Thursday, August 10, 2017

Not Complimented

After my fourth very random email in the past week asking me to consider joining an MLM (multi-level marketing) business, and being told in two of those email that I should take it as a compliment to be asked, I really wanted to think about why I felt extremely annoyed instead of complimented.

It's not brain surgery, of course, to figure out. But I hadn't heard or paid attention before if I was told I should feel complimented. I really wanted to be able to give a well thought out answer as to why I don't feel that way.

I also want to say- I'm not writing this to offend people. If you're offended, I can't help that. I'm not writing this out of the blue, just to put down people's careers or companies they work for. I'm writing this, trying to explain, again, my sincere point of view, as I'm bombarded with requests to become part of a "team". No teams for me. I've never even played any sporting.

I don't know how to just ignore the requests because I feel like I'm forcefully having the ball put in my court, so to speak, of having to awkwardly say no and sometimes give reasons why. I don't like the feeling of being put in this position, as often as I am. I need to voice my thoughts on it so that maybe it will happen less. 

I realize that my issue, at least as I'm thinking about it today, is at the root of it, I feel like I'm being treated like I'm stupid. Like I'm stupid for either not joining or as if I must live under a rock and never heard of these businesses. Some I haven't, like the one my friend asked me about the other day (and I still love you NM). I'd legit never heard of it. I've never heard of it probably because after checking it out, I'm not interested in one product they sell so it wasn't on my radar. That's the nature of these businesses though. They start, get people in, market starts to get saturated, they get out, and jump to another new one. So if I never heard of one, chances are it's because it hasn't hit here yet or it's come and gone.

Then there's the piggyback of the really nasty/aggressive pitch of "I'm sitting on the beach while you're punching a clock. Wouldn't you rather be spending time with your family? You don't get a second chance to soak up your kids" that really chaps my behind. As if to flat out say- you're not a good mom if you work outside your home and aren't with your kids 24/7. Or there must be something wrong with you if don't see direct sales as the ticket to being home with your kids, i.e. what should be your happiness and contentment. One- that's just a play on mommy guilt. Good thing I was born without guilt and never warmed up to it. Two- not everyone wants or is cut out to work from home. When I worked from home for a tanning lotion company (not in direct sales, just by fact that the company was in Arizona and I live in NJ), I just got fat and stayed up way too late. Showering felt like a chore.

Work is also still work. Home or out of the house, when you're really "working" from home, you can't also be paying attention to your kids. If you say you can do both simultaneously, you're lying. Or you're the total exception and are a superhero. Your power is extreme multitasking. Good for you.

At any rate- I'm one of those who just doesn't believe it's so much better- at least for ME. You don't have a commute, but you have to be responsible for your work. You need time, energy and quiet for it. In my estimation, it's probably harder to work from home with kids because you're there. Your kids expect you to be able to give them all your attention. If you're at the office, your kids aren't there to make you feel guilty for doing your work or just there yelling "Mommy! Mommy!".  FYI- I work outside the house but I don't have a commute. So the commute thing isn't even a thought for me.

Back to why I find myself so pissed when asked to be part of this at-home work phenomenon. Even if I haven't heard of a particular one, do you really think I don't know what these businesses are or that they're out there? Or that I couldn't walk outside my store and spit, hitting someone selling one of them? I feel like when I get that email asking me to join, I feel like screaming- Do you think you're the first person or even the twentieth who has asked me?? And for all the major ones, at least in this area- Rodan & Fields, Lularoe, Isagenix, Beach Body, Thrive, Beauty Counter, Younique- even the old school Mary Kay & Avon- the market is pretty saturated. If I haven't started selling one of these by now, what would make you think I would start NOW?

Lastly- the emails about changing my life, the aggressive marketing about working poolside & spending more time with my kid(s), imply that my current life isn't fulfilling or that it's impossible for me to already love what I do. I have to say I'm insulted. It's totally discounting that I do actually love my career and am happy to go to work every day. Selling face cream, leggings or make up isn't going to push me over the edge to some kind of life's bliss explosion.

I don't care if you don't like the term "pyramid scheme" but the fact is- when you look at the structure of most of these companies, that's what the structure looks like. A pyramid. The word scheme just usually goes along with it. Some MLMs are, some aren't. Don't know which is which- but not the point. What pyramid means in relation to what I'm talking about is that the top is where the real earning potential is at. When I went down the rabbit hole years ago reading about what went down with MonaVie juice, I read all about how the structure works, how the people at the top are millionaires, etc. They ARE real millionaires. I get that. It makes sense. There would be no pyramids if it didn't work for someone. I certainly know though that it wouldn't behoove me to get in on the bottom, which is exactly where I'd be getting into any of the above companies.

Here's the thing, which is sort of the catch-22 or I don't know what to call it. I have real-life friends & acquaintances I see all the time, who sell MLM products. I don't have a problem with them. They know me- they know I'm not interested and they've never once even brought it up in conversation. (Thank you NH, KM, ML, LM, ST, TM, EC, JL, and anyone else I've forgotten because you've never brought it up). They know how I feel because they pay attention. They check in every now and again just about regular life, or they read my blog.

The people who DO send me the canned email and ask me to be on their team are people I know, consider acquaintances am friended to on social media because we have some common denominator- kids, an old job, same town, college, high school, or something. Maybe I met them at Newcomers when I moved here, drinking at the Progressive Dinner. I don't need to be BFFs to accept/request you on Facebook. However- These are people who never interact with me and I assume don't check my Facebook page or read my blog. Totally cool with that. I don't have an issue continuing to be be friended to people I don't have much interaction with in the past or currently because who knows how things will go. Paths often cross again.

Except that because we don't ever have interaction, it feels even more disingenuous to get that (clearly) mass email, which seems like it's supposed to have a tone of sharing and closeness- that they just think I'd be PERFECT for this opportunity, when they really have no idea. You don't REALLY know me if you think I'm going to be all in, happy and excited to be asked to make you money. And that's what it is- you're throwing something out there to someone for the purpose of them making you money.

I know someone who sells R&F, who truthfully, rarely posts on social media about it. She doesn't really solicit people to join, that I know about. She didn't do it to me. She got in closer to the top, years ago. She makes a decent dollar from it without really doing anything because I guess she has a good number of good team members under her. She explained the whole structure to me and that the money is in having a strong selling team below you. She's not comfortable making videos, posting incessantly about it, and she doesn't really try to recruit people. She's the exception.

I never felt like she had an agenda to sell me in talking to me or hanging out. I actually didn't even know she sold R&F until it came up organically in a conversation after knowing her a decent amount of time. Selling without drinking & sharing the Kool-Aid works for her and it didn't impact our time together. How it should be. 

I feel like it's common sense to know that if every time I posted on social media, or spoke to someone, I was really trying to sell them lighting, people would be hiding me or hiding from me. Yet, with these businesses, it seems like they're told that it should be your entire existence. And they basically tell you to be sneaky- to get together with old friends to discuss the business. Is it not hurtful to contact someone under the guise of catching up only to really have the agenda to either sell to them or get them as a team member. Honestly, I've been hurt by it. I think you want to break (or steal) bread with me because you miss me and all you really wanted was a pitch meeting. No. Just no.

Someone tagged me in a recent piece by Alden Wicker- so I posted it on my Facebook page with no commentary. Most people who did comment, some former MLM sellers, so not just biased folk who never did it, agreed with the article. Of course, there was a seller who did exactly what the article said- blamed lack of success on the consultants, not the company. Just totally refused to hear anything bad about the company. She also said something like- it's a slippery slope when women start judging other women for how they make their money. 

Now, yes, people did openly judge and comment sarcastically. I did not- I only gave an opinion when pushed by what I felt was victim-shaming (those who ended up in debt from selling Lularoe). I will say for the umpteenth time, I don't CARE how someone decides to make their money. I do judge the marketing strategies of many of the companies, the lack of real training, the act of implying that the sales should be easy and that it's not like really working. In the end though- not my problem. Until I'm asked over and over and over not only to be part of it, which is egregious enough since if they ever checked in with me, they should know at this point that I'm not interested.

They also ask "if I know anyone else who would be interested". I'm also supposed to do the work for them. I'm supposed to just be a vessel to endless contacts or something. How do I not feel used with that question? You don't even hit like on a photo of my kid in nine years, join in my interesting debates or conversations, or whatever, but you're going to ask me if I want to sell products under you making you money or send you my friends to do it. No one sees anything odd or problematic about this practice?

Don't get me wrong- if someone asked me for a favor, or if I thought I could match two people up with a great situation, especially a job, I'd be all about it. Again though- if I haven't sent you anyone thus far to sell MLM products, and you ask me now, am I all of a sudden going to hit my head, and be like, "you know, I DO know someone looking to sell xyz". How would I even pick which consultant I should be sending people? Make it like the Hunger Games? The first? The hundredth? Whoever has the longest lashes but least red eyes from using Lash Boost?

So no, I can't take being asked to join an MLM as a compliment. The way it's been done to me has put me in awkward situations. People I have to see every day. People whose kids go to school with mine. I can't even go to what's touted as a "mom's night out" for moms from school because it's become a giant sales pitch vs just hanging out, blowing off steam, and bonding. You don't call that a "mom's night out"- you call it what it is- a vendor event. Moms Night Out used to be meeting at the local Mexican restaurant, drinking margaritas and possibly having to coordinate getting moms home in the Margarita Mobile or Tequila Taxi? (I forget what their drunk shuttle is actually called). No one was trying to sell each other anything and it was just a good time had by all. Now, I don't even open emails about Moms Night Out because I feel like there's going to be some kind of sales agenda.

I can't take it as a compliment because I feel like I'm being used. Why am I being asked so much? Most of the people asking don't know me that well. They have no idea whether I'd be good at sales or not. I don't even use half the things these companies sell. The only logical conclusion to come to is that I'm being used for my contacts. People know that I know a lot of people. Lest I remind you all, AGAIN, that I had to hide my friends list on Facebook because an R&F consultant was going through my friend list, then started friending all my friends in order to pitch them.

For the record: I don't wear make-up often. No lotions or potions. I used lash stuff for a short spell that made me look like I'd been on a week's coke bender. I don't care what my cleaning products are made from as long as they work. I don't believe leggings are pants, don't want pics of Doritos on my camel toe- The few pair of leggings I've purchased were Jockey brand, and 12.99 at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I'm happy with them. They don't rip like wet toilet paper. I don't take supplements and the only work out I do or ever plan on doing is going on my treadmill. Going on my treadmill only as fast as I can still hear the TV. I don't fast- I eat jellybeans daily. I'm not buying third-party green energy. I don't cook so no kitchen utensils for me. I don't wear mass produced jewelry- I don't even wear my wedding rings because I "feel" them on me.

I'M NOT SAYING THE PRODUCTS AREN'T GOOD OR DON'T WORK. I have no idea if they work. I'm saying- I am not interested in them. I don't want them. I don't use them. There is nothing about them that makes me want to know more about them. The same way most of you are not interested in the kind of lighting we make. Where no amount of posting pictures of before & afters makes you more interested.

I know where to find you if I want to sell something besides lighting. And hell, if you want to sell something without a pyramid structure, come to me and you can sell chandeliers for a commission if/when you ever sell any. That's what I can offer you. Not my contact list.

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