Story Time: I Was in a MLM (Part 5)

Note: This is a multi-part series of my time spent working for a MLM company. I was in it for three weeks before I got out. This post documents some of the crazy (and at times disturbing) instances that I witnessed while employed. I’m writing these posts to shed light on just how dangerous MLMs can be, and hopefully to prevent others from getting sucked in. These are my stories.

2nd Note: This will be my last post in this series, although I might write spin-offs talking about the strategies and techniques of how these companies manipulate and suck people in. For now, I will conclude with my personal experiences of being in the MLM company I was in.

Story Time: I Was in a MLM (Part 5)

1. Co-workers helping the CEO move into a new home.

During my last week in the MLM (before I quit), I overheard some of my co-workers talking about a weekend get-together with the CEO. Now, we already had “Team Nights” every Wednesday (which were pretty much mandatory to attend despite after working a long day), but I also knew that some co-workers also took it further with “Crew Nights” (which I participated in one on my last day of work) and weekends out-and-about in the LA area. But this was the first time I was hearing of hanging out with the CEO, and I found it weird that we would have to get chummy with our boss, especially to get on his good side and stay with the company.

Any case, the reason why some of the co-workers were planning a weekend hangout with the CEO was that he happened to be moving out of his home and into a new one, and he invited us to help him move his stuff over. When my leader-mentor “J” told me about this and showed excitement over it, I was really confused: why would you get excited over helping your boss move his shit to a new house? Why couldn’t he actually hire professional movers to do it, instead of his office drones? Answer: he didn’t have the money to hire professionals, because all the money made in the office goes to maintaining it. That’s why he was exploiting us to move his stuff for free, under the guise of a “fun, bonding” day.

I didn’t partake in the move-in, because it was during the weekend, I had to rest and my family to be with, and I knew that I wouldn’t have a good time moving the CEO’s crap, anyway. Again, I was so blown away by how ridiculous it was, and I’m glad that I left the company that very-same week to avoid any other “team-bonding” weekends of unpaid labor.

2. Fake positivity and validation.

Here, I’ll be inserting some screenshots of what I’m going to talk about. Since we were a door-to-door sales kind of company, we had to let each other know how many sales we made in a day; we used GroupMe to post our totals for others to see, and we would receive compliments for a “job well done.” I had to reinstall my old GroupMe from my college years for this job, and I ended up having my phone blowing up with notifications almost every second during the work day, which was super annoying. I mean, I check my phone a lot, but not enough to catch up with all of the notifications I was receiving while on the job!

We would use personal emojis to indicate how many sales we made in a day. Mine was the simple fist-bump, whereas others got creative and had champagne bottles, t-rex, or even fairies. I admit, it was kind of cute, but also pretty childish. Not to forget that the more sales you made, you had to “stack” your emojis to total the amount of sales you made, e.g. 3 fairies for 3 sales.

Thrive LA GroupMe
Exhibit A.

The emojis didn’t bother me too much, but what really bothered me were the compliments that followed after one made an emoji post. Lots of “what a stud!” “keep it up!” “[name] is crushing it!” Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were automated responses. Not only were they generic, but they were also obviously fake and meant to boost our confidence to continue making sales. It’s very psychological, and the “high” you get from making a sale to getting praised for it is very-much similar to gambling. Basically, the compliments weren’t really compliments: they were just a form of mind-control.

Thrive LA GroupMe2
Exhibit B.

3. Hazing at work.

This had got to be one of the most-disturbing moments of being in the MLM. If I hadn’t thought that the blatant racism, sexism, and homophobia were bad, the hazing at work was illegal and downright humiliating. I was never the victim of hazing, but I’m guilty of standing there and letting it happen. I don’t even think those who were the victims even knew it was hazing, let alone just plain fucked up.

What I’m referring to is the “Fun Fridays” at the office. These days were reserved for the challenges we’d proposed the previous day, “Throwdown Thursdays,” in which anyone could challenge anyone to making more sales and whoever lost would have the perform the challenge on Friday. Could be as innocuous as having a female co-worker go makeup-less (which actually happened) to something as messed up as simulating sex to a co-worker (apparently, this actually occurred at a MLM company).

The one that I witnessed wasn’t as bad as the simulating sex one, but it was still pretty bad (and sexually-implicit). Basically, there were three co-workers– two guys and one girl– who had lost the bet the previous day, and they had to get on all-fours on the *super dirty* office floor and roll a hot dog wiener with their nose from one side of the room and back. Now, it wasn’t so bad for the guys, as they were wearing pants, but the girl was wearing a dress that day, so if she were to get down on all-fours, her dress would ride up and people could see, erm, things underneath.

The girl tried protesting that she couldn’t do the hot-dog challenge, repeating over and over that she was wearing a dress and it would ride up– she was practically begging co-workers to let her sit this one down. However, her words fell on deaf ears, and she had to do it. One female co-worker was nice enough to stand behind her to *sort of* shield her behind from everyone else, but I don’t think it made much of a difference.

So the hot-dog race began, and we had to cheer the contestants on as they awkwardly and painstakingly pushed the slimy wieners along the grey carpet and back. Seriously, people were laughing: they were having a good time, recording the whole thing on their phones and yelling in their ears to keep going. The girl was really struggling, and after what seemed like eternity, she completed the challenge. I saw her promptly go to the restroom– I don’t know if it was to wipe the sliminess from her nose, to cry at being humiliated, or both. Either case, I felt really sorry for her.

What made it sickening was that these types of activities are abusive and shameful, but hidden under the guise of “having fun.” This is unacceptable, and it’s not any different from what frat and sorority houses are in college. Honestly, the MLM as a whole felt like being in a frat/sorority, with a toxic group mentality and cult-like rituals to keep us in. Nothing about the company was professional, and I’m so glad that I was able to see past the BS and get out before I fully became a part of it.

…and that concludes my MLM story series. As I mentioned, even if the stories have come to an end, that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop writing about the topic. I would like to write a few posts explaining the tactics they use to suck people in, the psychology behind the brain-washing they do, and what we really do as door-to-door salespeople. The more this gets talked about, the more likely these scammy companies will get shut down. Let’s hope for the best.


— The Finicky Cynic

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