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.

74 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".

      Delete
  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.

      Delete
  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).

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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".

      Delete
    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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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/

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
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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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
  12. Fortunately, I never participated actively in any MLM but I've been to a couple seminars and a relative was active participants in several (Amway, NuSkin, MarketAmerica, Excel Communications, etc.) so I have a collection of their literature and training. My primary interest was pyramid schemes, but MLM was so close to pyramid schemes that study of one invariably lead to the other.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kasey --

      Your work has been an invaluable resource! I would argue that MLM and pyramid schemes are exactly the same. The only difference is the lobbying power and dollars spent infiltrating the Government. If there is anything these MLM hucksters aren't, it's stupid, and the DeVos and VanAndel crime families have created some of the most powerful modern day crime syndicates to date. The only crime family that seems to be more powerful are the Clintons, but the DeVos family seems to be increasing their political influence.

      As Kurt Vonnegut said, "So it goes".

      Delete
  13. I sympathize with what you went through with Amway. I have heard similar stories. However, you seem to lump all MLMs together, Amway may have been the start of the industry, but MLM has evolved since then. I have many, many friends involved with different orgs that do NOT subscribe to what you experienced.
    I paid $700 for my initial kit- I made that back in 4wks, which is typical. My monthly fee is $100, I have to sell $300 to cover that- if I can’t see $300 in a month, then I am just not working. Many MLMs out there are cheaper to join- just look and you will find them. Any company that requires you carry inventory and replenish it monthly,, whether or not you sell to actual customers is a company I would steer clear of. Most MLMs actually don’t require distributors to carry inventory or purchase a monthly quota.
    You want something fool-proof? Let me know when you find it. It doesn’t exist.
    I don’t know of any MLM, other than Amway that has this cult like philosophy. Is it easier if your friends and family support you? Hell yes!!! But when they don’t, nobody cuts anyone off. My sponsors husband doesn’t support her, it’s really no big deal to the company, maybe it is to her. I know many people, various organizations who do not have supportive families, nobody is asked to distance themselves.
    Most Uplines in an MLM encourage you to reach out to sideline partners and outside resources. The only way they are successful is if you are successful.
    Amway has a terrible reputation, and there may be other MLMs just like it, but most have a completely different ideology and operating philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous --

      Thank you for your cordial comment! It is very rare to have an active MLMer engage an opposing opinion with this level of respect.

      Now, to address some of your points.

      You said, "However, you seem to lump all MLMs together, Amway may have been the start of the industry, but MLM has evolved since then."

      My question to you is, how has MLM evolved? Why hasn't Amway evolved over 60 years, since my story seems to be very similar to those from previous generations? Simply saying, it's "evolved", it's "different", it's "changed", or some other synonym does not make it so. You need to provide evidence for your claim.

      You said, "I have many, many friends involved with different orgs that do NOT subscribe to what you experienced."

      Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence, such as anonymous friend's experiences, do not hold weight. There needs to be some kind of evidence or statistic to suggest my experience is an anomaly.

      You said, "I paid $700 for my initial kit- I made that back in 4wks, which is typical."

      I'm not sure you can legally make that claim. Every MLM has to make a disclaimer saying results may vary, and yet you seem to be doing the opposite.

      Also, which MLM do you belong to? It seems odd you wouldn't mention it since it is allegedly different from the rest.

      You said, "My monthly fee is $100, I have to sell $300 to cover that- if I can’t see $300 in a month, then I am just not working."

      Why do you have to pay a monthly fee? As a member of the MLM, shouldn't they be paying you to help market their goods and sell their products or services? Also, just doing some quick math, your numbers don't make sense. I have never seen a business where a person is getting upwards of 33% commissions for their sales unless the product is grossly overpriced. The usual commission for a sales representative is much lower.

      You said, "Many MLMs out there are cheaper to join- just look and you will find them."

      Yes, the entry point for MLMs varies, but ultimately the success rate is the same, which is effectively 1%. That is across the board and has been substantiated through various researchers. A cursory Google search will show this.

      You said, "Any company that requires you carry inventory and replenish it monthly,, "

      This is an old tactic and not a concern any more. The FTC has stopped front-end loading.

      You said, "whether or not you sell to actual customers is a company I would steer clear of."

      Again, which MLM are you referencing? To date, I have never seen a MLM specifically target sales to people outside of the company. They don't seem to care where the money comes from and usually focus on recruiting. They even invent new terms to obfuscate this detail, such as "End user", "Ultimate user", or some other variation.

      Delete
    2. You said, "MLMs actually don’t require distributors to carry inventory or purchase a monthly quota."

      Yes and no. They don't require distributors to carry inventory, but there most certainly are quotas to receive bonuses, which is where most of the earnings come from.

      You said, "You want something fool-proof? Let me know when you find it. It doesn’t exist."

      This is irrelevant nonsense. This has nothing to do with the topic, and we can all agree nothing is "fool-proof".

      You said, "I don’t know of any MLM, other than Amway that has this cult like philosophy."

      I highly suggest you watch "Betting on Zero" on Netflix, or attend a meeting involving any of the various MLMs. They all use the same tactics to shut down your cognitive faculties.

      You said, "Is it easier if your friends and family support you? Hell yes!!! But when they don’t, nobody cuts anyone off."

      That's simply not true. That may be from your limited experience, but there are plenty of references that prove this statement is false. There is a Facebook group called, "Sounds like MLM but okay", and they can show tons of MLMers being cut off due to their annoying messages.


      You said, "My sponsors husband doesn’t support her, it’s really no big deal to the company, maybe it is to her."

      Why would it be a big deal to the company? They are getting their money. It should only matter to her.

      You said, "I know many people, various organizations who do not have supportive families, nobody is asked to distance themselves."

      I find this hard to believe, but regardless, even if the company doesn't ask, they will soon do it themselves. People will not want to associate with MLMers for long because it quickly becomes an obsession.

      You said, "Most Uplines in an MLM encourage you to reach out to sideline partners and outside resources."

      I have no idea what this means.

      You said, "The only way they are successful is if you are successful."

      This is code for, you can only be successful if you can recruit others and teach them to repeat the process. There is no emphasis on selling the good or service, therefore the only way to be successful is through recruitment. This is more of the thought-stopping rhetoric that gets MLMers into trouble.

      You said, "Amway has a terrible reputation, and there may be other MLMs just like it, but most have a completely different ideology and operating philosophy."

      Which ones? Why are you being so vague? I have to call BS, because you can't substantiate any of these claims, or at least allow me to try and do it.

      Here is the root of the issue. Amway is the creator of MLM. Every MLM that comes afterward has to use Amway's structure, otherwise it wouldn't be MLM. If the founding MLM company is flawed, because the business concept is flawed, then every other MLM that comes afterward will also be flawed.

      Delete
  14. From the comments you have been making on your main blog about Tyson Zahner, I'd already guessed that whilst you had no direct experience of Tyson's courses, you must have had a bad experience with MLM at some point - since it was the fact he 'promotes' MLM that seems to automatically make him a scammer.

    Reading about your experience with Amway, I'm not surprised you feel the way your do, and am appalled to hear that somebody told you to ditch your fiancee in order to be part of the business, and that they seemed to be combining it with evangelical Christianity.

    However I agree with the previous posting by 'anonymous', that this is certainly not representative of how MLM is done, and this kind of extreme and unethical behaviour gives the whole industry a bad reputation.

    And I am speaking from first hand experience I have been involved - on and off, with a series of MLM companies over the years - starting with Amway back in 1981 when it was first being introduced in the UK.

    So I am replying in some detail - as you were asking 'Anonymous' for actual examples. I have plenty - I'm breaking this up into a series of postings which will now follow...

    ReplyDelete
  15. So here's what my experience has been, to date, with MLM….

    To be fair, my own exposure to Amway didn't involve any of those extreme brainwashing tactics: I became involved via a friend who was part of the same spiritual community who invited me round, showed me the plan, and demonstrated the products, as an alternative way to make money.

    I did sign up and make some sales from among friends and family and recruited one other person by simply telling them about the plan and the products. Aside from purchasing a starter kit for £15 (about $20) There was no requirement to buy additional tools or purchase products every month other than to fulfil customer orders.

    I felt the products were actually good value for money - although they cost more to initially purchase, they lasted a long time, and the friends/family members who purchased from me were satisfied with their purchases.

    Also the person within our community who was the first to start sponsoring people did rise up to 'group director' and we all attended a meeting where she received recognition for this - and I found it encouraging that one of us at least had achieved some success.

    I myself found it difficult, however, to really make any money at it, because the only way to find additional customers was by setting up more meetings about the opportunity. And also, because it relied on speaking to people we knew, it very quickly saturated our community as most of us all knew each other and there wasn't any clear way at the time to find either customers of people to sponsor outside of people we knew.

    We did all attend a national meeting - just for one day - which did had that energised atmosphere of creating a lot of excitement. One of our group left as a result of attending as he found it to be 'gross'. But there were none of the tactics of sleep deprivation or pressurising people that you have described.

    So I don't know whether that is something that has always been a part of Amway, or something that has since crept into it - but I certainly wouldn't want anything to do with any network marketing company that used those kinds of tactics.

    ReplyDelete
  16. As to what I've experienced since - I'd say as an industry it definitely has evolved…..

    The second one I joined was a UK company called L'Arome who offered high quality fragrances and related products using the same ingredients as the expensive 'designer brands' but at a lower cost. So again it was providing good value to customers and I did make regular sales through presenting the products to people I knew or came into contact with.

    They folded eventually, however, because of lawsuits from one of the designer brands who accused them of infringing their intellectual property - even though they had always made it clear to distributors that they must not mention any designer brand names when promoting the fragrances.

    Which I think illustrates how sometimes it's not always the company but the behaviour of over zealous distributors that causes a problem.

    The next one I got involved in was Cabouchon, founded by a woman in Germany, selling high quality costume jewellery. That appealed to me because I loved the products, as did my Mum who was my best customer, but I found it difficult to find other people who were interested in what was quite a high end product - although offered at an affordable price.

    Cabouchon went under because the woman who started it got greedy. My upline from Cabouchon then joined another company, nutrition for Life, which did involve a monthly purchase, although it was meant to be 'transfer buying' replacing foods that you would normally buy from the supermarket.

    I was unable to persuade anyone else to become a customer, so that didn't really go anywhere.

    The next one I joined was a UK company called Kleeneze, as they had taken over the Cabouchon brand, and offered a mechanism for finding customers by dropping off a printed catalogue in the local neighbourhood. I did have some success with that initially through retailing to local customers, and achieved the first level 'award' as a silver distributor - the first time I'd ever qualified for anything in MLM, so a breakthrough for me.

    But I found it hard to maintain that level of sales consistently, and almost impossible to get anyone to join, because of the very negative perception people had of MLM.

    I tried Avon for a while, and again made some sales and got a couple of regular customers, and the products were good value, but I was restricted to specific houses in my neighbourhood, even though some of them were already buying the products from their friends or work colleagues, so that restricted my ability to find additional customers, and then the area manager just gave my 'territory' to somebody else and didn't even bother to tell me. So that has been my worst experience to date, because of how I was treated by that particular company employee.

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  17. I decided quite recently to get active again in Kleeneze, because of the opportunities that are now opening up for selling products online, as well as through the printed catalogues.

    Kleeneze, however, recently went into administration because of 'trouble at the top', mainly to do with the Americans who had taken ownership of the company and, from what I have been told, were just exploiting it through 'asset stripping' and also caused some major problems with the transfer over from the previous owners.

    But if you want an example of people who feel positive towards and very loyal to an MLM company, Kleeneze illustrates this: both distributors and even customers were willing to put money in to try to buy out the company to keep it going, as a distributor-owned company. This is not through any arm twisting or brainwashing tactics, but because they have been able to earn money with the company and have built a base of loyal customers who clearly appreciate the products and the service that this has been providingg to them.

    The MD of the company recognised the network of distributors is the company's most valuable asset, and adopted 'stronger together' as the new company slogan. That bid was unsuccessful, but the MD is still determined to bring the company back in a new incarnation, and many people are saying they would re-join.

    For me that is a clear indication of how this type of business is starting to evolve, and does in fact have the potential to become a new way of doing business.

    I think what these examples show is that the problem - as in many other areas of activity, and especially in business - is the people involved, and their level of integrity - or lack of it!

    Things go wrong when people are driven purely by greed and selfish interest - both at the top level, with the owners/company founders, or with the people who become distributors.

    I have now just joined yet another company, Oriflame which my upline from Kleeneze has joined in the meantime, although they are still behind the MD of Kleeneze in his efforts to bring that company back.

    Whilst all the previous ones I have been in do require a small investment - usually around $50 - to get started, with Oriflame whilst there's the option to invest a small amount - around $30 - in printed catalogues and/or a 'starter kit', it's actually free to register, and for that you receive authorisation to sell their products, together with access to training materials and an online webshop and virtual catalogue.

    This means other people who like the products can join just to benefit from getting a discount on the products, which are already at affordable prices but of good quality. They also have a strong ethical stance on sustainable sourcing, fair trade and help to support various charities.

    So I think this is a clear indication that as an industry MLM definitely is evolving, and being made much more accessible.

    And as regards how it affects their relationships with their nearest and dearest, I've heard a lot of people in recent times say that what motivates them in this type of business is to be able to ultimately create more time freedom to spend with their families, especially their children, as well as be able to provide for them.

    Compared to the costs, and risks, of starting a bricks and mortar business, or even an online business, an MLM opportunity - when done in a fair and ethical way - does provide great value for anyone who wants a low risk way to get started in a business, and receive support and training, without having to invest a large amount of money.

    With the companies I have joined there t & c's do actually stipulate that distributors must conduct their activities in an ethical manner, and not make misleading claims about either the products or the opportunity.

    So I'm pretty sure if anyone behaved as these Amway people did, based on your description, they would be booted out by many MLM companies.

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  18. I think there's still room for improvement in the kind of psychology that is used, and the methods of marketing.

    And one person who I think is really at the cutting edge of finding more effective ways to do this, based on sound marketing principles used in a conventional business - is Tyson Zahner. I really think you have totally misunderstood what he is all about - and what does in fact make him very much qualified to help people in this area.

    But I'll say more about that on your main blog where you have been discussing him specifically...

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  19. Merlina --

    Thank you for your story and your cordial writing. I'm not going to respond to everything, but there are some key points I would like to address.

    You said, "From the comments you have been making on your main blog about Tyson Zahner, I'd already guessed that whilst you had no direct experience of Tyson's courses, you must have had a bad experience with MLM at some point - since it was the fact he 'promotes' MLM that seems to automatically make him a scammer."

    I have watched and read a fair amount of Tyson's "work". I put "work" in quotations because most of it is ripped off from others that came before him. He offers nothing of value, acts as an expert on something he doesn't fully understand, and profits from, rather than enriches others with his "teachings". Tyson is not different from any other false guru or self-help expert, and his teachings are not going to help you be successful. I vigorously wrote about him because he made a lot of false and misleading claims about "Amway", as well as MLM in general, and he pretended to be an unbiased third party. He is a charlatan.

    You said, "However I agree with the previous posting by 'anonymous', that this is certainly not representative of how MLM is done, and this kind of extreme and unethical behaviour gives the whole industry a bad reputation."

    I'm not hyperbolic when I say this, there are thousands of people with stories similar to mine. In fact, there are so many stories that are regularly available about MLMers taking advantage of faith, marriage, friendship, love, and dreams, it would take years to read them all. I'm at a loss as to how you think my story is atypical, especially since statistics show I'm part of the overwhelming majority of those that have had negative experiences.

    You said, "I became involved via a friend who was part of the same spiritual community who invited me round, showed me the plan, and demonstrated the products, as an alternative way to make money."

    You are confirming my point about people taking advantage of a bond, or in this case a "spiritual community" to make a dollar. MLMers only make money through recruitment, the sales of goods or services are simply a byproduct of the "business opportunity". They recruited you because they knew you would spend money with them.

    You said, "There was no requirement to buy additional tools or purchase products every month other than to fulfil customer orders."

    This doesn't sound like Amway. Even in "1981", the "LOS" groups required monthly services and purchases. I'm not sure how you got around that, but that is an anomaly.

    You said, "Also the person within our community who was the first to start sponsoring people did rise up to 'group director' and we all attended a meeting where she received recognition for this - and I found it encouraging that one of us at least had achieved some success."

    The reason why that person rose to the top was because they started the pyramid in your group. They used your "spiritual group" as cash cow, and they took advantage of your bond. This isn't something to praise.

    You said, "We did all attend a national meeting - just for one day - which did had that energised atmosphere of creating a lot of excitement. One of our group left as a result of attending as he found it to be 'gross'. But there were none of the tactics of sleep deprivation or pressurising people that you have described."

    Again, that doesn't sound like Amway. Their 4 major events are all longer than one day, require lots of hours of attendance, and are constantly pressuring you to purchase their cd's, clothes, and products. I don't know what you attended, but it wasn't the same thing, and that may be because it wasn't in the States.

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  20. You said, "Which I think illustrates how sometimes it's not always the company but the behaviour of over zealous distributors that causes a problem."

    This is a regular tactic of MLMs. They brainwash their members to blame other members rather than the organization. It is not the members that should be held accountable, but rather the organization that allows its members to act negligently. If you went to Sainsbury's and had a manager giving you a hard time, you wouldn't go after the manager, you would go after the store. It's the same concept here.

    You said, "Cabouchon went under because the woman who started it got greedy. My upline from Cabouchon then joined another company, nutrition for Life, which did involve a monthly purchase, although it was meant to be 'transfer buying' replacing foods that you would normally buy from the supermarket."

    This is not a novel concept. Amway has been doing this forever. They try to suggest you are purchasing from "your store" instead of "their store" (meaning Target, Walmart, Sainsbury's etc.). They act as though it is money you are going to spend anyway, so you might as well spend it with them. This makes you a customer, not a "distributor".

    You said, "both distributors and even customers were willing to put money in to try to buy out the company to keep it going, as a distributor-owned company."

    This is one of the biggest issues I have always had with MLM. There is no difference between "distributors" and "customers". They are all considered "end users". This is one of the most absurd parts of MLM, and something that continues to obfuscate the reality of the scam.

    You said, "I think what these examples show is that the problem - as in many other areas of activity, and especially in business - is the people involved, and their level of integrity - or lack of it!"

    No, no, no! The problem is the only thing these groups have in common, they are all MLMs. The only thing you have proven with these examples is your inability to understand MLM has never been more than a hobby for you for the past 37 years. This is an astonishingly long period of time to be messing around with this "business", and the fact that you don't realize you have been a brainwashed adherent is extremely concerning.

    You said, "And as regards how it affects their relationships with their nearest and dearest, I've heard a lot of people in recent times say that what motivates them in this type of business is to be able to ultimately create more time freedom to spend with their families, especially their children, as well as be able to provide for them. "

    Merlina, you have been doing this for 37 years. You have bounced around from MLM to MLM with an incredible amount of failure. Take a step back and look at how MLM has not brought you closer to any of these goals you listed above. You are living proof that MLM does not bring you closer to family, does not give you free time, does not give you spare income, does not give you opportunity.

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  21. You said, "Compared to the costs, and risks, of starting a bricks and mortar business, or even an online business, an MLM opportunity - when done in a fair and ethical way - does provide great value for anyone who wants a low risk way to get started in a business, and receive support and training, without having to invest a large amount of money."

    I'm curious to know how much oyu spent on MLM the past 30 years. I'm guessing it was a lot less affordable than you think.

    You said, "I really think you have totally misunderstood what he is all about - and what does in fact make him very much qualified to help people in this area."

    What will it take for you to see this is a waste of your time and energy? What will it take for you to see that Tyson is the same as every other scammer? What will it take for you to see it isn't the "people" that are wrong with MLM, but rather it is MLM that is wrong? 37 years of going down this path, and you still believe there is a pot of gold at the end?

    I have to be very direct about this, because it is extremely alarming when I read these comments. I don't know what else you have done over the past 37 years, but I believe anything else would have been a better use of your time. The way in which you are completely oblivious to the MLM programming you have received, and the fact that you continue to throw money and time at this, is some of the most disturbing reading I have done in a while. I honestly encourage you to seek outside opinions and help about this.

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  22. Dear Merlina --

    A lot depends on when exactly you joined up in Amway. From what you say above, it seems that you went into that particular MLM at a time when there were no LOS subsystems at work. In other words, you simply joined Amway, and became one of their distributors.

    This is exactly as it was back in 1970, when my cousin and I were briefly involved. There were no LOS groups back then.

    But now there is no way into the Amway MLM without sponsorship by and linkage to one of the LOS subsystems (WWDB, BWW, Network 21, or several others in an alphabet soup of great variety). And these subsystems are the real source of the corruption and manipulation and the monetary rip-offs that now plague Amway as a whole.

    As for the other MLM businesses that you mention, I can't say anything about their ethical character. I know that Avon has largely had a good reputation, and this might also be true for some of the others that you have had experience with.

    But the fact that you yourself have had so little luck with any MLM does suggest that there is something intrinsically skewed about the entire concept. You seem to be a sincere and hard-working person. Why should your experience with so many MLMs have turned out to be less than ideal? Why has your hard work gone for naught?

    Even the most conscientiously run MLM is burdened by all sorts of pitfalls, uncertainties, and financial traps. It's a hazardous and risky way to make a living. A lot depends on an individual's skill in salesmanship, personal initiative, drive, and above all on the place where you live and the kind of potential customers whom you have access to. You might have success with an MLM business in a small and tightly knit community where everyone knows each other well, and you might fail miserably in a big metropolis where people have access to many stores. The ability of buyers to walk into a store and pick up things they need at any time, or to order them from a catalogue, are tremendous obstacles to any MLM. And the resistance of most people to being recruited into some complex "plan" is another.

    The anti-MLM movement here in the states is driven by the sheer greed and lying that characterize most MLMs in this country. In the US, most MLMs are scandalous frauds designed to bilk ignorant persons out of their money. It might be different in the UK.

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  23. I have not in fact spent 37 years pursuing network marketing - and I think if I had done so and stuck with it more I might well be reaping some of the rewards of at the very least some extra income. With the exception of nutrition for life, I have been successful in every instance in finding paying customers who were satisfied with the products, and in the case of Kleeneze was able to achieve the first bonus level through retail alone.

    Well to me if there are real customers who value the product or service and feel they are getting value - and don't ask for their money back (most legitimate MLM companies offer a money back guarantee to customers and will also refund the distributor in the case of a return) - then that to me is a legitimate business.

    If I'd persisted and continued to expand my customer base, then I would have had a retail income, and if I'd persisted in promoting the opportunity I would have eventually found people to join me, and if I had then used my own experience helped them to do the same as me, and build their own customer base, then I would have moved up the plan.

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  24. However, I think you're pretty spot on where you say it's been more of a hobby - I would say more of an experiment, so I've tended to just poke at it rather than really commit a lot of time and energy.

    And I've always been very cautious when it comes to making any kind of financial investment - aside from initial payments of around $50 to join, most of my investment has tended to be in purchasing some of the products that I liked anyway, both for personal use and for use in my business, and with the benefit of getting a discount.

    With Oriflame they even promote that for customers who simply want to purchase the products at a discount.

    The reason it tends have been more of an experiment for me, rather than something I've really been prepared to commit to, is - mainly - because I have always had reservations about the 'recruiting' side of it, and some of the psychology that has been used, and just the difficulty in actually finding enough customers to make it work in practice - especially in the case of Amway and Avon where there were restrictions in what we were able to do to find customers.

    And it was definitely Amway I joined, and nobody was exploiting our community - we were interested in finding alternative ways to earn money to support ourselves and a project to create a residential community.

    I got a lift with the guy who originally introduced Amway to our community, and had an interesting and thoughtful conversation with him, and he didn't even ask me to share petrol costs as he said I had 'contributed in other ways'.

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  25. Amway was, however, focused on the opportunity rather than the products, on the basis that even if people weren't interested in the opportunity at least some of them would become customers and buy the products, so in that way distributors would build a customer base in the process.

    This approach has a basic flaw, however - as the people looking for a way to earn money were not necessarily going to be interested in the products. Also because it relied on contacting friends and family, who again may not be in need of those particular products, or else may not be looking to start a home based business. Which then makes it very 'hit and miss' as to what results people can actually get.

    Believe me, some of the rhetoric that has been put out by MLM companies and distributors does make me want to tear my hair out at times, because it has this 'one size fits all' approach and does not recognise this major drawback in relying on friends and family.

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  26. What I've seen in the past is companies trying to generate enthusiasm and passion by promoting what can be achieved, and encouraging people to 'go for their dreams', and give the impression that this is going to be easy and does not require much effort, especially when they start talking about 'residual income'.

    I don't think that's necessarily always been intentional, and I think there's also an element of people 'hearing what they want to hear' - apparently most people only take in about 10% of what is presented in a talk.

    But as the saying goes, 'the path to hell is paved with 'good intentions', and along with the phrase 'the blind leading the blind', I think that is a pretty good summing up of why MLM has not worked out for so many people, and clearly has left a lot of people feeling disillusioned and cynical.

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  27. And I do think MLM companies have to take some responsibility for having created this, and become an industry that has severely damaged its own reputation.

    And this has come about through adopting this 'positive thinking' approach which denies anything 'negative'. It also encourages a tendency to label people who question things as being negative. Or if anyone tries to suggest there could be better ways of doing the business, of creating complications and 'attempting to re-invent the wheel'.

    So believe me - I have my eyes wide open about the short-comings in how network marketing has been done up until now, and the somewhat blinkered and ostrich-like stance adopted by both companies and some of the distrubutors and uplines I've come across.

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  28. And re hearing 'outside opinions' - are you kidding? Every time I've tried to speak to people about the opportunity I get to hear 'outside opinions', and am well aware of the fact there are a lot of very negative opinions out there, and that both myself and anyone I introduce is going to come across them, and potentially be exposed to accusations of being 'scammers'.

    That above all else has made me hold back, up until now, on really commiting to this type of business, because of how even legitimate MLM businesses offering genuine opportunities get tarred with the same brush as illegal pyramid schemes.

    That is now a major challenge that anyone who gets involved with MLM has to take on board.

    Also partly why I've ended up reading your blog and posting about my experiences, and engaging in this kind of exchange, rather than just ignoring what you are saying, which is undoubtedly what my upline would advise me to do.

    I have a mind of my own, plus a first class Honours degree in Sociology with Psychology, and am perfectly capable of thinking for myself, thank you very much!

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  29. As regards what else I've been doing - besides academic study and various part time/temporary employment, usually working for peanuts, I have directed and produced videos and also provided this as a service, filming weddings and also documenting arts and cultural events.

    I've found it hard to generate a sustainable income from this, however, and have had some soul destroying experiences where I have ended up working for peanuts because of demanding clients who try to be film directors without understanding the processes involved.

    The fact is, starting any kind of business or self employment is risky, and not easy, especially if you don't have much money to invest. It often means having to go to the bank for a loan, and putting your property at risk.

    it involves a lot of hard work just to get the business off the ground. So whilst the 'majority' of people who join MLM don't succeed, that is also true of the majority of business start ups.

    To become a successful entrepreneur, or even make a living being self employed, does require a very different mindset to being an employee. It requires a lot of self motivation and determination, in order to be able to stay focused and be able to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably arise. It means being prepared to put a lot of work in, in the beginning, for little or no financial reward.

    That is as true of an MLM business as any other kind of business - and these days, at least with the people in Kleeneze, the speakers at presentations do emphasise this fact.

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  30. MLM does reduce a lot of the risk and overheads that would otherwise be incurred in starting a retail business - have you any idea what it actually costs to open a brick and mortar business - just to set up shop? That's before you even start sourcing products and buying in stock, and paying rent and business rates - with no guarantee that customers are going to buy from you.

    And even with a home based online business - it costs to research and source the products, and to create an online webstore, and a virtual catalogue, and set up a payment processing facility, then there's the issue of stock control and the risk of 'over trading' if your business starts to expand.

    What MLM offers is an opportunity to partner with a company that that takes care of the sourcing of the products and warehousing, as well as IT, digital webstore and catalogue, as well as providing product samples and printed catalogues for a small investment - a lot less than it would cost a retailer to produce these things themselves.

    Plus you get the training and support and mentoring from being part of a team, where people who have become successful pass on their expertise. You don't usually get that when starting up a conventional business - or else you have to pay sometimes a large amount just to receive coaching and mentoring.

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  31. Which brings me onto the subject of Tyson Zahner, which I said I was going to follow up on - and since you've mentioned him here, I will continue on this thread.

    As I've already mentioned, I do have some major misgivings and criticisms about how MLM has been promoted and what people have been told to do in the past, and still now to some extent - particularly 'speak to your friends and family'.

    For me, Tyson Zahner is a breath of fresh air, in that he acknowledges that these methods being taught in MLM more often than not don't work, and can even drive away friends and family - which is a point you have raised.

    And he knows this from his own personal experience, having previously tried MLM with three different companies and failed miserably. He swore at one point that he would never again get involved with MLM. So I imagine he might well have simply joined the ranks of people with a negative view of MLM, and might have been writing a blog similar to your own.

    But he had managed in the meantime to be successful in a conventional business that he created - with the portrait photography studio, and also with a business he started selling 'snow cones'.

    So what he's done is applied some of the principles that have enabled him to create a successful conventional business, to network marketing. In other words he is somebody who previously 'failed' - three times over - and had a 'bad experience' with MLM, including losing face and credibility with his friends and family. But instead of giving up and blaming the companies, he has transformed his experience of failure into a success, by figuring out why it wasn't working and finding some solutions.

    And that, as far as I'm concerned, is what qualifies him. Anyone who can transform a failure into a success, and come through a negative experience and turn it around, does have something of value to offer.

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  32. Merlina --

    Thank you again for the extensive comment(s). I'm going to do my best to address, what I would consider, the most salient points.

    You said, "I have not in fact spent 37 years pursuing network marketing - and I think if I had done so and stuck with it more I might well be reaping some of the rewards of at the very least some extra income."

    The income disclosure statistics argue differently. It doesn't matter how much time or effort you put into MLM, there is a near mathematical certainty you will fail. This is due to the issues with the actual "business opportunity" as it focuses on endless recruitment rather than products. I know you have tried to do MLM the correct way by focusing on the products, but that isn't the correct way to make any income. Since you have taken the time to read my post(s), I would highly encourage you to read the way in which the MLM plan was formed, by Amway, as published by David Brear:

    http://mlmtheamericandreammadenightmare.blogspot.com/2017/10/amwaynutrilite-to-herbalife-all-mlm.html

    You said, "If I'd persisted and continued to expand my customer base, then I would have had a retail income, and if I'd persisted in promoting the opportunity I would have eventually found people to join me, and if I had then used my own experience helped them to do the same as me, and build their own customer base, then I would have moved up the plan."

    Again, this is a Utopian fantasy that is portrayed on video by the .1% of members that came into the "business opportunity" first. The truth is, by the time you were introduced to the "business", it was probably too late to recruit the vast number of participants you would need to earn these high level incomes.

    You said, "The reason it tends have been more of an experiment for me, rather than something I've really been prepared to commit to, is - mainly - because I have always had reservations about the 'recruiting' side of it, and some of the psychology that has been used, and just the difficulty in actually finding enough customers to make it work in practice - especially in the case of Amway and Avon where there were restrictions in what we were able to do to find customers."

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  33. Ding, ding, ding! Listen to your gut! This is exactly correct, and the crux of the issue with MLM. There should not be a focus on recruitment if the product is good.

    You said, "Amway was, however, focused on the opportunity rather than the products, on the basis that even if people weren't interested in the opportunity at least some of them would become customers and buy the products, so in that way distributors would build a customer base in the process."

    Exactly! There are no MLMs that differ from this approach. The fundamental way MLMs make money is through the endless recruitment scheme attached to the product or service. That product or service is either an advance-fee for entry to the fraud, or a continuous monthly fee to continue being in the fraud.

    You said, "Believe me, some of the rhetoric that has been put out by MLM companies and distributors does make me want to tear my hair out at times, because it has this 'one size fits all' approach and does not recognise this major drawback in relying on friends and family."

    Exactly! You seem to have continuously nailed down the issues with MLM, and yet you continue to go back and drink from the same well. This cognitive dissonance is baffling to me!

    You said, "What I've seen in the past is companies trying to generate enthusiasm and passion by promoting what can be achieved, and encouraging people to 'go for their dreams', and give the impression that this is going to be easy and does not require much effort, especially when they start talking about 'residual income'."

    This is perfect! I couldn't have said it better myself!

    You said, "And this has come about through adopting this 'positive thinking' approach which denies anything 'negative'. It also encourages a tendency to label people who question things as being negative. Or if anyone tries to suggest there could be better ways of doing the business, of creating complications and 'attempting to re-invent the wheel'."

    Yes! This is the reason I created the blog! People are losing their critical thinking faculties, but this doesn't seem to be apparent with you. You are the first MLMer to acknowledge the "never say negative" issue. This is great!

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  34. You said, "And re hearing 'outside opinions' - are you kidding? Every time I've tried to speak to people about the opportunity I get to hear 'outside opinions', and am well aware of the fact there are a lot of very negative opinions out there, and that both myself and anyone I introduce is going to come across them, and potentially be exposed to accusations of being 'scammers'."

    No! We lost you Merlina! They aren't "opinions", these are the facts about MLM. You were just talking about the problems with MLM, and yet when other people say it, they are just giving "opinions". You know that isn't correct.

    You said, "That above all else has made me hold back, up until now, on really commiting to this type of business, because of how even legitimate MLM businesses offering genuine opportunities get tarred with the same brush as illegal pyramid schemes."

    Merlina don't start using the canned propaganda lines! You were so close to a breakthrough! There is no "legitimate MLM business", and the reason they are "tagged with the same brush as illegal pyramid schemes" is due to the fact that they are one and the same. You already know this and explained it!

    You said, "I have a mind of my own, plus a first class Honours degree in Sociology with Psychology, and am perfectly capable of thinking for myself, thank you very much!"

    I believe you are capable of thinking for yourself, but you are still showing signs of the brainwashing and cognitive dissonance.

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  35. You said, "it involves a lot of hard work just to get the business off the ground. So whilst the 'majority' of people who join MLM don't succeed, that is also true of the majority of business start ups."

    I don't believe this is accurate. This is another MLM propaganda line to help obfuscate the reality of MLM being bad. There are statistics that show small businesses have much higher rates of survival than MLM. Here is a source from the "SBA":

    https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Business-Survival.pdf

    Also, here is a source that shows the failure rates of MLM:

    https://www.thebalancesmb.com/the-likelihood-of-mlm-success-1794500

    As you can see, the failure rates for MLM are nearly 100% whereas the failure rates for small businesses about 50% in the first 5 years. It is much more likely that you will find success in small business, if you simply look at the overall success statistics.

    You said, "MLM does reduce a lot of the risk and overheads that would otherwise be incurred in starting a retail business - have you any idea what it actually costs to open a brick and mortar business - just to set up shop?"

    Yes, but it also has a nearly 100% failure rate, so why bother with a terrible opportunity? The cost of starting a brick and mortar store is a straw man that is also commonly used by MLM apologists.

    You said, "What MLM offers is an opportunity to partner with a company that that takes care of the sourcing of the products and warehousing, as well as IT, digital webstore and catalogue, as well as providing product samples and printed catalogues for a small investment - a lot less than it would cost a retailer to produce these things themselves."

    No, no, no! You aren't partnering with them, you are purchasing from them. They are giving you an "opportunity" and/or a product or service for your money. You are a customer! This is not something other legitimate businesses do.

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  36. You said, "Plus you get the training and support and mentoring from being part of a team, where people who have become successful pass on their expertise. You don't usually get that when starting up a conventional business - or else you have to pay sometimes a large amount just to receive coaching and mentoring."

    Wait, what!? You just said it was the "blind leading the blind"! Now you are saying they have valuable coaching and training? Merlina, what is happening!? You know that coaching and mentoring stuff is nonsense, you said it yourself!

    You said, "And he knows this from his own personal experience, having previously tried MLM with three different companies and failed miserably. He swore at one point that he would never again get involved with MLM. So I imagine he might well have simply joined the ranks of people with a negative view of MLM, and might have been writing a blog similar to your own."

    First of all, why would you take advice from a habitual failure in MLM? Second, why would you assume that I repeat my mistakes? Third, I don't make anything from this, it is a service for the community. Please don't equate me to that hooligan.

    You said, "But he had managed in the meantime to be successful in a conventional business that he created - with the portrait photography studio, and also with a business he started selling 'snow cones'."

    So, why would a "successful" business man be pushing a "business" that he failed at three times? Could it be, that he learned the "business opportunity" is not a good one, but rather selling "coaching and mentoring" is the real money maker? Merlina, you can see he isn't doing this out of the goodness of his heart, right?

    You said, "So what he's done is applied some of the principles that have enabled him to create a successful conventional business, to network marketing. In other words he is somebody who previously 'failed' - three times over - and had a 'bad experience' with MLM, including losing face and credibility with his friends and family. But instead of giving up and blaming the companies, he has transformed his experience of failure into a success, by figuring out why it wasn't working and finding some solutions."

    Not only does this make no sense, but it is a wildly inaccurate portrayal of Tyson. He is a successful MLMer, and he boasts about how he is one of the top representatives of his "vacation MLM". He understands that he gets paid "peanuts" for that compared to running a "training" program in which he can reap all of the rewards, and by using his "business success" he can camouflage himself as a person with expertise. Not only do his other businesses have no relationship to MLM, but his trainings allow him to profit from, rather than enrich his students.

    You said, "And that, as far as I'm concerned, is what qualifies him. Anyone who can transform a failure into a success, and come through a negative experience and turn it around, does have something of value to offer."

    Well, according to your logic, you should listen to me since I have turned my negative Amway experience into a positive blog that has helped thousands of people get valuable information. I have had over 100,000 visitors to this website, and have had many people compliment my writing. This has all been free of charge, so there isn't a financial bias either. Maybe, just maybe, you should stop taking the advice of people that have a financial incentive for you to listen.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Dear Merlina --

    No one has the right to analyze the psychology or motives of a stranger, and I certainly will not do that with you.

    But I take the liberty here to comment, in an oblique manner, on your 37-year on-and-off-again relationship with various MLMs.

    Let me use my poor cousin as the subject of analysis. He briefly roped me into the Amway scheme back in 1970. I lasted less than a year, realizing after a few months that the entire set-up was unsuited to my habits and thinking. My cousin lasted about a year longer than that. He never made any significant profit, despite his frantic efforts.

    But Amway had poisoned my cousin's thoughts. He never -- NEVER! -- got the MLM "dream" bug out of his mind. Ever since that time he has been involved in one hopeless business deal after another, barely making enough cash to survive. In every one of these deals he has been seduced either by some kind of "get-in-on-the-ground-floor" propaganda, or by the lure of "residual income," or by the idea that he would now be "an independent businessman," making his way towards uncounted riches.

    Everyone in our family has tried to advise him against the more harebrained of these various schemes. My elderly father specifically warned him against a "contract" that gave him no equity whatsoever in a retail business that he joined and slaved at for over five years. All to no avail. The MLM mirage had impressed itself on my cousin's soul. He is now over 70, and drives a limousine to make a precarious living.

    What is it about the MLM mirage that still clearly attracts you? You continue to defend "the dream," saying that it is all your own fault for not persevering. I don't know you, but that sounds very like my poor cousin, who still won't say a syllable against Amway or the entire MLM concept.

    Every MLM uses this particular lie to disarm criticism: "If you fail, it's your fault, not ours!" You seem to have bought into that deception.

    You are clearly a woman of intelligence, perception, and capacity. Why not consider the possibility that the fault of all MLM schemes (even honest ones!) lies in their own intrinsic structure?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merlina May -

      (Short) Questionaire for Past, and Present,
      'Multi-Level Marketing Income Opportunity'
      Adherents.

      (Respondents are advised first to read all the questions before making any answer).

      1. Was the person who first approached you to participate in 'MLM,' a friend or relative (i.e. a person with whom you enjoyed a relationship based on love and trust)?

      2. Did the 'MLM' recruiter present a bleak picture of the world of traditional employment, in which most people are forced to go out to work for 45 years with only retirement and a limited pension to look forward to?

      3. Did the recruiter present the 'MLM Income Opportunity' as a viable alternative to the world of traditional employment, in which it is possible for anyone to retire and enjoy total financial freedom, after a just a few years of concentrated effort?

      4. At the time you were recruited, would you say that you were entirely satisfied with life; particularly, your achievements, education, career/employment status/prospects, home, relationships, social standing, salary, etc.?

      5. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with your life at the time you were recruited?

      6. When, and how, were you first approached to participate in 'MLM' and when was the name of the sponsoring company first mentioned?'
      Was 'MLM' first presented to you individually or as part of a group?
      Did the presentation comprise drawing circles containing numbers and percentages on a board or sheet of paper?
      Did you fully-understand the presentation?
      Was the presentation given by a man with a woman nodding in agreement next to him?
      Were you given to believe that anyone could understand 'MLM?'
      Did the recruiters seem generally happy and excited as though they had wonderful news to share?

      7. What prior knowledge did you have of 'MLM?'

      8. What was your initial reaction when you were approached?

      9. At the time you signed up, what did you believe to be the success-rate of persons participating in 'MLM' schemes (i.e. about what percentage of participants did you think made an overall net-income out of 'MLM')?

      10. Were you ever shown any independent quantifiable evidence (e.g. income tax payment receipts) proving that anyone has ever made an overall net-income out of participating in 'MLM?'

      11. Did you ever ask to see such evidence?

      12. Could you give a brief explanation of what you understand by the term pyramid scheme or scam?

      13. What would you say was the essential identifying characteristic of pyramid scams, Ponzi schemes, money circulation games, chain letter scams, etc.?

      14. Were you given to believe that 'MLM' schemes are not pyramid scams, because they involve the sale of products, and/or services, to customers and end users, and offer money-back guarantees?


      Delete
    2. 15. Were you given to believe that 'MLM' schemes cannot be frauds, because they have existed for decades and have been investigated and approved by governments around the world?

      16. Were you given to believe that 'MLM' schemes cannot be frauds, because celebrities (including senior politicians) have endorsed 'MLM' schemes?

      17. Were you given to believe that 'MLM' schemes cannot be frauds, because their sponsors have given money to charity?

      18. Were you given to believe that 'MLM' schemes cannot be frauds, because they have sponsored professional sports stars and teams?

      19. What was your main motivation for joining an 'MLM' scheme :
      to earn income?
      to buy products and/or services at a discount price

      Delete
    3. 20. Before you signed up, were your encouraged by the recruiter to seek independent legal/financial advice?

      21. Did you ever seek independent legal/financial advice?

      22. What initially convinced you that 'MLM' was an authentic opportunity to earn income?

      23. At the time you signed up, did you have any knowledge of pernicious groups that employ co-ordinated devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion - designed to shut down the critical and evaluative faculties of ill-informed individuals in order to exploit them and prevent them from complaining?

      24. Could you give a brief explanation of what you understand by the terms:
      Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
      brainwashing?
      coercive behaviour modification?
      group pressure?
      covert hypnosis?
      ego-destruction?
      thought reform?
      mental manipulation?
      love bombing?
      25. Were you given to believe that it is possible for anyone to replace their income by participating in 'MLM?'

      26. Were you given to believe that after achieving a certain level of income in MLM you could cease all activity and receive the same residual income for the rest of your life?

      27. Were you given to believe that this residual income could be passed on to your descendants after your death?

      Delete
    4. 28. During you time in an 'MLM' group, were you taught that the 'exact duplication of a proven step-by-step plan' would bring you 'total financial freedom?'

      29. As part of this 'proven plan,' were you taught:
      to alter you habitual way of speaking (if yes, give a brief explanation)?
      to alter your habitual way of dressing (if yes, give a brief explanation)?
      to alter you habitual way of eating (if yes, give a brief explanation)?
      to alter your habitual sleep pattern (if yes, give a brief explanation)?
      to alter you habitual social contacts (if yes, give a brief explanation)?
      that everyone above you in your 'MLM Network' was your 'Upline' and everyone beneath you was your 'Downline?'
      that your 'Upline' was to be 'admired and respected?'
      that your 'Upline's success in MLM depended on helping his/her Downline to succeed,'
      to divide everyone, and everything, in your life into 'negative' vs 'positive?'
      that 'MLM' products were to be deemed 'positive' and non-'MLM' products deemed 'negative?'
      that you should buy a regular quota (by value) of 'positive' products?
      that you should draw up a list of prospective 'MLM' recruits comprising everyone you had ever encountered in your life?
      that you should progressively contact all these persons and attempt to recruit them using a precisely-worded 'positive' script?
      that you should never say anything 'negative' about 'MLM?'
      that you should never listen to, or look at, anything 'negative' about 'MLM?'
      that all persons who refused to join you (particularly, those who said 'MLM' is a scam) were to be deemed 'negative' and a threat to your own success?
      that all 'negative' persons were also to be deemed losers, whiners, etc., and should be excluded from your life?
      that all persons with regular jobs were to be labelled 'Just Over Broke' losers?
      that you should only have contact with 'positive winners?'
      that you should regularly buy, and listen to, recordings of 'positive winners?'
      that you should regularly buy tickets to, and attend, meetings conducted by 'positive winners' at which you took part in rythmic chanting and moving?
      that you should regularly buy, and read, publications, written by 'positive winners?'
      that you should exactly duplicate the 100% positive mental attitude and behaviour of the 'positive winners' in your 'Upline?'
      that you should regularly visualize your 'dreams an goals' in life (luxury cars, expensive houses, exotic holiday destinations, etc.)
      that you should fix images of your 'dreams and goals' in strategic places in your home?
      that 'all persons who develop a 100% positive mental attitude and never quit, ultimately achieve their dreams and goals in MLM?'
      that 'all persons who fail to achieve their dreams and goals in MLM, are negative losers, whiners, quitters etc., who always try to blame others, when they only have themselves to blame?'
      30. As a result of duplicating the 'proven plan,' did you lose contact with anyone with whom you had previously been close (give brief details)?

      Delete
  38. @John Doe & David Brear

    First off, I wanna thank you gents for the enormous, factual information that you have published; and special thanks to John Doe for taking the time to rebut and correct some of the concerns, queries and outright lies brought forth by current and former MLMers.

    I'm a former WWDB/Amway IBO from Alberta, Canada recruited in the fall of 2015 and active till Summer 2017 in the Dean & Marcie Whalen Org. I was an easy target because I had a previous turn-key business "fail" after 3 years as well as a conservative, albeit progressive. I also had significant debt.
    I swallowed the entire scheme hook, line, sinker; Monthly premium membership, CommuniKate, Standing Orders, Personal Consumption, Books, Nuts & Bolts, Board Plans etc....

    Other than Artistry, the products were mediocre and "OK" at best. I only managed to get one customer despite numerous marketing attempts on various platforms.
    I was encouraged to buy retail, this way I could fool myself that I was getting money back. I was in the red every month and this was not including gas, gate fees and my time.

    While I managed to get on a budget and pay off 60% debt, ultimately I quit after exhausting "all" possible leads (180 something) and becoming a pariah to former friends, workers and church mates.


    *My question is why do you think many fortune 500 corporations e.g. Apple, Grand & Toy, Reebok etc. have partnered with Amway, by way of affiliate marketing, keeping in mind their unethical, "illegal", pump & dump, business practices?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simita --

      Thank you for the kind words! They mean a lot!

      Congratulations on breaking free from the Amway nonsense. These MLMers have no shame, and I'm sure they used your vulnerability and misfortune from your previous business as an opportunity to enrich themselves. There are many groups on Facebook that have similar stories of MLMers preying upon people when they were struggling.

      Some of the stories I have heard involve MLMers coming after prospects at funerals, in the hospital, in rehabilitation centers, and on FB when they are going through a crisis. It sickens me to see these people trying to profit from other's pains.

      To answer your question, there is no "partnership". I previously wrote about this "partner" concept, and how they use that term incorrectly to justify marketing other company's products to their "distributors". Here is a link:
      http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2016/09/amway-partner-store-con.html

      None of these companies sell Amway products, which makes the "partnership" one-sided. I believe Amway is using actual "affiliate marketing" to sell the other company's products and make extra profit from their members.

      Here is the main takeaway. When you join Amway, you do not actually sell the other company's products. Therefore, you are not actually partnered with them, but rather a customer of theirs.

      Delete
    2. Simita - In answer to your question, if you want to understand more clearly how the bosses of 'Amway' can make it appear that they are in partnership with major traditional businesses, then have a look at smaller 'MLM' racketeers who have copied 'Amway's' devious tactics, but who only offer the products of traditional businesses.

      Over the years, I have examined many 'MLM' rackets operating in the US and elsewhere.

      One such 'MLM' racket (based in Sweden and Norway) is called 'Zinzino'. In this, losing participants have been offered 'exclusive' coffee products from a famous Belgian company, Rombouts, but at fixed prices several times those at which the same products were readily available on the Net. (Rombouts products were not available in shops in Scandinavia).

      No one bought Robouts products from the 'Zinzino' racketeers (based on value and demand). 'Zinzino' victims (falsely defined by the 'Zinzino' racketeers as 'customers') have been deceived into buying an investment commodity at exorbitant prices (in the false expectation of future reward) which has rendered the commodity effectively unsaleable on the open market.

      I have spoken at length with the owner of Rombouts, but he insisted that even though his company's name was everywhere in 'Zinzino's' own presentations, he had no legal responsibility for the activities of 'Zinzino,' because the 'Zinzino' company is his only customer, not his 'partner.'

      Delete
    3. Simita - I'm very interested to communicate directly with you. My e-mail address is:

      axiombooks@wanadoo.fr

      Delete
  39. A major source of the trouble is the utterly barbarous verb "to partner." No such verb exists in proper English, nor should it be used by any literate person.

    A "partner" is a legitimate word. So is "partnership." They have specific meanings that can be understood clearly. But the fake verb "to partner" is specifically designed by MLMs as a way to cloud reality. All the word does is suggest a connection and a linkage that are purely chimerical.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks again John & David.

    I love this guy. Below is a conversation I had with 'Ivan' a current WWDB/Amway IBO from Alberta, Canada, fellow Welder and Christian; only 2 days old.
    *I'm myself an African Immigrant; WWDB drones are known to seek out immigrants for obvious reasons.

    After exchanging pleasantries.....

    {ME}....."I will put it simply.

    If your monthly revenue exceeds operating expenses I.e
    -Premium membership
    -Standing Orders
    -CommuniKate
    -Personal consumption of severely Overpriced Amway products
    -Boardplans & Major functions
    -Gas and wear & tear of your vehicle
    -Snacks, coffees etc....

    ...thus you are turning a profit then please carry on and I wish you the best in your endeavours. ��

    *but if you are in the Red like 98% (myself included) according to Amways on stats then I urge you to consider yourself duped.

    If you have Netflix please watch "Betting On Zero".


    {IVAN}...."It sounds like you gave up on your dream... I remember how excited you were when I talked with you last. Sorry to hear that outside influences and people with no dream convinced you to give up on yours.

    Everything worth something takes time to build.

    Why did you leave? You looked up stats from AMWAY that's funny because Amway has no idea about Worldwide.

    {[Can you believe this blatant bullshit??? AMWAY company men/managers litter major functions like roaches]}


    Also you said severely overpriced products. Sounds like you never understood how high quality, exclusive products could create a future for yourself. My guess is you will go back to shopping at Walmart. Well it's 50 years to expensive to shop from a store that you don't own."


    {ME}....."Deflection. The answer is NO.
    Thanks for being cordial.

    The primary commodity of MLMs is false hope except it's a hundred times more expensive than a lottery ticket.

    At the end of the day it's your hard earned money, your time and choice.

    I still have dreams Ivan. Last September I refused to be part of a money-transfer scheme for a bunch of conmen peddling the 'prosperity gospel' disguised as sound financial advice.

    *my ex and I used those products and they were nothing to write home about. Mediocre and grossly expensive? Absolutely!"


    {IVAN}...."Sure it's more of an investment than a lottery ticket but It's totally worth it to invest in growing your self image, your leadership, and to intentionally pursue good people don't you think?

    At the end of the day this opportunity is about people not companies. Sounds like you had a bad experience if you think it's anything to do with a prosperity gospel.

    I'm excited to live a life that reflects my values and getting to invest and build people so they can go out and create an amazing life. I have never heard a prosperity gospel preached.

    I don't care about the products that's not what it is about, but if it will allow me to create finacial independence then I am all for it.

    I hope whatever path you choose to pursue you find success and significance."



    +++ Joel Osteen videos are free on youtube.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simita --

      Thank you for sharing that experience. It's very similar to the experiences many others have had over the past 50 years, and many of the syllogisms are also the same.

      I'd like to highlight a few key parts from "Ivan's" comments.

      "It sounds like you gave up on your dream..."

      The reference to "business opportunities" as "dreams" is inappropriate. This is an immature and emotionally charged statement that savvy business persons would laugh at. Nobody cares about your dreams in the business world, they only care about how to make more money.

      "Sorry to hear that outside influences and people with no dream convinced you to give up on yours."

      I may be missing context, but you never mentioned any "outside influences" in your comment. You explained, very articulately, exactly why Amway doesn't work for you. This sort of canned rebuttal shows the brainwashing has taken significant effect. He isn't listening to you, but rather looking for one of his programmed responses to people that say no.

      "Everything worth something takes time to build"

      This is a bad cliche. These sorts of generic slogans can be applied to anything -- except for MLM.

      "You looked up stats from AMWAY that's funny because Amway has no idea about Worldwide."

      This is a terrible lie. I went to the "FED" in California and there was an Amway representative at the seminar. She presented the "new and exciting" products Amway was rolling out that year.

      "My guess is you will go back to shopping at Walmart. Well it's 50 years to expensive to shop from a store that you don't own."

      I hate to break it to Ivan, but he doesn't own Amway. Not only is Amway not "his store", but he has no ability to make business decisions for Amway.

      "Sure it's more of an investment than a lottery ticket but It's totally worth it to invest in growing your self image, your leadership, and to intentionally pursue good people don't you think?"

      This is code for, even if you don't have financial success, at least you will have something to show for your investment. This "business opportunity" is described as something that will help make you "financially free", and yet they are already coming up with excuses for the inevitable failure.

      "At the end of the day this opportunity is about people not companies."

      I don't know what that means. This is even worse than a generic slogan.

      "Sounds like you had a bad experience..."

      This is deflection. It couldn't possibly be the fault of anyone other than the person that lost.

      "I'm excited to live a life that reflects my values and getting to invest and build people so they can go out and create an amazing life."

      This is more brainwashing nonsense. This person is involved with this "opportunity" to make money, period. The idea that someone is already focused on helping others, even though they cannot help themselves, is one of the most bewildering concepts about this "business opportunity".

      "I don't care about the products that's not what it is about, but if it will allow me to create finacial independence then I am all for it."

      This is his confirmation that Amway is a pyramid scheme. If you are not focused on retailing products or services, then you are not operating a legitimate business. He doesn't care if this is a scam or not, because all he cares about is an easy way to make money.

      "I hope whatever path you choose to pursue you find success and significance."

      Translation: As Kevin O'Leary from "Shark Tank" would said, "You're dead to me".

      Delete
  41. Simita - You can watch 'Betting on Zero' on youtube and there's a link to it, and other related videos, on my Blog.

    http://mlmtheamericandreammadenightmare.blogspot.com/2018/03/watch-betting-on-zero-here.html

    ReplyDelete
  42. John Doe,

    Excellent breakdown as always. As someone on the outside looking in, I'm only coming to grips as to how much brainwashing and mind control I was subjected to.

    This organization needs to be stopped.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simita --

      I agree, and I will do what I can to write about this and get more information out there.

      Delete
  43. Yes, this Ivan guy is a pure Amway bullshit-peddler. The notion that a "business opportunity" is not about profits and the products that are being sold, but about improving your self-image and helping other people... well, that notion is so bizarre that I don't know what to respond. This Ivan is living in a world of pure fantasy.

    The unvarnished truth is this: if you can convince people that profits are unimportant in a business, you can exploit them endlessly. This is the real fact about Amway: it's about convincing silly people that you can start a business for emotional reasons, and not worry about losing cash.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous --

      Well said! This is not a real business, but rather a goofy hobby in which the vast number of participants lose money while playing as a pretend business professional. They get to dress up, go to fake board meetings, talk to exclusive high-ranking officials, and be part of a club that is not known to the outside world. That is the alluring part of MLM for these low self-esteem individuals.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete