Imagine, if you will, a smoked-filled room tucked away in the basement of some small church. 20 or 30 chairs are arranged in rows. A podium sits at the front of the room. A small table is set up at the back of the room as you enter through the door. On the table sits a Bunn coffee brewer, Styrofoam cups, sugar and creamer. Sugar is spilled on the table as well as small puddles of coffee.

As you walk in, you first notice an old guy getting coffee. His hands shake as he lifts the pot from the warmer.

You glance around the room, a small group of five people, stand in a circle; talking and laughing nervously. Their eyes dart around toward you as you enter, and then settle back on each other. One woman in a short sleeve shirt stands listening intently to a bearded man. She scratches at healing scabs on the inside of her elbow and forearm.

An elderly couple sit in the folding chairs at the front of the room. Both are puffing feverishly on the cigarettes in their mouths. Smoke billows toward the ceiling. In the front corner, a well-kempt lady in a simple dress seems to be crying as she discusses something important-sounding to another younger woman in jeans and a t-shirt.

You are approached by a nice looking man in a suit and are welcomed to have a seat. The rest of the attendees all take a seat with you, as a small man with glasses walks in front of the podium and says,

“Hi Everyone, my name is Stan and I’m a “Survivor.”

The audience in unison says, “Hi Stan!”

What are they survivors of? Some in attendance would say addiction. Some would say “rape”. Others would say “mind control”. In reality, they are all “survivors” of bad business decisions. They cloak these decisions of bad business under the umbrella of being…

get ready….

former MLM distributors.

And where does this “meeting” take place? No, not as I described. It takes place on the internet, Yahoo Groups, specifically, at MLM Survivors.

I joined this group, not as a survivor, but as an observer. My focus was to learn what I could from these people, in order to conduct my own business in a way that would not produce a “survivor”, or disgruntled ex-Quixtar IBO.

The group was started by Ruth Carter(a pseudonym). Ms “Carter” wrote an “expose” of the Amway opportunity entitled Smoke and Mirrors. The “survivors” at the group talk about their experiences and the way they were scammed by unscrupulous Amway/Quixtar distributors, who forced them to spend countless dollars on motivational material in order to “build their business.”

I have no qualms with their complaints of these so-called motivational organizations. My biggest complaint was the often used example that they were like rape survivors or recovering alcoholics with an addiction. Also, as a totally biased group, they are free to express any opinion of a person still involved in MLM(a pro-MLMer) but that same person does not enjoy the same freedom. He must be constrained by another set of rules. Basically, nothing positive about MLM can be stated.

The issue of “healing” is often touted, by there seems to be more “dredging” up the past, than moving on with their lives. Most recovering alcoholics, drug addicts and rape survivors spend less time discussing THEIR ordeal than anyone at MLM Survivors.

This is a comment I received from a pro-MLMer about her experience at MLM Survivor:

I’d like to take a moment to rant on the MLM “Survivors” forum. Has anyone here ever dealt with them? That group is more cult-like than a Britt/Amway meeting back in the ’70’s, held in the deep south in a church on Easter Sunday.

What’s ironic is that they put down how in many companies MLMers are encouraged to avoid negative people and negative news stories in order to remain positive. They complain about how they’re hidden from the truth, not allowed to think for themselves and are brainwashed. HOWEVER, if positive things are said about MLM on the forum, it’s censored.

Here’s a quote made by the moderator regarding Len Clements’ posts:

“Len will not be answering. He attempted to post a message that clearly violated our rules, and he has been silenced. (As our rules state, there is a double standard with regards to pro-MLMers. Insults and argumentation in favor of MLM are not permitted here. Additionally, when pro-MLMers make claims, they are expected to back them up with verifiable evidence. We try to allow some latitude, but when arguments start appearing claiming that black is white, rules have to be enforced.)”

They “protect” their members by making sure the information presented is geared toward their point of view. And the shielding of their members from any MLM influence (they refer to the group as similar to alcoholics or rape victims in need of protection), isn’t the worst part. It’s the encouraging of reliving every bad moment they’ve ever experienced in MLM over and over and over. They were all “deceived” and “tricked” into any mistake they’ve ever made, taking no responsibility for a single bad business decision.

Their site, by nature, lures MLMers in to see what all the hoopla is about. They allow them in, but I suspect it’s so they can, without provocation, freely bash them and take out their anger with open prejudice on complete strangers. And the constant writhing in contention and bitterness that goes on while claiming they are “healing” from their horrendous experiences is almost to the point of twisted and sick. It’s the most mentally unhealthy forum I have EVER seen. I told them from an outsider’s point of view, it was mentally unhealthy…. but guess what? They pulled my post before anyone saw it.

I choose to stay involved with Quixtar, not because I am involved in one of the organizations that MLM Survivors rail against, but because I believe and have always believed that Good Business can overcome Bad business. As a Quixtar IBO, highlight the Independent part of Independent Business Owner and act accordingly. Books tapes and rallies are not the way of Good business. Conduct your distributorship as a reality based business. Sell Products, conduct proper training, watch your expenses, cut your losses and you will never have to be a “Survivor”.


About Dave Robison

Now Appearing in an Extended Engagement! Join Dave Robison as he takes you into his world and his daily life of reviving a stand-up comedy career. Prepare for side trips exploring Public Relations, marketing and business ethics. Enjoy some frequent detours describing his observations on life. Read the exploits of this self-proclaimed Renaissance-man and blooming blogger as you go On The Road With Dave. From Mobile, Alabama comes Dave Robison, a confessed Internet-aholic, middle-aged-married-man, who's generally a nice guy--he just has one or two issues. Stand-Up Comedy by Dave Robison is available for corporate events, college campuses, and nightclubs.
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3 Responses to “Survivors”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I loved the “support group” introduction. It completely sums up how ridiculous their “we’re just like rape victim or alcoholics” scenario actually is.

  2. Dave Stone says:

    I am a former Amway/Quixtar IBO. A major contributing factor for my deciding to leave after 5 years was the entrenchment of the tool business. My hats off to you for seeking to keep yourself out of the “training” programs so widely promoted. I find it inspiring advice and reassuring that there are still people that hold to the principles of good business practice. If more people would only present the merits of their respective business, let people decide to become involved without the hype, I believe the much maligned MLM industry would be a more vital opportunity for people consider. Great post!

  3. Eric says:

    I have a different perspective but I actually agree with some of what you say. First of all, I think the comparison to AA or Rape Victims is a mighty stretch and those making that comparison should stop. However, comparisons to cult victims are probably more relevant and I can agree with that analysis. While Quixtar is NOT a cult, there are at least some Lines of Sponsorship that behave so much like a cult that cult experts have denounced their actions. One thing that former cult members need is to feel “normal” and to understand that their involvement wasn’t because they were stupid or gullible but that they were duped by those they loved and trusted. But Cults are different than alcohol addiction and being raped.

    Now, you make a wonderful observation with regards to healing. That’s probably the most important thing that’s missing. I know a great deal about AA and it wouldn’t work if people didn’t have the 12 steps to work. Without some pro-active efforts, AA would fail. There is little healing in bitching about the past if it’s not backed up by steps to change in the future. I think that if MLMSC implemented some sort of program for “survivors” to follow, then it would gain much more relevance as a forum for healing. Maybe 12 steps or some specific method to follow. If one exists, then I’m sorry I missed it. If not, then I think it’s much needed.

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