Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MLM and Life Coaches

Today's blog post was inspired by an article on, "Should the Life Coaching Industry Be Regulated?". I have found that life coaches are very similar to the vitamin industry in the lack of regulation, but with "life coaches" it may be worse because of the inherent subjectivity. It isn't possible to be subjective when it comes to results on whether vitamins and supplements actually work, and there have been many clinical trials and prolific institutions that have proven most vitamins don't do what their labels claim. Could life coaches and their results be as quantifiable, or is the placebo effect from life coaches too hard to calculate? Should we completely stay away from life coaches, or is there a way to effectively determine if a person is providing a useful service? These are the questions that need to be asked and answered in order to determine if this is a real industry or a make-believe scheme.

First, is it possible to actually quantify the effectiveness of each life coach and whether they are meeting the objectives of their teachings? According to the article, and my own experience, it is not. There is no way to objectively give credit to the coaches for the success or failures of their students because there are too many other variables that effect the outcome. Also, there is a disclaimer at the bottom of every life coach's page explaining they are not responsible for any results, good or bad, and all testimonials are not to be considered typical. That kind of preemptive warning can lead to the conclusion that this industry is inherently flawed, and the user of these life coaches is completely at risk. The only industries that are able to operate in this manner are other deregulated groups (such as vitamins, oils, shakes), which are prime MLM "businesses". This amount of subjectivity allows charlatans to pose as authorities and take advantage.

Can life coaches actually be certified? This question can be mostly answered above, but there could be some very basic prerequisites which could help to certify the person. The life coach could at least go through a course or degree program designed to give basic information on psychology, business, and life skills, then be held accountable to a certain standard. This would eliminate a lot of the people claiming to have answers without any proof, and it would give consumers the opportunity for recourse in case a life coach did not perform to a certain standard. Life coaches would also need continuing education as the field and society evolves. Nobody wants a medical doctor that stopped learning in 1984 to be operating today, and the same should be applied to life coaches.

If life coaches could be certified, would that cut down on the unethical practices? In short, yes, because they could be held accountable for their teachings, but the field would still be largely subjective making lawsuits extremely difficult to litigate. At least the fear of being sued would prevent a percentage of life coaches from taking advantage of their clients, but there will always be some that have a reckless disregard for the rules. Certifications and licenses are not perfect, especially when it comes to ethics, which is why we have malpractice law firms.

After examining certain life coaches, in particular those that speak at MLM functions, I believe the industry needs an overhaul or it needs to be eliminated. I believe the "industry" needs to be eliminated. I do believe that there is a potential industry out there, similar to personal trainers, but the current life coaching industry is completely warped. I do not believe there is a potential industry out there, and my previous notion was inherently flawed as I thought more about it. There isn't any original concept in "life" coaching. It is a vague and unregulated way to suggest you can do the same very specific jobs as other certified professionals. It is essentially a legal loophole for college dropouts. It is too easy to call yourself a "life" coach, "guru", "leader", or even "teacher", and there are not enough regulations to protect the consumers. I'm also not completely convinced that certifying life coaches will be the remedy the field needs, but at least it is a start. There is no one certificate that can encompass everything a "life" coach claims to be.

If a "life" coach existed, then MLMs, in particular, should never be a market a life coach would speak at, let alone endorse. A life coach should be someone that helps steer a person away from scams, and anyone claiming to be a life coach that associates themselves with MLM should be disregarded entirely. It doesn't matter if they spend most of their time in ministry (Maxwell), personal development (Robbins), or "Real-Estate" (Kiyosaki). These people are taking advantage of a "Criminogenic Syndicate" (Brear), to make a quick buck, which is a complete conflict of interest as a life coach.


Monday, August 21, 2017

MLM and Double Standards

Today's blog post is about MLMers and their consistent use of double standards. Double standards are frequently used in society and some of the popular topics are, men versus women in the work place, whites versus minority groups in college, or gay versus straight in marriage (not as controversial these days). The main thing these have in common, aside from being wedge issues, is the introduction of a subjectivity standard. The truth is, there shouldn't be any subjectivity when it comes to whether it is right for men and women to have the same opportunity for employment, or if white people and minority groups want to go to college, or if gay people can get married. Whether your personal beliefs lean in one direction or another, there are clear and defined rights in the Constitution and they are not subjective.

It is important to recognize wedge issues for what they are, subjects designed to divide a population. Politicians and the mainstream media utilize wedge issues to promote conflict, generate donations, and distract the masses from important world events. The mainstream media, in particular, utilizes wedge issues to generate ratings, because people are more interested in watching a piece about abortion than Assad gassing his people.

Double standards work the same way, in that they promote an emotional response and are utilized as a way to divide people. The idea of promoting diversity has become so convoluted and strange that people don't know what is considered inappropriate or racist anymore. The idea that two people are not judged solely on their qualifications, but also on their genetic coding, is the definition of discrimination and is a double standard. We are currently witnessing this at Google, as James Damore, a former Google engineer, came out and said Google was showing discriminatory practices. There are more men than women in higher positions and the work environment was not female friendly. These double standards are real, and even extremely left-leaning groups, like Google, are not as diverse as they seem.

MLMers utilize double standards all the time, because it is one of their best ways to defend their "business". In fact, most of their arguments are rooted in some kind of double standard. An example may be, even though 99% of people fail in MLM there are 'systems' installed allowing each MLMer the 'opportunity' to have success". If any other business had failure rates upwards of 99%, then they would be out of business, and if we say something with 99% confidence in science, then that is considered a fact. Only MLMers can suggest that 99% is not strong enough evidence that MLM is a failure of an "opportunity". Another example is, MLMers often suggest that people outside of MLM don't know what they are talking about because they are not involved in MLM. Not only is this logically fallacious because it would suggest nobody can have an opinion about anything unless they had experienced it firsthand, but it also suggests that they are allowed to cast their own opinions about the person even though they know nothing about them or their research. In other words, the MLMer is trying to suggest that a person can't give a good opinion about jumping off bridges being bad for your health, even if they have never jumped off a bridge, and they are suggesting, non-MLMers can't give an opinion about MLM, but pro-MLMers can give opinions about non-MLMers reporting.

MLMers constantly try to create false dichotomies, and act as though the people that are not in MLM are failures and uneducated about MLM. The idea that non-MLMers can't know or understand MLM is ridiculous, especially since it is supposed to be "duplicatable". Let's be fair for a moment. MLMers don't tend to be the highest functioning members of society, and to suggest that they can understand something, that the majority of society cannot, is highly unlikely. Therefore, we can say, with 99% confidence, that MLMers don't understand what they are talking about, and are utilizing double standards to make their arguments seem more plausible.

On a side note, Google has hired a "VP of Diversity, Integrity, & Governance", and I bet you can guess what type of person they hired. It makes you wonder, why would a company that is supposed to be progressive need this department, and how many white men were overlooked for that position?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MLM and the "You are just angry" line.

Today's blog post is synonymous with one of my earliest posts about projection. Projection is a defense mechanism designed to transfer your own emotions onto someone else. It is, logically speaking, one of the worst ways to "win" a debate, and is usually used as a last resort when the person has had all of their more meaningful points refuted. Instead of continuing to focus on the subject, they begin to attack the rival by suggesting the rival can't be logical, because they are being emotional, or more specifically, angry. The United States, in particular, loves to get emotional when debating, which makes things more interesting, but is not good from a scholarly perspective. We also like to argue, rather than debate, because we attach a part of ourselves to the subject we are talking about. We have gotten to a point, in the US, where the ego is so fragile, that any time we are "losing" a debate we have a visceral reaction and become antagonistic.

MLMers have frequently resorted to projection on other blogs, and have commonly referred to authors and other commentators as angry. They may say the author is angry because they failed at MLM, or they have a specific vendetta against a MLM, or even that it has something to do with their biology. These MLMer attacks are both silly and direct reflections of their specific mood. MLMers wouldn't be looking for anti-MLM blogs unless, they lost a prospect or their family and friends recommended reading it. This loss of a prospect and or the rejection of the "business" by a friend or family member can be extremely damaging to a MLMers ego. This in turn will lead to a rage and will result in lashing out over the internet. When MLMers lash out they lose focus and rationality, which leads to ludicrous comments, some of which reflect themselves. 

Unfortunately, as an anti-MLM blogger and regular commentator on other blogs, there becomes a harsh realization about the ability . MLMers are very similar to addicts of controlled substances, and they aren't going to be able receive help from anyone until they are ready to help themselves. The combination of a weakened ego, and clever psychological manipulation, makes logical discourse nearly impossible. The other harsh reality is, the people these MLMers attack and call names, are the people that try the hardest to show them the errors of their ways.

The best strategy, in my opinion, when a MLM adherent devolves to ad hominem attacks and deviates from the subject, then end the discussion and resume it no sooner than twenty-four hours later. They will need time to refocus and calm down, and it may be best to start the conversation with addressing the exaggeration of emotions and how that is inappropriate for dialogue and business. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

MLM and the "Mine is different" line.

Today's blog post is about the old, tired line, "Some MLMs are better than others", and the various derivatives of this phrase. The main idea behind this line is to discredit your opinion by suggesting what you experienced was a freak incident, or the experience was not typical and you should expect different results because their group is different. There are a couple of fundamental flaws with this, the main one being, they all started with the same premise. It is hard, or in this case impossible, for something to be significantly different if it has to abide by the same structure as the original, therefore if the original has an inherent problem, then you can expect those problems to exist in the subsidiary groups. Translation, if a MLM as a whole has a significant issue, then the groups operating underneath the MLM will have that same issue.

There are three main levels in which this phrase is used, from micro to macro. The lowest level phrase is, my team is different because, we have better mentors, make more millionaires, have been around longer, or some other variation. The middle level phrase is, my MLM is better because, we have better mentors, we have better compensation, we have a better product, we are "new school", or some other variation. Then the highest level phrase is, MLM is better than "traditional" businesses because, you need less capital to start, you don't need to come up with a product, you don't need to handle the legalese, and many more lines. All of this falls under the same premise, we are different, therefore give us a chance. However, they are not different, and there is a very basic reason for why these arguments fall flat.

The MLM concept is founded on the idea that you can generate revenue from spending money instead of making money. This is the root cause for problems in MLM, because the revenue is generated through dollars spent by people involved with the company and not people outside of the company. Therefore, it doesn't matter how you try to justify your MLM or your team as being different or better, because the differences are irrelevant due to that main concept being inherently flawed.

This fallacy is known as a straw man argument, because the people using the, "Mine is different" line aren't addressing the root cause for the failure. They instead, are focusing on the symptoms, which is a common misnomer. It is the same as someone trying to treat a fever with cold compresses when the person actually needs antibiotics due to a virus. If you are only addressing the symptom, then the virus will not be stopped.

Another example is, a person in a MLM may be trying to follow a "system", but they just can't seem to make it work.  They read all of the books, they show the plans, they attend all the seminars, they pay all of their dues, but it still doesn't work. A MLMer may say, "The person just needs to try harder, they need to read more, they need to learn more, they need to do more", which is a focus on the symptom instead of the virus. Instead, the MLMer should say, "This person is following the system and failing. We should take a look at the system and make sure it still works."

Monday, August 7, 2017

MLM and Appeal to Authority Fallacy

Today's blog post is similar to the post about checking sources, but is going to go over a couple of other authorities and how they are not reputable. Too often people are misled by people posing as authority figures, and with the proliferation of information on the internet, it is easier than ever to fall for an authority website that is actually propaganda. Whether you are trying to find the best make-up on the market, or looking to find details about particular cars, there are going to be misleading websites that will pose as objective, but are really just shills for a particular brand or company.

Appeal to Authority Fallacy: Using an authority as evidence in your argument when the authority is not really an authority on the facts relevant to the argument.  As the audience, allowing an irrelevant authority to add credibility to the claim being made.
A couple of examples of the appeal to authority fallacy from simple to more advanced:

1. A stock broker giving advice on real-estate. Even though the stock broker may be very good at investing money and understanding the market as a whole, that does not qualify them to give advice on real-estate. You wouldn't go to a hedge fund manager and ask about property values.

2. A commercial real-estate agent giving advice on residential real-estate. This one is a bit trickier, because the person is in real-estate, even though they aren't specialized in the type of real-estate you are asking about. They may even have a general idea, but they will often be very vague when it comes to investing. These two types of investments are very different and should be treated as such.

3. A residential real-estate investor in New York giving advice about real-estate in Kansas. Real-estate markets can vary largely depending on the location, and it would be wrong to assume that someone who does well in New York could have the same success in Kansas.

4. A television house-flipper giving advice about house flipping. This is possibly one of the hardest, because they are allegedly very successful at the very thing they are claiming to be experts at, but many of these successes are fictitious. It is important to separate fantasy from reality, especially when investing, and get a good understanding of what could go wrong. Nobody wants to see the house-flippers fail, except me because I'm a pessimist, and that is why you never see any bad deals on these television shows. Trust me, it isn't even close to as easy as they make it look, and these people are more so television personalities than house-flipping experts. They will also commonly sell their brand or identity to other groups that will use their likeness to run seminars.

Recently a MLM apologist was debating about the legality of MLM and why, "some are better than others", or why "MLM is legal, but there are a few bad apples". These typical blanket statements that are designed to be convincing don't actually hold any weight unless a person can make a specific example. It is as impactful as someone saying, "If you work really hard, then you could become a millionaire". While this is true, and technically more accurate than the previous blanket statements, it is just as possible to work really hard and never become a millionaire, and it doesn't tell you how working hard will make you a millionaire or if working hard is the same for everyone. Therefore, any authority used to verify an inherently weak statement, such as the three above, is probably going to be flawed.

This particular MLM apologist attempted to use a website named, "", which sounds extremely relevant to the topic of proving whether MLM is legal or not. The website uses a lot of mechanisms to prove authority, such as, a generic color scheme, a font that looks like something a court document would use, a bunch of legalese language, and a reference to themselves at the bottom as actual lawyers. Unfortunately, calling yourself "", and having law degrees, does not make you an expert on MLM and the FTC's rules. This is proven as they leave out key parts of running a legal MLM according to the FTC vs. Amway case of 1979 which specifically states that every MLM must have 70% of sales to retail customers and each distributor must have at least 10 retail customers. Both of these rules were conveniently left off the website, and the website attempted to use the famous method of obfuscating retail customers and distributors with the term "end consumer" which can also be referred to as a "end user". By creating this new term, it becomes impossible to verify whether sales are going to customers or distributors, and this completely violates the previous rules installed by the result of the Amway case in 1979. They also have pictures at the bottom showing they are members of the "Direct Sellers Association" (DSA), another propaganda group designed to lobby on behalf of MLMs and act as an authority while deregulating industries in which MLM products are sold, such as health supplements.

It isn't entirely the MLMer's fault, as these websites, and even law groups, can look like reputable places to gather information and claim a position on the topic. In fact, because the "industry" keeps growing, and more money is available because of the vast number of copycat schemes, the interest in becoming an authority becomes greater. There will be more authorities claiming to be "experts" on MLM, even though they haven't actually participated in one or have failed miserably (Kiyosaki, Maxwell, Dent et. al). They are leeching onto MLM because there is money to be made, and they will be anything you want them to be as long as you have money.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MLM and Fear Mongering

Today's blog post is about a particularly powerful psychological technique known as fear mongering. Fear mongering has become an epidemic in the United States and it is used in everything from news programs to selling drugs. Typically, people need to be pushed to action, and one of the most reliable techniques to push people is focused on their inherent survival programming. If people fear something is going to hurt them, then they are far more likely to make a change than if they were told the product or service could help them. Fear mongering comes at a heavy price and usually results in group separation, group tension, group distrust, and group unhappiness. While this technique can be used for good, it is typically seen as a devious manipulation technique to gain a means to an end.

Image result for Fear Mongering

Some of the most effective fear mongering comes from commercials trying to sell pharmaceuticals. I recently watched a commercial for "Jardiance", a type 2 diabetes medication, where a spokesperson and a small crew hit the streets to find people with this disease. Even though the situation was fictional, the effect made it seem as though these "regular people" had no idea how bad diabetes is and what it will do to their longevity. The spokesperson went through a series of loaded questions in an attempt to scare these people into focusing more on their health, and after they went through some fancy graphs (similar to "Rise of the Entrepreneur"), the people suddenly transformed and became more alert to their dire situation. After getting their attention with fear mongering, an anonymous narrator starts talking over the picture about all of the side effects, which were potentially worse than type 2 diabetes, only to be followed by every "regular person" agreeing they should take "Jardiance".

Here is the commercial:

There are two important parts to fear mongering in which you should focus.

1. They portray a situation as imminent doom in an effort to get a person to act quickly. People are naturally programmed to survive, and if they fear they are in trouble, then they will be much more likely to do something about it.

2. Fear mongering can lead to an inability to make clear judgments. After you have become afraid, a level of panic will set in and critical thought will dissipate because there isn't time to evaluate the situation. This allows the fear mongers to get away with anything, including putting a person in a worse predicament, even though they are pretending to be of service.

MLMs utilize fear mongering to manipulate their potential prospects and adherents. They take advantage of the vulnerable state in which their members are in, and they offer a remedy for their stress. Instead of MLMs offering a medication for diabetes, they offer an opportunity to fix money issues. They create a false situation in which MLM is the only option an MLMer has for survival, and without it, they may be "Stuck working for a boss", "Stuck trading hours for dollars", "Stuck with living paycheck to paycheck", or even "Stuck living an unfulfilled life". Only after they have created this false narrative will they possibly talk about the horrible statistics, but by then, the MLMers don't care or can't hear it.

Fear mongering is powerful enough to justify any narrative, and its rate of success makes it an extremely attractive option. Here are some effective ways to stop fear mongering from manipulating you.

1. Don't make a hasty decision based on the potential of future harm. It is okay to take a moment and do some research to find out more facts. This is the information age, and we have access to more information, faster, than ever before. Take advantage of this feature.

2. Ask yourself if the remedy is worth the cost? In the case of the diabetes medication, it is important to seek professional help rather than a paid commercial for answers, and in the case of MLM, it is important to look at the statistics for success, the harm it may cause others, and whether it is something feasible to do.

3. Ask if the problem is really as bad as they make it sound. Does it need to be addressed immediately, or can it be something that can be fixed over an extended period of time? One would argue, especially if you are young, money problems are a marathon not a sprint. It is important to understand how to grow your net worth and to set appropriate goals along a certain time line. Simply saying, "I want to retire in 2-5 years" is not an acceptable goal (assuming you aren't 63 years old with a large net worth).

4. Arguably the most important thing to think about. Does the person that is telling me this terrible news gain anything? You'd be surprised how often the answer is yes, and you would also be surprised at how often their gains are at your expense.