As of this past Friday, I have officially quit my job after three weeks of being hired.
Long story short: I was involved in a MLM company.
If you don’t know what a “MLM” is, it stands for “multi-level marketing.” In essence, you recruit people to sell particular products (e.g. cosmetics, diet pills, office supplies) to family, close friends, and small businesses. Whatever profit they make from each sale becomes commission, and a fraction of it is paid to the seller while the majority of the rest goes to those who hired them and the company. Then they have to recruit more people to make sales while continuing with theirs. Over time, it becomes a vicious cycle of recruitment and commissions.
While not quite the same as pyramid schemes, MLMs aren’t necessarily innocuous. In order to make profit, MLMs rely mostly on recruiting, rather than selling the product. Those at the top will earn the most, while those at the bottom earn little to nothing, sometimes even losing money. It’s considered illegal in many aspects, but plenty of companies have found loopholes to ensure that they don’t get caught by the FTC, thus making them elusive and impossible to call out.
What’s even crazier is that many people are unaware that they’re involved in a MLM. It’s unbelievable that so many bright and ambitious individuals are sucked into this trap every day, led to believe that they, too, will earn six-figure income if they just work hard, stay positive, and keep pushing in spite of failed sales.
Many individuals who get involved in MLMs are young, fresh out of college, stay-at-home moms, religious, vulnerable, and overall want to feel belonged. MLMs are carefully-designed to make the newly-hired a part of their “team,” whether through fun activities, interpersonal exercises, and other “positive” activities to boost their confidence despite the crappiness of the job itself. Work hard, and you’ll be loved.
I’m not a recent college grad, but I admit that I was naive when I accepted the “job” offer earlier last month. I’d just left France after a four-year stint, and I was in a not-so-happy head-space: I felt that I’d left without a proper closure, and I had no job, nor transferable hard skills to make a career change from education. I applied to any job that I felt I qualified in, and I was thrilled when said-MLM company offered me a job to work with them in sales and marketing– no experience necessary. I invested 110% of my energy and time over the two-week probation period, only to soon discover that I, along with the rest of my co-workers, were being duped by the CEO into believing this pipeline dream of “getting rich within a year.” Immediately, my perspective changed, and I knew that I had to get out ASAP before I buried myself deeper into the lies and deceit of this company.
Thankfully, I escaped sooner than later (all the while getting *some* money that I deserved from the sales I made). While I ultimately earned about $100 after breaking even in profit from my three weeks in the company, it’s scary to think that, should I had stayed longer in the job, I would’ve racked myself into debt. It’s heartbreaking to see my former co-workers, some who are still employed there and have been for several months now, sacrifice their personal lives and free time just to make enough money to 1) stay with the company, and 2) earn a profit. Many of them are young and unfortunately have been brainwashed by “company culture” to keep pushing despite the rejections.
Since quitting this job, I have been fascinated by MLMs and the types of people who either join or recruit others to join. The psychology behind it is insane, and now I know that it’s something to be careful about as I continue my job search in the future. This is a cautionary story to be told, and even though I was only in the company for three weeks, I’ve seen and experienced so many strange happenings (which should’ve been red flags early on) that I plan to write more posts on them. This is merely an introduction to what had happened while I was “working” there, so expect more details of my experiences in a MLM to come later.
Thanks for reading this, and I wish you a fun (and safe) Labor Day weekend!
— The Finicky Cynic
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