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Amway – Motivational Organization
Alticor (parent company)
Rich DeVos, Jay Van Andel (est. 1959)
Presently led by Steve Van Andel (chairman)
Amway – Quixtar BITE analysis · Behavior Control
1. Regulation of individuals physical reality
2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals According to the numbers John Hoagland shows on his statistics page, a person should expect to spend an average of 11.38 hours a week on activities that build the business. These activities include: contacting/ prospecting new people; showing the plan (and travel time to/ from the location); listening to audio tapes; reading books; attending weekly and monthly meetings; helping the downline build their business; and listening/ passing along of telephone messages (via the Amvox network). Keep in mind that this is a very low-end average, and more hours will probably be required if a person wants to build big. Also, keep in mind that this estimate does not include the 4 major functions per year; each taking up one entire weekend (about 72 hours or more, not including travel time). Also, a pro-Amway website-owner believes that this time-estimate is actually on the low side. He claims the time commitment is around 20 hours (or more) per week – a far cry from the estimate of 8 to 10 hours a week shown in the Sales & Marketing Plan. A disclaimer: the Amway Corporation has never given any kind of time frame for building an Amway business. Their official statement claims that people build their own business as fast or as slow as they want. It is the AMOs who have created the 8-10 hours a week claim.
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions For a distributor to really build the business, he should not think for himself. In fact, just the opposite is true- when he does what the upline tells him to do, things will fall into place (actual quotes from audio tapes) for the distributor. Numerous stories have been told by Diamonds about how they tried and tried to build the business, but nothing seemed to work. When they started doing as they were told, their businesses started to grow. In other speeches, distributors have told how they wanted to buy a house or car and went to their upline for advice. The upline would usually tell them to wait until they reached the next level of achievement before making a purchase. In theory, this is good advice: a person should wait until he is financially able to purchase an item before buying it. But, what happens when the person needs air conditioning for their van in the middle of a Florida summer? How long should he wait? Until he can afford it with Amway bonus checks or until someone gets sick from the heat? When the reverse situation arises, the advice is different: if a person needs to make more money, upline distributors will usually make sure that person is in attendance at the next function. Does this advice seem contradictory? A person is struggling with their finances and they are told to spend money to go to a function? There is a possibility, that, in a few years, the person might make thousands of dollars, but what about affording this months mortgage payment? As for right now, the upline is the only one who is making money: they profit from the sale of the function tickets. I would suppose the upline gives this advice because the they want their tool money before the distributor decides to quit the business due to poor results.A submitter personally witnessed the devastating results of this faulty advice. When one of his uplines was struggling with a heavy debt load, he went to his upline Emerald for advice. Due to a second mortgage, he was forced to move his family out of their home and into an apartment. Now, there is nothing at all wrong with an apartment, but when your family (including two teenage children) have to move from a modest house to a cramped three-bedroom apartment, adjustment can be difficult. And the situation was made even worse when they had to give their daughters dachshund to a relative since the apartment complex would not permit pets. And while he struggled with this situation, his upline Direct still tells him and his wife to attend the functions! For two people, the costs of a function can be over $500.00 (for tickets, travel, hotel, etc.). Wouldn’t this money be better spent paying off some debt? Not according to the Emerald. That upline still believes he will be going direct anytime now. He can pay off the debts then. All he has to do is have faith in his uplines advice.If a distributors decision-making capacity is replaced by that of his uplines, where does that leave his children? Chances are good that the upline will tell him (and his wife) to leave the kids with a baby-sitter and go show a plan. Repeat this 6 or 7 times a week to really build the business big. What about the kids who see their parents leaving them every night for just a promise that one day soon the parents will actually raise them, instead of the sitter. Will this continue for the next 3-12 months or 3-5 years or longer until the parents Amway business is built? What do you tell the children then? On the other hand, Diamonds commonly argue, Well, parents leave their kids all the time when they work their 9-to-5 J-O-B. And now the parents are leaving their children again in the evening to build an Amway business. With the pressure to be successful, and on the advice of their upline, have these parents lost their ability to choose what is in the best interest of the children?
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors Distributors that are plugged in or on the grow are expected to counsel with their upline at least once a month. There is a strange method used in which wives are routinely used to report on their husbands activities for their own good. Husbands are warned not to take financial counsel re: the business from their wives because they are at the same income level; the women are advised that their husbands may have too much male ego take advice from them anyway … the solution is for the women to call their upline and report on their husbands activities (or lack thereof) prior to counseling. This results in planned spontaneity, in which the husband may feel his upline has been divinely guided because he instinctively seems to know his problem. As a high level distributor, I utilized this technique frequently, thinking it was in the best interest of each couple. In retrospect, this is an incredible violation of the trust that a husband and wife share.
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative) One person who submitted stated: During the time I was a distributor, I never witnessed any forms of punishment. Im sure there are some groups that use punishment, but I haven’t heard about it. On the other hand, rewards (and goal-setting) are used extensively. At each the monthly meetings and major functions, people are recognized for achieving the various levels in the business (1000 points, 2500 points, etc.). Distributors become motivated to cross stage at the next function. As a person moves higher up the chain, the Amway Corporation begins its own form of rewards- with money. If a person reaches the Direct level, he is given a bonus of X dollars. If he reaches the Emerald level, he gets Y dollars. Note: the exact amounts vary depending on a number of factors, including how many people are in the persons group. However, another former distributor had this to say: This is not readily evident to new distributors. At the leadership levels of Direct and Emerald, it is used frequently. In a specific instance, my upline Diamond (who was a hero that at one point I would have taken a bullet for) became aware of the fact that I had gained some knowledge off the internet of a huge lawsuit (Diamond Direct Brig Harts $50,000,000 lawsuit against Diamond level and above members of his upline and downline). In an Emerald meeting, my Diamond quite literally appeared to blow a gasket and described anyone that would be on the internet researching negative things about Amway as Satan Possessed . I was still in and very much loyal. At a leadership level, you cannot afford even the appearance of doubt/psychological infidelity.
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails Right from the start you’re advised that there is no money in creativity, as the perfect system of success has been created. (See No new ideas, below.) Although personal business ownership is touted, it is a farce. In the new Quixtar company, distributors are referred to as IBOs (Independent Business Owners). You may work for nearly a decade developing an international business, but not have the freedom to even put a newsletter into your group or call a meeting with your leaders that is not pre-approved.
7. Rigid rules and regulations Despite the claim of personal choice and freedom, Amway distributors are bound by the rules and regulations of the Amway Corporation, by the regulations set by the AMOs, by the rules set by their upline, and by the statements in the Business Support Materials Arbitration Agreement (BSMAA). The rigidity of the rules may vary between groups. There are four Cardinal Rules that you must never, never violate; they are listed below. One submitter says they have a tape in which the Diamond states that these are rules that you must follow or you will pay. This same individual has said he would take out anyone that messed with his upline Diamond. He apparently is very serious and the submitter believes he would do it to prove his loyalty. a. No new ideas Creativity is not only frowned upon, it is banished. b. No cross-lining You cannot establish relationships or share any information with anyone not in your upline or downline. This effectively isolates any bad information to one group but it is further limited below. c. Never, ever pass negative You do not repeat any negative information to anyone not even your best friend in private. This is the equivalent of giving someone poison or dumping garbage in their home. The submitter who told us about this stated that In the Moonies, I believe this informational control principle is referred to as the multiplication of the evils. d. Never, ever de-edify You must never say anything disrespectful or discourteous about any member of your upline regardless of their behavior . To do so would show that, perhaps, you are the problem and have an ego out of control etc …
8. Need for obedience and dependency There is not much need for obedience, but there is plenty of dependency. See Behavior Control: Need to ask permission for major decisions.
Amway/Quixtar BITE analysis – Information Control
1. Need to internalize the groups doctrine as Truth In the Amway business, the most important experiences are those that help build the business. Over time, a person learns to express his activities in terms of how his business was built by those activities. Distributors are always trying to look good in the eyes of their upline, thereby receiving the uplines attention and help. Amway’s corporate policies state that upline distributors may not withhold help from someone, but the reality of the situation is much different. Many speeches tell the true situation: distributors should only help people who want it. (in other words, people who are being good distributors). If you want help, you’ll behave like the upline wants you to behave, and express yourself the way your upline wants you to express yourself. After some time of expressing experiences based on how they relate to the building of their Amway business, distributors start to naturally ONLY express their experiences in these terms. One of our Diamonds most oft-repeated phrases was The truth will set you free; you truly come to believe that you are serving God by helping His people as you bring them into this business. A visit to a friends house is not successful unless the distributor showed the neighbor the plan (or at least talked about Amway). Although a trip to the mall may be successful if the distributor purchased what he was looking for, it was not successful (in terms of the business) unless he prospected some people there. Success in the business is also measured along similar terms. Showing 15 plans a month is considered successful (the fact that no-one was sponsored is not the point- the person showed 15 plans!), but showing more plans is better and will get you more attention from your upline. Soon, everywhere you go becomes a place to prospect people- a place to schedule future plans. Before long, distributors always have their prospect radar turned on. Some distributors (including one of my upline) must talk about Amway with EVERYONE they see. No conversation (including ordering fast-food) is complete without prospecting the person. And yet, the distributor is oblivious to how this affects other people. My upline told me a story about how his doctor told him to find another doctor since she had grown tired of his constantly pitching the Amway business. He just laughed this off as, Oh, that just means there’s someone new for me to contact.
2. Adopt loaded language * characterized by thought-terminating cliches. There is a loaded language that is quickly assimilated. Eventually, it becomes simpler to socialize with and communicate with only those who are already in the business. In the Amway business, there are plenty of terms for the new distributor to learn. (See Amway glossary page.) One example of this is the usage of a Diamonds name in place of a teaching technique. When I was in the business, distributors would commonly say, How did I approach that guy? I just walked up and Bo Short-ed him. This refers to the speech/ audio tape, by Diamond Bo Short, in which he tells about the technique he used to approach people. There is a loaded language that is quickly assimilated. Eventually, it becomes simpler to socialize with and communicate with only those who are already in the business. Rather than tell an entire story, the distributor limits his vocabulary. At the same time, though, the distributor thats listening understands this short phrase. Any new person would say, What does he mean? Whos Bo Short? This further reinforces a distributor-only culture. Another way is by distributors? use of catch-phrases which involve a sort of circular logic. Some common phrases include: If you keep doing what You’re doing, you’ll get what you’ve been getting, and If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get what everyone else is getting. A third phrase, used by the upline when questioned about a downlines own lack of progress, actually contradicts the first phrase: Just keep doing what You’re doing [and you’ll be successful in the business]. These phrases are designed to separate the distributor from the rest of society: you don’t want to be like the everyone else, do you? If someone is not building the business fast enough or is thinking about quitting, the upline distributor can use the threat of rejoining society: the distributor wont become wealthy, but instead, will get what everyone else is getting. This further reinforces the distributors phobias about quitting the business.
3. Only good and proper thoughts are encouraged
4. Thought-stopping techniques a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking There are many that are used as a standard course of conduct. My upline used this one particularly effectively. I was showing this broke guy the business an he asks me to see my tax returns, so I tell him that is my personal and private information. Suppose I want to see your personal and private information lets hook up a video camera in your bedroom and video tape you having sex with your wife.. that’s your private information and I want to see it. Not only would no one ask for his tax return (perhaps 95% or more of his income also comes from the secret motivation business), but it is stronger than that you now may not even think the thought of asking for his tax return, which is more powerful. b. Chanting If you were to go to any of the meetings, you would probably hear the chant, I’m going diamond, how about you? Everyone is chanting this, but according to the statistics I have found, 99.99% of those people will not go diamond; in fact, 99.18% of those people won’t even go direct. Will you be one of those people that does manage to go diamond? Yes, there is a chance that with enough hard work and determination, you could be the next Diamond Distributor. But, chances are more likely that you’ll not become a Diamond. c. Meditating Not applicable. d. Praying Not applicable. e. Speaking in tongues Not applicable. f. Singing or humming Not applicable.
5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate One former member simply put it: NO NEGATIVE, NEVER DE-EDIFY EVER As a person learns more and more about how the Amway business operates, he learns that he is to never, never question his upline, his uplines judgment, or his uplines advice. He is taught not to question the workings of the business, usually because it will become clear when you go Diamond. Time and again the audio tape-speeches tell stories of people who claim when we stopped questioning, our business really took off or as soon as we started doing what [John] said, we really built this thing big. (actual quotes from audio tapes) After repeated stories and lectures about this point, a distributor soon realizes that the only way to build a successful business is not to question what is being said or done. This unquestioning can sometimes taken to great lengths.
6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful Like missionaries, Amway distributors go out into the world preaching that Amway is the way (in fact, the ONLY way) to save yourself from the coming dread of retirement and financial disaster as well as the only way to achieve your lifelong dreams. Wouldn’t you really be happy owning a business of your own instead of working a job? (Of course, you are not really owning a business of your own, you are an Amway distributor- bound by all of Amway’s -and the AMOs- rules and regulations.) If you believe the information the distributor is showing you and become a distributor yourself, you are then considered to have seen the truth about the world. You have learned that you need extra income, which is provided by the Amway business, to have a good lifestyle (meaning a happy life). (Please ignore the fact that many people may be perfectly happy with their lives until someone comes along to tell them otherwise.) When retirement age does come, you will be one of the saved since you will have built a big Amway business and have plenty of money to live on. In reality, most people could achieve financial freedom with the help of a financial planner or a good investment program! In fact, this characteristic can be taken a step further: distributors have been known to prospect people at their church. This would mean that the belief in the Amway business exceeds a persons belief in their (now previous) religion. I have heard many stories about how people have gone through their entire church congregation just to get new people for their business. When that congregation dries up, the person switches to a new one just so they can be around new people who haven’t heard their sales pitch.
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person’s feelings Not applicable.
2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leaders or the groups In the Amway business, a person is taught that if he follows the steps (or pattern/ system for success) outlined by his upline, he too will become successful. No-one ever mentions the hard work that is actually needed to do this, or if they do, the work is dismissed in a statement such as it was hard, but it was worth it. He is taught to contact X number of people and show the plan to Y number of people to sponsor Z number of people. Since Amway has been around for almost 40 years and has produced a number of multi-millionaires, their system HAS to work. The uplines teach, If the system for success doesn’t work for you, then YOU aren’t doing what you need to be doing. YOU know what has to be done (or hear it again from your upline), so go out and do it. If a person starts to doubt his results, the upline will just tell him to have faith and just keep doing what You’re doing until he becomes the type of distributor they want. Only later, when he is ready, (meaning properly conditioned and unquestioning) will he be taught that he could receive an additional income from the sales of tools to his own downline. What the distributors dont talk about are the statistics inherent to any MLM business. If the distributor does not become a Direct in the specified time frame, it is always assumed that HE did not do the work that he was supposed to do. Again the uplines teach that he should know what has to be done (or hear it yet again from your them), so go out and do it. Forget the fact that the Amway science may not actually be applicable to everyone’s personality. As with any business, there are going to be those people who just cant do it despite the fact that distributors repeatedly say anyone who wants to go Direct, will. From another member- The system of success is often promoted as having a 100% success rate. When you are not making money, you are led to believe you are the only one and have somehow screwed up. I have a distributor in my group that advised he and his wife lost $25,000 in the last two years alone. As an Emerald I made around $30,000 despite constant promotion of $100,000 a year income (I have them on tape). a. Identity guilt i. Who you are (not living up to your potential) ii. Your family If you are having doubts or thinking about quitting you may be instructed to pull out your family picture and tell them that they are not worthy of your best effort. iii. Your past iv. Your affiliations v. Your thoughts, feelings, actions vi. Social guilt vii. Historical guilt As one member noted; When I was in the business, I was not aware of any of these occurring. I don’t know if they occur at the higher-up levels or not.
3. Excessive use of fear Distributors may fear that if they leave the business, they will not have as much personal growth as they would have in the business. Again, many Diamonds tell stories about how much they have grown as a person since they built the business. Stories range from the introvert who can now speak in front of an audience to the ignorant person who has come to love everyone in the world. Some distributors learn that if they just keep building the business, they too will become a better, friendlier, etc. person. They never realize that the tools they are using actually limit the amount of choices available to the them: distributors can only grow according to the AMOs guidelines. The only growth will be in areas that relate to the Amway business: being more personable, being a better businessman, and of course, being a more skilled liar (to tell people I’m only successful when You’re successful while making more and more money from the sale of tools). I have yet to hear a story from a Diamond who claims he grew so much that he out-grew the Amway business!
4. Extremes of emotional highs and lows None that I am aware of- I have not done any research on this topic. I would believe that a distributor would be happy/ sad according to how is business is going: he is happy when he has a lot of people in his group, but sad when people quit or he does not make much money. I don’t know if this would be considered extreme, but a person’s emotions are definitely linked to their business/ performance. There are seminars every month and distributors emotions tend to follow a huge swing during the seminars and last for a few weeks until they crash or come down, and then it is time to get in another large group meeting to begin the ride again. I have distributors that have on this ride for almost a decade now.
5. Ritual and often public confession of sins In the Amway business, people don’t confess sins, but, instead confess what they want out of life- their goals and dreams. Instead of holding the bad things against people, distributors use the persons want to build the business: You discuss the wealthy lifestyle, the exotic cars, the big house, the college education for your children, and of course, leaving your 9 to 5 job. If you start to slow down building the business (or even think about quitting), your upline will ask such pointed questions like: Were you really serious about wanting all those dreams? Did you really want to give your kids the best college education? Were serious about spending more time with your kids before they grow up? Or did I misunderstand what you wanted in life? What do you say then? The upline practically calls you a liar by placing you in the position of saying, No, I wasn’t serious about sending my kids to a good college. The logic is: if you want your dreams, you’ll build the Amway business; if you do not want those dreams, why did you tell him that you wanted them in the first place? At the night session of the seminars, the couple does their rally talk. This is about their life pre-Amway, in which many of us re-wrote how dark our past was before finding our Amway salvation. They reinforce how stupid but well-meaning parents told them to get an education and get a good job which led to their life of economic burdens. They often talk about initially being negative on a specific product or tapes etc and now have seen the light.
6. Phobia indoctrination In the Amway business, distributors are taught that there is virtually no other lifestyle outside of the Amway business. The speeches teach that a distributor will only be happy when he reaches the Diamond level- and he should not even try to be happy in any other type of career. A distributor quickly learns that if he were to leave, he would be labeled as someone who has lost their dream, or even worse, be labeled a quitter. This completely ignores the fact that many people become disgusted with the business when they discover either the lies or the uplines? true source of income. The AMOs use the belief that people would rather continue to do something unsuccessfully than be labeled a quitter by their peers (meaning fellow distributors). There is also the irrational belief that, once a distributor quits, he could hear about how his downline went on to make thousands of dollars in the business. How often does this happen? I don’t know if there are actual statistics, but when a Diamond tells how his own sponsor quit, distributors don’t even think about quitting. Distributors may also be taught that if they leave the business, their spouses will divorce them or their children won’t respect them anymore. Many Diamonds tell stories about how their own children would become disappointed by their slow rate of building the business. The way to cheer up the children, the Diamonds say, is to build faster and go diamond! After hearing enough of these stories, distributors who have children start to absorb this message and feel they can’t disappoint their own children. In turn, this means they won’t quit- even if they are working long hours to show the plan, leaving their kids, or if they aren’t making much income. Distributors are indoctrinated to loathe their jobs and oppressive bosses. I have had three direct distributors either get fired or leave their jobs under terrible circumstances due to this. I have another that has virtually destroyed his career with this attitudinal shift. The acronym JOB takes on several meanings. Jerk On Board, Just Over Broke, Jackass Of the Boss etc. The general mindset established is that you are going to send your bosss wife or a stockholders wife to Hawaii or your own because now YOU own the business. Where are your priorities? If you are thinking of quitting, you are advised not to tell your upline; instead, wake up your kids and whisper to them, You’re not going to Disney World. Or, tell your wife that She’s not worth it. Or, look yourself in the mirror and admit you’re not man enough to get the job done. On your tombstone will be eternally broke (literal quote from a Diamond).Despite the love and compassion exhibited by the people who love you, God help you should you quit. You may be labeled a quitter, loser, thumb sucking pin head, bone head, idiot, moron, broke guy, wimp, socialist, mentally unstable, ego out of control, maverick non-team player etc.
Postma Memo (1983)
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