....She was number 578 on the list of former
Nu Skin distributors that I’d called. All of them had left the business. I looked at the name-filled bag on the floor. If I weren’t so exhausted, there were at least another 150 people I could call. For three weeks I dedicated two hours a day to calling Nu Skin distributors who’d left their cards in a large bowl Sandie had placed in her office during Nu Skin conventions. Many had also handed me their cards directly when I met them on our trips to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, Hong Kong, Florida, New York, Chicago, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and other places Sandie and I had traveled to promote Nu Skin and meet distributors.....
I became an active distributor and worked like hell, and then my down-line just collapsed. It simply wasn’t working even though I did everything my up-line told me to do. I even spent $15,000 of my own money to make it work — well, to make it look
like it was working. You know, as a leader you have to look like you’re actually making money to convince anyone in your cold market to even sign up.”
“I’ve heard that a lot,” I’d reply. “What have you been doing since then?”
Nu Skin or any of those other MLMs. I found websites that spell out the truth, and now I understand the deception. I’ve called all the people in my down-line and apologized.” Interesting concept, I thought — apologizing to all the people you lured into Nu Skin who had no idea what they were getting into.
What he told me verified everything I’ve heard from other individuals associated with Nu Skin. One former Chicago-based distributor who didn’t want me to mention her name said, “I only invested about $2,000, maybe $3,000, but I lost all
my friends, and I estranged several family members and wasted about two years of my life. It’s simply impossible to get anywhere in that business unless you were one of the early birds —a Tillotson, Roney, or McDermott — or if you’re related to one of the founders. Trust me, I’ve done what I was told to do. I talked to anyone with a heartbeat and invited them to meetings where my up-line would ramble through the same hyped-up opportunity pitches only to watch the people I signed up quit within a year.”
The conversation I had with former Hawaiian Blue Diamond Executive Marc B. was particularly revealing because I never thought that once you reach that magic level of income immunity, things could turn against you. “Hey, Marc, how are you?” I asked. “What was it that made you get out of Nu Skin?”
He said, “After Frank Kelley, the Attorney General of Michigan, attacked Nu Skin, calling it an illegal pyramid scheme, my group lost momentum and collapsed. I couldn’t keep the growth going, especially when Barbara Walters went on the air with her rants against MLM.”
“What was your best month’s income bonus?”
“The best I ever did was $135,000, which was great while it lasted, but it’s hard to keep fifteen frontline executives going with the enormous attrition rates.”
Marc’s challenge wasn’t unusual. The attrition that occurs when distributors drop out and are not replaced with more warm bodies is the biggest problem in the MLM world. After that call, I took a look at the charges the Michigan Attorney General made and noticed that he was of course right to call Nu Skin an illegal pyramid scheme, but he failed to point out all the flaws in the system. A big one is the requirement that every distributor must purchase $100 worth of Nu Skin products every month in order to remain active within the distribution down-line. Blake Roney and Nu Skin Spokesperson Jason Chaffetz never mentioned that in their sales pitches. In other words, Nu Skin seems
to be a product-oriented sales-driven company, but the reason why most of the products get sold is because the whole distributor force is required
to buy them month after month, not because there’s a huge market of independent consumers out there looking to purchase Nu Skin products......
To hear so many of the people I’d met through Nu Skin confess their plight, some of them sobbing, others angry and resentful, jolted me emotionally. At first I couldn’t believe it, and I kept looking at the numbers and then realized how disturbing it was that the insiders who know the truth actually still go out there and sell Nu Skin as an opportunity. Then feelings of anger and confusion took hold of me, and I wondered how Sandie could explain her own part in all this, knowing that most of the distributors who join Nu Skin have zero chance to succeed.
I wasn’t done — far from it — so I sought the help of Dr. Jon M. Taylor, the author of several books and articles on the MLM industry who holds a PhD in psychology and an MBA degree. Grant had told me that when distributors fail and leave the company, they don’t hold grudges and blame themselves. I asked Jon why this was so, and the answer he gave me explained what goes on in the minds of people when they make a bad judgment call. “Most people wrongly assume that if they failed, it must be because they didn’t work hard enough, or else they neglected to do what it takes to succeed — it’s their fault, not the fault of the system. The mental process is called ‘cognitive dissonance.’ It happens when you commit yourself to something you totally believe in, but when you receive contrary evidence that challenges your beliefs, you refuse to process it. You ignore the reality in favor of the illusion because reality forces you to act out of your comfort zone and acknowledge that you’ve been wrong......
Jon Taylor and Robert Fitzpatrick have pointed out the mathematical reality that it is simply impossible for every Nu Skin distributor to sign up five people, who in turn sign up five more people, each of whom signs up another five people, and so on. These distributors would exhaust the global population within thirteen levels. Contrary to what the leaders of Nu Skin say, there is no amount of hard work that would make it possible for the billions on the thirteenth level to sign up even one more person. In other words, the pyramidal structure of this business has been proven quantitatively impossible. The truth is that the business is designed not so that the masses will make money, but so that only a select few at the top of a huge group of losers will reap large rewards.....
“I’ve already told my close friends that if anything happens to me, they should go ahead and publish the book without me. If that’s the way I have to go, so be it. I will not let a bunch of abusers get away with it. I will send them and the rare Nu Skin distributor, the 0.06% who made it happen, a signed copy of my book, a bottle of alcohol, and a fuse — since they’ve beaten the odds it’s time to celebrate. What is more fun than to burn a book filled with truths?”
George smiled, shook his head, and said, “I think you’re onto something. You are the Trojan horse about to present the material compiled by people like Robert Fitzpatrick and Jon Taylor into the public eye. I expect to see a lot of people come to your support. Maybe then lawmakers will take a closer look and strip the great American flag off of the Nu Skin building and show the world who they really are! I got your back, D — just don’t give up.”