This is part 2 of a multi-part series examining the various coaches and mentors who promise the secret pathway to success in MLM. For part 1 please click here.
It is also a guest post from The MLM Mentor Monitor (pseudonym). The MLM Mentor Monitor is the long term watcher of the MLM world and an active critic of MLM. They have been spending some time observing the mentors who offer training to MLM distributors at all levels on how to expand their businesses and reach success in network marketing. Here are ten things the MLM Mentor Monitor was struck by during his voyage around the world of the MLM mentor.
1. Mentors never give practical business or financial advice.
2. Mentors love telling “stories”.
3. A lot of mentors encourage their MLM mentees to “build rapport” with “prospects” dishonestly.
Mentors are fully aware that spamming strangers on Facebook almost always doesn’t work, and have adjusted their advice to potential mentees about how to approach prospects with the “opportunity”.
In a nutshell, the idea is to make friends with strangers who in turn are more likely to buy products and join your team—this is building “rapport”. This gives rise to a particular tactic I find to be especially slimy and potentially even cruel.
One mentor I followed encourages participants to join Facebook groups full of people with like-minded interests—for example, cats. Participants should then regularly react to people’s posts, and make their own, to earn the trust of administrators, moderators and make connections with other members—this is where the rapport building comes in. From there, according to the strategy, people should become more trusting of you which is when you should begin private conversations with prospects. According to the mentor, the more time you spend cultivating these relationships, the more receptive they may become to buying a product or joining your team (arguing that people with emotional connections are highly likely buy from you). Whether this takes weeks, or even months, is no problem.
Essentially, the mentor is recommending that you should trick people into believing you joined their group and made connections out of passion for the interest, not because of the MLM. You could potentially be giving a lonely, vulnerable, member of society false hope in a “friendship” that exists only so long as they remain a potential point of sale or recruitment.
Aside from making me feel disgusted, such approaches also demonstrate that mentors are simply better than perhaps they used to be at obscuring the MLM agenda and teaching the art of deception to their mentees. This more obscure method seems to offer more potential harm to people’s emotional health than the old direct and more obvious “get rich quick” prospecting.
- Mentors massively overhype the importance of mindset.
The concept of ‘mindset’ is a staple for MLM mentors and synonymous with MLM in many people’s minds. It’s a term I heard over and over again. There are now more articles on the impact of mindset, and many critics who believe that the concept of mindset appears cult-like and manipulative. For just one example of a critical article, I would encourage you to read AcroTrekker’s article “MLM and crank magnetism.”
What is ‘mindset’? We all have a mindset. It is the views and attitudes we hold that allow us to form opinions, how we think and decide what to do. In theory, the ‘better’ your mindset, the more optimistic and proactive your outlook may be, leading to a better ability to achieve tasks and feel accomplished. This is especially important for people in highly competitive environments like professional sports, where an attitude that expects success, rather than hopes for it, could make the difference between victory and defeat.
Carol Dweck, a professor of Psychology at Stanford University first came up with the concept of mindset. Dweck’s primary research interests are in motivation, personality, and development. Her main contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence, (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, 2006, Random House). According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some people believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Other people, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behaviour. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals do not fear failure as much because they realise their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. Dweck theorises that these two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. Critics argue that innate ability cannot be ignored and ‘success’ cannot be guaranteed simply based upon how hard an individual tries. Further studies have not been able to replicate the effect that Dweck claims. However, Carol Dweck does offer an explanation of what ‘mindset’ is considered to be in the academic setting.
In the network marketing/MLM setting, it becomes something else. According to a well-known MLM mentor, the right mindset is “unstoppable confidence” and “a belief you can accomplish anything”. Another Mentor says, “No matter what anyone else decides to do, no matter what unforeseen events happen I always have full control over the success of my business and that’s the network marketing mindset you need to have if you want to succeed. When you experience setbacks in your business you are experiencing what every other Network Marketer has had to go through but the difference between the top earners and the quitters is mindset. To have this mindset you must take responsibility for the set backs so you can take control. Then there are no limits to what you can achieve.”
It will come as to no one’s surprise that mentors maintain that having the right mindset is crucial to success in MLM. Every mentor I watched emphasised that, until they adopted the right mindset themselves, they did not achieve success in their MLM (and all claimed they were introverted, or were scared of public speaking, etc). The goal here is to inform the MLM participants they mentor that until they genuinely believe they are going to succeed with their MLM, they are very unlikely to do so. Placing responsibility for success solely upon the individual MLM participant’s mindset avoids focus on the likelihood of success based upon the business model. It is never the MLM or the mentor’s fault, it is the participant’s. And this is simply not true. So mindset becomes a tool of distraction rather than of rational and resilient action. Yet what mindset actually is never gets explained—it’s just some magical thing you must acquire.
Mindset is certainly an important factor in influencing how people live their lives and make important decisions and choices, but it cannot influence external forces out our control. And that is where good, genuine, inspirational motivational speakers know to draw the line, compared to MLM mentors who want participants to believe that you can effectively imagine your dreams into reality if you just believe hard enough and try over, and over, and over, and over again. Even if it is virtually impossible for reasons out of your control.
- Mentors encourage participants to follow the “power of association”.
One of the biggest regrets ex-participants have when leaving an MLM is the loss of time they could have spent with friends and family. In some truly sad cases, relationships are damaged beyond repair, because participants were told by their upline to remove “negative” people from their lives so they can focus on their business.
This ties in with what mentors like to call the “power of association”.
In a nutshell, the power of association argues that people, as social creatures, adopt general traits and mannerisms of the five people they spend the most time with. It is difficult to source where exactly this theory originated, but it is generally cited as originating from a motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, who is also an advocate of MLMs.
Unsurprisingly, I am yet to see a mentor actively encourage followers to associate closest with their family or childhood friends. Instead, mentors encourage followers to seek out highly successful people in MLMs and listen to their seminars, read their books and attend their events. One mentor I came across claimed this is especially important because it allows a person to build “culture” with big names and team members. Another mentor says you should even see if you can shadow one of them to learn the skills you need to “crush it” in your business, just as the mentor did (honestly, if I were to make an “MLM Mentors Bingo” card, the phrase “crush it” would probably be the first square).
According to the mentors, it is better for you to associate with people you don’t personally know to learn the skills and attitude to succeed in MLM, rather than people you can truly trust (and who are likely to want what is really best for you). This is important, because obviously, the more time you spend with people involved in MLMs, the more ingrained (or, being honest, indoctrinated) you become in pursuing the dream of financial freedom. It is more beneficial for mentors and the MLM industry for you to spend time with people in their camp than it is for you to spend time with others who may be skeptical and would encourage you to think more carefully.
Stay tuned, next week we’ll have Part 3!