Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Thought for the New year

When I was in the 4th Grade, and dinosaurs walked the earth, there was a boy in my class named Robert. Now Robert had a tough life. He wasn't very popular. He was fat, not especially good looking, or smart, and not blessed with any talent or sports. His social skills were, to be kind, non-existent. Unsurprisingly, he was painfully shy. Fourth graders being who they are, Robert was the victim of ceaseless pranks, teasing and the sort of indifferent and casual cruelties that only other children can inflict. I am not proud to admit that I was one of his tormentors.

That January, right after Christmas Vacation (it was a Parochial school) Robert's mother had a meeting at school about the problem. "This needs to stop," she reportedly said. "I don't know what else I can do. I've told him 'Robert, you have a new shirt, new pants, new socks and shoes, and even new underwear. You're a new boy. Now go into that classroom and act like a new boy'."

But here's the thing. Robert was still Robert. Despite the new shirt, new pants, new socks and shoes and even the new underwear, Robert was not a new boy.

As the clock ticks away the last few minutes of 2011, how many of us are standing in Robert's new shoes? We look back at the year, its triumphs and defeats, and firmly resolve that next year will be better. We'll stop the snackin' and slackin' and get back in shape. We'll improve our diet, and we'll get up and moving more. We'll rebuild that relationship that we have been neglecting. Take our business or career to a new level. Start that new hobby or activity we've always wanted to try. Reduce our debt. Save for retirement. Be better. Be happy.

But here's the thing. You are still you. Despite all the heartfelt good intentions, you are not a new you. If you want 2012 to be different, than YOU need to be different.

I will leave you with a thought from Stephen Covey's wonderful book, First Things First:  "Each decision we make is an important decision. Some may seem small at the time, but the reality is that they add upon one another to become habits of the heart that move us with increasing force toward some destiny. We are not the product of our past, we are the product of our choices."

I wish you a happy, healthy and successful New Year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seriously. What is "Network Marketing"

It's a scam. It's a pyramid scheme. Its overpriced products. It's a "get rich quick" scheme. They just want to sell you a garage full of stuff and cut you lose.The products are usually either bogus or are available somewhere else to the public at the same or lesser prices. The idea is recruiting new people to either buy into the program or else to buy products that are grossly overpriced.

Everyone has an opinion about multi-level marketing (MLM). Are there MLM companies out there guilty of all of the above and more? You bet there are. But there are plenty of dishonest traditional companies out there too. Like any other business or financial venture, you have to do your research before getting involved - whether its an MLM, a franchise, a corporation or a mom and pop sole proprietorship. But that's a topic for another post.

What, really, is a multi-level marketing (or network marketing or direct selling) organization?

Here is my take on it, as someone who has been actively involved in MLM for almost 3 years and from my conversations with many business and marketing professionals.

Network Marketing is a non-traditional method of marketing, selling and distributing a product or service in which the salesforce is paid not only for their own sales, but also for the sales of the network of distributors that they recruit, train and support.

That's it, I think. It is simply a method for selling and distributing a product. Whether or not any particular MLM company represents a real opportunity or gives you a reason to run fast and far is an important, but separate question. One we'll look into in a future post.