Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MLM and arbitrary milestones/the magical 10,000 number

Today, as the title suggests, I'm going to write about numbers and how people like to make connections to them. I have always had trouble understanding why certain numbers are important, and then it made me think, could all MLM milestones be arbitrary? Some of these include the 2-5 years rule, the 6-4-2/12 circles plans, the work 10-15 hours a week plan, and many many more!  Therefore, in celebration of 3,000 views of the blog, I am going to veer a bit off course and write about the weird 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert rule.

I first read about the 10,000 hours rule from one of my favorite authors, Robert Kiyosaki (Sarcasm implied). In his book, Businesses of the 21st Century, he suggested that nobody in network marketing could be good until they had been in the business for 10,000 hours. Here is a tweet he made about this in 2011, "It takes 10,000 hours minimum before you’re good at anything:Before you are able to do the right thing at the right moment every time." (
https://twitter.com/theRealKiyosaki/status/34989986365313024) The tweet sounds great on the surface, but after quick analysis the incorrectness is staggering. First of all, if it took 10,000 hours to be good at anything, then people would be very bad at nearly everything. It is very rare for people to commit that much time to learning new skills, and that would be a huge deterring factor. Also, would teachers be unnecessary if it takes 10,000 hours regardless of how you are learning to become good at something? MLM is supposed to be easy and duplicable, and yet according to Kiyosaki, network marketing (another term for MLM) requires 10,000 hours before you are considered "good".
I was told of the 10,000 hours rule when I was at the FED in September of 2015 and it was even paired with the 5 year minimum rule. The 5 year rule suggested that if you participated in MLM for 5 years then that was equivalent to 10,000 hours and you would become successful. However, MLM has also proposed it is an easy part time gig of 10-15 hours a week, so let's do some math of 15 hours a week for 5 years. 15*52 = 780 and 780*5 = 3,900. I would consider 3,900 a substantial difference from 10,000, and yet this line was repeated many times when I was being propositioned for the business. So, if Robert Kiyosaki and MLMers came to these same conclusions about how much dedication you need for MLM, who made up the rule first? I visited my favorite site for this blog, psychcentral.com, and they had a fascinating article on the 10,000 hour rule
The originator of the concept is Malcolm Gladwell, and according to the article he has a spotty history with this particular concept to say the least. Some of the highlights of the article include, Gladwell got this number from one study in 1993 involving a group of musicians, there is much more to becoming an expert other than practice (genetics and circumstances), chess experts have been documented to vary in practice time between 3,000 hours and 25,000 hours. A cursory search on Google typing in, "Gladwell 10,000 hour myth" will show tons of other reputable articles suggesting he at best generalizes this conclusion. Some of these sources include BBC, Business Insider, and even Inc.com (not reputable, but a pro MLM biased news source) as seen here
(http://www.inc.com/nick-skillicorn/the-10000-hour-rule-was-wrong-according-to-the-people-who-wrote-the-original-stu.html). So, why do MLMers and Kiyosaki still get this wrong? My opinion, and this is subjective, it gives people comfort. It lures people into MLM, and makes them think there is a proven method of success with a tangible end point to the work. Also, it helps to make people feel guilty for quitting early. Kiyosaki is famous for writing books on network marketing, but he is not famous for being successful in the business. In fact, Kiyosaki failed to build an Amway business, as seen here, (http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/robert-kiyosaki-and-multi-level-marketing-exposed/)
so he would be a bad reference on becoming an expert in the field, aside from all of the other nonsense that surrounds him. MLMers, according to this article, (https://www.thebalance.com/the-likelihood-of-mlm-success-1794500) have a 90% drop rate in their first five years. Chances are, if you are talking to an MLMer about this rule, they haven't even met someone in MLM that could be a living example of the rule. Yet they continue to spread the myth that 10,000 hours makes you an expert in hopes that you will join and see it through. Which brings me to the main point of the article, the 10,000 hour rule, much like other arbitrary milestones are just ways to help people make sense of the irrational. It is much more comforting to think that if I just try really hard, and am consistent, then I will become successful. Rather than the truth, which is some people are born genetically gifted, and others were born with great resources that most don't have. Unfortunately, practice and consistency just isn't enough for most to become experts. MLMers utilize this form of guilting and manipulation to coerce downline not to quit, and they also use it to build confidence in themselves when delivering the plan. Science holds a lot of prestige and sounds the most credible when explaining MLM. Furthermore, people question these scientific facts the least, because they are supposed to be upheld to the highest levels of scrutiny. People need to be held accountable for the things they say, and the resources they utilize to develop their opinions. It is important to never take any facts for granted, and ask what agenda they could be pushing. I encourage people to watch John Oliver's, Last Week Tonight special on science, because we are in a time where science can be just as fraudulent as anything else. Here is the link to the John Oliver special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rnq1NpHdmw 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.


  1. It is questionable whether Kiyosaki ever made any money at all, using his own ideas and techniques. It seems he was a down and out failure until some Amway diamond decided to promote the Rich Dad Poor Dad book. Suddenly Kiyosaki was a best selling author and came out with other money making or money management books and seminars.

    But there is zero evidence of him making any money using his own methods. Seems he made his fortune selling books and seminars to basically a captive Amway audience.

    He gives dangerous and sometimes illegal advice, such as insider trading. I believe he is a huckster just like most Amway diamonds are.

    1. I completely agree Joe. After reading the in-depth analyses that John T. Reed gives on Kiyosaki, it explains a lot of the nonsense that surrounds him. Unfortunately, he just did a ridiculous Tedx Talk which has given him more credibility with the other hucksters as fuel to manipulate and deceive people. It would seem many of the prestigious organizations are easily bought and sold these days, and are willing to put their reputations on the line to satisfy the need for the almighty dollar.

    2. If you read about Kiyosaki's real estate seminars, they offer a free seminar but it's only a high pressure pitch to sell you a more expensive seminar.

      From what I've read, some of the techniques they endorse are difficult to impossible to accomplish and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who claims to have been successful using his techniques.

      Plus, Kiyosaki is used in name only and he doesn't appear at the seminars.

      I was disappointed that Tarek and Christina from the show "flip or flop" sold their names to be used in similar high pressure sales real estate flipping seminars.

    3. I have not really dug into all of the details about Kiyosaki and his seminars, but I have heard of the three tiers he offers.

      The first one, as you stated is free and is just a gateway to pay a couple hundred dollars for the weekend long seminar. The second one, much like the first, offers very little content and is much more focused on selling you on the tier three seminar with is in the thousands. Ethan Vanderbuilt does a much better job of explaining it than I can.

      That is really disappointing to hear Tarek and Christina have sunk to this low point. I really enjoyed their first couple of seasons, even though they were obviously staged. My wife also enjoys the show, and often puts it on before she falls asleep.

      I remember the moment Tarek and Christina lost my interest specifically. They had an episode where the house they purchased was absolutely immaculate, and they got it for a terrific price. The next day they came back and it was horribly vandalized, which led to them be very distressed and nervous to make a profit (spoiler alert, they still made a huge profit). I just couldn't relate to the bad acting anymore even though I liked a lot of their remodels.

    4. http://www.successpatheducation.com/?gclid=CO3WiIXy9s8CFQ5EfgodhFoDBg

      I like the show too, but the audience who is uneducated on home renovations, likely misses a lot about the show.

      But Kiyosaki is a crook in my opinion and I doubt he's got anywhere near the financial acumen that he claim to have. He was just a broke author until his rich dad book was promoted to the Amway downline.

  2. Wow I've seen some steadily deceasing quality Ted talks in the past few years but this takes the cake.

    At least both of you can hold your heads high for being decisive enough to change your mind about it and leave. Sometimes I think it's the path of least resistance to stay in something you've invested time and effort and hope into even if doubts develop.

    1. Lori, I completely agree, and I find it is very difficult to realize when I have made a mistake. I believe people have an inherently difficult time to look at their own faults, and also they have a hard time giving things up after putting time and effort into them. The combination of these two issues makes leaving a losing proposition both painful and difficult.