Confessions of a 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 registration fee. I never complain because after all, that’s only a skin care class, right? And besides, as a director, complaining about this amount 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. If I’m good, I spend $250 to $350. If I’m not early enough, it’s upwards of $400.

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 $150-$200/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! What do you have to look forward to? Meal time. 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 each day.

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 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.

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 $75+ 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.  Add it up and you’ll easily spend over $1,000 on this even. Don’t do it. There is nothing there for you that is worth the money. Tell your director “I’m not going.”

When she asks why, simply respond “Because I don’t want to.” You’ll save yourself over $1000 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. BestDecision

    Even NSDs share hotel rooms! Hot, smelly bathrooms at the convention center, getting run over by people trying to save seats, awful meals, and egos strutting around acting like they have the magical potion and are about to soar with success. I hated it all!

    And that’s before we even begin to talk about the extras Directors do to coordinate things for their unit members there. It was like babysitting whining kids for days. And then being horrified to see one of your Consultants showing up “wearing that” when you’ve coached and coached them on what to expect, pack, and wear.

    And now there’s not even ampithetre seating. It’s all one level seating, so you know the view of the stage is limited. What a waste of money and time through the years!

    1. BestDecision

      It was revolting. Imagine hand dryers going with sweaty hosiery, suit jackets, and 100° heat. I once saw a lady with urine running down her legs because the line was so long ahead of her. I swore I’d never go back, and I haven’t.

    1. BestDecision

      Those bee slippers were the gauge of how bad the quality of sales force was getting because anyone with class, dignity, or professionalism would’ve never even thought to take them out of their packaging and actually wear them outside of their hotel room. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

  2. Mickey2942

    I once paid to do a white water rafting tour at Yellowstone Park, in July. The entire 2 hours, I was freezing and miserable. Telling myself I paid this much money to be this miserable.

    At least it was only 2 hours, and only $75. I can’t imagine the same discussion with myself for three days, in heels, for over $1000!

  3. MLM Radar

    There’s only one reason for a sane person to pay attention to Seminar. You can get a very good idea how quickly MK is going downhill by counting how many people cross the stage for recognition.

    Fortunately, all you need to do that count is the link to the Jowdy photo proofs website. Folks like to complain that MK doesn’t release actual consultant data, but all the visual evidence you could wish for is right there for our amusement.

    Scanning Seminar photos will take less time than a one way trip to Dallas, and you can do the counting in an air conditioned room while wearing whatever feels comfortable. You’ll have a few good laughs too.

  4. Ihatepink

    From what I’m reading here, thank God I dropped out of MK before I could be pressured to go to Seminar, and I know I would have been because my director talked about it a lot. Reason #126 why I’m glad I got out of the pink bubble.

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