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

Priorities After Mary Kay

Written by Frosty Rose

Life hit me hard last week. You all know the seasons. The ones where you’re holding it all together with duct tape and dry shampoo and wondering how you’ll manage. The ones where you get to the end of the season and wonder how everyone survived.

These seasons suck, and, yay me, I’m not in Mary Kay anymore, so I can say that without having to hold a stuffed skunk for my “stinkin’ thinkin’.” But you know what? There’s always a silver lining to every tough season, and these seasons, for me at least, tend to help me clarify my priorities.

I was young and single when I joined Mary Kay, so God First, Family Second, Career Third didn’t quite resonate with my life yet, but as I grew up, I internalized that mantra. I truly believe that when we live our lives in that order, things work out best, and I thank Mary Kay for teaching me that. (Look at me, being all positive and stuff…)

But while MK gives great lip service to “living life by your priorities,” it’s impossible to live pink and live out these priorities. Let’s look at how God First, Family Second, Career Third plays out in my life today and I think you’ll see what I mean.

God First today means that I can go to my place of worship and be present in the moment. I can sing, pray, listen to the message, and build relationships with the people around me, all without seeking out new women who might want to purchase my products or join my team. I am rarely motivated by self-serving thoughts, and when I am, it rises to the level of generously getting my husband a donut so I have an excuse to get one for myself.

No one dodges down a hallway when they see me coming because they’re afraid that their own worship experience will be marred by a sales pitch. Throughout the week, my prayers are never centered on my work—it’s rare that work gets brought up in my conversations with God, in fact. And I certainly don’t feel the need to give long-winded speeches at work that credit all my success to His grace and mercy (while blinking away a single stage tear carefully designed to not run my mascara). God’s voice rarely comes out of the mouths of my business leaders, and never has anything to do with my next goal at work. (Have y’all ever noticed how often God speaks through nationals? Amazing, isn’t it?? Especially when that voice seems to only talk about selling and recruiting.)

Family Second means that when I am with my family, I am there for them. I am not captive to every ping and ding of my phone, praying (yup, still mixing God and business) for another order or just one more recruit.

I have a J.O.B., and I put in my time there then I go home. The boundaries are clear between the two and I don’t have to work nearly as hard to maintain them. I go on vacations without feeling the need to take business cards (just in case I meet that one sugar-sharp lady that’s going to turn my whole business around) or makeup (to maintain my image at all times). I certainly am not expected to work while I’m on vacation. If my phone rings at some ungodly hour, it’s nearly always family blurring boundaries, almost never work. On the rare occasion that work calls at six am, it’s generally to let me know that we’re operating on a snow delay and I can get a bit more sleep. It’s never my boss telling me she’s out of cleanser and just remembered as she was getting into the shower and could I run some over to her really quick before she has to get ready for work. (Yes, that actually happened, and yes, I fired that customer.)

Family Second means my kids know that they are my priority and that they get my attention and my time. It means I’m physically and mentally there for them, especially for birthdays and milestones. It means I never have to wish them Happy Birthday from the seminar stage, and hope that the message that they’re important to me gets through to their impressionable minds.

It means I never again have to hear, “Use your kids as your reason, not your excuse,” if and when I miss a work event. It means my husband gets to hear everything about all aspects of my life, not just the polished-up version to ensure his continued support. He’s not worried that I’m secretly running up credit card debt to maintain the lie of my business success. And he’s not worried about the toll my pretense is taking on my physical, emotional, and relational health.

Career Third means that I work when I’m at work. It also means that when life hits hard, like it did last week for me, and I show up to work (because I thought home life was handled for a few hours), my supervisor looks me square in the eyes, asks me what the absolute heck I am doing there, and sends me home because family emergencies simply can’t be delegated. It means paid time off to deal with emergencies.

It means a business that doesn’t rely exclusively on the work of one person, and so keeps running when life inevitably happens to that one person. It means a real retirement plan that’s available to everyone, not just the top 0.02% of the “career ladder.” Career third is the ability to create success within the confines of 9-5, to keep that area of life healthy in its own right and not at the expense of successful living in all other areas.

Mary Kay did a great job of teaching me what correct principles of living are. And a horrible job of teaching me how to live them out. At this stage of my journey, I am grateful for both pieces of learning, because now, not only do I know how to steer my life correctly, but I am hyper-aware of when things are getting off track and I can course-correct much more quickly. So, thank you, Mary Kay, for the lessons you didn’t mean to teach.


  1. Data Junkie

    Frosty Rose, you have captured the “heart” of the matter. Your description of a healthy work/life balance is fantastic. Mary Kay’s words and actions are inconsistent. They describe a healthy work/life balance, but their incentive structure and all of their messaging promotes the most unhealthy relationship between the consultant and Mary Kay, negatively impacting all of the consultant’s other relationships.

    When I see MLM practitioners of all stripes (this includes Mary Kay) using even personal tragedy (or even just hard times) to promote their wares, it reminds me of the disturbing scene in Slumdog Millionaire where a child’s eyes are deliberately damaged to allow him to be a more effective pan-handler.

    Not to that extreme, of course, but MLMs like Mary Kay eventually turn their own sales reps into beggars who are taught how to exploit even their most important relationships for ill-gotten financial gain. What MLMs like Mary Kay know, and consultants soon discover: Pity pays…but usually only once per customer. Once the pity well runs dry…it’s time to recruit!

  2. Popinki

    Just like the whole “God first” should be a good way to run a business – be kind, be honest, be good to your employees and customers, practice what you preach. Instead, it’s “come on, girls, order order order! God wants me sitting in that pink Caddy!” I’m not religious anymore, but I still find it disgusting.

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