We’re coming upon my four year anniversary as a network marketer. As I reflect on my business, I marvel at how I, a major skeptic of the network marketing industry, became one of its biggest advocates. One of my biggest misconceptions was that all the products being sold in this industry were total crap. If you read my pyramid scheme post, it’s a residual belief left over from that. But it turns out, there are a lot of really great products out there being sold through a network marketing model. So let’s talk about why you as a consumer would want to purchase products this way.
Network Marketing Vs. Retail
Okay, let’s say you shop at Target. Who doesn’t? You go to the beauty section, and you get your favorite mascara from the top shelf and head to the register (after adding five extra things to your cart, of course…). Have you thought about how that mascara got to Target? First, a company designed and formulated a mascara. Next, a manufacturing company had to make it. Then, it had to be shipped to a wholesaler. That wholesaler then sells that mascara to Target stores. Then, Target sells it to you. Every step of that costs the mascara company money. On top of that, they’re probably paying for special placement in the store, and a ton of money on advertising where a celebrity gets paid a kajillion dollars to pretend they use a drugstore mascara when… they definitely don’t… All of those expenses are then reflected in the price of the product so that mascara company still turns a profit. This means a major markup on that $7 mascara you just bought… So why would you shop through a network marketing company?
More Bang for your Buck
The idea behind Network Marketing is word of mouth advertising. By cutting out the middle man and shopping purely through consultants, the company saves a lot of overhead and advertising costs. That creates a significant drop in markup for the consumer, and invariably you’re getting way more bang for your buck: better quality product at a significantly lower price.
It’s More Environmentally Conscious
All of those steps and middle men in a traditional retail model require a lot of shipping, one of the biggest carbon footprints in our modern world. By shopping through an online network marketing company, the product goes from the manufacturer to your door. That’s it! Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be helping the planet, one purchase at a time.
Typically there are Less Preservatives
In order for products to be sold in a brick and mortar store, they need to have a long shelf life. Some products are in the warehouse for years before even making it into the store. This means the products require way more preservatives than what you’d buy through a network marketing company. The products are usually cleaner and fresher, and may even be a reason why certain companies won’t opt to sell in traditional retail.
More Personal Customer Service
Some people love to walk into a store, be completely ignored, and buy what they need. Don’t worry, that’s still possible through the company’s website and online shopping. But, if you are having a particular skin issue and don’t know where to start, you have someone who can help personally recommend products to you. They’ll also make sure you’re loving the product before the return window. They’ll probably even send you samples of things you’re curious about, and hook you up with a sweet birthday gift. There’s a relationship of trust that’s built with someone who truly just wants to serve you.
You’re Helping a Small Business
Okay, let’s go back to Target. You get your mascara, and you go to the checkout line. Does this person get a commission for that mascara? Nope. They get paid a solid hourly. It makes no difference to them whether you purchased that mascara or not. If you order even one tiny item from a network marketer, I promise you, they’re doing a tiny dance of celebration and gratitude. You’re helping a small business. The commission goes to the person who helped you, and helps their dreams come true—not the dreams of Target’s shareholders. Maybe the dreams are small, like paying for their kids’ ballet classes, or maybe they’re big, like retiring themselves from their job. Either way, your purchase is met with excitement and gratitude.
The Products are Actually Good!
While I can’t say this for every network marketing company out there, I can say this for a few. A lot of these companies have amazing products. Products that are recognized by professionals in their own industry. Products that are tested against the competition in double blind clinical trials and win. Poo-poo starting your own business all you want, but if you think that the eye cream your friend is selling is just some big scam, you and your eyes are missing out. Don’t believe me? Try them! You already know you’re going to get great customer service and a return will be a breeze, so try it out. If you hate it, go back to whatever you’re using. But I’m telling you, there’s some good stuff out there being sold in this model. Happy Shopping!
‘There’s a small black hole in your Heart Chakra that no light can touch. It’s almost as if you were hurt very deeply, and will never let it happen again.’ My radiant friend and reiki healer Rachael was retelling me what she found when doing our healing session. Small black hole sounds rather ominous… Is this why I’ve been single for six years? A bit heavy handed with the metaphors, but it felt… well, true. I’ve always considered myself a pretty open-hearted and vulnerable person, and yet there is a subtle little guard up that few get to peek behind. I had spent some time in the last year working on myself and I was ready for a grown-up relationship. Unfortunately, I’d been perpetually single for my entire life in NYC. So awfully single that I even made a cabaret show about it. This reiki session happened a few years ago, just before I met my fiancé. Little did I know, what I learned at that session would spurn the closure I needed to be ready for the grownup relationship I’d always wanted.
I’ve only had one serious relationship in my life. It was intense, and all consuming, and it ended as abruptly as it began. I woke up one day, realized this man wasn’t the one, and couldn’t spend another night pretending he was. Ending a relationship before every ounce of love is dripped out of it is a challenge. It was as surprising for me as it was for him. I spent an entire month pretty shell-shocked. I couldn’t believe we were exchanging keys and returning stuff and never talking to each other again—we were big practitioners of Greg Behrendt’s ‘They Call it a Breakup Because it’s Broken,’ and thankfully made some healthy boundaries. I healed myself as best I could, and somehow managed to snag a rebound to ease the pain. For anyone who’s rebounded with a fellow rebounder, it is at the same time so soothing and so very depressing. We talked openly of our past relationships and openly processed why they didn’t work. All while trying to convince ourselves this was a real connection rather than a distraction from the new loneliness.
I went to do my summer gig with newly rebounded and newly labeled ‘boyfriend’ and felt myself finally moving on. And then, Facebook ruined everything. What were breakups like before Facebook? Did you find out your ex moved on from a wedding announcement in the paper? Or did they just disappear into the ether, only to be briefly brought back only when you thought of them? This is not the case anymore. If you want, you can track your ex’s every move. Even if you unfriend or unfollow or whatever, Facebook can torment you by adding them to the ‘suggested friends’ section. I was casually browsing my newsfeed one morning when a friend’s post sounded… familiar. And my ex had ‘liked’ this post. I groan at the fact that this story even occurs with the drama and importance of exes liking posts, but this is the world we live in. After some light Facebook stalking, my suspicions were confirmed. My ex was dating someone new. Someone I knew. Someone he only knew because of me. And the relationship that followed between them was very public, and for me, very painful. You can’t quantify how long it takes to get over someone, or tell someone how they ‘should’ feel. And no matter how much I knew he wasn’t right for me, and how much I cared deeply for his happiness, I also never ever wanted my ex to find love again. It’s completely selfish and totally unreasonable, but I just want any man who crosses my path to be left in a puddle of their own sadness, insisting that no woman will ever compare to the illustrious Katie Bland. If anyone was going to come out of this relationship the better for it, and now happily coupled, it would be me, by golly!
But the Universe is hilarious and also apparently needed to teach me the same lesson a million times. It’s safe to say that almost every guy I have dated has met and found their soulmate shortly after dating me. I was the marriage ‘fluffer.' They all sting a bit, seeing their engagement announcements as I’d still be wistfully swiping left and right on the hottest new dating app looking for the future Mr. Katie Bland. But the OG-ex was the hardest. I don’t think I even realized how deeply this relationship cut me until I was confronted with the happy couple head on.
My friend from college was getting married, which is great, because I love weddings. She did, however, warn me that my ex and his now wife would be there. And also, his wife was very very pregnant. Joy. I guess one can no longer be unhappy for the ex and his rebound if it turns out they were meant to be… Maybe I’m bitter I never got a thank you note? Regardless, the one that hurt the most was coming back into my plane of existence for one day.
To prepare, I did what any self respecting woman would do. I dieted, worked out, and bought the sexiest little black dress I could find. (It's the photo in this article, not bad right?!) Though I had absolutely zero desire to rekindle our love or even tempt him, I guess my logic was that however good I looked would show just how ‘fine’ I was. The wedding came, and the happy couple were two ominous orbs in the corner of my eye throughout the entire event. I couldn’t not think about them, or stare at them, or do everything to avoid them. And they respectfully avoided me, too. I used my flawless technique of speaking and laughing loudly, so in case either of them were watching, they could see me laugh and smile and have a grand old time in slow motion, just like the movies. But the reception was well underway, and no moves were made between us to talk to each other. I had spent months mentally and physically preparing myself for this day, and it was really going to end without even a single interaction? As much as I wanted to stay comfortable and not confront the ex-love of my life and his soulmate and future mother of his children, I knew I would not be satisfied if I didn’t say something to them. I grabbed my friend for moral support, and we walked over to say hi.
I had thought about seeing them many, many times. For years I had dreams of running into them and yelling at them for hurting me so much. But saying hi to them was not at all what I expected. As soon as we started talking, every inch of resentment and bitterness drained away. I was instead standing in front of a man I had loved, who was healed and happy. And truth be told, he was thriving in a way that he would never have thrived with me. It was a relief, to see them together, to know that was right and we were wrong. We caught up briefly and continued to enjoy the wedding in our separate friend circles. At the end of the night when everyone was saying their goodbyes, we found ourselves standing next to each other again, and I surprised myself by saying, ‘You know, I think of you often, and hope you’re doing well, and I just send that out into the ether and hope you get it.’ And he surprised me by saying, ‘I do, too.’
It startles me how much darkness can be built up in the unknown, in the silence. The years I spent not talking to him had created a black cloud of anger, bitterness, resentment, and fear. I was so afraid that he spoke terribly about our relationship, or about me. I worried he hated me for ending our relationship so suddenly. And this whole time, we were simply healing and wishing each other well from afar. Are there other relationships that can be mended in this way?
Since then we’ve exchanged emails here and there, and I recently caught up with him to ask permission to talk about this whole issue. We are now with our life partners, and because of that we can both look back on our time together with pure reverence. We were finally able to speak gratitude to each other. I could finally see what the good in our relationship was, and how it led me to the man I have now. It’s no surprise to me that I met my fiancé exactly a month after getting closure with my ex. I had no idea I was that hurt or that angry after all of those years. Simply by bringing light to the relationship, and courageously reaching out at a friend’s wedding, I was able to heal years of pain. I only wish I had found closure sooner. How would it have changed my relationships?
Now, I’m so dang happy, and literally every ex of mine is married, I could go down the line and do this with all of them! Or…maybe I won’t, because that’s awfully time consuming. But at least, I’ll keep sending well wishes out into the ether, and keep my heart open for their well wishes to me as well.
A friend of mine recently requested a blog post about our conference. She is not in network marketing, but has a huge curiosity for what exactly happens at a network marketing conference. Since outsiders rarely get a taste of what these conferences are like, I’m excited to share with you all as much as I can.
What is this conference, exactly?
Most companies have at least one annual conference a year. They hold these for three reasons. 1) To launch new products 2) To provide incredible trainings and tools to reactivate your business. 3) To celebrate the crap out of the folks who had a killer year.
In my company at least, these events are paid for by ourselves. We get ourselves there, we find lodging, and there is a price for our registration. Along with the new products we will end up wanting to buy, it is a major expense. It is also, one of the biggest activators in our business. Statistics show a major difference in sales and promotions comparing those consultants who attended to those who didn’t. Those who are serious about their business or want to be serious about it make it happen. Is it a major sacrifice? Yes. Does it take a lot of planning both financially and logistically to make happen? Heck yes. Is it worth it? HECK TO THE DOUBLE HECK YES.
I know other industries have conferences all the time, and your boss usually pays for your lodging, travel, etc. However, since we are our own boss, we figure this out on our own. Some may find that unfair, but I personally think a trip to Vegas I deduct in my taxes is a pretty sweet deal. In my company, once you’ve promoted to the very top, they pay for travel and lodging, because they want you to take that extra money and pour it into your team with gifts and inspiration, etc. One of the many fun perks at getting to the top!
What’s the Conference Actually Like?
Imagine an arena filled with people who all love the same product as you. Who all believe in the same company as you. Who all go through the same difficulties as you. That’s what this is. After having to awkwardly explain 364 days out of the year what exactly I’m putting into my water and why Fizz Sticks are my ‘strange addiction,’ I am now surrounded by other men and women who are also obsessively pouring fizz into every bottle within an arm’s reach. On top of that, after facing loads of rejection and people politely or not so politely saying they’re not interested in your ‘little makeup business,’ you’re in an arena with 18,000 other people who all said yes. And not only said yes to the business, but also said yes to committing enough to their business to attend the event. In case you come to this conference wondering if you’re crazy, you just look at the sea of faces who also may be crazy, and realize you’re okay. Every single person in that arena is grateful to the point of tears that their sponsor courageously asked them to take a look at this business. It’s a beautiful reminder why we do this.
On the night of the new product launch, there’s an arena filled with people who squeal with delight, and maybe even shed a grateful tear or two as a new game-changing product is launched. It’s so fun and so ridiculous to be caught up in. To an outsider, it might look a little crazy out of context. For example, my reaction when I found out that my company was releasing an eye-makeup primer was to immediately stand up and scream ‘OH FUCK YEA’ and clap my hands with reckless abandon, almost to the point of injury. I’m not a makeup artist. I don’t wear makeup everyday. I guess I just love eye makeup primer that much. Any conference for a company you’re not a part of can be so foreign. But, there is something unique I love about mine.
First off, we are trained by our own leaders. I was shocked when I found out not every company does this. Why not have the people kicking ass in this business share with others how to also kick ass? Isn’t the entire model built around climbing to the top and turning around and helping others climb? There are ‘celebrities’ in my company that everyone loves. We may most likely follow them obsessively on Instagram wanting to know what their secret is and what their life looks like. Much like my fellow actor friends follow Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey. Except, every year, we get to hear our Mindy Kalings and Tina Feys pump us up! And if we promote high enough in the company, we can even meet and be friends with these Tina Feys and Mindy Kalings and become Mindy Kalings and Tina Feys to other people. How great is that?
Second, we are not about the big schmancy money. When leaders are showing photos of their life and how it’s been changed by our company, they mostly show photos of time with family or charity outreach instead of private jets and five star vacations. One of the big mottos in our company is ‘Be More, so you can Do More, so you can Have More, so you can Give More.’ Nice, huh?
Third, there’s a sacred ritual on the last night in which we sacrifice a virgin man to increase our sales for the next year. I’m kidding. That was a joke. I promise, we are not a cult. Hey wait, where are you going? In all seriousness, on the last night, there’s a party for newly promoted rockstars to celebrate their great year with free booze, free food, and so much dancing. It’s a real party. Thrown for you. It’s the best!
What’s with the Gowns?
If you follow any network marketing rockstars on Instagram, you may have seen a few gown moments. Why does it suddenly look like the conference turned into a pageant? For us, one of the nights of the conference is just a huge celebration of all the folks who had the strongest years. We honor the highest in sales, the folks who promoted the most people on their team, new promotions, people who have been in the business for a quarter of a century, stuff like that. t’s a quirky absurdity that we wear gowns, cross the stage and wave, and get a blue bag from Tiffany’s at the end of our pageant moment. Especially when the other 364 days of the year, most of us are in yoga pants and a messy bun trying to keep our life together while running an online business. But every industry needs its silly round of recognition and pomp and circumstance. This is ours. This night of celebration is also incredibly empowering to see over 300 people walk the stage who earned their White Mercedes (and a game-changing income to boot). Seeing that many people achieve such a high honor gets you thinking, ‘why not you?’ And can lead you to inspired action after the conference. It’s also amazing to see what’s possible, when a dozen leaders walk the stage for their organization earning 5 million in revenue every month. And then, if you do the math in your head as to what exactly they’re earning every month, you usually have to pick your jaw up off the floor.
Why was Rachel Hollis at your last conference?
Every year, we are honored with an amazing guest speaker including two of my favorites, Rachel Hollis, and Mel Robbins. (And to give you an idea of the expense of our conference, it’s comparable if not cheaper than Rachel’s Rise weekend). This training has been wildly invaluable, inspiring, and just plain exciting. For a self development nerd like me, I feel like I’m at a rock concert watching my heroes perform live. It’s worth the price of admission alone to get an hour with these incredible people, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the conference. There are even incentives to earn a chance to meet these formidable thought leaders.
Being with Your Besties
The biggest thing about this conference is that it lights us up. Imagine as business owners we are all electric cars. We drive around, and share our business, and some people say yes, and some people say no, and our battery eventually drains. Just like you would not continue to use your cellphone if your battery was dead, our business can’t continue to run if we’re not plugged in and reenergized. This is a jam-packed weekend with enough juice to carry you through the year. There’s celebrations of success, there’s inspiring stories pushing through slumps in business, there’s exciting news about where your company is headed. And best of all, there’s your team. These online businesses mean you have friends from all over—some of which you only get to see once a year at this conference. So in-between trainings, you’re catching up with friends, laughing until your sides hurt, having open and vulnerable heart to hearts about your business and your life. It’s the biggest, most positive slumber party I’ve been to. If I’ve forgotten why I did this crazy business in the first place, this weekend is here to remind me. If I’m on fire and loving where I’m headed, this is the extra fuel I need to cross the next finish line. It’s where I go to be lifted up, and it’s where I go to lift up others. It’s the best. And from the outside it may be hard to understand, but for any theatre kid, I just ask them to remember Thespian Conference…and you’ll get it.
My dearest friend Melissa has no idea, but she’s a major influencer in my fitness journey. When I met her she was almost perpetually in athleisure and training for some big race. I thought she was one of those freaks of nature where fitness just came easy to them. Little did I know, up until recently, she had never really considered herself a runner. She told me that it was a story she had told herself, and she decided to change it and started running. Now she’s run a kajillion half marathons, and finished the New York Marathon for the first time last fall. She’s a badass. She inspired me with her story changing, and I started working my way up to a 5K because of her.
I love working out. I love lifting weights, I love yoga, I love cardio dance parties, the lot. I love basically any mode of fitness except barre (which can go die a slow and awful death in my opinion). But, until very recently, I did not love running. I had hay fever as a child, and running outside made me wheezy. I decided to forget that whole running thing and took dance classes instead. But thanks to Melissa, I was able to run a very slow, very fraught 5K. Then I found out she was doing a Spartan Race. For those who don’t know what a Spartan Race is, it’s like a 5K for super fit people who think just plain running on a flat surface is boooooring. This race would be 5 kilometers up and down ski trails at Tuxedo Ridge Ski Park. As if that weren’t enough, runners would also encounter 22 obstacles to overcome throughout the race. You wouldn’t know the obstacles until the day of, but they usually involve crawling under barbed wire, wading through mud, climbing ropes, and carrying some super heavy stuff. Melissa told me she couldn’t even do a pushup, but she was determined to train for this race. As someone who can totally do pushups, but would be hard pressed to run even one mile on an incline, I signed up with her.
Fitness journeys are the most material way to learn life’s greatest lessons. The metaphors are easily transferred to other ares of our life. This race was no different. Here are just a few lessons I learned in this context. I can’t wait to apply them to other areas of my life.
Incremental, consistent effort actually works
My usual experience with a step-by-step approach is a few weeks of dedication seeing very few results, and as soon as I see the tiniest improvement, I take a step back in awe of may handiwork, and take a 'well deserved' break. This break usually extends far beyond what is needed, and I eventually fall out of habit. Because consistent effort over a long period of time can be exhausting! I’m only half kidding. Even if the daily effort is merely fifteen minutes of work, we can reach exhaustion just from fighting the resistance to get our body and/or brain to do something new. But with Spartan I was armed with a deadline. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or hurt myself, so I trained at least three times a week. I followed the suggested training programs on their website, and at first I thought they were way too easy. I’m usually used to working myself to death and then having to take a break because of a small injury (sensing a pattern, friends?). My wonderfully astute fiancé reminded me that a slow training program would prevent injury and I stuck with it. Dang, did I get super strong! I’m still surprised with how much improvement started with such a seemingly easy workout. Of course the workouts got challenging eventually, but just by showing up day by day I was seeing and feeling a difference.
You usually need to stretch yourself to reach the next level
I’ve always been strong enough to do about a 30 second plank. It wasn’t until six weeks into training that I really had to stretch far beyond that. I saw the workout sheet and the ’60 second plank’ seared into my brain. One whole minute? I can barely do 30 seconds! The first few planks were not pretty. I had to take lots of breaks, and I was staring at my timer willing to hold on. I usually hold a plank and run a sonnet through my head—but sonnets do not last one minute long. After about a week of sad minute long planks, I’ll be damned if I couldn’t hold a 60 second plank with solid strength and what one might even call ‘ease.’ I told my body where we were headed, and for two weeks my body could barely get by, and then something clicked. The strength was gained, and I could hold that plank like a boss. Like, have tea on my back while I sit here and plank, kind of boss. It’s such a great example of creating a stretch goal and letting your brain, body, or whatever else rise to the occasion. Goals are meant to be missed. If you reach all your goals, you are not reaching far enough.
If you want to walk fast, go alone. If you want to walk far, go together
The day of the race I was running with Melissa and her 50 year old boss, Rob. We all had various levels of strength and/or endurance, and both of them were nursing injuries. We. were. terrified. As we jumped over the ‘starter wall’ to get to the starting line (yup, there’s an obstacle before the race even starts) my eyes started tearing up. I was totally overwhelmed. Not just from the mountain looming in front of me, but also the warning you’re given with your bib number that states you may die or be seriously injured. Gulp. We had agreed to do this race as a team. The main goal was to finish, not to win. I’ll admit there were times in the race when I totally wanted to run up ahead. I felt great! We were walking most of the steep inclines, and part of me wanted to bound up them with abandon. But there were also times on the course where I couldn’t have gone on without them. Melissa gave me a boost over a seven foot wall, we helped each other over terrifyingly tall structures. We cheered each other through burpees. Rob attempted to catch me when I completely bit it off of the monkey bars. It was so much better to experience this race with them than to have run along alone. I may have had a better finish time, but the value of the experience would have been severely diminished.
Surround yourself with positive people who have similar goals
We had this awesome guy in our group that played music on a bluetooth speaker through a lot of the race. We danced and sang with him and encouraged his teammates while they encouraged us. It was so fun. There is something so uplifting about a community that has collectively worked towards this one event. Whether it’s a warmup for an even bigger race, or their first race like me, we all worked and trained for this day. If Rob and Melissa weren’t in sight, someone else in the group was cheering me on. The volunteers were supportive. A fellow group of runners gave me a bit of a cookie from my favorite shop in Astoria along the way. Little kids cheered their parents along from the sidelines. It was so wonderfully positive, and so so fun. As much as you can, surround yourself with people who are reaching just as far and are working just as hard as you are.
Beware of the finish line
I finished the race, training is done, someone hand me a beer and chips. I’m kidding! But this is an important phenomenon to be aware of. Creating habits with a finish line in mind create urgency and a big reason to continue your efforts. However, once that goal is reached, it’s easy to lay back and relax for way too long, undoing all of your hard work. Before you’re reaching any finish line, I encourage you to have an ‘after’ plan. Do you have a new goal? A new challenge? Each new habit or new experience is hopefully a stepping stone to the next! I will definitely do a race again. I wasn’t able to do every challenge, and it would feel so good to be able to blow through all the obstacles int he course. So what’s next for me? I’m back to training! I have a goal to do one unassisted pull-up. That means almost doubling the strength I have now. I also want to get better at running/walking at an incline. Those two efforts combined will continue my training. And maybe I’ll run just a normal 5K and revel in how EASY it is!
How has your fitness journey surprised you? How have you translated those lessons into other areas of your life?
You've read my articles about Network Marketing, you’ve learned it’s not a Pyramid Scheme, you can see the benefits of a new community of badasses, and you’ve watched the videos/read the books I recommended about this industry. You’ve done your research. And you’re IN! You’re ready to start your own network marketing business! Hurray! Now the fun begins—finding the right company for you. In no particular order, I offer my own humble opinions on how to find the right company for you.
Is it a Product/Service you yourself would use?
I’m not saying you can’t sell a product you don’t use all the time, I’m just saying it’s a lot harder. If you already know a ton about essential oils and their various uses/benefits, then it only makes sense to work for a company that sells them. The entire design of the industry is that the consultants/distributors fall in love with the brand and authentically recommend it to others…the way we already recommend shows, books, etc. So, loving the products is a big plus, if not a major requirement. The biggest indicator of a good company with a quality product is if distributors continue to buy the products even if they stop selling. This indicates you have zero risk on investment, because any products you buy you’ll just happily use yourself. How thrilling!
It would also behoove you to take a quick glance at market trends and demands. Is there a great need for your company’s product? Will there continue to be a great need for your product in the future? Is the industry growing? While you may love your rotary phone, and be super passionate about it, this would not be considered a smart business move…since a lot of people reading this don’t even know what a rotary phone is.
Are the products consumable?
Consumable products are the secret sauce for a passive income. If a client falls in love with a lipstick shade, they’re sure as hell gonna be ordering that amazing color as soon as they run out. And you’ll continue to be paid for that lipstick sale every time they order it. For a sale you made once. That sounds awesome! I’m not saying a great product with a lifetime warranty isn’t worthy of selling, I’m just saying, for your own sake, work smarter and not harder. Imagine selling a lifetime product--you'd need to sell to all of Manhattan to gain the same benefits of a few hundred loyal users. You only need a few clients to fall in love with your products and continually order them to grow a solid, stable income.
Consider the Age of the Company
Network Marketing has been around for a long time. Legacy Companies (ones that have been around for decades) have proven over time that they sell a quality product at a market driven price. Just because these companies have been around forever does not mean you don’t have a chance to earn serious money. You do not need to invest in a ground floor opportunity to see your network marketing company thrive. In my company, there are people who are top income earners that have been in business for less than 10 years—in a 40 year old company! Now, there is a benefit in getting into a brand new company, but there is also risk. This company could explode thanks to all the amazing people you introduced it too! But it could also shutter in 5 years. The longer the company has been around, the lower the risk.
Avoid Inventory Based Businesses
Before internet shopping was a thing, network marketing distributors usually had to buy the inventory they would then sell. This created a huge amount of risk for the new distributor, and also allowed for a lot of pyramid schemes pretending to be network marketing companies immediately take advantage of new distributors. Thanks to technology (and lots of legal regulations) inventory is on the way out. If a company is still insisting you need to buy inventory to sell personally, I would take this as a very bad sign. First of all, it is way too much work. We are far too advanced technologically for you to have to stop by the post office every time you make a sale. Second, every bit of money you earn from your business will then have to be invested right back into it to restock products. And third, and most importantly, the ‘success’ of someone’s business is based solely on how many distributors are buying product instead of how many distributors are actually selling. This is the kind of business practice that can lead to companies looking an awful lot like a pyramid scheme. You should only have to invest in the products that you use, and perhaps an extra sample set for people to try in person. Other than that, please don’t buy 100 eye creams to try to sell off. The risk is incredible. What if the product isn’t viable? What if it’s not the hit everyone thought it was? That is how people end up with garages filled with products they never sold. Don’t do it!
Avoid Monthly Minimum Sales
Quotas. Ugggh, this is starting to sound like an awful sales job, amiright? To keep the integrity of the companies' payment structures, there are certainly ‘maintenance levels’ that each distributor must meet. Where this can become problematic is if distributors opt to buy the product themselves instead of making an actual sale. This can be avoided with a company structure that has a very reasonable monthly minimum (around what you would spend on product yourself, or meet with one sale to a client), and levels that can be regained if lost. This can get into the complicated ‘legal speak’ in a distributor agreement, but ask your sponsor what your monthly expectations are. A good sign is if they say ‘Worst case scenario you get a wholesale discount for a year if you never make a sale.'
Avoid a Company that Uses Advertising or Distributes Elsewhere
Does your company have commercials? Are they selling in a retail store? This means they are taking money directly from the distributors’ pockets. The entire industry is based on word of mouth advertising. People should only be able to purchase product through a distributor. Even if you were to randomly go to a company’s website, you should be linked up to your nearest distributor and they should receive the commission. Again, if this isn’t happening, they are taking money from their distributors. You want to feel like a partner in a company, and their most valuable asset, because you are.
Do you like the company culture? Do you trust your sponsor?
This is merely the cherry on top of a wise business decision, but it pays in dividends. Take a look at what the company values. You can explore this on their website, attending group events with your sponsor, and reading success stories. Are all the top income earners flaunting mansions and private jets? Are you into that? Are they giving back to their community with their earnings? Make sure your values are aligned, with the company itself as well as your sponsor’s own team culture. You can forge your own brand within whatever company you work for, but understanding a company’s mission for social impact is a big one. Then take a look at whoever introduced you to this company. Do you like them? Do you trust them? A lot of companies offer incentive trips and a fantastic community. This means you could very well end up traveling yearly with your sponsor. Do you want to hang out with this person? Some of your teammates end up being your closest friends. Again, none of this is required, but it will make the experience so much more enjoyable. Imagine a group of people encouraging you through the slow seasons in your business. Imagine a company whose message you stand behind whether you make a profit or not. This is the measure of a company you will stay with for the long term.
Those are just a few of the pointers I have in finding the right company for you. If you have any other signs of a good company to join, I’d love to hear them. I wish you the most success in your future business!
The other day I got a message from a friend asking for some more insight into one of my posts. I have been pretty open about my consumer debt, and they wanted some advice and/or tips to getting their own head above water. I was incredibly flattered to be approached at all, and decided I’d share more openly about my debt experience. Because debt is a lot like assholes, everybody has one. Or some. Or… anyway, let’s move on... Debt. I have it! I have student loan debt, and I have credit card debt. I think it’s high time we shout our debt and share with others. Too many people are suffering in silence without realizing they’re not alone. One in four Americans carry consumer debt with folks under the age of 35 carrying an average of $67,000. It can seem insurmountable, but as someone who’s looked at a number just as daunting, I can share how I’ve dealt with my debt-free plan.
First of all, forgive yourself
Debt can happen for various reasons. Sometimes, you’re starting a new business and investing more than you’re currently recouping. Sometimes you’re on lean financial times. Sometimes shopping is your anxiety relief. Whatever the reason, it’s all good. The key is, once you realize you’re in a hole, stop digging. Cursing yourself and the hole will not get you out of there any sooner. When my payments were a huge chunk of my income, I remember feeling like I was punishing myself. My self talk would be ‘Of course you can’t get that coffee, stupid, you’re in a ton of debt. You must suffer!’ So now, I’m tired, and mad at myself for being in debt. Nice, huh? I personally don’t believe in punishing your past financial indiscretions with years of ramen and socks with holes in them. There is absolutely a way to get out of debt without living like a monk for years and years. Numbers are just numbers, and money is a social construct anyway, so… forgive yourself, dangit!
Look at the Numbers
June 22, 2017. I will forever remember that as the day I was looking at four nearly maxed out cards, and a rejection for a personal loan to cover them. I had no buffer, no way out. I was completely humiliated. First I cried, then I looked at every credit card statement, wrote down every balance, and every interest rate. It was a big number, but now I had a better idea of what was going on. Some of us take the head in the sand approach to our debt, and to that I say… ‘Quit it!’ We are far too badass and brave to be scared by a bunch of numbers on the screen. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can better manage it. Once you have a plan as to how it pay off, you can work your budget around that. Decide how much of your income you’re willing to devote to debt repayment. As I said, I don’t think it’s great to force yourself to eat ramen to get out of debt faster. Find a time towards debt-free that is balanced with a monthly payment that you’re okay with, and commit to it. Understand that debt will not go away in a short amount of time. It’s okay. As long as you’re chipping away at the old block, you are making progress.
This year I had to make some financial decisions in regards to this. I wanted to be debt free by the end of the year. But I’m also saving for a wedding in January. Doing both of these things this year would mean I had very little left for myself in the year ahead. I made the decision to delay my debt repayment so that I could save for my wedding and still enjoy my year as an engaged lady. Deciding how aggressive you want to be with your debt plan is personal. Take your quality of life into account as you map your plan.
If there is any app I could force everyone to use it would be YNAB (You Need a Budget). Created by the debt master, Dave Ramsey, it is by far the most effective budgeter. The trick is, with this app you can’t budget for money you don’t have. So, while allocating $200 for groceries, and $1,000 for rent is all well and good, you may not make that much in a month. So with YNAB you can only budget with what you have. The app also has helpful videos like ‘How to Budget When You’re Broke’ which will walk you through making a budget when you literally have to choose between rent, gas, and food. It does cost money, but it’s WORTH IT. My favorite is how it handles debt. If you have credit card debt, you can set a goal for when you want your balance paid, say January 2020. It will tell you how much you need to pay each month to achieve your goal. Any interest or purchases are added on top of that. It’s a great way to ‘set it and forget it.’ Now, I know exactly how much I need to pay, and my debt will be gone by my decided time. The other great thing about YNAB, is that if you go over budget (which we inevitably do) you then have to pull your funds from somewhere else. So you know full well that dress at Anthroplogie is taking money from your travel budget. And if you’re cool with that, then go for it! It is wonderfully empowering. It also tracks the age of your money, so the more days your money stays in your account, the better off you are, the more cushion you have.
Whatever app (or spreadsheet) you wanna use, just track it. What gets measured gets managed. Just by tracking what you spend you can better control how you’re spending it. And again, you will go over budget. Don’t sweat it, just move some money around and keep going.
Earn More Money
Did that make you laugh? I hope so. I read that after googling ‘How to get out of credit card debt.’ I laughed and thought ‘Okay, but if I made more money, I wouldn’t be in this mess, would I?!’ Maybe not. But also, maybe so. The current income from my network marketing business is solely devoted to debt repayment, and savings for my wedding. My primary income covers everything else. That extra bit of cash a month releases a huge chokehold on my budget, and feels damn good. There are so many ways to earn a little side hustle money. Etsy, Fiverr, Lyft, Network Marketing Companies, whatever. If you want to pay off debt faster or feel like less of a slave to it, add another income stream, and make it your debt repayment plan. I can’t recommend this enough. Pay day is my favorite day. I immediately transfer all the money to my credit cards and wedding account. I love watching the numbers go down, and I love knowing my efforts with my online job are taking me one step closer to freedom. Find a side hustle you can fit into your life, and go for it. Or, if you’re in a position to negotiate a raise or add a shift to your schedule, do it. You can spend the whole extra brunch shift reminding yourself it is getting you out of debt. It feels good!
In all of my personal development readings, money is the most loaded issue. People have stories around money. Stories like ‘Rich people are evil’ or ‘People in debt are idiots’ or whatever fun stuff we may have. Take this journey out of debt as a chance to work on your relationship with money. Money is simply energy. If you have a negative energy around money, that will only perpetuate more of the same. It’s why a lot of lotto winners end up losing the money so quickly. Take a deep look at your relationship with money. It’s one of the best things you can do for your life. Two books I’ve loved for my financial journey are ‘The Law of Divine Compensation’ by Marianne Williamson, and ‘You Are a Badass at Making Money’ by Jen Sincero. Dave Ramsey, the YNAB creator also has great resources, but I haven’t read them yet. Figure out how you feel about money and heal that shit.
To prove just some of the fun ways the universe can help you out when you have a good energy surrounding money, here are just a few things that have happened to me in my debt journey. One of my credit card companies sent me an email with an advertisement for a balance transfer that said ‘0% interest for the life of the balance.' For the life of the balance?! Say what?! I called the bank to see if this email was real, and while it was in fact a typo they honored it. Most of my credit card debt today has 0% interest because of this email!!!! Also, I have been absentmindedly putting money into a mutual fund every month for the last 12 years. One day I decided to take a look at how much I had in there, and guess what—I had enough money to knock out my two worst credit card balances. I know not everyone has a windfall like that tucked away, but you’ll be surprised where money will turn up as you take a step towards financial freedom.
Share your Debt Experience
I can still remember my father looking at me when I was young and saying ‘Whatever you do, Katie, don’t get into credit card debt. Never spend more than you have.’ And for the first half of my twenties, I didn’t! I felt so smart and so virtuous and so ‘together.’ And then… Well, I quit my job before my business had replaced my income, and then ignored my rising credit card balances until that awful day where I finally realized the financial hole I was in. Entrepreneurs are bound to incur a little bit of debt while they build their business, but this was beyond a few big purchases here and there. I had lived in a deficit for a year in New York, and ignored it. The only person who knew how bad my debt was was my then boyfriend (now fiancé. Yay!) He had gotten himself into debt in his younger years and worked himself out of it. He was understanding and knew I’d get out of it. For about a year I didn’t tell anyone else how bad it was. I was certainly never going to tell my parents. I had made up in my mind that my lack of debt was the ultimate sign of my success. To tell my parents I had committed the cardinal sin of overspending would be to admit failure. Failure for myself and failure of themselves as parents. A bit dramatic, no? What I didn’t understand about my dad saying those words of wisdom to me, is that he said them with the gravitas of a man who had made that mistake himself, and didn’t want his child to suffer through it as well.
In true Katie Bland fashion, I didn’t tell my parents until I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and had it ‘handled’—almost two years later. They were not in any way disappointed. They were mostly sad that I had kept it to myself and didn’t feel comfortable sharing with them. They have been in debt, too! And not like they could have helped me out of it, but they could have understood and consoled me. Everyone, even the ‘smart’ or ‘rich’ people around you, have probably dealt with debt of some sort. There is zero shame in debt. It’s something you can get out of, and it’s something you can learn from. What a gift debt can be to learn how to budget better and fix your stories about money, right?
If you feel compelled to share your debt stories, I’d love to hear them. As of now, I am about halfway out of my debt hole. I have a totally doable plan, and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I have a long way to go, but I feel empowered and in control, and that is key. I hope this has helped you navigate your own financial journey. Now go out there and tackle that debt!
My mentor, Roni, and I were catching up after 8 years. We met when she was doing at show at the professional theatre connected to my University, and I was her dresser. One day before rehearsal, she asked if she could take me to breakfast and tell me about her day job. Since she was basically my hero at this point, I said yes. At this breakfast, she gave me a deliciously smelling body butter, and let me through a presentation, then on index cards (because this was before iPads y’all!). I listened, and it all sounded so great--earning money by leveraging your network, having a day job that made me a non-starving actor when I graduate, having a white Mercedes, etc. When I talked to my dad about it he said ‘Well, Katie it sounds like one of those things where you put a lot of effort in at first and don’t make a lot of money.’ And College Katie did not like the idea of devoting more time to something to keep her as broke as college students are so… I passed. Fast forward eight years, I’m an actor in New York, miserable at my serving job, and someone else prospects me for the same company. I tell them I know someone who does that, she asks who, and when I tell her Roni’s name, her eyes light up and she tells me, ‘She’s doing really well! She’s at the top of the company and retired her husband.’ Even though I was still wary of this venture, I set up the meeting anyway and caught up with Roni. It was true. She had ‘retired’ her husband after he lost his job a second time (this was all after the 2008 recession.) She was a mom, a wife, an actor, a producer, and… a successful network marketer. She was living proof that this industry works. And I looked at her and said, ‘This is all great, but I still think it’s a pyramid scheme.’
I don’t know where in my life I gained this knowledge or opinions about pyramid schemes. I have never had a bad experience with one, I’ve never personally known someone to lose thousands of dollars by being manipulated into the business. My guess is it’s just cultural osmosis. Pyramid schemes are quick and easy jokes for sitcoms. Look, the deadbeat character just bought 100 blenders and now they have to sell them off! Look, that guy is trying to pitch his business opportunity while they’re saving the planet, hilarious! Some of these are funny, but some of them make my blood boil. So! I’m here to clear the air once and for all. Before I joined my company, I did research about the industry itself and my company in particular. I encourage you to do the same. As you start your research journey, here's what I've learned.
First, let’s give a little history. Network Marketing first came to be in the 1940s. Before that, traditional direct sales worked a little differently. Sales people would have a particular region they were responsible for, and a high quota to reach each month. So, if a company wanted to sell $500,000 in product, they would hire 100 salespeople with a monthly quota of $5,000 of product a month. You only make money on commissions, and not by bringing anyone into the company. Somewhere along the way, a company realized they could create total chaos, and exponential growth, by incentivizing employees to recruit new salespeople by offering them a 2% commission on revenue new recruits. They would also allow anyone to begin recruiting from day one. So, if you bring on on person one day, then the next day you each bring on one and so on and so on, that leads to exponential growth. It essentially flipped the number on its head. 5,000 salespeople were now selling $100 a month, and the company grew exponentially. This idea caught on, and Network Marketing hit its major heyday in the 80s and 90s. This is also when a lot of companies pretending to be legitimate Network Marketing Companies created pyramid or ponzi schemes for profit. Now, the industry of direct sales is a lot more regulated to help combat these companies. Since then, legitimate companies have been working diligently to rebuild the reputation of what can truly be a powerful industry.
Okay, that was boring, let’s get to the fun stuff. So what exactly IS a pyramid scheme, and why is it not the same as a network marketing company? Network Marketing companies are legal when three guidelines are followed. First, the company’s main objective has to be selling legitimate products at a market driven price. Pyramid schemes will sell a fake product, or a product of extremely poor quality and masquerade it as a great product. Second, Network Marketing Companies cannot promise or guarantee incomes. It is against compliance for any company to guarantee you’ll make a certain amount. In fact, if you want to see what your friend really makes doing their network marketing business, each company is required to release an annual Income Disclosure Statement. Google your favorite company and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor… or, ya know, just gain some insight. This statement will show how much the average person earns and how long it takes them to earn it. Lastly, and most importantly, distributors are not paid for the act of recruiting others. Pyramid schemes only profit off of new distributors buying an exorbitant amount of product, and the amount of product actually sold to customers is immaterial. This is the most dangerous and personally anger-inducing aspect of those companies. If you are only rewarded for bringing warm bodies onto your team, you will not care if they win, lose, or succeed, and thus some not so great people will lie, cheat, and steal to take advantage of folks looking for a way out of their current situation. The easiest way to tell if a Network Marketing company is truly legitimate is whether people still use their products even after leaving the business, or use their products without doing the business. There are a lot of people that sign up for a company, later quit, and still use those products every day. I see this personally in my own sales stats every month. (Shout out to those old consultants who still love and use the products. #fizzforlife)
So now that you know that the words pyramid scheme and network marketing are not in fact interchangeable in all situations, I want to address some other common objections. Please know, that even though companies are now regulated by the Direct Selling Association, there are still companies in existence that are flagrant abusers of the above guidelines. I am in no way endorsing every company in the industry. So if you are looking into a company, please do your own due diligence and research. Not all network marketing companies are created equal. When I got off the phone with Roni after our 8 year catchup, I googled my company’s name and ‘pyramid scheme.’ It sounds silly, but I did! I read the articles and reviews and watched a funny video with talking bears Roni sent to me, and I still decided to join this company. And anyone who knows me, knows I am no fool for anybody. Okay, so now to the ‘Yes, buts’ that come after I explain how I’m not operating within an illegal ponzi scheme.
No one makes any money doing this.
Well, if my story above is true we, know that there are in fact people that are making a legitimate income with this business. The truth is, not a lot do. If you look at an income disclosure statement for any company, you’ll see that only about 10% of the distributors are making more than about $1,000 a month. And usually only about 1-2% are making the coveted six figure income. It’s true! I’ll also tell you that if you look at the income distribution of any entrepreneurial field, like maybe my former industry of performing, those numbers are the same or even worse. That’s the reality of entrepreneurship. It is an effort based business. You will only get out what you put in. Network marketing can sound so easy when you say the words ‘working part time from home.’ But a lot of people ignore the word ‘work’ and get excited about the ‘part time’ aspect. I’m here to tell you the god’s honest truth. This business requires hard work. People roll their eyes at me and my ‘little skincare business’ not realizing the skills I develop daily: marketing, leadership, discipline, coaching, connection, follow-up, customer service, public speaking, resilience, tenacity, not giving a f*ck what people think. To name a few… And the lovely magic of the industry is that whatever you need to work on in life shows up in your business. Oh, you have a problem with follow through? You’re about to learn that lesson hardcore, girl! You care too much what people think? Here’s an opportunity to learn this lesson again and again until you have a barren field of fucks to give! To some people this may sound absolutely awful, and I get that. For me, it was exciting to know I’d have a toolbox filled with things I’d worked on to bring into every part of my life. I knew being a successful network marketer would make me a better friend, a better wife, and a better artist.
You have to sell to your friends. Ew.
This was my major hesitation when I first started. Let me tell you a little about commerce. It’s based on word of mouth and your network. If a friend starts a hair salon, you go. If a friend opens a restaurant, you go. If you liked them, you tell your friends. Same diff. Now, if you don’t like that friend’s salon, or the food they’re serving, you don’t have to go. I probably did get some pity buys from friends when I first started my business. That’s okay, I really appreciated the support at the time. But the decision to keep purchasing the product is entirely on them, and our friendship is not based around whether they buy from me or not. A lot of other self marketers like real estate agents, coaches, or financial advisors have no problem mixing friends with business, because that’s the way their business works as well. Not everyone’s down with that, and I get it. The idea is to grow your business beyond your first circle, and you do that through referrals and continually expanding your network. Like any other business. If someone has their head on straight, they know that their success does not solely depend on a friend’s support of their business. But the hope is that their product or service is of value to their community. If it is, you’ll have friends who every time they see you gush about how much they love their skin before continuing with friend time. And if not, you just go back to being friends. Easy peasy.
I’ve had a terrible experience because of [X].
Remember the part in the little history lesson about ‘total chaos’? Yea, this is what I mean. The lovely part about this industry is anyone can do it! You don’t need a diploma, degree, or any qualifications. The crazy part about this industry is… anyone can do it. So not only is the incredibly motivated small-town mom with no college degree going to build a life-changing, legacy leaving empire, but so is that whackadoo with zero social skills or training. So yes, some crazies sneak in there. They usually don’t last, and they most definitely can’t grow a long term business. But would you let one rude server ruin your opinion of restaurants forever? I don’t think so. If you take issue with what people are doing from the same company, then you can start to recognize that you aren’t aligned with the culture of that company. And that’s totally fine! There are great companies and there are not great companies! Also understand that if someone near and dear to you messed up and gave you a bad experience when they started their business, that they’re still learning. No one starts their first network marketing company with all their skills neatly developed. There are some things I did early on that I totally cringe about now. It’s part of the learning process. So, forgive your friend! And if that person was a stranger, they’re fine! Let them go, too!
I hope this cleared some things up. Unless you’ve been in a network marketing company or have known someone directly, you don’t always get to see the beauty and power of what this industry can do for people. But I promise you (as much as I can compliantly), with grit, and tenacity, and a desire to help others, you can change your life with this powerful opportunity.
Stay tuned for a future blog post about how to spot a legit, awesome Network Marketing Company!
Most of my information for the history of Network Marketing came from
The Four Year Career by Richard Bliss Brooke
If you want to see the talking bears video, check it out here.
I haven’t always considered myself a very disciplined person. When I first moved to New York, I put my alarm on snooze and skipped a lot of auditions that would require me to wait outside at 5:30am. I skipped warming up and practicing because it was zero fun. (I later learned everyone hates practicing, but the professionals do it anyway…whoops) But once I was my own boss, I had to get super disciplined and super consistent if I wanted my business to succeed. And the secret sauce is and will always be… how you start your morning.
I’ve read a lot of books on the subject, and over the last few years have found the routine that works for me. It keeps me energized, focused, and checking off my to do list--which is so fun and satisfying that it’s almost embarrassing. Truly. Don’t worry, this article is not me telling you that you need to get up at 5AM to win the day. I just want to point out a few steps you can take to start your morning in an empowered place.
Keep your cellphone out of your bedroom
For anyone who argues that they don’t have time in the morning for meditation, or writing goals, or whatever I’m about to suggest, I want to see exactly how they spend their first fifteen minutes. (In a non-creepy way) My guess is, they’re on their phone checking emails or scrolling social media. I’m sure your correspondence is extremely important. I’m sure someone commented on a post and you just have to read it. But I’m also sure that it is a time and energy suck. Ever been in bed checking your phone without realizing 30 minutes have gone by? I thought so. Me too. Studies have also shown that people check their phone in the middle of the night. It’s even messing with your sleep! So quit it!
Also, everything coming at you from your phone involves someone else’s needs and someone else’s priorities. It does not involve you or your dreams. What if you took your first fifteen minutes of the day to quickly center yourself, remember what’s most important to you, and jot down your goals and/or to dos for the day? What if you waited to check email until after your morning coffee? Wouldn’t you be more centered, more intentional, and way less reactive? Also, imagine you get a rude email response or perhaps are just… reading the news. Are you really going to let that set the tone for the day? You have life changing dreams to think about and make possible! So please, I beg you to put your phone outside of your bedroom, and give yourself at least 15-30 minutes of ‘me’ time before letting the world in.
If you’re a parent or an on-call doctor and need your children and/or work to be available to you, I suggest doing what Mel Robbins does. She puts her phone in her bathroom on Do Not Disturb. If there’s an emergency, her kids’ numbers come through and her phone will ring. Ta-da! If your phone is your alarm, you can still keep it in the bathroom. If you don’t have an ensuite bathroom (yet) invest in a traditional alarm. Now they make these lovely alarms that mimic the sunrise to gently coax you awake. The extra fancy ones even have birds chirping as the alarm tone. Can you imagine the peacefulness of waking up to that? I love that my alarm is never startling me awake. With the light slowly brightening, my body is ready to get up by the time the alarm rings.
Quit hitting that snooze button
One of my dearest friends and former roommates is a chronic snoozer. It’s been a sore subject for us, as I passionately tried to convince her to stop, and she owned that crap out of snoozing, and still lives a fabulous life. (See? Own your morning routine!) That being said, it can really kill your productivity in the morning. If you hit the snooze and go back to sleep, your body actually starts another REM cycle, which can take 45-90 minutes to complete. If you’re woken up in the middle of that cycle, your body is startled awake, and you’re in a sort of ‘sleep fog.’ It can take hours to get your brain to fire on all cylinders, meaning the first few hours of the day are wasted on playing catch up. This is particularly dangerous, because your brain is most productive within a few hours of waking, so don’t miss out! The best trick to keep yourself from snoozing is to keep your alarm away from your bed (which hopefully you're doing anyway). It will force you immediately on your feet. Second, down a 16 oz. glass of water. Your body is dehydrated from not drinking for the last eight hours, and this can be surprisingly effective in restoring your energy.
Work on your big goal in the morning
My restaurant job has crazy long hours. I have to be at work sometimes as early as 6:30am, and I’m there sometimes as late as 5pm. Once I’m home and sitting down, I do not feel like working my online business. So for awhile… I didn’t. As you can imagine, that didn’t turn out well, and it also didn’t feel good. Then, in a stroke of brilliance, I decided to add just 15 minutes of work in my morning routine before heading to the restaurant. Whatever your lifelong goal/dream is, I bet you can boil it down to one small action you should be doing daily to move your life forward. For me, it’s ‘asks.’ For you, it may be writing a few pages, doing a quick workout, sending out your resume, whatever. What’s that thing you know you need to do every day that you never end up doing? That’s what those fifteen minutes are for. So, I started asking people to take a look at my business for fifteen minutes in the morning (don’t worry, I wasn’t calling them on the phone, I’m not a monster). And then I’d head off to work. And here’s the amazing thing: my entire mood changed. I had already gotten the most important thing done for the day! I would get responses from my reach outs, and have a quick scheduling session when I got home, and then I was done. If I wanted to spend the rest of the night having dinner and relaxing with my fiancé, I could! And because my business now felt in control, I felt empowered and was attracting a lot more business.
If you’re having trouble knowing what the one tiny thing for your goal is, work from the big thing to the tiniest thing. So you want to have a best-selling novel? Great, you’ll probably need a novel to be written in the first place. So what’s a daily action to complete that? Write a little bit every day. Voila. It’s that simple. Even doing 15 minutes of exercise every day can significantly change your health. Pick your thing, and stick with it.
Experiment with your routine
I’m so grateful to Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, because every three months, you write your morning and evening routines anew. It gives me a chance to reflect on what worked and what didn’t last quarter and adjust accordingly. I’m not saying you have to buy his planner, but I am saying map out what you want your morning routine to be. And then try it. Try it for at least a month. If it’s not working for you, then change it. Miracle Morning is a great jumping off point. It is a fantastic book that lays out the secret to becoming a superhero in your morning routine. It uses the acronym SAVERS to layout its suggested routine. Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. All of these are incredible ways to start your morning. But this can also end up being a rather long morning routine that hasn't worked for my early work days… I’ve combined and condensed my routine to always include silence/visualization, and affirmations/scribing. The rest, I fit in when I can. It took a long time to find what works, and what works this season may not work the next, but it took experimentation. A great place to start is with some guided meditation, and writing down your current goals. From there, try something else, switch it up, and then own whatever you choose.
I’m so excited for all of you to start your day feeling more centered and empowered. As they say in Mulan “Once you find your center, you are sure to win.” I’d love to hear about your own morning routines and how the experimentation goes! (And yes, I did just quote Mulan.)
If you want to go deeper into what to have in your morning routine, or if you’re not sure where to start, check out these books:
Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (they have book specific to each industry as well, so check those out)
5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins (Most facts about phone use/morning brain come from this baby)
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
I’m writing this blog in the airport, on my way to Arbonne’s Global Training Conference in Las Vegas. It’s a fun weekend filled with some of the best trainings, new product launches, and a chance to celebrate all of the inspiring leaders who had an amazing year. It’s also a reunion with some of my favorite people on the entire planet. Like almost anyone, I started my business for the money. Who doesn’t need an extra couple hundred a month, or some more free time? But when the going has gotten tough (which it inevitably does because… ya know, life), it’s not the money that keeps me going. It’s the community.
As our lives become more and more digital, we are missing a hugely important aspect of human existence. Community. We used to find it in churches, neighborhoods, clubs, etc. Those still exist, but they aren’t as ubiquitous or engrained in our American culture as they once were. And the isolation, in my humble opinion, is dangerous and damaging to our mental health. I find a lot of people actually love joining companies like this specifically because they find a community of people with common interests and desires.
Community of some sort can be found in any job. But I was always a little dissatisfied with the communities within restaurants and performing. The general culture can be highly competitive, snarky, and judgmental. I’m sad to say I used to buy into this attitude. I loved snark (it’s a pretty effective defense mechanism if you haven’t tried it.). At the time, I didn’t even realize I was craving a group of people that would cheer on my successes without qualifying or diminishing them behind my back.
The culture for most network marketing companies highly stresses the importance of personal development. The top leaders are always reading and/or listening to something that will improve their mindset, interpersonal relationships, or industry-related skills. The expectation is that we are all working daily towards improving ourselves, because improving one area of your life usually tends to bleed into others. Learning to take sales rejections less personally leads to taking cryptic texts from tinder dates less personally. Building a habit of meditating every morning can keep you present and focused, and thus you become a super-listener. What fun! So the wonderful side effect of all this growth is that the community is filled with superheroes that want nothing more than to see you succeed and celebrate that success. It doesn’t even sound real, but y’all. It is.
One of my dear colleagues recently promoted to the level of Regional Vice President. In our company, it means she gets a full time income (working part time) and a snazzy Mercedes. It’s the level most sought after and most coveted… and a level I’ve been trying to get to for over three years. When she promoted, the strangest thing happened… I was genuinely and wholeheartedly happy for her. I wasn’t jealous, I didn’t think she had some leg up or advantage I didn’t. I just acknowledged she did the work with bravery and grace, and deserved every bit of her success. I cheered my face off when she was honored at our conference last year. I’m embarrassed to admit it was a strange and new feeling, to have happiness for a friend supersede the once familiar feeling of jealousy. I truly believe it’s because of the work I’ve been doing for the last few years.
Also, there is a mentorship program already built into these companies. The person who signs you on gets a teeny tiny percentage (smaller than yours) of the sales you do. So, it’s in their best interest to help you succeed. I think it’s the most misunderstood part of our industry. I don’t have a boss who doesn’t work while I toil away to make them money. I have a mentor, a coach, and a friend all wrapped up into one human helping me navigate this industry. They’ve been through it all. They are at the top of the mountain, and they are reaching down and showing me the way. Sometimes she gives me tough love, and sometimes she lets me take a seat. And guess what? She supports me no matter what. I’ve had some of my most vulnerable and most empowering conversations with my leaders. This is the culture instilled in most companies.
So, maybe you’re not craving money or time freedom. Maybe you’re just looking for a group of people that can hold space, cheer you on, and work with you. This was something I didn’t even know I was looking for, but I’m so glad I found it.
On September 10th, 2010, I moved to New York City to become a famous actress. To pay for this new thing in my life called ‘rent,’ I got my first serving gig. And luckily…or not so luckily… I was very good at it. For better or worse, serving has been my day job for the past 9 years. In a lot of ways, it’s great. It’s incredibly flexible, and offers one of the highest hourly rates of any ‘day job’ I know. Plus, you get to learn the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and flaunt that knowledge to your friends. But, is it fulfilling? Not for me.
I’ve noticed that in the US, particularly in large cities, Food Service and Hospitality is an industry of necessity, not necessarily a chosen career path. Most servers, even the ones making six figures at a fine dining establishment, have something else they do on the side. I’ve worked with the most fascinating people: poetry translators, authors, comedians, reiki healers, clothing designers, you name it. But because this job hasn’t been my passion, it has been very easy for me to despise it.
I’ve hated my job on and off for nine years. Serving is not that fun once the thrill of nightly cash tips wears off. It’s hard on your body, people are incredibly rude, and it’s not very mentally stimulating unless you have a table willing to nerd out about the various Beaujolais Appellations. On top of that, a lot of management has fallen into the job without any leadership training, which can change the nature of your day job for the worse very quickly. (I learned recently from a leadership coach friend of mine that this lack of leadership is a common problem in almost every industry, go figure!). Anyway… the money is great, and usually the colleagues are awesome. But frankly… the job sucks.
I first looked for an escape in 2015 when I started my network marketing business. I had found that secret job that could, with work and dedication, pay me more money than bartending! Huzzah! But I was impatient to leave. And I was miserable and mean. I was single during this period, and some men I’d been dating would say they might stop by the bar to say ‘hi’ while I was working. I’d beg them not to, for fear they’d take one look at ‘Katie Rage’ and run right out the door, justifiably ghosting me for life. Katie Rage is a legit term that has been coined for me by my coworkers in not one, but TWO restaurants. Y’all. I get grumpy.
My network marketing business was the beacon of hope carrying myself through these shifts. Knowing my days were numbered certainly helped. And finally, just under a year after launching my side hustle, I put my notice in at my restaurant. The last day of work I triumphantly threw away my Danskos, vowing never to return to food service. Some bar regulars bought me a bottle of Dom Pérignon and we drank it together while I had steak tartare on the other side of the bar for once.
I have a secret. My business had not replaced my income yet. I was doing a big, crazy leap hoping it would motivate me to work harder and reach my desired income. And unfortunately… motivate, it did not. To close that gap, I worked at a barre studio instead, making about half of what I made at the restaurant. It was even less mentally stimulating, and… it was barre. This is my least favorite workout. Isn’t the point of group fitness that it’s supposed to be fun? I remember being in the middle of class, white knuckling the ballet barre as we pulsed our thighs. I looked over at the women next to me, and we all had the exact same horribly miserable expression on our face. What happened to Jazzercise and Zumba?! This seemed like something pulled right out of Guantanamo Bay. I quickly realized I hated this job, too! And what’s worse, it didn’t even help me make rent.
Then guess what I did? In the fall of 2016, I also quit that job before my measly bit of income had been replaced. I had had two great months, and I thought surely my business would do nothing but keep growing. We’d elect our first woman president, and I would promote to Regional Vice President. A flashy title with a flashy Mercedes, and a flashy paycheck to boot. What a time to be alive! Well, we all know that didn’t happen… (yet). My business sadly did not grow.
I tried other odd jobs, like walking for Wag and catering. Both incredibly flexible, but again never really paying enough. I just kept hustling and kept ignoring my rising credit card statement. Finally, a year after leaving my first restaurant job, I realized I was close to the limit on my multiple credit cards, and I had gotten into ca-razy debt. Like, a number I’m too embarrassed to write here. I had basically lived in a deficit in New York and ignored that fact until I was crying in my room at the end of my financial rope. I was so far in the hole, it made me want to slap my friends crying over their $5,000 credit card problems. (I’ll just spoil it for everyone here, I find a way out of debt, so don’t worry about me!)
So, I went back to the only thing I knew could fix the problem quickly. I bought some new Danskos, and landed a job back in food service. Oh joy. This was super humbling and incredibly depressing at first. But here’s the thing I didn’t know until this time around. You can be grateful for a job you don’t like. You’re probably reading this going… ‘Wait, you seriously didn’t know this was an option, Katie?’ Nope! I thought you had to hate any job that wasn’t your passion or directly related to your dreams. You had to ooze from your very pores that this job was beneath you in every way, that you could be creating ART or making a DIFFERENCE, but you showed up ANYWAY because you’re not a MONSTER. (And because this serving job has given you a taste for expensive White Burgundy Wines…) I didn’t realize I could just clock in, do my work, kiss my paycheck gratefully each week, and go build my dreams once I clock out. It’s not taking time or energy away from my creativity, like I thought. It was providing the foundation and the stability for my creativity and passions to thrive.
Coming back to serving was a huge hit to the ego. But it was a necessary lesson in the fact that success is almost never linear. There are peaks and valleys. And in my new restaurant, there are lots of entrepreneurs, just like me! It’s awesome! I still totally hate it at the end of a long shift when my body is about to turn to actual dust, and I suddenly have to make a Ramos Fizz. Or five. But I am so so grateful for this job. I’m so grateful I only have to work three days a week and afford to live in New York City. I’m grateful it leaves me with enough mental energy to pursue everything else. Case in point, I’m writing this article at the end of a loooong day in a SweetGreen before I head to a networking event to pursue my passion. And you know what? There is absolutely no shame in working another job while you’re dream takes off. A lot of writers, artists, and entrepreneurs did it in their day. And when this day job finally gets fired forever, I’ll look back on this time with a bit of reverent nostalgia. So to all the servers folding napkins after a long and hard shift, I raise my glass of Chablis Premier Cru to you. Cheers.