...It probably is.
Ever since high school, I remember every now and then some kid would be excitedly telling his friends about this great opportunity he found, where you can make a bunch of money really quickly. Well for most of the population, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
So now, unbeknownst to me, I get my turn at bat for this financial mirage!
Pyramid schemes get their name because the organizational structure is shaped like a circle. Just kidding, it’s shaped like a pyramid. More often than not, they require you to purchase something from them to sell, to in turn sell to others at a higher price, as well as recruit others to do the same. Recruiting others to join the cause is where the real money is made.
So how did smart, old Michael fall for this one? Well here’s warning sign number two: Pyramid schemes are intentionally vague about their business.
This particular business described itself to me as “direct marketing with a minimum salary of $50,000/year”, sounds pretty good to someone who needs a job and is looking to branch out from accounting, right? What would have been more accurate is something like “walking door-to-door in at-risk neighbourhoods, and you only get paid when you convince strangers to hand over credit card information”. I'd say the main problem with using the more accurate description is that it's not appealing to anyone, so obviously that's not what you are told.
I arrive at the office for my second round interview, in my highly uncomfortable dress shoes, wool pants, and dress shirt; my job interview clothes. It happens to be like 27°C and sunny out.
I’m sitting there eyeing up the other second round candidates, as we get paired one-by-one with individuals from the organization who are going to show us what their day is like. This was interesting to watch, girls were paired with girls, visual minorities were paired with visual minorities, and I was paired with a friendly, energetic, extroverted white guy… seems a bit familiar for some reason…
We are introduced, he’s wearing similar clothes to me. He excuses himself for a moment, and to my surprise, comes back in sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt.
Crap, well now I’m over dressed
Between getting off the train, and getting on the bus, I had my first contemplation of jumping ship. At this point it was obvious I wouldn’t be working here, BUT, when would be the next time in my life I would have a day-in-the-life of an entry level pyramid schemer?
So my curiosity got the better of me and I had to learn everything I could. I mean why do people do this? What motivates someone to make unsolicited calls at stranger’s houses, and sometimes earn nothing for doing it?
So I got on the bus and started following my two colleagues around, one who has been doing this for three days, and the team leader who had been doing it for just under three months.
The day basically consisted of each guy working on their “pitch”, as in the speech they’d give to people when the door is answered (it gets old hearing this after around 7-8 times). I also learned some of the snazzy acronyms for how to deal with unwilling homeowners (Acknowledge, Ignore, Repeat) and felt kinda bad for leading these two guys on like I was interested in joining.
Some high points for the day:
So what did I learn. If you are a charismatic fellow with a strong sense of capitalism, who might be willing to sacrifice a little integrity, this might be a position for you. However, the majority of individuals wooed by this scheme will be inexperienced, naive, optimistic youth, tempted by the promise of high earnings and fast advancement through the company. Unfortunately for these kids, they are the bulk of what keeps the fires burning.
I also learned that I really, REALLY resent an organization if they mislead me into a 10K walk by calling it a second round interview. Oh wait, your telling me I should feel OK? Because you made the same mistake by overdressing your first day? And everyone else makes that mistake too? Yea, I don't care for your backwards logic. I don't appreciate being intentionally misled.
Now that's off my chest, I did feel a little bad on the way back into Sydney. I think I let down the team leader, because if I had signed up for the venture then he would have made money. I also neglected going back to the office for the end-of-day debrief, to discuss tactics, practice my pitch, drink the Kool-Aid, etc... so I never did find out what my performance appraisal was for the day. *sigh*.
My one regret for the day is that I didn’t actually knock on anyone’s door and give a schpiel. I think I would have been good at it, drawing upon that hometown, Canadian charm.
But I have an actual job now, so that's good.
Since that is the case, I can officially say that this pyramid scheme experience was formative in some kind of way, and be happy with my decision to engage myself. You know, travelling isn't all about waterfalls, cuisine, and culture, sometimes you have to just do somethings that you haven't done before.
or that's what I keep telling myself..