Several years ago, I attended a job fair at Daytona State College that included “career opportunities” like Primerica and Vector Marketing (Cutco). The fact that Daytona State College would allow these fraudsters at their job fair reflects very poorly on the college. These shysters will invite you to an “interview” that is actually a sales pitch to you and dozens of other schmucks. Unlike a real job, to get started on your path to allegedly massive $$$ in these companies, you must make many “investments,” such as buying training materials and inventory, at inflated prices. To be fair to the fraudsters, the individuals who even attend such “interviews” are proven schmucks, because they failed to do any due diligence (e.g., a simple Google search of the company, you MORONS).
While multi-level marketing companies prey on weaknesses and insecurities, it is unfair to absolve participants of blame for their behaviors. Unlike religions, it’s quite rare for parents to coerce their children into participating in MLM companies. Participants enter of their own free will. There are few excuses for falling for MLM scams. I have very little respect for individuals who impose these scams on others through psychological tricks such as reciprocity bias and the foot-in-the-door technique. Unfortunately, because MLMs push participants (schmucks) to recruit more schmucks, this means I have very little respect for the vast majority of MLM participants.
I do a lot of commuting between Daytona Beach and University of Central Florida, listening to many audio books and podcasts during my travels. On an episode of the Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency from June 2015, Jordan Harbinger from the Art of Charm proposes the idea of a “Mark Johnson,” often seen at conferences and networking events. Mark Johnson is a fictitious character who pitches his business or services to strangers in an annoying way. He interrupts, derails conversations, forces his business card on you, and offers nothing of substance or value. This is apropos to how MLM participants market to family, friends, and acquaintances.
In America, MLM companies are so pervasive that you undoubtedly have friends or acquaintances who are involved with them. The ones I recall personally encountering are Herbalife, ACN (as endorsed by bankruptcy aficionado Donald J. Trump), and LegalShield. Typically, these salespeople abuse friendships by extolling the value of their MLM cult, perhaps convincing you to attend recruitment events and ultimately pay an exorbitant startup fee. The underlying “businesses” behind these MLM companies are blatantly frivolous and overpriced. In fact, these companies can only achieve profitability through an MLM pyramid scheme through which countless schmucks do nothing but waste time and lose money. Like the Ministry of Love from Nineteen Eighty-Four, MLM founders often cite a desire to “share” and “give back” in their “selfless” decision to found an MLM.
Of course, the schmucks yearn to move up in the pyramid, and the only way to do this is to recruit “downstream” schmucks who become even bigger schmucks by recruiting more and more levels of downstream schmucks who all funnel profits to the upstream members. Therefore, MLM Kool-Aid drinkers will always relentlessly corrupt any friendships they have for the purpose of trying to recruit a downstream supernode. Their friendship is as genuine as a prostitute’s “hello.” They dream of the six-figure incomes and island vacations that their MLM cult leaders mendaciously extoll, and the only way to get there is recruiting supernodes—workhorse schmucks who convince many others to join through good looks and/or sociopathic sales skills, thereby funneling profits to the supernode recruiter and funding six-figure incomes that require only four-hour workweeks, merely by virtue of temporal precedence. (My use of nodes and supernodes in this context is largely original.)
Your friends who participate in MLM schemes are vultures, much like the speculators who circled Washington in 1790, successfully lobbying the federal government for “assumption” of state debts while buying up these junk bonds at pennies on the dollar, only to have them repaid by the federal government at 100% of face value. The underlying motives for MLM participants are no different from speculators, lobbyists, ambulance-chasing lawyers, and anyone else weak or twisted enough to endorse a get-rich-quick scheme.
It is not uncommon to hear an MLM cult member brag about their massive income. If you look closer, you’ll probably see their house is being foreclosed on and their electricity is being cut off. Unless they are part of the 1% at the top of the pyramid, their claims are bold-faced lies. How does it feel to be friends with a scrupleless liar?
Multi-level marketing is a pox. Do not forgive friends for trying to ram Herbalife down your throat, anymore than you would forgive them for slashing your tires or poisoning your water supply. Slam the door in their face as they deserve. Hopefully, someday, they will wake up, but that’s not your problem, and trying to convince them is a fool’s errand.