These comments follow the Open Meeting held on September 14, 1998. The speaker's statements are in dark blue, followed by the corresponding comment/ critique.
An interesting point about this meeting is the fact that the speaker never asks the audience about their "dreams." Instead, he jumps into a long description about the Czech Republic and fancy, expensive houses. I had always believed the "dream" portion of the plan was the most important- it gives people their "why" (the reason they want to join/ build the business). What if no-one cares about traveling? What if a person only wants some extra money, not a brand-new house? How is a person supposed to "relate" to the business if the "dream" is too big? Yes, distributors need to "Dream Big!" but if they're not even Direct distributors, aren't these things just a little too far out of their reach?
"By the way, I'm gonna take about 45 minutes to do this, so if you gotta be somewhere, you can count on that."
Not even 2 minutes into the speech, the speaker makes his first false claim- saying that he'll show the plan in 45 minutes. As usual, the meeting lasts from 8:10 to 9:20, a full 1 hour and 10 minutes. This is close to twice the length of the "45 minutes" claimed by the speaker. Sure, this may not seem like a big deal, but it is one more false statement made by the speaker.
"But, I wanna just kinda read some headlines to you."
Aren't most groups taught that distributors should NOT collect newspaper clippings to be shown at plans? If one person starts doing this, it will "duplicate" throughout the group- upline, downline, and probably crossline. Before too long, all the distributors will be scanning the newspaper looking for articles to clip, taking time from building their business. It will then turn into a game of "one-upmanship"- each distributor has to get better articles than the others. This is not what the uplines consider a constructive use of time. At least, this is now my uplines explained it to me.
"Because only, only man could invent something that would interrupt the only time during the day when he's happy."
So, then, is the speaker really implying that the only time people are happy are when they're asleep? What about other times, like play? People aren't happy then?
"And ah, they did a survey, they were talking to people, and you know what they found out?"
"Listen to this, surveys show that 3 in 10 people save less than $10,000."
Who did these surveys? The speaker never mentions any of the sources that he quotes from, nor does he mention how old the information might be. How can people "get all the information" if they can't read the entire article the speaker quotes from?
"They know two words. They know, "Fired up."
This is a reference to the phrase commonly chanted at meetings- the speaker leads the group to chant, "Fired up! Fired up!" This is supposed to make the audience more excited about the Amway business. I find it rather sad that these are only English words the Czech people can speak.
"I don't believe, you know, and it's funny because I, I think that the same guy who invented the alarm clock invented the work day."
And this statement is nothing more than another reason for the audience to become dissatisfied with their job.
"Nearly half of all Americans, 46%, have less than $10,000, and 15% have no savings at all."
And this quote from a "survey" is nothing more than a statement designed to scare people into "looking at other ways of making money," or doing the Amway business. Again, though, what is the source of this quote?
"Now, when I say 2 to 5 years to financial freedom, some of you have been in business with us for a while, more than 2 years, and you're saying, "Well, wait a minute, I've been in this for 2 years and I'm not financially free. What's this guy talking about?" Well, let me tell you where it comes from. 2 to 5 years to financial freedom for the first, an itch, you have to do is, you have to have a "BUD."
"In 26 months from the, from the time that he made the decision that he was gonna build this business, after 17 years, 26 months, he was financially free."
In these statements, he further perpetuates the myth that "if you aren't getting anywhere in the business, it's your fault- not the business's." I'm sure many people have found their "BUD," but have also discovered how difficult it is to build an Amway business. It's not the individual person's fault, though. Like any other business, some people will be suited to the Amway business, some people won't be. Instead of stringing people along saying they will be successful if they only "make the decision", the people who don't have the ability to build the Amway business should be free to leave (and not be called "quitters"). If you weren't very good at your "9 to 5" job, how long would it be until you found a new one? Why should people be pressured to stay in Amway if they aren't making any money and probably never will?
"Because, how many opportunities come along in your lifetime that could give you financial freedom in 2 to 5 years?"
Is the Amway business really a once-in-a-lifetime business, as the speaker implies? Not at all. In fact there are a number of Diamonds who are "retreads"- people who quit once or twice, but rejoined the business. Also, there are plenty of other business opportunities (both traditional and MLM) for people, if they do a little investigation.
"You know, I remember 1998. But all of a sudden, I made this thing urgent. And my life changed."
Some critics would say that distributors had better "[make] this thing urgent" in 1998. After all (the critics claim) the Amway Corporation may not be in business, or be radically changed in the near future. Some signs that point to this claim include: layoffs of Amway employees, the switch from using distributors to retail stores in China, the falling stock prices of Amway Asia and Amway Japan, the decline in distributorship renewals, and the increasing number of damaging lawsuits which allege fraud, negligence, and criminal activity by distributors.
"I'm not gonna show you those, but I'm wearing Fruit of the Loom, no, I'm wearing Jockey tonight."
Am I the only one who thinks this is TOO much personal information he is sharing with the audience?
"I said, "Let's pull up 'www.alaska.com' and see what happens." Here's what we got: 1,200 sites."
His complete ignorance of the Internet is almost scary considering that Amway is preparing to allow distributors to sell products and sponsor people via the Internet. He should know that if he types 'www.-.com', he will only get ONE site, not hundreds. If he was using a search engine, looking for sites that mentioned 'alaska', he would get more sites, but not if he types 'www.alaska.com'. I can't understand why he makes this statement to the audience.
"Which means, if you're spending $200 on stuff, you get 100 points."
As is normal for an Open Meeting, the speaker fails to mention that the "$200 on stuff" is actually BV, not actual spending. And, again, the actual cost of the $200BV is somewhere between $175.00 and $450.00 per month (distributor price).
"Now, the best thing about it is, you don't even have to understand all this."
So, then, is the speaker actually encouraging people to remain ignorant about the bonus calculations? Or is this preparing people for the later parts of the business- when uplines dictate how much tools bonus their downlines will receive, expecting no "spot-checking" from the downline.
"Do I have to know how to sell?" Yes, every morning you have to get up in the mirror, you have to look in the mirror and say, "Buddy, from now on, you buy everything from me." How many of you think you can make that sale? Now, if you're not sure, we have some tapes and books that you can listen to that will teach you how to make that sale. Cause that's all you have to do- you have to buy stuff from yourself."
And this is the sum total of the all the selling a distributor has to do, according to the speaker. He makes absolutely NO mention of the 10-customer rule mandated by the FTC. If selling products was such a big part of the FTC's 1979 ruling, and if distributors are taught that they don't need to sell, how long does it take for the business to become an illegal pyramid?
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, let's just say you share it with 6 people. How people think you might know 6 people? How many people think that between now and rest of your life you might meet 6 people? So, this is the idea. What are we gonna do? We're gonna share it with 6 people."
The speaker makes the business sound "simple"- just share the idea with people. What about the details? After you "share the idea," you have to sponsor the 6 people, and they, in turn, have to sponsor other people. You have to continually motivate them to keep building the business. Why doesn't the speaker mention this? Make he doesn't want to mention this to the "new people" in the audience? No, that's not it- after all, a vast majority of the audience are existing distributors.
"So, now, you're gonna make, oh, about $150.00 a month in profit."
The profit that the speaker talks about is slightly inaccurate. If you follow his calculations, a distributor will only make $120.00 by sponsoring 6 people. But, if you add in the "30% savings," then the distributor will make $150.00. But, the speaker makes NO mention of this savings. This doesn't seem like something an Emerald would forget to mention!
"You do it the first year, you're gonna get a $7,500 bonus, and then if you do it 12 months out of 12, you're gonna get at least a $10,000 bonus."
In this statement, the speaker refers to the bonus called the Q-12. A distributor receives this bonus if he has been a Profit Sharing Direct (PSD) for 12 out 12 consecutive months... in Amway's fiscal year. But, if a distributor is a PSD for any other 12 consecutive months, he would NOT receive the bonus. Also, a distributor has to maintain the level of PSD to even qualify for the Q-12 bonus.
"And the first 3 weeks we were in the business, we had 75 people come to our house. Now, why do you think 75 people showed up?"
In the first sentence, he implies that since he got 75 people to show up, you too can get 75 people in your house. Any how did you get that many people to come over? Well, chances are good that he already had a high level of credibility in his profession. What about the "average" person who may not know as many people or who may not have his level of credibility?
"...to where he's making $50,000 a year, our consolidating corporation will pay us 4%, they pay us, not from his profits, but from their profits on what he did."
Using the speaker's own logic: a distributor will receive the 4% bonus when one of his downline receives the $50,000 bonus. But the 4% bonus is awarded to a distributor only when his downline hits 7,500PV AND has sustained that level for 12 out 12 months in Amway's fiscal year. The amount of money each distributor received is irrelevant- Amway calculates bonus payments based only PV. Doesn't sound as easy to make those large bonuses this way, does it?
"I remember saying to my wife, I said, 'What if this works and we don't do it?'"
And this statement is nothing more than another scare tactic which plays on people's fears that they may be passing up something great.
"In fact, we didn't have to turn this, we didn't, our corporation, by the way, is the Amway Corporation."
It is now 9:10pm, about 1 hour into the plan and he only now mentions the name "Amway." Again I ask, why does he wait so long to mention this? Is he afraid people will "get the wrong impression" about the "opportunity?" I don't know why he would be afraid- after all, a vast majority of the audience are current distributors.
"It did $7 billion worth in business."
Here, the speaker is vague about the $7 billion figure, which actually refers to Amway's estimated retail sales for the 1996/1997 fiscal year- does he refer to retail sales, revenues, or profits? The speaker never explains this. Also, he doesn't know this at the time, but the following month Amway would announce its 1997/1998 fiscal year information. Their estimated retail sales were reported to be $5.7 billion.
Click here to see Amway's official announcement about its 1997/1998 sales figures.
"They did a survey, this is what they found out- they found out there were 700,000 people in the United States today that would get in the Amway business if somebody would ask them."
First: what is this "survey" and who conducted it? Amway? An independent company?
Second: as with most surveys, this one probably projects the "700,000 people." From the people who were surveyed, X% answered that they WOULD join the Amway business, if asked. And, in turn, this is projected onto the United States population- resulting in the 700,000 number. But, without verifiable, conclusive evidence to support this "survey," is it believable? I agree that you can't really ask the speaker for proof, while in the middle of an Open, but I have NEVER heard this claim before... in ANY meeting I have attended.
"But, think about it- there are 700,000 people that would just, that would sign up tomorrow if somebody would just ask them."
And this statement serves to raise distributors' hopes that they can be ones to find and sponsor these "700,000 people." According to the U.S. Census Bureau's U.S. Population Estimate (as of 7/4/99), there are over 272,907,944 people in the United States. Let's do the math: out of over 272 million people, there are 700,000 that "would get in the Amway business if somebody would ask them." This equates to approximately 1/4th of 1% (0.26%) of the U.S. population. These don't sound like good odds to me, but who knows, maybe the distributor will get lucky and find one of these people... assuming the speaker's figures are even accurate.
"What's gonna happen in the next ten years? What if [the stock market] keeps going down? What if it doesn't do, what historically, it's always, it's always done?"
Here is, yet again, is another scare tactic. This statement is based on the current declining stock market performance (starting in August, 1998). People who invested for the short-term will probably lose money, but people who are in for the long-term will probably still make money. The speaker is only voicing people's concerns that they could lose their life savings in the stock market.
"If you're counting on what most people are counting on, which was selling your house when you got, when you turned 65, and buying a condo somewhere on the beach, and taking all that profit and putting it in the bank and living on it, it may not be there."
And here again is another scare tactic. This time, he plays on people's fears that they may not be able to sell their house- what could possibly be a long-term investment for some people.
"How many people did we find? 3. How difficult was that? I don't know, we found 'em in the first 6 weeks we were in the business. The first 6 weeks! The 3 people that we got it, went direct, got in the business, in the first 6 weeks."
Let me see if I follow what he is trying to say. He sponsored 3 people who went Direct in the first 6 weeks he was in the business? If the 3 people went Direct that quickly, why did it take him 2 and 1/2 years to be "financially free," like he said earlier? And, also, earlier he said he only built the business "One night a week, for the first 5 or 6 months [he was] involved in the business." Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how you can sponsor and then help 3 Direct Distributors in your group only "work[ing] the business" 1 or 2 nights a week! And, if it was so easy to find 3 people that quickly, why hasn't he found 3 more?
"I believe this- I believe that, when the, with the organization that we have, with guys like Angelo and Sue D'Amico, Jim and Barbara Hayes, Rick and Sue Lynn Setzer, Dexter and Birdie Yager."
At this point in the meeting, the speaker flips through the "Profiles of Success" to show the audience. Now, it can be argued that he did not actually say that any of the Diamonds in the book made their income from anyplace in particular. But the very act of showing the "Profiles of Success" during a "recruiting" meeting is against Amway's Rules of Conduct. (Click this link to find out why.) Doesn't an Emerald-level distributor know this?
"You, you know what's amazing about this business? It's totally predictable."
Here is a statement that I completely agree with- the Amway business is totally predictable. After all, Amway has been in business for 40 years- certainly long enough for them to develop statistics such as that fact that only 41% of all distributors are considered 'active', only about 2% of those distributors qualify for Direct bonuses, etc. And this information is published for all to see in the SA-4400.
"What if the next 10 people you talk to absolutely were gonna get in? Absolutely they would. What if they were on that list of 700,000, looking for an opportunity? What if they were gonna get in and all they needed was for somebody to ask them, waiting for you to ask them?"
Here is yet again another statement which plays on people's fears: what if people don't join the business but they could have just sponsored 10 people (and who will, in turn, build the business)?
"I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen?"
What's the worst thing that could happen, he asks? Should the list be alphabetically or in order of importance? All joking aside, though, there are many, many horror stories about people's experiences- stories about what happened while they were business or while they trying to quit. But, to answer his question (as rhetorical as it may be): there is a strong possibility that a person could become severely depressed or suicidal when he realizes that his much-loved and much-trusted upline had used, lied, and betrayed him.