How Mary Kay Trains Recruits to Blame Themselves

Written by Raisinberry

I’ll have to admit I bought into this hook line and sinker. Anybody with a Sales Training background is conditioned to believe that sales is a numbers game and so it requires more calls, more leads, more effort to make the numbers work. Striving is success. Never quitting. Press on. It’s all about being that one who goes forward with laser like focus on the goal. Who wouldn’t want to be this person? Aren’t we part of a greater society that rewards the champions? Don’t we love the “beat all odds” stories that supposedly show our greatness?

In Mary Kay, we are bathed in “if it is to be it’s up to me.” Teachings like these are part of a very dark environment that I really did not realize until years after I got out. At first blush you might think I am exaggerating.

Each of us are influenced by those around us, and sometimes we take in and trust people who have limited knowledge or depth. Many times people just grab an idea and take it in without even processing its ramifications, and then pass it along…particularly in this arena of sales, sales trainers and motivational speakers. It’s a world of quippy sayings and feel good platitudes that can really camouflage what’s irrational and downright wrong about the actual environment of Mary Kay.

In most other work world environments, your success is measured by what YOU do. How timely your reports are, how many widgets you assembled, how your students are testing. For the most part, “if it is to be it’s up to me” is a slogan that can only apply to someone who doesn’t have other people contributing to or creating barriers to the work product. This is never questioned in Mary Kay. We readily adopt the teaching and the responsibility that we are solely to blame for not hitting our targets. Never, at any time, is it the Mary Kay culture, structure or conditions that add to our obstacles. By teaching this “method” of thought control, the beauty consultant who experiences lack luster results will immediately take the hit, and absolve Mary Kay entirely. And believe me that is intentional. Any one with any ability at analysis can easily determine that consultants and directors have less control over their results than ever before!

If you believe that you just couldn’t cut it…that perhaps you didn’t try hard enough or that life just handed you lemons for which no aid was available, you will likely hold to the hope that some day down the road when you fix you, you can try again. Result? You keep your inventory. Mary Kay keeps your money.

In real life, selling Mary Kay has a mountain of outside obstacles that have nothing to do with you. These are things that no amount of platitudes will reverse. Let me ask you a few questions:

1. Can you make your appointments hold?
2. Can you guarantee that you’ll get a guest to meeting?
3. Can you guarantee attendance at your class?
4. Can you control what people buy?
5. Can you make her sign?
6. Can you make her respond to your email?
7. Can you coerce a Star Order every time? Can you guarantee production from your team that does not require you to top off?
8. Can you change the perception of Mary Kay in the marketplace?
9. Can you enforce customer loyalty?
10. Can you make team members do what they said they would do?

With all these outside uncertainties or influences affecting your so called business, how do you expect that success is “up to you”? Sure they’ll tell you to do “more”. But how much more is the magic? Do you realize that they can forever hide behind “more”? If you aren’t at the 24 hour grocery store stalking targets at midnight, you didn’t do enough!

Here’s the damage as I see it. Because this is an intentional teaching, and goes unchallenged, it significantly affects the self esteem of the women who fall victim to it. That’s why it’s dark. That’s why it’s a study in hypocrisy and corruption of some significance.

Mary Kay gets away with this, under the Pink Banner of enriching women’s lives. What is enriched is the owners, the executives, and the Top Dogs who crack the production whips with nice soft pink gloves.

They have an entire volume of training that make it SOOO EASY. Tracy has illuminated many of them over the years, and none of these teachings address the real live conditions and aspects of trying to conduct, much less grow, a cosmetics business. It’s fraud. It’s pie in the sky, and soon another flyer will be emailed to you, telling you how to get into a red jacket for the big Seminar contest, or how to debut, or get your keys on stage. Since its up to you, and you are to find a way or make a way, when the “consistency” you have to demonstrate does not cooperate, because no one returns your calls, wont even answer, won’t say yes to being a guest, won’t book, won’t buy, doesn’t want to be affiliated, has no credit, you will be left holding the bag of your failed responsibility to follow the just-so-simple instructions of striving to success.

My fear is you’ll wander away, fall off the pink radar, and tell yourself you failed again. I really hope you don’t do that. I really hope you see this for what it really is: a well honed MLM that uses manipulation and bait, distorts the truth, hides the negative, and expects to collect $1,000 minimum from you personally that they never have to refund.

If you get caught up in the career path scam, it will years before you figure this out and they will have extracted thousands of dollars, with the same result, and you will have wasted your life-at least the part that ran pink. Don’t forget, that there is a reason for the endless contests, the Career Conference, the Seminar, The Retreats, The Brunches, the Meetings. It is because this scheme needs a constant pump up or it fizzles. You have to be indoctrinated into anyone else’s success story in order to think it is just around the corner for you. This is how they USE people.

You will never hear about their failures or disasters, so you will always be comparing yourself to their grand tale… that may have happened once, and with many of the details missing. All that striving, racing, turbulence is a complete misdirection off reality, a grandiose trap to use women and abuse women who just want something more out of life. They play to your weakness, stir up your discontent, offer you the remedy and rob you of your riches, self worth and peace. And what they really want is your striving.

Striving keeps you in the game, producing, trying to get somewhere as the bottom continually drops out. Ask any Director at month end, if you dare. Oh she’ll show up at Monday Night Success Meeting and do the rah rah dance about the Miracle Month or the “all came together” story, for your benefit she’s told. Nobody follows a leader who looks stressed. But she’ll know how it happened. She’s been slowly getting more comfortable with fraud since she stepped on the wheel.


  1. BestDecision

    As a college educated woman, I felt less confident and more stress from the constant pressure to adjust, change, increase, decrease, etc., in MK than I EVER have. No other job and my career have tormented me so. You’re never enough in MK. It’s sickening, and I lost so much time after every company conference beating myself up that I had to change again.

    I wonder how many people are feeling they aren’t doing enough to see those $70 sheet masks.

  2. morningstar

    Items 1 through 10 set up by MK is equivalent to gambling, at various places and means (casinos, lottery, etc) all at the same time using all resources you have – $$$$$ and energy.

    If you are vying to master the 10 items cited here then the odds are greater than you could ever imagine.

    Look here… wait….. look over there… this….do that….do it all….keep going…keep ordering…..keep on lining our pockets….keep being in denial

    Part of the MLM mastery. Thank you for a wonderful post.

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