“One’s own thought is one’s world. What a person thinks is what he becomes.” – Maitri Upanishads

There's just no ignoring this guy.
There’s just no ignoring this guy.

In a given week, I field a TON of questions.  Most of which have to do with the day-to-day actions that have contributed to my — after a ripe, half-century-and-then-some on this big, beautiful blue marble — fantastic level of sustained health.

This isn’t me patting myself on the back.  ANYONE can do what I do (and what I have done) to facilitate great health.  There’s no magic to what I do, and I’m happy to share what insight I have.  The truth of the matter is that my “health success” all boils down to a simple persistence and consistency in 4 basic truths (or, pillars).

These 4 pillars are established in support of 1 particular quality (the physical quality) represented in the 6 qualities (or spheres) of my on-going personal development.  My friend and ID Life CEO Logan Stout would point to continuing personal development and “right actions” in the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, relational and financial areas of life. The result of consistency and persistence in developing, to the fullest extent, these qualities?  Inching ever closer to mastering YOU.  In other words, mastering these 6 qualities leads to the FREEDOM required for you to dictate your life’s trajectory.  Which, for me, is the ultimate end goal.  My North Star, as it were.

Really; getting to FREEDOM is as easy (and difficult) as that.

And by the way, the “action plan” for bettering the physical quality?  Look no further than the Five Ts.  I’m not an expert in the other 5 qualities,  which is why I surround myself with experts in those qualities (i.e., know thyself).  But I do know the physical realm.  I’d dare say I’m as close as anyone to mastering it.

Note: a little 4th of July serendipity.  Prior to delving into the final edits for this piece (during my morning email scrub), I came across the following clip from Darren Hardy.  I’ve seen Darren a few times in person (thanks to ID Life’s commitment to personal development), and have even had the opportunity to chat at length with him.  A very cool (and driven) guy who walks the walk, i.e., truly practices what he preaches.  Anyway, check out what he has to say about Freedom:

Also (and as Darren states in this clip), understand that identifying and acknowledging fear is a HUGE step toward attaining freedom.  More on that in my piece, Inviting Your Worst Fears to Meet You for a Cup of Coffee.

But then…

… I field a ton of those questions.  And by “those”, I mean the “I can’t believe you’re involved in a Ponzi scheme” line of questioning.

Which is cool; I dig healthy skepticism.  And I’m also down with the Epistemocratic notion of “holding one’s own knowledge and belief in greatest suspicion”.   So let me explain my take on MLMs, Direct Sales and/or Network Marketing (all synonymous terms). Because there is much confusion in the general public about what exactly these entities are.

Product is King

Here’s the bottom line: if the product is suspect, it’s a crappy product.  And the best, most well-intended business and marketing plan cannot compensate for that fact; no amount of makeup can purty-up the pig.  So from the get-go we need to differentiate between the product and how that product is taken to market.  I like to remind those who get their panties in a twist over MLMs, that the Chia Pet, Marlboros, the (explosive!) Ford Pinto, pharmaceuticals and military weaponry is marketed and sold using “traditional”  manufacturer-to-consumer methods.  In the end, YOU, as the consumer, has all the control.  YOU determine how and where your money is spent.  Voting with your dollars; in a capitalistic society, this is the most direct form of democracy there is.

It’s a Ponzi Scheme!

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear this.  Truly, it reminds me of the “low fat / heart-healthy grains / cardio for fitness” ass-hattedness that has landed the US in 34th place for longevity (but #1 in total medical expenditures!).  Folks, the definition of a Ponzi Scheme includes the fact that there is no product to be sold.  Not that there is a shitty product being sold; there is no product — none whatsoever — being sold.  A Ponzi Scheme is truly Bernie Madoff-style, smoke-and-mirrors game.  And yes, you will lose your ass in such a scheme.

So there’s that.  But let’s get beyond semantics to the root of what people *really* mean when they blurt “Ponzi Scheme!”; the get rich quick, bait & switch thing.  Because we all know that MLMs, Network Marketing and Direct Sales are *really* code words for GET RICH QUICK!!!  (with no work, of course).  Because “sign up now, and the dollahs will rain upon you!!”

Please.

Let me first step back and approach this question from the point-of-view of Keith the entrepreneur: the absolute last person I want on my team is someone with a get-rich-quick mindset.  In fact, if I even get even a whiff of this mindset I will turn said person away.  I refuse to associate with that way of thinking.  This type of personality will (a) bitch continually, (b) make excuse after excuse as to why their performance sucks-ass, and (c) never put in the requisite grind to realize even a modest return.   I deal in next-level personal development and people; these types deal in handouts and/or entitlement.  Neither of which I have time for.  I’ve got a world to change, and I can’t do it with an army that has to be dragged from the front and prodded from behind. Nor can I continually recharge the soul-sucking energy drain that this type personality inflicts.  I can at the same time love a person, yet want nothing to do with them in a business sense.  To these types I say “I love you and wish the best for you.  But I will never engage in business with you.”

Toward that end, I do know all of the top income earners at ID Life; quite a few of them intimately.  Hell, Meesus TTP is one of them. You want a single defining characteristic common to them all? Work ethic.  They’re about that #grind. They bust their friggin’ asses, day in and day out.  And they’ve spent YEARS building, maintaining and nurturing networks.  And that work never ends.  Does it take a special skillset?  You bet. It takes confidence built from belief in the product.  Is this a “10,000 hours thing“?  Just do your time, and you’ll be a maestro, just like the top income earners?  No.  But it’s much like sprinting.  With the right coaching and (here are those key words again) consistency and persistence, everyone can get a hell of a lot better than they are now.

But his is no different than what’s required of any other entrepreneurial effort.  Or craft, or skillset.  You want “overnight success”?  It follows a decade of grind. If it comes at all

Uhhhh… I meant, “pyramid scheme”!

Do me a favor: pull the org chart of the company you work for now.  What shape comes to mind when tracing the path between you and your peers and the CEO?  Now, here’s the thing: in a traditional company organization, it’s next to impossible for an underling to blow past his “superior”, and his “superior’s superior” (and on and on) in terms of pay and compensation.  But it happens all the time in Network Marketing.  Want to talk “pyramid scheme” with no easy escape?  Just look at traditional business.  In Network Marketing you are compensated on one single factor: performance.  Your performance and that of your team.  In fact, it’s the perfect Libertarian work arrangement.  Creed, color, background, sexual orientation, education — none of that matters.  What does matter?  Performance; that’s it.

Which, quite simply put, scares the shit out of non-entrepreneurial types.  Darren Hardy’s clip above says it all.

The company has to be solid, and align with YOUR core values…

Again, just as in any other “traditional” business, the underpinnings of the MLM must be solid — both financially and from a corporate values standpoint.  As with the product side of things, you’ve got to dig, and do your due diligence.  Are there crappy MLMs out there?  Absolutely.  And they usually peddle crappy products, to boot.  With a little digging, you can root these problems out.

Personally, I will not align with any company (be it MLM or traditional) that is not in the game to change the world in some significant way.  Even if the product were great (but not a potential world-changer).  I am not interested in the next whamodyne mop or frying pan — no matter how good the product or business supporting it.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with chasing that dream.  It’s just not me.  I’m not here to play small.  I am here to leave a dent in the universe.

Why would a company with a great product go to market as an MLM?

Again, this simply comes down to business.  And specifically, marketing.

Think for just a minute how incredibly difficult it is for a company/product to grab market share attention with traditional advertising.   This isn’t the 3-channel TV / one bad-ass hometown radio station, 1970s any more.  Even the most widely watched event of the year (in American terms), the Super Bowl, only grabs the attention of a sliver of the population with discretionary income.  And does anyone even listen to the radio any more?  Good luck reaching a wide swath of the buying public now days via traditional marketing avenues.  The buying public is now, in a word, fractured down to the individual level.  Even within the same household.

Today, buying habits are predicated on one single factor more than any other: recommendations from your friends.

Think about how you found out about, and were prompted to try for the first time, Uber.  AirBnB.  The last movie you saw; the last restaurant you tried or your last vacation destination.

To the extent that Direct Sales / Network Marketing / MLMs work is that they have monetized the act of what humans do quite naturally.  That is, tell their friends, family and acquaintances what they like, and what has worked for them.

Referral programs and the (now ubiquitous) affiliate programs are essentially MLM-lite schemes.  Just much less lucrative for the person doing the referring.

From purely a business point of view, you can either spend half your profits on advertising the traditional way, or paying out half your profits via MLM comp plans to the sales force.  It truly comes down to potential return on marketing investment.  Some products and services lend themselves to “traditional” enterprise (Efficient Exercise, for example).  For others (ID Life for example), the ROI is obviously in favor of the MLM trajectory.

Marketing is Manipulation.  Manipulation is evil.  You’re going to hell.

There are certain positions that are not worth arguing, and this is one of them.  “Marketing”, writ large, is quite simply the method by which you are made aware of an offering.  A catchy produce display at the farmer’s market?  Marketing.  Hell, the farmer’s even being at the farmer’s market to begin with is marketing in its most basic form.

Again, the product, and the method by which that product is brought to market, are two very distinct things.  That we all know of questionable products that have, due to genius marketing methodologies, resulted in unworldly sales and profits.  I mean really, folks?  You bought into the whole Six Pack Abs concept?

On the other side of the coin is the fantastic idea that will never reach the public light of day.  I can’t tell you how many ideas I have seen wither and die because the person with idea is a “purist” and believes the strength of said idea alone will penetrate public consciousness, without the aforementioned marketing “manipulation”.  These ideas are DOA before they ever get off the ground, and it pains me to see that.  Not only is this an obvious loss to the “idea generator”, but it’s genuinely a loss to the public who is denied access to an idea/product that could have been life altering.

To blame marketing for the success of questionable products is to blame the weatherman for the raining on your parade.  Again, YOU have the ultimate say as to how you spend your money.  And in my mind — and ultimately why I am a fan of the MLM model — is the fact that your network of friends and their collective recommendation is the first step toward product due diligence.

 

Heal thyself.  Harden Thyself. Change the world — 

Keith

 

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