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The MLM Graveyard Is Littered with Broken Hearts and Shattered Dreams

Can I tell you a story? 
 
One of the advantages of doing something for a living for 45 years is you see a lot and you gather a lot of valuable stories. We call it wisdom. The opposite of wisdom is stupidity. I have had my share of both. 
 
Some years ago, I recruited a “top” network marketing leader, someone who had reportedly built several teams of 100,000 or more. She was “in between” companies and looking for a permanent home. 
 
She had built in at least five companies since leaving her first (five that she would admit to anyway). I could tell she had joined many others. None except the first were apparently still in business. She had been full time in the network marketing profession for about 30 years and had no residual income and was again looking for the right opportunity.   
 
She had left the first company after building with them for seven years. She was the first woman to achieve one of their highest ranks. She had built a very successful business. She was a sought-after speaker in that company and a highly regarded leader. She was earning about $10,000 a month from a team of thousands … in 1975. 
 
That year, the FTC sued her company for being a pyramid scheme. She felt she could no longer build in a company that was being sued by the FTC, so she quit. The company had lost its shine. Of course, it didn’t help that “friends” were convincing her she could do so much better in their ground-floor opportunities. She loved the idea of being a big fish in a small pond.
 
Four years later, Amway won that lawsuit and established for the first time on the federal level the legitimacy and legality of the network marketing model. (Check out: https://www.amwayglobal.com/answers/is-amway-a-pyramid-scheme/)
 
When the suit was filed in 1975, Amway sales were $250 million a year. In 1979, their sales were $800 million (international markets do not pay much attention to what the FTC is doing).
 
By the time I recruited her in 2000, Amway was doing $5 billion a year. If her business had grown at the same pace as Amway, she would have been earning $200,000 a month. More profoundly, she would have earned upwards of $10 million in the previous 25 years. Had she invested half of that, her net worth at the time would have been as high as $20 million. 
 
Instead, she was broke, with nothing but stories of blame and misfortune. Today she might be earning $400,000 a month with a net worth of $50–60 million, kind of like our neighbors on Lanai who have been fully retired from Amway for 25 years. Their children now run their business. It won’t be long before their grandchildren are running it.
 
But wait … the story gets better.
 
I was kind of desperate in 2000. I needed a new win. I needed a fresh, big leader. So, I went all in on this woman. I flew 51 of her first prospects – former team leaders of hers from various failed companies – into my headquarters, sometimes one at a time and sometimes in small groups. I met with each of them for hours. It took 2 months to enroll them. 50 out of 51 joined.
 
They were all “in between” companies, looking for a home. My approach to “pitching” them was to ask them to tell me their story. I asked them to tell me about who they were before their MLM career, what company they joined first and why, and why they left. And then what company came after that, why they joined it, and why they left. I took notes. 
 
After the first few, a sick and sad pattern emerged. I started recapping it for each of them on my “white board.” I listed each company in order of them joining. Some of them had been in 15 companies. Most of them couldn’t even remember the names of all the companies. But in EVERY CASE, the company they joined first was not only still in business, but was thriving, often 10–20 times bigger than when they left:
 
  • Amway
  • Nu Skin
  • Herbalife
  • Forever Living
  • Shaklee
  • Mary Kay

 

    They had all joined a legitimate legacy-income opportunity and squandered it.
     
    I reminded them how big their original company was today and asked them these questions:
     
    Where do you think you would be today in ...

    Income?
    Net worth?
    Health and fitness?
    Reputation and relationships?
    Confidence and credibility?
    Credit score?
     
    If you had created your motivation from within – your own vision and values vs. what was going on externally – and created the mindset of loyalty, focus, legacy, and servant leadership, where do you think you would be today?
     
    You can imagine their bloodless faces, white as sheets.
     
    They all joined me because they needed to. I promised them another chance at legacy and leadership. 
     
    They had all quit again within a year.
     
    I’ve heard that the original lady I enrolled finally did find a home and has done well financially. I am happy for her.
     
    Every one of the companies above has been sued many times by states, countries, and in most cases, class actions of distributors. They have had bad months, worse quarters, and horrible years of sales declines. They have had dumb management and embarrassing media stories. Every one of them has had disastrous software upgrades and the worst shipping ever imagined.
     
    Creating a legacy income for your sales force is not easy. It is not a highway to heaven. It is a rough road littered with adversities, adversaries, and the occasional atom bomb. What all of these companies and others like them not on the list have in common is ownership with a vision that will not quit, and sales leaders with the maturity and wisdom to stay the course. It is that magical marriage that makes for a network marketing life worth living.
     
    And I know full well that some people, including me, have had to leave one to find the right one. This is not a righteous story. It is a story of wisdom, which usually only comes from hindsight.
     
    What will your network marketing career look like? What will they say about you? Will you retire like my neighbors on Lanai with your integrity, health and wealth in place, or will you waste the most extraordinary opportunity your family tree may ever encounter?
     
    A life well lived is a life of tough choices … tough choices almost every day. Choose wisely, my friends.
     
    The work is worth it,
    Richard
     
    P.S. My blogs are, for me, a conversation. I rant for a bit and then … if so inspired, you respond. Your comments close the loop of conversation. They let me know I was heard. They let me know I contributed something … or not. I encourage you to close the loop … or open a new one and say something.

    11 Responses

    Amber

    Amber

    April 29, 2021

    I always enjoy hearing your perspective . Thanks for always speaking truth in a world where there are new opportunities daily that pop up . However , they are not always true and tested. Longevity and enjoying the journey you are on, I believe are some key components to success!

    Darlene

    Darlene

    April 28, 2021

    (edited)
    Thank you Richard!
    I am in my original company while all of my original ‘hero’ up-lines are long gone…. Every word and description you share of the road to here, has been my personal experience and I stayed. There have been moments when I wondered ‘Why’! Then my experience with my core values and teaching kicks in and here I am… Thank you for the truth..and I still earn a cheque every month and it is growing again!

    Don Miller

    Don Miller

    April 28, 2021

    Network Marketing is the greatest Profession on Planet Earth, If you have a great company, excellent products, a rewarding compensation, and a great trainer like Richard Bliss Brooke. Thanks Richard!!

    Linda kemmerer

    Linda kemmerer

    April 27, 2021

    Always appreciate your down to earth candid and honest reflection. You put perspective on the events and experiences we all have had

    Rose Stebbins

    Rose Stebbins

    April 27, 2021

    Richard, I know this story by heart! I’ve created this journey myself! Thank you for you undying wisdom, leadership & the grateful “kick in the butt!” I heard you, trust me!🧑‍🌾❤️

    Lea Mallett

    Lea Mallett

    April 27, 2021

    Fabulous wisdom, Richard! Staying the course takes serious grit and perseverance. But SO worth it!

    Gordon Hall

    Gordon Hall

    April 27, 2021

    You have contributed greatly Richard. You are teaching me how to be authentic and how to stay the course!

    Sandy Shelton

    Sandy Shelton

    April 27, 2021

    I was just wondering about the new changes and how to explain them to some of my team who are concerned. This gave me clarity. It’s about the product, the integrity of my leadership, and my motivation. Whatever the company, it needs to evolve as it grows, as do I.
    Thank you.

    Darlene

    Darlene

    April 27, 2021

    Thank you Richard! I am in my original company and all of my original ‘hero’ uplines are all gone…. Every word of description of the road to here has been my personal experience and I stayed. There have been moments when I wondered Why! Then my experience with values teaching kicks in and here I am… Thank you for the truth..and I still earn a cheque every month and it is growing again!

    Angela Proud

    Angela Proud

    April 27, 2021

    Always sharing your brilliance with us! Thank you.

    Kathy Schmidt

    Kathy Schmidt

    April 27, 2021

    Love you and your wisdom. You rock the World 💕

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