The embarrassing jerk was my parents’ upline, Vincent, who had Emerald status. I don’t remember this man. My dad says, ‘He was a creepy guy, just an incredibly creepy guy. I don’t know how else to describe him . . . You actually felt, after being around the guy, that you needed to take a shower. Nobody wanted to be around him. He was a jerk, he was a liar. Just a despicable person.’

Occasionally, though, it can be useful to mention poverty in a certain context. Inspired by the personal and business philosophies of DeVos and Van Andel, Cross spent the ten years after writing Commitment to Excellence researching the two men, culminating in his 1995 self-help book Choices with Clout: How to Make Things Happen – by Making the Right Decisions Every Day of Your Life. Much of the book is compiled from interviews with the Amway founders and top-level distributors. In a passage about excellence, Van Andel outlines the proper way for an Amway distributor to rationalize the issue of poverty:
You need life insurance if people depend on you financially - and for no other reason. The only real reason for this is because you have children. A lazy spouse isn't a good enough reason, an adult can be expected to find work. If you must pay someone money to bet that you'll die, it should be because your children are dependent on you, or because you care for someone at end-of-life. They make very cheap term-life policies to cover this, for like 1-5x annual salary - 20 years, depending on whether you smoke. Getting a similar policy for on a spouse that's taking care of the kids is also important to consider.
1, no inventory loading? Hebalife distributors are re-evaluated for their qualifications every January. Based solely on how much products they purchased. Distributors can claim the products are for their own personal consumption any time they need to make up the volume points they needed for the qualification. 2, way over priced products : 2-10 times of equivalent products in the market. Why would a real consumer pay such premium for products that are available everywhere? 3, the refund policy. Herbalife distributors make purchase through their uplines. Uplines get rolty override payment on every purchase their downline made. This policy only encourage focus on recruiting, push unwanted purchase, and in factual denied refund.

[1]The FTC’s ruling that Amway is not a pyramid scheme is based partly on the “70-10 Rule”: To qualify for Performance Bonuses based on downlines’ sales, an Amway distributor is required to sell, according to Amway’s Business Reference Manual, “at wholesale and for retail at least 70 percent of the total amount of products he bought during a given month”—this is supposed to prevent “inventory loading,” the forced purchase of unsalable merchandise. Amwayers are also required, for the Performance Bonus, to sell to at least ten retail customers in a given month, which ensures that real business is being conducted.


But as I came to know Josh better, I realized he was acting not so much out of a calculated strategy as out of a deep faith in duplication. Josh believed that whatever he did, his downlines would imitate: If he set the example of filling his house with only “positive” (i.e. Amway) products, so would they. Rich DeVos, more philosophically, calls this the Law of Compensation: “In the long haul, every gift of time, money, or energy that you give will return to benefit you.” 

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.
After graduating from high school in 1975, Betsy enrolled at Calvin College, her mother’s alma mater. Calvin’s mission, as stated in the 1975–1976 course catalog, was “to prepare students to live productive lives of faith to the glory of God in contemporary society—not merely lives that have a place for religion … but lives which in every part, in every manifestation, in their very essence, are Christian.”
But as I came to know Josh better, I realized he was acting not so much out of a calculated strategy as out of a deep faith in duplication. Josh believed that whatever he did, his downlines would imitate: If he set the example of filling his house with only “positive” (i.e. Amway) products, so would they. Rich DeVos, more philosophically, calls this the Law of Compensation: “In the long haul, every gift of time, money, or energy that you give will return to benefit you.”

While that is true (and I know nothing about Amway, so I won’t offer an opinion on the company), it doesn’t mean much, because a tax write off isn’t worth anything unless it’s enough of a write off to put you in a lower tax bracket. Say you have $1000 in business expenses – that $1000 is tax deductible. That doesn’t mean you pay $1000 less in taxes. It means you don’t have to pay taxes on $1000 of your income.
He ended with a Wizard of Oz motif, reminding us to stay positive and focused: “You have to stick to that yellow brick road. Just like Dorothy. She followed it all the way to the Emerald City—and picked up three legs along the way! You know what? The Wizard of Oz is really an Amway movie!” The crowd erupted in laughter and cheers. In the midst of their long applause, they seemed to have forgotten what the Wizard turned out to be.
About 20 of us showed up and this guy was basically reading the same “save money” script as the guy from 2-3 months earlier. The old guy was from WakeUp now while this new guy was promoting Amway. Unfortunately for this new guy, he found me a few months too late. We sat through the guy’s speech but I told everyone not to join because it was a pyramid scheme. Most listened, some did not. None of them were able to make any profits before they eventually quit!
Clockwise, from upper left: Amway cofounders Jay Van Andel (left) and Richard DeVos (center) meet in the Oval Office with President Gerald Ford, who is holding a copy of Richard’s book, “Believe!”; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Richard DeVos during a 2009 event at the Scripps Research Institute; an aerial shot of Dick & Betsy DeVos’s primary residence in Ada, Michigan; Dick & Betsy enjoy their courtside seats at an Orlando Magic game—an NBA team owned by the DeVos family. | National Archives; AP; Getty Images
Interspersed with Dream Night’s audiovisual assaults were six Castro-length harangues, which toggled along in a sort of good coach, bad coach routine: One youngish Amway Diamond would assure us that we could do it!, after which an older, sterner Diamond hectored us to stop making excuses for not doing it. The evening closed as we all held hands and sang “God Bless America”—and then broke into a triumphal cheer.
"Amway differed in several ways from pyramid schemes that the Commission had challenged. It did not charge an up-front "head hunting" or large investment fee from new recruits, nor did it promote "inventory loading" by requiring distributors to buy large volumes of nonreturnable inventory," said Debra A Valentine, a general counsel for the FTC, in a seminar organised by the International Monetary Fund in May 1998.
Year by year, cycle by cycle, the DeVoses built a state Legislature in their own image. By the time Democrat Jennifer Granholm was term-limited in 2010 and Republican Rick Snyder was elected governor without any political experience, it was the DeVoses, not Snyder, who knew how to get things done. Unlike the Engler years, this time, they had more sway than the governor.

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. 
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