Written by Lazy Gardens
You’ve heard legends of old geezers coming back and showing the new generation how it’s really done. John Wayne as the aging gunfighter or grizzled sergeant leads the charge against the bad guys, Lassie comes off her comfy rug to battle a blizzard and save Timmy one more time, or the retired scientist comes back to the lab and defeats the glowing green ooze. How about Mary Kay Ash showing that she still could get ‘er done and hold 10 classes in a week? Uh, yes, even the cosmetics sales brigade needs its heroines.
Here’s what really happened, from the 1984 book, “On People Management”, by Mary Kay Ash. Chapter 9 – The Speed of the Leader is the Speed of the Gang – gives the details.
Some time before the book was written, Mary Kay Corporation planned a campaign, where they would challenge each consultant to hold 10 classes in one week. At a staff meeting, the newest manager (it’s always the new hires who get stuck with this duty) broached the idea that Mary Kay herself should show how it was done, by doing it. “I hadn’t held 10 classes in 10 years“, she thought to herself, but then she agreed to do it.
She continues, “It was later that the panic set in. How was I going to find ten people for ten shows? I didn’t have any friends who hadn’t already hosted several beauty shows. If they hadn’t hosted a show, then they were probably no longer friends.”
That’s a sorry state of affairs to be in, with no warm market left. But our heroine suddenly has an inspiration! When you run out of friends, look to the workplace. The really good part is that if you are the boss of Mary Kay Cosmetics, you can’t get fired for doing Mary Kay on company time.
“I turned to our young spokesman and said, ‘Phil, you’re new to the company; has your wife, Carol, ever held a Mary Kay Beauty show?’” Phil says “no” and Mary Kay tells him, “You tell Carol that I’m going to be calling her. She’s going to just love this new experience.” And then, she continues, “I looked at the rest of the executives sitting around the table and in a matter of minutes I found several of the sales administrators’ wives who had never held a Mary Kay Beauty show.”
What does this prove? It was a command performance, not a true test of the viability of booking 10 classes in a week. When the CEO and founder tells a junior executive that she’ll be calling his wife to book a Mary Kay Beauty show, is that executive going to tell his wife anything except, “Carol, clear your schedule and make it happen, because I need to impress the boss lady.”
When Mary Kay Ash looked around the table, would any of the remaining executives risk their career by saying no to the CEO? Mary Kay even booked a Saturday show with her stockbroker … which only shows they’ll do anything to keep a rich client happy.
In an attempt to put a good face on it, Mary Kay claims that she instructed her hostesses not to tell the guests that the cosmetics queen herself would be the presenter. She claims that few guests recognized her. I find this hard to believe – that short woman with the big blonde hair and theatrically heavy makeup was an icon in Dallas. She’d be as likely to go unrecognized in Dallas as Aquanetta would in Phoenix. I can believe that the hostesses told the guests to play along and buy stuff to make the boss lady happy.