I got a call from an old friend the other day. This person wasn’t a close friend, more of just someone I knew from back in the day. One of those friends that you don’t remember how you met them, you just know them. Not exactly a person that I keep in touch with, but someone who I enjoy catching up with when they call.
That’s why, when this friend said they wanted to get together for a drink, I said, “Yeah, sure” without hesitation.
The friend, we’ll call them “Herbert” (totally not their real name), went on to say that they had an idea that they wanted to run by me. This is not unusual. I run a radio station and my own business. People talk to me about promotional ideas and business opportunities all the time so, once again, no hesitation in my agreement to meet. I was actually excited to hear what they had cooking.
The only thing was that it was a holiday weekend and I was spending time with the fam. So I invited Herbert over for our cookout. They walked in with a friend — no worries. If you’re cool with Herbert, you’re cool with me. They even brought wine — SCORE!
Then we dive in. I ask Herbert: “So, whatcha got?”
Herbert whips out a laptop and goes into a spiel. Almost immediately I start noticing the signs: “Have you seen the pictures all over social media?” “What if you could make double what you make now and not work a day in your life?” By the time I was 30 seconds into their video presentation it was clear: This great business opportunity was a pyramid scheme.
Most of us have been sucked into one of these before. It’s a long, drawn-out presentation, which I despise. On the BOLT personality scale, I’m a Bull: Just get to the point. But in the pyramid or, multi-level marketing presentation, getting to the point almost never happens. It’s almost as if they’re trying to get through the presentation without telling you what the actual point is.
I remember sitting through what felt like an hour of promises of “residual income” and “making money while you sleep” and I still had absolutely no idea what it was I was selling. Herbert even called another person in the program to tell me how great it was. I didn’t even know if I would be selling. All I knew is that I was supposed to recruit my friends to do whatever it was that I was going to be doing. And, apparently, it was the easiest, most fun and profitable thing I could possibly do with my life.
I’m not saying that it’s all a scam. I consider Herbert a smart person, so I trust that they have a handle on this. However, I’ve never known a single person that got rich, retired early or even held one of these multi-level network marketing systems as their sole form of income. I even told my wife, after she laughed hysterically at me for getting caught up in a pyramid scheme presentation in the middle of our family cookout, that I wouldn’t mind doing it as an experiment. But I settled for a quick online search and found that there’s a 99.7 percent opportunity for failure. With odds like that, I think I’ll just stick to the lottery.
I don’t hate Herbert for bamboozling me with the presentation. In fact, I hope they reach all the heights promised and can retire early, also as promised. I’ll just approach “new opportunity” meetings with a lot more caution: Most likely at a neutral location, perhaps in a seat close to a door for a quick getaway. Y’know, just in case.