Mary Kay is Not MLM

Written by The Scribbler

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t been told by a Mary Kay recruiter, “We are not an MLM, we are dual-level!” It’s pretty much like being at Disney World in July and being told by the very air-conditioned monorail operator, “Don’t think of it as “hot and crowded,” think of it as one of the few times you can sinlessly trade sweaty snuggles with complete strangers!”

When you’re done bleaching that last image out of your retinas, consider the following quotes and ask yourself how many you’ve heard (or used) in your Mary Kay career:

  • Some will, some won’t, so what – next!
  • A successful way to introduce someone to the opportunity is to ask for their advice…simply tell them that you’ve just started your own business and you want to show them your product or opportunity and get their opinion.
  • You’ve got to be able to hear “no” and say to yourself, “…I know my opportunity is worth it… it’s just not the right time for them.” That’s having unshakable faith.
  • Read the best books, listen to the best tapes, and surround yourself with positive, high-energy successful people.
  • Don’t participate in negative talk – even under the heading of “being realistic.”
  • Prospecting is a numbers game.
  • Objections are nothing more than questions in disguise. To respond to most objections, I like to use the “feel, felt, found” approach.

While I can link every one of these points back to a Mary Kay-related source, that’s not where I initially found them; you may be surprised to learn that these nuggets came from a book titled, “Being the Best You Can Be in MLM,” by John Kalench. It’s an old book, but as always, nothing really changes in MLM.

I consider recruiting to be the benchmark of the network marketing industry, and exactly ten pages in Kalench’s book talk about selling the product, while 114 pages talk about recruiting, overcoming objections, and luring souls to tent revivals/opportunity showcases/success meetings.

Amused? Nauseous? Both? The book covers a few more topics that bang the MLM gong even further. But I’m probably wasting my time, as you won’t find any practices in Mary Kay like these. (Just kidding!)

  • Telephony: “The reason I’m calling is that I’m so excited about something I just got involved with! I thought of you because of the way people feel about you and respect you. I know you can do extremely well with this…which day is best for you, Tuesday or Thursday?”
  • Poster, Child: “A “Treasure Map” is a collage of pictures… of what you want to do, have, and be… make one for the car, one for the bathroom mirror, one in your appointment book, and so forth…”

And no MLM book would be complete without the I-story of a woman who was so excited about her business that she carried a crystal doorknob with her everywhere she went. When people asked her what it was for, she’d reply, “I’m so happy you asked me that! This doorknob is to remind me to tell you that the door to opportunity is wide open for you with…” Silly me – I should have known that nothing builds solid friendships quicker than good old-fashioned carnival hawkery! And here I was like a sucker, loving at all times and standing by others in times of trouble and all that other biblical balderdash.

Friends, call Mary Kay dual-marketing, call it network marketing, call it whatever you like, but in the end, Mary Kay Cosmetics IS an MLM no matter what name you give it. A long time ago, MK changed the title of “Star Recruiter” to “Star Team Builder.” The new name sounds a bit nicer, but nothing really changed except the name. It’s still all about recruiting, even if you don’t use the work.

One more bit from Kalench’s book:

“If you were a woman who was called upon to be an inspiration – would your life be any different than it is now? Of course it would…I’m not talking about “fake it until you make it” or suggesting that you run your credit cards up to the max to carry on the illusion of success…”

It’s almost as if he was talking about Mary Kay!


  1. NayMKWay

    Another entertaining read by The Scribbler. I love your writing style, Scrib!

    I looked up that book—it was first published in 1994, almost 30 years ago. (Yeah, nothing new under the Sun, to coin a phrase.) The full title, by the way, is:

    “Being the Best You Can Be in MLM: How to Train Your Way to the Top in One of the World’s Fastest-Growing Industries”

    “Train Your Way to the Top”? That’s a pipe dream. There’s very little room at the top in MLM, by design.

    I’m betting lots of this book’s rather-dubious advice predates it by decades. I know the concept of the rejection of all negativity goes way, way back. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937. Norman Vincent Peale regurgitated the same stuff in The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952. There have been many others over the years (The Secret, anyone?). They all emphasize the supposed importance of rejecting all doubts and misgivings.

    Most mental health professionals consider advice like this…

    “Don’t participate in negative talk – even under the heading of ‘being realistic.’ ”

    …to be potentially dangerous. Blocking reality from your mind is unhealthy, and sets you up for manipulation and cultism. Soon. “positive” becomes limited to what your Leader is preaching, and “negative” becomes any dissenting opinion. Personality changes often ensue as the brainwashing sets in.

    That’s why we hear so many heartbreaking stories like the one in yesterday’s post: “My MLM-loving friend won’t listen to reason; what can I do?” There are no easy answers once they’ve been sucked in; the best cure is prevention. That’s one of the reasons why we’re all here, to teach people not to fall for it in the first place.

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