The Multilevel Marketing Frenzy From John Oliver

So I saw this video trending on FaceBook and on YouTube and I decided to watch the entire thing and provide some of my own opinions on it.  Albeit this is hysterically funny to watch this is a horse that’s long been beaten to death for years.  That being said I did want to pipe up with a few things of my own for what it’s worth and for whom may ever read my opinions.  Let me preface this with the fact my opinions come from being exposed personally to a couple Multilevel Marketing companies so I am not just playing armchair quarterback.  This is some of my own first hand experience most recently with the Team Beachbody network.

There are always Good and Bad

Not only when it comes to the COMPANIES, but also the DISTRIBUTORS.  Yes while this video pretty much slams on HerbalLife more than any other, there are companies that run things differently.  In my personal experience, the network I’ve been involved in, there is no ‘Selling of products to your downline”.  You can only sell products to customers that are not themselves a distributor.  That’s a key point to make that “good” structured companies compensation plans don’t even have this capability.  In the case of the Team Beachbody network you can make a lot of money just on retails sales.  In fact 25% commission is pretty high for retail commissions in ANY company.  The bad distributors are hard to weed out to be honest.

At the end of the day you can get into one of these businesses to help others….or help yourself.  If you want to help yourself you are probably following the lead of a money hungry “bad” upline.  If you really want to help others, you may be in the right downline.  I personally know one founding member of the Team Beachbody Network and his mission is truly to help people.  It’s what he believes in.  He’s also helped develop parts of some programs and enjoys helping people.

Do the CEO’s of these companies act like rock stars or do they act like regular people?  I will admit in recent years the CEO of Beachbody has seemed to stray off the rails a little from how he “seemed” a few years ago.  I’m not sure why that is, he’s human.  Maybe the growth and success has gotten to him, but I cannot say.  Money does change people, but all I can hope is that he does not become a complete nut job like the other CEO’s they showed.

What Are They Selling?

So this is a big deal.  Some of these companies sell products that are more or less useful in my opinion.  Some of then frankly are just weird.  Heck others like Pampered Chef, I LOVE their stuff.  Is it somewhat over priced?  Maybe but some of it I’ve had for YEARS and the stuff just never wears out.  Personally, it’s why I joined the Team Beachbody Network.  I was a long time customer of them using P90X and their Results and Recovery product for years before the network was ever even started.  So before I ever signed up I was a customer and frankly I signed up to get 25% off the products I was already buying.  Although the network I’m involved in sells nutrition products, which I also use and believe in, and have helped me control my weight, the primary product is the FITNESS PROGRAMS.  Those programs have in the past and continued to work for me to maintain my health.  Workouts don’t have snakeoil in them.  You HAVE to do the work for them to help you.  I do use the supplements to help but mostly I like the workouts.  Tony Horton and Shaun T are well know names and they are there to motivate and help people.  Do they get paid for their time?   Of course but they come up with very good workout programs.

You do need to be careful of outrageous claims.  Let’s be honest here.  Some people are idiots and believe anything they hear.  Do your research for your own sake.  Anything that claims to cure cancer… probably bullshit for sure seeing as THERE IS NO KNOWN CURE!  I know Beachbody has been very careful with their claims and in fact some of their products are now certified for use by athletes under the NSF.  That’s a big deal since not everything can be on the NSF list.  That tells me they do their due diligence in their products.  Now do bad distributors make up claims?  Yeah I’m sure they do and those are the people you need to watch out for.

The Promises Of Fortune?

Yes, I have heard these stories.  The difference is I was also raised to know that you don’t get anything without hard work.  Can you make some money with these companies?  Sure you can.  Do some make more than others?  Sure they do.  Can you “fire your boss” as I’ve heard many times?  Maybe you can but it comes back to the company you choose and the people you decide to work with.  If you pick a bad company or bad upline you may find yourself with the ‘Garage Stock’ they speak of in the video.  In my experience I have never ended up with so much product that I could not pause a delivery to catch up.  If I was not using the product I stopped ordering it.  The difference is in most cases I DO use what I buy not to be “active” but because I like the products.

Nothing comes without hard work.

Comparing To The “Corporate Ladder”?

Okay so this section of the video I may take more issue with.  While he states that it IS DIFFERENT because Disney was based on a corporate ladder, anyone that works for a corporation knows the people at the top cash in the most for the work of the people below.  Let’s be honest here, the corporate ladder is in fact setup so that those at the top get the bigger bonuses and stock options than everyone else.  Do they deserve them?  Maybe….maybe not.  Are there a lot of ass busting hard workers below them that get no credit for their work?  Yeah, probably so.  That being said just saying that working the corporate ladder is “more right” than an MLM is a little bit silly.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The video does make some good points, and is beating the dead horse of Multilevel Marketing and Pyramid Schemes.  Yes there are some that are structured dangerously close, and others that use the structure in a more proper way.  Like anything else do you hate them all for the faults of a few?  Maybe so and if these were TRULY a problem would the FTC continue to let them make the billions of dollars they do?  Possibly becuase they also 1099 their distributors and that’s tax money for Uncle Sam.  I do believe some like the one I am part of are not “Bad”, but there certainly is others that might be.  Do what you want, do your research, if you get involved with one do it with someone you trust but do it for the right reasons.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years.

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