Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quixtar, TEAM and Me Part 2

PREFACE: I've decided to write in several parts my experience as a member of TEAM (f/k/a Team of Destiny) and as a Quixtar "Independent Business Owner" (IBO.) Some names (mainly the people we worked with closely or who are 'bit players') have been changed for various reasons, mostly to avoid hurt feelings or embarrassment that might possibly be caused from perceived negativity in these pieces. I see no reason to change the names of the leaders of these particular organizations. They are well known folks, especially here in Michigan. I have no particular axe to grind with individuals or these organizations. I just want to chronicle my experiences, both good and bad.

Part 2.

I came home from our meeting with Mark and Vicky very intrigued by the business I was shown. I had a sense that I would be involved but I still wanted to "check it out" before committing to anything. We had several CD packets, one which included the book Have Fun, Make Money, Make A Difference, by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, and a video of a talk by Brady.

I couldn't wait to read the book. What I found in it was fascinating. to me, the business plan made all kinds of sense. I appreciated that Woodward and Brady also made it clear that this wasn't a "something-for-nothing" opportunity or a "get-rich-quick scheme." It was going to be hard work but, with perseverance, the hard work would pay off. We watched the DVD together but didn't finish it. I found myself annoyed by all the talk of toys and what seemed to me to be conspicuous consumption by TEAM leaders. I felt like the material aspect of success was too highly promoted, something I've never felt differently about since first being introduced to TEAM/Quixtar.

We were in the middle of a dispute arising from the sale of our previous home, having some difficulty with the buyers, so I didn't want to join the business until after that was remedied. Vicky invited my wife and me to a Tuesday night meeting in Brighton, Michigan, which seemed like a good way to get more information while taking this all into consideration. Mark ____ (last name escapes me) and Bill Lewis, who only a few months thereafter went Diamond, were the speakers. Mark was great. Bill was fantastic.

Everyone made sure to tell us what great leaders Mark and Vicky were and how lucky we were to be associated with them. Vicky, to her credit, was fairly transparent about that. Humbly she explained that is TEAM's way: edification. It also helps sell new people on membership.

I remember being a bit unnerved by the fact that nearly every man there -- several hundred -- was wearing a black or navy suit, white shirt and a red tie. Vicky explained that was based on studies that show dark suits, white shirts and red ties make a man more "relatable." You can do whatever study you like, but that never sat well with me. It seemed too much like a uniform -- TEAM leaders called it that -- and gave everything a bit of a cult feel. I am a professional and still do not understand why a nice blue tie wouldn't work just as well as a red tie.

The meeting was fueled, almost literally, on X-S energy drinks. Many people there had them as X-S was a product heavily promoted by TEAM. Quixtar was (and maybe still is) its exclusive distributor and the payback to IBOs for X-S was decent. Besides, the drinks were pretty darned good.

In the next few weeks, I did a lot of internet research. I argued with friends about the apparent logic of the business model. I got a good handle on some of the leading products. I kept in contact with Mark and Vicky every few days.

After the better part of a month, and after another meeting with Mark, my wife and I decided to join. We went to Mark and Vicky's house and completed the necessary forms and paid our fees for Quixtar IBO registration and TEAM website access. I was very excited. I just felt like this was our ticket to financial freedom. Some of my excitement was tempered with a smidge of disillusion when I found out that we were joining Quixtar, owned by the parent company of Amway. I had gotten past most misgivings about Quixtar, but I felt like I had been buffaloed a bit. I had not only been told that we wouldn't be joining Amway, technically a truth, but that Quixtar was just a "shopping portal." In reality, Quixtar was 100% control of whether or not I would have my own business.

Even so, it was like Christmas when we got our first shipment of products. I couldn't wait to try everything. The costs of all the products, within the first few months, was shocking. I kidded myself into belieiving we weren't paying a lot of money -- a few hundred dollars a month -- for energy drinks, some cosmetics, home goods like napkins etc., energy/snack bars, and some other non-perishables. I bought into the company line that I was "buying from my own business" and that the "rebates" defrayed the costs of the products. Shipping, too, was quite pricey. We found within 3 or 4 months that we really had to scale back on orders because we were buying things we didn't really need because we committed to buying x-amount of dollars of "business volume" per month.

Next time: I attend my first TEAM monthly seminar.

To be continued...

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