My last post about Amway Global Accreditation and Bob McEwen’s speech at Yager Internet’s conference has sparked a great deal of discussion, both on the comments here, on Amway Talk, and elsewhere. Of interest was two quite contrasting camps – a significant number of folk were supportive of my comments and expressed dismay at this type of talk occuring at Amway seminars. Numerous Amway critics, many of whom previously associated with the Yager system and it’s offshoots, also commented that political and religious evangelism was one of the aspects of their Amway experience they found most off-putting. A number of current IBOs, including self-identified “conservatives” also expressed their discomfort at these types of talks and their belief they had no place in Amway-related meetings.
By contrast, two Yager-system affiliated IBOs, one current (TB2IBO) and one former (MichMan) simply couldn’t seem to see any problem at all. On Amway Talk one even indicated a belief that this type of talk was a good thing as it filtered out those who couldn’t handle being challenged with beliefs different to their own and whose “dream is not big enough” and don’t understand the business –
If you are the type of person that would get up and leave or quit because of something like this, well, then your dream isn’t big enough or you don’t understand the business (TB2IBO)
With respect, TB2IBO, this is what some critics might term “classic tapespeak”, and it is clearly insulting to me, and indeed anyone else who thinks political talks at Amway seminars are inappropriate. Do these folk actually believe that insulting people is a sensible way to grow a business? Is there a need to filter people like me out of the Amway business?
In contrast to everyone else, TB2IBO and MichMan also felt the talk was within Accreditation guidelines. Let me recap them with regards 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 government officials.
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 or candidates.
Quite honestly, I can see his perspective here, and that’s part of the problem – by their very nature, political topics are subjective and open to interpretation. This means broad rules like the above can easily be worked around. To the best of my recollection, McEwen didn’t specifically name or attack any candidates or political parties – he didn’t have to, he was very clear through implication whom he was talking about. Now, I personally feel that such sophistry demonstrates a lack of integrity – it’s nitpicking the words so as to bypass the spirit of the rules – nevertheless, it does abide by the letter of the rules.
The rules also give a further very clear “out”. You can’t endorse/denouce parties or issues “unless specifically related to the operation of independent Quixtar® businesses.” Again, something entirely subjective. Who decides whether something is related to operating a Quixtar business? MichMan was of the opinion that denouncing the idea of human-influenced Climate Change was perfectly acceptable – because (in his opinion) it had a negative influence on the price of gas and was thus directly related to the operation of an Amway Global business.
Again, highly subjective judgements.
Now, I can see there might be times when a political talk at an Amway function is entirely appropriate. What if a candidate had been influenced by anti-mlm crackpots like Jon Taylor and Robert FitzPatrick and believed that all companies using MLM were in fact illegal pyramids and should be shutdown? This is a serious consideration – it’s my opinion that this very thing has occurred with BERR and Amway in the United Kingdom. Clearly Amway business owners would need to be informed about this as it directly affects their business.
It’s my opinion though, that such times are rare, and when such a speech is called for, it should always be handled by a representative of Amway Corporation, not a clearly partisan speaker such as Bob McEwen.
What concerns me the most is the inability of defenders such as TB2IBO and MichMan to see or acknowledge the damage such talks might do to Amway’s reputation and efforts for it to be a business for anyone. This displays a remarkable lack of insight. It doesn’t really matter whether you agree with McEwen or not – it’s clear that a substantial number of people will not, and that a talk such as McEwen’s is unnecessary. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that other Amway support systems have thrived without any need to push particular political or religious viewpoints.
If it’s unnecessary and it offends people – why do it?
In my last post on this topic, I was quite harsh towards Amway with regards the whole accreditation process. This was primarily driven by the knowledge that the McEwen talk was given at the very seminar that Yager Internet was recognized by Amway as a newly accredited organization. The reality is that Amway itself probably did not know the talk was scheduled.
What decides whether Accreditation is a real part of the transformation, or a joke, is how Amway and the IBOAI responds.
A commenter on the post, John, had the following to say –
The board has been notified of the talk and is taking the proper actions for the future which will be dealt with by the board which as you know got rid of many other LOA’s.
This is pleasing to hear. John also highlights many of the other issues that Accreditation addresses and the positive change it has achieved, particular with regards BSM, and that’s a topic I’ll be addressing soon. Some time ago a higher level pin within Yager InterNET also told me that many changes were occurring within that organisation, but as particular individual Diamonds had always had an enormous amount of control and influence, change was going to be slow and difficult to implement – but that those in charge of InterNET were committed to the transformation. Whether or not this has any bearing on this particular issue I don’t know, but nevertheless it is pleasing to hear and I’m sure they have the support of the vast majority of IBOs both within the Yager InterNET family and the greater Amway world. We’ve been held hostage to the actions of a few for too long.
The Accreditation concept is in my opinion a worthwhile one, and a very smart way to deal with a very difficult issue – how to successfully influence the operations of companies that are legally independent from Amway and Amway business owners. It will take some time, and there’ll be some hiccups. It’s said that old habits die hardest, and some of the habits Accredition addresses have been very much entrenched in some organisations.
Ultimately though, responsibility lies not with Amway, but individual IBOs and IBO organisations. While challenges like the BERR vs Amway UK case have made it clear that Amway must monitor what the field is doing, it’s impossible for them to be everywhere all the time.
IBOs and IBO organisation need to be responsible for their own activities, and to always be aware of the effect those activities have on Amway’s reputation and the businesses of their’s and other Amway IBOs, both today and in the future.
Reputation is cumulative. Everything matters.