Yesterday, one our readers wrote:

“As to “corporate AA”, I think it would be hard for me to care less than I do. I tried Amway about 15 years ago and ditched it when it became apparent that it wasn’t about selling soap; it’s about getting other people to sell soap for you. The analogy breaks down at that point because I don’t see a significant money trail in AA, but again, I don’t really care. The only money I’m expected to put into AA is the 50 cents in the piggy bank if I want a cup of coffee.

In my experience, AA meetings are a place where I can be with people who used to be desperately sad, hope-less drinkers who couldn’t stop their self-destructive behavior. And now we aren’t like that any more. And some poor schlub who is *now* where I was *then* might ask me how I got from there to here, and I can tell him.”

We appreciate the comment, and sincerity and thoughtfulness with which it was written. I wanted to highlight it, because I know that Amway has been compared to a cult, much like with AA. Cult expert Steve Hassan does not have Amway categorized as a cult (nor does he label AA a cult), but he does believe there are disturbing practices, and he shows how it fits into his BITE model. Like AA, it doesn’t meet all of the criteria, but it does meet most. Read through Hassan’s description of Amway, and see if you find any similarities.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Amway to AA, and in the process I found this analysis of Amway as a cult, written by a former Amway distributor. This person uses the criteria of a destructive cult, set by Robert Lifton. It is plain scary how similar the groups are to one another. Below I’ve taken some relevant parts of this analysis to compare to the AA experience:

The idea of “sacred science” is used by groups “[since,] in our age something must be scientific…to have a substantial effect on people.” (Lifton, 1961) This refers to the fact that if the ideas of the group have worked for so many other people, it has become “science.” This is the most important reason for not questioning: if the “science” works for others (but not you) then something is wrong with you, not the science (or its application). The group can prove their science works by showing the (multiple) successful examples, so you need to work harder if the science is to work for you too. This is also called the “blame the victim” mentality- “No wonder it didn’t work for you, you didn’t do exactly as you were taught. It’s all your fault.” It’s not the person’s fault at all, but the inherent flaws of the system itself.

Sound familiar?

In the Amway business, a person is taught that if he follows the steps (or “pattern/ system for success”) outlined by his upline, he too will become successful. No-one ever mentions the hard work that is actually needed to do this, or if they do, the work is dismissed in a statement such as “it was hard, but it was worth it.” He is taught to contact X number of people and show the plan to Y number of people to sponsor Z number of people. Since Amway has been around for almost 40 years and has produced a number of multi-millionaires, their system HAS to work. (Until recently, it was always assumed that the millionaires made their money from product sales, when in fact a majority of their “Amway income” comes from the sale of motivational tools. Did they use Amway’s “system for success?” ) The uplines teach, “If the “system for success” doesn’t work for you, then YOU aren’t doing what you need to be doing. YOU know what has to be done (or hear it again from your upline), so go out and do it.” If a person starts to doubt his results, the upline will just tell him to “have faith” and “just keep doing what you’re doing” until he becomes the type of distributor they want (meaning someone who is unquestioning). Only later, when he is “ready,” (meaning properly conditioned and unquestioning) will he be taught that he could receive an additional income from the sales of tools to his own downline.

In AA, a person is to told to follow the steps. This is the recipe for success. It is all in the book. It is simple, buy you must do it with an “open mind”, by which “open mind” means don’t don’t question the program.

What the distributors don’t talk about are the statistics inherent to any MLM business. See my statistics page for more information. Of course, some distributors do acknowledge the statistics… and claim that they will be the ones to “beat the odds” (which is either extreme optimism or extreme stupidity). If the distributor does not become a Direct in the specified time frame, it is always assumed that HE did not do the work that he was supposed to do. Again the uplines teach that he should know what has to be done (or hear it yet again from your them), so go out and do it. Forget the fact that the “Amway science” may not actually be applicable to everyone’s personality. As with any business, there are going to be those people who just can’t do it despite the fact that distributors repeatedly say “anyone who wants to go Direct, will.” Are the vast majority of Amway’s distributors not Direct because they just “do not want to go direct?”

Actual statistics don’t matter to AAs. They are irrelevant. Often one will hear something to the effect of, “I know it works for me 100%”. Those few who will address the statistics, dismiss them as not mattering because of those who “really try”, 100% succeed.

“Loading of the language” refers to the idea that a group replaces common language with their own internal-group language. This new terminology also serves to replace complex thoughts and ideas with only a simple phrase. In other cases, a whole new list of terms and phrases is required learning for the new person to begin to understand the conversations of others in the group. “The [group]’s cliches, or loaded language, also put up an invisible wall between believers and outsiders.” (Hassan, 1988) This “wall” further separates the group’s members from the rest of society. “In reality, by incorporating the loaded language, they learn how not to think,” (emphasis original) (Hassan, 1988) or learn to think in much narrower terms.

This is the most obvious comparison of AA to Amway. AA has a language uniquely its own. Part of gaining comfort with the group, is being comfortable with the terms.

In the Amway business, there are plenty of terms for the new distributor to learn. (See the terms page for a full listing.) After a time, normal speaking becomes full of Amway terminology and phrasing. Fellow distributors can understand what each other is saying, but the rest of the public probably does not. This gives the distributors a feeling of sharing an “inside secret” or part of a “special organization.” After a while, this further serves to create an “us & them” mentality: distributors versus the general public. In turn, this can lead to the belief that a person can only have financial freedom (or salvation) by joining the group, something the rest of the public can’t get. In some cases, this replacing of language can cause frustration for distributors when talking to non-distributors. Since the distributor is using specific terms, the non-distributor may not understand what the terms mean. Unfortunately, sometimes the distributor can not express his thoughts any other way.

Yep.

Another way Amway distributors “load the language” is by their use of catch-phrases which involve a sort of circular logic. Some common phrases include: “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll get what you’ve been getting,” and “If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get what everyone else is getting.” A third phrase, used by the upline when questioned about a downline’s own lack of progress, actually contradicts the first phrase: “Just keep doing what you’re doing [and you’ll be successful in the business].” These phrases are designed to separate the distributor from the rest of society: you don’t want to be like the everyone else, do you? If someone is not building the business fast enough or is thinking about quitting, the upline distributor can use the threat of rejoining society: the distributor won’t become wealthy, but instead, will “get what everyone else is getting.” This further reinforces the distributor’s phobias about quitting the business.

These are the exact phrases used by AAs.

“Doctrine over person” refers to “[t]he internalized message…that one must find the truth of the dogma and subject one’s own experience to that truth.” (Lifton, 1961) This is related to sacred science since a person shapes his own experiences around the “science” of the group. Eventually, a person’s entire emotional state is shaped around the group’s “science.” From there, the person learns to control his emotions so they comply with the with emotions of the other people in the group. Before long, “a member need not think for himself because the doctrine does the thinking for him.” (Hassan, 1988) A person becomes happy only when he is with other members (such as in a meeting) and becomes sad when he is away from them (such as when the meeting ends).

“Your best thinking got you here”
“Think, think, think yourself another drink”
“Take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth”
“You are too smart for this program”

In the Amway business, the most important experiences are those that help build the business. Over time, a person learns to express his activities in terms of how his business was built by those activities. Distributors are always trying to look good in the eyes of their upline, thereby receiving the upline’s attention and help. Amway’s corporate policies state that upline distributors may not withhold help from someone, but the reality of the situation is much different. Many speeches tell the true situation: distributors should only help people who “want it.” (in other words, people who are being “good distributors”). If you want help, you’ll behave like the upline wants you to behave, and express yourself the way your upline wants you to express yourself. After some time of expressing experiences based on how they relate to the building of their Amway business, distributors start to naturally ONLY express their experiences in these terms.

Amway has sponsors, too. They call them “uplines”. This description above is identical to how an AA sponsor will work with only those who “want it”. Questioning the logic of the steps, or the contradictory messages one receives, is an example of a person “not wanting it”. Because a person desperately wants to be sober, they will likely acquiesce to the wishes of the sponsor, and not question the dogma.

The idea of a group “offering a unique form of salvation” refers to the idea that if you are part of the group, you are somehow spiritually better than everyone else in society: you have “seen the truth” or “seen the light.” Conversely, if you are not part of the group, you “have not been shown the way” or “have not seen the light.” Group members approach people with the intent to show them that their group’s way is the only way for people to “be saved.” (“Saved from what” depends on the specific group’s goals, but usually refers to the group’s perceived evils of society.)

Exactly the attitude among the AA true believers.

Like missionaries, Amway distributors go out into the world preaching that Amway is the way (in fact, the ONLY way) to “save yourself” from the coming dread of retirement and “financial disaster” as well as the only way to achieve your lifelong dreams. So what if your dream was to become an account executive for a major corporation. Wouldn’t you really be happy owning a business of your own instead of working a job? (Of course, you are not really “owning a business of your own,” you are an Amway distributor- bound by all of Amway’s -and the AMO’s- rules and regulations.) If you believe the information the distributor is showing you and become a distributor yourself, you are then considered to have “seen the truth” about the world. You have learned that you need extra income, which is provided by the Amway business, to have a good lifestyle (meaning a “happy life”). (Please ignore the fact that many people may be perfectly happy with their lives until someone comes along to tell them otherwise.) When retirement age does come, you will be one of the “saved” since you will have built a big Amway business and have plenty of money to live on. In reality, most people could achieve “financial freedom” with the help of a financial planner or a good investment program!

Twelve-step calls are the AA equivalent of what is described above. Also, “sharing my experience” and “telling others what worked for me”. The point continues below:

Upon closer look, most of the marketing plan is dedicated to asking people about their dreams and showing how the Amway business can help. This serves to get a person’s dream, to get them into the cult of confession, to be used against them later. In the British magazine, Time Out, an ex-Direct distributor named Colin is quoted as saying:

“When you go out showing the plan, it’s less about explaining the business and more about finding out what the person really wants out of life, then showing how Amway can help them achieve it. You tell people this can help their dreams come true. You explain that they are caught in a rut. That they will work 40 years and once they hit 65, they will be either be broke, dead or dead broke.

“If they are not money-minded, you put the emphasis on how much the money can help others – “you can give to charities and make a real difference; you can pay your parents back for all the work they put into bringing you up.” Otherwise you just play on their greed. “You can have that big house in the country, the BMW, you can buy your daughter that pony for Christmas, you can take that two-week holiday in the Far East”.” (Time Out, 1994)

As a distributor, if you were to run into a person who did not want to join the Amway business (as you eventually will), you are taught that “they just didn’t see it” (or as one distributor I know puts it, “they’re dead”).

“Lovebombing” can be described as the act of over-affection by the people already in the group for a newcomer, usually occurring in the early meetings between the new person and the group members. This can mean a lot of complements, attention, and physical contact (handshaking, hugging, or pats on the back) for anyone who is new. The attention serves as a bond for the new person: “This place isn’t so bad, everyone here likes me.” The new person comes to appreciate this affection and attention (which he may or may not be receiving elsewhere). Under the guise of “being friendly” or “being happy,” this close physical contact serves to quickly draw the new person into the group. New people don’t realize the “members are taught to suppress any negative feelings they have about the group and always show a continually smiling, ‘happy’ face,” (Hassan, 1988) especially when new people are present.

AA refers to a newcomer as “the most important person in the room”. Lovebombing for a new individual is common, and more often than not, one will hear from someone coming back from their first meeting or encounter with an AA member, that it was a positive experience.

On a personal note, I became good friends with one of my upline when I was a distributor. He also considered me a “close friend” (his own words) and we spoke on the phone almost every other night. When I brought some “negative” information to his attention, I then heard less and less from him. And if he did talk to me, he would continue on about how he will be “building the business big this month.” (This was the same talk he has been saying ever since I met him, with little results to show for it.) When I became frustrated with his boasting, I told him to visit this website. He took one look at the title page, did not even read anything else, and quickly hung up the telephone. This was in the second week of January, 1998. I have not heard from him since. Has his friendship disappeared since I decided to quit the Amway business? I would say so. So much for me being his “close friend.”

This is common. A person is surprised to learn, upon leaving AA, that the friendships that they had were premised on their common membership to the group. One reason many stay is because they are aware of this, and their entire social circle forms around AA.

Cognitive dissonance is the term used to describe what happens to a person when he accepts multiple, conflicting information at the same time. Rather than have to deal with conflicting thoughts, a person almost “separates” himself from reality. He starts to deny anything is wrong and continues to tell people, “Everything is fine. Just wait until I get there. Then you’ll see I was right.” In reality, this leads to both a further detachment from reality and a further attachment to the group’s values. And if a person were to question the conflicting information presented to him, he would probably be told, “Your question means you don’t understand the material. Continue learning and then it will become clear.” This “separation” occurs at about the same time that a person starts to lose his critical thinking.

Adding the two (cognitive dissonance and the loss of critical thinking) is a dangerous combination and what is commonly known as “brain-washing.” For example, if a person was told by the group’s leaders, “For you to be successful, you must believe that 2 + 2 = 5.” From then on, the person will think, ” Gee, I’m not successful yet, I guess I don’t fully believe that 2 and 2 is 5.” Rather than realizing he is denying the reality of the facts, a person tells himself to believe the “new reality” of the group. Before long, it will be he who is arguing to other people, that 2 and 2 really does equal 5. And if a person is in this belief system long enough, leaving the group may require “deprogramming” to get a person out of these beliefs and back into reality.

In the Amway business, distributors develop this trait after they stop thinking critically about the business and become conditioned to accept what the upline is teaching as being “the truth.” When this teaching comes into conflict with the rest of the person’s belief system, he is too conditioned not to think that the information could be wrong. He simply says, “I know it may be rough now, but I’ll build this thing yet,” or the upline tells him, “You may not understand it now, but it will become clear when you’re successful.” The distributor completely denies the reality of what is happening to his life and to himself.

This is also how distributors can believe two conflicting statements from audio taped speeches. One tape might say, “What is your job? Your job is promote the next function,” while other might say, “People didn’t get into this business to have another job,” or “This business isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle.” Which statement is true- the first one or the second two? If you can “separate” yourself, both are true at the same time. The reality is, the Amway business starts as a part-time “job” which, if you stay in it long enough, can become a lifestyle. And if a distributor were to ask his upline about conflicting information statement such as these, he would probably he told, “You’re over-analyzing it. You’ll understand when you go Diamond.” In other words, the upline completely dismisses the issue. In the meantime, what happens to a person if he can believe multiple, conflicting information without a sense of logic? How does this affect his everyday life?

Re-read the above quote, and replace the word “upline” with “sponsor”.

“Charismatic leadership” refers to the idea that the leadership of the group has special powers or knowledge that the rest of the group does not have, or that the group wants to attain. The leadership has the ability to practically issue orders that are followed by the group without a second thought. This is related to sacred science: if the leaders have done something, the followers should do it as well and expect the same results. The leaders can also control a member’s emotions by teaching that “Loyalty and devotion are the most highly respected of all.” (Hassan, 1988) To question the leadership is to be disloyal.

Bill W was a charismatic leader, but the leaders today are the old-timers who dictate the line of thought within any group. In AA, time sober is all it takes to gain influence over others, regardless of whether the long time sober person happens to be a nutjob.

In the Amway business, the Diamonds have more than their own share of charisma. For many people, the Diamonds “have lots of money, so we should listen to them.” This charisma becomes all too apparent at the functions, where the speeches motivate thousands of people. These speakers continually stress that if the distributors rely on the teaching of the Diamonds, any distributor can become a Diamond. This is completely contrary to the statistics of any MLM business, but when you see and listen to one of the Diamonds’ speeches, you can’t help but be motivated to try to be successful. Since these functions attract large numbers of distributors in attendance, big-name professional speakers such as Zig Ziglar and Les Brown are PAID to motivate distributors to build the Amway business! Is it any wonder distributors leave weekend functions excited to sponsor everyone they meet? Then again, a good speech-giver can manipulate an audience to do just about anything. If Jim Jones can persuade 911 people to kill themselves in Jonestown and Hitler can persuade the German people to murder millions of Jews, why can’t an Amway Diamond persuade his group to make some money?

The AA equivalent to a diamond is that small percentage of AAs with decades of sobriety, and who are still working AA. These are the keynote speakers at AA conventions and roundups, as well as guest speakers and intergroup meetings. Some travel around to tell their drunkalogs, which all have a variation the same formula: Loved alcohol and drank myself silly, lost everything I had, tried and failed multiple times, thought I knew everything, found AA, doubted the steps and program, finally dropped to my knees and gave it all over to God, found salvation through AA, this is how AA saved my life. Here is a link to a site where these can be heard. The comparison to an Amway diamond is uncanny.

Replace the word “upline” with “sponsor”, and “distributor” with “AA” in the quote below:

Distributors are also taught to edify their leaders in the business. This means that distributors should always respect their upline- no matter how new or how ignorant the upline may appear to be. This unconditional respect causes a person to become unquestioning and paves the way for a loss of critical thinking. As people begin to edify their upline more, their reward is to spend more time with the high-level Directs: usually Emerald and Diamond distributors. So what if their upline is a complete jerk? The distributor gets to spend time with his “successful” upline and learn some information straight from the source. I would say that the information a distributor receives in this “special meeting” will simply be restated material he would have heard over and over: buy more tapes, get more people listening to tapes, attend more functions, get more people to attend the functions, etc. As always, though, the distributor feels “privileged” to be spending this time with his upline.

The use of deception in a group can take on many forms: there can be lying about the organization’s affiliation, lying about the size of the group, lying about the success in the group, or lying about other group practices. There can also be deception about what the end results of the group really are. Sometimes, the deception is in the form of a hidden agenda by the leadership: an agenda to make money for themselves, sometimes at the expense of the group. Because the group is offering their own form of salvation, the deception is rationalized because the end goal justifies whatever means are necessary to achieve that goal. As Steve Hassan writes, “As long as [the people in the group] believe that what they are doing is ‘right’ and ‘just,’ many of them think nothing of lying, stealing, [or] cheating …” (Hassan, 1988)

This is comparable to what we see in AA. The ‘Big Book’ teaches deceptive recruiting practices, and in practice AAs will deceive, or more commonly lie by omission, not because they are inherently dishonest, but because they don’t want to scare away potential prospects who have yet to see the light – who have yet to “get it”. Others deceive unknowingly, because they have have developed their cognitive dissonance to the degree that they honestly believe what they are saying is true. The gaslighting we see in the comment section of this board, for example, are not necessarily conscious things.

In the Amway business, there is plenty of deception- from the new distributor all the way up to the Diamond level. When the new distributor starts to build the business, he is taught to contact people about “building a business,” not about “building an Amway business.” Why can’t the distributor say it’s Amway? (The typical response is “Sure you can, but it’s better not to mention the word Amway.”) Has Amway’s reputation become so terrible in the last 40 years that the distributors can’t tell people upfront? The deception continues whenever the distributor gives out his business card. Usually printed somewhere is the distributor’s company name or a euphemistic motto such as “interactive distribution” or even “providing quality opportunities to quality people” (yes, this is really printed on one of my upline’s business cards). This gives the impression that the distributor is in another business, not Amway. Maybe this form of introduction is not exactly “deception,” but more of an implied misrepresentation. The deception then continues into the Sales & Marketing Plan itself: distributors don’t actually say the business is Amway until they are more than halfway through the plan (after the prospect is thinking about their dreams and has been confused by the bonus payment scale). Maybe there is some truth when distributors say “people wouldn’t see the plan if you told them it’s Amway.”

Spiritual, not religious; AA does not cooperate with the court system, AA has no financial interests, “rarely have we seen a person fail”, yadda yadda yadda.

In any group that demands your loyalty and obedience, the first thing that occurs is to separate the new person from his friends and family. The friends and family members serve to remind the person about his values before he joined the group, as well as give an outside opinion about the group. As more time is spent with people in the group, the more a person begins to absorb that way of thinking and believing- including abandoning relationships with people not in the group. The old friends are considered a “negative” influence on the member: they want the person to leave the group. This is related to the topic of sacred science, as the new member is taught that his old friends have not “seen the light” as he now has.

AAs are often told to separate from the very people who supported them while they were drinking. Some people are talked out of relationships, and most are told to have no relationships for a year. “These people don’t understand”, is the common line given. With time, AA becomes a person’s social circle, and those who cared for and loved a person are tossed aside. It is very much like is described about Amway below:

As time progresses, distributors start to lose contact with friends and family members who were once close- close, that is, before the distributor joined Amway. There are many, many stories about people being approached by their distributor friend, saying “no” to the business, then never hearing from their “friend” again. From the distributor’s standpoint, he no longer wants to associate with his previous friends. It is his belief that his friends either don’t think the same way (meaning they are not fellow Amway distributors) or are too negative in their thinking (compared to the distributors’ way of thinking). When asked how many friends they have outside of the business, a great number of distributors will answer with a vague “a few.” When pressed, though, it is doubtful that these distributors have even one or two friends that they see on a regular basis. Even after a distributor quits the Amway business, how long will his friends continue to regard him as someone who wanted to only “talk Amway” with them?

When applied to a marriage, this “separation” tactic becomes very, very dangerous. If the husband is excited about the business, but the wife is not, he is told to “move on” without her. In fact, there are a number of audio-tape speeches by Diamonds that tells how a husband should be “man enough” to build the business- sometimes against the better wishes of his wife. What happens to their marriage in the meantime? What happens if there are children in the family? Do they start to see Mommy and Daddy fighting? Or do they see promises of grand vacations never fulfilled because one parent is “being negative” so they can’t “build the business properly?” Amway distributors have even created a their own term: when people quarrel over the Amway business, it’s called an Amafight. Now, the fighting (no matter how extreme) can be reduced to a simple phrase. What is the upline’s usual advice for this? Just keep building the business (and listening to tapes and attending the functions).

By “suppression of critical thinking,” I refer to the idea that a person’s ability to critically analyze information becomes impaired or even non-existent. Under the guise of “you are new, so can’t handle all the information at once,” a new person is taught not to question the procedures. After all, if a person wants to succeed in the group, he can’t be questioning it. As time progresses, the thinking becomes, “Stop worrying about it. It’ll all work out, you’ll see. You’ll learn everything eventually.” And in order to keep new people from thinking too critically, older group members learn to answer questions with “unanswers.” If a controversial issue is raised, the older member may say, “You know, I used to think like that, but then I got the facts straight,” or even, “How can you think that way? I thought you were more intelligent than that.” Before long, a person practically stops thinking altogether.

As a person learns more and more about how the Amway business operates, he learns that he is to never, never question his upline, his upline’s judgment, or his upline’s advice. He is taught not to question the workings of the business, usually because “it will become clear when you go Diamond.” Time and again the audio tape-speeches tell stories of people who claim “when we stopped questioning, our business really took off” or “as soon as we started doing what [John] said, we really built this thing big.” (actual quotes from audio tapes) After repeated stories and lectures about this point, a distributor soon realizes that the only way to build a successful business is not to question what is being said or done. This unquestioning can sometimes taken to great lengths.

“When we stopped questioning, our business really took off” and “when we stopped questioning the program, we finally got it” sound awfully familiar, huh? These are the exact wording one will hear in AA drunkalogs, and in advice given to newcomers to the group.

In some speeches (which are then recorded onto audio tapes), Diamonds may talk about their own personal views of the world: about women, about gays, about other races, about other religions, etc. In everyday society, some of their remarks would anger or outrage an audience. In the Amway business; however, if a person were to speak up about what the speaker was saying, the common reply is “Oh, you can say things like that when you’re as successful as he is.” This completely ignores the issue of the actual comment itself and instead tells people that the comment is okay since the person is successful. I would wager to say that if a president of a company started to talk about his own agenda in business-related speeches (like some Diamonds have been known to do), he would be severely criticized by the news media.

Similar to the previous section, suppression of critical thinking, “discrediting outside information” causes group members not to listen to unbiased or negative information because those sources are “wrong.” Most of the time, the only reason these sources are “wrong” is because they are not promoting the group-accepted view of the world. If you “deny a person the information he requires to make sound judgments, he will be incapable of doing so.” (Hassan, 1988) And “if you control the information someone receives, you restrict his free ability to think for himself.” (Hassan, 1988) In turn, this further places a person under the control of the group’s leaders. Discrediting a source of information is usually easier than trying to debate the truth of the issue. Why even discuss the issue when the entire source is wrong? The group now has complete information control.

Only AA approved literature is kosher in the world of AA. Any study or observation of AA that does not fall in line with the dogma is dismissed.

In the AMO’s, information is controlled fairly strictly by a number of different methods. For one, a distributor is prohibited from talking business with anyone who is crossline without a common upline present. Why? The stated reason is that the two distributors may be receiving different information from their shared upline since their groups may be structured differently, so they shouldn’t share this information with one another. Let’s assume that both distributors are attending the same meetings, listening to the same tapes, and reading the same business literature (assuming they are both trying to build the business). Is the point of the upline, then, that the two distributors are now individuals and the advice given to one may not work for the other? In contrast, fellow salespeople in the corporate world often share both good and bad ideas with one another, with the end result being more business and better sales strategies for all of the company’s salespeople. Could it be that the upline is afraid that these two distributors might discover some negative information or start to doubt the upline? Instead of risking something good coming from a crossline distributor meeting, the AMO’s forbid such meetings. Upon closer look, though, there are a number of “upline-approved” meetings where crossline-distributors can talk about the business, but these meetings usually have an admittance fee.

Rather than debate controversial issues, the upline is quick to point out the negativity of different media sources. My own Emerald distributor once told me, “I don’t watch the TV. You can’t believe half the stuff anyway.” Of course the upline doesn’t want people to believe half the stuff on TV- the negative stories would cause them to snap out of the positive-slanted mindset of the typical Amway distributor. And, while there is nothing wrong with thinking positive, how long is it until a person refuses to even hear about anything “negative”? What about reading the newspaper? No, that’s considered negative as well. A distributor should only be reading positive business material- preferably books that support owning your own business. Or, better yet, books that speak positively about the Amway business. Or, best of all, read a book written by one of the DeVos’, VanAndel’s, or Dexter Yager.

“The loss of independent judgment” refers to the idea that a person becomes virtually dependent on another person to make a decision for him. Over time, a person has one of the group’s leaders make all his decisions for him. This may eventually encompass a person’s entire life, or at least all of their major life decisions. A person’s transfer of judgment is closely related to a person’s loss of critical thinking abilities. Before long, a group completely controls a person’s way of thinking.

In the AMO’s, a distributor’s judgment is quickly replaced by that of the upline’s judgment. For a distributor to “really build the business,” he should not think for himself. In fact, just the opposite is true- when he does what the upline tells him to do, “things will fall into place” (actual quotes from audio tapes) for the distributor. Numerous stories have been told by Diamonds about how they tried and tried to build the business, but nothing seemed to work. When they started “doing as they were told,” their businesses started to grow.

Not thinking for ones self is applauded in the world of AA. Having a sponsor, who has swallowed the dogma, think for a person is also encouraged.

Interesting stuff.