My Network Marketing Journey

people will forget what you said people will never forget how you made them feel

An emotional journey

Written in July 2016:

I’ve been thinking and brainstorming about how to go about writing this.  This is a very personal post and reflects my own experience and perspective of what I went through in the last two and a half years of being in a network marketing company.  I’ll start with the very beginning and include all and any details that I can think of.  Thanks in advance for reading.  I hope this piece can serve you in whatever way you are reading it for and help you to understand what I learned and experienced in this chapter of my life (that I’m so happy to close and move on to the next).

Disclaimer:  All of this was written from my own perspective and are my thoughts.  This is not meant to bash or put any company or persons in a bad light.  Treat this written post as an opinion piece and read it at your own risk. 

It all started in December of 2013.  I wasn’t officially involved yet, but I’ll start by telling it from this point because that was the time when I landed my first court reporting job.  Those of you who had followed my blog from when I started blogging in the spring of 2013 knew how excited and passionate I was about my stenography plans and my goals to become a full-fledged court reporter.  I had been progressing slowly but surely towards those goals.  I had completed my studies, I had been working as a Phoenix Theory instructor at my court reporting school, job shadowing court reporters, and preparing myself to become an impartial professional in the court who would take down everything verbatim and produce a transcript.  That was my career that I had been working towards since my university days when I had first discovered court reporting.

Finally, in December 2013, I started working.  I was excited, I was thrilled, but reality hit me hard.  The first couple of weeks of reporting left me very strung on time, little energy, and lots of stress.  I was immediately placed on jobs that a new reporter probably shouldn’t have been on yet.  An employer saw great aptitude in me and trusted in me to do the work.  I was grateful for the opportunity and I did it, but I was left a little shaken and low on confidence for the future after a returned transcript had many errors.  Would I be completing expedited transcripts that had errata sheets continuously?  Was this the life that I had chosen?  Would I always be tied down to transcripts and working for the accuracy of words on paper?  All I thought about court reporting was a little shaken and instead of the career path I had long set up for myself, I felt incompetent and unsure of my future.

Just at this time, “something” came answering my premature concerns in the form of a friend reaching out to me to hang out.  She messaged me around the middle of December right after we had had desserts and wanted to catch up again.  This time though, she said she wanted to introduce me to her friends and that I would like them a lot because they’re “really nice people”.

At the time, I kept pushing her invitations away because I was so busy working and submitting transcripts.  I just didn’t have time.  Fortunately or unfortunately, she was very persistent despite my rejections and kept inviting me to come out.  I promised her that once my transcript load had died down, I would come out and meet her friends.

It wasn’t until January 2014 that I found the time to do so.  (After all this, my friend liked to joke that I rejected her four times before I finally accepted her invitation.  It was funny at the time but I really was so tied up with work in December 2013.)  My friend — let’s call her “The Confidante” (TC) — and I had dinner at a Korean restaurant.  After dinner, one of her friends picked us up and drove us to meet the group of friends that The Confidante had initially invited me to meet.

Those of you who read my blog know that I like new experiences, adventures, and meeting new people.  At the time of 2013, I had been attending regular meet-up groups and participating in new outings for fun and leisure.  I like meeting new people.  Thus, it didn’t raise any suspicion in me when TC suggested that I meet her group of friends and that they were “nice people”.  I trusted TC and never thought she would lead me astray (thinking back, she herself was blinded and didn’t know much about what we were getting involved in).

I walked into the house and there were a lot of people around my age or younger there.  Everyone was very nice and friendly.  I didn’t know what was going on, but after a short while, we all sat down in a lecture-style formation facing a screen where a PowerPoint presentation commenced.  One by one, someone from the group got up to the front and spoke about a specific topic.  They were all very good speakers and I admired them for doing such good presentations.  It was like being in school again where it was like people were presenting speeches or something.

The main theme that they were discussing was that they were all preparing to go on a trip to Miami, Florida next month (February 2014).  I was very intrigued.  I love travelling and I was instantly lured in and curious about what these young individuals were doing and to travel to Miami for.

At the end of the presentation, one of the leaders that I came to know — let’s call him “Mr. Nice Guy” (NG) — set up a group Q & A session.  My intuition was very good.  I could tell that he set up that impromptu session because there was somebody new in the room (me) who he explicitly wanted to hear what was going on.  I don’t remember the exact questions that were asked, but they were the questions that a new person would ask about what they were involved in.  He randomly picked on certain individuals from the group to answer his questions and it helped me fill in some gaps about what I should know as a newcomer to the group.  It was considerate of him to do so and now I understand why this was done.  It left me even more curious and a little impressed at how much each person knew.  It also felt like a secret society that I wanted to be a part of because the vibe was so positive and friendly.

At the end of the night, I wasn’t introduced to NG but I was told by TC that he was “a year younger than us” and “already retired and didn’t have to work anymore”.  When I heard that, I was in shock and amazement.  “What?  But how?”  I continued talking to some other people that night including one guy who had started the program one month ago but he didn’t know much of the answers to my questions either.  It was all very appealing and made me very excited and curious to know more.. Especially that Miami trip!

When the friend drove TC and I home later that night, before I left the vehicle, he played us a video on his phone that showed us a compilation of “bucket list activities” that people like to do.  It really intrigued me because I was kind of “that person”.  I definitely had a list of things I wanted to do in this lifetime before I kicked the bucket.  I loved travelling, going on adventures, trying new things.  During the car ride too, that friend showed a lot of compassion and empathy by asking what my dreams were and what I wanted to do in the future.  This was something that you don’t usually talk about with regular friends and it was a topic that was intriguing and interesting.  He was genuinely nice.  I felt understood and like I had found a new good group of friends.

In the next couple of weeks, I met up with TC and another individual from that group, — let’s call him “Mr. Nice Guy 2” (NG2), and that was how the whole thing started.

Without knowing it or realizing it until much later, I had officially registered an account for myself in a network marketing company.

Like with many new ventures, when you first start something — especially something that is or seems to be very innovative and unknown — you are very, very excited.  Your enthusiasm is contagious because you feel like you are let in on a big secret.  I felt like I knew something that others didn’t.  I felt like I had figured life out.  Ironically enough, all of this boiled down to the fact that I knew very little about network marketing companies and the fact that I wasn’t 100% confident with my fresh new job.  There were a lot of factors that went into this and had I known more and had a more realistic expectation of my court reporting job as a newbie, perhaps I wouldn’t have gone into this without thinking it through.  But we’ll get more into this later.

When I first started this venture, NG, NG2, and TC were my confidants.  I didn’t know anything and I was “new”.  I was taught to “follow the partners who were successful who knew what they were doing”.  Unfortunately, TC had come down with a condition that led her to be very weak and thus she wasn’t able to come out to many of the events.  Through it all though, she was my #1 confidante (hence her pseudonym) and knew almost everything that happened to me because I confided in her all the time.  We talked on a daily basis on WhatsApp and I vented to her almost every day.  Very quickly, our friendship was based on this “business” as well.  But despite this closeness that we developed from embarking on this “business venture” together, she wasn’t there in person with me at the events.  Thus, I stuck with the only two people that I knew which were NG and NG2.  (These two were strangers to me at first and yet I placed my trust in them rather quickly because they were “edified” — spoken very highly of — to me by the team that they were “great leaders” — something important to take note of in my journey and why I trusted these guys so quickly and easily.)

At first, NG seemed to show a lot of compassion and care.  I appreciated that he came out to the small group meetings to teach me concepts about the business and I felt there was special attention placed towards me.  After a few meetings, I could tell that he was spending a lot more energy and time to teach me things about the “business” than he did with other partners.  I felt like he was placing extra effort on helping me succeed.  This strengthened my belief that I wanted to succeed too and I felt like I could do it.  NG2 was a solid leader as well but not as experienced as NG.  Thus, whenever I had questions to ask, I usually asked NG because he was the more experienced one and quick to resolve any questions that I had.  Over time, I contacted NG more and more and confided in him as a leader because I learned to trust his knowledge in the business.

The next month of February 2014 was when I attended my first “convention”.  I was incredibly excited.  I was travelling with so many “like-minded individuals” to a new brand city that I had never been to before — Miami!  We were travelling in the dead of Canadian winter to sunny Florida.  Who wouldn’t be excited and happy?  I was ready and happy to be part of it.

After the three days of convention, I came home riding on a cloud.  The energy, excitement, high feelings came home with me and I felt “bullet-proof” as they would say.  I was filled with HOPE.  I was filled with BELIEF.  All of a sudden, I was a “changed” person.  I was riding on a cloud and ready to tell anyone who wanted to know about this “life-changing opportunity” what I had found out.

It wasn’t long before I reached out to friends and acquaintances on Facebook and social media to “catch up” with them and see how they were doing.  Personally, I think I have a great rapport with the people that I knew in my life all along.  People trusted me.  They saw me as someone who was happy, optimistic, and someone who knew what she was doing.  Gradually, I met up with these people and tried to share with them what I found out in an attempt to either recommend them a product from the company or to “help” them if they were struggling in their current jobs, financial situations, etc.  I thought I “knew” that I had something that could help them out of their hole.  From this, I easily had a lot of meetups and conversations with people who I didn’t usually see or contacted much because I wanted to see if they would want to “join” the company too.  Over time, I started to neglect my own friends because I was too “busy” scheduling these appointments with the “prospects”.  If I wasn’t meeting up with new “prospects”, I was dedicating my Wednesday and Thursday weeknights to meet with the team.  Thus, I declined hanging out with friends and even some foodie events because I thought that this was something that would be worth my sacrifices in the future.  This became more and more pronounced over time.

In the May of 2014 — about three months after I had first registered my account — was when I started seeing my results snowball and the “fruits of my labour”.  I had signed up my first three partners to my team in two weeks’ time.  This jump-started the rest of the team to see substance in me and I felt like I was on top of the world because I was doing “it”.  I was really doing it.  I was “growing my team”!  I began acting as a “leader” and holding workshops and I was given more responsibility in the team to oversee the rest of the partners — I was invited into the leader chat on WhatsApp prematurely, I was asked to speak in “meeting after meetings” and “big events”, and I was seen as a “growing leader”.  I felt really good and I had great hopes in what I was doing.  Because of this, I started to let my court reporting job fall to the wayside.  I figured that if I succeeded in this business venture, I wouldn’t have to work anymore!  That was the pitched dream and perpetual goal that we were taught to embrace.  “Invest in the 2-3-year plan so you don’t have to work in the 45-year-plan”.  “Struggle now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.  I believed in this so much that I viewed normal jobs as “below” me.  I was fed so much into the hype that I really thought I could make it in the ‘2-3-year plan’ so I also could retire early and not work anymore…  Unfortunately, this kind of thinking came through in the way I talked and behaved, thus pushing some friends or acquaintances away from me.  They probably thought I was wack.  I saw less and less of my friends this way, ultimately growing apart.

I put a lot of care, time, and attention to my team.  These were not just teammates to me.  These were people I had brought into the team and who I thought were genuinely interested to building this future with me too.  I didn’t just sign up anyone for the sake of it — that would go against my beliefs.. although there were plenty leaders in the team who certainly did so just for the status and “achievement pins”.  The only reason that the people I brought into my team started the “business” was because they either truly wanted to start it or they really wanted to try it.  There were no twisted words or false promises to get them to start (at least that was the way I went about this recruiting game).

As my team grew, even if the partners were not personally “sponsored” by me, I messaged them.  I messaged them when they first started the business to welcome them, to try to start up a conversation, to get to know them because I genuinely believed that that was what you did to welcome someone new to a team and to build rapport.  If we were meant to be a “family”, of course I wanted to find out what they did for a living, their hobbies, and so on.  I wanted to connect with them.  I placed a lot of time and dedication towards this.

About a year into this, I was doing “well” okay.  I was making a cheque every month (enough to cover *barely* cover the money I had put into the monthly products I was required to buy) and things were looking up.. or so I thought.  I could tell that I was doing “better” than some people who had started the “business” before me.  I came to this observation because I was producing a team that stayed — had a higher retention rate than most — and was gradually growing its members.  We were taught to stay motivated and keep holding on no matter what because “nothing worth having comes easy” and various other motivational and inspirational messages.  Meanwhile, it was not uncommon to see other partners from the other teams fall out quickly and leave.  I didn’t see it for what it was at the time, but the turnover was indeed very high.

Just after the one-year mark, I achieved a specific “big leader” status.  This was not an easy “level” to reach for most distributors, never mind achieving it in less than a year.  In order to reach this level, you had to accumulate enough points for yourself and match two other partners in your team in the same week to successfully complete a “triple flush”.  I had help, but I did it.  Speaking of which, there had been a bad practice brewing in the team.  I didn’t realize it then, but it was not an ethical practice:

Bad practice:  Whenever I was close in points to “reaching the next cheque”, a leader messaged me and started up small talk.  He would tell me, “Hey, I see that you’re close to reaching your next cheque.  I want to help you.  I have an order for 200 points.  If you can help me place the order, you can fill in the rest of the points — about 50 points — and then you can reach the cheque.  Are you able to help me do that?”

In this situation, you feel special and obligated to take the “help”.  You take it because you see there are “free points” being offered to you.  And when you take the “help” and put in your portion, you also make a cheque!  It sounded like it made sense.  It made sense to me at the time, especially after the leader rationalized it too.  Thus, I did it.  I helped put in his order and put in an extra 50 points for myself of products so that I could reach the next level threshold of making a cheque.

The bad practice became ugly:  Very quickly, because the leader realized that I said yes and didn’t reject his “offer”, I was given more “opportunities” to be “helped”.  The next time this happened, the order became a value of 50 to 100 points, then 100 points, then 150 points, 200 points.  You get the idea.  It gradually became a lot more than what you would normally purchase.  At one point, I helped a leader put through an order for over 1,000 points which translated to over $1,000 in real money (luckily, I didn’t spend the $1,000 from my own pocket; I was simply helping place the order for the leader but you can get a sense of how much extra money they shell out for these things without thinking twice about it).  It was terrible.  I am not a dumb person, but in this case, I clearly wasn’t thinking.  I also started doing it to my team too because I thought it was the right thing to duplicate at the time. 😦  To be in my shoes at the time, it was also hard to really “think” when you felt like it became a routine and you did it without questioning.  You become overzealous.   Scenario: A leader asks me to help him with an order and I get free points from it?  No problem!  What order do you have?  Let me help you put it in for you! 🙂  You learn this habit.  You learn to say yes before the leader chooses to ask another partner to “help out” instead so that you can benefit from the points.  I became a robot.  I wasn’t thinking for myself.  Meanwhile, a stockpile of products had begun growing at home….

“You can learn to retail the extra products.”

“You want to make sure you have some inventory at home.”

“Try new products.  You have to use the products in order to know how to sell them.”

I mentioned that my team was growing.  Indeed, it was.  In a matter of a year and a half, a partner led to another partner which led to a team growing in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, and in also the city of Ajax, Ontario.  This was exciting at first because the concept of “one person leading to another” made sense.  The “business” was working!!

Due to this team expansion, the responsibilities grew.  As you grew as a “leader” in this “business”, your responsibilities grow.

On top of the “mandatory” weekly meetings that we had to attend, my weekly roster had now grown to something like this:

  • Monday:  Home presentations in Ajax
  • Tuesday:  Online Skype meetings with the Alberta team
  • Wednesday:  Home presentations in Markham
  • Thursday:  Small team or big team meetings
  • Friday:  Midnight phone call with the leaders which then transformed into a in-person meet-up in the evening hours to “check our online office” to help partners “make money”
  • Saturday:  “Big leader” breakfasts
  • Sunday:   “Get things done” Workshops.  “Leader” and “Big leader” meetings, each once a month
  • Occasional weekends:  Special speaker events that would take up the full weekend from 9-5 p.m.

I remember distinctly in June 2015 was when I was feeling extremely stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.  At that time, I had been in the business for a year and three months.  Up until that point, I had worked really hard to get my team up and running, to help the partners out, to participate in and prepare and host team meetings and presentations, and on top of that, to still continue “recruiting” — what an ugly word — and to sell products.  (This might be TMI, but I was so stressed during those months that my period stopped coming.  That duration of time was seriously something so stressful that induced a lot of anxiety for me that it was affecting my health mentally and physically.)

And finally, the introvert side of me had cracked.  Those of you might remember the post that I wrote about introversion in June 2015.  That was when I was at the end of my string.  I didn’t want to participate in these events and meetings anymore because I was losing myself.  I felt lost.  Who was I?  Why was I participating and running like a chicken with my head cut off every single day of the week (see crazy schedule above again) and not getting much to show for it?  Why was I neglecting my old friends and even my family for this?  What was the point?

(Following that schedule, I had no time for myself.  I had no extra time on my own to meet friends or even have a chill day at home.  Every single waking minute seemed to be devoted to the business and that was what we were taught to do in order to be “successful”.

It was no longer a “part-time business” as they claimed.  It was something that I was expected to invest all my time and energy in on a full-time basis.  I had something “business”-related to do every single night of the week.  How was this any better than working a full-time job?  The money I was making from the “business” wasn’t even real profit nor consistent and whatever I did make was funneled towards buying products or event tickets — something we were taught and encouraged to do.)

<Something else that alerted me to bad practices in the team had something to do with something called “transferring your shopping habits into an annuity”.  Since the business offered us many products that could replace household ones that we already use, we were encouraged and taught to use those company products in place of the generic ones.  Doing this would help us “fuel our economy” and eventually help us to grow a team and land the higher levels.  Something which really rubbed me the wrong way was whenever someone brought out an item that was not part of the company products, someone would say “that’s a negative product!” and verbally shame them for it.  A “positive” product would be a product that we already have in our company and thus we were encouraged to use those only — it brought you points and you could make some retail profit from it.

Thus, it became gradually more and more stressful and shameful whenever you are caught with an item that is not part of the company’s.  There was a lot of guilt-tripping happening in order to make you do what the company wanted you to do.  This was not something the company actively “taught”, but the idea was there and this was perpetuated by our Toronto team very strongly.  Perhaps I took this more seriously than others and I even did it myself to other partners when I was in blind-sheep mode, but over time, it became degrading and frustrating.  What is the point of life if we cannot use the products we want and buy them from the stores that we want to buy without making a business transaction out of every single thing?  The practice became even worse when I noticed that some of the leaders were trying to control how we were spending our money outside of the business.  Yes, it sounds ridiculous, right?  It was REALLY ridiculous.  Any adult in their right mind would have walked out of that situation right then and there but it took me some time before I mentally checked out of all this.  They wanted us to spend less money on things like eating out at a restaurant, going to concerts, doing anything “fun” because they wanted us to funnel more of our money back into the business — thus to create more points to generate “levels” and money for those at the top.  Anyway, all of this was piling up at the same time that I felt burnt out and overwhelmed with all of my never-ending responsibilities as a leader.  Things weren’t adding up and the inconsistencies were slowly boiling to the top.>

At the time, I needed to find myself again, so I informed NG and NG2 of my need to recharge and to cut back on the time spent in the business.  In their responses, I was told that I should prioritize my time and attend only the “important” events.  That answer I received was contradicting though because as a “leader”, every event is important because you are taught to “lead by example” and “wherever the team goes, you go”.  All these little subtle tactics make you feel guilty if you don’t attend the events because then you are “failing your team” and you need to be there to “lead by example”.  It was a lot of guilt I felt but ultimately my own mental health and my personal priorities were worth it.  Thus, I started doing my own things more and left the team in NG’s and NG2’s hands more.  I started not to care about being a “leader” anymore.

Starting in June 2015 was when I was starting to wake up.

The introvert had come out once more after letting the extrovert side dominate for a year and a half.  Slowly, I was back to resuming the things I used to do.  However, this didn’t happen overnight.  It still took me four months from June until December 2015 to start seeing things as they were.

In December 2015, NG asked me during a car ride if I wanted to go to Alberta to help out with the growing team during the winter holidays.  I was a sucker for travelling (still am) and I guess I always will be.  When I realized that we would be swinging by Banff as well during the trip, it was really hard to say no (read: winter trip in Banff!).  “Sure,” I said, “I’d love to”.  NG said something along the lines of we would book the flight tickets together for the end of December and I said that worked fine with me.

But soon it was approaching close to the end of December and we still hadn’t booked our flights yet.  I am a planner and I like to have my schedule set.  I had informed NG that I didn’t want to fly out on December 25 because I wanted to spend time with family on Christmas Day and that December 26 was fine for me to fly — since those were the two days we were considering to fly out.  I messaged him about a week or so before our intended departure and asked him when we would be purchasing the tickets.

There was no answer from him.  I went to bed that night.

When I woke up, I received an e-mail from our partner in Alberta.  She forwarded me the confirmed flight ticket itinerary from NG, saying that he had booked his ticket, and asked me when I’d be booking mine.

Excuse me…?!

NG had gone behind my back in the middle of the night to book his flight ticket without informing me or including me in the plans.

I felt betrayed, deceived, and like I had been stabbed in the back.

Is this what “friends” or “family” “teammates” do?  Is this how you treat people that you “care” about?

I messaged NG and confronted him.  I told him I was very disappointed in him because I thought we were travelling together.

He feigned apologies and said that once I booked mine, he would try to see if he could change his flight to the one I was on too.  I was doubtful of his reassurance and that was the first time that I lost complete trust in him — I had lost trust in him many times before in previous incidences and learned to overlook it each time because he was a “leader” in the team but this was the final straw — and the final time I ever took his words seriously again.

At that time, I had seriously contemplated not to go to Alberta anymore.  I didn’t want to fly alone.  The whole reason I wanted to go to Alberta was because I wanted to help out the team and sightsee as a bonus, but I didn’t want to travel on my own.  The first and last time I had ever flown on my own on a plane was because of a sudden family emergency twelve years ago.  When given the choice, I didn’t want to fly alone.  The main reason though was that I felt very betrayed.  I was upset to be treated like that and then to be given an insensitive dismissal of my frustrations.

In the end, because I had promised the Alberta team that I would be there to support them, I did book my ticket.  And what do you know, of course NG couldn’t and didn’t change his flight to be on the same as mine.  He had his own itinerary already planned and it didn’t include me.

I tried to make the best out of the seven days we all spent in Alberta together.  However, it was during this time that I saw even more ‘ugly’ sides of NG and it was confirmed to me that he wasn’t who I thought he was.  The truth was starting to come out.

Thus, once I arrived back home in Toronto in January 2016, I knew once and for all.  I knew I didn’t want to spend any more unnecessary time with this team, with this “business”.  I wanted my own life again.  I didn’t want to bring anyone new into the team anymore.  I was still energetic about supporting my team and did so, but I did so with less time put in as I did when I first started.  I did a lot of observing instead.

From January until June 2016, I found out even more things about the team, about the people who I thought were “good” and “helpful”.  It turns out that everything was a lie.  The business was not what I thought it was.  The people all had ulterior motives, especially those at the top.  It was all a game to them.  Most of the people weren’t even genuine or ‘good’/honest people.  (The ones that were actually good are still blinded and just follow without questioning.)  The hope and belief that the company had you desiring for a “financially free future” were all false.

After February and March 2016, I definitely no longer wanted to bring anyone else into the team and I was slowly fading away from the group.  I didn’t want anyone else to be a part of what I experienced and witnessed.  I cut down on all of the events, only attending the Thursday meetings and occasional weekend “trainings” to be there for my personal team for show.

There was so much wrong going on in the bigger team and I was finally woken up.

Writing this post, it is now the end of July 2016.  I am still healing.  I am still recovering from what has happened in the past two years.  I don’t attend any more meetings or associate with hardly anyone from the team.  At the end of this journey, I look back and I am left with many, many lessons.  Lessons about people, friendships, relationships, businesses, network marketing companies, and so much more in between.  I have never learned so much about people in these past six months than in all of my life.  It was and is a good life lesson.

I am not sure how long it will take me to fully recover and to grow back into the person I was before.  All of the consequences of making this business my whole focus and life really messed me up.  It negatively affected my work life, friendships, relationships, view of the working world, and much more in between.  It will be some time before I can be okay with myself again and heal.  I treat this entire journey as similar to breaking up from an ex.  They say it takes half the time of being in a relationship to fully get over the person.  I was in this business for two years and five months.  With that theory, it will take me at least a year and a bit to fully get over all of this.

I am so grateful for the opportunity, for the challenge, for the learning experiences.  I don’t regret anything.  I believe that everything that happens in this lifetime, to you and me, are all purposeful.  Everything happens for a reason.  I was meant to go through this.  I was meant to lose some friends.  I was meant to gain some friends.  I was meant to lose some money and to learn a great lesson in dealing with network marketing companies.

I have to say that I never, ever, ever thought in a million years that I’d be “one of those people”.  You always hear about people who get involved with these “things” and end up losing money and think “I’ll never be that person”.  But you know what?  I happen to be one of those people now.  I have a story to tell and if someone ever tells me about a network marketing company again, I’ll gladly shake my head and say no, thank you.  I will watch from afar because I am curious to see how far they will take the adventure.  I myself can’t believe I stuck in this for as long as I did.

I envy those who got out in less than a year’s time or a month’s time.  They obviously knew something that I didn’t know and/or had a support system that I didn’t have.


One thing that I noticed about the ‘big leaders’ in the team is that the majority of them are singletons (or at least without siblings they are close to) or come from a single-parent family or lack some kind of close support network.  Something tells me that if one was raised with close siblings or grounded two-parent families or a super close support network that is looking out for you, one would be alerted of the “dangers” of network marketing companies and be forbidden to join.  If a parent tells you something isn’t a good idea, it usually isn’t.  Why do we like to defy them so much?  Is it pride?  Ego?  Proving to our parents that we know something that they don’t?  Our parents have been alive on this planet so much longer than we have and have so much more experience and wisdom.  If they tell you something is not wise to partake in, 90% of the time, they are right.  I personally believe that if these big leaders had a better support network, they wouldn’t have continued this venture as far as they have so far.  These are my speculations and own theories.

Personally, if my dad were still alive, I am absolutely certain he would have alerted me to this and forbidden me to join such a group.  Unfortunately, because I only live with my mom and have no other siblings to confide in (and no other really close relatives), I decided on my own that this was a great idea for me to try.  My mom has heard of and know of network marketing companies but because she has always been very willing to let me do things I want to try that she didn’t object to me being a part of this.  She did warn me a little bit at the beginning about the difficulties of succeeding in a network marketing company but that of course fell on my deaf ears.

I hope this gives you a glimpse into what I experienced over these past two and so years.  It wasn’t easy and it sure isn’t easy easing back into a “normal” life.  It’s not easy regaining the trust of some of my friends and acquaintances again, at least the ones who felt the need to distance themselves from me during a time when I really didn’t know what I was doing and behaving like a blind sheep.  (I’m really sorry, friends and acquaintances.)  However, the life that I live now is more realistic.  I need to guard my finances better.  I need to re-evaluate the people I hang out with.  I need to shape my life into the one that is right for me.  I need to do the things that make me happy.

Thanks again for reading, everyone.  If you want to comment below, feel free to.  No negative comments, please.


With all that said, I am not implying that network marketing companies all fail.  It simply didn’t work for me.  I learned a lot in this experience and I came up with a few things that would have made my experience more favourable if I were to ever do it again (not that I would):

Tips for anyone thinking of joining a network marketing company:

  •  Don’t quit your day job.
    • You will need a lot of savings and capital to begin and fund your continuing expenses.  And believe me, the expenses will come… rain or shine.
  •  Don’t do business with friends or family.
    • Many relationships were ruined because of doing business with them.  Whether it was because people think you have “changed” or feel pressured buying products from you or attending events with you, I would advise to keep business and friends/family completely separate.
  •  Keep your passions alive no matter what.
    • Don’t forget why you are here on this earth.  Making money is important but don’t ever sacrifice what you love for it.
  •  Family first.
    • Don’t sacrifice your family or health over business.  It’s not worth it.

In between writing this post and normalizing my life again, I have found much solace in reading other people’s experiences in network marketing and comparing them to my own.  The similarities are not shocking at all.  Participation in a network marketing company and its ramifications, good or bad, seem universally the same.  Although I was not in the exact same network marketing company as the ones where these individuals comment from, I share the same sentiments that they do.

Here are a few excerpts of words that I agree with:

“MLM’s true constituency is not the consuming public but rather hopeful investors. …  The marketing thrust of MLM is accordingly directed to prospective distributors, rather than product promotions to purchasers.  Its true products are not long distance phone services, vitamin pills, health potions or skin lotions, but rather the investment propositions for distributorships, which are deceptively portrayed with images of high income, minimal time requirements, small capital investments and early success.” (Quoted from The 10 Big Lies of Multi-Level Marketing)

“…reports of consumers on a wide range MLMs, regardless of the product that the MLM sells, have an eerie similarity.  People report strange personality changes that come over their friends or family who joined MLMs.  The new recruits continuously repeat the same terms, words and ideas.  Many begin to dress differently.  Some quit jobs and drop out of school, which they now say is unnecessary.  They devote inordinate amount of time with other members of the MLM and avoid anyone else who does not support their MLM participation.  They accept no questions or criticism of the schemes and may accuse any questioner, even close family members, of being personally against their success or against the MLM system, which they believe is unique and superior to all other business models.  Most importantly, they express an unquestioning belief in soon-to-be-gained wealth and success.  They believe the MLM will make them not only wealthy but also happy and fulfilled.  In that state of belief, many MLMers lose interest in existing jobs, professions, education or any other talents or activities.  They appear obsessed, brain-washed.  Some will even divorce spouses who do not agree with their activity or neglect their children or their own health in pursuit of the promised “success.” ” (Quoted from The Cult of MLM)

Scary stuff^.  It’s incredibly fascinating and scary at the same time to know that one single idea of promised riches and an early retired lifestyle can cause someone to behave in a such a brainwashed manner.

Updating this post in November 2016:

Reading this all again, what a whirlwind of an adventure this was.  I’m happy to say that I have been regaining the trust and friendships of those I know and love again (losing some of my old friends was definitively the most regretful and worst thing that happened throughout the whole journey).  I now know who my real friends are and know that if a friendship can survive something like a network marketing brainwash, then it can probably survive anything in the world.  A close friend who I reconnected with again said to me, “Wow, what a 180 change!”  This was because I had changed so much as a person while I was a blind sheep, that coming out of it, she was delighted and pleasantly surprised to see that the old me was back.  I’m so glad too because I was never meant to be the person that I became during the two years of being in the network marketing company.  I’m back to who I am with a thrill for life and living honestly.

🙂 *phew

Thanks for reading, everyone!

[This post was published on December 23, 2016 — I needed the time to process it all before sharing to the public.. and to finally conclude it for myself once and for all in 2016.]


About stenoodie

I'm a stenographer, foodie, avid traveller, and new mom who loves to share her experiences with the world.
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36 Responses to My Network Marketing Journey

  1. Gordon says:

    definitely family and friends come first. I did something like this for a week and quickly left.

  2. Joyce says:

    This was a very honest and eye-opening account of your experience, Karen (and it is well-written to boot!). Well done!

    Merry, merry Christmas to you and your mom! I wish you all the best in 2017 and hope to see more of you in the new year. Cheers, dear!

    • stenoodie says:

      Thank you so much, Joyce!! ❤ Merry, merry Christmas to you as well and I hope to see you soon too! 🙂 I'm always down for a meal with you. Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Happy 2017 to you as well with all the best wishes!! ^_^

  3. gchan7127 says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, Karen. You sound so honest in your post. You’re so much better at expressing yourself through writing!! Haha. ❤

    Hmm I honestly don't know what to say. I still think you're an amazing individual and if anyone were to succeed in network marketing, it would be you.

    Basically, I feel like you have a lot of potential regardless of what you choose to do. I'm glad you're feeling much happier now and hopefully 2017 will be a great year for all of us.

    • stenoodie says:

      Grace, you still don’t “get” the point. This isn’t about me being a great individual or having potential or not. It’s about the underlying deceptive practices and actions used in luring someone into a network marketing company and taking advantage of their hopes and dreams…. this is NOT a good or ethical system to be a part of. I really hope you will understand it finally once and for all including all its negative ramifications in 2017. …

      • gchan7127 says:

        I do understand what you mean, but I think it really depends on the person. Some people genuinely believe they’re helping others by giving them this opportunity. Like you said in your post, the people you sponsored actually wanted to try it or do it. It wasn’t like you just recruited for no reason. I do not agree with the methods they used, but for some people, this actually works (along with a lot of sacrifices).

      • stenoodie says:

        I did it because I was blinded at the time, Grace. A lot of naive people like me of course will be interested in easy fast money when they are unhappy in their current situation…. like I was before. If I had known what I know now, I would never have reached out to those people to recruit them into this. Please read my post again. I don’t think you really get it still.

        Now I actually realize another reason why I lasted as long as I did. I had you as an enabler through all this. You gave me perpetual hope and belief..that I could do it even though you didn’t and still don’t know how harmful this company really is. Grace 😦

      • gchan7127 says:

        Karen, I’m not trying to say the company is not harmful. I’m saying it is possible to make residual income if someone is dedicated and hungry enough. The thing is… I understand the power of leverage. You know how I translate? There were a couple sites that tried recruiting me but I refused because I didn’t wanna make other ppl rich. But since they have so many ppl under them, in one day, the site can release more than 20 chapters. It would take me almost two months to do the same. The site can get 6 million views a month, whereas I might be able to get 600k a year. No matter how hard I work, I can’t beat a team.

        Therefore, if you are working in a team with ppl who have the same mindset and goals, you can definitely achieve a lot more than on your own. BUT it only works if the people wanna do it.

        I’m not trying to say what they did was/is ok.

  4. Karen, I applaud you for being so courageous and so honest about your experience with network marketing. I know a few people who are involved – heck, I was even approached once – and frankly, I had no idea what the ethics behind the business is before I read this. As you said in your post, everything happens for a reason. I hope you don’t regret the experience because, despite the challenges and the loss, I think ultimately it taught you many, many valuable lessons. Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to you and your mom. Cheers to more beautiful eating and travel adventures in 2017! 🙂

    • stenoodie says:

      Thank you so much for your comments, Pauline! Yes, I can’t say that I can regret this experience because it did indeed taught me so much and it was something that I will forever hold to my heart and can inform and teach others about. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and your family as well. I admire all of the travels that you are able to take and I can’t wait to keep seeing your photos and adventures online too! 🙂

  5. Karen, I applaud you for being so open and so honest with this post. I’m sure it took a lot of courage to press the Publish button.

    I know a few people who are involved with similar business – heck, I was even approached once – but I had no idea on the ethics behind their practice. Like you, I also believe with all my heart that everything happens for a reason, that no matter how hard or challenging a season is, there is always something to learn from it. It seems like you’ve discovered many, many valuable lessons from your time there.

    Being an introvert, I’ve also learned that healing yourself takes a long time and a lot of patience, so don’t be too harsh on yourself and always remember that sometimes it’s completely okay to be selfish and prioritize yourself before other people.

    Anyways, Merry Christmas and I wish you a very happy 2017, Karen. Cheers to more beautiful eating and traveling adventures!

    • stenoodie says:

      Thank you again, Pauline!! I guess you thought your first comment didn’t go through eh? Hehe. Thanks for re-posting your second one! ❤ I agree. Being selfish once in a while and prioritizing my own needs before other people is quite important. It is definitely a habit I need to take for myself more often. Thanks again, Pauline! To more eating and travelling adventures for the both of us in 2017 and beyond! ^_^

  6. Daphne says:

    Very well written! I’m so proud of you for getting through this. Onward and upward 🙂

  7. Angel says:

    Glad to see you back to your old self! Never feel bad for what you did. Without it, you wouldn’t have learned what you needed to learn and mature through this. I see this experience as better equipping you with the tools to make better judgement and decisions in the future. Thanks for sharing! Lots of love, Angel.

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  9. Herman says:

    Interesting read, thanks for sharing. Good to see that you had the courage to make a difficult decision that seems to be making you much happier now.

  10. helloteri says:

    This is a crazy adventure but it helps you grow right? I’m glad you made your decision to leave (even though you’ve been in it for 2.5 years), you “woke up” from the ideals they presented. But it’s definitely an eye-opener for me on these marketing companies… Thank you for sharing and I’m glad you’re happier now too! 🙂

    • stenoodie says:

      Oh yes, I still can’t believe on some days that I was in it for that long… it stretched 2.5 years officially from beginning to end but I guess by the two-year point I had already physically checked out of it. But still. Haha. Thank you for reading, Teri! I hope this educates you a little bit about these companies and if you know of friends or family who ever get involved, you might be able to persuade them about any ramifications! 🙂 Thanks again. I appreciate it!! ❤

      • helloteri says:

        I actually can’t believe I read the whole thing myself, hahaha!! It was intriguing, your writing skills make it so smooth to read – almost like you’re talking to me! Which I love! 🙂

        Definitely will give anyone I know a heads-up should they be experiencing this!

      • stenoodie says:

        Haha, aw, that is so sweet. Thank you, Teri!! 🙂 I can’t believe how long this post was either when I finished writing it but it was necessary to write everything out haha. 🙂

  11. Mike says:

    I’m glad to hear that you got out of it and am doing something now that you enjoy. The most important thing are the lessons you learn from your experiences. It was very brave of you to write this post and tell your story to the public. I’m sure many people can learn from your experiences as well. Take care.

    • stenoodie says:

      Thank you so much, Mike! I hope you’ve been well! 🙂 Really appreciate your message and I do certainly hope others can learn from my experiences as well.

  12. A great read and I think many who are considering network marketing or are still in it will thank you for sharing your experience in such detail, Karen. I read the whole thing and wished that we knew each other better so that I could’ve told you about my own experience in network marketing and advise you on it’s perils. But it sounds like there was a lot of learning that you got out of it and glad you eventually did get out of it and are back to your regular self and enjoying life once again.

    • stenoodie says:

      Thank you so much Jonathan for reading and commenting on the post. I agree. I think no matter what, I had to be the one to go through this journey and experience it for myself. I feel behind in my steno career because of stepping away from it for a bit to pursue this dream of being “finacially free” but the lessons I learned out of it were indeed valuable and something worthy to share with others. I would love to hear about your experiences in network marketing if we ever get the chance to have a chat about it. In the meantime, hope to see you soon at the next foodie event! 🙂

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  16. kalina says:

    Well, have you every think it through?
    It is not about whether is it a MLM/network marketing/government/private sectors/legal firm/logistics/factories/partnership, there are always people who will treat you “bad”. Quitting is your decision, you can always choose to win.

    • r/AntiMLM says:

      Except you can’t “win” in a MLM no matter what. The odds are set against you and statistically speaking, 99.5% of participants lose money. You have better odds of winning in a casino game of roulette, can you believe that?! And I also think that the experience of the author was horrifying. She managed to get out, yes, but she was still scammed out of her hard earned money, and worse, she was taken advantage of by people who saw her kindness and earnest desire to help. I think that’s what hurt the most to read. The moment where she realised her “leaders” saw her as a sucker and all her hard work was for naught.

      • kalina says:

        What about traditional business start-ups? or non-MLM start-ups? How are the founders doing? how many percentage of them quit and lose money and how much did they lose? why some of those entrepreneurs keep on trying to make their business work? and why most of them quit?

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