Heather’s “Just Came To” Ex-TEAM Q&A
Heather, formerly known as ‘Just Came To’, sent in her responses to the Ex-TEAM Question and Answers series. You can read other reports from former TEAM/LIFE members here.
As Heather describes, it was public, verifiable information regarding the IAB and Leadership Guru “awards” which pushed her over the edge. Learning about the bankruptcies of Round Table members and the strategic foreclosures of a PC member also contributed to her departure from TEAM/LIFE.
Tell us a little bit about your situation prior to joining TEAM?
I was a full-time student pursuing my life goal of a degree in developmental optometry. I also worked part-time fixing up my parents’ house (drywall hanging and repair, painting, etc.). They paid for me to live there so I could help them, so money wasn’t too big of a stressor for me at the time. My then-fiance now-husband lived two states away. (I will refer to him as my fiance in the rest of this questionnaire since we only just married in the past couple months; we were not yet married during our time with Team.) He and I saw each other about every 3-4 weeks. We had been together a little over a year and were newly engaged. At the time we had developed a rather cynical worldview and only trusted each other and close family.
How were you approached to join TEAM?
My fiance’s coworker at the time had mentioned MonaVie off and on for about a year. My fiance continually expressed his utter hatred for his job. Said coworker saw the opportunity and contacted him. They eventually spoke on the phone and at two in the morning, I was awakened by a call from my fiance telling me that he had joined a new business. I groggily listened as he explained that he had joined MonaVie for around $500 and had given his debit card number and social security number to his coworker over the phone. I was understandably alarmed so I reprimanded him as if I were his mother! How could he trust anyone with that information? Especially that quickly and over the phone?
The following day (when I was lucid) my fiance told me that his new sponsor was looking forward to meeting me. The next time I traveled to visit, I met with our new sponsor. He took three hours of his time to get to know me. I must say right now that this man is an incredible friend, mentor, and encourager; I truly believe that he meant us absolutely no harm despite some of the misleading things he told us early on about the business. I now realize he was taught to be vague and misleading. Unfortunately some of the best quality people I have ever met are expending their God-given talents for Orrin instead of God.
What attracted you to TEAM?
Not the idea of making money, that’s for sure. As a follower of Christ I understand that I need money for sustenance but I’ve always tried to guard against modern materialism and money lust. No; the shiny object that attracted me fiercely to Team was the moral values they claimed to uphold. I’ll never forget my first seminar when George Guzzardo spoke about the top five qualities of a leader. At the time I was so impressed that he listed humility. That coupled with the persistence of my fiance and new mentor, and I was in.
At the time you joined, what MLM company was TEAM aligned with? For instance, what products were you trying to sell?
MonaVie. It was spring 2010 so Emv just came out in addition to the juices. However, they taught at the opens that we weren’t selling juice; we were selling the opportunity to become job-free.
How much money was told she could/would make and in what time frame (or implied)?
$2000/month in 6 months. Just 2-5 years and we could be job-optional.
Did they entice you with what they were making?
They sure tried! The lifestyle of our upline RT was touted often. The MonaVie Income Disclosure Statement was one of the main things being shown to new prospects. I looked at it as objectively as I could, realizing that making the big bucks was highly unlikely…but then again, making big bucks at anything was unlikely. Plus, my sponsor made a good point about the need for big bucks to pay the big tuition so I could achieve my big dream of OD. (Tie it to the dream and a person will do anything.)
Was their promises of passive, residual, ongoing income promoted?
Absolutely! Very heavily at every open.
Working The Business
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how hard would you say you worked the system?
Truthfully, we were only about a 5 most of the time. We were an 8 once we broke through the initial skepticism, but interestingly my underlying health condition started coming back only four months after we got in the business. As the months went on, our activity level dwindled down to about a 5 until the launch of LIFE in fall 2011. The two months before the launch we were a 9. Only three weeks after the launch, and this is also interesting; my health problems got even worse! I actually had to quit everything- my job AND the business- because of how bad it got. After that, we kept reading and listening, but that’s it.
Did you attend all the weekly meetings?
Did you attend all the monthly seminars?
At least one of us were always there.
Did you attend all the quarterly Major Functions?
All from Sept 2010 – Oct 2011.
Did you ever miss any meeting? If so, for what reason?
If I ever missed, it was because of health. If he missed, it was because he couldn’t get off work.
With all this time spent in meetings, when did you go out and prospect people?
I remember cold contacting folks while out running errands. One place I frequented was a flea market on Saturday mornings. I loved to shop for things for the house while chatting with people…with the ulterior motive of contacting.
What places did you go to do your prospecting?
The flea market, stores, etc. Most people we contacted, however, were family, friends, and coworkers.
How much time did you spend working your business each week? Include time spent at meetings and prospecting.
Between meetings, prospecting, driving, coordinating with teammates, talking with prospects, organizing business materials…it would have to be at least 30 hrs/wk. It may as well be higher since all of my spare time and energy went towards the business. I have chronic fatigue so I already have fewer hours in my day than the average person.
Were you aware of websites or individuals critical to TEAM?
Absolutely. I read many of them during the first weeks and months. As a melancholy I analyze everything!
What was your opinion of the critics?
At the beginning, everything I read written by those critical of Team, MV, and MLMs in general were poorly written and not well supported by factual evidence. So, I dismissed them.
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?
Simple Google search made me aware of such websites at the beginning. I don’t remember anyone mentioning critics from stage. If they did it would have been in an ambiguous manner. On the other hand, my hubby and I received much one-on-one counsel regarding those critical of Team. All of our local Teammates were sure to point out how awful Amway/Quixtar was back in the day and how much better things were with MonaVie. (The part about Amway suing Orrin, Chris, and Tim and winning was conveniently excluded.)
Did you shun people who didn’t join TEAM?
Not intentionally, but when all your spare time goes towards the business, your other friends and family get neglected. We weren’t involved as deeply as so many other readers of this website have been, thankfully. We could’ve lost good friends.
Were the people you now hung out with just TEAM members?
Mostly. Some of our closer friends felt like we were neglecting them for the business. Because of our work schedules, we were used to not seeing our friends often, but business involvement just exacerbated our lack of social life!
What did you do outside of your TEAM business? For instance, sporting activities, date nights, volunteer work, etc.
Not much! Like I mentioned earlier, my energy was already limited. I remember going for an entire month without spending any time alone with my fiance. It was driving me nuts! He and I had to specifically schedule time at least two weeks out just to have dinner and a movie at home together. I remember it was from 4 pm on a Sunday until I went to work at 4 pm the next day. So frustrating.
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?
Not at all! This was one of the most deceptive aspects of joining the business. We knew nothing about the Team director’s cut for months after joining. When we did find out about it, we were never given any materials or explanations of how that payout worked. We were only told about the income and bonuses through MV. Everyone praised MV for having an IDS, yet Team didn’t have one. (BTW, how does Team get away with not furnishing income information??)
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, LIFE was introduced. In early 2011 we heard about the new business coming down the road. We were promised more details at the summer major but didn’t get much other than excitement. When we asked questions we were told that “excitement on fire is better than knowledge on ice.” We were discouraged from asking questions because a) uplines supposedly didn’t know the answers yet and b) we just needed to focus on getting as many new members as possible before the launch.
On top of that, when the Line of Sponsorship structure was shifted from MV to LIFE, many people ended up in the wrong spot. Two of those were my fiance’s parents. They were quite unhappy about it. We had to wait nearly two weeks for them to be moved to the correct place after our upline and customer service put us off and gave us all the run-around. In other words, the transition was disorganized even though they had all those months to prepare. It seemed almost intentional.
When did you start having doubts about the effectiveness of TEAM and the business opportunity?
I had plenty of doubts for the first month or two. Once I started listening to CDs and attending meetings, those doubts faded. I listened to 80-100 CDs a month for almost two years. They “worked.” I had no room for doubts.
Do you know your group’s attrition rate? Upline and downline groups.
Upline? No idea. As for downline, I would say about 85%. I looked at the numbers in June on our LIFE website. There were 68 in our downline and only about 10 were people that have stuck around the past few years. I don’t even know the rest of ’em. Our team just replaces over and over again.
How many were ‘on system’ (and got off) out of total numbers in group during your time in TEAM?
That I don’t know. We were never directors, so we never had access to system count information. Most of the folks we put in never got on system, and if they did it wasn’t for long.
What finally pushed you over the edge and made you quit TEAM?
I was totally sold on Team/LIFE as the solution to our country’s problems until a routine check for internet critics brought some hard evidence to my attention. The entire three years I was with Team I checked for the latest from the critics so I could defend against their attacks. This past March on Amthrax’s blog I came across the fact that the IAB, whose award was a building block for Orrin’s credibility, was shut down. I also learned that Orrin and Chris had been removed from the Leadership Guru list, which was the other major building block for their credibility. I spent several hours researching these events for myself from the unbiased, root sources. They were true.
Astounded, infuriated, and intrigued, I read more. I saw the bankruptcy papers from the Hubers in 2010 listing debts they had claimed on Victory II in 2004 to be “zero zero zero zero zero.” I read about the ongoing drama between Blohmdahl and Peters. I read stories from those like Melanie Morgan who were deeply into the business for many years. I began to realize that there must be at least some truth behind these stories. They were not “nameless, faceless critics” and “cowards” like the PC described.
So, being pushed over the edge was not a gradual process for me. I went from being mentally all-in to all-out in a matter of hours. It shocked me. I think I actually went through a bit of a grievance process.
Conservatively, how much money did you spend as part of TEAM?
- Product + System = $4000/year for 1.5 years.
- Seminar tix = $720/year for almost 2 years.
- Open tix = $300/year for about a year.
- Five major functions = $1000.
- Gas for meetings and plans (not including what we needed for work/errands) = $800/year for about 15 months.
I’m going to say $8000 total, conservatively, over a period of three years with varying levels of activity.
Wow. Looking at that, I wish we had lived cheaply without the business and saved that money!
How much time did you ultimately spend on the business?
I may as well say three years. See, regardless of hours per week we put in, I was listening to so many CDs that it was all I thought about. My fiance lost his faith in the business about 9 months before I did. All that time my mental energies were still with the business. That really hurt our relationship.
If you knew about the public records of some of the TEAM leadership — bankruptcies, strategic defaults, and foreclosures — would this have hasten your departure from TEAM?
Absolutely! They are such hypocrites! Orrin said if you have to finance your luxuries, you’re undisciplined. If Orrin is such a great leader, then why would one of his chief followers, Guzzardo, finance a luxury property and then strategically default? There’s no way Orrin can claim ignorance on that one. The PC are supposedly as “transparent” as can be.
What did you do with all of the tools that you purchased?
They’re boxed up in the basement. Hopefully I can sell ’em for pennies on the dollar.
Given the choice to join TEAM again, would you do it?
You know, I can’t say it was ALL bad. Team lead me to some amazing concepts in personal development that have radically improved my life. For example, I used to be rather self-conscious and shy. Now I have no problem talking to anyone. I make friends much easier because of skills I learned. I’m also glad that I met some of the people within Team. Some of them are great people.
All this considered, if I could have been introduced to personal development somehow without Team, then no, I would’ve never joined. No need. But since we can’t turn back time, I’m grateful for all experiences in my life; good, bad, and in between. My time with Team taught me some tough life lessons of great value.
What lessons did you learn from your TEAM experience?
I learned that life is too short to let cynicism keep me from enjoying it. There ARE great people out there who are principle-centered and wish to make a difference in society. They are scattered everywhere, in all professions, in all walks of life. One does not need an MLM business opportunity for a reason to befriend new people and discover how unique and special each person is.
I also learned that self-education is crucial. When I found out the truth about Team’s leaders, I was so infuriated that I almost quit on educating myself. Then I realized that the life principles taught by Team were separate from the leaders of Team. (There’s that “cult of personality” concept again.) In fact, most of the principles taught were stolen from the great minds of history.
I learned that we all must guard our minds. Yes, there is a “media war.” Because Team is one of the few organizations that teach about the effects of the media on the subconscious mind, it’s all too easy to believe that the teacher would never harm the student. Sadly, Team, and anything or anyone else that one listens to repeatedly, has an agenda. It’s up to us to think critically about who and what we listen to. I will never again allow anyone other than my Lord God to make me put all my belief and trust in them.
Finally, we all have a specific, God-given purpose for our lives, which is not to serve Orrin or any other false idol. We have unique dreams that we can work toward and we don’t need someone else’s business to reach them. It is my earnest prayer that those who have been hurt by Team will not give up on their dreams, even if that means taking the time to separate personal dreams from those artificially implanted in us by PC leaders. It is well worth the time.
What advice would you give to people who have left TEAM?
As Amthrax has said, you will experience cognitive dissonance. Just be patient with yourself and let it all work out. This blog has resources for those of you who need some extra help dealing with the aftereffects of being in a cult. The more you read and learn other perspectives on the business instead of being locked into a single perspective, the better off you’ll be.
Keep reading and learning from legitimate teachers. Pray for the discernment to separate the truth from Team’s hogwash. Most importantly, guard your mind. Orrin was right when he said it is the one asset that cannot be taken from you. He should know…he has mastered the ability to control thousands of minds…and they pay him to do it!!
What advice would you give to current TEAM members?
I know you feel like you’re doing the right thing – the best thing – for God, our country, your family, and yourself. Take a few minutes to look over the hard evidence on this website. Go to the source websites. Do Who Is searches on those websites. Find their owners. Ask yourself what the owner’s motives could be. Ask yourself the tough questions, such as, are Orrin and Chris who they say they are? Remember, there’s at least two sides to every argument. No side is ever 100% right or wrong.
Any last words?
Yes, one last point that is super important for other Christian readers. Team leaders use bits and pieces of the Bible and spiritual teaching to relate to Christian members in order to make us do what they want. For me, this was the most mentally and emotionally damaging aspect of the business. It is also what makes the business so cultlike. I regret to admit that my faith was shaken once I found out that Orrin and Chris are liars and Team isn’t the savior of the country. I just want to encourage you to do what I did to get back on track. None of us should make spiritual decisions based off the information from someone who’s got it wrong. We’d best go straight to the source. Listen to and study your Bible as fervently as you did the Team CDs. Pray and give yourself some time to sort through your thoughts and questions. Once you get back on track, all will be made clear.
Oh, one last point. If you have a loved one, such as a spouse, who is still heavily involved in the business, be sure to read as much advice as you can before confronting them. If you tell them or even imply that they are brainwashed, being taken advantage of, or anything resembling those lines you will automatically make your loved one defensive. Remember, they are programmed with the “us vs. them” mentality. Although Team teaches them to love everyone where they’re at, if you make a Teambot feel like their precious dreams in life are being attacked, an argument could easily ensue. How do I know this? That’s exactly how I reacted when my fiance told me I was brainwashed. Now we are both very thankful for Amthrax and his blog!