The Story Behind the Story in MLM

Today, I want to talk with you about the story behind the story in MLM. Chances are no one has shared this powerful concept with you before, so I hope my explanation hits home and opens your eyes about some of the realities in our industry.

To begin with, things are seldom what they seem. There are normally three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth! More importantly, the stories you DON’T hear about are often much more important than the ones you do hear about.The Story Behind the Story in MLM

The Olympic Athlete

I know we’re talking about network marketing, but I think this short story will help paint the picture.

Let’s take a moment and think about your typical Olympic athlete. These athletes have been “laser-like focused” mastering their sport for 10 to 20 or more YEARS.

From the time they were small children (in most cases), through their early adulthood, they have committed a large amount of time and money EXCLUSIVELY on mastering their sport.

They have survived injuries. They have given up hobbies, sometimes even relationships. They’ve experienced setbacks. They moved three steps forward and two steps back. They have done EVERYTHING in their willpower, just to become GOOD ENOUGH to QUALIFY for the Olympics.

Yes, they have some natural gifts, but it’s their COMMITMENT to mastering their sport that made them WORLD CLASS at what they do. These athletes have invested at least 10,000 hours, and often more than that, to master their sport.

What’s crazy is MOST of these athletes never qualify for an Olympic medal. Instead, they return home with their memories and pride, even though they’ve committed a large part of their life to their chosen endeavor. It’s crazy.

This is the story behind the story most Olympic athletes (and professional athletes) endure, yet we seldom hear about. Instead, we only hear about the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medalists. To me, this story behind the story is even more humbling then hearing a Gold Medalist speak.

Everyone wants the Gold Medal. Few people will put in the work it takes to become that successful, and most who do put in the work will still come up short! Despite that, it’s still worth it.

Their real reward is the person they become because of their commitment to excellence.

The Story Behind the Story in MLM

When it comes to our great industry, there is always a story behind the story in MLM. Here are a few examples:

The Facebook Ad

My first example of the story behind the story in MLM is the Facebook ad you see promising you a simple, easy way to build your business online. What these advertisers normally don’t tell you is (1) they aren’t building a team at all, (2) their entire income is from selling a course, and (3) they spend tens of thousands of dollars in advertising each month to generate a big income. Had you known about these things upfront, the deal might not sound as sweet as they make it sound.

The Guy on Stage

You have a top rep at your company’s convention talking on stage. He went from brand new rep to the top rank in less than a year. What he doesn’t say is that he has been in the industry for 20+ years and he brought his entire team from his previous company to your company.

The Purchased or Inherited Business

Sometimes you will see people “pop up” in our industry out of nowhere with a big team. You might not know this, but some people inherit a business via a divorce or death. In other cases, people purchase a business from another top distributor. However, they don’t always reveal this to others.When you start comparing yourself with others you end up comparing apples to oranges If you are set on comparing yourself with others make sure you get ALL of the information so you know the entire story and can make a fair comparison ~ Chuck Holmes

The Deal

This is the story behind the story in MLM that drives me really crazy. These are the folks who got a “deal” to come to the company. In many cases, they were paid a big fee and given a position with a team already under them. What you don’t know is they signed a “non-disclosure” and cannot tell you that from stage.

The Personal Struggles

This is my favorite story behind the story in MLM. When you see a successful rep speaking on stage, you never really know what they have gone through to get where they are today. Sadly, many successful reps never talk about their struggles, even though it would be very beneficial for the average rep to hear. When you talk with a top rep, you don’t know:

  • How long they’ve been in the business
  • What trials and tribulations they’ve experienced
  • What special skills they had prior to joining the business (or developed through the years)
  • How much rejection they’ve received
  • How many people they recruited
  • How many people quit their team
  • What their previous network marketing experience is

Not knowing these things makes it really easy to think you could never do what they did.

The Big Problem

The big problem with the story behind the story in MLM is that many people compare themselves to others. That is a recipe for frustration, hurt, and failure. You really can’t compare yourself objectively to someone else if you don’t know know the entire story.

That’s my best piece of advice for this article.

Never compare yourself to anyone else. Just become the best version of YOU possible. 

When you start comparing yourself with others, you end up comparing apples to oranges. If you are set on comparing yourself with others, make sure you get ALL of the information, so you know the entire story and can make a fair comparison.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the moral of the story is that there is ALWAYS a story behind the story in MLM, and in life. There are always more things to the situation than are being presented (or that you realize).

I am not saying any of this in a bad way. I just hope that you won’t take everything you hear or see at face value. I hope you will listen to what others have to stay, but still do your due diligence and evaluate all of the facts.

Always ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What aren’t they telling me that I should know about?
  2. What’s the story behind the story here?

The answer to those two questions is just as important as the information they are telling you.

What do you think about the story behind the story in MLM? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Have a great day.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

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11 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Story in MLM”

  1. I fully agree with you Chuck! Even in general people don’t tell the whole story behind something. I think it’s learned as a child who doesn’t want to get in trouble for whatever it was they did or didn’t do. I can use something my husband has told me when I used to buy a scratch-offs. I would show him that I just won $5 and he would say “No, you have $2.00 because you spent $3.00 for the ticket.” When someone tells you that they have made $5,000, the question I would ask them is “over what period of time”, and “how much did you have to spend before you made that? ” Always do your judgement and do your research.

  2. I love this post Chuck. I really wish these people were more honest about it. I think people like myself have heard those “hyped up” speeches so much, and we know that it is impossible. Yes, there are still gullible people in this world, but I think the amount is getting less.

    I often think of the people that go gambling and say they won $5000. What we don’t know is in winning that money, they spent $6000. In all actuality, they lost $1000. People, in general, love to exaggerate. The next time you are at one of these meetings or speeches, ask the person a simple question when they are alone and you get that moment. “You say you made this amount in 6 months; how much did you spend to make it?” Watch their reaction then and it will tell you a lot. They probably won’t tell you, but their reaction will.

    1. Maybe so. Is that gross or net? And while there is always an exception to the rule, a story like that is FEW and far between. For every “overnight success” there are hundreds of “much longer” success stories.

  3. I don’t get it Chuck. I’m constantly on these social networks and these kids are taking screen shots of their company website showing their rank/income level. All from social media.

  4. These are young guys I’ve actually had a phone conversation with. I contacted them because I wanted to know how they were making so much money in a short amount of time.

    I also posted a comment on your article “How to Build Your MLM Business Offline: The Best Way to Do it” It involves the 24/7 pre-recorded message.

    1. My advice is don’t believe it. In my 12 years in the industry I have never met one person who earned six figures a year that did it in their first year in the industry. The only time you hear these stories is when someone already had a team and then switched companies and brought their team with them to their new company. There is no such thing as get rich quick in business. It’s just what people use in their advertising online, because it sounds so sexy, and attracts so many people. All businesses take time to build, normally a year just to get profitable and several years to build a nice income.

  5. Idk about this Chuck. This is true in most cases, but I’m looking at a lot of the young people in the industry and they’re making 10k or more a month in 4-6 months strictly from social media. They haven’t spent a dime on advertising. They’re starting off with no list, and don’t even target people already in MLM. Most of their leads are opportunity seekers.

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