We Worked Harder AND Smarter

Written by SuzyQ

“Mary Kay works when you do!”

What a myth! If Mary Kay worked when many of us did, we wouldn’t be here, would we? We are not the lazy “loosers” those in the pink fog make us out to be. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago we were sugar sharp and recruitable, with slammin’ hair, a professional resume, and damn fine credit. We were director’s dreams because WE WANTED IT ALL AND WERE WILLING TO DO WHATEVER IT TOOK.

We went around, through, under and over all obstacles. We prayed. We asked God to bless our businesses. We asked Him to give us the words to touch the hearts of all those women placed in our path.

We earned “Premier” cars and Cadillacs as an outward symbol to attract women to Mary Kay, so God could bless them, too. We knew we were the only Bible some women would read, and the only Mary Kay people would meet.

We put our families on hold, we put our friends on hold, we worked the phones and text messages like a bookie on a hot streak, we warm-chatted, we gave samples and discounts, and bribed models and guests. We hit Starbucks every morning and bought lunch and dinner and afternoon iced tea and appetizers. We spent hours on our meetings, new consultant packets and training, social media posts, email blasts, websites, retreats, advances and events. We perfected recruiting scripts, we were pros at “pulling” inventory, we believed the speeches we heard at seminar and we enjoyed some success, occasionally.

We beat ourselves up daily. We woke up nights in a cold sweat. We lived with a fear of impending doom. We compared ourselves to other more successful directors. We were working hard, but not correctly. Or we were working correctly, but not hard enough. We looked good, but we could look better. We could do better, but we were doing everything we were told to.

We couldn’t get models for the meetings either. We couldn’t get it through our consultants’ heads that the meetings were for recruiting, not socializing, and if they didn’t bring models, there was really no reason for a meeting. We felt guilty asking them for room fees, but we had paid room fees, too, and we weren’t sure we could afford our portion of the training center rent. We moved to our homes, and were told by other directors that meeting in one’s home was not professional, and we would not attract professional women.

We worked harder and smarter. We spun our wheels. If we recruited, inventory was not an option. If we brought in inventory, our relief about a commission check was canceled with guilt once we figured this whole thing out. We were told that everyone made their own decisions based on their needs and goals and was their decision, but we didn’t really believe that after awhile.

We continued to beat ourselves up. We knew that we could not afford to miss an event. If we had decided we did not have the money; that was the reason to attend. If we didn’t attend, because we didn’t have the money, many of us lied. It’s amazing how many non-life threatening illnesses pop up around seminar and leadership. We are out the fee, but not the plane and the other expenses.

If we went, looking for that one piece of information that would turn our businesses around, we were disappointed. There was nothing new. Ever. It was always the same message. Our deserve level was low, we were content with mediocrity, we weren’t working hard enough or smart enough. We resolved to do more, to be more, to be the best.

So. Mary Kay works when you do? Not so much. Mary Kay works when you set your integrity aside and recruit and “pull” inventory and tell yourself that this is the best thing around for women. You know it’s not true, but you have hidden so long behind the smoke, mirrors and sequins that you have forgotten who you once were. The gradual moral erosion has taken its toll and you missed the red flags.

YOU, however, are still there. And we’re here to welcome you back to the land of the living. Think. Question. Pray.

We’ll be here.


  1. Great article, SuzyQ.

    “If we went, looking for that one piece of information that would turn our businesses around, we were disappointed. There was nothing new. Ever. It was always the same message. Our deserve level was low, we were content with mediocrity, we weren’t working hard enough or smart enough. We resolved to do more, to be more, to be the best.”

    Today’s rant is centered on the Pernicious Pink Perfectionism ™ of Mary Kay, which was baked right in from the start by its founder, for whom nothing was ever good enough. And she let you know it loudly and often (i.e. her letter to Cleta Colson Eyre, right after Christmas, scolding her for her sucky recruiting numbers).

    One question I’ve always had for perfectionists, and have never, ever gotten a satisfactory answer to, is “what’s wrong with being good enough?” If you do your honest best and are satisfied with the result you get, why is that bad? The answers tend to either focus on others’ perception of one to make you feel insecure (they’ll think you’re lazy/stupid/whatever; is that what you want?) or others’ perception of the perfectionist (do you want people to think I’m whatever?) The problem is theirs; the burden becomes yours.

    The “Be a full-time mom, have a part-time business, make full-time pay” graphic bothers me because it’s just a rephrasing of the allegedly feminist rallying cry, “You can have it all!” Allegedly, because of the unspoken “There’s something wrong with you if you DON’T have it all” that follows.

    Mary Kay leans into that hard: don’t you want your kids to feel special because you drive them to school in your pink Cadillac? Don’t you want your NSD to maybe condescend to speak to you for two minutes if she has time? Do you want to stand before Mary Kay on Judgement Day and explain why you didn’t warm chat that barrista? What’s wrong with you?

    The point of this, and so many of the articles on this site, is this: It’s not you. There’s nothing wrong with you. The system is designed to make you fail and feel like horse poop when you do.

    You have plenty of good qualities and people who really care about you will see those.

    Question, think, pray. Some of the things you realize when you do might knock you into a tailspin, but you’ll find plenty of support here.

    • Popinki, this is yet another example of how MLM differs from the real world. I work in IT, and it is a known issue in any product “delivery” discipline that without a proper “definition of done”, nothing would make it to market. Business leadership needs to have control over what constitutes “good enough”, or costs will run out of control, limiting the value of the product.

      Every successful product ships with a known number of issues. If a company seeks perfection, their competition will eat them alive.

      In the real business world, there is significant value in “good enough.” The reason Mary Kay pushes everyone so hard is to keep their minds off the terrible reality of MLM.

      “Stop asking questions and just order more product!” Yeah, that sounds professional.

      • Mary Kay can get away with using perfection as a goal to control consultants because they aren’t paying salary for the people doing the work. They have no added cost of you spend an extra 3 hours adding glitter to your newsletters. Those costs that run out of control are NOT their costs, they are paid for by the consultants

        • The time and gas you spend driving to a vendor show.
          The time you spend calling and texting prospects.
          Warm Chatter at the grocery store.

    • I’m a recovering perfectionist, and the truth behind all perfectionists’ desires to be perfect is definitely rooted in people-pleasing. At some point, we internalized the message that we weren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, whatever enough. And we figured out that the best way to gain appreciation and approval was through achieving. This could be good grades, weight loss, winning a competition, earning a degree.

      Then we became adults and the perfectionism turned into gaining status symbols. Promotions at work, higher salaries, newer houses and cars. Mary Kay absolutely preys upon this. But there is only true freedom in loving and appreciating ourselves and our unique talents and no longer worrying about what everyone else thinks.

  2. Stop beating yourselves up! The MLM business model CAN NOT WORK! It only appears to work because fresh recruits with untapped credit cards keep propping up the pyramid.

  3. “Content with mediocrity”. Guilty. As. Charged!

    Because mediocrity means space to breathe. It means friendships for no other purpose than I like her. It means unscheduled, unstructured time with my kids. With my husband. Mediocrity, as defined in MK, is peace as defined by the rest of the world. It means stepping off the hamster wheel and pursuing what I want for a change, not what others tell me I should want.

    It’s taken 4 long years of reprogramming, but, yes. I am finally content with mediocrity.

  4. I like “adequate” as a goal. Sometimes adequate may mean “this has to be perfect”, and sometimes it can be redneck engineering.

    • Good enough for government work — that’s acceptable in many situations as well.

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