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

Let’s Do the Numbers to Get to NSD

Written by Mountaineer95

Jamie Taylor wants to be a National Sales Director (NSD) in Mary Kay. I don’t know of a sales director in MK who doesn’t want to be an NSD.”

This is such an important quote.. Almost every MK sales director WANTS to be an NSD. Yet, out of 9,000 or so Sales Directors in a given year, how many become NSDs? One to three?

So, if there are 9,000 Sales Directors in MK this year, and only three move up to NSD, why is that? When we at PT single out one director who doesn’t make it, were told they didn’t work it correctly, that they’re an anomaly, they’re the one bad apple in the bunch, that we’re just negative, or maybe they had personal problems that affected their goal of NSD.

If we’re talking about ONE SD not making NSD, sure, any of those excuses could work. But when we’re talking about 8,997 Sales Directors not moving up to NSD…well, then we have a problem with the “bad apple/lazy looser/personal issues” arguments. Even if we concede that “most” SDs “don’t want to be NSDs” (haha, laughable, but we’ll go with it), if even a third WANT to be NSDs, that’s 3,000 directors wanting to be NSDs, and still only one to three of these directors will make it.

How much more evidence and logic do you need to realize that almost NONE of the 9,000 or so Sales Directors will make NSD? All of them can’t be bad apples, or lazy, or whatever excuse is hot right now. If that many can’t get to the highest position, it’s the system or the business plan itself that is faulty, not the directors. That would not be an acceptable failure rate in normal corporate America…that 8,997 of their 9,000 managers couldn’t meet the requirements needed to move up to the next highest position regardless of the fact that there are no caps on how many of these higher positions exit.

Think about this: if a company had 9,000 employees at a management level, and every one of those employees was given the opportunity to be able to achieve the next higher level position just as long as they met certain performance factors (no caps to how many made it; everyone who met those requirements would automatically be promoted and paid the higher compensation), would it be feasible to believe that only three out of 9,000 were able to do it?

And before some Kaybot responds to this by saying something along the lines of “NSD is an executive position, like a CEO, and every company only has one CEO, so MK directors can’t all expect to make it to that position!”…there is one huge, glaring difference. Most companies have one CEO, that’s true. MK has one, residing in the corporate office.

The position of NSD in MK is NOT a CEO position. It is gained by meeting certain performance criteria, and as far as I know, there is no cap to how many NSD “positions” are available in MK. Simply, if you meet the criteria, you can be an NSD. So why can’t every one of the 9,000 directors become NSD? Why can’t half of them become NSD? Why can’t even just 100 of them become NSD?

Remember that pesky fact that keeps popping up about how the world can’t perpetuate the MLM structure of endless chain recruitment since for everyone to be successful the world would run out of people to recruit?

It’s the same math here. If someone who is mathematically inclined (that would not be me) would take this on:

Take the number of directors in MK USA currently (estimated, so say 9,000?);
Figure out how many overall people each one of these 9,000 directors would need in their downlines to achieve NSD status (including the recruits of offspring, all the way down the line);

Then, if we haven’t already exceeded the entire population of the planet, do the same math in taking every offspring director of these first 9,000 directors and performing the same calculations of people necessary for them to also become NSDs.

Are you dizzy yet? There are the better part of 9,000 Sales Directors in MK who, right now, think THEY can be the next NSD. It’s presented as an achievable goal if you JUST WORK HARD ENOUGH. Well, that’s not the case. It’s not achievable because while thousands of you want it, the entire population of the world doesn’t allow for you to reach it. It’s not your fault; the structure of the “business” doesn’t allow for it, no matter what you do.

Funny how Kaybots will accept these statistical facts when it comes to discussing why there are so few NSDs, but they disregard the fact that the same math affects the lowest MK positions as well. There are a finite number of people on this planet, and if every single one of them signed up to sell MK (which MK would allow and accept in a heartbeat), none of them could, because market saturation is an actual thing and not an opinion or some negative thought.



  1. Kristen

    1. “…the opportunity to be able to achieve the next higher level position just as long as they met certain performance factors”

    2.. “NSD is an executive position, like a CEO, and every company only has one CEO, so MK directors can’t all expect to make it to that position!”…

    This is the gaslighting that made me crazy in Mary Kay. If you work yourself to the bone doing exactly what the successful women did, you’ll make it too. But, I did! It’s not working! Well, you can’t expect everyone to be a CEO…??? Huh???

    Mary Kay, Stop telling every woman you come into contact with that she can achieve NSD if she spends her savings and just “beelieves” only to later say, well it’s not for everyone.

    1. BestDecision

      Exactly! How many of us got Gold Medals, did Courts, and still didn’t make it to NSD? My mental health was destroyed in MK. All the nights and weekends away from my family…for nothing. I see my Senior is working at least 2 nights a week, and she has weekends booked, too. And that’s just Director activity and doesn’t include any personal appointments she might make!

      Guess what. Sending it all back and resuming my career has given me MORE freedoms and MORE healthy mentality than over a decade in MK. So happy!

        1. Ruby Slippers

          Tracy, looks like Jamie may have finished her National area according to her Facebook post today with all her pictures of down line.
          It was a MUST DO before DIQ went to 30 starting Feb 1. It will be more challenging to finish once that goes into place .
          6×225 to get people active. It new directors are finishing with fake people or people u tell them you will buy their product back. I did it to finish . Most everyone does . It’s a known fact in Mary Kay. Find a way or make a way !!!

            1. Mountaineer95

              Right BD! When writing what I did above, I really gave thought to the things that you and the other former high-achieving MK Directors here have said. It’s one thing if the MK “system” didn’t work for run-of-the-mill IBCs; it’s another thing when obviously smart, hard-working, accomplished and “successful” Directors like those here on PT failed at “promoting themselves” to NSD, “Executive Almost Super Awesome Director Emeritus”, or the like. Instead of “promoting yourselves” via hamster wheel, you left. You abandoned ship. For some of you, you did so at the pinnacle of your MK “career” and your personal debt.

              Why? Why leave a directorship position, one that is the gateway to the ultimate national directorship position, after all of the blood/sweat/tears you’ve spent getting to directorship to begin with? (This is rhetorical; I know why you guys left and salute you for it).

              So many directors have quit MK during their directorships, and most like to blame their quitting on personal, health, and/or family matters. Almost NONE of them lay blame on MK itself, MK policies, issues with the business model, and so on. Instead, they are almost ALL willing to publicly blame THEMSELVES or their circumstances for their departure.

              By this I mean: the one who quits MK because her family needs her more; the one who quits MK because she now must homeschool her autistic child; the one who is fighting breast cancer; the one who wants to pursue her dream of writing novels; the one who lists any personal reason as a valid excuse to up and leave her directorship (and thus forfeit her entire unit and any money she made from it). Very few blame MK; but most if not all should.

              While I’m not knocking the need/desire to want to be at home for a loved one’s needs, I’m knocking MK for presenting itself as the way to earn full time income in part time hours and from home. Because if directors could truly maintain their directorships via even full time hours and with the ability to choose their own working hours, they wouldn’t be dropping like flies.

              But they are. Many smart, driven, responsible women who clawed their way to directorship are leaving MK.

              I thank you former directors for being here on PT and for sharing your experiences…the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your honesty helps this site remain relevant and, frankly, disruptive to MK. Yay for you guys!

              1. BestDecision

                It took guts to quit. I knew I’d be humiliated and shunned by everyone. The ship started taking on water when NSD Allison LaMarr left because no NSD had ever done so. It was unheard of. Why would anyone give up that money?!

                The truth is that no one will admit how things really are for them. They won’t admit to Cadillac car payments. Or chargebacks. Most don’t keep accurate expense records and just regurgitate their highest check from years ago.

                It’s all a facade! It pays them to appear successful, and it lifts their esteem to act like they’ve got massive success going on in their units or offspring. It sounds REALLY successful to say you’re a “future NSD”, yet anyone can say that. One of my Director friends actually had that in her email address, and she wasn’t even in a company car!

                All of that “fake it ‘til you make it” is exhausting. It’s a constant performance. They knock teachers and nurses for not making great money, but they don’t admit those professions are RESPECTED and KEEP all their income with no business expenses or worry of chargebacks. When it’s earned, it’s earned.

                Consultants, ask your Director what her take-home income after expenses was in 2020. If she doesn’t know, that’s your clue!

    2. Mountaineer95

      “Well, you can’t expect everyone to be a CEO…”

      Exactly! But yet they stress in recruitment meetings that you, just YOU, actually CAN be a CEO of your own Mary Kay business. They’ll tell you that non-stop during recruitment. But months/years later, after you’re a hardened, jaded Director wondering why you’re not anywhere near NSD level? THEN the “not everyone can be a CEO” argument is presented.

  2. Char

    Great article Mountaineer.

    – In a corporate pyramid, all the employees are paid to participate – even mailroom employees.

    – In an “MLMer” pyramid, people PAY to participate disguised via ordering products. Kickbacks to the top are paid based on them recruiting new money paying opportunists. This is illegal, so it’s laundered through products. The bottom cannot sustain the constant spending that is supporting the top, so endless attrition occurs.

    – The MLM company itself has both pyramids. Their MLMer aka customer pyramid generates money for the company. This money pays their real employees and the actual CEO of the corporate pyramid. This is their outside money. The MLMers are the real customers of the direct selling company. The “company” is the direct seller. The MLMer is the direct “buyer”.

    Being dubbed an MLMer is just a sales and marketing strategy for the company. Call your customer a consultant/MLMer and sell them huge amounts of crap. Give them small kickbacks for recruiting THE COMPANY new customers. Pay your real employees from that money and become worth billions.

  3. NayMKWay

    Mary Kay Ash herself said building up a unit is like trying to fill a tub with the drain open.

    Fun fact: bathtub drains are designed to empty the tub faster than the spigot can fill it. MLMs are designed the same way. When you have endless-chain recruiting, the group membership will swell to the point that the number joining and the number leaving pretty much balance out. So how is anyone supposed to be able to build a unit with the average growth rate equal to exactly zero?

    The answer is: they’re not. That NSD carrot is only for the lucky few. And I do mean lucky, because math is math, and math says the number who make NSD each year is 5 sigma away from the average, and only one out of about 4 to 5 thousand are going to make it.

    One thing I’ve learned in life is that you can’t fight physics and you can’t fight math. Hmm, I guess that’s two things. So much for my math skillz*; I can’t even count to two.

    (* – the “z” makes it cool.)

  4. Juliet

    I feel like Mary Kay hardly even had to pull off much of a con. She said it herself, filling a bathtub with drain unplugged. It can be easy to pull a fast one by me, initally anyway, but when there’s a bizarre statement floating around, it does make me shake my head and wonder what the heck it could be trying to say, even if I don’t comment on it.

    Mary Kay so plainly endorsed lying, the whole putting an onion in the oven to make it smell like dinner is cooking. Never mind that the husband is coming home after working all day and not unreasonably at all would greatly enjoy a hot dinner. No, just give him the ILLUSION of what he deserves and would benefit from.

    She was a con from the start and laughing at all those who bought into her honest persona, knowing herself to not have an honest microbe within her. And she passed it down the family lines, and spread the toxin far and wide, and on it goes.

    What an evil woman.

  5. Ruby Slippers

    There are only a couple ways one gets to NSD … “do it fast “ within a 2 year attempt period … before attrition sets in . Most New Directors seem to last between 1and 1/2 to 2 years . One year the learning phase and Sedona year I’ll give it another try phase before fizzling out .
    The second is get totally Lucky… look at Dacia or Leah Lauchlan…. most of her initial NSD unit came from a consultant that personally recruited 2-4 of her directors. Talk about luck !!!

  6. Heather

    Let’s do some of the math here, shall we?

    Going with about 9,000 SD in the US – if we see 3 NSDs a year, that is a 0.033% success rate.
    Let’s say only a third of those SDs want to become an NSD, and assume 3 NSDs from that 3,000. That gives you a 0.1% success rate.
    Odds aren’t looking so good, are they?

    For perspective:
    – You have a 1 in 500 chance of being born with an extra finger or toe
    – How about a 1 in 215 chance of dating a millionaire (not talking MK millionaire either)
    – A 1 in 465 chance of having your identity stolen
    – A 1 in 1,400 chance of getting poisoned
    And my favorite – a 1 in 3 chance of living to 100 years old.

    So to borrow a line, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

      1. Heather

        A 1 in 3,000 chance (3 NSDs/year with 9,000 SDs) — granted, it’s better than your chances of winning the lottery, yet when I play the Mega Millions or buy a scratch-off (which is rare), I’m only out $20 when I lose.

      2. Kristen

        “Becoming a successful entrepreneur is both extremely difficult and rare. The chance of an entrepreneur’s first or second startup ending in success is about 20%” -Forbes

        20% is difficult and rare? What does that make 0.003% for NSD and 1% for the consultant? Oh. What’s that old saying? A snowball’s chance in hell.

        ps Mary Kay victims/scammers are not entrepreneurs so don’t read this as evidence that your “business” can succeed. You are a customer and customers spend money.

  7. Mountaineer95

    I made this comment several months ago under a post about this SD’s push for getting to NSD:

    “And the only way she succeeds at this NSD push is getting the downline to buy more wholesale and convince others to do the same. I think this made-up urgency that it must be done by a certain date is to get these downliners to order lots of wholesale before they see how hard it is to sell. It’s a frenetic environment where everyone has to ORDER ORDER ORDER RIGHT NOW!

    Whether it sells is irrelevant. That is, until after she’s christened NSD but her area still needs to meet minimum requirements, and those below her who way overspent to support HER goal run out of credit or patience. They fall off, and now that NSDs have requirements to meet, the hamster wheel continues.”

    The sentiment hasn’t changed; she still NEEDS others to spend a lot of money for HER to achieve HER goal, and there is always a deadline before which it must be done.

    Hear that noise? It’s the creak of the hamster wheel spinning round.

  8. Mountaineer95

    Another comment I made in reference to Jamie making childish (read: emojis, filters, digital glitter, fake “what do you wanna know”) posts about her needs in striving for NSD:

    “…It is so sad to me that a seemingly moderately talented young woman is resorting to middle school-type posts to “earn” a promotion…
    …THIS IS NOT HOW THE REAL WORLD WORKS. And Jamie, odds are that someday you WILL have to enter the “real world” of business and jobs. So maybe make a note to yourself (on a bubble-gum pink post it note tucked inside your glittery journal with unicorns printed on every page) that your methods used to vertically advance in MK (begging for customers whilst crying on YouTube, for example) will NOT translate well on a resume. Unless you make some major adjustments, your position of Executive Sales Director (is that right? I can’t keep track) will NOT allow you to gain an “executive” position outside of MLM.
    …You’re young enough that you can get out and move into the hated land of corporate jobs. Do it while you can.”

    That was from a while ago, but the points remain true. She will likely NOT reach NSD, but even if she does, she won’t stay there. At least not for the 35+ years needed for her to retire as an NSD. Either she or MK Corp will fold well before that date. And if it’s MK Corpse that folds, there isn’t a single way that she can continue to be “paid” her “retirement benefits”, right?

    I’m seriously asking, I don’t know the intricacies of the current NSD contract.

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