When I was a newly married young man, a friend of mine from church reached out to me about a "business opportunity". By business opportunity, he meant a Multi Level Marketing company (MLM) that he was apart of called Quick Star. It was like the early 2000's version of Amway. At the time I was genuinely interested, I've always been interested in working for myself. And what better way to start that bold journey then by sitting in a living room in Summerville and here someone say the word "downline" 100 times in 2 hours?
It would be a decade later before I realized that anyone offering you a "business opportunity" is 1. selling you a MLM like Amway, Herbalife, 2. making an ironic statement, or 3. trying to have sex with you for money.
Sadly, when my friend said business opportunity, he only meant choice number 1. My friend was also a Christian, a very kind and charasmatic guy. His wife made snacks, and everyone was kind of excited. Everyone was also dorks. Thats the thing looking back on MLM, its got this sharks and minnows vibes. The room can be generally split into the kind of guy that sweeps out a Uhaul after renting it, and the guy who bangs your girlfriend the second you split up and before you split up.
Anyways, one familiar face to the "party" was a guy I had never seen before who was in my friend's "up line". Just like the mafia, in MLM, a portion of whatever you earn is kicked up to the person that brought you into the business. And just like in vampire movies, the more people you initiate into this new lifestyle, the more they can introduce people to it as well.
Mr. Upline guy and my buddy brought forth a dry erase board like it was the Rosetta Stone and hit us with all the cliche pitches of the MLM sales process. If your seven friends tell seven friends, and that process happens X amount of times, soon the whole world would work for you in theory etc...
The most exciting moment was when Mr. Upline claimed to be making 40k a year from this business. He of course did not substantiate that claim in in way, but damn 40 thousand dollars baby! You know how many Game Stops you have to manage to make that? Well one, but still!
I was pretty set on signing up, but I went home and talked it over with my new wife. She looked at me like I was an asshole. And even though I would get that look a lot, on this occasion, I can't thank her enough because she was right. It was a terrible idea. She put the kibosh on it and I had to go back to my friend and withdraw my support.
As I got older, I became fascinated by scams and any place where one person is manipulating another. MLM is notorious for this. The vast majority, and I truly mean majority of people never make money from their business in MLM. They come to meeting with dreams and good intentions, and end up loosing several thousand dollars and a couple years off their life.
I remember him talking about all the stuff he was going to do once he was wealthy. He wanted to make a coffee shop that paid musicians to perform and treated everyone well, and if it made a profit he was doing something wrong. It was the early 2000's and coffee shops hadn't really hit in Charleston so it was a cute dream. I feel bad for him when I think of it.
Since then, I have had my fair share of dreams implode on me. I know that pain, but I've never ever tried an MLM since then.
The only reason this came to mind is because a friend of mine's spouse went balls deep into one recently and I was thinking how dumb he must be, how dumb I was, and how smart whoever is at the top of that pyramid must be.
If you are ever tempted to get into an MLM, let me know. I will buy a pressure washer and go door to door pressure washing people's houses (something I know nothing about). We will see who makes their first 1000 dollars and who gets their first employee.
There are dreams to be had out there, but if someone is cutting the crust off the sandwich for you, chances are they spit in it first.