‘It’s very dark,’ I observe. We’ve begun in the middle: a room with wood paneling, shellacked stone floors and walls, and a recessed circular area for entertaining, carpeted in emerald. Behind me, a pool table occupies most of a Turkish rug annexing the area beneath the open-style second-floor balcony. The Realtor stands near a grand piano and a stone planter housing ferns.
In the roughly two hundred pages of Cross’s book, however, there is virtually no discussion of how Amway actually works. Among entire chapters dedicated to Amway’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and its pioneering move onto the World Wide Web, the ‘Amway Distributor Profile,’ its ‘Bootstraps Philosophy,’ and Amway’s foreign expansion strategy, the closest Cross comes to summarizing Amway’s business plan is in this passage:
Amway's health and beauty brands include Artistry, Satinique, Hymm, Body Series, Glister, Moiskin (South America), Nutrilite, Nutriway (Scandinavia and Australia/New Zealand), Attitude (India), eSpring, Atmosphere and iCook as well as XL and XS Energy drinks. Other Amway brands that were discontinued or replaced include Tolsom, Eddie Funkhouser New York, or beautycycle (Eastern Europe).
There is a good possibility that this point would not have any impact on you, but for me it is a negative aspect. In the training, you will be taught to make a list of friends, family and acquaintances and yes, you guessed correctly – you will have to call them and get them to buy or join your business. I absolutely hate to drag my friends or family into buying something, they will buy, because they love me, but I don’t want to put them in that situation because that’s not what friends and family are for – I might be wrong, and this is merely my opinion.
Amway is an $8.6 billion direct selling business based in Ada, Michigan, USA. Top-selling brands for Amway are Nutrilite™ vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, Artistry™ skincare and color cosmetics, eSpring™ water treatment systems and XS™ energy drinks – all sold exclusively by Amway Business Owners. Global sales in 2016 made Amway the No. 1 direct selling business in the world, according to the 2017 Direct Selling News Global 100. The company’s annual sales figure includes revenue from direct selling operations and other business holdings.
The houses in Carlton Estates were a magnitude above those in our old neighborhood, where all of the concrete homes followed more or less the same design. These sat on larger lots and had deeper lawns, and each was entirely unique. There were second and third stories, and sloping, multilevel roofs. There were bamboo thickets obscuring homes from the street. Stone and wood exteriors. Stained glass windows. No sidewalks. No streetlights.
This was a “First Look”—the initial meeting where Amwayers bring prospects to scare them about the future—and Scott delivered it with gusto and verve. Sherri had told me to expect an hour-long talk, but two and a half hours barely winded this speaker. He delivered 150 minutes of fast patter without notes, and touched upon such diverse topics as the high divorce rate, the quality of McDonald’s hamburgers, IBM’s strategy of diversification, and the number of cupholders in the minivan he had recently bought with cash. I would later realize that this was a typical Amway speech: somewhere between an infomercial and a sermon, a loosely organized string of riffs that bespoke either improvisational genius or, more likely, countless repetitions.
Directly across the state from my family, on Florida’s Atlantic coast, is the Windsor country club. Home architecture here is strictly regulated. Residents drive around on golf carts, on and off the eighteen-hole course. There’s an equestrian center, tennis courts, a concierge, and a gun club. Occasionally Prince Charles pays a visit. This is where you go when you bypass Palm Beach on your way to vacation – there’s no kitsch in Windsor, only the highly refined. Among its residents are retail billionaire W. Galen Weston, the Swarovski clan – and the DeVoses, who own three houses here and spend eight weeks a year or more on the waterfront.
Josh felt that duplication worked in the other direction as well. If he emulated the multi-multi-millionaires (“multi-multi’s” for short) above him—and did exactly what they said they had done—he would succeed as they had. In his mind, his interests were already merged with theirs. He would boast of their accomplishments, tell me how their bonuses just kept “getting better and better all the time!” For him, of course, bigger bonuses for uplines simply meant a more powerful drain on his income. But that kind of self-defeating “stinking thinking” missed the point, as far as Josh was concerned. By “visualizing” great wealth, by worshiping great wealth, and by imitating the consuming habits of the great and wealthy, he would somehow obtain great wealth.