Tips From The Top

The Perfect Career

Yesterday, I posted a question on Facebook and LinkedIn. That question was:

Hey – I’m really curious what you think of the attributes of a “perfect career.” I’m writing a blog post and want to include your thoughts. (I’ve got: no discrimination, economy-proof, unlimited income potential…?)

Here is are the answers, straight out of “your” mouths:

    • “To me, the perfect career is one that does not feel like a career. If you love what you do and are passionate about it, then you have the perfect career for yourself. Everything after that is just good.”
    • “Lets you work from home. Opportunities for travel and education and advancement. Profit sharing.”
    • “A sense of ownership and knowing that you are contributing.”
    • “Something you’d keep doing even if you won the lottery.”
    • “No alarm clock, no set hours, no dress code, no rules, unlimited vacation days, work with positive happy people, work from home, six-or-seven-figure income, and I want to get paid every day whether I’m working or not.”
    • “Some SF tech companies are offering “unlimited” PTO. You still gave a job to do, but they allow employees to do it at their own pace I believe their performance review standards are quite strict.”
    • “Ethically/Morally aligned with my value system.”
    • “flexibility!”
    • “Variety, endless learning (the fun kind) and great co-workers.”
    • “Inspiring, fun, rewarding on all levels.”
    • “Passion for what you are doing, making a difference and helping others do the same.”
    • “Interesting work. No clock watching. Not because of being off the clock but because of being interested and motivated by what you are doing.”
    • “Something that allows you to pursue your passion AND get paid for it!”
    • “Living the dream.”

Now, granted, a couple of these (not all!) were written by folks who are already in the Network Marketing industry. And I really do mean a couple (as in, 2). There were a few “me too” posts, but I deleted those. So the above is a random sampling from those of you who were willing to play the game with me yesterday.

What I’d like to do in this post is to actually do a comparison of the various ways that you can make money – in other words, “have a career” – as I see it. I would love to have comments on this, and keep the discussion going – this is just from my perspective and I really am curious to open a dialog here.

One of the things that Eric Worre of NetworkMarketingPro said in his recent Go Pro Recruiting Mastery event really hit home:

Network marketing is hard. It’s lonely. But it’s better than the alternatives. – Eric Worre

This got me to thinking a lot about “the alternatives.” It’s also why I wrote my latest book, Passive Income 101: a story of paying for college without selling your soul. In the book, a parable story, Alexzandra, a high school senior, looks at some of her and her classmates’ options once they have graduated.

One of her fellow students, Josh, comes from a background where he will need to get a job immediately out of high school. He anticipates graduating, and going to work for Mike’s Tires. Now, granted, there is definitely the “satisfaction of a job well done” when you do manual labor – and of course you immediately are able to get pretty good money for your labor. Unlike network marketing, where in the beginning, you put in a lot more time for the money you get out, Josh makes the point that he needs to get a paycheck “now” – to get his own apartment, start his own life away from the broken home he lives in.

Another couple in the book, Eduardo and Maria-Elena Gonzales, are also blue collar workers. They are the parents of Lenardo, who is in Alexzandra’s class. Lenardo works hard in school, but he’s going to be “required” to go to work to help his parents make ends meet. They don’t like this idea, and neither does he – but that’s just how it goes. Eduardo gets work as a manual laborer by standing out on the street and waiting to be picked up as part of a crew – Maria-Elena picks up work she can do in her home when she can, like sewing and tailoring. They worry constantly that if Eduardo were to get hurt, their life would come crashing down. But they just can’t see any other way to go about things.

It’s fairly likely that the readers of my blog aren’t blue collar workers. But it’s also likely that you know some. Anyone who does the cleaning, making, building, tearing down, etc. around you is a blue collar worker. I’d say that we are all no more than one step removed from a blue collar worker.

Is blue collar work the Perfect Career?

Here are some of the issues I see with it – whether you’re going to be “punching a clock” (like Josh) or a “contractor” (like Eduardo):

  • Discrimination.
  • Your time isn’t your own.
  • You have a boss – whether it’s just the person who picks you up in the back of their truck, or the person who owns the shop where you work.
  • Not economy-proof. Most blue collar jobs tie directly to work that gets “deferred” when times are tough.
  • No “pension” or retirement. Some jobs (union, etc.) do have a pension of sorts – but you need to work for decades to get to it. Also – if the company doesn’t “fund” the pension or they change the rules on you, then bye-bye pension.
  • It’s HARD work. It’s all related to your body – and so if something happens to you, if you get hurt, etc. then you’re in a world of trouble.Your body gives out – your income stops.
  • What else that you can think of?

The next job type is the sort of job that Alexzandra’s best friend Charlie is bound and determined to get. Charlie wants to get out of high school, get his MBA, and go work and get the “big bucks” by working for a large corporation, and perhaps ultimately owning his own company some day. As Charlie says, you get paid “in the six figures” right off the bat once you get out of college and grad school – of course, you also have student loan debt weighing you down like crazy, and you’re also in what Robert Kiyosaki would call “The Rat Race.” Because you’re now trading your brain for money (instead of a blue collar job, where you’re trading your “brawn” for money), you get started at a higher salary level than if you are in a blue collar job. A white collar job also can give satisfaction, and you’re also part of a team and can feel like you’re making a difference to that company by what you do. For example, in the book, Josh will theoretically be changing tires day in and day out, and that will just keep Mike’s Tires going. But Charlie reasons that if he becomes an “up-and-comer” in a company, he can really make a difference, and as the company succeeds, he succeeds and therefore makes a difference.

Is a White Collar job a Perfect Career?

Here are the issues that I see with a white collar job:

  • Discrimination
  • You’re working for someone else (as I heard said once, “your labor is advancing someone else’s company“).
  • You have to deal with the stress of “office politics” – no matter what level you are in the company.
  • You punch a time clock of some kind – in other words, you can’t just “not show up” on a sunny Friday and not suffer consequences.
  • You have a limited amount of “time off” – though it is generally paid time off. But you usually have to take it when it’s convenient for the company – and to plan in advance, etc.
  • You have to worry about the company replacing you with a new, brighter, and cheaper “model.” If you work for a company, they have to give you at least a little bit of a raise every year, if you’re really working your tail off. So a few years down the road, you’re that much more expensive than someone coming in would be. Also, in today’s economic climate, companies have the enviable position of being able to make people either take a pay cut and do the same amount of work (or more) . . . because the “alternative” that they offer workers is the fact that there are a dozen or so people equally qualified that don’t have jobs, and would love to have the position.  (I actually had this happen to me back when I was an assistant athlete agent Advantage International. I made a pittance, and when I tried to get a raise, HR just laughed and said “We get boxes of resumes every day from folks who would do this work for free, just because they want to work around the athletes – go ahead, quit.” I ultimately did.)
  • You’re doing what you’re “supposed” to do – what all your schooling and social training has “prepared” you to do. To me, this is an issue – because I believe the system is broken when you look at what you need to succeed today – and what will protect you in the long run. The system is structured for competition, not cooperation – as Alexzandra muses in the book, both her parents in their jobs and she herself in school, at the end of the day, have to compete to get ahead, and “stand on top of” those with worse grades, less “drive,” etc.
  • If you are in a white collar position, in 99% of the cases you don’t have any sort of guaranteed pension, you are required to ‘save for retirement’ in a retirement vehicle generally tied to the stock market. So this means that you’re latching your future onto something else you have no control over (more on that, below). You have to make decisions for your monetary future generally based on less than perfect information, and again generally completely divorced from what you are “doing for a living.” For example, let’s say that you’re an attorney in a corporation (hey, I can speak to that one!) The money that you are “saving for retirement” needs to go into an investment vehicle which has nothing to do with what you do as an attorney. So you need to either (a) pray/hope for the best as you put a percentage of your paycheck away or (b) make it “your business’ to figure out how to make that money safe/grow – meaning you have a whole separate job to do, in “building towards your future.”
  • To succeed in a white collar job, you have to be more of a politician than a performer. In a blue collar job, you have to be good at what you do and if you want to “advance” and make more at what you are doing, that generally means opening up your own shop. In a white collar job, you can keep your “nose to the grindstone” and survive – but if you want to move up, you need to stick your head out of the foxhole. You are also stuck doing what they tell you is required to “advance” – whether it’s perhaps moving, working longer hours, etc. The thing is, if you actually do this in the corporate world, you become a target of your boss (who thinks you’re trying to take her job), of your peers (who think you’re trying to “get ahead” of them and get a job that they might want), and even of your subordinates (who are waiting for you to blow it, so that they can take your job).
  • In both a white collar and a blue collar job, your job is to do just enough work not to get fired; your employer’s job is to pay you just enough that you don’t quit.
  • What else?

What about a commission-based job as a Perfect Career?

This might be a bit better than having a straight salary, if you want to really “go get ’em.” It would seem that you own your own life, and your time. If you’re doing this inside a company (e.g., you are perhaps in Sales), you generally have some of the same issues above (punching a clock, the “vagaries of office politics” as Alex’s mom Olivia puts it), though you have a bit more ability to garner an upside if you work quite hard. If you’re not inside a company but are more “eat what you kill” (e.g., real estate), you don’t have as much of an issue with that, but there are still overarching issues with this sort of a career:

  • Discrimination. I keep coming back to this – but it’s true. Whether you’re a woman, whether you’re perhaps just from prison, whether you’re from a different country or you’re a different color, all of these things will play into how well you do. If you’re a white male reading this you might scoff at that – but then I’d like you to go and try to sell something in the barrio or in the depths of an inner city war zone.
  • You can truly have “good days and bad days” – or months – or years – and there is often little you can do to affect it. You could be the greatest realtor in the world, but if no one is buying, you’re stuck.
  • How you look makes a big difference – so often people in these careers will have a “flashy” lifestyle that they need to maintain, which is dependent upon them “making the next kill.” And if there is no game on the savannah (dot dot dot).
  • Everyone else in the profession with you is your competitor. It doesn’t matter if that person is in the same office with you – if you are both in the same industry, with the same clientele, they’re the enemy. This is an enormous stressor, whether you acknowledge it or not. It can also be the whole “stab in the back” thing – people putting you down to try to get your prospects as their own.
  • There is no way out of the “Rat Race” by working harder, etc. In other words, like the corporate job, you’re not building up something that can run by itself if you decide to quit. You have to keep doing what you’re doing, to get money.
  • Usually, in the “eat what you kill” type career, you are responsible for all your own expenses (tax, social security, health benefits, insurance, etc.) Sometimes, a person who decides to have a career like this (or “their own business,” which will be discussed next) will actually love what they are doing but just quit to have a “steady income and benefits.” I know many, many people who have gone the route of either sales or becoming independent contractors/small business, who ultimately go into the corporate arena because they’re so exhausted by having to “do it all.”
  • What else?

This leads me to the idea of being an independent contractor or having your own business. Is that the Perfect Career?

I know many, many, MANY people who have gone this route. Either they have been laid off, or they have decided they want to “make their own hours” and (supposedly) “get out the Rat Race.” But there is so much that folks generally don’t think of when they go this route – I see it all the time with my law firm clients.

  • There is often a huge investment – and you’re responsible for all of it! I certainly know in my law firm, I am responsible for paying for my malpractice insurance, which is a bug chunk of change annually – if you want to open a restaurant, a store, or any number of other ventures that might be “your passion,” there is often a lot of money that needs to be plunked down to get it going. Often, when I see companies that are in their “winding down” stages, the owners would just be happy to get the money they put into it back!
  • If no one hires you – or walks in the door of your store – you’re toast. You need someone to buy what you’re “selling” daily, monthly, or annually for you to get paid. (That might sound obvious, but that’s not the case if you have something with a passive income component tied to it.)
  • Though people often start down this path to “follow their passion,” they quickly find that they are the worker bee, the marketing department, the collections department, and the janitor all rolled up into one. Often folks find that where they thought that having “their own business” they could pursue their passion far more than being in a corporate environment, they really had more “freedom” when they were a cog in the big machine!
  • Depending on the business, there is also often the issue of having to hire employees, having workers’ compensation insurance, having inventory, and just all that “management” stuff.
  • Though it would seem that this would have “unlimited earnings potential,” in reality, your earnings potential is generally limited by your own exhaustion tolerance. In other words, it’s not like you’re making money (in general) when you’re loafing around – which you actually do have in the corporate environment with salaried workers, and also if there is a passive income component to your career.
  • You have to fill the pipeline, and do the work that comes out of the pipeline. If the pipeline dries up, your work dries up.
  • What else?

What about making investments as the Perfect Career?

In my book, Alexzandra’s parents had tried to go down this path, after reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Cashflow Quadrant.
I have known a LOT of people who have tried this, and nearly 100% have failed. Often they had some luck on the front end, but then things came crashing down. Granted, there isn’t a lot of discrimination (your dollar is usually the same as anyone else’s), you can make your own hours (well, so long as the market is open!), and you can work in your bunny slippers. But it’s still not the best career. Why?

  • You’re out of control. If you are investing in something like the stock marketing, options trading, etc., you’re definitely out of control. You don’t really know what’s going on in the things you are investing in. Even in real estate – laws can change, zoning can change, renters can start growing pot in the garage, dry rot – you get the picture. And, after reading some recent books on the subject which were actually pretty frightening, you as a small investor have really no control and don’t know anything.
  • You need knowledge to do this as a living – and it takes a lot of time. And, as pointed out above – you usually do not have all the information that you need. Without being the head of a hedge fund or the like, believe me, you’re at the mercy of the system.
  • Oh, and of course you need money to make money in this arena. You can’t “just start” without having cash to do it.
  • Markets are irrational. Things can happen that are not based on reality; you can do all the homework in the world, but something can still tank and take your life savings with it.
  • There isn’t really a safety net.
  • What else?

So what’s left? In my book, Alexzandra explores the world of network marketing/multi-level marketing as a viable option. Those of you who are not network marketing professionals, if you have read this far, now probably feel cheated. I mean, how could I recommend something like that? Because it really is the best way. If you don’t agree, I’d like to hear why one of the others beats it. I really would. Because I can’t find a hole in my logic, but then, it is my logic.

Network marketing is better than any other career choice, but there is a catch – you must embrace a temporary loss of social esteem by ignorant people. Eric Worre

So, is network marketing the Perfect Career?

As Alexzandra discovers in the book, network marketing does have some “downsides.” What are they?

  • It has a seriously bad “rap” – everyone has a story of some uncle who has a garage full of product that he couldn’t sell. Alex faces people who disgustedly taunt her for getting involved in “pyramid schemes” and “get rich quick scams” – which you just don’t generally have with a blue collar, white collar, sales, or investment career.
  • You can’t make the big bucks right off the bat. When you start, you put in a small investment, and then the money that comes in is disproportionately small to he amount of work that you’re putting out. (More on that, later.)
  • Tied to the point above, because it is so easy to get started (never more than say $1,000), people don’t take it seriously, don’t work it, then malign the industry. My favorite analogy on this is again from Eric Worre, who said that people often treat network marketing as a “scratcher lottery ticket.” They buy the ticket, which might have been a $ stretch (or not). This “ticket” has 5 to 10 “scratchers” on it. Each person you ask about getting into the business with you is a “scratch off.” You tell someone about the business, it’s like scratching off the first number. (“Aw, I thought for SURE that THEY would join!”). You move on, until all the scratches are scratched. Then you ultimately “tear it up” – both physically, and verbally, when after 5-10 “scratches” you didn’t find the $ million winner.
  • What else?

So what are the “upsides” of network marketing? Why do I believe that it is the Perfect Career?

  • You make your own hours/work from home.
  • It actually is NOT a pyramid, like corporate America is – e.g., you can get ahead of someone on top of you, just by working harder. You can even surpass them.
  • No discrimination.
  • There are SO MANY network marketing companies out there, you can find one that you can be passionate about the product – which is key for you to hang in with it long enough until you see some results.
  • By working it consistently, even part time, you can build up a residual income right from the start. In most network marketing companies, you get some sort of percentage back on the product that you purchase for yourself – and if you pick the right product, you are very happy to promote it to others. I did 3 network marketing companies before my current one – in each of those, I wasn’t able to “build a team,” but I still got a discount on my product. (This is what happened to Alexzandra’s mother, Olivia, in my book. Gee, and she’s a lawyer, hmmm . . . )
  • If you find a network marketing company that can help you with your “regular job” or that is directly tangential to your “regular job,” then you often can build it without cannibalizing your time. Again, using myself as an example, the network marketing company I am involved in is a product that I use to market my law firm. So I use the product as a marketing tool for my law firm – and when folks ask about it, I show them either how to use the product or how to have it as a business. This was my issue in my previous network marketing companies – I loved the product, but it wasn’t “congruent” with what I did for my main money. A lawyer selling essential oils (for example) just doesn’t really work. But whatever you do, believe you me, there is a network marketing company that can benefit you in your life and be congruent with what you’re doing now for a living.
  • The folks that are doing network marketing are not your “competitors.” This is huge, and is one of the big “Ah-ha” moments that Alex realizes in the book. In your usual corporation or small business, if someone is doing what you are doing, they are taking a piece of “your pie.” But in network marketing, if your team succeeds, you succeed. It behooves you to share every single secret that you have with someone “getting started” – because it will help both of you. Network marketing is probably the single most friendly career I’ve ever been in. Even if someone is a network marketing professional with a different company, there is so much that you all face, that everyone tries to lift everyone else up and share what they have learned. There isn’t a comparison/cutting down/war mentality. Maybe because so many of us have faced the “social stigma” of being in a network marketing company, we are extra solicitous to others who are making money this way!
  • You can follow your passion. Again, there are network marketing companies of every way, shape and form.
  • You can work as much or as little as you want – and if you work harder, you’ll get more money, it’s almost guaranteed. However, as Jordan Adler, network marketing multi-millionaire, says to Alex in the book, “You can work this business part time, or full time. You just can’t work it ‘some time’ and expect it to deliver.”
  • If you work at it for a while consistently, and get a team of people to do the same, you ultimately won’t have to work at at all. It will throw off residual, cash flow income to you, which can be your retirement. If you want to keep working it, you can – but if you want to dial back, you can do that, too. My sponsor hasn’t really worked the business now for at least two years, but she’s still got that residual income being thrown off by her previous work, and the work of people she has helped into the business (and their people…and their people…). But if you love the product and it’s tied to your passion, you’re likely to keep introducing folks to it, even though, after time, you aren’t “required” to do that to make a “paycheck.”
  • Your network marketing company will take care of all the “back office” issues – they cut the checks, make sure that your “downline” is paid, develop the products, take care of sales support and customer service, you name it. You just share the product and opportunity. So this is a “best of both worlds” combo of the sales job and the small business job.  You share the product or the business – but you don’t have to develop new products, deal with customer service, or “take out the trash.” Unlike most traditional sales or small businesses, however, the “downstream” income then takes care of itself, if the people you introduce the products or business to keep buying. Unlike selling a house in real estate, or having someone come in for a dinner in your restaurant, you’re not virtually guaranteed that money will continue to flow from that customer.
  • You own your company right away. As Alex points out to her friend Charlie – who feels he can “ultimately” own his own business if he goes to college, gets his MBA, then works in corporate America – she’s a CEO already. There are a lot of others who also “own their own companies” – your downline, upline, and crossline compatriots – but you are not in competition with one another.
  • Speaking to the bullet point from Facebook, you build yourself to a position of having “unlimited PTO” if you think about it. PTO is Paid/Personal Time Off. In network marketing, once you get your team and customers up and running, if you take time off, you still get paid. And there are no draconian rules about it, as the Facebook poster noted.
  • Your schedule is as flexible as you like.
  • You can help people – both with your product (if that’s what you want to do) and with their own financial freedom (by helping them start in the business).
  • What else?

I actually did a podcast a long, long time ago about what to look for when you are choosing a network marketing company.

The link to that can be found HERE. It’s a few years old – but what I said still holds true. You might want to give it a listen.

Though this is an immensely long post, I felt compelled to get this out there, and perhaps to get a discussion going. Thanks for reading this far – for that, I certainly appreciate you! And – really – tell me what you think!


P.S.: OH, I suppose I should put the link to the MLM I believe is perfect for me – -Check it out if you’re curious, if not, no worries 😉