Ok, let’s get super real.
I am completely biased.
After making over half a million dollars in network marketing, I am now in a unique position to look at both sides of the coin, because I left my first company for another one for exactly one primary reason. I did not feel aligned with the culture of the team I was on.
Let’s back up a little so that you can get a more complete picture of my experience.
I started my MLM business with my first company to supplement my income as a flight attendant. I loved all the free flying privileges, but was broke when I got to my destination. I wanted something flexible that would provide me some extra cash.
I started and quickly my business grew. I was excited about it and I told everyone. My enthusiasm was contagious and in under a year I had a achieved the rank that is coveted by many MLM-ers, where I was “gifted” a fancy set of new wheels.
I’m not sure exactly when things started to change, but I started seeing things that didn’t sit right with me. The problem is that when we’re surrounded by something “abnormal”, over time it starts to normalize.
A few “normal” things were:
-pressure to purchase large amount of product (that you didn’t necessarily need) to get into a qualification or to complete a promotion
-the overwhelming opinion that anyone doesn’t understand what we do or who rejects it are “lesser than” us, because we are right and everyone else is wrong and they are missing out
-a lack of integrity when talking about our success and painting ourselves as high rollers, when many people were still struggling financially
-when someone left our team we were encouraged to block and delete them as they were a threat to our businesses and our mindset
It wasn’t until I started watching Leah Remini’s TV series about Scientology that I actually saw the striking resemblance to what I had experienced.
Ok, so you could stop reading here and decide that “Yup, I was right! MLM’s are a cult and I’ll stay far away from that nonsense, thank you very much!”
But here is where I’m going to change course a bit.
Not all companies, teams and cultures are created equal.
MLM is NOT the problem. People are the problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE people. I believe people are inherently good. Call me naive, but I do. I think people are motivated by love.
The problem, as I see it, is that if you’re not careful, your love for your business, product or team can very easily turn into a “cult”-ure.
Yes. I used to defend it!
I would get accused of being part of a cult and I would laugh it off….
“Oh a cult where people are super positive, healthy and can work from home? Sounds TERRIBLE!”
When you’re in it and everyone around you is using the same lingo….it seems ok.
MLM, Network Marketing or Direct Sales are all incredible opportunities.
Ok, stop rolling your eyes and humour me…
Yes, people can be crazy and start bothering their friends and family. Yes, people can get carried away with the excitement and positivity that comes with a group of like minded individuals. And yes, people can start to become driven to succeed at all costs. But the truth is that any industry or profession can have some bad apples. Ever hear a good thing about a car salesman? Yah I thought so…..
But just because some people become a little, shall we say “excited”, is not a good enough reason to dismiss the industry all together.
When you look at the benefits of a Network Marketing business they really do outweigh the negatives.
-set your own hours
-leverage your time
-work from anywhere
-the harder you work, the more money you make
It’s hard to find anything that can compete with that.
So here’s where I’ll give some advice because I have seen what works and what doesn’t.
Be INTENTIONAL with “cult”-ure you are creating. You DO NOT have to adopt the “us vs them” mentality to create a successful business. You DO NOT have to create the group think that people who quit should be “shunned”. You DO NOT have to create the peer pressure to encourage bulk buying to achieve your goals.
At the end of the day, I don’t care how “successful” you are, how many millions of dollars you have made in your company or how many times you have walked the stage. If you did it by creating a “cult”-like mentality, you are not true leader, you are a manipulator.
I also encourage those who start seeing these signs to speak out! You don’t have to quit like I did, you can change the culture of your team by leading from a place a inclusivity, common-sense and shared vision.
Because at the end of the day, the only people who can change the way Network Marketing is viewed are the people in it. And it’s too smart a business to let silly humans mess it up!