In general I don’t like being critical of people, and I especially try to avoid being so in public. What’s more, with regards Amway, part of my “mission” with TTAA is to try to provide some balance to the excessive criticism of Amway on the Internet. Sometimes however, I encounter things that I believe are so proactively damaging to Amway’s reputation that I must speak out, even though I’m sure I’ll make some enemies out of friends. This is one of those times.
It’s been said that a part of Amway’s reputation problems aren’t a result of myths or falsehoods, but in what might be termed “negative truths”. I believe this is correct, to a point. Much of what people believe about Amway has it’s origins in reality, and real experiences, but that “reality” rarely has anything to do with Amway, the Amway business model, or Amway’s award winning products. In general it has to do with how Amway’s representatives (known variously as distributors, IBOs, ABOs etc etc) have presented the Amway business to the outside world. If you research Amway on the internet, you’ll encounter quite a few “horror stories”, people talking about how they were conned or fleeced. You’ll see stories of “cult-like” behaviour and claims the whole thing is just a scam. But as I pointed out in Amway is not a scam, but you can still be scammed, it’s not Amway, nor the business model, nor the products doing these things – it’s people.
As a new IBO, I was incredibly frustrated with encountering people who spoke of their experiences in Amway and how they didn’t want anything to do with it again – but their experiences were completely different to mine. I was even more frustrated at people who would search Amway on the Internet and bring me reams of printouts claiming that “this is what you’re involved with” – yet none of it even remotely reflected my experience. Years later it still doesn’t reflect my experience! Now that doesn’t mean it wasn’t other people’s experiences, but it wasn’t the Amway business they were talking about, it was people with Amway businesses. My Amway business, and undoubtedly hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of other Amway businesses, was being damaged by the actions of what appeared likely to be a minority, albeit an extremely visible minority.
I was thus delighted when, back in 2005, Quixtar (now known as Amway Global) announced they were launching an “accreditation” program to encourage the various independent BSM companies to follow certain guidelines in their training and support offerings to Amway business owners. Achieving accreditation required organisations (or individuals) to abide by the following –
- Provide a professional development curriculum that includes business-building, product training, and personal development components.
- Use professional development compensation plans that are transparent, written, and contractual.
- Engage in communications that reflect compliance with the IBO Communications Platform.
- Demonstrate a commitment to best practices and ongoing education
- Be in good standing and complying with Amway Global’s Rules of Conduct.
Of these five areas, perhaps the most comprehensive explanation of how Amway expects IBOs to behave is outlined in the IBO Communications Platform document, which summarises it’s content as –
Focus on business.
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
The document continues (my emphasis) –
As this is a business, it is only logical that communications
within the business arena focus on business and not on areas
outside the business arena, such as religion and politics. And
to “treat others as you would like to be treated” is a long-standing
and widely accepted maxim on human relations.
Taken together, these two concepts reflect the philosophy and
standards of the IBO Communications Platform.
Bravo, I say! Too often when speaking to people about their experiences, or reading others experiences online, they would comment about attending supposed “business” meetings only to be regaled with speeches on religion and politics. Was it a business or a method of evangelising one’s political and religious beliefs? Now, I have a certain respect for people who have the courage to actually go out and act on their beliefs. If you believed that say, electing Barack Obama would result in the United States becoming a “slave state” like North Korea, and you didn’t get out there and campaign for John McCain, then quite frankly you have no right to complain if the worst does happen.
However, there are appropriate times and places for doing such campaigning. What’s more, doing so at appropriate times and places is far, far more effective. Standing outside the Republican National Convention trying to encourage people to vote for John McCain has very little effect. They’re already voting for him. Encouraging people to vote for John McCain outside the Democrat National Convention, telling them Barack Obama is a communist and will turn the United States into North Korea would likely also have very little effect, indeed it will probably p**s them off.
Now, no harm done perhaps. You didn’t get a new vote and you didn’t lose a vote, you just wasted yours and some other folks’ time.
But what if your actual goal wasn’t to change their vote, but to do something entirely different – like get them to buy Amway products or build an Amway business? Do Democrats take nutritional products? Do Democrats use skin care? Do Democrats wash their hair? Do Democrats want more time to spend with their family? Do Democrats want to have better lives? Do Democrats want to achieve their dreams and goals?
Of course they do. They’re all potential “customers” for both Amway products and the Amway business. What kind of lunatic business person would go out of their way to deliberately alienate and p**s off half their potential market?
That links to the youtube channel for Internet Services, the company founded by Amway Crown Ambassador Dexter Yager to support his Amway business. Internet has posted a series of 6 videos of former US Republican Congressman Bob McEwen speaking at Yager Free Enterprise Celebration, held in October 2008. While he carefully tiptoes around naming names, amonsgt other things, McEwen clearly implies that voting Democrat will lead the USA on to the path of being a “slave state” like North Korea. He clearly implies that “the left”, ie Democrats, lack integrity. He directly blames President Clinton for the current US sub-prime mortgage crisis, and not surprisingly, he also attacks the entire Climate Change movement.
The whole speech is an extremely thinly disguised political rant designed to scare people into voting Republican.
Now … I don’t want to get in to a discussion about whether his claims are correct or not. What I want to discuss is the effect of this kind of talk at a seminar where people have spent money to be inspired to and learn how to build a successful Amway business.
I’ll tell you the effect – you deliberately alienate and p**s off (at least) half your potential market. I know this, because you’d p**ss me off. I would have walked out. In my opinion the entire speech was thoroughly dishonest and extremely offensive. If I had attended this as my first Amway-related seminar, I doubt I ever would have returned. I would have been out of the Amway business. If, like most new folk, I had not understood the difference between support systems and Amway, there’s every chance this website, The Truth About Amway, would not be a site supportive of Amway, but one extremely critical of Amway. Does Internet Services really want someone like me running anti-Amway sites? Does Amway? As far as Internet Services are concerned, am I not welcome or wanted as an Amway Business Owner? Does Amway not want me as an Amway Business Owner?
It’s not just me. Over on Amway Talk when this Bob McEwen speech was raised, an IBO who was in attendance at the seminar agreed it made him uncomfortable and he was considering asking a refund. In an extremely sad piece of irony, Amway critic Amthrax had this to say about McEwen’s speech –
Why was he using the meeting as a platform to sway people’s votes over to McCain instead of Obama? Why is he speaking about politics at this meeting in the first place?
This is exactly the kind of nonsense that I had to put up with during my time in the Amway/Quixtar business ten years ago. I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, whatever, this kind of stuff, along with the religious sermonizing, just doesn’t belong in and is irrelevant to the teaching and building of the business.
Why a sad piece of irony? Because Amthrax wasn’t talking about an Amway related meeting. He was talking about Bob McEwen giving the same speech at a MonaVie meeting held by Orrin Woodward. Amthrax went on to say –
Amway Global has instituted an accreditation program, which supposedly removes such politicking and prosleytizing from stage. It’s obvious that MonaVie nor Team has such restrictions.
Sadly, Amthrax, we were wrong in our suppositions. At the very seminar where McEwen gave this political rant, Amway recognized Internet Services as a newly accredited organization. In my opinion, utterly disgraceful and it makes accreditation a joke.
In discussions on Amway Talk about this, a number of IBOs defended the talk as being within accreditation guidelines, and that offended IBOs need to just learn to ignore what they don’t agree with. The IBO Communications Platform says about politics –
C. Political communications
a. Statements about capitalism and the free enterprise system and the importance of preserving it.
b. Statements about the economy and its impact on small businesses, in particular an
independent Quixtar business.
c. The importance of voting and being informed on issues and candidates.
d. Teachings of America’s or Canada’s Founding Fathers and the lessons of history as they relate to
the business climate and economic health of these countries.
e. Character and integrity as important issues in our business and in our elected or appointed
a. Endorsement or denouncement of specific candidates, political parties, and/or issues, unless
specifically related to the operation of independent Quixtar® businesses.
b. Inflammatory labels or personal attacks on the character or integrity of government officials
In my opinion, Bob McEwen’s speech very clearly fel into the “Unacceptable” category. The problem is that because of his careful choice of words, he did it all through (extremely obvious) implication rather than directly. If one happens to agree with McEwen’s beliefs, then it’s relatively easy to justify to yourself that his speech fell under the “Acceptable” guidelines. (Though I struggle to see how anyone could not put his attacks on the Climate Change issue under 2a)
But that doesn’t matter!
You are still alienating people like me. People like Amthrax. People like the majority of the United States that voted for Barack Obama. People like the 70-80%+ of folk around the world who supported Barack Obama to win the election and whom are desperately concerned about issues like Climate Change.
You’re going out of you way to alienate a huge segment, indeed potentially a majority, of the marketplace.
And to what purpose? Virtually all of those who you didn’t alienate were voting Republican anyway. You achieved little but to damage your business and the business of others.
Ignore the politics of it. Forget whether you agree with McEwan or not. That’s not the point. It’s a stupid way to operate a business, and even worse it badly damages not just your business, but the businesses of others as well.
Amway – you have no idea how disappointed I was to learn that you are actively endorsing this type of destructive, reputation destroying behaviour.
In my mind it raises serious questions as to the corporations commitment to improve Amway’s reputation. This type of behaviour actively makes it harder for IBOs to build their businesses. Amway has a responsibility to the majority of IBOs, who are not a part of Internet Services, to stop Yager Internet Services and other groups like them from actively damaging our businesses. I knew this stuff was going on in the past, but I had faith that Amway was taking actions to stop it.
Was I wrong?