It’s Not About the Prize

pinkduckedit1Written by PinkPeace

In the wonderful world of Mary Kay, we certainly see our share of crazy prizes in offered in different units. There’s ugly jewelry, the oh-so-special opportunity to have coffee with a director, or the ride she could give you in her pink Cadillac. You might even get the opportunity for a sleepover with a director – just make sure you take your own sleeping bag! It makes you shake your head and think, “What the . . . ??”

But, what you have to remember with all the goofy contests and prizes in Mary Kay, is that the prize itself isn’t the point. It’s the recognition.

These consultants may or may not actually want the physical prize or to spend time with the director. What’s really important is that their names will be in the unit newsletter, the director will single them out in her Facebook posts, and other unit members will look to them as being special. They’ll feel important – and they’ll want to feel that way again.

Mary Kay has an extremely powerful system of recognition that shamelessly preys on a woman’s desire to be recognized and celebrated. It doesn’t matter what the prize is. Mary Kay herself talked about the importance of “dollar recognition for a 10-cent ribbon.” With the proper presentation, those seemingly insignificant little ribbons can be treasured by consultants for years. “I am so excited for Lauren! She had her first $100 day, and we are so proud of what she has accomplished!! We all want to know how you did it, Lauren. Come up to the front and get your ribbon and tell us all about your success.”

If Lauren doesn’t get much individual recognition at home or at her regular job, this is like giving water to someone in the desert dying of thirst. She craves this appreciation, and will work to keep getting it. The ribbon itself is just a strip of cloth, but it symbolizes someone noticing her and giving her praise for her efforts.

We can elevate this to the Star Consultant program. Those of us who say, “Oh for Pete’s sake! I can’t believe a consultant would spend $1800 for a decorative bowl that I could get from Amazon for $15!” But that’s not the point – it’s what that bowl signifies. Mary Kay glorifies Star Consultants in every Applause Magazine and at every corporate event. Directors are specifically taught to spend a lot of time pumping up the Star consultant program at every unit meeting, in every newsletter/online post, and even to plan special parties for Star Consultants only. The emphasis is always on the recognition, not the prize.

Over and over, we singled out Star Consultants for their ladders of success that showed how many quarters they had been Stars. “At every Mary Kay function, everyone will know that you’ve been working your business when they look at your ladder. It’s like a report card that you wear – and you’re showing the world that you earned an A!” It was always about being recognized, not getting the item from the Star Consultant catalog. When the quarter ended and the consultants made their stars, we directors went crazy honoring them, and they all wanted MORE.

The pinnacle of recognition was going across stage at Career Conference, Leadership or Seminar. Lights, music, thousands of women cheering and applauding for me? Yes, please! I had walked across the Seminar stage many times during my Mary Kay career, and there is nothing like it.

I remember once having a simply terrible year as a director, and I qualified for NOTHING that would have let me walk across the Seminar stage. I was so depressed . . . and then MK issued a 20/20 challenge for June! Anyone who held 20 qualified classes in June would get a name badge ribbon, a special 20/20 pin and get to walk across stage. I threw myself into this challenge and booked, coached and held 20 classes, something I had sworn in the past I would never do. (To this day, I don’t know how I pulled it off). I marched triumphantly across that Seminar stage and received the crappy little pin which I wore with pride. It wasn’t getting the pin – it was letting everyone know that I did a 20/20.

I am convinced that Mary Kay could offer dog poop as a prize for some accomplishment, and there would be thousands of women who would be working to get it. Can you imagine the contest? “Be the first in our unit to scoop the poop and show everyone in Mary Kay that you’re feeling the excre-citement!”

No, it’s all about the recognition, and Mary Kay knows it.


  1. OnelessSD

    PinkPeace… this is so true. I was one of those women who had a decent job, good marriage and active social life- but I craved recognition. My job was a regular job… but when you compared the atmosphere to MK… it made it seem so boring. Everything MK seemed so exciting and the people ahead of me seemed so ‘with it’… I wanted what they had. I wanted the so called ‘flexibility & fun’, I wanted the perceived income, I wanted the status. When you’re in MK- status is everything and Star Consultant is the first step. I earned (bought) so many ugly, worthless prizes… but to me they were treasures and something to be proud of. When I became a director, that need for recognition was still there, it just had a higher price tag… because I didn’t have a SD weekly telling me I was great … and the level of achievement in this new circle was much higher.. I had to ‘up my game’ to stand out. This resulted in a higher level of star consultant…. (lot’s of emerald & pearl levels)… which resulted in national court of sales. Like PinkPeace says… walking across the Seminar stage is a rush… and I was determined to be on it as much as I possibly could. I did that 5 times for the court of sales… then I woke up.

    I woke up to the fact that I was hating what I was doing. I hated being away from my family as much as I was, and how it was putting a strain on my marriage. I hated feeling like I was always inadequate in spite of my achievements.. you see- those achievements only matter to the people in MK- the rest of the world just doesn’t care. I was tired of being on that MK treadmill… always churning, never getting anywhere.

    So it’s all true about the recognition – we get in for that feeling of belonging… and stay in longer than we should for the achieving. I know that it was true for me…. until I realized it was all fake- and that my true identity and self worth is found not in things or people, but in God.

    1. OnelessSD

      Shay – I never thought I would either… however, when you’re in the thick of things… rationality and accurate perception is skewed or lost completely. Hind sight is always 20/20.

      1. BestDecision

        And when we were told this is how “___” did it. Insert any NSD or top Director there. I became too scared of missing out on that invisible momentum by not replicating what others were doing. And being left out of luncheons and parties? I fell for those, too! Loneliness will lead you lots of places.

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