Mary Kay Trains Recruits to Blame Themselves

Written by Raisinberry

I’ll have to admit I bought into this hook line and sinker. Anybody with a Sales Training background is conditioned to believe that sales is a numbers game and so it requires more calls, more leads, more effort to make the numbers work. Striving is success. Never quitting. Press on. It’s all about being that one who goes forward with laser like focus on the goal. Who wouldn’t want to be this person? Aren’t we part of a greater society that rewards the champions? Don’t we love the “beat all odds” stories that supposedly show our greatness?

In Mary Kay, we are bathed in “if it is to be it’s up to me.” Teachings like these are part of a very dark environment that I really did not realize until years after I got out. At first blush you might think I am exaggerating.

Each of us are influenced by those around us, and sometimes we take in and trust people who have limited knowledge or depth. Many times people just grab an idea and take it in without even processing its ramifications, and then pass it along…particularly in this arena of sales, sales trainers and motivational speakers. It’s a world of quippy sayings and feel good platitudes that can really camouflage what’s irrational and downright wrong about the actual environment of Mary Kay.

In most other work world environments, your success is measured by what YOU do. How timely your reports are, how many widgets you assembled, how your students are testing. For the most part, “if it is to be it’s up to me” is a slogan that can only apply to someone who doesn’t have other people contributing to or creating barriers to the work product. This is never questioned in Mary Kay. We readily adopt the teaching and the responsibility that we are solely to blame for not hitting our targets. Never, at any time, is it the Mary Kay culture, structure or conditions that add to our obstacles. By teaching this “method” of thought control, the beauty consultant who experiences lack luster results will immediately take the hit, and absolve Mary Kay entirely. And believe me that is intentional. Any one with any ability at analysis can easily determine that consultants and directors have less control over their results than ever before!

If you believe that you just couldn’t cut it…that perhaps you didn’t try hard enough or that life just handed you lemons for which no aid was available, you will likely hold to the hope that some day down the road when you fix you, you can try again. Result? You keep your inventory. Mary Kay keeps your money.

In real life, selling Mary Kay has a mountain of outside obstacles that have nothing to do with you. These are things that no amount of platitudes will reverse. Let me ask you a few questions:

1. Can you make your appointments hold?
2. Can you guarantee that you’ll get a guest to meeting?
3. Can you guarantee attendance at your class?
4. Can you control what people buy?
5. Can you make her sign?
6. Can you make her respond to your email?
7. Can you coerce a Star Order every time? Can you guarantee production from your team that does not require you to top off?
8. Can you change the perception of Mary Kay in the marketplace?
9. Can you enforce customer loyalty?
10. Can you make team members do what they said they would do?

With all these outside uncertainties or influences affecting your so called business, how do you expect that success is “up to you”? Sure they’ll tell you to do “more”. But how much more is the magic? Do you realize that they can forever hide behind “more”? If you aren’t at the 24 hour grocery store stalking targets at midnight, you didn’t do enough!

Here’s the damage as I see it. Because this is an intentional teaching, and goes unchallenged, it significantly affects the self esteem of the women who fall victim to it. That’s why it’s dark. That’s why it’s a study in hypocrisy and corruption of some significance.

Mary Kay gets away with this, under the Pink Banner of enriching women’s lives. What is enriched is the owners, the executives, and the Top Dogs who crack the production whips with nice soft pink gloves.

They have an entire volume of training that make it SOOO EASY. Tracy has illuminated many of them over the years, and none of these teachings address the real live conditions and aspects of trying to conduct, much less grow, a cosmetics business. It’s fraud. It’s pie in the sky, and soon another flyer will be emailed to you, telling you how to get into a red jacket for the big Seminar contest, or how to debut, or get your keys on stage. Since its up to you, and you are to find a way or make a way, when the “consistency” you have to demonstrate does not cooperate, because no one returns your calls, wont even answer, won’t say yes to being a guest, won’t book, won’t buy, doesn’t want to be affiliated, has no credit, you will be left holding the bag of your failed responsibility to follow the just-so-simple instructions of striving to success.

My fear is you’ll wander away, fall off the pink radar, and tell yourself you failed again. I really hope you don’t do that. I really hope you see this for what it really is: a well honed MLM that uses manipulation and bait, distorts the truth, hides the negative, and expects to collect $1,000 minimum from you personally that they never have to refund.

If you get caught up in the career path scam, it will years before you figure this out and they will have extracted thousands of dollars, with the same result, and you will have wasted your life-at least the part that ran pink. Don’t forget, that there is a reason for the endless contests, the Career Conference, the Seminar, The Retreats, The Brunches, the Meetings. It is because this scheme needs a constant pump up or it fizzles. You have to be indoctrinated into anyone else’s success story in order to think it is just around the corner for you. This is how they USE people.

You will never hear about their failures or disasters, so you will always be comparing yourself to their grand tale… that may have happened once, and with many of the details missing. All that striving, racing, turbulence is a complete misdirection off reality, a grandiose trap to use women and abuse women who just want something more out of life. They play to your weakness, stir up your discontent, offer you the remedy and rob you of your riches, self worth and peace. And what they really want is your striving.

Striving keeps you in the game, producing, trying to get somewhere as the bottom continually drops out. Ask any Director at month end, if you dare. Oh she’ll show up at Monday Night Success Meeting and do the rah rah dance about the Miracle Month or the “all came together” story, for your benefit she’s told. Nobody follows a leader who looks stressed. But she’ll know how it happened. She’s been slowly getting more comfortable with fraud since she stepped on the wheel.


  1. Cindylu

    We are told we have to go to Seminar. At seminar we see the dark side. Women being crowned for maxing out credit cards. MK herself was at seminar in the 1990’s. I remember her reprimanding a top NSD who was on stage. Supposedly one of the original NSD’s still wasn’t good enough. So yes blaming others through slogans, books, and unattainable goals has been the norm since the beginning. In Jackie Brown’s book she mentions that even being in the hospital giving birth was somehow an inconvenience for MK. Every contest, every prize, every nuance of this mlm was and is designed to use and abuse women. It’s not about faith or family. It’s about having indoctrinated minions kept confused and at bay. Just give women enough hope to keep them believing. Have endless steps, keep moving the goal post and keep up the deception. Seminar with its fake accolades, fake achievements, fake earnings and units. Heck my SD demanded we go to Seminar. Then she didn’t sit with us. For my SD like with MK herself we were never ever good enough. Yes blame all those women stuck on that delusional endless cruel hamster wheel.I absolutely hated those pedestals that the fake NSD’s put themselves on. All that pink evil phoniness.

  2. NayMKWay

    Reading Raisinberry’s list of 10 questions made me think of Tracy’s repeated assertion that a big part of achieving high status in Mary Kay is luck. Skill and hard work (and let’s face it: manipulation) will only get you so far. For the rest of it, that “numbers game” is a roulette wheel: lots of numbers, few winners.

    But MK pretends otherwise. MK pretends anyone can do it, and if it isn’t working for you, it’s your fault. And that, as Raisinberry said, is indeed fraud.

    1. BestDecision

      So, it’s NSDs’ daughters’ faults they can’t duplicate what their mothers did? I worked harder in the lowest years of my business than in my best years. It absolutely is about luck!

      1. EyesWideShutNoMore

        We used to hear this one, “You miss 100 percent of shots you don’t take.” I’m from the same hometown as Wayne Gretzky who used to quote that line often and would always barf a little in my mouth hearing this at a meeting. As if selling MK is anything like playing in the NHL. Prettttttty sure the hockey players make a wee bit more money for starters!

        1. BestDecision

          But there’s “Mary Kay millionaires”! Yes, after being in the company for 25 years and averaging $20/hour gross income. A nurse makes a million, with NO expenses, in 12-13 years. So ridiculous, isn’t it?

  3. Mountaineer95

    Well said!

    MK (and other MLMs) use terms that are associated with “sales” (heck, including even the word “sales” itself, because they keep confusing it with “production”, lol) but they are not speaking the same language that the non-MLM business world uses. This runs side by side with the fact that the supposed Sales Executive titles used (not at MKorps, I’m talking independent contractors like SDs, NSDs, future whatevers, etc) do not translate to actual real-world positions. Like, a “Sales Director” with MK (who is, in all likelihood, making under $40k per year) is not the same as a Sales Director at pretty much any real-world company. Because the latter is an executive position and would be compensated as such.

    Also great point about training (MK really ruffles my sales feathers when it comes to stuff like this):

    “…particularly in this arena of sales, sales trainers and motivational speakers. It’s a world of quippy sayings and feel good platitudes.”

    Yes, in MLM it sure is. But in real-world sales, we don’t waste time in our sales meetings. Why? Well, the company is paying for every dime of it: the hotel rooms, food, airfare, transit, renting conference centres, all of that. The company (which can pretty much be any non-MLM but in my case, two: a major giftware manufacturer and major mattress manufacturer…I just tried to take a count of how many sales meetings I’ve been to between them and I’m at 40…and those are just the ones that required full-sales force travel to one destination) has brought their entire sales force to one location for 2-3 days and it costs the company a ton of money so they’re going to use every minute to provide actual training so that the sales force can be more successful once back home. While there might be a few mood-boosters and lighthearted fun moments to keep everybody comfortable and alert, the rest is tons of legit training on a myriad of subjects.

    Or to summarize that last bit: Seminar is a joke, and five bucks a head for unit meetings is the icing on the joke.

    (Sorry about the rant!)

  4. MLM Radar

    Training you to blame yourself begins at your early “Success Meetings” when you’re trained to believe that other women who failed didn’t try hard enough. They didn’t want it enough. Their Deserve Level was too low. Their failure was THEIR OWN FAULT! You, on the other hand, will succeed (so you’re told) because you’re willing to put in the work and you really want to succeed.

    Fast forward 6 months. Your Power Start fizzled. Your friends already bought what they wanted and are avoiding you. Your recruit backed out. Why is success eluding you? This is supposed to be easy. Just smile and squirt! But now the tables are turned. Your failure must be YOUR OWN FAULT!

    1. raisinberry

      THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
      Leave it to MLM RADAR to remind us all that it started at the beginning. Absolutely true and I should have included it in my essay. Right from the begining, I was shown, told, exposed to, the Director’s retelling of why so and so wasn’t attending meetings anymore….and I was ALWAYS told, “She stopped working her business”.

      AS IF.

      The owness was always placed on the IBC, never the mlm environment.

      THINK about it. Any corporation seeing the continuing failure of new “onboards” would be concerned would they not? Wouldn’t they seek to resolve the obstacles? Wouldn’t they address salesmanship and market obstacles in their training?? Would they honestly shift responsibility to the new recruit? …if they wanted to KEEP them??

      In mlm, they are happy when you leave after your year of striving. They got their cash…you remember, can you place an order this month?


      1. Char

        Totally agree with all of you. The confusion, for some, is what they ‘think’ the training should be, because they ‘think’ it’s about running a product reselling business.

        In fact, the MLM company has their training perfected, and they know exactly what they’re doing. They are “training” cult members to believe in the illusion, so they’ll keep ordering and injecting money into the company – all for company profits.

        They know that, for the majority, this will be short-lived, so they build in victim blaming right out of the gate. This might stretch out the belief and thus ordering, and/or protect them from victims voicing their concerns. Win, win.

        Bottom line: You cannot compare a legitimate product sales business with an MLM company. One sells products; one sells the opportunity to sell the opportunity. The training reflects that.

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