Before you believe everything you read about the “Climb to the Top” article by Forbes online, make sure you check their facts. Beginning with their opening statements, the authors showcase their ignorance about the networking industry and made it clear that the goal was to publish a twisted version of the truth resembling propaganda at great risk of being libel. Since 2008 (when the original article was written) Orrin Woodward has been busy using “inter-sectional innovation” to create a brilliant business model known as Life Leadership. Check out clips from these 4 rebuttal articles to Forbes:
At the time of the article, Orrin Woodward was in a major legal dispute with Amway/Quixtar. Somehow, this important fact was not mentioned.
At the same time, Amway was funding a major advertising campaign in Forbes (no links online, but see 2008 Forbes Magazine for Amway ads).
Some of Amway’s principals were supporters of Steve Forbes and his political aspirations. (Click here)
Of all the people the journalist interviewed for the article (Orrin gave her complete access to everyone in his organization), the only person she quoted from her many interviews (other than Orrin himself and one guy standing in line to attend a meeting), was the negative husband of a woman in Orrin’s team that had never attended a single event, nor participated in any way. In contrast, not one of the many positive people interviewed were even mentioned.
When Orrin invited the journalist to his company’s international convention, offering her full back-stage access to everything and everyone, she politely declined because she had purchased tickets to attend a Willie Nelson concert instead.
The journalist referred to Network Marketing as “pyramid selling schemes,” proceeded to give a very incorrect description of how they supposedly function, and then wrote, “sounds like a chain letter, doesn’t it?”, even though networking companies operate legally in all 50 states every business day. AND Forbes itself has done many positive (or at least professionally balanced) articles on the industry, as recently as last month (Click here).
“One parting thought Orrin Woodward was in the middle of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Amway at the time this article was written. Amway founders are some of the largest donators to the Republican Party… Steve Forbes is a former Republican Presidential Candidate and long time friend of the family. Plus Amway has been a long time client of Forbes Magazine.”
I asked Orrin how this unprecedented interview came to be. He said, “Shortly after joining Monavie, I received a call from the Team office stating that Forbes had contacted me asking for an interview about Team.” He continued, “Why would Forbes want to do an article on a small, $42 million dollar company? Especially when it was in the middle of the legal battle of its life?”
Being part of the process myself, I remember Woodward telling me the interviewer asked questions about Team being a pyramid, which anyone who knows anything about pyramid law would know it is nowhere near being a pyramid scheme. She also wanted to know why is it that some people don’t make money and others do. Other questions focused on how much did it cost to be a member of Team and so forth. Woodward continued to explain that Team wasn’t a MLM, it only supplied the support for those building one; but that seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It became obvious to both of us, based upon the question content, that his interview wasn’t about finding the good in Team. Regardless, Woodward knew he had nothing to hide and answered all the questions truthfully and completely. I know that Woodward personally invited the interviewer to the Columbus Major as a VIP, but she already had tickets for a Willie Nelson concert and had to turn the offer down.
I also remember my interview, which lasted for 40 minutes. I actually thought my interview went really well. She asked a lot of great questions. I told her how I was able to get out of massive amounts of debt, how my marriage was dramatically improved, how I thought Orrin Woodward was an amazing leader, and that I thought the Team business was the best financial decision I’d ever made. Interestingly, not a single word of that 40 minute interview was used. Instead, a short quote jabbing Team about a man and woman who had gotten divorced due to her involvement in Team and Amway was used instead.
As it turns out, the man quoted in the Forbes article was an atheist and the woman a Christian. But the man claimed in the article the divorce was blamed on her involvement with Team. Why would Forbes choose to quote this person and not me? Or better yet, any of the thousands who believe that Team has strengthened their marriage? Had the interviewer attended the convention she could have asked any number of people the blessing Team has been in their lives. And yet all that was used was one negative quote about a divorce.
Meanwhile, I began asking my own questions. What led the reporter to take this article in the first place? What was her background in the leadership field and did she understand the moral dimensions from a Christian perspective? She admitted she had never heard of John Maxwell (the #1 leadership teacher) nor, even though living in Chicago, had she ever heard of Bill Hybels (pastor of Chicago’s largest church.)
Every reputable network marketing organization separates itself from pyramid schemes and scams by ensuring significant sales to outside customers of its products. Impressively, LIFE Leadership has over 40% of its monthly subscriptions going to customers who are not even part of the compensation plan. This is a testament to just how good the leadership materials are from LIFE.
Sadly, some people have drawn the conclusion that network marketing is like a lottery where only a few draw the winning ticket and everyone else loses. In truth, I was one of those people until I took the time to study the numbers myself. Here is my story of how I went from a community building skeptic to building one of the largest leadership communities in North America.
I would also encourage you to read the condensed business history of Orrin Woodward and his amazing band of mighty men (here is the link). As Life Leadership moves towards a billion dollar plus company, eventually Emily Lambert, Klaus Kneale and Forbes will have to write a detraction and an apology letter to Orrin Woodward this amazing group of leaders known as Life Leadership.
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
When we read things online — particularly personal stories and testimonials, we usually operate with the assumption that they’re true. We want to believe people. And when they tell their stories, they usually make sense…at first glance.
If you want to get at the truth, you have to read past first glance. People may be telling their truth, as they experienced it and remember it. That’s often not the whole story.
Whenever you read criticism, you have to apply critical thinking. While most people have an idea what that term means, let’s define it more specifically:
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and
imposing intellectual standards upon them.
A well cultivated critical thinker:
- raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
- gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
- thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
- communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
(Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)
So when you read criticism or personal anecdotes online, you can’t just allow yourself to be drawn into their story. This isn’t a movie — the willing suspension of disbelief does not apply.
Here are a few tips for applying critical thinking when reading criticism:
- What’s their agenda? Are they simply speaking their truth, or are they just venting their anger? Or trying to stir up controversy to generate traffic for their web site? Or reinforce a larger agenda with any example they possibly can? Or maybe it’s even a hidden commercial interest. Follow the money.
- Are they using propaganda techniques? Are they simply stating the facts, or are they trying to denounce, demonize, marginalize and neutralize the opposing views? Read a few threads on Ripoff Report and see how nearly everyone who takes the side of the company rather than the consumer is denounced as a shill.
- Do they have first-hand experience? Or are they just relaying stories they’ve heard from others? Or worse, just hopping on the bandwagon? An issue can look much larger than it actually is because of this amplification effect.
- Are they owning their part in what happened? Most people don’t really want to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions — I mean really don’t want to. Look at the general pattern of their speech — are they playing the victim? People with an external locus of control tend to be less successful, more stressed, less healthy, and more prone to clinical depression than those with an internal locus of control. I’d say it’s hard to tell this about a person in one forum post, but very often, these people tell their whole life story, as if to somehow validate what happened to them.
- What didn’t they say? There’s a reason that in court we ask people to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The most common form of dishonesty is the sin of omission. What facts are they leaving out that could completely change the meaning of what happened?
- Silence is not guilt. One of the most common tactics of critics is to invite (dare) them to come respond to their questions and accusations…in that forum, of course. That’s a fool’s errand. For one thing, it’s a hostile environment, in which most participants have already made up their mind. For another, it adds fuel to the fire for the search engines — just not a smart move for the company.
If you want the truth, you need to hear both (or all, as the case may be) sides of the story, apply some critical thinking to separate the facts from the fiction, and then decide for yourself.
Let’s look at some examples of these in action:
- Hidden agenda — Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus — Haters gonna hate, ’cause that’s what they do. But when someone goes so far out of their way, first of all to spread their hate, and secondly, to cover their own tracks, you have to wonder… In an update on Scott Allen’s analysis (and great example of critical thinking) of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus issue, it has come out that the new owner of that site may not even be a real person. When they were unresponsive to reasonable attempts to communicate, Orrin and Chris hired a private investigator to track them down, only to find that all the contact information in the domain registration was fake. Read the analysis on why the whole issue stank to begin with, and then ask yourself, who has the time, energy and money on their hands to justify buying a website, under a fake identity, just to discredit Orrin and Chris?
- Propaganda tactics — Freedom of Mind — This popular anti-cult site accuses TEAM/LIFE of “behavior control”. Here’s an example: “Members are strongly encouraged to hang around with ‘The right association’- those people who have the results that you want in life, namely the TEAM.” Seriously? It’s a proven fact that your success is significantly impacted by the people you hang around with. When it’s on Lifehacker, it’s “truth”, but when it comes from LIFE, it’s “behavior control”? This is a prime example of propaganda tactics — re-positioning the truth as something insidious when it comes from the source you’re attacking. Demonization. Marginalization.
- Hearsay — TeamScam — There’s an open discussion thread on the critic site TeamScam that has 193 comments on it, the vast majority of them negative. How many of those people have any real first-hand experience inside TEAM or LIFE? It looks like about 17. And of those 17, 8 had a positive experience, 3 neutral or balanced, and 6 a negative one. The overall impression is very deceiving, because not only are there several critics with no first-hand experience, they also write longer and more frequent comments.
Those are just a few examples. I’ll be going into some of these in considerably more depth in future posts, including answering all of Amthrax’s 50+ Questions for TEAM/LIFE.
Stay tuned, and keep your thinking cap on.