Have you ever been walking through
a “big box” or grocery store and suddenly somebody comes up to you? “Hi there!” “Here, check it out!” Or you see a demonstration of a new,
limited-time-only product available for purchase? “So the entire five-piece set
retails for 55 dollars.” Well this is the true story about the business behind many of those products, the vast network of people hawking
those products, and the motivation behind all the selling: a motivation advertised as the answer
to all of one’s prayers – yet completely unattainable to
all but a select few. This business hides behind many names – the names of countless individually incorporated companies – in a move to give people the illusion of entrepreneurial freedom. These companies hire a variety of people
for positions with a variety of names; but that all do the same thing. They comprise a circle of individual companies that rely on a large amount of ambiguity and secrecy, and on a small set of
heavily-vetted scripts – scripts that the lower ranks are taught
to jot down – over and over again – in seemingly endless seas of notebook pages, so they can learn – and remember. The circle allows these companies to
network and conference with each other, and share strategies and workers, while demanding that these supposed “business owners” follow the commands of their parent company – which is never mentioned until you are actually employed at one of these places. The owners are treated as gods, while the lower ranks are taught to work
harder just to scrape by – slaves for breadcrumbs – because the harder and harder you work now, the greater the payoff in the future. “The Big Picture” …at least that’s the script. For those who have not endured this
business, it may be difficult to understand. I would have a hard time understanding it myself – if I hadn’t lived it. But thousands of people have lived it –
and we are telling our stories. Through all of our experiences, our many notebooks filled with indoctrinations disguised as “marketing techniques,” and reputable outside sources, you will see a clearly painted picture of this secretive worldwide business. This business targets the most vulnerable: people who are looking for
a career change, for a career that requires little to no
experience, and, of course, people who just downright need a job, and are willing to take anything that comes along. This career opportunity is advertised far and wide: saturating career websites populated with plenty of job seekers. Sometimes you won’t even need to apply. They come searching for you. I didn’t. I got a phone call like
“Yeah, so…” By a phone call saying they saw me on like a Career Builder website. Like “Hey, check this out!” They approached, they e-mailed me. Yeah, which is weird. They e-mailed me. I think they said they saw my resume on probably Indeed or Career Builder cuz I do have that up there. So they e-mailed me. And, um, I kinda was suspect. If you get selected for an interview, which basically means you have a resume and a pulse, you will be contacted by the company receptionist. As some receptionists book interviews for two or more individual companies in this business circle, the person you talk to might not even work in the same office. You might be told you will be interviewing with an “event marketing company” that does
“on-sight product promotions.” They may glamorize the position by emphasizing “there is no cold-calling involved.” They also make sure you have a car. That’s about the only qualification. Because then you have the “opportunity” to drive hours and hours a day, with nothing but a taxed “travel reimbursement” – which just might cover your gasoline. Once the interview is set up, you should receive an e-mail with directions to the company’s office – which is almost always very basic and nondescript. In the first interview, the interviewer, either the owner or assistant manager, speaks very quickly and recites multiple clichés: that they are growing fast, and need more positive go-getters who want to do more than what is expected. It is here you will first be told this business’ three commandments: Through this, they begin laying the foundation to control every aspect of your behavior. Every positive thing you will do is a reflection of your keeping these commandments. Every negative thing you will do is a reflection of your having broken these commandments; and those negative things will need to change. If the interviewer likes you, you will be contacted for a 2nd interview. The pace and ambiguity of the 1st interview leads many people to the 2nd one without even knowing what the job is for which they are interviewing. The 2nd interview is done on-location at a big box or grocery store where the business’ products are being sold. The whole purpose of this interview is two-fold: to show you how you will spend your day and, if necessary, to “put you on your back foot” – in an attempt to make you feel inferior to the interviewer. First you will be led to a less-crowded area of the store where the interviewer will ask for your resumé and begin to write on it. They have been trained to mark-up your resumé on purpose, and to assign it a number other than “1” to make it seem like you are not the only person who has interviewed that day, and to make you sell yourself to them. If you show at least a little interest, you will be allowed to spend some time watching the sales performance, taking plenty of good notes to display your strong student mentality. After this, you will go back to the first location and be asked about the notes you took. You will then hear a breakdown of the stages of the “opportunity.” Basically, what your responsibilities will entail at each level, and how much you will make. This begins with the amount you will make
as an entry-level rep, which is almost always an overstatement, and is based on the ideal situation of you being an elite seller from the start. If you can sell, you will be promoted to “Team Leader” and be given additional responsibilities: training new employees, doing 2nd round interviews to build your team, running meetings, and having “critical conversations” with under-performing reps – all without an extra dime of pay. Unless you look at it from the fact that now, you get more daylong solo shifts in the stores – and don’t have to split your commission with anyone – then the increased number makes sense. Getting the opportunity to go solo
inside of a store is a huge opportunity. Within a year’s time, if you master the product knowledge and become an expert at training others, you may then be promoted to management, where you will learn the in-s and out-s of running one of these businesses. You will then be promoted to your own office, which they say means “owning your own business,” with starting pay between 75 and 100 thousand dollars a year. Fast money. That’s how they get you. When I was looking at it and it was specifically slated as an entry-level job, and I got to the interview and they said “Hey, this is entry level,” but we can teach you all of these things, and you’ll have your own team, and you’ll be able to develop this experience,” at that point in time I looked at that and went “Good,” you know, I need to be able to get to the point where I have financial stability, where I have a career – and that was kind of I think the biggest draw. After this breakdown, you may be able to ask a few questions before the interviewer sends you on your way. But not before assigning the homework. You will be instructed to e-mail the interviewer several reasons why you think you should be hired for the opportunity, and what makes you better than all the other candidates, who may or may not have interviewed that day. Again, it’s all about sales, and specifically selling yourself. Something you may hear in both of the first two interviews is the deceptive phrase, “We are looking to wrap up the interview process within the next week.” They were not willing to answer all of my questions during the initial interview process and that’s something that I remember
very clearly. I think that I went into it, kind of, eyes open as to what I was getting myself into to an extent, at least, because I have a tendency to ask a lot of questions not just about my job but about the structure of the business and I wanted to know what I was getting into, It wasn’t shot down in a way that was particularly suspicious but it was kind of directed away, like “How long is it going to take me to get here,” “How is this compensation plan set up,” “What’s the kind of business that you get at the end of it?” “How is this business set up?” “Why are they paying for the office for you?” “What is the structure of this?” And those sort of questions that I tried to ask – were deflected. Or “It’s something that you’ll learn later,” “Oh it’s something we’ll teach you another time.” And that was something that I think stood out to me a little bit was the amount of information I wasn’t allowed to have; but other than that the interview process was very compelling, it was very convincing. Many offices require a third interview, which allows you to drive all the way back out to the office for basically a 10-minute question-and-answer session
with the owner. If you show some type of “go get ’em” positive attitude, and don’t say anything stupid, or ask any critical questions about the company and the sales process, you will likely be offered the position. Congratulations! You have now been offered the opportunity of a lifetime – just like everybody else that didn’t make a negative impression. The structure is to teach people a process that has proven to be successful, to teach it to them quickly to teach them to advance quickly, and, like all legal or illegal pyramid schemes, it’s about the bottom man growing as quickly as possible. They all had this sad sob story. They all said they started off with the company because they weren’t meeting their funds and they needed more money; and when they started off they were making a lot of money. I guess they sold me with that, because during that time I was struggling. So if you’re telling somebody how you were struggling, how you overcame it with the company, it appeased me. Every person I talked to: the receptionist, the team leader in the store, the owner… they all said they were looking to wrap up
the interview process. They made it sound like it was a short
process and they were looking for only a few people. But once you get hired, once you get into the office, you realize that the receptionist is always on the phone – they’re always making phone calls, they’re always setting up interviews, and that process never stops. It’s a revolving door. And when I was in the business I just chose to not critically look at that; I chose to ignore it. I don’t think we’re any more full-of-shit
than any other entry-level sales organization; I just think we are better trained to package and present the bullshit in a way that’s attractive to somebody that doesn’t know any better. Your first day in the business is a surreal experience. It’s designed to make this stand out from any other job you’ve had. You will be met by a team leader – ideally the person who did your second-round interview – in order to show you a familiar face. You will then be taken into the “impact room,” where all the morning magic takes place. The technical term for what you are about to experience is “Atmosphere.” Another term often used, specifically to boost the perception of the need for the daily meetings is “business school.” You will then be asked to get out your notebook. You are about to be taught the first of Every aspect of the business relies on these four law-like systems. A veteran rep will write-out, word for word, the information on a whiteboard. YOU must learn every word – in exact, sequential order. No synonyms, no similarities, no substitutions. When you come back the next day, you must teach back the information – word-for-word, with 100-percent exactness. At 9AM, the workshop starts. Everybody is standing. There are no chairs. This is identified as a way to keep everybody active and awake; but in reality, it’s just another method
of behavior control. A team leader or manager then takes the stage and gets everybody’s attention with a form of classical conditioning. The owner or team leader then drills the room on sales methods and the office practices their techniques. After another mini meeting, called an “impact,” the office breaks off into groups, based primarily on what each person is selling that day. As a newbie, you will likely receive the office tour. Some things to look out for are photographs of people who have risen through the business to open their own office, and the “Step 7 boards” of the team leaders – which reflect their goals, dreams, and aspirations. The office will reconvene and, after getting more conditioned responses, the owner will shout out the names of who put up the best numbers from the previous day. These are the “high rollers” – (cash register ringing) The people you are taught to “network” with, (Hello!) and with whom you need to setup a “1-on-1.” The owner will then conduct a motivational meeting to inspire the office before sending everybody out to sell stuff. Everything was “Yeah, Yeah,” it was just,
you became more of a yes-man. Everything positive. (cheering/screaming) At the end of your first atmosphere, your 2nd round interviewer will approach and ask you, with bubbling positivity, how your first day went. They are highly motivated to keep you around. The more interviewees they get to stick around, the larger their team. The larger their team, the greater likelihood they can train a sufficient number of team leaders. If they create enough team leaders, they get promoted to ownership. (angelic sounds) It’s kind of relevant that the previous place I worked was The Tile Shoppe, and I don’t know if you know this but there is a class-action lawsuit out against them for a bunch of “labor law violations.” And I had seen a lot of not the exact same thing, but the same attitude employed there to try to sucker people in to taking shitty positions. When I was at The Tile Shoppe, you would go in as a salesperson, but then if you proved yourself or you did well
enough, you could become an assistant manager to the store. And if you were willing to suffer through being an assistant manager, which had no increase in benefits
for a heck of a lot more work, then maybe one day you could become the manager of your own store and at that point you’re guaranteed a certain level of income. And I think to you that might sound a little bit familiar: as long as you’re willing to scrape for x-period of time, then, then you can get your carrot. So when I was in the first week and we were having these super exciting jazzed up marketing meetings and talking about all this stuff like “Aw yeah we’re gonna be a team and we really want you to be invested and we want you to make friends and we want you to be happy,” I started seeing some of the kinda “drink the Kool Aid” attitude that I had seen prior and that’s sorta
what raised some of the red flags for me but at that point in time I was willing to give it a shot, you know? And I needed a job and I needed to make money. Within your first week, you will be expected to learn and teach back all four systems. You will be taught how these four systems influence every aspect of the business: from your daily approach, to sales, to the number of customers you interact with, to everything. If you forget a word, or use a different word than what was taught to you, you failed – and you have to try again tomorrow. After two unsuccessful tries, you receive the conversation about falling behind. These laws will be drilled into your brain. If you have a great day, it’s because the systems work. If you have a bad day, you didn’t use the systems well enough. If you’re not sure how to react in a certain situation, consult your systems. If you’re on a break and need something to do, rewrite your systems. If your office is not doing too great, expect a pop quiz on the systems. Are they teaching things back the same way that they learned them?