Written by The Scribbler
Some time ago I’d created a YouTube video titled, Hungry For Answers: One Mary Kay Consultant’s Journey . Simple and crude in execution (hey, even Spielberg had to start somewhere, right?), it served and continues to serve as a way to encourage women to visit Pink Truth. I was excited when it hit 15k views, which doesn’t seem like much compared to oft-viewed, time-honored classics like Chick Poops Herself in Hot Tub, but it gave me a warm feeling knowing literally thousands of women got a small peek into the reality of Mary Kay culture. And doggone it, some folks didn’t like that. One day I received a message in my YouTube inbox from an individual claiming to be the son of NSD Gillian Ortega:
“I am Gillian’s Son… I am so blessed and thank God every day I grew up in the Mary Kay world. Just because your view of Mary Kay is “interesting,” please stop dogging my Mom and Mary Kay…Its unfair and Just a waste of ur time because Mary Kay is only growing and getting better…. I would love for you to go to seminar 2010 and see how every woman on stage that does something successful gives all the Glory to God.. You can call me at XXXX and we can chat…I am not afraid to talk to you if you would like to have a conversation about Mary Kay and your views of it…..”
He’s a trusting sort to hand out his phone number so quickly to online strangers, isn’t he? I’m kicking myself for not having said that he was next in a long line of Nigerian princes and that all his Nigerian kin had died last week in a blimp crash and he stands to inherit millions if he would only fax me his social security number, bank account number, and Visa number. Scrib, sometimes you’re as slow as frozen molasses.
It needs to be established that I never “dogged” NSD Ortega as “Vince” claims. My video asks tough questions about Mary Kay, challenges scripted statements, and calls out the husband bashing and religious manipulation so prevalent in Mary Kay culture, but not once does it disrespect anyone on a personal level. That being said, I sent “Vince” this reply:
Thank you quite kindly for your response. Believe me, I do not condemn you for having grown up in the Mary Kay world, friend. And I am not dogging your mother on a personal level – outside of Mary Kay, I am convinced that she is phenomenal and probably someone I’d borrow a cup of sugar from, much like any of the NSDs. Hell, I’d love to meet NSD Rena Tarbet one of these days, as I’d love to talk cancer with her, being married to a 3-time cancer survivor myself.
So aside from personal character, it is what your mother does for a living that merits a calling out onto the carpet. She is a leader of a system that is steeped in “little white lies” and mistruths from the lowest echelons clear up to her position, and those mistruths continue to snowball as one moves up the ranks. Women can bless and praise God all they wish on a Seminar stage, but one must wonder if God would take credit for an MK-related accomplishment that only repeated and rampant manipulation could possibly achieve.
For example, you are aware that Mary Kay does not track actual retail sales, nor does it base its awards and perks on such sales…everything is based on what is ordered by its consultants. I have to ask, “How can a woman stand on a stage and be praised for being the “Queen of Sales” when it’s quite possible that she didn’t sell as much as one would be led to believe?” Sure, we know she ORDERED 12k in Timewise or what-have-you, but as far as actual retail sales go, one may never know. Actually, I take that back. Craigslist and eBay might know.
In Mary Kay culture, the mistruths start small with lines like “I’m not trying to recruit you, I just want to share information!” or “It’s just a fun girl’s night out!” Let’s face it, we all know that recruiting in Mary Kay is the bottom line – the ulterior motive that lies behind every scripted word in the business. Those scripted words continue far into the recruiting interviews, with recruiters saying practically everything and anything to get that body on board. One commonly circulated training document (and found on an NSD’s website, no less) instructs recruiters “No matter what [your prospect] says, say, “That’s exactly why you need Mary Kay!” This is but a tiny sample of what is being taught as not only right, but necessary to move up the ranks in Mary Kay. There’s that whole “free training” thing, too. Is it right that NSDs are hawking high-priced training events, books, and CDs to IBCs when those same IBCs were told in the recruiting interview, “Hey, training is free in Mary Kay!” Do you feel God winks at such behaviors…or weeps?
Much of the mistruths take the form of lies of omission, too. On your mother’s website there are recruiting documents that do not give the entire story. For example, one document claims that “You are the CEO…no one will lay you off!” which – in Mary Kay – is incorrect. The Consultant Agreement is quite clear that Corporate can terminate an IBC if it so chooses. Also, if you are the CEO, why is there a career ladder to climb? CEOs do not require promotions.
Look at the neat stuff you do for a living. You do web design. You make videos. And nobody can fire you, because you are indeed your own CEO – you don’t need to climb a career ladder. In this respect, you TRULY do own your own business. Mary Kay IBCs, Directors, and NSDs cannot make that claim. They cannot sell their businesses or pass them down to their children.
Now I would never make a business choice without learning as much as I could about that business both pro and con, wouldn’t you agree? Unfortunately, in Mary Kay, any information that does not paint the company in that characteristic, “positive” light is verboten. It is this dangerous mindset that may very well be the reason why – year after year – Mary Kay’s turnover rate never fails to impress. And as I have said, your mother is not a stupid individual. She knows full well what that turnover is and yet continues to teach and promote how wondrous the business is. Then again, she has to. She’s an NSD and must sell the opportunity so others will jump on to replace the ones that jumped off. I believe Mary Kay Ash called it, “Filling the tub with the drain open.”
When a director failed to recruit me, I decided to do some digging on my own. Pink Truth was a springboard for that research, and so off I went to visit NSD and director websites to see what they had to say. To date I have reviewed over 600 training documents from all levels of the corporation; most of these were acquired from the websites of Mary Kay’s leaders, but a nice chunk came to me via snail mail from consultants and former directors.
I wish I could say that I received conflicting messages from this collaboration of information, but unfortunately, it was the same message repeated again and again: The Mary Kay format is all about its leaders “encouraging” the downline to recruit, use this or that manipulative tactic to recruit, and to push the higher end inventory packages. NSD Stacy James is guilty of telling her recruiters to only discuss the top three levels of inventory, while NSD Pam Shaw tells her recruiters to “guide” potentials to a 3600 decision. Some might say “Oh, that information just came from a bad apple.” But what happens if the “bad apple” is leading a National Area of a couple thousand or so women and teaching them to only discuss the top three levels of inventory? Two thousand future bad apples. Not good.
I think I’ll leave it at that for now, as it pretty much gives a clear picture of where I’m coming from. Naturally, you are more than free to disagree with me, as is your right. It is my strong view that Mary Kay culture consists of many GOOD women who are being taught to do many BAD things in order to succeed. That is why I do what I do; potential recruits everywhere deserve to hear what Mary Kay’s recruiters are not telling them.
I invented a new drink to describe how my new friend responded to my e-mail. I call it, “Flaming Comments Section!” Tune in tomorrow to get a big ol’ fishbowl filled to overflowing with this slightly-sweet-yet-sickeningly-sour cocktail!