Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Help you don't need

Doing anything for the first time is hard and usually scary.

You don't know what's supposed to come next. Every step is a step into the unknown. You don't know the lingo. You're ready to accept any help that's offered. You make mistakes.

None of that is bad, except for one word. Any. As in "You're ready to accept any help."

Any help is no help. Specific help you target as a need to grow your own skills is good. Wading into something new and looking around to see who will help is bad, especially in the world of new enterprises.

You're thinking about going out on your own. Good. You've summoned the courage. Embrace it. You're heart is racing. I'm with you. Now stop. Exhale. Look in the mirror and check out the directions you're taking. Let life get quiet and listen to your own common sense. Of course your first steps into the world of enterprise need help. But not ANY help. You need help that builds your own possibilities, not the possibilities of people out to steal your dreams.

Far too often first timers take any help. They turn to the noisiest niche in the new biz world, multi level marketing. "You can get rich without selling", or "make money without risk". Followed by, "Hey Uncle Bert, have you been looking for a new, exciting opportunity".

Don't do it. Multilevel marketing is the essence of "any help". It's no help. It's worse than no help, because you can do so much better on your own, on a path blessed by your own good thoughts and fixing problems in the world that actually need fixing.

I'd intended to explore multilevel marketing in one of these posts, when a good friend linked me to a blog by Ramit Sethi. Mr. Sethi is a very good young writer and recent Stanford grad. His blog, subtly named, "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" focuses on "personal finance and personal entrepreneurship for college students, recent grads, and everyone else."

Personal entrepreneurship for college students and recent grads... Yikes, somebody please buy Mr. Sethi a cup of coffee (not the cheap stuff - make it McDonalds) and give him my best. College students and recent grads REALLY need to learn the stuff of new and emerging enterprises. The world REALLY needs college students and recent grads to get their enterprise asses in gear and fix this place for their own benefit and the generations that succeed us.

Mr. Sethi is a person of Indian ancestry. I hope that it’s then OK for him to title his Nov. 14, 2006 post “Why I Hate Indian Network Marketers So Much.”

He’s not picking on Indian people, but using his personal knowledge of the ways scammers exploit people by maliciously utilizing cultural seams.

With Mr. Sethi’s post, you get a nice overview of the different types of multilevel scams out there. You get a short case study, some precise and funny analysis, and finally, a great set of rules to live by when considering this pathway of multilevel marketing: Ramit’s 5 Maxims of Network Marketing.

Two of the biggest tragedies multilevel marketing inflicts on the wonderful folks who have summoned their resolve and subscribed to the leap are highlighted by Mr. Sethi. First, is the distraction from your real goals. Second, and most important, is the cultural and spiritual misuse of enterprise creation that can deflate your ambitions and waste your abilities.

Here’s s good piece from his post:

”These programs are a scam on your time and your relationships. Yes, there are exceptions and a few people make lots of money. But dig into the data and you'll discover that most people--and I mean that statistically--most people make less than $100/month. Most people don't last very long, either. "But Ramit," you might say, naively, "how can it hurt? If I can make $50/month, what's wrong with that? PS I think I can actually make $50,000/month!!!"

There are four things wrong with that: First, you won't make that much. Second, you're not creating any lasting value or building a skill set for you. Third, have you seen how friends treat you if you try to turn your friendship into a sales relationship? And fourth, engaging in these stupid "opportunities" distracts you from real entrepreneurship and your goals.”

It was a cool recent grad that brought this blog to my attention. She reads Mr. Sethi all the time. I would pass along his link to anyone, but I would especially recommend his writing to young folks.

We need you in the game young people. Don’t take “any help”. Look for contributions that you can make, then build sustainable commercial pathways to get there.

The antithesis of sustainable work is multilevel marketing. Don’t do it. My thanks to Mr. Sethi for defining it so well.

You’re smart enough. There are plenty of problems to fix. Common sense and hard work rule. Go get ‘em my young friends!

Ramit Sethi’s blog

Wikipedia info on multilevel marketing Lots of good links shining lights on multilevel marketing scams. A private site run by Stephen Barrett, MD

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