How to Fail at MLM and Teach Others to Succeed

The big thing these days in Mary Kay is to become a “coach” of one sort or another. Start a lifestyle blog and do affiliate links and sponsorships on Instagram. Teach people how to live their best lives by flaunting your material goods on social media and selling a life planner. Teach MLM participants (tip: call them direct sellers) how to be successful in MLM, even if you crashed and burned.

Is it because they know the future of MLM is precarious and they want a backup plan? What happened to burning your bridges and being all in with Mary Kay???

Michelle Cunningham is a former top sales director with Mary Kay. There is no word on why she is not in Mary Kay anymore. She is no longer with the company, but she never announced her departure (which would suggest that she was unceremoniously booted by Mary Kay Inc.), although she did scrub Mary Kay pictures and references from her social media accounts. Fortunately, she was already building her MLM coaching business and now she pretends she made a choice to just be all in with the coaching. (Interestingly, she hasn’t removed references to Mary Kay and her pink Cadillac from her site.)

Naturally, the bragging has to include lies about her time in MLM. For starters, she claims her team “sold” $10 million in products the past 3 years. No, your team and all of the offspring units below you ORDERED $5 million of products from Mary Kay in the last 3 years. They didn’t sell those products, and the products they sold were discounted. She also claims she only works 10-15 hours a week away from her kids. Ha! A “top director” in Mary Kay easily works 50 to 60 hours a week. I suppose she’ll claim that the hours worked at home don’t count in those hours “away from her kids.” But working is working. If you’re spending 20 hours in your home office, you’re not “with your kids.”

Michelle’s contract with Mary Kay prevents her from selling her services to women in Mary Kay for two years after her termination. (Technically she can sell to them, but she’s not allowed to use lists of names from Mary Kay or to encourage women to quit Mary Kay.) She has a disclaimer with her materials in an attempt to protect herself, because she knows Mary Kay ladies are going to be buying her stuff.

Here’s the kind of content you can get from Michelle. It’s the same old same old: Tell people the secret is to talk to lots of people, but never tell them how you’re going to find those people. (We went through the numbers here… you need an astronomical number of new people as targets and it’s nearly impossible to meet this many new people to solicit for Mary Kay.)

Oh wait, if you want to know how to get those people, you can buy her lead generation materials for $15. You’ll never have to stalk friends and family again… you can just go meet with business owners and have them hand over contact information for THEIR friends and family so you can stalk them. (How are you going to find those business owners and get them to meet with you? There is only so much you can squeeze out of your local chamber of commerce, so I hope she has other ideas!)

You don’t have to watch Michelle’s video on recruiting… here are the 6 tips she gives if you want to recruit 5 people per month (that’s called a Gold Medal in Mary Kay):

  1. See a lot of faces – I recruit 1 out of 10 people who try our products. So to recruit 5 people, she has to see at least 50 new faces in a month.
  2. Be patient – People don’t join right away. What’s in your funnel? Who did you meet in the last two months who is thinking about it? They’ll eventually drip in one by one. Stick with it.
  3. Invite everyone to coffee – At the end of every appointment I give two options: 1 – join my team, 2 – take home products. Joining my team gives you the best deals and saves you the most money. If she looks like she’s thinking about joining, I tell her I’m taking her to coffee. I give her information, tell her to look at things on the internet, and I set a date for coffee right then and there.
  4. Send information – If they say they’re going to do research, tell them you’re going to give them information. Don’t let them research on their own, because they might find negative things.
  5. Invite them to be a fly on the wall – Invite them to any event so they can see what we’re all about.
  6. Never give up – If they haven’t joined, it doesn’t mean they won’t. They might be in their funnel. Keep following up with them, even if they’re ignoring you about recruiting. Get back in their presence at least two more times because then you seem like a friend.

I wish people wouldn’t fall for this “training” stuff. It’s the same tired stuff that everyone is recycling, and no one should pay for this.




  1. “Get back in their presence at least two more times because then you seem like a friend.”

    …seem like a friend.

    Well there ya go. The nutshell.

    • This couldn’t BE any farther from the truth???? y’all do your research before making things up about people who make more money than YOU ever will. ??? This is just too funny.

      • Tell us more, Cat. How much money is Michelle making? And how does that compare to how much I make? (I’ll save you a little bit of trouble: I make far more than Michelle could ever hope to make from her coaching and princess place.)

      • I don’t need to do research when my own time as a Director is enough. I instantly made more money when I returned to my career after walking away. Not one bit of regret!

  2. Her grammar is atrocious. I’m amazed by it. Did she not… proofread or spellcheck… anything? Just vomited out whatever she was thinking, then press “publish”? These snippets from her site make her look woefully unprofessional.

  3. So she is no longer with MaryKay??
    Also I watched a few of her videos and they contradict each other.

    i do believe Michelle makes a ton of money—makes a ton of money off suckering people in.

    she also has content up still on qtoffice website which is for Mary Kay.

    • The most creative MLM I’ve ever seen was an MLM marketing “how to succeed at MLM” coaching materials: DVDs, books, and mailing lists. Of course, the real key to success was in recruiting your own down line to sell the coaching materials.

      Sadly, that MLM didn’t last long. You can only re-sell the same mailing list a few times before it’s dead.

  4. Narcissist behavior all the way, seriously thinking she is above others and therefore justifies her paid presence schtick. It is common fall back theme of MK work horses, who just can’t quite make it, but need ca$h like the rest of us. Those who don’t need cash are dangerous, they emotionally scheme like a hobby. Yawn – Michelle’s diatribe doesn’t satisfy me on any level, and preys on those who think she (and other MK ‘coaches’) are all that.

    The problem is, is that there is no substance, introspection, reflection in the lives of these type of people. And they promote that, of which here at PT, we shake our heads. Sad indeed, and looks like she needs to make a buck, desperation.

    • her videos all contradict each other. one video says she made 8 figures and the next said she didn’t make anything for years. but meanwhile said she’s been in direct sales for 12 years.

  5. “ Michelle’s contract with Mary Kay prevents her from selling her services to women in Mary Kay for two years after her termination. (Technically she can sell to them, but she’s not allowed to use lists of names from Mary Kay or to encourage women to quit Mary Kay”

    So much for being an independent contractor. Mary Kay literally gets to have their cake and eat it too while FTC does nothing.

    • Ooooh, interesting wording. “The” Executive Sales Director implies that it is a singular position at the company, rather than a position in the sales force, and not a very high position, either. That is some fascinating manipulation.

      • Michelle makes it seem like she actually worked for Mary Kay and was employed by Mary Kay. Take a ? look ? at the link.

        • Loads of people do that. An NSD, Jamie Cruse Vrinios, was teaching her Area to say they were “recruiters” for MK, and they got in deep trouble. Anything to woo new recruits since that’s where the money is at!

            • Wow! I am so surprised! Seriously. She was such a huge ambassador for MK. It’s crazy that so many people who tout Mary Kay as THE opportunity to end all opportunities end up working for other MLMs.

  6. “big thing these days in Mary Kay is to become a coach of one sort or another.”

    Not just in MK, but other MLMs as well. If you want to make money, just sell “business-tools” and services to MLM consultants. There’s a lot of them out there, and they’re all desperate.

  7. This is giving me Amway flashbacks. I was never in Amway, or MK or any other MLM scheme, but studying cults is a longtime hobby of mine. When I was researching Scamway in the mid-1990s it was bleeding obvious that the ones making the big bucks weren’t doing it by selling product or recruiting downlines, but by selling “tools” — books, tapes, voicemail subscriptions, etc.

    None of these “tools” contain any actual advice about selling the product or the “opportunity.” They are all about GETTING EXCITED and DREAMING BIG.

    When confronted, the tool tycoons would swear that the tools business was NOT part of Amway and buying them was strictly voluntary (although of course Joe or Jane Distributor was coerced into buying them), but they continued to misrepresent their wealth as coming from their Amway “business.”

    I actually believe in the law of attraction. I believe that we can manifest good things (not necessarily material possessions) by approaching life with love, gratitude and positivity — but those qualities must be practiced and cultivated, not bought and sold. JMO.

    • Michelle was at Career Conference in March. (Last one I will ever attend as that story is for another day) she was onstage with her team and her Do Life Big sign which leads me to believe that MK Corp had her resign for breach of contract for selling her trainings via you tube and other avenues. The only other reason is possibly low commission (I have old Applause and can check) or attrition and she came out of the pink fog and realized how many more spins on the “hamster wheel” to get to her goal of NSD and realized it was WAY too much work and stress to reach goal and not only that with the new NSD qualifications and maintenance for NSDs.
      Sorry for the run on sentence.

  8. If we take Cunningham’s claims at face value:

    $10,000,000 / 1000 team members = $10,000 per team member.

    $10,000 / 3 years = $3,333 per team member per year on average.

    Even if the team received these items for free and sold them at full price, $3,333 per year falls far short of the dream that ropes people in. If you worked only 5 hours a week for that, you’d be making almost $13 per hour. That’s a little less than twice federal minimum wage, but it definitely isn’t “executive pay.”

    A realistic average is far less than even that. We haven’t even gotten into marketing costs, the actual price at which the goods are bought and sold, taxes, the lack of benefits, or the actual time spent doing all this.

    Averages aren’t always the best representative of an aggregate, but Cunningham’s attempt to present herself impressively is an interesting voluntary admission that participating in Mary Kay is not the opportunity that they say it is.

    I also think it’s interesting that, in the bio next to her photo (first screenshot), she gives the figure of $3,000,000 in the past year. This is a suspiciously round number to me, given the $10 million in three years she claims elsewhere – almost like an estimate, not a hard number. The average still works out roughly the same.

    • Michelle also claims she made $1.5 million off her youtube videos. and i can tell you just by looking at her number that is a flat out lie.
      she has a 27k subscribers but her videos all have an average of 500 views.

      • Hey Shay, have you seen her YouTube video showing herself taping money to the back of a pack of diapers at a grocery store? It’s to show how she gives “anonymously” bc she knows what it’s like to be poor. I think she needs a dictionary on the definition of Anonymous. LOL. It’s not record yourself donating money (if it even really happened) and then posting it on YouTube!

  9. this crazy bish has 10 websites I found so far. i am sorry i keep commenting this is just funny.
    I would name them but I refuse to promote her plus Tracy would not be happy.

  10. I know I’ve commented somewhere before about this, but it’s hilarious to me that many don’t even call themselves direct sellers! They’re *entrepreneurs*. I had no idea how many of them formulated and marketed makeup in their very own basements! 😉

    Many of these women are very intelligent. They truly could be entrepreneurs and put all that effort into something much more rewarding. Band together and even plan a makeup startup or something. There actually seems to be a market demand now for smaller, independent makeup companies, especially amongst younger people.

    One of my bigger peeves is how they insert religion into the company and use it to sometimes guilt people into joining. I’m a super liberal, pro-social justice, ‘Jesus Rode a Donkey’ Christian, and I consider this blasphemous and wildly unbiblical. It’s prosperity gospel at its finest.

    Genuinely, how do they reconcile with this? How do they deal with people of other faiths? Is it a little less intense in different regions?

  11. Michelle Cunningham claims to be a branding expert. On her “prize factory” website she has at the bottom “Simple MLM Secrets LLC” yet a google search no where mentions Michelle. She is not a branding expert.

    • Well that’s interesting because here she claimed she didn’t know what she was doing in regard to a number of things… including branding.

      • omg I know Tracy.
        Every website she has says something different from when she started to how she started or how long it took her to make money. See when you tell the truth your story won’t change.
        Thats why I vote you to investigate more. Why? This woman is a wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing. She is banking on people paying her for information that is already out there to join an MLM so they can lose their money. She comes across all nicey but she is deceiving. Michele Cunningham is the worst of the worst. She knows damn well you can’t make it in MLM’s just selling products. Take a look at her thank you note from her wix website (another website)
        “ Lisa,
        Thank you for hosting a “Compay Name” Party for me!! I am SERIOUSLY so thankful to know you! You are helping me achieve my HUGE DREAM of earning a ____________. J
        I have your date of your party set as: Thursday, July 25th54
        The time: 6:30pm-8pm
        THANK YOU! Here is a little something for you too for helping me out. Oh and For the party to count towards my goal, there needs to be 4 or more people in attendance. Thanks!!
        Suzie Consultant
        Title of Suzie Consultant
        222-222-2222 Call or Text 24/7”
        These are example thank you cards she encourages people to use to recruit.

        • Ughhh I’ve used this thank you note before. I used to use a lot of her strategies when I in Mk. I thought she was soooo awesome. I’m so happy I’m out of the pink fog

  12. She was also renting space in a plaza for her MK meetings, had it gutted and renovated, this was about 5yrs ago. I think it was called Pink Studio, I wonder what it looks like now lol.

    I was quite enthralled with her back then, she was younger than a lot of the other successful ones and didn’t have an overly made up look, so to me, she seemed more realistic. She didn’t have a million different websites then and hadn’t peaked yet. Had some new ideas for parties and selling like the Fabulous Referral and Deal or No Deal. It’s all essentially the same thing, but to me, it was different than the usual hand out a ticket for every name you get schtick.

    I also used to watch Tiffany Noel Taylor YouTube vids, she had a really grandiose I story about getting her house out of foreclosure. She left MK to run / sell training courses for MLM people, they all seem to do that now. Same with Dawn Barton. Looks like Leah Lauchlan is heading that way too.

      • “She is turning her former studio into a princess birthday party event space.”

        A smart business move, because it’s actually something people want and are willing to pay for.

      • The rent we paid as Directors for our meeting space was unreal. Whether it was a training center or a hotel, I never recovered what I paid for them.

  13. Pink Truth,
    THANK YOU ?? so much for writing this.
    Please keep digging on this Michelle lady as she likes to be called.
    You have no idea how this post alone sent shock waves in the community.
    Everything you all have found and said in the comments should be a special post. I am not trying to tell you how to blog, I would do a blog myself and open up a website if I had the mental energy and audience you have. I wish to god I was the web sleuth I am now 3 years ago and Mary Kay would not have been part of my life.

    This Conniving Michelle is the person who helped scammed me in to joining Mary Kay. It was her downline and they all say the same crap which is lies, the manipulation, they have nothing on the mob.

    Michelle Cunningham, I know you are reading this because of your google alerts. Guess what? So many have left and are leaving. The more you told us to not to read this website the more we read.
    I know myself I need to personally unwind mentally and get back to real life and make up for lost time’. When I can clear my head, I am going to do exactly what Michelle does. Buys a bunch of domains except I am going to make sure everything and I mean everything as in the truth is out there about Michelle. You all know personally how the scripts alone are not innocent like they want you to believe. The damage people like Michelle does to people should be illegal. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

  14. I have watched her videos before. Her voice is hard to stomach. It’s like she is always talking in baby talk.

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