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.


your corrector said...

and I...

and what happened to the 4 individuals who were your "followers"...looks like you scared them off.

ourboy said...

Not sure what you're looking at, but my "followers" still seem to be there.

Anonymous said...

on Friday afternoon, none of the followers/avatars were there on the web page. Just happen to notice it. Fridsy evening they were back. So, a non-issue...

ourboy said...

Sadly, I think my enthusiasm for this business probably did scare off some people at one point. I am often a bit embarrassed or nervous that I turned off or disappointed people that trusted me.

Who knows.