The New Amway

Does everyone know about Amway? It was pretty big in the 90’s. It was a sales model based on a pyramid, promising great income to anyone willing to do the networking with a positive attitude.

Well Amway is back, and this time it’s NEW AGE! Have ya noticed it? The new age world is FULL OF THEM!!!

And they’re making me a little irritated. I wouldn’t normally choose to blog about something that bugs me, (that is SOOOO 2001) but in this case I’m seeing people I like get sucked into the model, and I just want to draw attention to it.

It started when one of my favourite radio shows began having a lot of similar people on air. These people didn’t always identify as psychic, but rather “intuitive coaches” or they’d qualify it: intuitive financial planning, intuitive life coach, heart-centered living, heart-centered business. Most of them have written a book.

It sounds great and it’s almost ALWAYS women.

These presenters all seem to have a specific formula for their pitch: a compelling personal story in which they overcome great adversity to become the happier / healthier / richer person they now are, they casually mention a “six-figure income” and they have a strong spiritual edge to their rhetoric which includes knowing how to talk to the universe in the correct way, so they get the results they want.

The formula works like this: Go on an internet radio show that’s free for people to access and has a regular audience. Offer a special free thing to the listeners to get them to go to your website.

Once the audience goes to the website to exchange their email address for this free thing, they’ll notice another free thing they can sign up for, which is usually a free tele-seminar or webinar. If they didn’t notice it at the time, they’ll soon be getting emails for it.

The seminar does have some useful information; however you have to listen through at least an hour of sales-pitch before they give you anything real. This real, helpful information comes after a more in-depth sharing of their personal story and reiteration of sentiments about having trust in god and faith in yourself enough to take a leap (spend your money.) By the end you kind of feel like a chicken-shit if you *don’t* fork out the hundreds or thousands of dollars for the “Start your dream life!” course this guru is offering, and the guru probably ended the seminar by giving a small amount of useful information with the caveat that “this will make a tiny difference but if you take my course, it will make a HUGE difference!”

Neither my partner nor I have forked out hundreds of dollars for a seminar, but I’ve seen a few of my psychic and animal communicator friends take up the flag. You know what happens? They ruin their facebook feeds! Suddenly, all they talk about is the “heart-centered business”. They post and re-post the same slick graphics and start sending me facebook invites to seminars they’re hosting, where they will share the secrets of running a successful heart-centered business.

Could it be that these thousand-dollar live-your-dream business models are simply about selling how-to-live-your-dream seminars? It seems so, especially when “list-building” comes into effect.

Soon after the seminar invitations, there come the emails asking you to share a link for some free stuff with all of your contacts. This free thing might look *really* good – it might tell you how to stop working a job you hate and start running your own life by running a Heart-Centered Business! But wait, there’s more! If you pass this email along, you’ll get something exclusive and free too, maybe an invitation to a webinar where you’ll learn how to start YOUR OWN Heart-Centered Business!

The tricky thing is that this model actually does work for the people at the top who probably are earning six figures. But is it going to work for my friends who tirelessly exploit their own contact lists? Probably not, because they’re at the base of the pyramid. They’re likely to make a few thousand dollars in a year, which might be enough to string them along for a while, but the thing about a pyramid scheme is there just *has to* be a lot of people at the bottom making next to nothing for it to work.

The crap-part of it is that these Live Your Dream! Business models usually come with “regular monthly support” with one of the top-tier gurus who have a vested interest in keeping you IN THE PYRAMID. They’ll be relentlessly positive about your potential (implication being if you’re feeling skeptical THAT is why you’re failing, because the universe knows you’re don’t really BELIEVE!) They’ll point to other people who became successful in the program quite quickly. They’ll probably invite you to an annual face-to-face gathering.

It’s Amway, folks, and it’s preying upon the hearts and minds of some of the sweetest, most positive, open-hearted people I know, just like Amway did in the 90’s. It’s the Ultra-positive YOU CAN DO IT motivational tapes but repackaged with language like “power of attraction” and “live from your heart”. Worst of all, the subtle underlying message in it all is “If this doesn’t make you rich and happy, it’s because of something YOU did WRONG.”

It has the potential to do way more damage than good, so please be careful, my beautiful internet friends.

Be open, be positive and be SMART. Be discerning, be practical, be grounded.

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25 thoughts on “The New Amway

  1. This is why I love your posts, Kate: your no-nonsense approach to life sees through all this crap, but your empathy leads you to share your views (even though you see it as a rant) to help others avoid getting caught in the “new age” trap.

    I recently started my own business and have had to do a lot of research into marketing because I had to ramp up my knowledge really quickly. I got so disheartened because even though I was seeing the “intuitive/best life” message everywhere (which gets me me excited), it always seemed to be partnered with all the marketing crap you mentioned: list building, free giveaways which didn’t give much information except the knowledge that you would now be spammed, daily email “reminders” about NEW, IMPROVED products that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Blergh. Do. Not. Want.

    But the problem for me is that I do run a business helping others improve their lives (albeit I got a graduate degree and advanced training in order to do this, not a 2 week internet course or 1 workshop), and I do use intuition in my practice along with other research-based theories. It’s really difficult to find clients and get business while also being true to my values, ethics and my hate for sales.

    I think the experts in marketing are now recognizing that the “push” marketing doesn’t work anymore. They are saying the future is in building relationships and providing value so that customers feel “pulled” to doing business with you – not forced. I hope the trends continue this way.

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    • For sure, Suz. I find with most free seminars or inexpensive webinars (less than $40) there’s usually SOMETHING there to make it worth my while, so while in a book I’ll look for 80% good value, and leave the 20% that doesn’t resonate with me, in these seminars I find there’s usually 90% stuff I already know and maybe 10% something new and useful.

      The trick is how much is that 10% worth to you? Is it worth the time you spent to get it? Could you get better value somewhere else?

      Sometimes that 10% is really worth it.

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      • Oh, you bet – there is usually something valuable in those freebies, even if it’s just a nugget. That’s why I have a junk email address specifically to sign up for them; I don’t have to log in unless I’m ready to sort through the sales posts that arrive there. But does that mean that I’ll sign up for their expensive services or products simply because they now remind me about it every day? Nope!

        However, there are some people who I’ve gotten great information from and feel somehow connected to via shared values, etc. (for example, you!) who I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for their services when I’m next in need or recommend them to others. I feel like I want to support their businesses because they’ve proved to me that they’re ethical and have similar perspectives to me. That’s when free information can help prospective clients form a relationship with you.

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      • OMG. I keep getting that too from Mr. E, but I’ve been putting it off because, having just written a huge thesis and now stuck into blog posts, I’m not sure I have the energy. But I did get a channeled outline for a book about a year ago. I’m a therapist/counsellor/coach and want to write a book for people to be able to do therapy for themselves especially if they’re not able to invest in a full slate of therapy.

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    • A friend of mine had a business coach for her shop and found her extremely helpful. It can be exhausting being a solo entrepreneur, and when Sweetie & I were running the coffee business we were both pushed beyond all of our limits emotionally, physically and financially. It can be worth it to get the outside eyes and the objective approach from someone who’s invested in your success but isn’t personally attached to the outcome.

      That said, it was a great thing to experience, and I *would* do it again if I was sucked backwards through time, just for the hard-won world experience, which is part of why I see the New Age Amway for what it is. The world-weary businesswoman inside me says, “Where’s the money?”

      Well the only money you see is the money forked over by the people on the entry-level of the pyramid. You know what else trips my bs detector? People who are perpetually, incessantly positive. I’m talking real-estate agent positive, in that perfectly presented, forced energy way. There are people who are genuinely positive most of the time, and those folks aren’t compelled to thrust their enthusiasm upon you.

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      • Ha ha! Exactly! Life is about balance, not endless positive affirmations. I think a lot of people (me included) get sucked in by the fancy bells and whistles of upscale production, sales-speak, and those who prey on our sense of hope. Happiness isn’t a feeling anymore, it’s a business – something to be bought and sold. I can tell when I’m caught up in it by my sense of panic, fear and lack. Then it’s time to go back to the basics – what are my values, my sense of purpose, and who do I really feel connected to in my physical, virtual, and spiritual community?

        Awareness is key – which you’re touching upon. You’re asking yourself, “What is really going on here and do I need to buy into it?” Sounds like the answer is “no”!

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      • Yes, THANK YOU! Positive affirmations can do amazing things to transform your life, but there can be this fear culture around them that if you dare call a turd by name you’re going to jinx your life.

        Positive thinking is so important especially if you’re in a place where all you can SEE is the negative, but yeah – keep the brain engaged. That’s why we have one, so we can use it!

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  2. I’m a sucker for sales letters. And I’ve been an easy mark for that kind of marketing when it comes to topics that interest me. *sigh*

    I’m working on it. LOL

    I took an animal communication teleclass a couple of years ago with the animal communicator who first spoke with Maci after he died. It was a great class — only a handful of people so you got more one-on-one help over the weeks of the course. Well worth the money, and no extra marketing crap.

    A little while later, I got sucked in by a sales letter from another animal communicator and ended up signing up for that person’s teleclasses. It was a huge class (hundreds of people) so you got zero one-on-one support or interaction, and she was constantly bringing in “guest teachers” who really just came in to advertise their own businesses. (Hey, let’s learn about essential oils from a Young Living Oils representative. And here’s someone with their own chakra balancing products to talk to you about chakras. Rinse. Repeat.) That kind of did it for me, charging me to listen to someone else’s marketing spiel.(My chiropractor did that to me once; ruined our whole professional relationship.) Then she sent out a survey in which she implied that having, say, 300 students pay $25 a month for a monthly communal call would be insufficient for her to consider implementing. (Yes, everyone needs to make a living, but if $7500 is not enough to allow you to prepare for and make one two-hour conference call, there’s something wrong.)

    Disillusioned me about the whole concept. And so, so many people are doing it that it’s getting hard to find people who aren’t. And it’s not just in the New Age area. I follow a fiction writer who does exactly the same thing, though at least she offers a lot more substance for all that.

    Bah, humbug. 😉

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  3. Omg. Right after I deleted the copy of this entry that was sent to my email, this email header popped up in my email reader:

    “Discover the ART of Sacred Selling – to Share Your Message & Serve More People (You’re My VIP Guest!)”

    I’m not even sure who the fuck this person is and I don’t remember signing up for her list!

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  4. Yes, she wants to help people “master the art of conscious conversion”. (Which may or may not involve wandering around your neighborhood and knocking on doors, asking “Have you accepted The Universe as the Source of your Unlimited Abundance?”)

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  5. Haha! OMG. Sacred selling, just as natural as God intended! How funny. But sad.

    I paid something like $12 for a workshop download recently from some woman who offers Skype classes and such for reaching divine potential and whatnot. The workshop was about learning how to translate the high pitched frequencies in your ears into language you can use and understand. It was such a waste of time. Besides her ridiculous voice inflections (like trying to sound spiritual instead of just being so) basically all she said was ask and then pick up a pen and paper and write what come to mind. I was like…that’s your big secret? These poor people paying you money for these countless “workshops” and who knows what you’re “teaching” in these classes!

    You know what annoys me too are the posts that start out “Dear One” from channeled beings. I don’t know. Just seems so vague and a bit silly.

    Thanks, Kate. Glad someone brought it up.

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    • Sacred selling – gawd, I feel like I want to give the word “sacred” a shower and an emergency change of clothes.

      Poor word!

      I’ll say that Jamie Butler does put a lot of awesome information in her classes. It’s fascinating to hear how her experience has led her to similar techniques and conclusions, even though I don’t think we’ve had any of the same teachers and we have a different cultural background. I like her, her smile is genuine, and if anyone is gonna pay $20 for a class, you couldn’t pay a better lady.

      I personally find that every teaching psychic finds different ways to say essentially the same thing, but ultimately it’s about balance, health, faith and practice practice practice. No class can replace hands on experience. Forget about accuracy and just go for it, build on your success and don’t dwell on failure. Accuracy will come with time.

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      • Well, I have nothing against charging for spiritual learning. It helps to have interaction and feedback, certainly. I have found that I’ve accumulated so much knowledge through discussion, forums, books, blogs, and from listening to other peoples’ experiences, in addition to my own.

        We used to get the Amway folks a lot, by the way. My home town of Kalamazoo is about an hour south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were Amway was started.

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      • Absolutely, and I think it’s very important to charge what you’re worth. I’ve found in cases where I’ve offered deeply discounted readings that people wouldn’t respect my time – they’d show up late or not at all.

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  6. I have felt this somewhat with energy healers over-stating there claims. I believe in alternative healing, but I also believe in the honest fact that as humans we are mortal, physical creatures whose bodies naturally break down before death. Healers should be there to support us in a way to make the process as gracefull as possible. Some act as if they can make every pain, glitch or disease go away.

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  7. From all I have read and experienced in life thus far it seems to me that we cannot know another’s journey. In some cases it is in their highest good to experience something we perceive as negative. This isn’t always easy as we are often in a position to try and protect others from pain or loss or an experiece we see as negative. What is meant to be finds its way in some form or another. Choosing love, trusting in our higher guidance is all we can do. If it doesn’t resonate or feel right it probably isn’t 🙂

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