One night, after he had taken me out to dinner (we went Dutch), Josh told me that there was a price list in the back of his car—sealed in an Amway Starter Kit. I could have it right away; I just had to give him the $160 fee to officially join Amway. Uncertain about taking the plunge, I claimed my checking account couldn’t cover $160 that week. That was all right, he insisted: I could write a post-dated check that he would hold until I gave the O.K. to deposit it. I still resisted, and he got out of the car with me, opening the hatch to show me the sealed white box within. Eventually, he settled for giving me a book called Being Happy, which he could later retrieve.
The prospect is alarming enough that Charles Paul Conn, in Promises to Keep, works hard to prove it’ll never happen. “The reality,” he tells us, “is entirely different from what might be predicted by a statistician with a slide rule.” He points to the millions of likely untapped prospects—youths, retirees, downsized professionals, foreigners—although he fails to acknowledge that recruiting them would only make the Business hungrier. More plausibly, he adds that Amway is a small part of the population and will stay that way. The Business’s high dropout rate, he explains, though “often cited as a negative factor, actually serves to keep the pool of potential distributors large.” In other words, Amway’s salvation is its high rate of failure.
It was very good at the beginning, loved the selection. The products went a long way, they were very effective and did the job, I loved the personal interaction with the distributor, things came on time and full order. However, products were not cost effective, they were very expensive to ship and the constant pressure to become a distributor was unnerving. I just wanted to buy the products annually.
At the landing of the stairs, she turns to face us. ‘The one thing you need to know about this house is that the whole area as you go up on this side is a safe area. So, you can see that this will roll down.’ She points to a metal compartment above us, which neither my husband nor I had noticed. ‘I’m going to show you that all the hurricane shutters will also come down,’ she says.
On one fateful evening in December 2014, I went on Kijiji (I live in Canada) to look for a job and one particular ad caught my attention. This job ad was so vague, and yet so loaded that I filled in my contact details so the person who posted the ad could get back to me. This guy got back to me via the email I filled in and he told about brand new exciting business opportunity. He also sent me a couple of videos showing me people in mansions, beach houses and the rest by exploring this business opportunity in another city.
I was an ibo for a few years and received instruction from Ron himself. Wye aye man, that shite is expensive! The wife and I spent loads on nuts and bolts and pep rallies. Not to mention we were also pressured to buy bsm and got a lot of encouragement from our upline. The products were great and xcess tastes amazing, but it was such a financial burden that the wife had to take a job while I did the fishing. I finally said sod it and quit, despite her highly adamantly vocal irritation. I think that’s one of the reasons she left, hahaha. No, it’s not a scam in the true sense of the word, because how the business model is structured, but your upline and the organization does make more than you in the end.
From time to time the absurdities and contradictions of The Business would surface in Josh’s conversation. In one of his many unguarded moments, he voiced a preference for Amway Scrub Rite because it ran out more quickly than the “superconcentrated” Amway cleaners, enabling him to buy it more often. Catching himself, he quickly added, “Of course, it still lasts a long time.” This puzzled me. Why was Josh so eager to shovel money at Amway? The rational thing would be to minimize his own purchases while strong-arming his downlines into buying as much as possible. But, of course, if everyone did that, the whole business would evaporate. This is Amway’s central dilemma.
What with backorders and unexpected disappearances, it took me a few weeks to gather enough items for my next experiment: a blind taste-test pitting Amway food against brands from “communist” supermarkets. Unfortunately, biases crept into the data when my subjects learned to identify what they called the Telltale Amway Aftertaste, a lingering cardboard bouquet with unmistakable PineSol inflections. Aftertaste aside, Amway food still rated low: Only the Critics’ Choice Cherry Flavored Toaster Pastries (a Pop-Tart analog) managed to eke into second-to-last place. The Goglonian Bagels were universally declared the worst ever experienced. And the Big Fiber Fudgies? Let’s just say that they were pretty much all Telltale Aftertaste.
“Across the United States, the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and thriving, from coast to coast,” said Dr. David B. Audretsch, professor and director of the Institute for Development Strategies at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “This year’s AGER confirms Americans continue to view entrepreneurship in a positive light and are open to the idea of starting their own business. Compared to the global average, attitudes towards entrepreneurship in America are sustaining momentum from previous years and are on track to experience continued growth.”
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After years operating behind the scenes, Betsy DeVos is set to become the public face of education policy in America—an advocate of private Christian education helming the largest public-education agency in the country. Most education policymaking happens at the state and local level; the Education Department administers financial aid and collects and analyzes educational data, but doesn’t set state standards or school curricula. Even so, the position is a considerable bully pulpit, one with the ability to define the national discussion on education.
She showed me how all the dilution bottles worked (Amway liquid cleaners come in “superconcentrated” form, which makes them superinconvenient to use), and took me on a tour of eight or so catalogues, pointing out all the products I would want to make an effort to learn about. Finally, she did the best she could with the Amway paperwork, but, math teacher though she was, she got lost in its byzantine intricacies. “I’m still learning,” she explained with an embarrassed smile. “But it’s O.K., because once I get it all down, it’s all I’ll ever need to know, whether our business is a hundred dollars a month or a million!” Unfortunately, it was what I needed to know just to buy a roll of toilet paper.
In a breakfast speech to volunteers at Holland Christian Schools on May 12, 1975, Ed Prince warned that lazy and neglectful U.S. citizens were not doing their fair share, forcing the government to, as a Holland Sentinel article described it, “play an increasingly larger role in our daily and personal lives.” (You don’t have to listen too hard to hear an echo of Ed Prince in his daughter, Betsy. “[For welfare recipients] to sit and be handed money from the government because they think a job like that is beneath them,” the heiress sighed to the Detroit Free Press in 1992. “If I had to work on a line in a factory, I would do that before I would stand in line for a welfare check.”)