Tuesday, November 08, 2016

This video popped up on the "trending" section of my Facebook home page. John Oliver is always a good time and I was interested in learning more about these toxic pyramid schemes (emphasis on scheme). It is a thirty minute video, but it's a crack up and it might just save you from some very bad decisions.

Here is a link from Investopedia that also helps define a pyramid scheme. (AKA Multilevel Marketing)

Essentially: "A pyramid scheme is a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products or services." Thanks Wikipedia! 

I don't want to sum up the video, so I encourage you to watch it. One thing that is no secret, is the point that John begins at minute 19:23. In the last few years Latinxs have, unfortunately, greatly contributed to Herbalife's success and billion sized profits. Latinxs make up 60% of all recruited distributors, and only 11% of Herbalife's distributors actually see any profit. Many have been conned, and have fallen victim to debts as great as 10,000 to 30,000 dollars just to maintain their businesses. I am speaking directly on the Latinx experience as it feels that products like Herbalife are almost ingrained into our culture. We all know Herbalife, MaryKay, Avon and how they work. I am sure every Latinx has been invited to or known someone who has held a MaryKay party or an Herbalife demonstration. We see the cars in the church parking lot with these companies logos tagged on their windshield or the odd fully customized car every now and again. It's sad to see people break and strain relationships over the facade of "owning their own business" and "working for themselves". It's sad to see vulnerable immigrant latinxs preyed on because they might be less knowledgable and less likely to speak out on the injustice. It's sad to hear that 60 hour a week working, working class people are thousands in debts in their attempt to reach the American Dream.

I was on Facebook one day and a young woman that was part of a weekly group I attended messaged me out of the blue with a basic how are you, how you've been message. I was a little caught off guard and my first thought was. . . is she inviting me to a pyramid scheme meeting? And after I replied, she replied with something along the lines of "Are you interested in getting a free facial from MaryKay" and let me tell you, I cracked up at the irony. I asked her how it worked and she said that she won coupons from a contest at a festival she attended. She thought it was legit, and didn't make it seem otherwise. I thought "oh, that sounds legit."  Boy was I wrong. I was able to invite my BFF because of an extra ticket, we picked her up and were on our jolly way. We came to this building that DID NOT look like a spa at all. . . omg. So we go in and right at the entrance there is a table with a sign up sheet and were like um, is this where you get a facial? & yes, it was. So we go in and there are tables lined up. And I'm like oh f*** it's a gotdang pyramid scheme meeting. So we sit at the seats we are directed (meanwhile I am trying my hardest to stop shaking from the laughter), and we kind of just looking at each other like WTF. There was another "I'm here for a facial" woman apart from us, and before us were small bowls and MaryKay products and we're like okay. Turns out we would be the ones to give ourselves facials. . . on half our face. . . and trying every product under the sun in the next three hours. But before that, every MaryKay distributor present went around saying any accomplishments they had made since their last meeting while we wiggled our plastic clappers in the air. Omg, I'm crying tears from laughing. We eventually split the room, while the current distributors held their meeting, we tried on the products. We ended the meeting, again three hours later, by standing and reciting "words of empowerment" and doing some sort of eccentric sounds or motions that for the life of me I cannot recall at the moment. Oh, and we got points for every interaction we made, which we could redeem at the end for prizes. I have to admit, the woman who managed the entire seminar, and guided us through our facials *cough* "facials" was very charismatic. It was no surprise that several of the women there were probably recruited by her, she was so close to getting her "MaryKay pink" Cadillac that was "totally free", and I even witnessed her drive off in her "lipstick red" . . . . Ford? Sorry to the friends that I listed for her to send a text. I was pressured!! At least it was only one. I was still getting those damn emails until last month. I tried to unsubscribe but not surprising at all their unsubscribe button was always inactive, but I think I finally got it. Overall, it was fun, for all the cringe-y reasons, and definitely a memorable experience. By the end of the night we were all starving, so our friend invited us into her home to enjoy a delicious home cooked Indian meal, that OMG was delicious. So worth the MaryKay experience. 😉

But one last thing, to trick people into going to your pyramid scheme meetings under false pretenses is just ridiculous to me. I'm no saint, but really I wouldn't be able to show my face. Maybe they feel better by lying to themselves saying "well, they are putting stuff on their face." The only good thing, I guess, was that there was no pressure to join as a distributor or make a purchase.

I'd like to finish off by saying that at minute 4:03 (on the first video above), CEO of MarketAmerica, JR Ridinger's big intro reminded me of The Boss Michelle Darnell's (Melissa McCarthy) big intro. Below is the best video I could find on it, it's a behind the scenes but you get the idea. 


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