Sunday, June 27, 2010

No such thing....

There's no such thing as a get-rich quick scheme.

There. I said it.

In the realm of human existence, there are only a handful of ways to get rich in the shortest amount of time. You could win the lottery, invent something that sells like hotcakes, author a best selling book, create a successful business, get a high paying job, inherit from a rich deceased relative, be a movie/rock/sports star, marry into a rich family, or find hidden treasure.

If you're live in some Southeast Asian country south of Taiwan and east of Vietnam like I do, you could also add being a corrupt government official, or working at the Bureau of Customs to the list.

The truth is, for the vast majority of us, our financial situations hardly deviate much from where we started from. Yes, there will be improvements, but these are incremental (albeit tangible), and nowhere near the rags to riches prospect that everyone dreams of.

In short, more often than not, if you're rich, you stay rich, and if you're poor, well, you stay poor. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule...there are exceptions, and you'd be surprised how hard work and perseverance go a long way towards achieving one's dream of financial bliss.

What everyone knows, and what almost everyone is quick to forget when faced with the prospect of a get-rich quick scheme is that it takes money to make money. That's why the rich get richer, and the poor, stay poor. Get-rich quick schemes were invented by people who wanted to generate instant wealth without the bother of investing their own money. So what do they do? They come up with systems were they use other people's cash.

The most common schemes are Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes. A Ponzi scheme in simplest terms involves inducing people to invest money with the promise of a high return...more often than not too high to be sustainable, and without any concrete proof or only a vague description of how the money is invested or how it generates profit. A pyramid scheme on the other hand, is like a Ponzi scheme in that it induces people to invest their money, and the investors in turn are encouraged to find other investors, and so on and so forth. The key characteristic is that there isn't any tangible product or service to speak of. It's just money generation, and, in most countries, it's illegal.

Some manage to make pyramiding legal by simple adding a concrete product or service. In this case, the scheme is no longer pyramiding per se, it's now a Multi-level marketing scheme. While it's no longer illegal, to me at least, I think it's unethical, unsustainable, and encourages greed.

I've seen a lot of multi-level marketing schemes over the years, and, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, participated in quite a few as well. The products can involve anything from hotel accommodations, herbal juices, vitamin supplements, shark oil, garlic capsules, imitation jewelry, leather goods, garments, cleaning products, cookware, ionized water, and the list goes on and on. Virtually any product can be shoe-horned into a multi-level marketing scheme, and people will continue buying into it, to be swayed by a mere (but impressive) PowerPoint presentation.

Frankly my experience in multi-level marketing wasn't that pleasant. Did I make money? Yes, I suppose. Did I get rich? No. If you're a multi-level marketing advocate you'd probably just say I didn't persevere enough in getting many downlines. You'd probably be right. In the end I find myself being reduced to a mere salesman, selling products people don't need, to people who don't want to buy them, only to get them in the same boat as I am. It's distasteful. You could probably get rich if in multi-level marketing if you really push yourself...but the scheme itself stimulates greed, you end up alienating a lot of friends, you saturate the market, enter into arguments as areas overlap and downlines cross, and at the end of the day, you're not even that richer. Is it worth it? In my book, no. The only ones who get rich in a multi-level marketing scheme are the product manufacturers/retailers who supply the object of the scheme, and those at the uppermost tiers (who probably started the scheme), leaving everyone else below to fight among themselves for prospective downlines. Again, it is distasteful, and quite indicative of how some people are willing to get rich at other people's expense.

Only recently a former officemate was inviting me to participate in another scheme of sorts. The rules seem simple enough. I'm supposed to invest 299 USD, and in a week's time, I'll get a return of 777 USD, or a return of investment of about 160%. When pressed for details, she said something vague about travel accommodations. The 160% return on investment by itself is already a red flag. No legal investments can offer such a high rate, and by itself is more than enough to arouse suspicion. I tried browsing such a a scheme on the internet and found this. Simply put, it's another multi-level marketing ploy that is in fact, under investigation. No way I'm giving away 299 USD. As if I had 299 USD in the first place anyway.

Face the facts people. You will never meet a person who got rich from a multi-level scheme (except of course the very top tier), the same way you'll never meet a fortuneteller or psychic who has won the lottery. Most of the die-hard multi-level marketers I know are still at it, moving to another scheme when the old ones saturate the market or become stale. Yes, it could be a way to eke out a living if you're really good at it...but let face it, you'll hardly get rich from it, and you'll probably lose a lot of friends along the way. You're probably better off with a stable, moderate to high paying job, especially if income security is what you're after.

I know a lot of multi-level marketing diehards out there...and to be honest, most of them are not very pleasant people to be with, almost always seemingly obsessed with making money, and are the type to say almost anything...even lie...just to close a transaction. And God do I hate liars.

Just consider yourselves warned people.

The Law of Conservation of Energy states: Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it may be changed from one form to another. The same can be said for money. It is neither created, nor destroyed, it has to come from somewhere.

So if the return seems too good to be true...then it probably is...and you should avoid it at all costs.

As for multi-level marketing...personally I'd rather not lose my soul for the pursuit of easy money. Because in the real world...there really isn't such a thing as easy money...unless you take advantage of another.

Tip:

When being recruited for a multi-level marketing scheme, save yourself the aggravation and just say No. If you're into that type of thing though, at least look it up on the internet to see if it's viable, or a scam.





Blogger TK reacted...

160%? even Bernie Madoff wasn't that optimistic in front of his "investors"

AmWay vs. FTC legalized product based pyramiding a.k.a. MLM back in... 1978? frankly, Marxist-Leninist-Mao thought makes more sense compared to Multi-Level-Marketing (I'm no commie, I'm just trying to illustrate how stupid MLM is.)

I think since MLM has been exposed as a failed biz model, they don't call it MLM anymore (but a rose by any other name... well you get the idea)

To clarify, any business model that requires you to recruit a downline, or makes it appear that it will be more profitable for you if you recruit more downlines, is MLM.

July 04, 2010 7:55 PM  

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