Friday, May 11, 2012

The Dream Scheme Part 3: What's an MLM?

"Hey, are you busy Tuesday night?" my friend asked.

"I have to separate Legos from potato chips in my son's room, but if you've got a better offer I'm game," I said.

"I'll pick you up at 6:30," she said.

"What are we doing?" I asked.

"It's a surprise."

I love surprises. If people want to surprise me then I'm all for it. Was it a new place for dinner? A movie? A concert?  Or something really cool and unique like dance classes with male models.

My friend picked me up and drove a half hour to the city. We pulled into the parking lot of a hotel and I followed her through the lobby to a meeting room. She paid some money to a woman sitting behind a table and we found seats near the front. By this time I was getting suspicious but I was still hoping for a comedy show, or maybe it would be a motivational speaker. After all, this was my friend and you give friends the benefit of the doubt. Like when they tell you that you are totally an awesome singer and you should try out for American Idol. You should completely believe that and be shocked when the judges throw you out of the audition room.

It was a motivational speaker all right. A guy motivated to have everyone join Quixtar which is a division of Amway. He wasn't even all that cute.

I would have gotten up and walked out but I had no car. I had no way of getting home. I contemplated using my thumb, but warnings of hitch-hiking ran through my head because everyone who picks up hitch-hikers are serial killers. It's a well known fact. So I was trapped in a prison with people in business suits with glazed over eyes as they drooled over dreams of their futures with Amway oops I mean Quixtar because no one actually said the name Amway. Even in Amway the name Amway is a dirty word. I eyed the refreshment table warily. Who knew what was lurking in that red colored liquid. If I drank some would I too feel the need for a pink pastel skirt suit?

I listened to this man put down everyone who had a J-O-B. And yes they do spell it out because I guess it's a swear word. Which means that they don't appreciate all the people that keep the world running. You know, like doctors, police officers, garbage men and the people in the offices of Amway and the factories that make their products and the shipping companies that ship their products. He was trying to convince everyone that one day they could give up their J-O-B and become rich. No mention was ever made of product, just of the opportunity.  He promised that people could have lavish lifestyles and never have to work. He also said that there were those who are negative people who wouldn't be able to see the vision and they should be avoided, you know, like your friends and family members. Now we probably all have family we would like to avoid, but it's cheating to blame that on your MLM. "Sorry I can't be at the family dinner and watch Uncle Tom get drunk and get my cheeks pinched by Aunt Bessie and watch a slide show of Cousin Jake's trip to Brazil where he was being held hostage by drug lords because you all won't join my business which is really silly seeing you all have lowly J-O-B's. Yes I know that Aunt Tess is a teacher and Cousin Jodie is a nurse and my brother Mitch has his own restaurant but they are still just stupid J-O-B's and my business could set them all free and if you can't all see that then I have no time for you when I have people to train who actually appreciate what I do and will make me rich."

So what is an MLM?

It stands for Multi Level Marketing. Although that's a misnomer because marketing is aimed at getting customers, not at getting people to join your company. Basically it's shaped like a pyramid which they will point out that all businesses are shaped like pyramids. So what makes it different? That will take several posts to discuss. You can get a better idea of how they work by reading The Dream Scheme parts one and two which is on the sidebar.

Watch Out For These Characteristics of MLM's

1.) You will rarely knowingly attend an introduction to the business meeting. You will find yourself pulled into it. Either a friend will take you without letting you know that's what they're doing, or a friend will invite you over for dinner and introduce it, or there will be some other subterfuge to get you there. People don't say "hey I'm in XXXX, do you want to hear about it?" Okay, sure some people might say this but they're often encouraged not to. Especially the ones with a bad rep, like Amway. In my case it was called Quixtar and I had to do research to find out that it was actually Amway.

2.) They will try and convince you that you are wasting your time working at a job, and that you have to have your own business to be happy and successful. There will be talk about trading time for money. There will tell you they have a new business model, one where everyone can be successful if they want it bad enough. It's not a new business model. It's been around for a long long time and the reason that businesses don't use it is because it doesn't work in the long run.

3.) There will not be much talk about a product or a service. The focus will be on the opportunity. The product or service is not really important.

4.) They will warn you about "negative" people. Translation - anyone who doesn't join up with the company. And they will tell you that you need to cut negative people out of your life.

5.) They will speak to your greed. Now greed is something that we pretty much all have and it can be a fine line between desiring financial success and stability and being greedy. They will promise big houses and expensive cars and trips around the world. They will claim that it will require very little of your time. They will tell you that you can be a better parent if you can take your kids to Disneyland. They will wrap up the dreams that many of us have into a package along with family and church and interconnect them. Good parents are rich. Good Christians are rich. Good people are rich.

I was not happy on the drive home and I told my friend that I wasn't interested in the opportunity.

Sadly, even though I still wanted to be friends, I watched as my friend drifted away, concentrating on people that joined into her various business schemes. It's too bad. I really liked her.