Did we fall out of the box?

In his delightful and thought provoking book, Get Back in the Box, Doug Rushkoff explains how so many American companies have become the faceless, soulless things we love to hate.

When there’s no one running the show that loves doing the thing the company is supposed to do best, e.g. make telephones, or cars, and the focus those at the top is on betting bigger, more profitable, being #1, being more efficient, spending more on marketing than on making their product better, something else happens too: people in those places lose their passion for their work, it stops being fun and soon, people do it with little enthusiasm, and profitability begins to decline as customers notice that no one seems to care, and they go elsewhere.

It’s also very personal, this question, “Does anyone here care?”

Say you want to buy something that you need a little bit of education for, so you can decide what you want, like a new cell phone. Who would you rather talk to and buy from? The guy at Best Buy who knows about cell phones, loves to talk about them, and can show you 9 ways to use his favorite one? Or the guy there who knows as little about it as you do and took the job because he needs the paycheck?

Many companies started by passion-driven founders who did what they did because they loved it, have regressed over the years and become like the clerk to took the job because he wants the income, not because he cares or knows much about what he does. And it shows whenever we have to deal with them, doesn’t it? You get to hear “Your call is important to us” over and over and no one picks up the phone.

Many once-great network marketing companies too, were started by people who had a passion for what they developed – like Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee who founded Shaklee Corporation. He was passionate about nutrition and what it could do for human beings and wanted to spread the word about the importance of nutritional supplements. So he created products he believed in. For him, it was all about getting a product he thought was important to the people who might benefit from it too, like he had. But that was 50 years ago.

Today’s new owners don’t talk like that. Instead, they talk about being #1, about being the biggest, about growing by recruiting as much as possible. Almost no one talks about customers anymore.

The pay plans of most companies are set up to reward those who sign up recruits who buy one-time big product packages, which they usually sit on until they finally drop out, since no one shows them how to get customers (“No money in customers,” say the recruiters). Everything is driven and motivated by the close and the one time sign-up bonuses for getting ever more recruits.

It’s all about the money, and who’s making the most. That’s who gets on stage. Making a difference with the products is no longer #1. Talking about getting customers who are not also selling the product, is like speaking a foreign language. Recruiting is #1. Being first by piling up one time product orders is #1. And the drop out rate is 95%. And public opinion of the industry is perhaps lower than it has ever been.

What’s your reason for doing the business? Is it just the money that brought you in? If so, and if you’re having trouble getting the business off the ground, remember this: Who would you rather buy from when you need a little education about a product before you buy? (like most products sold by network marketing companies) The person who sells it because she needs the income, or the one who loves it and can’t stop talking about how it’s helped her, why she loves it and wants the world to know, too?

Maybe we fell out of the box – we stopped doing things for the original reasons that matter to all of us – because of a passion for the product, or the business. Not just the money in it. People have begun to notice. And it’s not a good thing.

The most successful business people today say it all starts with something you love madly and that matters to you from your bones. Money is always secondary.

“To me, business isnt about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas, and focusing on the essentials.” – Richard Branson, Chairman and founder, Virgin Airlines, and other companies.

“We better do the right thing. I think this is part of a larger trend toward business having a greater responsibility in society than just maximizing profits. Customers want that, employees want that…they want businesses to be good citizens. ..”
-John Mackey, Chairman, CEO and cofounder, Whole Foods Market Inc.

“I never think about marketing with my products. I do the things I believe in and that get me excited….” – Patricia Urquiola, top furniture designer.

So ask yourself about what you’re doing in your business, do you love it madly? If not, find something you DO love madly in it, so you can be in your love box, stay put and just get better and better. And if it isn’t this particular business, find something you DO love. People will thank you for being the real you.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • I think Kim’s right on the money..again…so many Network Marketing companies are driven by squeezing as much profit as possible,in some cases,more profit than is possible,to the detriment of both the networkers and the industry.

    Publicly held companies have the burden of looking after the interests of their stockholders and now seem to be built on Fortune 500 company model…with all the associated costs.

    Most networkers never learn the truth,because they’ve been fed so much misinformation by people who should have known better.I’ve just read a book by a very well known networker and he says to be successful,you must recruit wide as fast as possible…customers will come as a result of presenting the business…little is said about the care and support required of you by your new distributors…this approach means new distributors are sponsoring others without first hand evidence of how good the products are..without real conviction and passion about how they can help the person in front of them..and we wonder why the fallout rate is high…how on earth,as person of integrity,could you approach friends or family and talk to them about how they can get involved in something YOU don’t have any real belief in yet?

    It’s a well documented fact that men find it easier to promote a business or product without having first hand evidence of its value,compared to women,who feel much more comfortable trying the product or service first before promoting it…and who makes up the largest part of your business?

    For most,myself included,this model is backwards…I feel much happier with obtaining as many customers as possible with a product you love,some will become passionate promoters of the product…where it’s natural and enjoyable..where they stick.Don’t give up the day job you hate simply to replace it with doing NWM in a fashion you dislike..instead find a company and a product line that gets you waking up with excitement each day..and get your behavior to the place where you’re constantly asking yourself “regardless of whether this person joins me,how can I be of outstanding value and service to him/her?”

    Become a more attractive person by loving what you do…there are far more people out there that want to earn £300-£3000/month in a fun way,than there are people who want to earn £30,000/month in an uncomfortable way…who would you rather have on your team?Is the answer obvious to most networkers?

  • You have nailed it kim. NM has become a place for money-driven marketeers, many of whom know nothing about marketing and instead,substitute recruiting. I no longer folo the recruiting drivers and seek only customers. Yes, I do need the money, but I am crazy for the product and know it will help all who use it. NM is already getting a dose of the titantic wave that is going to change American business like nothing since the development of the steam engine — the marketing revolt. Wake up NM! Read Seth Godin. The dropout rate may be 95% now, but it’s nothing like the failure rate is going to be among NM companies that insist on continuing to drive recruiting as their principal marketing tool. The customer may not always be right, but the customer IS the customer. They pay the freight. They pay our income. We need them more than they need us. So we better get into the right box — the one marked “CUSTOMER.”

  • Spot on, Kim!
    And there ARE companies which are run by people who are passionate about their products and their distributors.
    There ARE payment plans which encourage us to find new customers first and foremost, and pay us well for finding and keeping them.
    And I think they will be the model for the ones which survive in the years to come.

  • “The most successful business people today say it all starts with something you love madly and that matters to you from your bones. Money is always secondary.”

    This may be true, but you will not stay in business if profit is not there. Lottery tickets and Las Vegas (which I personally never buy or gamble) are not hot because of the masses love for the game.

    Is networking failure really any different than any other business?
    Famous economist Lester Thurow, documented that 88% of all traditional businesses failed the last decade.
    Would we expect network marketing to be lower? I personally think it would be higher, (around 95%) because what is really at stake?
    The average networker spends a couple of hundred dollars to start a business and expects it to be earning them a living in a month or two. When it isn’t they are gone.
    I think the rate failure would be about 95% because what commitment is someone really making when the price is so small.
    Hey, 88% fail in traditional business and most of them have mortgaged their home and future to have the business. They can’t walk away.
    In networking, the average person gets a rejection or two and they are gone.

    Having your own business, which includes a home based networking, is about self responsility.

    Do not misunderstand my above comments.
    (1) There are many unscrupulous networkers misleading people.
    (2) I think your information Kim, is excellent.

    I feel our challenge is to teach those joining our industry to really understand the risk, focus and challenges that come with having a business.

    Those of building long term strong growing businesses, teach that the important factor when choosing an opportunity is the probability of a positive outcome verse the risk of time or money.
    Not chase something because you see a few that won the lottery.

    AS whether you do it because you love selling the product and being a product expert, or love selling the opportunity, neither is right or wrong and neither is more noble than the other.

    However I think it should be noted that baking pies and having a pie baking business are not the same thing.
    Be sure you know which one you really want to do.

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