Monday, May 25, 2009


I can't believe it! My little girl is 9! Well, she'll be 9 in two days.

Parents will understand the paradox that the years seem to have flown by, yet, it seems like an eternity since she was a baby. Without photographs or video -- luckily we have a lot of both -- I would hardly remember what she sounded like and looked like when she was small.

The so-called "tween" years are a lot of fun. I love watching her grow. I'm convinced that my daughter, somehow, is my purpose, my raison d'être. As she becomes more mature, more of a complete (for lack of a better term) person, I see my destiny, in a sense, unfolding. It's really cool . . . and kind of scary. I just hope that I've done the right things so far and will continue to shephard her through this crazy life until she is ready to start her own flock.

I love her so much! She's my baby girl! I can't wait to tell her this in the morning.

Happy Birthday, Munkins. You're the best thing -- or at least tied for first with your mom -- that ever happened to your old man.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quixtar, TEAM and Me: The End

PREFACE: A few months back I 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.) I left the story for awhile but return to it now, skipping over all the bits in the middle and going right to the end.

As I have previously stated, I have no particular axe to grind with individuals in this industry or these organizations. I just want to chronicle how it worked out for me.

When I last left this tale, I was just starting to get into the business. Someday I'll return to some of the happenings that took place while I was going full steam ahead, trying to build the business, but not today.

I knew I was effectively done in the business in February 2007 when I attended a monthly TEAM seminar in Saginaw, Michigan. The featured speakers were Tim and Amy Marks. Prior to that seminar, I had tried very hard to get some prospective IBOs and one active IBO in my downline to come with me. My wife was (and had been) ill, leaving me to attend the seminars by myself. Not only is it a bit lonely to sit in the stands by yourself, it's not easy to build your business if others are not enthused about it.

I sat that evening in the nosebleed seats of the Dow Center listening to the Markses talk about all their stuff. I'm not interested in their material wealth -- which TEAM people are encouraged to flaunt -- or that they get to spend time with their kids, at least not after hearing about it all several dozen times. I certainly didn't want to hear it as I sat there alone in the stands, watching others talk about their success while my business seemed to be dead in the water. Besides that, I think I was struggling with some low grade depression. My wife was ill, I was working hard at work and in TEAM/Quixtar, it was dead of winter and I was spending lots of money to be in that cold, dark place, wearing a suit on a Saturday night. It was miserable. I was done, though unofficially so. I left the Dow Center in tears knowing my dreams were not going to be met, at least not this way.

Not too long after that February seminar, I did my taxes. The amount of financial failure was almost shocking. From June through December 2006, I think we spent over $6,000 in travel, hotel, books and CDs, meeting and seminar tickets, website and membership fees, dining, parking and other expenses related to the business. I made a whopping $93 "income" in return. $93! Even better yet, the $93 was taxable income (offset, of course, by my massive losses.) You know where the $93 came from? That was our aggregate "rebate" on products we bought through Quixtar/Amway. We spent roughly $2,500 to get that $93. How's that for "passive, residual" income? At least I got to write off the $6,000 plus as deductible business expenses.

Anymore involvement with TEAM after that was purely out of obligation or guilt. I attended a few weekly meetings and kicked around the idea of attending the national seminar in St. Louis by myself. It didn't happen and I'm glad I didn't waste the time and money. I also stopped taking calls from my upline/mentors. Everytime I talked to him, my failures just felt heightened. TEAM does a really good job of trying to convince you that you can succeed. The problem is that if you don't see success -- I saw virtually no signs that I was going anywhere -- you feel like you are letting down TEAM, yourself, your family and God almighty Himself.

We stayed "on system" for another few months, meaning we had CDs shipped to our house weekly. That stopped after my wife emailed our uplines that June and asked to take us off system. For 2007, I made ZERO dollars and had about $2,000 in expenses, maybe a little less. Again, I got to write off those expenses as business losses. I would have rather had the cash in hand, though.

You can read elsewhere how TEAM leaders split with (were kicked out of) Quixtar in the summer of 2007. To their credit, guys like Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady made themselves targets of the Amway crowd by constantly nagging Quixtar to lower its prices. The final straw came, as I understand it, when Woodward, Brady, Billy Florence, and some others raised hell over Quixtar taking on the name Amway. They knew that "selling Amway" would be the death of many of us. It was hard enough to sell Quixtar's system to people but to call it Amway would have been damned near impossible.

As much as I admired their principled stand against Amway -- I never wanted to be part of that company -- I was disappointed that Woodward et al changed their tune on Quixtar. When I was in TEAM, essentially signing up people as Quixtar IBOs, I was trained by TEAM that, for numerous reasons, this whole thing was not a "pyramid scam" or one of those "pyramid thingies." But when Woodward and the others split from Amway/Quixtar and lawsuits started flying, what did they allege in court pleadings that Amway/Quixtar was? You guessed it. An "illegal pyramid scheme." Interesting how that changed overnight.

I've been away from TEAM, Amway/Quixtar and the people I knew from that business for about 2 years now. I'm happier not being in the business. Still, though, I felt anchored to it in some weird way. I also felt the need to defend the business model when I've seen criticism of it online. Perhaps that's just my way of convincing myself I hadn't made a poor decision and wasted lots of money. As much as we did, indeed, waste a lot of money, I think both my wife and I grew in positive ways from the experience. I see success differently. I think I know a bit more about business, I know a lot more about myself, and I know what types of things fit my personality type. Rather than me needing a complete overhaul to fit within a fairly rigid system -- I couldn't even choose my own tie or suit colors -- I try to take the strengths I have and apply those to the things I have to do and, when possible, adapt to new or unfamiliar circumstances. I see the value in growth or adaptation but not to the point of self denial or, worse, self death.

My life in TEAM, though over a few years back, was effectively buried for good a few weeks ago. I held onto thousands of dollars of CDs and books in the event I ever got back into the business. Once it became obvious I was never going to return to the business, I held onto all that stuff hoping to sell it. I put ads up on craigslist, offering that stuff for next to nothing, and go no response. Months went by and that crap took up a full box in our garage. Trash Amnesty day came along -- you can throw out anything you like other than hazardous materials -- 2 Fridays ago and I decided, "Aw, to hell with it. Put all that stuff out at the curb and see if some of the garbage pickers want it." Within hours, those books and CDs -- hundreds -- were gone. Only book style packs were left and I'm sure they ended up in the trash.

A smile came over my face when I saw someone else had taken all that material. Part of me hoped that whoever took the books and CDs would learn something. Another part of me thought, "Ha ha! Sucker!" And yet another part of me was simply glad to have them gone; they were symbols of failure I no longer wished to keep in my life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life on hold

The hobbies and things I love the most: writing, exercising, playing bass, and reading have all been on hold the last few weeks. Why? Because the Detroit Red Wings are in the playoffs. They're sucking up a lot of my free time. I love it but I feel disconnected from my routines.

The problem isn't just that there are games to watch, but that the damned games (3 of them) have started after 10:00 p.m. Craziness. I've stayed up until 2:00 a.m. or later 3 times in the last week or so. It just throws off everything.

I write about sports a fair amount on this blog, but I'm actually not a huge sports fan, at least not compared to a lot of guys these days. There are men that do nothing but watch sports every night of the week. I try to keep time for my family, Church and hobbies and keep sports watching to a minimum. But when the Red Wings are in the playoffs or MSU's in March Madness, I have to watch. I just can't pull myself away from the games. I make all the sacrifices I can to see every play.

The Red Wings are playing game 7 of the Western Conference semi-finals tonight and the winner moves onto the conference finals. Tonight's game is huge. I just have to see it, no matter how rusty I'm getting on bass or how little sleep I will get. And I won't regret it at all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random stuff I don't understand (Part 1)

Braille at drive-up ATMs -- Drive-up ATMs are always situated so that the driver's side of the vehicle has access to the screen and keypad. So why do they almost always have information on them in Braille? If a person is so vision impaired that he or she must read in Braille, what is he or she doing driving? Walk-up ATMs are a different story, altogether.

Handicapped parking spots at a fitness center -- I know, I know. At least in our state, all public places that have parking must allot a specific number of spots for handicapped parking. For nearly every public place out there, that law makes sense. We want disabled people to have easy access to public places. But that makes little or no sense at a gym.

The gym to which I belong has has 4 handicapped spots in front of and to each side of the front door. There is no elevator inside the building but it is a two story facility. If you want to use the second floor, you have to be able to get up the steps. Otherwise you're stuck either using treadmills and stairclimbers, weights or the swimming pool.

Whatever the case may be, if you are in the gym it is to exercise. If you can exert yourself enough to get into the pool or up the stairs, you can walk or wheel yourself from anywhere in the parking lot. If you can't move an extra 50 feet is there anything you can do in the gym? I'm not blasting handicapped folks or begrudging them a good parking spot, just wondering what the point is in parking right next to the door of a fitness center.

There will be more brilliant observations from me *wink* as I make them.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in."

Oh dear lord. That was one of a number of simply awful bits of dialog in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The writers of what otherwise could have been a really good comic book movie took every cliche that one could seemingly brainstorm and threw 'em all in the movie.

I'm not going to attempt a full review of the movie. Critics who get paid to do that stuff would do a better job than me. Let's just say I like the movie because I've liked all the X-Men movies and Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine. I forgive it a lot of deficiencies because of the subject matter.

Much of the acting was subpar and, as suggested, the dialog was even worse. Also, the timelines in the movie didn't match either the comic book history or even the movie itself. I think the Marvel purists will probably go nuts about stuff like that.

All its failings aside, it's a good shoot 'em up...errr...slice 'em up flick. It's worth the price of admission unless you have particularly discriminating tastes. Just be prepared for some real groaners.