[Elle:] North American guest writer “Frenzied” is back with the conclusion of Why I Got Into an MLM, & What I Found When I Got There; as you will know from Part One, Frenzied is signed up to a multi-level marketing scheme and has been for some time.
However (unlike many MLMers), she was courteous, levelled and extremely diplomatic when it came to putting across her point of view. What’s more important is, she took the time to listen to me and understand why I hold an anti-MLM opinion.
That’s why I think its only fair that Frenzied is given this platform, and I hope you will give this guest post a look. Although she did not specifically tell us her MLM, it is possible that it is of the essential oils variety. It could be doTerra, or it could be Young Living, but of course, we do not know for sure. – this is simply the way that Frenzied wishes to share her story with us.
Phase 3: The Breaking Point
You’d think the shunning would be enough to break me as far as the MLM world went, but it didn’t. I chalked it up to very poor leadership on the part of one team and decided to do my own thing from then on. I may have thrown my upline a bone every now and then, writing her to act like I really cared about my dropping rank but then never actually following her advice. Okay, so I’m still a woman and may have felt a little vindictive about Mindy’s shunning, and my own subsequent shunning.
Anyway, I still dreamed of hitting the next rank, which would mean a free vacation with others at my rank, and free products from the company that I can’t currently afford. I just wanted to do it my own way. I saw the monthly challenges to win big prizes scrolling by. If they didn’t involve typing a basic answer, I ignored it. My kids are special needs, which means they need their mother very present in their lives. They are school-aged and still aren’t toilet trained or able to put on their own shoes or buckle their seatbelts. They are still very reliant on me to help them.
My real breaking point came when I miscarried a set of twins in 2016. I had been doing a leadership training course during my pregnancy for my MLM. My upline was leading it for those of us who “needed a little extra motivation.” I knew money was about to get really tight and decided to give it one last push to see what happened. I had already miscarried three babies and was unsure how I was even doing with my pregnancy, but I was posting on hoping to blog about all the great products I would use to help my pregnancy go smoother, and getting a lot of encouragement from the select other ladies in the group.
When I miscarried and disappeared from the group for a while, not one of them tagged me or wrote me to see how I was doing. I had to have surgery to remove both babies because they had both died, and my body wasn’t naturally miscarrying them on its own. They had been dead for weeks, and I was just hanging onto them. At least one was a boy. The other had died too early to tell. It was horrible.
I’m not saying anyone said awful things to me or anything, but I realized at that time that I hadn’t found an outlet for my loneliness. I was, in fact, lonelier than I was before entering that world.
I had failed at producing healthy, normal children. I had failed at being a wife as I regularly ignored my husband and household duties in order to catch any Facebook notifications that “might be a sale.” I had invested all my commission when I was earning a lot of it in literature that was now just sitting around the house collecting dust.
I had not contributed to my family at all. In fact, I had ignored them.
My autism-spectrum daughter wouldn’t even sit in my lap any more, and I was one of the few people she would show real affection for. I had lost it all, and my life had never looked more empty. My breaking point wasn’t because of my company. My breaking point was self-inflicted; in a desperate attempt to escape what I saw as a prison, I had sacrificed the only people who actually cared about me as a real-life person.
The sad part is, I was never all-in like some of the ladies I see in my own and other MLM companies. I wonder what their lives look like? How much hurt and heartbreak they are hiding from the virtual world? We all eventually look around and wonder how we got where we are. How we ended up doing something we actually know nothing about, yet have to play the expert. How we got sucked into the hype of being popular when we are grown women far removed from the awkward days of high school (and so, so glad to be).
It’s a strange thing to feel so unwittingly caught up in the drama of MLM groups and relive high school in my thirties. It’s strange, and yet it’s hilarious, and since I have a very odd sense of humor, I spend most of the time laughing it off rather than get defensive over being part of an MLM. I made the conscious decision to do it, might as well laugh about it…
Phase 4: What MLM really is about from the inside
Ultimately, most MLM’s are formed out of an acute mental condition known as ‘greed’, and they are fuelled by people who have that same mindset. Even at top rank, enough is never enough. There’s still the pushing, the one-size-fits-all mentality, the encouraged reckless spending, the time-sucking, the fake interest in you as a person and not as a money source (and as far as those rank-hungry individuals are concerned, money sources are endless), the stupid strategies and sense of entitlement…the list could go on.
Honestly, is the $1 million a month still not enough? And why do you have to mention it every. single. month? Are you really, truly happy drowning in all that money? Because it looks like your kids want to cry in every picture of them. Your husband looks distant and disinterested in pictures of you together. Is it all really worth it, ‘The Queen’? MLM’s as a whole thrive off of how many sales their slaves employees can achieve each month. All of them. Even mine.
I happen to actually like my MLM, and am still with it four years after starting; I basically told my upline to back off two years ago, and have been happily trucking on with it at my own pace ever since. I’ve dropped in rank, and I’m fine with that. Rank does not define who I am as a person. And a job title within an MLM means absolutely nothing in the real world, so who cares? I take a personal interest in the ladies I meet who bring up my products, and often just give them what I have instead of making them buy a starter kit.
One of those ladies has helped me plug into a special needs group that lets the kids lead their own version of a church service. It’s the most beautiful and moving thing I’ve ever seen. The preacher is a guy with a stutter. The singers have Down syndrome or autism. It’s beautiful, and my kids are accepted there. I met this lady doing a small class on my products, but we instantly liked each other. That was 20 months ago.
She still has not bought a single product from me, but we’re friends, and I don’t care if she never buys a thing. She’s given me more than money or rank could buy.
I wish MLMs would see what they actually have going for them. So many personalities. So many backgrounds and stories in their ranks. So many women looking for places to fit in, none of which wish to be exploited for their bubbly personalities or written off for their more serious dispositions.
MLMs need to take a look at the #antiMLMmovement and learn from what is being said about them. How about doing actual personality tests that don’t involve “what color you are most drawn to?” How about actually helping women play to their strengths? How about not allowing bullying from uplines to continue, and having retribution in place for those who do get turned in for bullying? How about valuing what they have instead of trying to make carbon copies of one particularly ‘empowered’ seller who is merely motivated by greed?
MLM companies, I understand your strategy. You target women like me, and then try to force us to meet the criteria for your ideal employee. You say we “own our own business” to give us a false sense of security, yet our personal Facebook posts are monitored and we’re at the mercy of your price changes, kit changes, and product changes, which means a certain graphic or pamphlet or whatnot may suddenly have to be tossed, and more money and/or time spent to replace it.
You build a false sense of success and a false sense of security in already vulnerable women. You prey on the lonely, the weak, the insecure, and you empower your top sellers to manipulate them. Many MLM CEOs are corrupt and just hoping to keep their MLM afloat long enough to laugh all the way to the bank. In the meantime, your “independent representatives” are left with awful products that they can’t sell and have put their families in ruin, all for you to drive a luxury car.
I’m friends with a lot of reps of different MLM companies. I really think a new company crops up every day. Do you know who they are trained to target? People already in MLMs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been picked as the ‘fantastic new success’ just needing to ‘take the dive’ so I can suddenly become wealthy, happy, and wise. I can’t tell you how many of these recruiters have MLM-hopped. They are unsuccessful with one business, so they decide to go to another, and they fail with that one too.
Some of my own downline gave up selling with my MLM, and just jumped right on board with another. If I thought ‘my’ products saturated the market, Younique (which I’ve had two jump to), Beauty Counter, LuLaRoe and others REALLY saturate the market! As in, you can get the same low-quality products for cheaper in a brick-and-mortar store. Current MLM reps will get defensive and go, “But my product is better than those because…” Sorry. No. Your mass-produced MLM product is made by a CEO who couldn’t care less about the environment, animal cruelty or humanity, and is cutting corners, not giving you “the product of a lifetime.”
‘My’ MLM just introduced a makeup line. It’s limited, but I have to face reality with it too; I absolutely hate some of the products. I’d rather go to my local store and buy the eye shadow pallet that I love, than spend twice as much just to say I’m wearing “my company’s” poor-quality eye shadow.
I know I don’t really have to harp on MLM companies here, but to the reps who are still in the game, you need to take a good hard look at reality:
- Look at recent pictures of your kids. Does their smile reach their eyes?
- Does your spouse look warm and comfortable with you?
- Do you look harsher and like yourself?
- I mean, do you REALLY look like yourself? What you looked like when you were at your happiest?
Because isn’t that what you were promised: to be happy and successful? Do you look that way compared to old pictures of when you actually did feel happy and successful?
Only you can answer those questions, and they take some soul-searching. They take a willingness to admit that you might have been wrong. You don’t have to give up your MLM if you find true joy in it. Just do the things that bring you joy.
For me, posting on my Facebook page all the time, making phone calls, writing cards and setting up a “goal wall” don’t bring me any joy. None of them do. I love learning, and teaching what I have learned about essential oils. Honestly, my classes bring me joy. I could walk away from a class having sold nothing and still feel joy.
I can watch my downlines dropping off one by one, and still feel joy, because I know I’m letting them make their own choices and live their own lives without pressure from me. They tried the product because I taught them how to use it. If they love it, they will keep buying it. If they don’t, they need to spend their hard-earned money on things that bring them joy.
I guess I’m addressing everyone here when I say: find your joy.
If it’s with an MLM company just cruising at your own pace, do that. If it’s in a full-time capacity with a salary, do that. If it’s being a wife, do that. If it’s being a mom, do that. If it’s volunteering for the needy, do that. You get it?
What MLM companies miss that other companies get is that everyone has a niche. When you find it, cling to it. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. And most importantly, don’t bully or judge another person for their niche…but also don’t be afraid to let them know if they’re a little over-exuberant about their niche, nicely.
You anti-MLM guys are doing a great thing. Really. Honesty and integrity should always come before making money, and with MLMs being largely more harmful than good, I support what you are doing. Keep up the good work!
[Elle:] The coalition would like to thank Frenzied for being our guest writer. We appreciate her helpful and levelled viewpoint and wish that other pro-MLMers would share her same outlook when delivering their opinions of the industry. We hope that she will choose to return as a guest writer in future, as we’ve certainly enjoyed our time listening to her.
Do you agree or disagree with Frenzied, or have you had a similar experience? Let us know in the comments below, or check out our guidelines for guest submissions.
Further Reading & Support
- If you find yourself in Frenzied’s position or have a friend in this situation, take a look at this selection from our General Advice category: