Probably the most frequent challenge I hear to our real-life experiences with Mary Kay Cosmetics (other than “no one held a gun to your head!”) is “Oh, there’s always one bad apple in the bunch. Don’t judge the entire company by that one person!” They say “my director isn’t like that” and “you need to find one of the many ethical directors.”
Yet in maintaining this site, I hear similar stories daily. Stories of lying and deception in an effort to get to the top of Mary Kay Inc. I don’t care what anyone says. These incidents are not isolated. I have heard literally thousands of similar stories. Women in MK compromise their morals to move to the next level, get a few extra recruits, or win a prize.
Here is one story of the shenanigans that go on at the director level. I am sorry to report that these types of things are all too common.
Every time I caught my director in a lie or discovered something disturbing about MK, I sort of felt a little sting. After I quit being a consultant, I worked in her home as her office assistant. I needed that job while I was trying to finish nursing school. My director/boss called it stupid. Yes, becoming a nurse was stupid to her.
I am saddened and embarrassed by my former ties to MK as a consultant and my continued association as an office assistant. I had to dutifully yet grudgingly dispense MK rhetoric far and wide as my boss’s unit and “future area” stretched from coast to coast.
Now I must backtrack a bit… My very first sting was when I realized that by placing my $3600 inventory order in January (halfway through the MK year) some years ago, I had immediately landed in the top 10 in sales for our unit of nearly 300. I was up there amongst consultants who had been working at this for a long time and certainly had been working for the first half of that year, as well as another frontloaded newbie or two.
I then realized that if these established consultants had not had cause to order much more product than what I had ordered in my initial inventory order, I really had no hope of turning my inventory in a year. My goal was to actually to turn it four times (my retail background now makes its debut on this blog), something which my director said was guaranteed with her guidance. That was such a lie!
Then, she totally shut down my business after just one week! She knew that I knew very few people in town and she recruited my only three personal contacts who were willing to hold classes and refer clients to me. She recruited them at a guest event when I went for my first training session. I thought it was the smart way to let them try product and for me to get some training. I knew nothing about cosmetics, so it made sense to me to go. I never had a chance to sell those three ladies or hold their classes, because they left that night as my competition. I was shut down. We all went to the same church, and they had all gone there for many years. I was a newcomer. And I was shut down out of business. That was my entire local circle.
When I told her that I was very upset about how it had played out, she made me feel like I was incredibly short-sighted and had no head for business. Sting! She told me that the big money was in recruiting, and that anyone could be a customer but not everyone could be a team member. She told me that I was really missing the big picture. Sting! I then quit working my personal business, but I held on to my products because I was scared of getting fired if I returned them. I needed the job. And still do.
During my 2 years as the office assistant, I quietly worked to put together “awesome” and “exciting” newsletters, conference calls, training meetings, prize packages (sometimes costing her just $.50 for a prize), special guest events, emails, letters, retreats, challenges, banquets, picnics, slumber parties (yes, it’s true), charts, checklists, tracking sheets, social media, and more. I caught my director/boss in many little lies and some big ones, and each time it left me feeling a bit stung, a bit sick.
And then one of her DIQs stepped down. This girl was a new consultant, submitted DIQ just two weeks after becoming a consultant and was then tracking to be a one month wonder. She had several working and recruiting personal team members and a huge handful of personal use consultants. She was blazing through the process so fast that she did not even have a true understanding of how it worked, and she unwittingly misled those close friends and family members who signed up as personal use consultants.
I blamed my director for this. She conducted many of those interviews herself and was using the lines “it’s just like buying a Sam’s Club membership” and “which line would you want to stand in? the full-price line? or the half-price line?” and those poor women thought that once they purchased the showcase/starter kit that they automatically had the discount on any orders for the entire year. The DIQ did not fully understand, but a 10 year veteran director certainly did. STING.
One month, in a rush to reinstate some consultants who had passed their twelve-month mark, my boss had me send individual personal emails from her explaining that the company gives her so many free reinstatement packages per year and that she had personally selected them. This was a lie, of course. Consultants can be reinstated for about $20, and my boss was just going to personally pay for it and sign them up as her personal recruits. Then she would heap on the pressure to get them active once they were in again as her personals, I’m sure. Anyway, I sent this out to all 13 people who had not reinstated in their twelfth month, so I guess each one was specially selected. Sigh.
And when my boss decided to make a big push to become a national, she had me send out invitations to a dinner party to her top consultants and their spouses. She asked me to tell them that she had given their names to Sales Development at MK Headquarters (big, fat lie), and that they were monitoring their individual and team activity as they had been marked as future directors. She told them that they would be receiving special promotions, prizes, and secret information well before the other consultants. That was a lie. Sting.
In summer, my boss created a promotion for all inactive consultants to encourage them to become active again. She promised to hold a drawing for a cash prize in the amount of $300, which would more than cover the cost of the required $200 wholesale order, tax, and shipping. I repeatedly asked her the following month if I could announce a winner, and she dismissed me every single time. She LIED to her unit and NEVER awarded that cash prize. We had 37 consultants qualified for an entry into the drawing
I just wanted to share that even reputable directors who have been around for a long time in reputable areas still bend the truth and manipulate people and flat out lie to get things to happen. Her status was never at risk. Her Cadillac was never in jeopardy. She was not backed into a corner with any huge debt, needing a bigger commission check. I did her books, and she did not have maxed out credit cards or huge outstanding debt.
She was running low on new consultants to frontload but still wanted her totals to look good. She was just overly ambitious and hungry for company recognition. She was also ready to move beyond worrying about the next DIQ and the next new consultant and the next skin care class. She wanted to go National and just sit atop her plush, pink, pyramid and wave to the adoring peasants at her feet.
But to be clear, this deception and breaking the rules is normal among directors. Any director who doesn’t do these things is the exception, and she’s not moving up in MK.