What is personal development to you?

For most people it’s the evolution of wherever you are at in life now, to wherever you are trying to get to. Within this journey there are many facets to personal development and many areas in your life that you can personally develop in.

Regardless of what personal development means specifically to you though, the idea that it can be taught or coached via a multi level marketing business is just downright misleading.

I was watching a marketing video the other day, just one of the many research activities I undertake when writing for OzSoapbox, and as I was watching it hit me square in the face. I literally paused the video, thought about what was being said and concluded that this, right here, was the problem with trying to promote personal development through a multi level marketing business model.

The video I’d watched came courtesy of none other then Tony Rush. Rush used to be part of Polaris Media Group before departing with a whole bunch of other Executive Marketing Council (read: managers) late last year.

Polaris Media Group are in the business of offering personal development products via a multi level marketing model. I think they call it direct sales but in reality it’s the same thing. You make big dollars if you’re able to sign up people who then sign up people who sign up people and so on and so forth. They call this your ‘business’.

Since leaving Polaris Tony seems to be trying to establish himself as a network marketing coach for the MLM or home based business industry. In the following video Rush uses a funnel analogy to explain how to create a sale or enrollment.

“That’s what it is, it’s a machine.”

Now this article isn’t about debating Tony Rush’s credibility, he’s an internet marketer doing his thing. I want you to forget any pre-conceived opinions who have about Rush and instead focus on what he is saying.

This is a guy who spent years in Liberty League and Polaris Media Group coaching others to achieve in the field of personal development. In the above video Rush is sharing with you the methodology of how that happened.

Marketing personal development with a MLM business model is simply put “a machine”. It’s a machine that can be applied to any other MLM product and that’s where the danger lies.

With personal development you’re playing with people’s lives, their dreams and their ambitions. You’re not just selling some toilet cleaner, herb supplements or vitamin kits.

From a business and marketing point of view there most likely is a systematic machine formula you can follow to churn out commissions and sales. From a personal development viewpoint however to suggest that there is simply a formula one can follow to achieve personal development success is ludicrous.

Now Rush doesn’t explicitly do this, he’s now marketing to a general network marketing audience and thus the video features a more general tone. However you only need to take a loot at just how the direct sales personal development industry companies market themselves to see this in action.

Over at Lifepath Unlimited (Polaris Media Group’s largest competitor and a company I’ve been accused of working for many times), they advertise their income opportunity with a certain air of guarantee.

Build your own business and earn a multiple six-figure income!

You definitely have the ability to realistically earn a multiple six-figure income with LifePath Unlimited.

The above are two of the sales pitches taken from Lifepath’s income opportunity sales page. Without a doubt here the focus is on income potential. And fair enough, on this page they are advertising a business opportunity and the best measure for success in evaluating a business opportunity is profit.

So where does the personal development come into it? From the products?

The products marketed by companies in the personal development network sales industry are typically geared to drive you towards a top end conference of some sort. The initial products are placed at a low entry price point and then get progressively more expensive.

This in itself isn’t unique to the personal development industry but what you’ve got to look at is the mindset of the person selling you the products. Are they really going to be able to coach you? Are they going to put in the effort if you don’t turn into a viable cash cow for their business? Will they put their own financial goals second to your personal development needs?

Go back to the Tony Rush marketing video. Whether they use a funnel analogy or something else, the financially motivated mindset is still the same. Their income, their livelihood is paramount and any personal development deviations you might have from their ‘machine’ aren’t going to take priority.

I’ve got 100 leads coming in a day, what do I care? I’ll just put you in the too difficult basket and move on.

This to me doesn’t sound like true personal development, nor the type of person you should be taking personal development device from. Not that they’re horrible people or anything, just that their motivation isn’t in the right place for your own personal best interests.

If you want further proof just take a look at the distributors of Lifepath or Polaris Media Group themselves. It’s no secret that in the last six months or so there’s been a lot of people leaving Polaris Media Group for various other companies. Some have gone over to Lifepath, some over to Wealth Masters International, some again to the Numis Network; wherever they’ve wound up it’s important to note that their still just chasing that elusive dollar.

As Rush’s video clearly points out, to your average MLM network marketer the profit model is simply a machine formula that can theoretically be applied to any direct sales based business.

This is precisely why the marriage of the personal development industry and the MLM industry simply doesn’t provide for those actively seeking true personal development .

Personal development takes time, commitment and a whole lot of work on your behalf. You’re not going to develop in the long term as a person by attending some glitzy 5 day conference or by doing a course over a couple of months. Sure, walking on fire and breaking arrows on your neck might make you feel gushy inside for a few days. Hell it might even give you some fond memories to take with you, but is it really addressing any of the concerns or problems that drove you to seek out personal development in the first place?

Since I started writing about Polaris Media Group I’ve seen time and time again the disillusionment of distributors who signed on to really make a difference. A difference both in their own lives and that of their customers that went beyond the mutual financial opportunities to be made. Time and time again this is where the MLM industry fails to provide beyond being able to provide a simple income opportunity.

If you’re in it for the money then there’s a good chance you’ll succeed, if you’re in it for personal development then you’re probably going to learn the hard way that you’ll either need to readjust your goals to align with the non personal development related financial interests of others, or move on.

Pyramid issues aside, MLM might work for some things; but when you’re playing with people’s lives, ambitions and dreams it is abundantly clear that personal development just isn’t one of them.

 

Footnote: The Tony Rush marketing video used in this article can be viewed in its entirety over at Tony Rush’s blog.