Being around MLM culture changes you. I can attest to that, it very slowly over a period of time changed me and I witnessed what it does to others. It doesn’t start with greed- it starts with hope. They ask you to share your dreams in the name of “self development” and they give you encouragement, after all they do have a vested interest in your motivation to succeed/sell. Next is belief. Belief is instilled that you can do anything if only you would try hard enough. That you are special, badass, and you are the one who can beat the odds with your perseverance for the reward of a residual income. This is the mantra of the MLM industry. Never mind that hundreds of thousands put their time, hopes, and families into these businesses with a 99% failure rate- according to the leaders at the top, the failures just didn’t try hard enough. And what is the price for these hopefuls to play in the game, to persevere for eventual success? At a minimum a few hundred dollars per year and for many it is tens or hundreds of thousands. That kind of loss is devastating for families and greed at it’s worst. We know that most who buy in to be distributors don’t actually do anything beyond maybe a few customers and signing up their mom to be their first distributor. But what happens to those who do persevere yet still don’t get rich? For those who truly tried their hardest and sacrificed their time and reputation, and are still in denial about the impossibility of getting to the top- they are rewarded only with pocket change and false promises- and they will carry a vast amount of disappointment and blame in themselves for failing. Financial ruin, depression, loss of friends except others in MLM, and an unreasonable fascination to be around the 1% in hopes of learning “the secrets”, and what I can only describe as a palpable desperate energy to sign up distributors is what happens. If they have opened their eyes and seen the truth, they are ashamed for their naiveness, and what lengths they’ve gone to for money, how their friend and family relationships have changed because of involvement or noninvolvement in their MLM, and how much time they have wasted for a scam. Because of shame, the victims of MLM scams remain silent. It has taken me a long time to accept this truth because I was introduced to MLM from the point of view of the 1%.
I did not understood what the terms network marketing or MLM meant before I started dating my now ex-boyfriend. Even while dating him, I didn't truly understand. He was a well known public speaker, best selling author in network marketing, considered a MLM superstar, named Jordan Adler.
Once I started accompanying him to events I was blown away by the numbers of people involved; singing songs about making money, chanting, giving emotional testimonials about how their involvement with the company would help them achieve their dreams. It never felt right, it was always a bit creepy and off, and I was uncomfortable with how people seemed to grovel and worship him. When the overhead projector explaining the company compensation plan came on I would get lost on the complicated diagrams. When I asked Jordan to help me understand he said "it's so complicated I don't even get it, but it works! It's best not to get too involved in the details with these things because the most important thing is instilling belief in people.. and belief is strongest when there is no confusion".*
Jordan’s company was Sendoutcards and their motto was "get paid to be nice!" *But small, odd things were always in the background. One, all of his "friends" were in the MLM industry, and they all were either filthy rich or going into poverty trying to become successful. It was an almost daily occurrence for him to share an email or Facebook message from someone begging him to pay their mortgage that month, or a medical bill; I don't know if he did actually pay, but I remember hearing him encouraging them to keep working hard at their business, and he always pushed the annual convention (which cost a few hundred dollars) as what would help propel them to the next level.
When I asked Jordan why so many people didn't make any money at all he said it's because they weren't willing to put forth the work involved. He said that was their choice for their business, but if he could at least get them to stay in the business, that would help the company, Sendoutcards, succeed. He said "let's say Dave joins the business. He's going to sign up at least a few lifetime customers, because he's going to ask his close friends and family. Now as long as Dave remains in the business, those people are going to remain customers because of their connection to Dave. And Dave is going to be a lifetime customer as long as he's in the business too. But it's up to Dave if he ever really wants to make any money."
Once, I persisted and said "well how can you preach something when you know it's almost impossible?". He asked me if I'd ever read Think And Grow Rich or any other how to be a millionaire type books. I replied that I had not. He said "well, you've heard of them, and you know that millions of people have read these books, but how many people have actually become millionaires after reading them? Does that mean the books shouldn't be sold? I'm preaching something that can be done, but most are not willing to do the work, same as most people who read those books don't do anything at all".
Another strange thing I witnessed was how often people switched MLM companies. And oddly to things that had nothing at all to do with their previous company, such as switching from greeting cards to skin cream. Usually they would prepare clandestinely and then suddenly announce their new company on social media with their new business associates who they pulled from their own company, and immediately, drama ensued. I have never before seen an industry with so much backstabbing and drama. These people are like piranhas eating each other up. A loss of a friend in their down line is not just a loss of a friend, it's a loss of profit for them. As a result, 95% of his friends were in his business even tho I doubt he would have been friends with them otherwise. I actually felt sorry for him because what I saw was a guy who had no true friends, who was always getting asked for money. I should have seen he was getting what he deserved.
Jordan spent money on many materialistic things to show off his extravagant lifestyle. High end vehicles, private jet travel, multiple residences, expensive clothes. He gave to charities, always publicly, and I now see that was just another tool he used to legitimize his business, to get good press to present his image of morality and wealth. And meanwhile, his "friends", also known as his "downline", seemed to always be on the brink of financial pitfalls, no matter how many motivational books they read, or seminars they paid to attend.
As time went on I started attending more events with him and I needed more and more time off at my regular job. He pressured me to quit, so that I could enjoy this vacation lifestyle all the time with him, but I hesitated. I thought of the situation I'd be in if we ever broke up and it scared me, to be a single mother without employment. I kept my job but I did drastically cut my hours, and he compensated me financially for my time off.*
I benefited financially by being his girlfriend, and eventually found out he had several ex girlfriends benefiting at the same time. He had one ex girlfriend who still lived in one of his homes, and another ex girlfriend who would stay at another of his residences when she felt like it and who I later found out he had been meeting up with secretly in other states for months. Every time I became suspicious he always had an answer where somehow he became the good guy. He said one was "suicidal" and needed his help, and the other had a child and deadbeat boyfriend and needed his help or they'd be on the street. A third ex girlfriends name, Nadia, starting popping up on his caller ID and one day I grabbed his phone and answered it myself. She wouldn't talk to me, so to save himself he "came clean" and showed me emails from her. She was currently married to another network marketer, but things must not have been going well for that guy because she was asking for a gift or "loan" of $700,000-$900,000 to support her. She was willing to have sex with him anytime he was in a hotel nearby. He told me he never answered her phone calls or emails but that she was psycho and constantly harassing him. I was in such denial I convinced myself that I believed him.*He had a clear habit of preying upon much younger women who were financially vulnerable, and I lied to myself and told myself I was different because I could take care of myself before I met him.
Social and professional events were a very important part of his life. Projecting an image of success included me, the much younger girlfriend. I am naturally a private person tho, and I started getting tired of the public exposure in time. I started asking him not to put up pictures of me on social media, or at events. What naively started as feeling glamorous, turned into feeling like a prostitute.* At various times throughout the relationship I couldn't take it any more, or I'd catch him in another lie about an ex-girlfriend, and I'd break up with him. He was so obsessed with his image that he always tried to hide our break ups, even our final one. When I wasn't talking to him he would still talk about his "dream of having his fiancée and her 2 little daughters to come home to" and put a picture up of the 2 of us on a slide presentation, to which the audience would say awwwww. Particularly awkward, was a trip to Thailand we booked before we broke up, that took place after we broke up. I was going for classes for my career, and he had planned on coming along for fun. I asked him not to go before I left. When he arrived anyway, I refused to speak with him about reconciling, and he left 2 days later in anger. When he showed up at a social event at home shortly after, people were shocked because they didn't know we had even broken up and expected him to be in Thailand. He couldn't tell them the truth, that he had been caught cheating, so he made up some story that we got into a dumb fight, and in a bid trying to appear romantic and regretful to everyone he hopped on a plane back to Thailand that night. He left messages for me when he arrived. He expected me to leave my classes and meet with him to reconcile. I'm sure it was so he could have a nice story to add to his slide presentation, about having the financial freedom to just hop on international flights frivolously like that. I refused to meet up with him or even speak with him, and he left again after a few days.*
I slowly became a different person after living the MLM image lifestyle for 2 years. I saw that his job was all about the money, and how to be so nice and put forth such an trusting and enticing image, that they can't say no to you. He conned me many times privately, and conned thousands publicly. He is an expert at holding a dream up in front of you, just out of reach, to get what he wants. Money was the only way he could truly relate to people, personally and professionally, that's what made him comfortable. The greed rubbed off on me and I gave up 2 years of my life being around this hell for money, when I should have been doing other things, like working a legitimate job as an example to my daughters. *
What I have taken away about the MLM industry is this: they are all about showing prospects (you) an image of the success you will have if you follow them. And they will do anything to maintain that image, and to keep you hooked into them. Whether that means friendship, helping you in some way, finding out your dreams for your life so they can dangle them in front of you with promises you can do it if you stick with them, whatever it takes so they can profit off you. It is all about the money in the end.
I am writing this in hopes of dissuading anyone who thinks MLM is something they want to be involved in. I saw what it's like to be on "top" of the industry, and I deeply regret my involvement. To be successful in it is nearly impossible, you have a 99% chance of failure, and if you have succeeded in becoming the 1%, you sold your soul to leech off the dreamers.
I encourage people to read more about the mechanics of MLMs so that they can see the odds are extremely stacked against them to climb to the apex. MLMs are cultish in their propaganda and brainwashing techniques. That is the only way people may be convinced to work so hard at an impossible task while consuming their own soul and destroying relationships along the way. Your family and personal relationships should be protected by you, and yet MLM encourages exploitation of *these relationships to profit the top leaders of the company. If you have a job, where you knew out of every 100 clients, 99 of them would lose hundreds or thousands of dollars, and your job was to cheerlead them on anyways, could you do it?*
The question for many who are interested in joining is, Is success in this business a real Possibility with hard work, or is it a mathematic impossibility? MLM products are the facade for the real scam: a business model with proven 99% impossibility, and which fraudulently convinces people to join and pay their distributor fees, monthly product fees, seminar fees and self development workshops; for the promise of easy residual income. I have learned that all money earned by this business is shameful and capitalizes on the hopes and incomes of the desperate. I am not proud of this knowledge and it's taken me a long time to accept this truth because I wanted to believe the bullshit too. I cannot take back my involvement, but I can condemn it and express my remorse for ever associating myself with this morally bankrupt scam. Furthermore, I can state publicly that I saw life as the 1% and it really isn’t that great when you have no true friends, no true love, or real meaning to your life besides showing off your money. When you live for money, you don’t attract anything except others who want it from you. I have returned all jewelry, donated all clothing, and trashed all pictures from this time in my life. I would like to apologize to the hundreds or thousands of people it took to scam for the money to buy those things. I hope I have provided some sort of clarity that this is something unethical that your soul will be better off in staying away from. I hope to put this behind me and live a quiet life away from the lies and greed which sustain MLM companies.
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