Network marketing: the new pyramid scheme

“Network” seems to be the big buzzword these days for business people and the use of the word separates the amateurs from the pros.

The amateurs use “network” as their sole method of talking to people.  They act as if they’ve found this brand new way of talking to people (prospecting) and that they’re the only ones who know about it.  They take to social networks and Craigslist with image laden pictures and insinuated or outright promises of quick money.

The seasoned veterans use networking as they always have.  Across tables with food, coffee, or alcohol they network.  Walking around a park or cycling next to each other, they network.  Talking after religious services or across broadband internet, they network.

Network marketing to the amateur is the ne plus ultra of marketing, and they view it as the only form out there.  The pros know this is not the case and simply put the arrow of social media in their quiver of outreach methods.

Please don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to besmirch amateurs.  We all start somewhere.  The issue I have is with the companies that call themselves “network marketers”.  These companies, such as World Ventures or wakeupnow (WUN) (links not provided to prevent helping their Google rankings) focus on young people recruiting their friends for “deals” which usually amount to not much more value than the free gift one receives with their Revlon purchase.

These are MLM companies, multi-level marketing companies.

Not all MLMs are built equally.  I personally network and refer people to a number of MLMs, most notably Meleluca and LegalShield.  Including those, I network with about a total of five MLMs.

What is the difference between these companies?

World Ventures and WUN focus on young people and the allure of money.  The promise easy money, world travel, and require many people to buy in.  They have no real tangible benefit other than arguably non-discounted travel accommodations for monthly paying subscribers.  Essentially, their subscribers pay a premium and then receive no discount on travel — the very commodity promised to them.

Meleluca and LegalShield offer a service.  Whether it’s a non-toxic, made in the USA, healthy alternative to common household chemicals and foods or a host of legal services at your beck and call, these companies actually provide a service.  More than providing a service, they offer savings to their customers.

The “network marketers” are actually network recruiters.  In order for the sellers, by whatever phrase they’re described as, to make anything decent (80% of WUN salespeople make an average of 53¢ every year) they have to recruit other sellers below them.  The MLM businesspeople have the option to recruit to their downline or not, and can still make a decent living.

My advice to young entrepreneurs: don’t get caught up with network marketing.  It’s a buzzword that won’t teach you actual sales techniques.  Get on with an established company with a product that’s easy to explain and a training process that is thorough and hands-on.  If you have to justify your company to feel good about it, you shouldn’t be working for them.

All this and I haven’t even touched on my issues with HerbaLife.  I guess that’s for a different post!

The close of 2013

2013.  What a year.

I left a job, started new ventures, learned more than I could have imagined, and traveled to some wondrous places with my amazing wife.

Career wise: I left MarketStar, although they’re trying to get me back, and went to Farmers where I operated my own agency.  I learned so much about sales, prospecting, and business management that I never could have imagined I’d learn.  I learned that I need to stay true to my ideas and my gut, despite what people who “know more” (read: “who think differently”) may say.

I learned much Torah and many teachings.  Even better, I learned the joy of sitting down with fellow students (of life, not of a school) and debating ideas.  We have grown so much closer with our congregation.

Raquel and I got to see parts of the world we haven’t before.  We got to hike in a rainforest!  A rainforest!  We saw unbelievable beaches, talked with unbelievable people, and ate unbelievable food.  We finally got to celebrate our love with a honeymoon.  Our honeymoon wasn’t just fun and bonding: we learned about foods, chocolate, US territories, native cultures, and other countries.

I was lucky to see someone who was stuck in a miserable relationship pry himself out of it.  No one should be with someone who represses who they are.  This man, a wonderful man, finally reclaimed his life and his morals.

Most of all, Raquel and I have grown closer.  My wife (I still love saying that, even after a year) is the pillar that holds me up, she’s the anchor to my ship when I start to drift, she’s the sun and moon to my days.  I’m still learning how much she means to me, even now.  Without her I wouldn’t have inspiration to better myself or drive to succeed.  Without her I’m only mediocre.

2013 was a great year.  2014 will be better yet.

Hobby Lobby

So Hobby Lobby decided to give “my people” the “you people” treatment.

Someone asked Hobby Lobby why they didn’t stock Chanukah items and the employee responded “We don’t cater to you people”.

You people, huh?

Fine.  You’re on my troll list.

I mean, you’re not really losing me as a customer: after your CEO decided to fight against contraception for his female employees and then sue the government to get an exemption, I decided never to shop at your store.

Now, though, it’s personal.

Yup.

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Venting

An open letter to Nick Menke, CEO/Owner of Spa Niva, Tucson.

Nick,

Please excuse my calling you by your first name.  I assume anyone who’s fucked me over as much as you have is on a first name basis with me.

Yes, I heard what you said to me today while I was working.  I simply didn’t respond because, to be quite honest, I had nothing professional to say to you.  You see, you treated me like trash when I was attempting to do nothing but help both your company’s employees and your company’s bottom line at no cost to you.  Yes, at no m-fing cost to you.

You put me off time and again, I explained how what I was doing worked time and again, you juggled me around and told me who to talk to in order to get my work rolling and then come to you for final authorization.  I did.  And once you juggled me around until well past the start date, I had to lay it out and tell you what needed to be done, sans sugarcoating.

You then proceeded to “fire” me.  And then email me a month later when my boss didn’t get back to you.  I never responded because duh, I wasn’t the agent associated with your company anymore.  You requested that.

Anyway, you lied to your employees about how my company worked, you lied to them as to what we do, and you lied to them about what I could and couldn’t do for them.  Most abhorrently, you shirked the opportunity for them to protect their financial viability while blatantly ignoring IRS law for pre-tax insurance plans.

I know exactly what you pay your employees.  I know the “benefits” you purport to provide and the hoops you make them jump through.  I know how much you charge for services and, I know those margins are terribly slim.  I know that the last company in those buildings which ignored my warnings folded soon after.  Knowing all these things, I know that Spa Niva and its employees desperately needed what I was doing.

Yet you kicked me out and threw a hissy fit when I treated you like an adult instead of a fragile child.

Your firing of me over your failure to meet and run a company and understand what was going on cost me money.  Cost me time.  Set me back.

So, Nick, you insufferable, childish, insolent, tantrum-throwing, power-tripping, douchebag of a human, I did not respond because I did not have anything positive or professional to say to you.  Ironically, what you said is actually quite incorrect, even.  The store you saw me at did not hire me. I was, indeed, hired by a third party company with exquisite prestige in order to introduce the entire state of Arizona to a brand new product.  You just work for an unethical bank and run (quite unethically, I may add) spa.

Speaking of your spa:

I am getting married shortly.  As of this writing it is in 30 days and 20-some hours.  I have a lot of family and a bunch of friends coming from out of town.  They will be looking for things to do, time to kill, and fun to be had.  I have four amazing groomsmen who will be regaled with fun and services at my behest.  My fiancée has four bridesmaids who shall be spoiled.  Your company will not be seeing any of my family, any of our friends, or any of us.  Ever.

Nick, you ever see me again, don’t say a damned word unless it’s to apologize.  Anything more and you shall receive a barrage of words.  Be glad it’s only words I have to offer, as you deserve much worse for the way you treated myself and the way you continually treat others.

Sincerely,
Mr. Arriola

Election day 2012

I want to just get down some thoughts before I get ready to go vote and go to work.

Why I’m voting for Obama today:

Rights of everyone:

Obama has consistently pushed for equal rights for everyone, despite religious ideals, sexual orientation, sex, or ethnicity.  Guaranteeing that my fiancée and any future daughters will have the same opportunities and access to their bodies which I enjoy is imperative   Romney refused to sign various pieces of legislation, including the Lily Ledbetter Act, which would guarantee something as simple as equal pay for women.  On minority rights he has wavered on stances anywhere from effectively “make anyone who’s not white show papers” to supporting the Dream Act.

Tax policy:

Under Obama, the middle and lower classes will receive slight tax breaks.  Considering that wages for the past 12 years have refused to keep up with inflation (can we eschew “trickle down” doublespeak yet?), this is necessary to keeping our economy on the right track.  He will also close a number of loopholes and slightly raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more every year: people who actually have a lower tax rate and far more disposable income than the middle and lower classes.

Economic soundness:

The way the Obama administration will change the tax code will decrease our national deficit $3.8 trilling from 2013-2022.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Romney’s tax cuts for the rich and effective tax hikes on the middle and lower classes would actually increase the deficit.

Veterans’ benefits and rights:

Straightforward and to the point: Obama has vastly improved veterans’ access to health care, bolstered the VA (when he wasn’t blocked by the GOP), and given much support to veterans.  Romney’s plans would gut all that progress in the name of budget savings.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):

Plain and simple this will save taxpayers (you and me) a whole ton of money.  It improves health care, access to health care, and reduces costs for everyone.  Not only does it save us all money but it would also cost a whole lot of money to repeal the program.

There are abundant myths and lies that the ACA cuts Medicare or other programs.  These are just what I called them: lies.

Foreign policy:

I think this is one of the most understated aspects of this election.  Our relationships overseas and across this continent are extraordinarily valuable in both our commerce and effectiveness with military and economical actions.  By and large, President Obama is far more willing to work alongside other countries than Romney.  Even more striking is how much more willing the other countries are willing to work alongside our incumbent president than they are Romney.  He is practically a globally reviled figure whilst Obama is, for all intents and purposes, globally lauded.

Our success at home is tied and reflected to our success worldwide.

Homeland security:

More than any war draw down (which Romney has said he would both enforce and rescind), our citizens face local environmental dangers.

The Midwest experiences tornado seasons, the East coast suffers hurricane seasons.  Traditionally, under Republican presidents, FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — is slow to respond and, even worse, ineffective in their actions.  In 2005 over 1,833 people died in the days following Hurricane Katrina.  Those people died after the hurricane ended.  They died because they weren’t rescued from flooded areas, from hospitals, from anywhere.  Their communities and neighborhoods in New Orleans and surrounding areas were left to rot for days.  When Hurricane Sandy hit New York just last week, FEMA, now under Obama’s administration, save untold numbers of people.  Tragically, Hurricane Sandy has claimed about 133 lives, but due to Obama’s quick response, far more were saved.

Romney wants to privatize FEMA.  This would weaken it and more people would die in the Midwest during tornado season.  More people would die in Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and any other East Coast or Gulf state during hurricane season.  Of course, bolstering FEMA also saves money in the long term.

Women’s healthcare:

Under the Affordable Care Act women are now entitled to free birth control from their insurer.  This saves costs and reduces not only unwanted pregnancies, but the abortion rate.

Anyone who says that birth control leads to premature promiscuity is reciting statistics which the anti-choice industry made up.  That’s just how it is.

I’ve seen a lot of people cite the incident at Benghazi as a reason not to vote for Obama.  Quite frankly, that’s absurd.  The White House did not have a live feed of what was happening, nor did they deny any extra security to the embassy.  In fact, the embassy at Benghazi didn’t even ask for more security — the one at Tripoli did.  The entire tragic Benghazi episode is a horrible red herring to issues which affect 98% of this country (47% of which Romney actively doesn’t care about).

I didn’t even touch on how Obama knows what it’s like to not have money, how the Romneys think that gallivanting through France on religious missionary excursions is equivalent to our soldiers looking down the enemy’s gun barrel, or the fact that Romney skirted taxes from 1996-2010 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-29/romney-avoids-taxes-via-loophole-cutting-mormon-donations.html).

Pumpkin risotto (and recipe!)

Raquel and I enjoyed a delicious pumpkin risotto!  Here’s a photo of it:

Delish!

1 1/2 C arborio rice
6 cups liquid (I used 1 can of vegetable stock and 2 canfuls of water, but you can use whatever you want or have time for)
3 oz chopped mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup pumpkin puree (either from a can or made from roasted pumpkin at home)
1/4 C vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
Soy sauce

Put the liquid in a pot and heat it up to just under boiling.

Put olive oil in a pan on medium high heat and heat it up.  Put the arborio rice in and cook it until the rice is translucent.  You’ll see the center of the grain through the sheer coating of starch.  Crush the garlic and add it in now.

Now put in the vermouth and let it cook off.

The trick to risotto is this part: you’re going to add a ladle of liquid and let it cook off.  Add another as soon as it congeals enough to show the bottom of the pan.  Keep stirring and don’t leave it unattended.

After the second ladle of liquid, add the mushroom.  This is also a good time to add a little salt and pepper.

After the fourth, add the pumpkin puree and a couple dashes of soy sauce.

Keep testing the rice before you add more liquid to check for tenderness.  Soon as it’s at a level you like, remove it from the heat.  I like mine to be fairly soft, with just a bit of bite to it.  Finish by seasoning it to the level you like, give it a stir, and serve!

So here I am

Here I am, 67 days from the wedding.  We have most everything ready to go, the rest is mostly details and finalizing plans.

I’m totally stoked and totally ready to keep this up to date.  There’s so much in my mind that I need to get down.  Unfortunately, right now I need to start getting ready for bed.  Tomorrow is going to be an early day, as is Thursday (wedding cake sampling in the morning!).

In the meantime, here’s a photo of some pumpkin and tomatillo salsa I crafted.  It’s pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.

Pumpkin and tomatillo salsa

Delish!

Woah

Lots of big things.

Raquel and I are engaged.  I’m working on a wedding site to make communication of questions, details, stuff like that easier.

That’s all for now.  Enjoy the video below!

What changes!

Quick update: Raquel and I set a date for our wedding!

Oh, yeah, we got engaged, too.  ;)

I’m working on getting a wedding page to my main site going. Step one is to get it created and uploaded, step two will be filling it with the requisite information.

That’s all for now, folks.

In the meantime, enjoy this video!