The Art of Rationalization in Mary Kay

Written by Raisinberry

Most every Mary Kay sales director or recruiter possesses the skill of rationalization. Some of us don’t even realize this until we begin our journey back to reality.

As I travel my path back to the real world, my heart breaks to remember, and now see, what I did and what these people do. How does it start? Where and why do we begin the rationalization process?

Most women join Mary Kay on an emotional decision. They have just been to a big event and heard the pitch or were carried away in the fun and possible excitement of a skin care class, or they’ve met a super successful director. Immediately, we introduce them to the PINK BUBBLE world of Mary Kay. It is utopia. What could be better ? Who could argue with this line-up of targeted perfection?

  • We say we work with our priorities in order… Faith 1st, Family 2nd , career 3rd.
  • We tell them they will have a whole new circle of positive friends.
  • We say we don’t steal customers or recruits from each other.
  • We tell them they will have FREE training all during their Mary Kay career.
  • The sales director will match her efforts 110%. She will love & nurture her all the way… at the recruit’s speed.
  • We say we own our own businesses. We decide how much we will work.

Who wouldn’t want to be part of this ? This is the honeymoon stage of Mary Kay. For some of us it is short-lived. Some smart ladies wake up quickly and get out.

A few of us poor souls believe so much in the dream that we become directors. Is this where the rationalizing process begins? Having to achieve goals in targeted time frames means everything we do, every thought we have, is captive to accomplishing the goal.

We don’t steal customers but… if the other consultant is just an order-taker and isn’t giving “facials” regularly, then it is okay to sell to her customer because you have inventory. The customer deserves a consultant who really works.

We don’t steal recruits but… it is okay for her to join your team to help you. You guys work together and ultimately it is her choice. Her cousin is not really building a team right now.

We don’t order in the name of other consultants but… if she doesn’t care and all you need is one more active person, why not use your own card?

Most of us experience this dark side of Mary Kay really fast. We comfort the brokenhearted consultants by telling them “not everybody is like that”. We go livid when the across town Director snatches a recruit belonging to our consultant, but rationalize the commitment of another consultant when her customer is in our backyard.

In the back of our minds there remains a small nagging feeling that just won’t go away. We cannot linger long here in our thoughts for fear of giving up our dream. Keep moving! A laurel rested upon soon wilts!

But then, sometimes late at night, we allow our minds to explore nagging thoughts

  • Did I really see Senior Director keep drawing until her customer won? Nah… Somebody else would have said something.
  • I told that consultant I would match her effort 110% but they tell me it is a waste of time to do a grand opening on less than a star order. I am sure she will understand how busy I am. How else will I get that star order if I don’t cut it off somewhere?
  • If she can’t make time to come to the meeting, why on earth would she expect me to spend an hour on the phone with her?
  • She is supposed to be my friend. I know she is earning a car but that was my friend she recruited.

Then one day it hits us right between the eyes! I am becoming them. All the things I saw as a consultant coming up that looked fishy or just plain wrong to me… I am doing!

What do I do now? I need to get out but my ACTIVITY has become MY IDENTITY!

The sad truth of this company with the mission statement of “Enriching Women’s Lives” is that it destroys relationships with very good, demonstrated “justification” for us to follow. We are doing what we saw, and assessing our course of action based on whether it serves us or not.

If your friend doesn’t want to hold a class – well she is not a very good friend or just jealous because you are so happy now. No? Next!

If your husband doesn’t want you gone so much – he is just not supportive, keep working and he will change his mind when he sees the money.

We hear “people and love “ but it is all about the numbers and getting them any way you can! When we make a choice to recruit another’s friend or customer it is a choice to cause pain. A few years from now that director will not even remember the situation, but the friends and family of the “victim” will.

All of a sudden you begin to see, that achieving the goal at all costs is a situation that is directly opposite the Golden Rule and what we all knew to be true when we came through the doors. All those things promised at the guest event or skin care class are a distant memory once you get pushed onto the Mary Kay Career Path. A Mary Kay Sales Director, under the pressure to hit bonuses, Company contests, or just not lose her unit will make a rationalization for any bad thing she wants to do! She learned from the best!


  1. Heather

    Very well said! I truly believe those of us who left MK (especially those who were SDs) did it because we found our conscience. For me, it hit like a ton of bricks that I was becoming what I had been fighting against in this so-called “business.” I had witnessed many behaviors that most would have considered anti-Golden Rule and conniving, and it was awful that I had done some of them myself. I asked hard questions of those who were supposed to be my friends, my colleagues, and I go nowhere. I was told *I* was the problem, not them.

    Enriching women’s lives? Pfffft. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    1. raisinberry

      Same. When I went to my NSD…..Crickets. She’ll get back to me.

      Think about it. Mary Kay Inc does NOTHING to help the IBC’s actual business, which is BOOKING. Nothing to lift the Brand in terms of National Advertising. They don’t spend a DIME encouraging the status of a consultant…ie: Product certifications, or Business awards that an IBC might use to promote herself.

      Nope. Too much cost for little return. Because THEY DO NOT CARE if an IBC’s business thrives at a retail level. It will NEVER match what manipulated wholesale produces.

      1. Mountaineer95

        I always think of that when I hear a Kaybot trying to compare themselves to McDonald’s franchise owners (usually in reference to how the franchisees have to abide by McD Corp’s contractual rules about pricing, advertising, etc):

        How many BILLIONS of dollars does McD Corp spend on advertising to drive customers in to their franchisees? And MKorpse can’t be bothered to even run one ad in Allure. If retail sales to end consumers actually mattered they would.

  2. Ruby Slippers

    When I was in the pink fog and a Sales Director, I truly believed in the opportunity. I recruited out of passion and belief for my prospects. Then my 2nd year I churned and burned thru anyone so I could have my 1 out of 5 (you don’t know unless you ask and don’t prejudge) . My last year it was evident that people were wasting $ on star goals without sales, new recruits buying Star orders and not following thru, etc.
    Some months were challenging to hit production and I got to the point where I didn’t care what the new recruit did as long as inventory was pulled for 1st order.
    After all, it’s her choice to do the business and cream rises to the top, but you had to churn the milk. Lol ? and it was a numbers game. I’m so glad things went south and I got off the hamster wheel. I see a new DIQ going back into business after several years of quitting Directorship. I guess they haven’t learned that a real job is far better than the Land of Pink Oz that is MK.

    1. raisinberry

      Absolutely right! Every NSD touted that production comes from new recruits, so it made no difference what your “base” unit was experiencing…you had only a few ploys to keep the $$ coming in. Recruit new people at her debut (out from under her, appointment-wise) and convince her you just helped her up the career path. Run a Consistency Club contest, or a monthly wholesale ordering prize…and get ’em in “Red” asap to glue them to the Unit, production wise to “keep” their recruits. How are you going to quit when your new best friend still comes to meetings? Seriously, these rules were devised by Mary Kay. They are arbitrary and based on nothing, but requirements to order that keep an IBC tied to the game.

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