Ex-TEAM Reader Q&A: Glad to be Free of the LIFE TEAM
Here is the second entry in our new Ex-TEAM Questions and Answers series. This one comes to us from someone who calls himself, “Glad to be Free of the LIFE TEAM.” Like Katie, he was a young professional in Corporate America when he joined TEAM, ultimately spending five years “building the business.”
Tell us a little bit about your situation prior to joining TEAM?
I had recently graduated from college and had begun my career in Corporate America. I am very driven and ambitious by nature, so I was excited about succeeding in a big way in that world.
How were you approached to join TEAM?
A good friend of mine called and said he had started a business and thought I would be very interested in partnering with him. I’ve always been business minded and open to new ideas (and trusted him), so I looked forward to meeting with him and seeing what he was so excited about.
What attracted you to TEAM?
I loved the idea of building a b-type, passive, residual income that would stay with me and my family forever. I’ve never been driven by “stuff”, but it was the prospect of spending more time with my family doing anything we wanted to do that was so appealing. I was given a couple Chris Brady business CD’s (appealing to my personality) and everything he said made so much sense that I was hooked. He was also very funny and quick witted, which was a definite plus for me.
At the time you joined, what MLM company was TEAM aligned with? For instance, what products were you trying to sell?
The TEAM was partnered with Quixtar / Amway at the time, although I was told that it was only because of the supplier relationship and the world class business connections that Quixtar had built. I was told that they were two totally independent companies and I didn’t need to worry about it. I remember really liking the XS energy drinks that they sold, although it was always the TEAM business / training system that was appealing to me. I really did think that Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady had invented something totally new with TEAM approach and it would revolutionize how business was done in the future.
How much money was told she could/would make and in what time frame (or implied)?
I was originally told I could make $2-3k per month in 2-5 years, although of course, I would probably be able to do it faster because of all of my experiences. I was also told I could be job optional in 2-5 years…I was told I couldn’t fail as long as I followed the fail-proof system.
Did they entice you with what they were making?
Of course it was appealing to have the option to live a PC-type lifestyle, but I was more interested in the options that that kind of passive income would supposedly bring.
Was their promises of passive, residual, ongoing income promoted?
Absolutely…this was repeated over and over and over and over again. This is the whole reason I joined in the first place – in order to have the ability to create a pipeline income like the cash flow quadrant specified and like Ray Kroc enjoyed. At the time they didn’t have a policies and procedures that made it 100% clear (when reading with an unclouded mind) that this is the farthest thing from the truth. The last time I checked, building a business as an independent contractor cannot create a passive income. And in case that isn’t clear, they’ve put it in writing that Orrin and the PC can take your business away from you at any time and for any reason (“at the PC’s sole discretion”). Is the business willable? Technically yes, but if your heirs don’t build the business the way that the PC says they should, then it can be taken away from them too. What a waste of an “entrepreneurial” experience.
Working The Business
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how hard would you say you worked the system?
I started slow as I had to quit the other activities in my life to focus on building my TEAM business, but eventually I’d say I was working it at a 9-10 level. There isn’t much more that I think I could have done to work my business harder. I was extremely committed and had never shied away from hard work in anything in my life. Plus I really believed in the (fake) cause to bring more moms and dads home from work and help them be able to spend more time doing the truly important things in life (obviously sharing the same benefits that I found so appealing at the time).
Did you attend all the weekly meetings?
I attended every single open for years, except for a couple times when I was traveling for work and there was no open meeting in the area (this was before the webcasts, which I’m sure I would have squeezed in during my business trips had they been available at the time).
Did you attend all the monthly seminars?
I attended every seminar except for one due to business travel.
Did you attend all the quarterly Major Functions?
Yes – even if I was away on a trip for work, it wouldn’t have been beyond me to drive or fly to the major convention even if I had only been able to attend Friday night or Sunday afternoon. It showed my “committment” and proved to my uplines that I was serious about “moving on”. I definitely loved the “free” mentorship this provided.
Did you ever miss any meeting? If so, for what reason?
Only a couple due to business travel (however, I made sure that my wife attended in my stead).
With all this time spent in meetings, when did you go out and prospect people?
When didn’t I go out and prospect people? Just because there was an open or seminar that day didn’t mean that I would have to “waste” the day and not be able to work on my business. I would simply set up plans for lunch time or right before the meetings depending on their locations. Church, work and the occassional date night with my wife or key family event were the only things that kept me from my business.
What places did you go to do your prospecting?
No where was off limits. As Bill Lewis always said, there are two knobs you need to turn to build the business: “the one on your TV and your front door.” I was always ready with an elevator speech and to get a business card or phone number.
How much time did you spend working your business each week? Include time spent at meetings and prospecting.
Typically between 15-25 hours per week (this was on top of the 40-55 hours per week from my job)
Were you aware of websites or individuals critical to TEAM?
Yes, but I never spent anytime on them as I viewed them as a waste of time with a bunch of winey cry babies who weren’t willing to put in the time and effort to make their business work, and now needed to criticize Orrin in order to make themselves feel better.
What was your opinion of the critics?
See my answer above. I was brainwashed to believe everything the PC said as I thought they were men of the upmost integrity.
How did you become aware of websites or individuals critical to TEAM? Did they criticize the critics from stage at every seminar and or just behind the scenes?
I always knew they were present and I didn’t read the websites for a long time, but I eventually started hearing more and more rumblings from prospects who had read things online prior to my coming back for a follow-through (second meeting). It was actually a noticable increase in the amount of people who didn’t want to have anything to do with the business after reading what a negative critic said online. So eventually I read the negative information because I wanted to at least be honest with others that I had already read that stuff and I could prove that it was a bunch of lies. The problem was that it wasn’t a bunch of lies and the legal documents and other third party information made it pretty hard to fight when I actually read and understood them with my own brain. Once I realized that maybe Orrin and the PC maybe weren’t everything that they made themselves out to be, I could finally make sense of things that previously had confused me but my subconscious mind had shut out logic due to my brainwashing. Orrin’s Battle of the Mind CD is very true, but not in the way that I expected it to be.
My upline and the PC criticized the critics all the time both from on stage and behind the scenes. And I eventually learned that whatever was bothering Orrin the most at the time was the talk that he gave on stage that night. Their brainwashing system is very good, so once you’re hooked, most don’t question what they tell you. And they always have an answer for everything. People telling me that the TEAM was a cult didn’t help me get out of the TEAM at all though…that was the emotional stuff I could dismiss out of hand very easily as ludicrous. It wasn’t until later that I finally was able to come to see that yes, it actually is a commercial cult, as much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time.
Did you shun people who didn’t join TEAM?
No, I actually went out of my way to make sure that I treated people the same, whether they joined my business or not. I would even occassionally call some of these people just to catch up (with no intention of getting them in my business). It really bothered me if I saw people being two faced about this. However, I viewed it as more of that person’s problem then as a TEAM culture wide issue. Chris Brady said he had never lost any friends in the entire time he built his business, and I agreed that this was the best way to build the business – being honest with yourself and others.
Were the people you now hung out with just TEAM members?
Effectively, yes. I never meant it to become that way, but simply due to the amount of time spent building our business it happened very naturally. How can you truly build the business the same way you see your upline “putting in the miles” and not have to sacrifice time with others? If it came down to who I would spend time with, it would be my family first, and my outside friends would have to get any scraps left over after my job and TEAM efforts were maximized.
What did you do outside of your TEAM business? For instance, sporting activities, date nights, volunteer work, etc.
Not much. My wife and I would try to have weekly or bi-weekly date nights, but if she wasn’t with me showing the plan, she spent many nights at home.
Concerns About The Business
When you joined, did you know that the TEAM leadership made a substantial amount of money from the sale of tools (tapes, CD’s, marketing materials) and function tickets?
Yes, but it didn’t really bother me as I knew (or believed) that anyone could get there too. I never considered the internal consumption nature of the business though.
During your time, did TEAM join another MLM company or start selling other company’s products? If so, how was this change communicated? Did you have any problems or concerns regarding this transition?
Yes, I was around for both the split from Amway and when we joined Mona Vie after the 6 month non-compete period was over. I heard about the change the night of Amway split and had some conversations with my upline RT and others about it. I received the nasty letter that all TEAM distributors received from Amway that night about Orrin’s illegal stacking methods, but that just served to make me more committed in following these guys. I was concerned, but since I fully trusted Orrin (hard to believe now), I figured he had everything under control. I saw many form letters from TEAM leaders online that we could copy to send to Quixtar in order to terminate our distributorships (I copied the Hubers’ version I believe), although supposedly they weren’t telling us what to do. It’s only that if we didn’t join them, we’d have no “friends” or business left. Not a tough choice. I was not excited about joining Mona Vie to sell juice, but again, I trusted Orrin, Chris and Tim and figured if they said Mona Vie had an unbelievable company and compensation plan, then it must be true.
When did you start having doubts about the effectiveness of TEAM and the business opportunity
Small, internal doubts started creeping in when I didn’t see any of my upline moving on in their business, nor was mine growing nearly as quickly as I thought it should based on the amount of work I was putting in. However, the real doubts began when I saw an upline’s business taken away and given to others in our team, and I also learned that the substance of the Amthrax blog had increased significantly once all of the former RT’s and team office employees started sharing their stories online. I started questioning the PC’s motives for the first time and was extremely disappointed in the “answers” or non-answers that I received to my questions. Red flags began to go up everywhere once my critical thinking started coming back.
Do you know your group’s attrition rate? Upline and downline groups.
During my time with the TEAM I had 1,000 or so people go through my downline groups and I would be shocked if there was more than 3% of those people still around…I would guess that the actual attrition rate in my teams was closer to 98-99%. If I added in the people in my upline that were present when I got started, the number probably rounds to 100% have left.
How many were ‘on system’ (and got off) out of total numbers in group during your time in TEAM?
I’m sure the system counts attrition rate was close to the same as the overall attrition rate. Maybe a bit less since to go Power Player you’re only shooting for 40% of the sign-ups at a minimum to go on system.
What finally pushed you over the edge and made you quit TEAM?
I finally witnessed (or recognized) first-hand unethical behavior from my well respected (TEAM-wide) upline. Their answers to my questions did not add up and I saw signs of defensiveness that I thought was unwarranted if they had nothing to hide. After hearing and seeing others’ businesses taken away and was given weak answers as to why this was the right thing to do, my belief in building a b-type, passive income was destroyed. My whole reason for being part of the TEAM was shattered and I couldn’t trust any single thing any of the PC said and lost faith that any of the recognition I saw on stage was actually real. It also was extremely hurtful once I realized that my “friends” on the TEAM who had often shared how much they loved us wouldn’t actually be friends with us once we decided to leave the TEAM. I finally realized it was all fake and was completely predicated on appearances and the ability to gain something from us. I can honestly say that I never once ever treated someone this way and couldn’t imagine someone doing this and still calling themselves Christians.
Conservatively, how much money did you spend as part of TEAM?
Probably around $75,000, but much more if you factored in the cost of the products that we purchased for ourselves, but wouldn’t have if we weren’t involved in the business.
How much time did you ultimately spend on the business?
Over 5 years.
If you knew about the public records of some of the TEAM leadership — bankruptcies, strategic defaults, and foreclosures — would this have hastened your departure from TEAM?
Absolutely! I left once I personally experienced some of the unethical behavior that have been described on this blog, but as I was so brainwashed, the only way I would have listened to anything outside of this would have been to see factual, unbiased (or at least unbiased in a way that I couldn’t twist it in my mind) information that was indisputable. And if I hadn’t decided to leave immediately after seeing these documents (and actually reading them), at the very least, the cracks in my belief in the leaders would have begun, which would have been the first step in my awakening.
What did you do with all of the tools that you purchased?
I gave them to a couple of my leaders.
Given the choice to join TEAM again, would you do it?
No!!! There were some good things I learned through my experiences (like reading good non-TEAM books), but overall I would have traded those experiences for more time with my family, which was the whole reason I joined in the first place.
What lessons did you learn from your TEAM experience?
The biggest lesson was what it is actually like to see wolves in sheeps’ clothing (my opinion based on personal experience) in order to know what to look for in the future and to make sure to never take things at face value again. The absolute hardest thing for me to process in the beginning was the fact that these guys who I had ultimate respect for (due to the massive edification) could be such blatant liars and thieves. I couldn’t imagine standing on stage and saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. In my opinion they are pathological liars whom I believe have actually come to believe their own lies. I also will never immediately discount those who are caught up in cults as I now have personal experience as to how slowly someone can lose their critical thinking skills through a well developed thought reform program. Finally, I learned that if you’re going to start a business, you need to actually measure the results as a business – blind hope and belief is not a substitute for facing the facts.
What advice would you give to people who have left TEAM?
Go out there and truly live your purpose! The TEAM wants to convince you that although maybe it is not the only way, it is definitely the BEST way. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Move on with your life and make sure you learn from your personal TEAM experiences. And if part of your mission is to stop others from making the same mistakes that you did on an MLM or TEAM LIFE specifically, then by all means, do whatever you can to play your part.
What advice would you give to current TEAM members?
I would strongly recommend that current members take the time to read the LIFE Primer and the Compensation Plan analysis, as well as bring the LIFE policies and procedures to a lawyer to get a professional opinion about what they say. Ask your lawyer if based on his reading of the P&P if you own your own business? Can it create a passive, residual income for you? Ask people questions on this blog and also go ask the same questions to your uplines and you be the judge of who you think is telling the truth. If the TEAM has nothing to hide, then they should have no problem with you asking the questions. If you are made to feel badly about asking honest questions of your upline, or you get a brush-off, then warning bells should start ringing in your ears. True businesses should always be fact based.
Any last words?
Thanks Amthrax for providing this forum! And thanks so much to all of the contributors to this blog…it is amazing knowing that there are many others out there who went through similar (or much worse) things than I did and can live to fight another day! Thanks for caring enough for others’ well-being to provide an alternate viewpoint and hopefully spare them from many years of pain that we all lived through.
Additional Follow-up Questions
Here are some more questions and answers that came from the comments section below:
Did you get started because you were looking to buy products or after you left did you continue to buy them (how long)? Why or Why not?
Actually neither – I was looking to build a community through which products and services flowed 🙂 (Sorry that made me gag.) I didn’t really care about the products and only bought them because I needed to buy from my own business. Once I kept building, I eventually grew to like a number of the products, but not enough to keep buying them after I quit.
Did you sign a contract? Did they give you the P&P’s when you got started? Have you read the Policy & Procedures and Does the PC go over this document in their business training meetings or with you in person to explain it or do they tell you to take it to an attorney?
I signed the original TEAM and Quixtar contracts, and then subsequently the MV contract…whatever was in the starter pack. However, I only gave them a quick glance since my upline didn’t seem to think they were a big deal and he definitely didn’t say anything about me reading them thoroughly (of course this part is my responsibility ultimately, but if I’m honest with myself I don’t think it would have made any difference when I got started as I was so inexperienced with MLM that I wouldn’t have even known what to look for). As it relates to the P&P, I have definitely read the new ones, but I was out before they were written. I would have an extremely hard time believing that they would go over this document during any meetings and I believe most TEAM leaders would give you the brush off if you asked specific questions about it…or at least minimize the importance of the individual clauses (since it’s only to cover themselves you know…). And I would be almost 100% certain they would never recommend you take it to an attorney and would probably discourage you from doing so unless they were to handpick the attorney who was probably already on the TEAM (Vogel gave great examples of what their responses would be).
How many (not registered in your business) bonafide Customers did you have during your duration of your Team/ Lief experience?
Probably about 40 or so would be my best guess…some were longer term customers although most only ordered a few times before dropping out. Of course I was much more focused on building my community than worrying about a little outside customer volume…
Did you get started because you were sold on a ‘business opportunity’ of making money and getting your goals and dreams or Did you get started because you had no intention of making any money and were just looking to ‘join’ a group with a noble cause and to ‘personally grow’?
100% to make money in order to build a passive income. It was only once I started building that I understood the major “benefits” of the personal growth and the “cause”. This, of course, is how they got me to stick around so long…that and the fact that who knows, the next huge leader could be the next person I show the plan to!
Were you ever taught at any training meetings or by your mentor personally on how to run a profitable business? Did they sit down with you to ‘counsel/coach’ you on your profit/loss margins or what your expenses were? If so, how many years were you at a profit or loss and what was their business recommendations to turn your losses into a profit and did they follow up to see if their recommendations were working for you? Did the PC ever (train) on the comp plan and explain what the chances for ever person getting started has of making a profit? Did they ever back up their claimed incomes with documentation?
We had some financial sessions with our uplines, but it never centered on our profits and losses for our TEAM business. It was always centered on where you could cut expenses to more fully invest in the “goose that lays the golden eggs”, as well as ideas of how to motivate yourself to hit your goals (i.e. cut back on coffee for a time if that motivates you, don’t buy something (non-business related of course) until you hit a certain goal, etc.). Advice on how to make your business profitable centered on going Power Player. Don’t you know Power Player is the proven method to becoming profitable? It was this type of mentorship over and over again. Some of the financial CD’s that started coming out later actually were pretty good when talking about non-TEAM investing or ways to look at what money is, but I knew very few people on my team who were in a position to take advantage of any of this real world advice since they were all going broke trying to fund their business. The only training we got on the comp plan was to explain the basic math of how to calculate your low level checks…of course not the full analysis that Brent did on this site. They never backed up their income claims with documentation, but in fairness, I never asked for it either. We were all taught to believe in these guys’ morality and character and there was indirect pressure to not question as I knew this would be looked down upon (and what would it prove anyway since of course they were telling the truth…).
Did they tell you it was a ‘proven system’ and the only way you would fail, was if you quit?
Yes absolutely. This was one of the reasons I joined because I figured that it was a no-brainer. Of course I would make it work if that was the case because I was a teachable student and highly motivated.
Here are some additional questions from @webelieved that Glad to be Free of the LIFE TEAM was good enough to answer:
Maybe I missed this, I was wondering if you were showing 15 plans a month and trying to go Power Player all those years?
Absolutely! Like I said I started slowly in the beginning but showed 15 plans a month consecutively for a long time (years). This was another one of the reasons that red flags started to go up since it wasn’t like I was sitting at home doing nothing and “hoping” that it would work one day. It’s really hard to imagine now the extent of my brainwashing, but many other people in our team viewed things the same way – although most of them probably weren’t as consistent as I was. Over time they dropped out quicker than we could put them in… another non-real business metric by the TEAM as they rarely talk about net business growth. TEAM mainly recognizes people on stage for hitting short term 3 month goals and then whenever they change businesses they will recognize people for hitting certain TEAM levels as if it was the first time…even if they had hit that same level 3 years before in a previous business. The new person is left thinking that the TEAM is exploding, when really they’ve just reshuffled teams and the TEAM is actually behind where it used to be.
It’s kind of funny now to think that I was having a lot of success in Corporate America but couldn’t move on significantly in my business even though the TEAM had such an “amazing” system to follow. It was the same “me” in both systems and I worked each of them just as hard. So if I had success in one and not the other, what was the common denominator?
I also wondered if when you were contacted did they tell you the truth, they were Amway distributors selling Amway products and that Team was the training company?
No they did not tell the truth about their connection to Amway. I didn’t find out that Amway was the supplier in the first two “C”s until we were filling out paperwork and I had to sign the last two pages which were Quixtar related. However, again since I didn’t have much experience from MLM, I hadn’t heard (or experienced) all of the horror stories that I now know very well.
Did anyone tell you up front before you started, that the PC were making most of their money off the Team tools, and that’s where their income and lifestyle claims were coming from, not the products they were supposed to be selling?
No. I was led to believe that their main source of income was from Quixtar, who paid them back money for bring the Community to them. That’s what we drew out to prospects during every plan! After learning from my uplines, I can only remember a handful of times that tool profit sharing even came up when talking to prospects. I didn’t have any idea that the PC made most of their money off the system, not the product flow.
When your upline took you to the Team tool table or sold you a seminar ticket, did they tell you they were making money off your purchase (in Team profit sharing), or was that a secret for awhile?
No. We were taught in the TEAM to only share with your prospects what was necessary for them to take the next step in the business. Too much information would be like getting sprayed with a fire hose and they would miss most of it anyway or become unnecessarily overwhelmed with all that they would eventually need to know. And this would only serve to kill their chances to find their true purpose in life (so we were doing them a favor). In reality, by the time I learned many of the ins and outs of TEAM (well, the white-washed version of it), I was already too brainwashed to do any critical thinking about it. Orrin and Chris were supposedly one of the best, if not the best, in the entire industry, so what would I be able to suggest? I didn’t want to get one of the “Smarter than Orrin” buttons that the PC would trash their critics or third party the newbies with.
Do you know anything about the Team and LIFE structure of pay now, are they still paying team profit sharing on the Team side of the tools, secretly? Or do they say that up front when they are with prospects telling them about the LIFE tool business?
I’m not sure about the answer to this question, so I’d rather not speculate. I know they are definitely still paying TEAM profit sharing, but I’m not sure if they’re doing it semi-secretly or not. If someone asked them a direct question about it, I’m sure they would admit that there is a profit sharing side of the business that is available once you build your business to a certain size.
I also was wondering if you had any customers left of the 40, by the time you left?
I’m not sure of the exact number now, but it would have only been a small handful, if any, at that point.
I am assuming customers had nothing to do with building the business and were not in your line of sponsorship in LIFE?
Getting outside customers was not a focus when I was in the TEAM outside of a few initial months when there was a ton of hype in TEAM about Mona Vie and everyone made it sound like money would be falling from the trees. All we needed to do was flip through magazines with people, pour the juice and watch a video and people would be jumping over each other wanting to get in our community.
Could you tell us more about what customers think of LIFE.
I never had any customers in the new LIFE business, so I can’t comment on what they think of the program or how long they typically seem to stick around once they realize the same information is repeated over and over and they can check out the books for free from the library, or buy them at a drastically reduced price on Amazon.
Thanks to Glad to be Free of the LIFE TEAM for providing his story.
While the $75,000 total cost seems much higher than Katie’s $2000 in 6 months, consider what happens when you calculate things out over the course of five years with an additional person (since Glad to be Free notes that he’s married).
- $75,000 / 5 years = $15,000/year
- $15,000 / 12 months = $1,250/month
- $1,250 / 2 people = $625/person per month
By contrast, pro-rated out to a full year, Katie spent roughly $333 month while in TEAM. This falls very much in-line with MLM Punisher’s estimates on how much it costs to live intentionally for excellence.
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