Friend in need

Dollar bill

Take a closer look …

As an impressionable youth, I was surprised when a senior retail colleague invited me to his home.

Tim* and I had only dealt fleetingly, yet somehow he knew I was studying human resources.

He said he had something vital to impart that could galvanise my fortunes.

Though he declined to ‘ruin the surprise’ with details, I was intrigued enough to accept.

If the shoe fits

When I arrived, Tim’s smiling wife seated me with nibbles but no drink.

People mingled, dressed very much like my hosts.

After small talk (in which I became progressively anxious to learn the ‘big deal’) Tim called for silence.

He then produced a tin of black shoe polish, and began rubbing it into his carpet.

The others gasped, then looked at me.

Having seen this on TV, I showed less shock than they seemed to expect.

And when Tim reversed his ‘mad’ act with a cleaning agent, I realised I’d been sucked in to an Amway party.


As I abhor mendacity, I threw courtesy to the wind and made for the door.

Tim and two cohorts cut me off, imploring me to:

  1. Buy a bottle of cleaning agent for myself.
  2. Buy a box to sell to friends, for fun and profit.
  3. Consider my premature departure’s impact on my career.

As I saw none, I pushed past them (in a scene similar to one decades later).

Dirty talk

Researching this tricky topic, I found a plethora of terms:

  • Multi-level marketing (MLM).
  • Direct selling.
  • Pyramid scheme.
  • Network marketing.
  • Referral marketing.
  • Party plan.
  • Affiliate marketing.

I sense that new words emerge as the old ones get … polished off.


Fonnie sold Avon for a while. She had no trouble moving product, but we nearly drowned in promotional guff.

She’s bought Nutrimetics and Tupperware from friends and been happy with the experience.

I recall being impressed by the pink Mary Kay cars of super salespeople.

While these legal firms are a far cry from chain letters and airplane games, the MLM waters still seem murky.


To clarify, I’m keen for your MLM experiences.

Have you:

  • Sold?
  • Sold out?
  • Been sold out?

How is the MLM business model holding up on today’s fast-shifting retail sands?

The first five commenters will get a set of knives so crap they leave steel shards in soft cheese.

So don’t delay.

Join us



* Not his real name. Actually, it might be; I was pretty annoyed by his deceit.


Paul Hassing | Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire