular plan, then I wouldn't be part of the team. I was in shock at how fast he could flip the script. I had put so much time and energy into this process, and it was immediately for naught. Little did I know this weird hiccup would be one of the best things that could have happened.

The FED ended around 5 pm on Sunday, and I got home and crashed. I called Tom later to try and explain why I felt the monthly charges were unnecessary, but it was to no avail as he basically said he wanted nothing to do with me. I had a scarlet letter on my chest, because soon after Fred also completely stopped talking to me. I felt like I had a great loss, but in reality I hadn't spent that much time with this business opportunity, and they didn't get any of my money. That was when I realized it was the psychological manipulation that made me feel such a strong sensation of loss. I had lost lots of money, jobs, and friends in the past, but they didn't hurt as badly as being rejected from this.

I had started doing research on what I had experienced, and whether or not I was the only one to go through this kind of experience. What I found was surprising as people had been going through this for years. I have had previous experience with MLMs, but had never been a part of anything like this. Ultimately I found this was something that needed more attention, and after a year of posting on blogs it was time to start a different one.

This is a blog for me, as much as it is a blog for you. This blog is a resource to help people understand what they have gone through, and to be able to share their stories as I have just shared mine. Please note, I have a filter on comments and will not share anything that is considered private. Thank you for reading my story, and if you feel it was something that helped you, then please don't hesitate to share it!

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.

28 comments:

  1. My story is similar to yours. Right out of college, wanting more and looking for opportunity. I did get in and was doing well, even getting the "honor" of attending a special meeting with the upline diamond. But after a few month and doing everything upline told me, I wondered where my profit was?

    I had started to suspect the tools scam and when I ran numbers in my head, I figured that rock stars made millions doing concerts with 8000 in attendance and here, the cost of FED is more than most concerts.

    But the final straw came when my sponsor told me to dump my girlfriend (now wife of more than 20 years) because he felt I could built the business faster and with more focus as a single.

    The insidious part about Amway and WWDB is that pretend that they have your best interest at heart and that they want your success but the stark reality is that they don't give a shit about you and your success. What they really want is an undying commitment from you to do your 100 to 300 PV each month and to buy all the cds and attend all meetings and functions. Aside from that, they don't care and probably don't want anyone to go diamond because it's less tool money for the poll of diamonds that already exist.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I'm sure someone will be helped by having it posted online.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Joe!

      I never was never "aware" of the tools side business when this story was unfolding, but I looked at what I was purchasing on the sheet they gave me and the tools/technology was severely out of date. That is the main reason for why I put up a fuss when they showed me a break down of the costs.

      The purchase of communiKate (or just Kate for short) was absolutely ridiculous as it was close to half of my cell phone with almost none of the features. For that matter, my cell phone could do everything Kate could do better, and it seemed redundant to have two different platforms for the same purpose. When I brought this up to Tom and asked why we would need it, he fed me a ridiculous line, "It is easier than sending text messages or an e-mail to hundreds of people at once, and you can use your voice to get your message out." Needless to say, none of us were at the 100+ people marker, and we were closer to 0 when combined. I told him that if he needed to speak to us rather than write a message, then he could arrange a meeting via a group text or with a calendar and pre plan the events. After that, he basically shut down and gave me the ultimatum to follow this plan or be on my way.

      I'm sorry that they also asked you to dump your girlfriend, but I'm incredibly glad you didn't take that lying down. It is incredible that they try to go after people's personal lives like that for a "business opportunity". If anything I'm glad they did it, because it was a good push to get you back on the right track.

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    2. Kate is a scam. I had a contact in the past that was at a fairly high level in Amway at one time (Emerald) who said upline earns between $10 and $20 per month from Kate, depending on which plan you get.

      Who the heck needs voicemal nowdays anyway?

      If you really do the math and unravel the mystery surrounding the functions, you can make an educated guess as to how much the diamonds can make.

      For example, a function with 10,000 in attendance that costs $100. That's a million dollar gross, not including sales of cds, t shirts, etc.

      Factor in the fact that platinums work as free ushers and gophers for the diamonds.

      All they diamonds need to pay is someone to set up the function, minimal security, and some clean up staff. Let's say it costs $100,000 to pay for these expenses and another $100,000 to rent a convention center, the 5 or 6 speakers split up the remaining $800,000.

      And a function like FED is only one of four major functions each year.

      That doesn't count the regional functions and even the open meetings where the diamond takes home the gate in cash.

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    3. I agree that Kate is a scam, and that the tools business is extremely lucrative. I was also really frustrated when I found out that WWDB was not "technically" part of Amway, but rather a bunch of old diamonds and crowns running a side business. It was insulting my intelligence to think I needed to pay them over $100 a month in their "tools" just to get the opportunity to participate with Amway.

      I wasn't in long enough to see the smaller regional functions, but I did see one of the open meetings, and they do make a lot more money there. It wouldn't be so bad if they actually had something to say that was important, but the worst part is they are just repeating the same tired nonsense they have been spouting off for years. I couldn't imagine having to pay $1,000's of dollars (accumulated over years), to listen to Mike Carrol's same awful speech over and over again. That seems to be one of the oddest things to me.

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  2. What you describe here is really very frightening. It would seem that to be in Amway, you have to be robotic to an extreme degree. You can't disagree, or think for yourself, or even ask questions!

    The picture of that insane fantasy-festival, the FED, is priceless. And it does indeed seem that the purpose of the punishing schedule of events is to break down one's resistance, and to deprive one of sleep, and of the capacity to think clearly. And the utter arrogance of that stupid Emerald, asking you to give up your fiancee! The guy didn't even KNOW you, and he's rearranging your love life? You should have kicked him in the groin!

    To top it all, you were dragged to a religious service that you didn't want to attend. This is beyond arrogance, and beyond comprehension. Only someone with a totally dogmatic and tyrannical mind would do that to a non-believer. But then again, a great many persons in Amway are Evangelical Bible-thumpers, and they cannot separate their business from their religion.

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    1. I would definitely say it was frightening looking back at it now. It reminds me of going to the fair and watching people get hypnotized. I still can't verify that hypnotism is real or not, but it always seemed fake and that I wouldn't fall prey to it. After experiencing Amway, I definitely got a piece of humble pie as I was quickly turned into something far different than the real me.

      I did some research on the cult phenomena and how it works, because this experience was really freaky for me to understand. I am a relatively introspective person, and can usually see through the layers of BS that people present, but these guys pulled off the brainwashing perfectly and I quickly fell prey to it. Sleep deprivation is incredibly powerful, and has taught me that I'm not as good as I thought I was under extreme circumstances.

      I don't know if violence would be my response to the Emerald. I definitely would have some nice choice language for him.

      The members of Amway were definitely evangelical, and in most ways fanatical. I still have trouble understanding why Fred pushed me so hard to attend. I recently spoke to him and Tom, and they both are going after the Amway dreams. Fred said that he is doing wonderfully even though he is in between jobs to support this habit, and his wife is working at a tea shop. They are both uneducated, and they both have no money. I don't know how they continue to pursue Amway, but it would seem they are still staying on course.

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  3. Fred and Tom are uneducated? Well, that explains a lot. Amway deliberately seeks out the uneducated, because they are more susceptible to suggestion and control. Just look at the barbarous semi-literacy of the people who post defenses of Amway at the various anti-Amway websites and blogs.

    Fred says he is "doing wonderfully"? Yeah, sure. That's a standard procedure in Amway. You are told to "Fake it till you make it." In a nutshell, this means always lying about how great your Amway "business" is going, even if you are broke.

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    1. Yes, I believe Fred tried to go to school (a christian private college) with his wife, but then something happened where they both ended up dropping out and never returned. I never really learned about Tom's education, but I can only assume at his age, that he didn't get much of a degree since he was a manager at a chain restaurant.

      Nothing is more frustrating to me than trying to hold a debate with someone on MLM, and their English is so bad that I actually can't figure out what they are trying to say. Most of them are clearly English second language (or maybe even 3rd or 4th), and the translation seems to be terrible. They will sit there and argue just like any other emotionally charged MLMer, but you can't tell if they actually understand what you are saying because you can't understand what they are saying.

      Fred has been caught inadvertently lying to me on different occasions in an effort to keep up appearances. The sad part is, I don't know if he even knows how badly he is doing. He claims to be saving money, he claims to be making it, but he also tells me he lives in a run-down apartment and is in between jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if he got so delusional that he would still pursue the Amway dream while living in a cardboard box under a bridge while saying he is "doing wonderfully".

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  4. My sponsor was brainwashed to a fault. I recall him bragging about how Amway allowed his wife to be free when he attained the level of "Gold" producer. I recall thinking it was because he was a physician who rented a home.

    You know what's really really sad? My sponsor and I were good friends and grew up in the same neighborhood.

    In 2001 I purchased a home for about $300K in Hawaii. Today my home (average middle class) is worth about $900K.

    My real estate agent also was friends with my sponsor and advised him to consider purchasing a home when I did. He declined because he was "taught" that you only pay cash. I suppose the upline diamond taught him that.

    Because my home value has tripled, I will be retiring with a net worth of more than a million dollars. My sponsor could have also bought a home whe I did and taken advanatge of the real estate boom. But because he listened to his upline, he is still renting a home in what I consider a "ghetto" to "live below his means" while I will retire in a few years, basically a millionaire. (due to my home value and investments).

    Ironically, I will be retired before my sponsor because I quit Amway and focused on my job and my investment portfolio and my sponsor, who earns much more than me, will still be working and chasing the Amway dream.

    I feel for him but it's too late. I tried to reach out and explain to him how I "snapped out of it" nearly 20 years ago but he's still showing the plan and trying to "go diamond".

    Basically, he wasted the better years of his life.

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  5. That's a very sad story, especially since he helped to pay for his upline diamond's lifestyle and has no idea. He could've been living a wonderful life of luxury with his very prestigious career, and yet he felt it would be better to go after some weird "opportunity".

    Did Amway ever get him into trouble when he was practicing medicine? I can't imagine being able to do my job correctly on limited amounts of sleep. Also, did he utilize his patients as a resource to show "the plan"? I'm curious if he ever got in trouble with the medical board and didn't realize it was because of the "Amway dream".

    Congratulations on your near retirement. I hope you continue to be an active part of the MLM/Amway blogging community! However, I also don't want it to consume your retirement, because I'm sure you have earned some good old fashioned R&R.

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  6. Try to do the math. My doctor friend closes his practice at least 1 or 2 days each month to attend functions. Being in Hawaii, FED, Family reunion and a few other functions are on the mainland requires air travel. Over 20 years, he's lost more than a year of full time doctor's income.

    I have no plans to stop blogging right now, but may slow down when I retire due to traveling and more leisure activities consuming my time. Maybe you will lead the charge and take the baton from me?

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    1. I don't think anyone can replace the expertise and experience you bring to this particular subject. I will certainly try to keep my writing going as long as I can.

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  7. Hello John, I really enjoy your blog. I would like to share my story. I broke up with now my ex-girlfriend one week ago. She has become involved with Amway for 2 years. When I first started dating her I didn't know anything about MLMs but I hear stories from peoples who involved and left the scheme. Then I came across Anna Banana (marriedtoanambot) where I found very similar things happen to her but worse. Her group didn't sleep for 4 days straight because the Platinum demand night owl everysingle day. It was really bad because she live far away and she have to drive. About 2 months ago she went full hardcore mode and really want her "Business" expand. It beginning to affecting our relationship because I openly don't support her. She then begin to talk to me differencely and we grew apart. Then the day come and she told me that things aren't working out because we are taking difference direction. I think that she have been so brainwashed that choose a box of soap over someone who loved her. So I just said yes and left. English is not my first language, please forgive me for any mistake.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure there are many people out there who can relate and can be helped by you sharing this. People tend to assume their experiences are unique to themselves, but are often surprised that they aren't unique at all.

      I'm sorry that she left you for the "business", but as Anna from "Married to an Ambot" has said, once people clear the 2 year mark, there is a good shot they will be a lifer. Unfortunately, this may be the best thing that could happen for you under these circumstances, because she was probably holding you back in other facets of your life. However, there is always hope and nothing is certain. If she is someone you would want to be with in the future, then it may find its way of working itself out, but you have to be good to yourself first.

      Your English is fine, and I understood everything that you wrote. No need to put the added pressure on yourself here, as I am also not a wonderful English writer (I'm sure I've made the NYU professor cringe a few times when he was reading my posts).

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    2. I suspect her upline advised her to dump him, just like what I experienced. It's sad that these upline leaders would so easily devalue someone's relationship.

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    3. Hello Joe and John, thank you for replied to my comment. I also thinking that her upline advised her to think about her relationship. When we first start dating, she is taking a break away from Amway during that period (approximately 6 months). The way she talk and behavior is difference when she is not involved with Amway, in fact she laugh a lot and very happy. When she back to Amway/AMO group she developed a side personality that I would said reflect upline teaching and brainwashing methods. I would like to share some information with you that might be interesting. Social media is the new way of show The Plan, they can targeting individuals much easier. Their main target is international students attending college or university (18-25 years old) and new immigrants. They first asked you to join Skype or some form of group video chat in weekday night. It lasted for minimum 2 hours without any clear information about the "Business Opportunity", only stories about how they first started with "The Business". They only mention Amway one time in 2 hours of "Business Opportunity" without any clear information like "where is the money come from?" Then their social media are filled with Amway products as they self consumption and describe how these products are wonderful. These techniques are very similar to subliminal advertising which really disgust me.

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    4. Anonymous,

      Thank you for sharing how she got involved with Amway. I was not familiar with this new technique, or the particular demographic this "business opportunity" is being targeted. May I use this information for future posts? I think it is important for people to understand how they get targeted rather than embraced by "the business".

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    5. Sorry for my late replied, feel free to use any information I provided.

      Delete
  8. For Amway fanatics, anything that is not directly connected with or related to the Amway business is suspect. And since a marriage, by its very nature, is a deep and intimate relationship, Amway fanatics distrust it unless both partners are totally dedicated to the Amway worldview.

    Everyone has noticed the powerful emphasis that Amway and its subsystems place on "couples." They're always going on about Bill and Norma, Tom and Theresa, Brad and Jennifer, etc. One might well wonder if there are any single persons involved in Amway.

    Well, an Amway couple, both completely enslaved to Amway propaganda, is exactly the sort of relationship that Amway wants. It is mutually supportive and self-sustaining. The couple is a "team," focused on building the business. Nothing else matters to them.

    This is why Amway deliberately works to destroy any marriage or relationship where one of the partners isn't fully committed to the Amway worldview. For Amway freaks, Amway always comes first. And a skeptical partner will never give the other the kind of mindless and fanatical support that Amway wants in its "couples."

    Amway is an evil organization, but this particular aspect of it is deeply evil. It places a rotten business of soap-selling and down-line recruitment over love.

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    1. Anonymous,

      I completely agree, and when the Emerald tried to make me reconsider my relationship for the sake of the "business", it left a very sour taste in my mouth. I believe that particular moment, mixed with a few others, were the tipping points for me in deciding to simply leave the "opportunity" and formulate a stance against it.

      It takes a "special" type of person to make a comment about another person's relationship, especially when it is unprovoked and not appropriate to the moment. I never had someone try to interfere with my relationship for their personal gain, and I have found that there is a special place for those people after this life (metaphorically speaking). Of course, they are god fearing people, so they should know better than to violate the 9th commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour".

      Delete
  9. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I've attended a number of MLM functions over the years but had never joined. I was introduced to Quixtar in the mid-2000s and did some research and decided it was evil. Then last year I had some neighbours that tried to recruit me and thought that things might have changed and so I explored it a bit more. There are so many similar elements to your story: meetings in the middle of nowhere, the night owls (at which one of the wives specifically said that when you're tired, you actually think more clearly), the focus on couples, the whole rah-rah atmosphere, and the internal reference to "the business". Did you know that the Mafia refers to themselves as "Cosa Nostra", which means "our thing"? Amway is so similar to the Mafia, and it's scary that Trump has chosen a top Amway wife to be in his cabinet. I did even more research, including looking at blogs, and I'm glad now that I have even stronger resolve to never join something like this, but it's scary that these organizations exist to exploit people and take their money. That's why it's necessary to get the word out. Keep up the good work, Dr. Doe!

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for the kind words and merry Christmas!

      Yes, MLM and particularly Amway are very similar to the mob. In fact, some of the higher up members remind me of the movie "Goodfellas", and how everyone in the "family" only interacted with others in the "family". When I was being indoctrinated, my sponsor specifically made references to going on fancy vacations, running the "business", and retiring our wives together. I never realized his version of "together" was very different from mine until I met the emerald, from the story, that basically said, if your wife won't be a part of the "family", then you need to find someone else.

      Mr. Trump is extremely concerning, but at the end of the day, he was the better candidate for president. The American people were sick of the status quo, and he was about as opposite of that as possible. I'm hoping people also realized the Clintons are career criminals and it was time for them to be purged, along with their cabinet, from office. I'm honestly not sure what advantages Betsy will gain, but with the FTC where it is on Herbalife, it isn't quite as concerning as it could be. On top of that, Amway global sales are down and that follows sales dropping in North America. Millenials are lazy and undevoted with less money that the previous generations making it very difficult to keep churning through young prospects. They have turned to their last tactic of targeting minorities and college students, but it can't last as they don't have enough resources and they will quickly learn and spread distrust through the community. I think we are in a positive place.

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    2. John - Sorry to be the bearer of bad news at Xmas, but Trump (like Hillary Clinton) is a person who is in debt to many wealthy people (both inside and outside of the USA). The information in the public domain (regarding these matters) is frightening, but imagine what Trump doesn't want the public to find out.

      Bearing the above in mind, it has lately been announced that Carl Icahn will be an unofficial White-House adviser to Trump on regulatory reform. It would seem to be pay-back time in Trump Land.

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2016/12/21/trump-gives-carl-icahn-surprising-role/95717604/

      As you know, Carl Icahn is a major owner of effectively-valueless 'Herbalife' shares - so it doesn't take a genius to work out what crooked advice this former school-mate of Bernie Madoff will be giving to another long-time pal (Trump) on the subject of 'MLM' regulation.

      It is public knowledge that Carl Icahn (net-worth $20+ billions) bank-rolled Trump after his Atlantic City casino fiasco. Again, imagine what Carl Icahn (and his 'MLM' criminal associates) might offer Trump in private to organise the suspension of the rule of law in respect of 'MLM.'

      In purely financial terms, Trump and Icahn's conflict of interest involving the 'MLM' phenomenon is almost too vast to calculate. That's before we consider the social and psychological damage which the 'MLM' phenomenon has caused, and continues to cause, to Trump and Icahn's fellow Americans.

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    3. Appropos of Trump's 'Amway' mob Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos - I presume you are aware that she is also the sister of Erik Prince?

      https://theintercept.com/2016/03/24/blackwater-founder-erik-prince-under-federal-investigation/

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  10. John - To give you some idea of how the bosses of the 'Herbalife' racket have become emboldened by the imminent arrival of Trump Land, read this latest tragicomic 'MLM' propaganda (see link below) signed by Randall Popelka (former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce and currently the vice president of Government and Industry Affairs at Herbalife).

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/311414-trump-can-strike-the-free-trade-fair-trade-balance

    Obviously, Mr. Popelka can't have penned this Orwellian chapter of the 'Herbalife' fairy story by himself; for when translated into plain language, the 'Herbalife' bosses are publicly imploring Carl Icahn's pal, Trump, to facilitate their racket (which has already thieved from tens of millions of individuals around the globe) on the risible grounds that front-companies for the racket employ 2000 Americans.

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  11. David,

    I don't disagree that Trump is a blackmail whore for people like Carl Icahn, George Soros, the Rockefeller's, and the Rotshchild's, but if the leading companies continue to spiral downward in sales, then I don't believe it will matter. It looks as though they have gone through the parabolic growth and stable growth phases, and are in their aging decline.

    The only hope is they don't continue to generate new versions of the "business" through political corruption, lobbying, and deregulation, but we have already seen Mr. Trump transposed the swamp instead of "draining the swamp".

    I don't know much about Mr. Prince, but I can dig more into him as well as Mr. Popelka when I get back from holiday.

    Thank you for your in depth analysis on this current state of affairs. I appreciate your continued diligence on this subject and helping to keep all of us more informed.

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    1. John - Mr. Popelka is one of a troop of conveniently deaf, dumb and blind former federal regulators who have easily been coopted by 'MLM' racketeers. All these greedy little wise-monkeys (who are now in receipt of piles of stolen money) were almost certainly approached whilst they were still supposedly protecting the public.

      You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time (with the notable exception certain poorly-paid amoral dunces with law diplomas temporarily employed as regulators).

      Erik Prince inherited a fortune from his father (a successful patent holder, and manufacturer, in the US Automobile accessories industry). Erik Prince, who followed a military career, is the ostensible instigator of 'Blackwater' - a commercial 'defence' company which many well-informed commentators consider to have been a thinly-disguised front for the CIA.

      'Blackwater' was once listed as the largest private army in the USA. It had $ multi-billion contracts with the US government.

      'Blackwater' employees (who were not directly employed by the US government) were not subject to US military law nor were they subject to the law in the various countries where they worked. The organisation was built to inhabit a legal no-mans-land.

      'Blackwater' employed hermetic structures very similar to those found within major organised crime groups (including 'MLM' cults). These structures prevented investigation and isolated the real bosses of 'Blackwater' from criminal liability.

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    2. David,

      Thank you for the information on Mr. Popelka and Mr. Prince. I am familiar with Blackwater and its bizarre practices. It is absolutely insane that we (USA), have the largest military and biggest budget, and still go to great lengths to hire out criminal enterprises to "help" with our imperial missions/liberation of 3rd world powers for their resources.

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