We all make stupid decisions. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes and I’ve not been right multiple times in my life.
One of my responsibilities with being the owner of The Mastermind Within is to provide actionable advice and share with you my life experiences so you can become better. For you to become better, I need to be fully transparent and share with you the good things that have happened and are happening in my life, but also the things I’m currently struggling with and have struggled with in the past.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my experience and reflect on the time I joined a multi-level marketing organization.
“You look like a Very Sharp Individual”
It was my senior year of college. I was a ripe 20 years old, had my school work and was interning at a local financial advisor firm. I was busy to say the least: I had 2 honors courses and was spending night and day on my homework for the 4 courses I was taking.
I was walking home from the bus after my internship one day. As I was walking, two people were walking towards me and looked friendly and stopped me to chat.
“Hey”, they said, “can we chat with you for a second? We are small business owners and thought you looked like a very sharp individual and wanted to chat with you.” I thought, why not? I usually chat with people on the street and these people think I look sharp and want to chat.
They started into their pitch and told me they were small business owners and were looking for talented people to join their organization. They asked me what I was up to in school and where I was going. I said I was in my last year of my degree in Math and was on the way back from my internship. The guy in the group of 2 (with his GF) was working as an engineer and graduated the year before. Now, he is trying to learn more about business and do this small business work on the side.
They said, they thought I’d be a great addition to their organization and they wanted to follow up at Starbucks in a week or so. I figured, I’m looking to build wealth for the long term, I could at least go and entertain the couple.
We exchanged good byes and planned to meet the next week.
After a brief phone call to check in, we scheduled a time to meet at the local Starbucks. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I went with an open mind.
The guy I’d met on the street got out a piece of paper and started to explain to me the opportunity. First, he explained to me the concept of a franchise and how he is one of the franchise owners of his online store. He said that e-commerce is already really popular, and it will only continued to get more popular as the reach of the internet expands. Basically, by joining in with him, he could set me up with a e-commerce franchise business of my own and I’d be able to get selling.
I was interested in thinking of ways to build wealth for the future (I should have just started a blog…), so I was interested in his pitch.
Becoming a Multi-Level Marketer
The next week, we met again to discuss some more of the details. For a $350, I could get some products and my own online store to start marketing to people. I could also join him in recruiting.
Well. Unfortunately, I ended up going through with it.
I joined the Amway organization and was a multi-level marketer.
Life as a Multi-Level Marketer
First, your “upline” (people above you) members want to get you to an event to get you fired up about selling. I ended up going to an event where I actually enjoyed the people’s company and had fun playing some ping pong. I met a gentlemen who had dropped out of school and now was doing this full time. They do a really good job of trying to suck you in to getting pumped up about selling and continuing to try to get other people to join.
Next, they get you on the Amway education track. This includes a lot of pump up material (I’m guessing to distract you from the actual goal of running a small business), and some other motivational material. One of the main influencers of the Amway organization is Robert Kyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The whole point of running an ecommerce company is to leverage the power of the internet for passive income. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and listened to some other audio material, and I was learning quite a bit.
I was excited because I was being exposed to some of the concepts of wealth creation and passive income, but at the same time, I was uncomfortable and stressed from my college and internship work.
Finally, there were the cold approaches and cold calls. You meet someone, and then you follow up with them, and finally, you try to close them on this great business opportunity.
Going to an Amway Event and Realizing it’s Not for Me
About a month into the Amway experience, I went to one of the events with 150 other Amway marketers at a local hotel. One of the more successful (read: one of the lucky ones who got in earlier) marketers shared their story on how they became successful through selling other people on this amazing business.
The event was rah-rah and supposed to be inspiring. This guy finished up his service with the army and upon leaving, didn’t have much to his name. Him and his wife were living in a broken down trailer and needed some money. They started selling, and selling, and selling. Now, they are 100s of people below them and are doing very well financially. It was inspiring, but I realized it wasn’t for me.
I gave it a shot and realized it wasn’t for me.
Luckily, I was able to get the majority of my money back and chalk it up to a learning experience. There is a three month window where you can cancel and get your money back. At the end of the day, it was a mistake, but it was something worth experiencing.
A Mistake, but I’m Grateful for the Learning Experience
Life is a set of decisions, experiences, mistakes, successes, and events. Each and every day, you will meet new people, encounter different problems, and you will need to figure out the best way to navigate the world.
No one is perfect. I made a mistake by spending a few months of my time with these marketers, spent a few hundred bucks and didn’t get a return on my investment, and realized there was a lot more to running a small business than I had previously thought.
That being said, I’m glad it happened to me. I got to experience the selling process first hand, and ever since, I’ve been a more conscious buyer. I realize that I’m being sold to in millions of ways and I have to be careful.
Another thing I learned (and then forgot), was it’s important to focus in on what the task at hand is, and not try to keep adding things to your plate. I already had 4 classes, an internship, my health, and my friends. I didn’t need to join this organization.
I should have thought back to this experience earlier this year when I started my business. But, I’m now a better person for starting that business and have learned a ton. As of this month, I’ve been able to focus in on what’s important, and outsource other tasks. I’ll be providing an update on the business soon, and will be sharing a whole series on it come 2018.
Everything we do in life is a potential learning experience. I’m not upset at the people who I got involved with and were sold to. It was a learning experience for me, and I’m a better person because of it. Chalk it up to a couple hundred dollar learning experience.
There are some experiences that are worth more than their weight in gold. Running a business and selling are things I’d never thought of before, and I really didn’t know what to expect. I realized, I’m not a salesperson, but could learn the skills to do so.
For you, it’s always important to keep your goals in mind when looking at other opportunities. While I’m not upset at myself for the experience, looking back, I’m a little bit upset that I didn’t say no because I already had priorities.
Focusing in on what’s important is 100 times more effective then spreading yourself around on many, many projects. I know that now from experience in 2017, and my experience back in 2012.
Multi-level marketing organizations aren’t necessarily bad, but I don’t think I will ever get involved in one of those again.
Readers: have you ever been approached by multi-level marketers? What is your opinion? Do you enjoy my stories on the negative experiences I’ve had in my life?