Not Drinking the Pink Kool-Aid Anymore

A former Mary Kay sales director tells us how booking, selling, and recruiting the way she was taught still did not lead to success.

I have been reading your site on and off for the past year. When I first heard of Pink Truth, I was still a director. A sister director told me about “this evil website” called Pink Truth. I had to see for myself so I instantly logged on to have a clandestine peek.

I happened to be plagued with serious and frightening doubts about my directorship at that time. When I began reading the articles, I recognized the exact same fears and struggles that others were experiencing. I felt a mixture of guilt, shame and fear of even READING the entries. I had to force myself to stop reading it, but I couldn’t help but return again and again in the days to follow. I so enjoyed being able to identify with other women struggling to make sense of this weird business. Yet, I felt that I was shamelessly indulging in the “dark” side by even remotely shedding light on any possible downsides of being a sales director. I couldn’t help myself. I visited every day.

I read about the kinds of situations that my husband and I would lay awake arguing about so many nights! He would tell me to only focus on sales and I would reply that, “if I wanted to get ANYWHERE in this business, I needed to recruit at least 10 new (qualified) women each month!” We would go back and forth and I would get so frustrated because he obviously didn’t know what he was talking about! He didn’t go to sales meetings and sit in on “special guest” speaker conference calls, or read “Applause” magazine.

He told me that the push to recruit and to “qualify” was a total sham and a “house of cards” and also that it only benefited Mary Kay corporate and nobody else. He recognized that MK Inc. got their quick pound of flesh from women early on and didn’t really care if they made it or not. They rewarded frontloading, so frontloading is what they get. I always vehemently disagreed. He didn’t know about Mary Kay.

Well, I have since had the blinders removed from my eyes. I don’t know what took me so long or how I didn’t see it sooner. My own greed and hope of making it obscured the truth from me, I suppose. Thankfully, I was only in the company three years (1.5 years as a director). It took my rapidly surging debt, lack of steady and reliable income, my utter desperation of always having to find new leads, hostesses, customers and recruits, and heartbreaking disappointment most months to finally admit that he was right.

I ended the relentless running on the hamster wheel. I just couldn’t take one more month of the ecstatic highs and painful lows of making production, recruiting anybody with a pulse, interviewing everyone that breathed, the disappointments of people changing their minds, watching one third of my unit fall off every month, the no-shows, the hang-ups, hearing everyone’s worn out lies and excuses, “inviting models” to meetings, writing Facebook posts filled with nonsense, portraying a picture of success on Instagram, lacking financial integrity, warm-chattering everywhere, never being “off,” the myriad cancellations, hoping, wishing and praying for a miracle, or manipulating all of my conversations any longer.

I was even experiencing “good” production, yet I knew it was only a house of cards, smoke and mirrors, a charade, and that there would be another month right behind this one with all the identical scenarios ahead from the last month. There were no guarantees, or even lukewarm assurances, that I would make enough money each month to pay my bills and keep up the charade of being a successful director. If anyone had ever asked me about my tax returns, I wouldn’t have known what to tell them. They were pretty grim!

I had been a director for about a year and a half. I worked hard and never, ever felt “done.” I did the 100 faces. I Booked 10, Held 10 and Shared 10 for 6 months in a row. I earned Queen’s Court of Sharing my first two years (and mostly by selling the product). I was the classes Queen!! Yet, I knew that if I stopped for a moment, that all my labor would vanish right before my eyes.

It was so frustrating. It was like trying to contain sand through open fingers. Impossible. Too much stress. Heartbreaking. Disappointment beyond words. A heart-sickness. I clung to Proverbs 13:12 that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick. But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”. Pamela Shaw had quoted that one during the first ever guest event I witnessed. I really believed if I held on, my longing to be successful would be fulfilled. Just one more month… I would be able to pay off all of these silly debts with one good month!

But, I just couldn’t hack it one more month.

After I decided to stop being a director, I instantly felt like I had taken my life back. Ever since before DIQ, I was plagued with an intense, greedy desire for MORE. Never satisfied. I was completely unable to enjoy any success in MK because I was afraid I would lose it or not make it to the next level in time, and therefore see all of my hard work evaporate again. It was like starting an exercise regime over and over and over again. Or being in Groundhog Day.

Here I am again. How did this happen? No bookings, no leads and no prospects. I always had that feeling of “starting over” AGAIN. Like New Year’s Resolutions that just never get actualized. And I worked HARD! I had quit my teaching job and was working full time HARD and it was becoming the absolute end of my emotions and sanity.

The absolute worst part of it all was the fact that I couldn’t have a normal conversation with people anymore and be genuinely concerned about them. People were not people to me anymore. They were either potential hostesses, customers, referrals or even better, recruits. Plan A, B, C, D etc… I had a flow chart for every possible path a conversation could go down. I was like the Pied Piper.

I realized, with tremendous shame, that I had lost the ability to have an honest conversation with ANYONE anymore. I was obsessed with becoming a Million Dollar Director. Everyone fell into one of those three categories. I discovered that from the moment I laid eyes on someone, I was calculating in my mind, how I could steer our conversation around to Mary Kay. Thankfully, it always felt unnatural, but did it stop me? No way. I was on a mission to enrich women’s lives! Who was I to be so selfish? Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid!

When I faced this ugly truth about who I had become, I knew it was time to get out of the rat race. That’s why I felt so relieved to read the articles on this site. I knew I wasn’t alone and that other honest people had been corrupted by one of the world’s most amazing marketing machines. I bought it hook, line and sinker. There were one or two moments along the way when certain inconsistencies or contradictions about the MK Marketing Plan would rear their ugly heads into my consciousness, but I quickly shut the door on them like stuffing the trick snake back into the can! Get back in there! I can’t afford to get out of this!

I had begun to identify myself by this job… one that will eat you alive if you let it. I have to admit that my greed for more money with less work attracted me to this opportunity. I have learned a hard lesson about what lies within me. The MK opportunity cries out to people with these faults, fears and insecurities. I have learned so much about myself during this process. I have to say that it was an overall positive experience because I made major changes to my attitudes and behaviors. Namely, I appreciate what gifts I have in my life that have nothing to do with cars, suits, jewelry or recognition by men.

I incurred a very large amount of credit card debt in Mary Kay, and it will take a good deal of time to pay it o off. I went back to teaching school and although it also has its challenges, at least I know I will get paid every two weeks regardless. Rejection is a part of any job. I will gladly take the rejection of a sassy student over the slamming of doors or hanging up of phones any day! At least, I will still get a paycheck, even if I am rejected on occasion by a student.

I have learned the value of a good job. It is not a sin to work for someone. It is not a sin to want a structured schedule (with benefits). It is pure bliss to walk out of there at 3:50 and not have to worry about making my “numbers” in any category whatsoever. Only dinner with my husband and watching sunsets together. It’s like I just got out of jail.

Making the decision to jump ship was a tough one that I agonized over for many months. It was a bumpy ride, exiting the pink bubble. There were many formidable forces that made re-entry into earth’s atmosphere perilous: panicky calls from higher up directors, notes from sister directors, horrified and shocked emails questioning my decision, a confused husband who had once been so behind my Million Dollar Climb, confused consultants in my unit and so on. I had worked so hard getting everyone on my boat, that when I finally decided to get off-they were surprised to say the least.

Yes, it has taken me a while to recover from this pervasive mental brainwashing. I still experience intense flashbacks of fear like I used to feel from making those millions of hopeless “booking calls” every week or meeting a crazy quota of “warm chatter” leads every day. I have even had dreams about “making those dreaded telephone calls” and woken up to be so overjoyed that I don’t have to intrude on people’s lives anymore to make my living!

I can just enjoy the people God brings into my life and call them when I want to tell them something or hear their beautiful voices. Blessings. Blessings not curses. Transparency and honesty. No more gimmicks. No more scripts. I can be me again and I love it! I have found a renewed appreciation of who I was before Mary Kay.

It has taken me a long time to formulate this letter, and I thank you for allowing me the forum to work through these strong emotions in the presence of women who have experienced similar struggles. Thank you for your honest stories. Your website and subscribers have truly helped me close the door on “Sales Directorship”. It was a strange and frantic chapter of my life. Now I can get busy living the years After Mary Kay as a wiser and more fulfilled woman of God.

9 Comments

  1. Ruby Slippers

    Thank you for sharing!
    It was like reading my own story.
    Especially the high and low of end of month production. I don’t gamble, but it felt like a gambling addiction. Adrenaline, joy, excitement, exhaustion…. or depression. My happiness depended on my month end. The worst part was regardless of outcome, the next day the hamster wheel was spinning again. People became numbers. I began to feel and have intuition if they would fail or succeed when I recruited, however, I stopped caring as long as they came in with a 600 or 1800 or more. It was their choice to be successful or not.
    I’m so glad you have your life back. I do too . On vacation from regular job and totally “OFF”. Never off in MK as a Director.
    Got my life back also!!

  2. BestDecision

    1/3 of our units fell off every month, and we were expected to recruit to replace them. Never enough! Changed minds happened DAILY, and it was exhausting and fruitless. No shows were rude and wasteful of my time. Driving to a skin care class or trunk show only to have few show up or those showing were already someone else’s customers. And then pitiful sales.

    Integrity is a big deal, and anyone still pushing the opportunity and Directorship are sickening. Light is always shown on lies!

    1. Frosty

      I used to be Mary Kay customer. I was real impressed with my Sales Reps devotion to company,
      her love of products, going to her sales meetings seemed to be the sunshine of her life. She loved the whole culture of MK. My rep was a talented make-up artist as well. The only draw back was, her lack of sophistication in re to cosmetics. Mary Kay was all she knew.

      I had been a cosmetics junkie a long time and if I tried to compare products or inquire if Mary Kay had a similar product, such as a mint-almond scrub or whatever, she didn’t know what I was
      talking about. I know all cosmetics companies want customers who will wear their products exclusively., still. . .

      I am impressed with all these women for having the common sense of knowing they were scammed. It appears they enjoyed their time in MK sales. For many, it was a lifestyle. They
      all had to swallow a bitter pill in order to move forward. My prayers and. wishes go out to
      you, that 2021 brings you happiness and perhaps a better company to work for. Your skills
      in selling MK will not be lost!

  3. Heather

    That exit out of the pink bubble land was rough. It reminds me of an addict going through detox. We were USED to this brainwashing and blinders on reality, so we needed our fix. Then the fix became more expensive, and it was all we could think about it. We lived it, breathed it.

    Yet…. we made the decision to get out. We made the choice to get clean. And we never once looked back at that pinkwashing and all of the lies and falsehoods and failures.

    You have this. And your future looks promising.

  4. J

    Here’s to pink champagne instead of pink kool-aid. 🥂

    One of the difficult parts of leaving (for me) was the realization that those you looked up to, believing they were stronger, were not truly masters. In many cases, they are exceptionally weak and beaten down. They’re not balanced, they’re broken and checked out. The stress has cornered them to a point where they’re no longer responding.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and for those reading secretly with a heavy heart—you are welcomed here. It isn’t easy to break away from mk, but piece by piece, it can be done. And with each piece you let go of (your website, car decal, etc), I think you’ll find the missing pieces of you. Maybe it’s the part of you that wants to go back to school, write a book, go on that long vacation, only get your groceries at the store and not stress about the ‘no soliciting’ signs. Whatever it may be, you can do it, and you have a community here that understands.

  5. OnelessSD

    it was like you were writing my story… 12 years later! So happy for you to regain your freedom again.

    Those dreams? 12 years later.. they still haunt me from time to time. But last night.. the dream had a different ending… it was all about me going to Corporate to turn in my resignation.. and there were others there doing the same. Corporate didn’t know what to do with all of us… there were many!

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