Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Mary Kay Workaholics

Written by Raisinberry

It occurred to me the other day that Mary Kay Ash transferred her unhealthy workaholic tendencies to thousands of women all over America.

What seemed like good counsel was her notion that each achievement one attains should only be celebrated, briefly, with the next goal clearly in view. I believed this wholeheartedly. I won my first car in Mary Kay back in the days when they sent you a small car poster cut in 4 parts, and as each month of $4,000 wholesale was completed, then sent you the next part.

You were building a 4 part, 4 month, $16,000 finished picture of the Grand Am in all its glory. The minute the month was done, the next month was up. Before that, when I got into my Red Jacket, I remember the letter I got from Mary Kay telling me all I needed was 2 more to become a Team Leader. And before that, when I had one recruit, the letter mentioned getting into my Red Jacket as soon as possible.

There was my secret to success! Never sit on a new accomplishment. The minute one thing is achieved, it’s onto the next one. Run, run, run, to the top. Don’t think, just do!

I wonder if this mentality is for everyone. If we achieve something and enjoy it for a while, are we underachievers bent on personal laziness and unable to motivate ourselves for the next challenge? Does the leadership of Mary Kay secretly feel that those of us who do not want the stress, and pressure of blindly racing to the top, are sub-par consultants and directors, failing to stretch and “set goals that make us sick”?

Are we supposed to be striving and churning and racing and sick because our goals are so big we are in a constant state of nausea? Because this is the picture of leadership training in today’s Mary Kay. The best of the best FLY to the top and work like crazy to enjoy the fruits of living on the mountaintop.

Some of us valley dwellers are probably pitied in their eyes. We don’t “get it.” We were not willing to “pay the price.” We do not have that “executive income” because we rested on our laurels and they no doubt, wilted. Or did they?

Were all our achievements supposed to lead us to $20,000 monthly commission checks? Did each previous goal that we reached become meaningless because we stopped and evaluated where we were and what we had become? Does it really make sense to have “success” defined for you by someone other than yourself, whose life you do not admire?

If not resting on your laurels means you keep moving no matter what and never evaluate what has resulted in your activities and behavior, then those who have reached the pinnacle of success in Mary Kay are profound failures. They have failed to enrich the countless numbers of consultants who were never taught to operate a real business, never taught “real” selling, never took “real” stock in their operations, never evaluated “real” skills development, never assessed strength for directorship, never course-corrected low selling volume, never sent out evaluations or opinion polls of their consultants’ successes or failures and disappointments.

Racing blindly to the top speaking only slogans and platitudes, and stuffing their ears and humming out loud to the concerns voiced by Directors and consultants drowning in inventory debt, they parade their “achievements” for all to see and admire.

And beneath them is a sea of women, being told and believing, that they just didn’t do “enough,” they lacked commitment, they needed “bounce back ability” and failed to “believe and achieve.” The achievements waved above for all to see represents the hundreds of thousands of dollars of credit card debt, coast to coast, of women who were enticed by recognition, and prizes, and guilt, and manipulation, and wanting to help, and being a team player, and chasing a goal, and not wanting to rest on a laurel. Go! Go! Go! means you never THINK, THINK, THINK!

Sometimes racing helps a person quiet and calm a doubting soul. If you can’t think, you do not have to face the reality of your situation… your disappointments… or insecurities.

What drove Mary Kay herself, might have been after all, a childhood need for significance. Caretaker for her father who commanded much attention and a mother who was not there, were always expressed to show us her maturity and ability. Never have I ever heard how it may have shaped a driven personality, a wounded soul.

Not “resting” on a path to personal achievement is applauded in Mary Kay. That might be because if you did, you would see, the lack of success in your Unit and downline, and slowing down to course correct would mean loss of profits. Slowing down also reveals how fragile the MLM model is because the drop out rate of a unit’s attrition is chasing behind you. Unit attrition is not resting on its laurels either! If you slow down, it catches you. Therefore you must strive and work and move and go and achieve and race and press on in a flurry of IPA’s till you collapse at the Summit.

For a company that prides itself on Godly principles, one wonders how this passage escapes their notice:

“I am entreating then, first of all, that prayers, pleadings and thanksgiving be made for all mankind, for kings and for all those being in a superior station, that we made be leading a mild and quiet life in all devoutness and gravity, for this is ideal and welcome in the sight of our Savior, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.”

Paul is urging his listeners to appreciate and pray for those in authority over us for the purposes of the “ideal.” A mild and quiet life! A mild and quiet life, devout and serious in its intent seems to be a vehicle for honoring God’s will and realization of the truth.

Funny but, we are told in Mary Kay that our striving and racing and excellence in acquiring the next achivement is what honors God. In fact, the counter verse used against a “mild and quiet life” is Paul’s word to “run the race with endurance to obtain the prize.” The “prize” mentioned in the context, for those who run a race is a “corruptible” wreath. Something earthbound and decaying. Paul, by contrast, is asking us to pursue another type.

Paul prefers we win an “incorruptible” achievement… accomplishments that reflect a Godly life. How ironic that Mary Kay’s NSDs use a verse whose context defeats their teaching. The acquisition of all things material in a life devoid of personal evaluation and introspection, chasing the next goal and the next, is the opposite of a Godly life.

To be able to think clearly, one must stop, and calm and quiet the soul, and rest and evaluate. Have I lied? Have I been self-serving? Have I wounded anyone? Have I hurt another? Have I misrepresented myself and the facts? Have I manipulated someone for my own gain? Have I become greedy and materialistic? Have I lost my integrity?

Turns out that the wilted laurel, the one that represents stopping and reflecting with a view to a mild and quiet life, away from striving, honors God in truth. It is “the ideal.”


  1. Samsquatch

    I have that same problem except I am addicted to education. My husband gave me his GI Bill a few years ago and I have managed to squeeze three college degrees out of it. I earned an AS in Accounting, a BA in Transportation and Logistics Management and I am 1/3 of the way to a MA in Supply Chain Management. I am hoping to get a job as an adjunct professor with the state community college system in the state that I live in because they offer free tuition for ANY college degree at ANY state college for every employee that they works for them, both part time and full time.

    The big difference between my addiction and Mary Kay or an MLM for that matter is that my addiction is completely free of charge. I actually collect about $1000 a month in living expenses while I am in school from the government by using my husband’s GI Bill. I had MANY dependas try to recruit me into MLM’s when my husband was in the Air Force. It got really annoying because I knew that the “opportunities” were just a scam.

    I really hate how MLM’s attract so many military wives. I have friends whose occupations are listed on Facebook as “Fitness Coach” at Beach Body or “Independent Consultant” at Avon, Young Living, etc. Meanwhile, I earned my Commercial Driver’s License while my husband was active duty and I made pretty decent money driving a truck. Truck driving is WAY more fun than trying to warm chat every woman that you see. Its just you, the radio and the open road for 8 to 11 hours a day. My only expenses were meals and snacks on the road and a subscription to satellite radio so I could listen to the classic country music stations while I drove.

  2. morningstar

    This is a very in depth article and makes my head buzz with how the company strategy is to keep you running not letting the person admire their accomplishments. That is the work mule they expect. And corporate will take 1% of the downline mules to keep it open. Trouble is the biggest work mules (nsds) are saying NAH, we want our lives back, not dictated by MK, and thanks for the pseudo dough during our reign. It is collapsing like a house of cards……too slow for us……but I declare it is straight downhill for MK corporate.

  3. Lazy Gardens

    There is an important phase called “consolidation” … where you practice your new skills, get used to your new responsibilities, and yes, rest on your butt and catch your breath before another workout

    If you skip this phase, you never really learn the skill.

  4. Ruby Slippers

    I’m so grateful I am not a Director anymore. I have a REGULAR job…. During this COVID crisis these Directors are either in panic mode….worried about production OR pink fog mode talking anything FB parties and Go kits/sampling. I would be ticked if someone texted me regarding “FREE” samples….who cares??? Very low on Maslows hierarchy of Needs.

    I’m also grateful for my real job that is giving 80 hours of sick time to be used as needed or if not gets paid out at end of year.

    I’m so grateful I walked out of the PINK FOG! And stopped being delusional about making it big in MK!

      1. Ruby Slippers

        Yes……can you imagine the COVID STRESS PLUS PRODUCTION stress?
        They are also happy Sephora and Ulta closed though.
        I’m waiting to hear if Corp if giving a pass for Directors this month.
        Did you see that they are drawing for a 100 Skinvigorate brushes per day for an order of 225 gets you in the drawing??
        I can’t wait to see Applause and if commission checks drop from not being “indoctrinated” at Career Conference. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

  5. Char

    Nice article and excellent point about taking a moment to rest will allow you to think. Not good when you’re an MLMer, as the statistics for MLM….well…they suck.

    Mind if I change the title from “Mary Kay Workaholics” to “Mary Kay Hard-Working Shopaholics” LOL

    I maintain that in order to truly understand MLM, we need to view it from the corporate perspective. Mary Kay didn’t implement all those strategies for consultants to succeed. She did it for ‘her’ – for her company and not them. Her clever sales method was to convince customers that they were the sales force; that it was about them. Lies! She threw out little morsels to keep consultants vested in buying.

    “They have failed to enrich the countless numbers of consultants who were never taught to operate a real business, never taught “real” selling, never took “real” stock in their operations, never evaluated “real” skills development, never assessed strength for directorship, never course-corrected low selling volume, never sent out evaluations or opinion polls of their consultants’ successes or failures and disappointments.”

    Yes of course, because these women are just customers to Mary Kay. The doors shut in Australia without much warning to consultomers for the same reason. They’re just customers.

    Mary Kay is a billion dollar company. They successfully convinced women to order, order, order.

  6. I never felt so free, at peace, and truly happy until the day I send my products back and they towed my car. Run run run, then when it all stopped I realized it was something I never really wanted. I was a runner, I was going to take my Senior to NSD! Then I stopped, and the pressure is off, and I’m finding me again.

    1. BestDecision

      I remember my Cadillac on a tow truck, too, and the immediate feeling of relief. Not having to wear makeup everywhere, give out business cards, scan for “sugar sharp” people to book, unit meetings full of fake excitement. Completely at peace!

      1. MLM Radar

        So sorry you were pressured into the “give it a full year” commitment.

        Is there a chance any of that inventory was purchased less than a year ago? If so you can still return it, no matter how long you were a consultant.

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