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MLM Training Newsletter

February 1999



MLM Culture Shock - Trese and Paul Pomerville

Trese and Paul PomervilleIs there a unique MLM or Network Marketing "culture"? Absolutely! Is it possible for a new distributor to experience "culture shock" when they join your organization? You bet! The question is, how does it work and how can you and your downline survive MLM culture shock?

Culture is really a coping system. It is the shared ideas, values and beliefs that influence our behavior. Most of us have been living in "corporate culture," which is entirely different from MLM culture. As an illustration, let's imagine you decided to move to Japan.

First, how do you think your friends and family would feel? They might be afraid for you, or upset because you would be so far away. (Are families ever afraid when somebody joins MLM?) In spite of your family's concern, you flew off to Japan.

When you first arrived in Tokyo, you felt like a tourist. You were amazed and inspired by the strange architecture, language, food, art, music. You found it all fascinating and exciting-- at least for a few weeks. Then the reality started to sink in and you began to panic. After all, you couldn't speak enough Japanese to buy a loaf of bread! How do you rent an apartment? What happens if you get lost? How do you get transportation? Where can you find a good cup of coffee? The smallest things that you took for granted are virtually impossible in this new culture.

"Culture Shock" is a debilitating feeling of incompetence, inferiority, frustration, anger, suspicion, and fear. In fact, some people feel so completely overwhelmed that it can become a type of mental illness. Eventually, they often give up and go home. The same is true in MLM. Too many new distributors will not give themselves time to recover from MLM culture shock. They simply decide to give up and go back "home" to that same old job culture and lifestyle. When we see it happen, it just breaks our hearts.

What are some of the big differences between corporate culture and MLM culture? Obviously, there is a new language to learn-- terms that are specific to the networking industry and your particular company. You will also need to learn some new skills and adopt different beliefs about yourself and your future.

  • In corporate culture, for example, we have a boss who tells us what to do, when to do it and how it should be done. In MLM we only answer to the face in the mirror! You are your own boss and that means you have to figure out a way to make yourself work-- everyday! If everybody in your downline did what you are doing, would you all make money? For most of us, that's the toughest part of MLM culture.

  • In corporate culture, you are rewarded for unique and superior intellect, education and ability. That is totally opposite from MLM culture where the whole idea is to keep it simple and duplicate ourselves. In MLM we just follow the leader. We don't want to be unique. We want everybody to do a little so that nobody has to do a whole lot. Can everyone in your downline do what you are doing? If not, then you're being "unique," and it will hurt your business in the long run.

  • In corporate culture, we are violently competitive! In MLM, we get paid to help others. We genuinely hope our partners will become more successful than we are ourselves. We value the team! If you are selfish and greedy, you'll never make it big in MLM.

  • In corporate culture, "they" decide how much your time is worth-- and that's it! You trade your hours for their dollars and have a limited income. You just don't have enough hours in your life to get where you want to go. In MLM we leverage our time and income. We earn a profit from the efforts and hours of others-- just like employers earn a profit from the efforts and hours of their employees. Our income potential is literally unlimited.

  • In corporate culture, we blame the company for every problem. On the other hand, the company ignores all of our complaints. In MLM, we solve problems rather than complaining about them, and we work with the company to improve the products and the program. We stay positive and focused. We keep going in spite of everything, because that makes the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur! If you are still blaming your upline, downline or headquarters, then you're back in corporate culture. There is no room for a negative attitude if you want to be successful in MLM.

  • In corporate culture, we have a secure income every payday, but we will have to work for 35 to 40 years. (We call that "Life Without Parole.") In MLM you will be asked to make sacrifices today so that you can secure financial freedom for the future. (We call that "Three to Five Years of Hard Labor.") You have to decide which plan is right for you. You can always go back to Life Without Parole.

These differences make many new distributors feel uneasy, nervous, and uncomfortable. It is all so new and different. Their family and friends are telling them to quit and "come home." I can hear it now . . .

"Give up those dreams! You know that all those success stories only happen to other people. You don't deserve to get rich or retire early or earn some kind of extra income without having to work for it. Come home! Come back to corporate culture. That pyramid stuff sounds bad and it's way outside of our comfort zone. We don't want you to be different. Come back where it is safe and comfortable, even if it is the land of poverty."

You see, we all hate to get outside our comfort zone. I will always remember a quote from the Pogo comic strip and it's all too true for too many: "The certainty of misery is better than the misery of uncertainty."

If you are feeling uncertain in your new MLM career, if you are feeling incompetent and unsure of yourself, then you have to get over culture shock. Let's go back to Japan. If you really wanted to overcome culture shock, then the best solution would be to throw yourself completely into Japanese culture. You would learn Japanese, visit with Japanese families, eat Japanese food, find a good Japanese friend to help you. The same is true in Networking.

Start by finding a really good guide! Get in touch with the leaders in your upline and let them help you. Don't second guess their advice. Would you argue with your Japanese tour guide about his directions or (even worse) just take off alone without a map? If you can't find anyone in your immediate upline, then use the many resources that are available today.

If you want to become comfortable and competent in your Networking business, then really get into its culture. Attend all of your company's functions, training and weekly meetings. Learn as much as you can about entrepreneurship, leadership, persistence and commitment. Set your goals to become an example in Networking for others to follow.

If you are trying to be a leader in your business, then realize that the only way to help your new distributors get used to this new culture is to show them that it will work. You have to be their guide and their support.

The Networking culture is more friendly, fun, dynamic, lucrative and exciting than anything you could possibly imagine in the J.O.B. ("Just Over Broke") culture. However, you must develop new ideas, beliefs, values and skills to be successful. Some of the most important traits include high energy, generosity, patience, commitment, tolerance, passion, optimism and enthusiasm. Make them your top priority! In fact, you will find that developing these new skills will bring untold benefit to your entire life-- not just your business!

Overcome your initial culture shock in MLM as fast as possible. So jump into our MLM culture with both feet-- the water's warm once you get used to it. Move to the new and exciting culture of financial freedom and join the thousands of us who were just like you until we became part of the MLM culture! In Network Marketing, dreams really do come true.

TRESE & PAUL POMERVILLE, PH.D. are full-time Executive Directors and National Training Directors with Excel Communications. Formerly, Trese was a legal assistant and Paul a consultant and trainer for law enforcement agencies. They've been distributors with Excel since March 1994, and live in Poulsbo, WA.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Pomerville Feature - February 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,