Why Our Friends Keep Joining Pyramid Schemes and Why the Channel Itself is Exploding Rather than Self-Imploding - jessdennis.com


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What to do when you find yourself presented with an opportunity you thought you’d flat-out reject but instead you find yourself curious.

If you’re here it’s likely because your friend Sam, or your colleague Melissa or your great aunt Sue invited you to take a look at her network marketing business. (groan) It happens to the best of us. Those who’ve had lots of invites, and maybe that’s you, have a library of responses to brush them off, try to keep the peace and make things as least uncomfortable as possible. But what if what they’re talking about actually resonates with you and you find yourself (dare I say) interested? Gulp

Maybe it was the product claims or before and afters that captured your attention, or the success stories or (most likely) your friend’s reputation. I mean, you never thought that out of all your friends, this would be the one talking to you about one of these pyramid scheme companies. But here you are, and the weirdest part is she got your wheels spinning.

But you never…and I mean NEVER saw yourself in this industry, schlepping products to friends and family, hosting super awkward “parties” in your living room while sipping wine praying people just buy and go home! Amiright?

That was me back in 2012 when I learned about my first network marketing company. Making the decision to join the company was just about as sophisticated as plucking petals from a flower repeating “I do this” with one pluck of a petal followed by “I don’t do this” with the pluck of the next. Only to land on “I do this” and that was that. Ok that’s not quite how it went down but pretty close. You can say it wasn’t an overly thoughtful process.

So, what happens when you find yourself in this situation like I did? How do you sort through the turmoil of emotions, misconceptions and information? What do you do when you suddenly find yourself contemplating a business opportunity you never saw coming or ever even wanted? I’ve been there and I’m hoping I can shed some light on how to make a decision about whether or not to join the industry.

The first thing you’ve likely already encountered and what most go through when presented with an opportunity is a whiplash of our own misconceptions, misguided information and deeply held crap. Here’s how to identify the deeply held crap…you’ll think to yourself “I would NEVER do this!” “Am I that desperate?” “Why would I even consider doing this?” “I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl!” “Ohmygoodness have I lost my ever-loving mind???” When you’re thinking thoughts like any one of these, you’ve got crap. There’s a whole host of beliefs we’ve all picked up from somewhere or someone that’s rooted itself deeply in our psyche.

I had crap and here’s what it sounded like for me… ”What will people think of me if I do this?” “If I actually do this, I have to be SUPER successful because what does it say about me if I fail in network marketing?” “Isn’t this industry for people who can’t hack it in the real world?” “If I actually do this, I’m not telling anyone.” That y’all is crap with a healthy helping of ego on the side. So, here’s what I did to start questioning these deeply held beliefs.

First, I asked the questions of myself. I brought these beliefs and questions into the light of day so I could see them for what they were…fear. What I realized when I looked at these fears is that I was mostly worried about me and my reputation because I had such negative views of the industry. That’s why I was so completely baffled when the woman who was sharing the industry with me was wildly more successful than me in her full-time career. I mean…if I was too good for this, wasn’t she also?

That’s the first step: Clearly identify your stories, beliefs and fears. When you think about this opportunity, what’s coming up for you? Write a list. Actually, write down what you’re thinking so you can confront your thoughts. When you hold those stories, beliefs and fears up to the light, identify where they’re coming from. Here’s what I’ve identified in my own experience and through working with hundreds of women over the years. Our stories, beliefs and fears come from:

  1. Ego
  2. Misinformation & misconceptions
  3. Lack of self-confidence

Ego: This is a biggie. There is some version of our objections that simply comes from a place of ‘I am too good for this.’ Why? Because in order to enter this industry you need to learn some skills but you don’t need; a job, a degree, any experience, past success, a good reputation, lots of money, wealthy friends or anything else that we normally look to for making smart decisions. This industry is one of the greatest equalizers because anyone can enter. In fact, in some states, it’s mandatory that companies in this channel have a very low cost of entry so that literally almost anyone can have the opportunity. That’s why you’ll see starter kits offered for under $100.

I’m going’ be real straight with you here…as humans with egos, we don’t like places where everyone is welcome. If anyone is welcome that means we’re not special. It’s true. When everyone is welcome, and we choose to enter anyway we’re admitting that we’re not all that special either and we’re willing to throw our name into the ring with everyone else who isn’t special is already hanging out. Of course, I say this a little tongue and cheek because I think everyone is special but your invitation for entry isn’t going to come on a gilded golden platter with a foil seal. It’ll come to you as it comes to everyone else…through a conversation.

Once we’ve identified that our egos do not like feeling like everyone else, we’ll need to examine why we have such a bad taste in our mouths about the industry. I would venture to guess that most…like damn near 99% of us have at one time looked down on this industry. Don’t believe me? Answer this, are direct sales and network marketing synonymous with pyramid scheme? If you answered yes, I’m sorry to tell you you’re misinformed and carry negative perceptions. We’ll get into the differences in another blog post but for now, let’s discuss how we challenge these deeply held misperceptions.

The first thing I did was what I always do, I questioned what I thought I knew completely. I thought I knew what this industry was all about. I’m a relatively smart person and I was pretty sure I knew exactly what this industry was all about, so I challenged my beliefs. I purchased books about the industry. I listened to podcasts, read blog posts, watched videos and talked to people I previously held at an arm’s length.

Do you know what I discovered when I opened my mind? Like so many others out there, I didn’t want to know how powerful this channel actually was.

Because anyone can enter this industry and create success for themselves, I found incredibly successful people that didn’t possess any of the credentials I thought successful people needed to hold. Admit it…there’s a version inside all of us that says if you’re going to be successful, you need to put in your time or earn your stripes. Just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it ain’t true. If you can be ridiculously financially successful without paying through the nose for higher education, putting in the time through school, and knowing the right people, then why do some of us choose that path?

I know when I started learning about this industry, I started questioning the playbook I had been handed. The playbook that says in order to be successful you need to go to college, get a good job, work that job for 40 years, and then retire so you can finally be happy. That playbook. When I learned that there was more than one playbook and I was just finding out about it, frankly, I was pissed. It turns out that none of those things needed to be true in order to find success. Actually, there are people all over…in my community, in my state, country, and all over the world that are killing it in this industry. I’m talking six and seven-figure incomes simply because they decided to crack open the other playbook.

Here’s the thing, that other playbook is scary because it’s wildly different than the playbook we’ve been following our entire lives! The playbook that everyone around us is following and the one our parents swear is ‘the right way’. When you’re exposed to the new playbook for the first time it’s normal to feel skeptical because it feels like we need to find the crack, the thing that’s wrong with it. It can’t possibly be true, or we would have heard about it already, right? Most people never get to the place where they question themselves and their stories, where they examine the role that ego plays in their decision-making process and actively decide to open the alternative playbook. When you’re opening the playbook, you’re already in a very small select group of people. To question what we know, what has been taught to us through generations is a very courageous step to take.

So, if you’ve gotten this far and you’ve identified the ego, opened the new playbook now what you’ll likely encounter is self-doubt. It’s only natural, you’ve discovered a whole new world, and this is the first time you’re learning about it. The companies are different. The rules are different. And the inhabitants are very different. The companies choose to open up their business to offer you a slice of the pie. The rules say that anyone can play, and they can do it their way. But the weirdest part is that many of the inhabitants love what they’re doing but instead of hoarding it for themselves they want nothing more than for you to come join them! Unlike the world you come from where few spots exist at the top and you need to beat others out in order to earn your place, everyone is welcome here and the spots at the top are infinite.

Why then do self-doubt and sabotage come to the party? Because you didn’t even know this

world existed. If your ego was telling you that you’re too good for this industry but then you start to learn the power of the channel, you start to question why you never knew. It’s a catch twenty-two. Our egos were trying to protect us but when we found another way, we suddenly find ourselves questioning so much of what we thought we knew. Opening this new playbook can open a can of worms we aren’t prepared to handle. The onslaught of fear and doubt when you’re looking into this world is intense. Too many people who get to this point of opening the playbook never even cross over because self-sabotage gets the best of them. Even when we know there’s a better way, if we don’t know we’ll be successful the temptation to choose what we already know and what is comfortable is far too great. Humans are creatures of comfort. New is scary and uncomfortable. Old is safe even if it isn’t great.

It’s the saddest thing I’ve encountered over and over again, someone trying to step out and choose a better way only to get so close and default to what’s comfortable. I can’t make the decision for you, but I can predict that you’ll experience this process. My hope is that as you walk through this journey the information I’ve shared here better prepares you for what’s to come. The very last question I asked myself back in 2012 that made all the difference was “What do I have to lose?” When the answer to that question was a bruised ego, I knew that wasn’t a good answer. Hence why I took the leap and why I care so much about changing the perception of this industry.


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Why Our Friends Keep Joining Pyramid Schemes and Why the Channel Itself is Exploding Rather than Self-Imploding

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