Confessions From a Mary Kay Director Who Hates Seminar

mary-kay-seminar-stageThis piece was written by a “Premier Club” director who dislikes seminar with a passion. And it seems that her dislike for the fake recognition and the manipulation isn’t all that uncommon..

From the moment you join Mary Kay, you are indoctrinated to believe that seminar is a non-negotiable “must” for your business. “Everyone who’s serious about their business goes.” is the common mantra. To boil it down for you, only LOSERS don’t go. Death and Dilation are the only acceptable excuses. So you go. Year after year after year……

I cannot even begin to describe the anxiety I feel leading up to each seminar. First, it’s the $175 registration fee. I never complain because after all, that’s only a skin care class, right? And besides, as a director, complaining about $175 would certainly be embarrassing. (Because I’m the only director in MK with “money issues”, you know.)

And then, if you don’t live within driving distance of Dallas, you’ll be paying for a flight. And if you’re like me, you’ll procrastinate, so you’ll end up paying more than you’d like. I always typically spend $250-$350.

Then there’s the hotel. If you go through Mary Kay to book your hotel, you’ll be spending more than if you book it yourself. Trust me. Mary Kay wants you to book through them not because you’ll be getting a better deal, but because they want to develop and maintain good business relationships within the Dallas area, and booking large blocks of rooms that they promise to FILL does just that. So, call the hotel on your own. Do NOT tell them you’re with Mary Kay, and see what kind of rate they’ll offer. There are other rates you may be eligible for: Military, AAA, Senior Citizens, State employees, etc.. But the MK rates typically run $120-$185/night. And these expenses are just the beginning.

As the final months of the seminar year approach, the pressure to “Finish Big!” is tremendous. Finishing big is just a euphemism for:

  • Order more to finish one of the courts of sales (Company, Area, or Unit)
  • Order more to finish a challenge. (“Sell 36 xxxxx and get a ribbon!”)
  • Activate your recruits to finish one of the courts of sharing (Company, Area, or Unit)…and we all know that it can be challenging to “encourage” your team members to order. When you’re up against a deadline, the temptation to place their order for them is huge.
  • Finish your Unit Challenge (whatever your director is promoting for the final push. It usually involves ordering, though)

You see, if you’re at all recognition-focused like I was, then not having ribbons on your name badge is devastating! People like me will do “whatever it takes” to get some! So, in addition to the basic costs of seminar (registration, flight, and hotel), you’ve got the extra costs of finishing big. (Yes, the worth of many directors is determined by how long the ribbons on their name badge hang!)

Once I deal with the fact that I’ve already spent more than I can afford (usually mid-June), my mind goes into a panic trying to figure out the logistics of what to do with the kids while I’m gone. The babysitters, meals, transportation to and from their various activities, etc. I, like many others, do not have family nearby to rely on. And my husband’s job is quite unpredictable, so unfortunately, he’s not always available to pick up the slack. The stress of getting these details nailed down is considerable. Not to mention the guilt of hearing “Mommy, why are you leaving AGAIN???”

I usually manage to leave the house with a small amount of confidence that nothing or nobody will burn down or get lost in my absence, and the flight is usually uncomfortable enough to divert my attention from any impending disaster back at home. But if everything goes well (no delays, no lost bags) I arrive in Dallas in one piece. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. But it’s just beginning.

Grab your luggage and get ready to be escorted onto a shuttle bus with 12 other LOUD women. (The heat is oppressive. My ankles start swelling almost as quickly as my hair starts falling.) You each will be delivered to your respective hotels, but not without almost losing your life in the process. Hold on. Without exception, each shuttle bus driver I’ve had has been reckless.

You arrive at the hotel and you think you can relax and start your seminar experience. Um, not yet. You see, if you booked through Mary Kay, you will join the already 20-deep line to check in, abandon your luggage with a 19 year old bellhop, and wait. And wait. You’re trying to stay positive, so you don’t entertain the thought that they may not have your registration, or that the bellhop might take off with your jewelry. You just smile, and wait.

Every year I swear that the next year I’m going to get my own room. I don’t know how it happens, but every year I’m rooming with someone. (boundaries, boundaries) When I get to my room, all I want to do is go to the bathroom, but either someone’s in there or I’m too embarrassed to do what I really gotta do!

Man, I hate seminar. Soon, the perkiest roommate exclaims “We’ve got to go to packet pick-up!” YIPPEE, I think. So in an effort to look sharp, I pull myself together and pack myself onto another bus (bigger and usually air-conditioned) to ride over to the convention center. And wow, those ribbons sure do look GOOD on my name badge! For a brief moment, I’m so proud to be a director and I’m so proud of all my “accomplishments” this seminar year. But then my husband calls. The credit card bill arrived. And he wasn’t supposed to open THAT one. Jerk.

Next on the agenda is usually the Director’s Meeting with our National Area. This is where the Big Girls get to wear their panties proudly. This is where we gather and talk about how great we are, and how blessed we are to be so sharp and so smart, and to be living the dream that every other woman in the world wants. I’m starting to feel smug at this point. (I can’t wait for my unit to arrive because I’m really going to bless them this time with my incredible insight and wisdom.)

The next morning comes quickly. Up at 5:30 because there are 3 people to shower and get ready, and of course, you wouldn’t want to miss the Cattle Call Burrito Breakfast! You will stand side by side like hungry heffers outside the dining hall waiting to be herded in to the appropriate table. You can’t choose your own spot. You must follow the line. And if you venture off, you WILL be redirected. It’s humiliating. And the food is mediocre. But it’s free! “Isn’t it great?” you convincingly shout out to your unit across the table. This ordeal will repeat itself at lunch, and twice more tomorrow, and once more on the final day. The Starbucks kiosk is calling my name……

The next 2 days are extremely painful as my feet are slowly resembling ground beef. (but my heels are still on because I am looking sharp!) I’ve only run my hose 3 times. I consider that a blessing. I’ve worn my director suit each day and everyone around me is starting to smell ripe. That “smell” is most noticeable in the bathrooms. I don’t know how else to say this but to just say it. (If you’ve been to seminar, you know what I’m talking about.) It’s that female smell. And if it’s not your own, it’s nasty. But you will be subjected to it the entire 3 days. Over and over again.

Some advice:
Guard your wallet closely at seminar. Not because some thief might make off with it, but because you will be tempted to follow the crowd toward the vendors. DON’T GO. It’s a bunch of over-priced garbage that you think you “need” to build your business. You don’t need any of it. Don’t go. And when your roommate comes back with 2 bags full, just remember that HER credit card statement will be arriving in HER mailbox soon too.

If your director did exceptionally well, you will be in a seat closer to the stage. But if you’re like most of us, you’ll be sitting in nosebleed. I consider myself to be coordinated and pretty good on heels, but climbing up and down those steps is a feat. Arena seating is overrated.

If your director tells you that you’re all going to the National Area Awards Night, opt out. Another event that’s usually not worth your time or money. These events are usually $50+ per consultant. Excuse me, but how in the world can we keep expecting this out of our consultants??? They can’t afford to attend seminar, let alone all these extra nonsense events! You are paying for the room, not the food. The food will NOT meet your expectations.

Unless you’re up for a major award, don’t go. JUST SAY NO. And speaking of awards, the final night of Seminar is “Awards Night”. Do NOT buy an expensive gown. If you’re not crossing stage for anything that night, opt for a simple black dress. There’s probably already one in your closet. I can’t tell you how many times I bought a gown, only to drag myself up those steps in the arena to sit down and wrinkle it. And every year I ask myself “WHY?” My answer is always “Next year I WILL be on that stage. I WILL be the queen.” And I spend the rest of the night visualizing myself onstage next year.

Aaaahhhhhhhhh…….I BELIEVE!

Better yet, instead of all my advice of what NOT to do at seminar, why not this: DON’T GO. Don’t pay $175 for registration, $300 for the flight, $200 for your hotel stay, $50 for incidental meals, $50 for Awards dinner, $50 tips and shuttle fees, etc……. Tell your director “I’m not going.”

When she asks why, simply respond “Because I don’t want to.” You’ll save yourself nearly $1000, if not more, and your family will love you for it. Take away all the rah-rah, the ridiculous Cadillac marches, and the teary “I love me” speeches and you’ll be missing about 60 minutes of solid training.

You want training?

All the training you need!


  1. Iescaped

    In my former Area EVERYTHING MK was and is mandatory for the SDs, even down to the stupid muffins and makeovers!

    Well this past weekend was Fall Advance and one of the SDs was not there! Now I know she’s a little to old for dilation and she wasn’t dead since she was posting all weekend on FB (nothing MK related). I can’t wait until my coworker gets here so I can find out all the dirt (unfortunately she is still in MK).

    I wonder if hubby finally put his foot down or if she is trying to escape the Pink Clutches!

    1. BestDecision

      Fall Retreats were the BIGGEST waste of time and money. The egos were monstrous, and having to deal with my Director who called us her “future area” when she had only 3 Offspring made me physically sick to be near her. I’m completely without regret for resigning and not ever having to give up my beautiful Fall weekends for that crap.

      1. enorth

        In perusing Fall Advance social media pics, it appears that women forked over big bucks and drove long distances to share a hotel room with other women, perform skits, dress up in costumes, and compete in contests that included toilet paper and duct tape.

  2. Cindylu

    At both Seminars I attended, there were shout outs from directors and NSD’s about the corruption they were witnessing. At one seminar MK herself was chastising one of the original NSD’s for the way she had run her business. Even decades ago, the MK opportunity seemed to have been corrupted. As to Seminar it was a lot of BS. Our director never sat with us. Our unit definitely was never one of the top earners. Each Seminar I went to, I noticed directors quitting immediately afterwards. The amount the hundreds of women pay and what we got at seminar definitely were not worth it. I now realize just how seminar exploits women. Not only are we away from our husbands and children, we are treated like cattle at an event that promotes idolatry. We are made to idolize NSD’s. We covet what other women have. We seek false praise. At one point I looked around me and began to realize what a sham it all was.

  3. Jamming Berry

    This is totally unrelated, but I just got my monthly MK newsletter from my SD and it had all the events including her invite to a holiday party at her house. $15!! Hahahaha— Last I checked I thought holiday parties were usually free with a potluck item. So funny. I won’t be attending.

  4. confused

    I don’t get it. Are you making money doing this Mary Kay thing or not? It sounds like a total nightmare. If selling MK isn’t making enough to cover the cost of the event plus your time invested in doing the work all year, why not stop doing it? Are you aware of the definition of insanity?

    1. ran4fun

      Yes, we are aware of the definition. Women are being conned into thinking MK is a viable opportunity, and brainwashed into cancelling any negative thought. Critical thinking and open dialog of real struggles is shunned. Because no negative talk is allowed, consultants believe the stories of wealth and free time. They quietly hide the shame that they must be doing something wrong, and they blame themselves. They are told seminar will fix them.

      This is why Pink Truth exists. To let women know it’s not their fault that the women they trusted were misleading them. We want to break the cycle so the insanity stops.

    2. MLM Radar

      New Mary Kay consultants and newly-minted Directors are told that most new businesses lose money in their first one or two years. That’s not true, of course, but they’re not in a position to know better. The truth is that small businesses with year-round products and services should be at least breaking even every month within the first 6 to 12 months.

      But armed with the expectation of 12+ loss months, and being told that they will learn how to achieve greatness by attending these events, they pull out the credit cards (again) and off they go.

      It can take several rounds of events before they realize that they’re hearing the same worthless pap each time, and it’s not doing anything for their “businesses.”

  5. SB

    I went to one seminar – broke as hell. Drove with 5 other consultants in a van, we had to stay at an up-scale hotel with our area (so we could see what ‘Living the Dream” is like) but I had to share my room with 2 other consultants. This was at a time – if you weren’t a star, RJ or something huge, you sat in the side room off from arena.. and watched it on a big screen. Because my SD did so well, I was in the front few rows but hey – it wasn’t the arena. Once in awhile a NSD would grace our room and the crowd went nuts.

    Years later when working with my current job and we travel every 6 months to very upscale hotels… the first time we went I was for sure I was going to share my room with one of my co-workers because if we did this in MK surely we do this in the work force… I’ve had suites bigger than my house just for me!

    I’ve stayed in nicer hotels then MK could ever put me in from both work and on family vacations. I don’t miss the pink world in any way.

  6. enorth

    “with my current job and we travel every 6 months to very upscale hotels”

    As an employee, you are valued.

    But MK consultants are not employees, they are expendable “independent contractors” who pay their own way for EVERYTHING and are brainwashed into believing it’s a blessing and a privilege.

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