Thursday, December 22, 2016

MLM and How to Build Character

Today's blog post is about an article I recently read called How to Build Character. Someone who builds a good character is very different from someone with a good moral compass. Building a good character is important for functionality in society, but it is not indicative of a person's true self. Friedrich Nietzsche talked about people having masks and the impossibility to know who someone really is, and this article furthers that idea by providing a manual on how to develop good character. Unfortunately, this guide can be both good and bad depending upon who is using it and how they choose to use it.



"It doesn’t take much hard thought to comprehend what Bartol meant by likening character to a diamond. While in the literal sense diamonds do scratch other hard surfaces, including character might at first seem odd, but it really isn’t. Anyone of good character (or bad, for that matter) can make a lasting impression. Just as a scratch from a diamond that endures."



This quote summarizes the article nicely, and explains how character affects the people we encounter. People tend to remember extremes better than lulls and this especially includes impressions from a person's character. Nobody has trouble remembering the villain from an arson or the hero who saved the child from a burning building, but everyone forgets the person watching the event transpire. This is why it is important to learn how to build character and be able to present yourself in an appealing way to others.

MLMers utilize edification and character building to make themselves more impactful. MLMers work on their mindset by reading and listening to self-help gurus. MLMers work on their charm by watching and imitating their predecessors' actions when meeting new prospects. MLMers work on their self-image by dressing a certain way and utilizing clothing to assert an image of value. These people train themselves consistently and repetitively until they become the ideal character everyone wants them to be.

It is important to remember that this is a fa├žade and that MLMers are not a true expression of their outward appearance. MLMers at the highest ranks know this is not a viable business, and they utilize their good character (or appealing character) to generate revenue for themselves through deception. Eric Scheibeler was a perfect example of a wholesome individual that got to one of the highest ranks (Emerald in Amway) and realized the business was not viable and the leaders were phonies. This further demonstrates that good character does not represent a good person. 



Sources: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/12/22/how-to-build-character/

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

MLM and Product Value

Today's blog post is going to involve some math as we delve into the list of competitive products MLMs offer. I have previously held discussions on other blogs about MLM products and their inability to be competitive in an open market system, but MLMers are always prepared to make a response. Some of their responses are, the products are better quality, more concentrated, and made from responsible manufacturers or some version of these points. Therefore, today's post will be an honest apples to apples comparison between 3 products from 3 different MLMs vs their competitors.

The first product I am going to do a comparison of is Amway's XS energy drink and Monster energy drink. The reason I chose XS out of the Amway products is, it is one of the most popularly sold items in their inventory and it is one that I have actually tasted. Energy drinks are an extremely popular item these days, and it is important to get the best value, best taste, and best product for your hard earned dollars. Something interesting to note, Amway XS energy drink is now available on Amazon and does not require a membership to Amway, or a membership to an LOS to purchase.

XS Energy is sold in a 12 pack and each can holds 8.4 fluid ounces. The price per case is $39.98 from this listing and it has the most positive feedback. For arguments sake, we will call this product $40.00 with shipping included. 12 x 8.4 = 100.8 fluid ounces per $40.00 spent, or about $0.40 per fluid ounce.

Monster Energy Drink is sold in a 24 pack and each can holds 16 fluid ounces . The price per case is $47.26 from this listing with shipping and has the same amount of stars with almost the same number of reviews. 20 x 16 = 384 fluid ounces per $47.26 spent, or approximately $0.12 per fluid ounce.

XS energy is approximately 3x more expensive than Monster energy, they both have the same amount of positive feedback, and they both are effective at helping with energy. Please make sure if someone debates that XS energy has something special that Monster energy does not that you specifically look at the ingredients. Each of them have plenty of caffeine which is the most important part of an energy drink. A common distraction brought up by XS proponents is the types of vitamins available in the drink versus other energy drinks. By and large, most people do not care about vitamins in their energy drinks, and vitamins are not the important ingredients for helping to keep energy levels up.

The second item from MLM is Youngevity's peppermint oil versus Plant Therapy's peppermint oil. They both come from plants and are both organic. They both are designed for the same needs and both are the same scent. They are both highly rated and seem to be extremely similar in effectiveness and production.

Youngevity's peppermint oil is available in 10 m/l for $24.70.  There is also a shipping and handling fee of $13.00 as well as a $2.28 tax bringing the total to a very convenient $39.98 which we will say is $40.00 a bottle. If you become a distributor you can knock 30% off and get free shipping which brings the bottle back down to $25.00 (they remove the "tax" as well), or you can order at least $50.00 worth of product and get free shipping (how inconvenient as one bottle costs $40.00).

Plant Therapy also offers a 10 m/l version on Amazon for $7.95 with free shipping and no tax. You do not have to buy a minimum amount and you do not have to sign up to be a distributor. You also do not have to sign up for a recurring shipment monthly.

Plant Therapy is between 3-5x cheaper than Youngevity for the same product with the same qualities. They both have high ratings and they both are manufactured well. There does not seem to be any logical advantages to buy the Youngevity version over the Plant Therapy version.

The third MLM product is Shakeology Vanilla from Beachbody versus Labrada Lean Body Vanilla. They both are designed as meal replacement shakes and both contain high quantities of protein mixed with vitamins and minerals. They both have high ratings and they both are made from responsible manufacturers.

Shakeology comes in a 30 pack for $129.95. They also add $2.00 shipping for the cheapest available and $10.56 in tax bringing the total to $142.51 or approximately $4.75 per serving. They also offer 10% off if you become a regular member (sign up for monthly shipments) and 25% off for coaches, but they still charge tax and shipping.

Labrada lean comes in a 16 serving tub for $27.98. In an effort to do a fair comparison we will double that order to 2 tubs for 32 servings. The cost of the two tubs will be $55.96 and then shipping is $8.31 bringing the total cost to $64.27. $64.27 split among 32 servings equals approximately $2.00 per serving.

While I didn't go into specific details about the ingredients, it is important to remember that both of these products serve the same purpose and Labrada lean is half the cost with no sign up or monthly commitments. It is designed to do the same thing as Shakeology and major clinics such as the Mayo clinic continue to post information about shakes and their overall effectiveness which is something to take into consideration before purchasing.

This pattern of overpricing products is not unusual because of the payout structure. The payouts go through many levels as new customers join the business. If an MLMer tries to tell you their product is the best value and the best quality then they are lying. There is no efficacy to prove their products are better because they are in market spaces with little to no regulation or clinical support, and their products are the most expensive when compared with their competitors. These three examples are not unique.


Sources:

XS Energy: https://www.amazon.com/XS-Energy-Drinks-Variety-Ounce/dp/B002C94E1I

Monster Energy: https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Lo-carb-Energy-16-Ounce-27-5/dp/B001DNBYXK/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1482270856&sr=8-2&keywords=Monster+Energy+Drink+blue

Youngevity peppermint oil: http://youngofficial.com/product/youngevity-essential-oils-peppermint/

Plant Therapy peppermint oil: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Therapy-Certified-Peppermint-Therapeutic/dp/B0062C2IKA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1482272840&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=peppermint%2Bessential%2Boil&th=1

Shakeology: http://www.shakeology.com/where-to-buy#vanilla

Labrada: http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/lab/lean-body-mrp.html

Friday, December 16, 2016

MLM and Guilt

Today's blog post is about the use of guilt to manipulate a person. In this particular case, a person may utilize passive-aggressive behaviors to administer guilt in the other person in order to gain an advantage. For instance, if I were a member of a church and I asked someone to donate,because funds are needed to repair a part of the building, and they consistently refuse, I may use passive-aggressive behaviors to help coax them into donating. I could say something such as, "Do you feel that you are more special than the others who donate and attend the church?", or "It sure would be nice if everyone did their fair share around here" (In a sarcastic tone). This would almost certainly lead to guilt and probably a donation.

Guilt: make (someone) feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something.

MLMers use all types of coercion to get their way and guilt is one of their favorite weapons. They will consistently work on making a downline member feel worthless if they miss a meeting, don't pay their monthly subscription, or don't listen to their tapes/cds. The psychological warfare MLMers use on their downline can be vicious and can leave lasting effects after a person leaves the business.

When I was propositioned for Amway my sponsor and his upline were taught to use guilt very effectively. They would talk about the importance of following the system and emphasize the downfalls of missing important events. There was no opportunity to be successful without following the regiment, and the cost of deviation was guaranteed impoverishment while being controlled by a system that is designed to eliminate the possibility of growth.

The most ridiculous example comes from the FED I attended in October of 2015 when my sponsor made me feel terrible about potentially missing a Christian service. For the record, I'm not a Christian, but even if I were, it is unchristian to impose your beliefs on another individual. My sponsor told me it was a service I couldn't miss and could actually be beneficial to the business. My hands were tied as I had the choice of, compromising my values and attending something I didn't feel comfortable with, or face the possibility of missing out on a life-changing opportunity.

The interesting thing about guilt is, people can pick and choose what to feel guilty about. Many things are not within our control as human beings, but the emotions tied to guilt are within our grasp. It is good to feel guilty about doing the wrong thing, but it is important to remember that people may try to take advantage and manipulate that natural instinct. It is a good idea to think about why you feel guilty for a number of reasons, but mostly because guilt can be irrational and we have the ability to critically think and bring understanding to the situation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

MLM and Animal Farm

Today's blog post is about a book written by George Orwell named Animal Farm. This book was written in 1943-1944, and it is about a farm with animals that revolt against a cruel leadership. The story reflects greed and power while demonstrating that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is synonymous with MLM as they utilize their cunning to manipulate and deceive the people within the organization. MLMs will utilize their higher knowledge to create a vacuum of information while continuously deceiving people into sacrificing their labor for a greater good. Animal Farm is a manual for creating a totalitarian empire.

The animals lived under a totalitarian regime, named Manor Farm which is run by the Jones'. They made the animals work tirelessly for very little food and comfort. The animals at Manor Farm have their own hierarchy reflected by their levels of intelligence with the pigs at the top.  The pigs eventually organize the revolt successfully and take control of Manor Farm for themselves, in which they describe it as a republic for all animal kind. The story demonstrates the slow progression as the pigs transform the republic into a totalitarian regime and ultimately into something much worse than the original faction run by the Jones'.

This book is a stirring read, and it is important to note the similarities between the book and MLM. When Napoleon (main pig leader) seizes control he begins to manipulate or abolish the previous rules to better suit his needs. He transforms the community by changing their commandments, changing the history of events, and eventually changing himself. He introduces mantras, such as songs and poems, that glorify himself. Also, he has a lackey named Squealer (appropriate name) who utilizes language to manipulate and deceive the rest of the animals whenever they have a contradictory opinion or concern. They lie, cheat, and deceive with the intent to advance their lives at the expense of the community.

MLMers are consistently breaking their word to better suit their need in a particular instance. An example of this is, when an MLMer suggests that you only need to work 10-15 hours a week in order to be successful. This rule gets warped as an MLMer becomes more indoctrinated and their responsibilities will slowly increase. MLMers will start to make downlines attend weekly meetings and show a certain amount of plans while still suggesting they go through the routine of introducing new prospects to the plan. Then they will add quarterly seminars, tapes, and books to increase the amount of focus a downline has, and not explain this as a necessary addition to the 10-15 hours a week.

MLMers will tell their downlines that uplines are extremely important, and if you ever have a question, they should be your first line of defense. However, if that upline leaves the organization they are quickly demonized and the downline is immediately taught to hate the former upline because of their betrayal.

MLMers will say the organization, as a whole, has never had an issue, but will fail to mention 99+% of recruits leave, and over 50% of recruits leave within a year. An example of this was my experience with Amway and WWDB. My sponsors never revealed to me that Amway has an incredible track record for making millionaires, but failed to mention it was a terrible statistic compared to the failure rates. If you bring up the failure rates, they are quick to focus on the system and suggest it is possible, but most people are lazy or do not have the desire. They shift the blame from the company to the members in an effort to retain their current crew.

MLMers utilize mantras and songs to help keep downlines involved in the organization. They will use terms like "Fired up", or "Freedom", or other chants to instill conviction and deter a downline from critically thinking. These mindless chants and mantras are designed to keep MLMers happy and devoted.

Finally, Squealer used fear tactics to sway the other animals and have them drop their concerns. MLMs are no different as they consistently bring up the negatives of a J-O-B, or talk about missing out on life as their family grows because they have to work. These tactics are extremely powerful, and consistently reinvigorate MLMers from dissenting opinions.

Friday, December 9, 2016

MLM and Holidays

 Today's blog post is going to focus on upcoming family events pertaining to the holidays. I recently read a very sad story on a different blog about a woman struggling with a partner that is currently involved with WWDB and Amway. The change in her partner's behavior happened rapidly and it seems her partner has already been fully indoctrinated. One of the key components when being involved in MLM is isolation from the outside world, hence the cult-like stigma that surrounds MLM. It is important to keep the MLMer motivated, and part of that motivation is surrounding them with like-minded people and pumping them with endless jargon and love bombing. Unfortunately for the woman, her partner has already stopped most contact with her as well as friends and family, and has now missed an important family life event.

It is important to keep your professional life separated from your personal life, because business is meant to support your personal life and not become it. However, MLMers try to do the opposite and make the professional life become the personal life and make them inseparable. They will provide friendships, guidance, and romantic relationships in an effort to keep a person isolated from the rest of society. This is inherently bad for a multitude of reasons, but mainly it corrupts the individual from having their own identity and free will.

As a recruit gets more enmeshed in an MLM they become more dependent on the group. They start to rely on the group to schedule their life, and they become less available for unrelated events. Over time, it becomes easier to make an excuse to miss less pertinent moments, and that builds into missing all major events. The partner of the woman who told her story on the other blog became so enveloped in the MLM that she ended up missing her brother's wedding, because her value system had completely changed, and she was no longer able to find value in moments outside of the MLM. She felt everyone from her personal life became a hindrance, and it was imperative to keep them away.

I had a similar situation occur when I invited my former sponsor to my bachelor party. We had grown very close very quickly, and I still wanted to have him as a friend. Unfortunately, the feeling was not mutual as I became a part of the "negative", and interacting with me would be a waste of his time. He was taught that anything unrelated to the "business" was going to interfere with his progress, and he was better suited to stay away from me.

The holidays are right around the corner, and it is a great time to remind members of MLMs that it is important to take a step back from their "work" to spend time with their family and friends. Money is wonderful and it can help to make life easier, but at the end of the day it is friends and family that mean the most, and they don't have a monetary incentive to keep you around.

Monday, December 5, 2016

MLM and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?

I recently took my wife for a date night which entailed dinner and a movie. We were originally planning to see Bad Santa 2, but got held up at the house and ended up switching to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I must side track for a moment and reveal that I am a big J.K. Rowling fan, and enjoyed most of the Harry Potter (HP for short) series. I also believe she has done something magical for books (all pun intended), and deserves every penny she has made from that franchise. Also, the reviews of the movie were relatively good with 75% positive from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 83% fan score. I usually agree with Rotten Tomatoes, and have found them to be a very good source of unbiased reviews in the past.

The movie itself was awful, in my not so humble opinion, and looked like a clear money grab. However, upon further thought about the movie, there were some significant undertones that suggested a darker meaning. The movie was extremely poorly written, had far too many CGI effects, and basically ripped off Pokemon and Star Wars. It was utterly lacking in all of the qualities which made HP great.

The weirdest parts were the choice of hero, and the creation of the "Good Guy" wizards versus the evil wizard. The main character, Newt Scamander, was the polar opposite of HP. He was weird, uncharismatic, and extremely conformist to the regime. The "Good Guy" wizards were a totalitarian regime that obeyed unbreakable laws, and punished those who did not conform to their laws extremely harshly as well as inconsistently. They do not have a proper judicial system, and instead had one person act as judge, jury, and executioner. The worst part about this is, the one person in charge of doling out the punishments turned out to be the evil guy in disguise who had infiltrated the system. They basically verified the need for checks and balances within a system, and showed the system was easily corrupted.

At one point in the movie, Tina (a main witch), was trying to report Newt for breaking a rule, but was unable to proceed because the main "Good Guy" wizards had already ostracized her for an unknown reason. However, this does not deter Tina from trying again, and this ultimately leads to a death sentence for her and Newt. The offense was non-violent and the punishment was dealt after a weird 10 minute interrogation in which the judge had already made up their mind in advance. This seems preposterous for a children's movie, let alone a HP related movie, and it only gets worse and creepier from there.

After being sentenced to death, they are led into a white room with a chair floating in the middle above some water-like liquid. The room looks like something from an insane asylum, and the chair is similar in design to an electric chair. The nurse wizard then proceeds to show the audience how they execute people, and this is really grizzly. Let me start by saying this death scene was extremely long and far too graphic to be considered normal. The female nurse begins by essentially lobotomizing Tina, and puts her fondest memories into the water-like substance. Then they get her seated in the chair, and it slowly drops her into the liquid which melts and destroys all forms of matter. As she is being lowered, she is crying and smiling because the audience sees all of her favorite memories.  Let me finish this thought by saying, there is never a need to emphasize death in movies, especially movies for younger folks, and this one took the cake for being overly twisted.

That wasn't the only point in which death seemed "normal" as the "Good Guy" wizards also killed a misunderstood boy that had the potential to be very dangerous. Again, there was no trial, no representation, just a snap judgment as they decided it would be more appropriate to pass an execution. This still boggles my mind, and on top of that, they ended up catching the main bad guy from the beginning of the movie. This guy had a series of crimes and murders, was the most wanted wizard in the community, infiltrated their government and assumed a high ranking role, executed a kill order earlier in the movie on the two main characters, and ended up being arrested.

The worst part about the "Good Guy" wizards is there obliterate curse which makes humans lose their memory. Toward the end of the movie, there were many humans that witnessed the wizards. In an effort to keep themselves safe from literal witch hunts, they decide to obliterate (I'm not using hyperbole, that is actually what they called the spell with some weird latin twist) the humans minds. As if that isn't bad enough, there is a main human character that befriends the other main characters, risks his life with no special ability against supernatural creatures and beings, and never asks for anything in return. What is his reward? He gets obliterated, and forgets everything that happened.

The "Good Guy" wizards that everyone is supposed to look up to are a ridiculous totalitarian regime focused on mind control and destruction of anything and everything that does not conform to their ideals. This movie is atrocious in its philosophy, and is a weird propaganda piece for government control.

This movie had so many weird parallels to MLMs and cults, it felt like a twisted documentary. The mind control, lack of information, inability to have a voice when addressing the governing body, and the outrageous punishments for insubordinate behavior, left me genuinely numb.

I'm sure I will get some flack for this interpretation, but it is important to be critical of everything, especially entertainment targeting younger minds. I'm curious to hear if anyone else has seen the movie, and even came close to the same interpretations.