Ep.41 - dō(n)TERRA: MLM ‘Cult’ure & 'Wellness' Red Flags w/ Jamie Smith ― Candice welcomes friend and activist Jamie Smith to the podcast for an illuminating discussion on the ‘cult’ure of MLM. Jamie spent four years as a sales rep with dōTERRA, a multi-level marketing company known for its high-end essential oils. She shares when she became involved in the company - while battling postpartum depression and shortly after the death of her father - as well as what drew her into work as a distributor. As a health coach, Jamie found dōTERRA’s emphasis on health education to be a major selling point, but soon enough she'd be spending the majority of her (unpaid) time recruiting new distributors. Despite loads of lip service from top-line mentors, Jamie began to see through the gauzy promises and eventually left the world of MLM for good. A few years later, she realized that very few anti-MLMers were naming dōTERRA - an MLM who, in Jamie's own words, has taken great pains to “polish the turd” - so she began speaking out publicly on social media. Jamie insists that multi-level marketing is across-the-board problematic, calling it “capitalism on steroids,” and she shares the red flags to look out for when being pitched. Candice and Jamie also discuss pay-to-play privilege in the wellness world, as well as how they were both trained in coercive sales strategies in the coaching industry. They trade some real-talk on magical thinking, and the way in which they were each taught to believe that their business failings were a result of faulty vibes - versus a rigged system - and they discuss moral injuries and how they’re each learning to trust themselves again. Jamie pitches the idea of a ‘rest mindset’ versus all the endless self-helping, and together they discuss how gate-keeping (and other culty bs) sometimes bleeds into their cult recovery circles. Candice wonders aloud if the evolving business structure at ‘the Org,’ might also be a little MLM-ish, then the episode wraps with some helpful advice - what to do when you're pitched a product membership that sounds too good to be true (spoiler: it definitely is).

Jamie Smith is a former dōTERRA ‘Wellness Advocate’ turned anti-MLM advocate, helping to promote changes to protect consumers from pyramid schemes. She likes to joke that her dōTERRA 'business' didn’t quite work out, so she finally made the transition to a real career in interior design.

You can follow Jamie on IG @essentially_over_mlms and explore financial literacy as it pertains to MLM via Jamie’s linktree: linktr.ee/essentiallyovermlms

Referenced In This Episode:

MLM; the real numbers at-a-glance

The Dream - Podcast Season 1

(Un)well - Netflix DocuSeries


Ep.41 - dō(n)TERRA: MLM ‘Cult’ure & 'Wellness' Red Flags w/ Jamie Smith

Candice Schutter: 0:13
Welcome back to The Deeper Pulse and the 'cult'ure series. A couple of weeks ago, I relaunched this ongoing exploration of what puts the cult in culture with a couple of back to back solo episodes. So if you miss those, be sure to circle back. There's lots in there. But this week I'm back with a guest and I can't wait to share our conversation with you, so let's get to it. So far in this 'cult'ure series, you've heard me talk an awful lot about wellness culture in particular. I've shared loads of personal stories to illustrate the impact that cult dynamics have had on my own personal sense of agency in a variety of wellness arenas. And in last week's episode, I spoke about a number of things, including how the wellness industry so often blurs the line between self-care and self perfection, leading so many of us to obsess about our bodies and our beings. Holding ourselves to high-minded standards that are built on the foundation of oppression and supremacist ideals. Personal development has become a multi-billion dollar industry. One that reinforces biases and preys upon our social insecurities, creating hierarchies in terms of physical, spiritual, and social advancement. And in many cases, in addition to multi-level courses and high demand, high dollar trainings, products are being sold. Consumerism itself is a cult ideology built upon scarcity and the false premise that our sense of dignity and purpose in life is somehow inextricably related to how we look, what we own, and what we are willing to invest in, in an effort to better ourselves. Enter the world of multi-level marketing. MLMs have been a mainstay of wellness culture for decades, with ever expanding armies of distributors who peddle skincare lines, vitamins and supplements, essential oils, health and wellness beverages, clothing lines, if you can name it, it's probably being sold through an MLM. And some of you might be saying, so what? Welcome to capitalism. Why is it that everyone's always going on and on about MLMs? Because in one word, manipulation. MLMs are culty for all of the usual reasons. Love bombing. Preying on vulnerability. Coercive sales strategies. Lack of financial transparency. Chronic gaslighting of members. A closed loop belief system. I could go on and on, but additionally, and practically speaking, the entire premise of the so-called business structure is faulty. Because in an MLM, it's not really the product that's being sold, it's membership. Buy-in to a business model that exploits people for profit. It's much easier to understand if we take a step back. I wanna define two closely related terms because they're thrown around a lot when it comes to discussions about what is problematic about MLM. The first is known as a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme by definition is a fraudulent investment scam where people are conned to investing in a non-existent business enterprise where existing investors are paid with funds from new investors. It's basically a grand fustercluck of endless recruitment based on a false promise of financial returns down the road. The entire house of cards requires continual recruitment of new investors, with those at the tippy top rolling in the dough. That is until the deck eventually folds in on itself. Pyramid schemes are similar, yet different because they offer the illusion of agency. Investors are offered an ''opportunity to generate income by becoming a recruiter themselves. Theoretically, the more people they recruit, the more money everyone will make. Those at the top make the most money, so it encourages new investors to keep building out the bottom. All of this, despite the fact that once again, there is no actual product or service being sold. Both Ponzi and pyramid schemes have been outlawed for this reason, and because they're considered fraudulent business practices. And so, capitalistic power players decided to get creative. Enter the next iteration, known as multi-level marketing. MLMs are legal because technically speaking, a product is being sold. But when you zoom in, the differences between a pyramid scheme and an MLM are a bit hard to parse out. Technically speaking, an MLM is considered legitimate when it uses sales reps to sell consumer products, and when those same sales reps are receiving compensation primarily from the sale of products to outside consumers. Okay, sounds simple enough. But in reality, aside from a few at the top who were lucky enough to get in early, commissions that are received by everyday sales reps are negligible at best, with many distributors taking a loss. And, the vast majority of the products so-called consumers are distributors themselves. Because like in a pyramid scheme, the core function of an MLM isn't really about selling the product. It's about recruiting a larger and larger sales force, where members are continually building out the bottom of the pyramid, selling memberships to bottom line investors. The product is the lure that gets people in. It's a love bomb distraction for the eventual bait and switch. It looks something like this. Hey girl, you wanna come to my party this week? The invites are super exclusive and I'll be giving away all sorts of freebies. Yeah. I'm so glad you came, too. Try this sample. You like it? Oh my God. Your timing is so synchronistic. I have a limited number of spots left on my team, and if you join today, you'll get X, Y, and Z for even less money. Yeah, it requires a minimum monthly purchase, but if X number of your friends get in on the deal with you, you'll get a kickback on every purchase. Yeah, for real. Check out my mentor, she's a stay-at-home mom who made six figures last quarter. I know, right? There's so much potential here. Meanwhile said recruiter is doing and saying all she's been taught to do and say, just try and break even. She's all in on the promise she's selling you, if she hustles hard enough that she'll finally reach that upper echelon of financial freedom and eventually earn her place in the coveted inner circle. According to a study by the FTC, it's estimated that only the top 1% of MLM recruiters actually make money. 1%. And most of those are only making money because they got in early. An AARP study offers figures that are slightly less sobering, but still pretty disturbing, finding that 25% of people turn a profit, that roughly a quarter of MLMer's break even, and around half end up losing money in the end. Aside from the fact that these statistics aren't at all reassuring; none of this takes into account the physical and emotional toll of all that hustling. Nor does it factor in the way that people are gaslit when things don't pan out. Not rising in the ranks? Clean up your vibes. Work harder. Shine brighter. No, it's not the business model that's the problem. It's you. I have a ton of compassion for people who get pulled into the culture of MLM because the business practices prey upon universal human desires, for agency, a sense of autonomy and a meaning driven sense of purpose. As with most culty cultures, hope is the thing that's being exploited, and the very thing that becomes weaponized when recruiters fail to meet their sales or rather recruitment quotas. They're shamed for their feelings and invited to double down on the promise and the capitalist climbed to the tippy top. According to the Direct Selling Association, 6.2 million Americans are actively participating in MLMs, and the promise of an eventual payoff is the dangling carrot at the end of a very expensive stic k It keeps people in chronic sales mode, in some cases, isolating them from friends and loved ones who grow tired of constantly being sold to. And there's a philosophy behind each one of these companies. Every MLM group has a culture and language all its own. In her book, Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, Amanda Montel devotes a good chunk of the book to MLMs. And as a language scholar, she has a unique perspective on the culture and its origins. In one passage, she writes: "Followers become conditioned to speak in the MLM's unnaturally cheerful register everywhere they go, with friends, family, strangers, and especially on social media. On Instagram and Facebook, you can clock a boss babe instantly whether they explicitly mention a product or not. All it takes is that robotically, chirpy syntax to give them away. It's as if someone is standing behind them as they type, cracking a symbolic whip to make sure they're always selling and recruiting. Even if they're just posting about their dog. Like followers of an oppressive religion, MLM recruits wind up trapped in ritual time." She then continues with an insightful examination of how religion and sales have long been intertwined in American culture, and how MLM culture in particular is built upon the foundational tenants of prosperity gospel, toxic productivity dogma, and the myth of meritocracy. The closer I get to this stuff, the more I see how much it hits the culty bullseye every time. Including how hard it can be to step away from MLM once you're in it. Not just because of all the money you've invested, but because of relationships built with team members. Like in a pyramid scheme, in an MLM, individual success is codependently bound to every individual who is above and beneath you on the ladder. There's so much here, and I've hardly even scratched the surface. If you wanna learn more about MLMs and the many red flags, check out the show notes for some links. But before you do that, let's hear from someone who spent time on the inside, who's worked in the world of multi-level marketing. This week's guest is a lovely human and a longtime friend who I just recently reunited with while doing this work. Jamie Smith was a small business owner, a health coach and seasoned massage therapist when she signed on with doTERRA, a multi-level marketing company known for its high dollar essential oils. In today's episode, she shares about her experiences working for an MLM, what drew her in, and why she eventually left. And why a few years later she began speaking publicly about her experiences. I loved having this chat, not only because Jamie is such a joy to talk to, not just because it gave me a really helpful peek into the culty culture of MLM, but because she and I ended up going so many unexpected places in this conversation. There's so much overlap in our stories that we began speaking candidly, not only about MLM red flags, but about the coaching industry in general, about our shared history when it comes to magical thinking and indoctrination around not enoughness, and the role that the savior complex has played in both of our journeys with cult recovery. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Jamie Smith. Please note the stories and opinions shared in this episode are based on personal experience and are not intended to malign in a group, individual, or organization. Hi.
Jamie Smith: 12:03
How are you doing?
Candice Schutter: 12:04
I'm doing well. I'm really, I was really looking forward to this so I'm super that we are doing this.
Jamie Smith: 12:11
Me too. I love all these threads of people exploring this kind of material cuz it's, it's just really up right now, right?
Candice Schutter: 12:20
It is. really is.
Jamie Smith: 12:22
Candice Schutter: 12:22
I just think it's so cool how our paths reconnected through this specific work. Let's just share a little bit about how we know each other. And my memory is not that great, so I'm not gonna remember the timeline real well. But I know we connected perhaps after you moved from, did you move from California? Am remembering that right?
Jamie Smith: 12:42
Yeah, moved up here in 2007 and I was, had been practicing massage therapy there and then the licensure here was different. So, I tried to find work in the spa industry, tried to kind of shift into operations and management and I just could not find a job. And we did a little coaching together, and I was just trying to get plugged into Portland, so.
Candice Schutter: 13:06
Mm-hmm. And I experienced your work at that time. I think we did a trade or something at one point, and I just remember I was so impressed with your skill level and how intuitive your approach was and how much knowledge you had. And it was also one of those, talk about the wellness industry, just to peek into, okay, this person who's really gifted and skilled, who has all this experience just moved to a new state and she's sort of starting from scratch. Like she's gotta, you know, get licensed and do all these things. And, uh,
Jamie Smith: 13:34
Candice Schutter: 13:35
You need to make ends meet, but you've gotta jump through these hoops before you can even start. Is that fair to say?
Jamie Smith: 13:41
Absolutely. Yeah, it was really challenging, you know, it was right before the recession. So it was hard for lots of people to find work. and then I did eventually get my license in 2010, so it took me a little while to get back into it. But I, I really just could not quite make the transition that I was hoping to make. I really was trying to get out of doing massage therapy then, and I ended up doing it for quite a number of years longer. And I was really skilled at it and really enjoyed it and really wanted to do something else.
Candice Schutter: 14:18
Right. get that.
Jamie Smith: 14:20
So kind of the, the segue into my time in MLM was creating a line of massage and body care oils. With my background, I'd already had lots of exposure to essential oils and yeah, I thought that would be my little like, stay at home mom business.
Candice Schutter: 14:40
Tell us a little bit about how did you learn about doTERRA, how did you get involved? Clearly it was connected to your work as a massage therapist. So tell us a little bit about how that looked.
Jamie Smith: 14:50
I was producing my product, and I was using a local company called Mountain Rose Herbs out of Eugene. And I had a friend who was also a neighbor. You know, we kind of compared oils and she was a doTERRA rep and I looked at their inventory and I was like, well, they don't have a lot of the oils that I'm using. And it just sort of like was not on my radar. It didn't land for me at all. And she left me with a sample that was sort of apropo of nothing. So I didn't really know what to do with it. And it sat there for a long time and then somehow, a year or two later, we were on a walk together and the details are real fuzzy, but it was basically an income claim pitch, opportunity pitch. Um, you know, our upline in Portland is making X amount of money. It was, 15,000 or something like that. Wouldn't you like to make that too? And I was just like, of course. Like who wouldn't? And by that time I was, had been producing my product long enough to realize the challenges that I was having with it, and it, I wasn't selling it fast enough. All the carrier oils would go rancid before I could sell them. So it was a real problem. So having a company that, you know, held inventory and shipped directly for you seemed like a plus. And I had already been connected with Young Living in the past, but I never did anything with their business opportunity. I didn't even know about it. So, you know, in my mind I was like, Oh, I already know how to sell essential oils. I can sell essential oils. I'll just do it through doTERRA rather than my own product line. But I really did not have a grasp on what multilevel marketing was, how it operated, or what would be asked of me. I never saw a compensation plan. I never saw an income disclosure statement before I joined. I really didn't even question the pay to play model, which is a hundred PV or a hundred dollars, basically minimum purchase requirement in order to qualify for commissions, which is pretty sketchy when you think about it. So, you know, the questions I had were around the quality of the oils and I got the whole pitch about CPTG, which is their own internal certification that they said was beyond organic. And I had some questions about like how Young Living compared to doTERRA and then I kind of just like rolled with it. And, you know, some of the terms that we're learning through this learning process,
Candice Schutter: 17:42
Jamie Smith: 17:43
one of them being cognitive dissonance. I think I felt that, honestly, from the very beginning. But I think I was also in a vulnerable position. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. My partner, his work was not unreliable, but you know, kind of on and off. I also, you know, was experiencing postpartum depression and my dad had died and I was experiencing complicated grief and like all these things, right? I was a really like perfect target in an industry that creates people who hold that dual role of being like a perpetrator and a victim at the same time. So she pitched it to me and I was like, yes, that sounds great.
Candice Schutter: 18:23
Right. Yeah.
Jamie Smith: 18:25
And one of the first training videos that I was sent was all about belief and I thought it was gonna be business operations or something along those lines, or product education, but from the beginning there was a lot of indoctrination about just kind of suspending critical thinking and going straight to belief.
Candice Schutter: 18:48
Jamie Smith: 18:49
Candice Schutter: 18:51
It's fascinating and troubling at the same time, how much overlap there is between, you know, some people might say like, oh, this is a podcast on MLMs. Like, what does this have to do with X, Y, and Z? And it's these mechanisms of recruitment and love bombing and recreating thought patterns through these belief systems and sacred science and all that. They're so similar, whether it's an abusive relationship, an MLM or you know, wellness cult. So I think it would really help the listeners, if you could describe for us, what is an MLM? How does it function and what defines it as an MLM?
Jamie Smith: 19:30
So MLM stands for multi-level marketing has lots of other euphemisms like network marketing or direct sales or relationship marketing. Sometimes people call it affiliate marketing, which it's not. And it's a person to person sales model where people, you know, sometimes are just customers or sometimes they're distributors just sort of by default. So they all operate slightly differently in the details of it. But essentially it's a pyramid, right? And what makes it legal is that there's a product being sold, but you know what becomes clear when you really look at it is that the customers are really within that model. The distributors are the customers. It's essentially a pyramid scheme. You're just selling a product. So.
Candice Schutter: 20:20
And generally, it's like kind of absurd, the statistic of like who's making the money.
Jamie Smith: 20:26
Yeah. The statistics are terrible. It's like 97 to 99% failure rate, meaning people are not making money. They're maybe breaking even or likely losing money. And those studies are through the FTC and I think there was one through AARP as well. You know, there are lots of resources out there about that. So I mean, when you look at the income disclosure statements, it's pretty clear that there's that top 0.3% or like, whatever that top percent is, it's very, very small. And then it trickles down and, so the people kind of at my level who were just starting, the message is, it doesn't matter when you get in. If you do the work, you're gonna succeed. Right? The only people who fail are the ones who quit. If I can do this, you can do this, right? But it sort of denies the inherent structure of it. So, you know, I was one of those people, I was very compliant. I followed all the training systems. I did the work. I was really good at enrolling customers because of my background. I was also a certified health coach. And, that was another offering I tried to integrate into my massage practice. So yeah, I thought I could essentially, give people that coaching for free on the front end and get paid the residual income on the back end, but there's a ton of recruiting involved and getting people to also do the business. And I really, I just struggled with that, you know. I didn't have my own life changing story. They're, you know, always really big on sharing your life changing story to hook people, and I just didn't have that experience and I wasn't going to make one up.
Candice Schutter: 22:17
Jamie Smith: 22:18
You know, I had little ones that I'd share, but there was only so much that I felt like I could embellish that, or make a big deal about it.
Candice Schutter: 22:26
Or circle it back to the product specifically, which is what they're wanting you to do.
Jamie Smith: 22:30
Yeah. You know, and you can make all kinds of correlations, but it's like who knows if it's the product. I mean, looking back, and it has been a while now, I was quite ill during my time with doTERRA. I was having lots of infections and EBV and you know, I was not well. So it certainly didn't cure me.
Candice Schutter: 22:53
Right. It's not exactly the testimonial they're hoping that you'll share. And, is it such that you... and maybe my ignorance is gonna serve the listener. Cause I'm gonna ask questions that maybe seem obvious to somebody who's been involved. But so your buy-in is basically that you are supposed to buy a certain amount of product and you're buying it wholesale and then you're reselling it. Is that it? Or no? Or are you just recruiting other wholesalers?
Jamie Smith: 23:21
A little bit of both. I mean, I think, there may be a legal requirement to offer retail because one of the things that differentiates a pyramid scheme from a multi-level marketing or network marketing company is the focus on recruitment. So you can sell retail. And when I briefly had a public office space, we had some on the shelves. But when we taught our classes right, in other MLMs they're called parties. Uh, but you know, ours were classes, they were educational. Part of our script was you can buy retail, but friends don't let friends buy retail and then you'd get them a wholesale membership. And I cannot tell you how convoluted and complicated it was to explain the membership benefits over and over and over. And what I found over time was the bulk of my time was not health coaching people or supporting people with their wellness. It was explaining these rules over and over cuz they were complicated. Which is kind of a theme that you see in multi-level marketing that, you know, I'm not sure quite what happens, but at some point maybe you just like, again, kind of lean into belief and not so much on the facts because it's hard to understand. Um, so, yeah, did that answer the question?
Candice Schutter: 24:49
Yeah, it did. And you know, makes me think of one of the traits of charismatic leader, which, you know, we can think of like in terms of charismatic authority, like maybe an organization in and of itself, is this ability to create like word salad. So there's a lot of information coming at you and, it all sounds really shiny and cool. And like, Oh, that, that sounds good, but if you were to logically analyze it, it doesn't quite fit together. And I think creating that confusion. And also I think in self-help commerce in general, there's this sense of hustle. Like if you can get people into this anxious state of hustle, they're not gonna pay as much attention to the detail cuz they just can't, they don't have the bandwidth. And so they're confusing you with the language and simultaneously creating an urgency. Like you gotta recruit more, you gotta get more people on board. And, are they telling you that there's some big incentive to you that if you get more people under you, that's how you're gonna make money, right? That's
Jamie Smith: 25:44
Oh, absolutely. That's the only way to make money is to build a huge team. And looking back, you know, when our upline would show us pictures from their first convention and it was these small banquet tables and it was very, very small. It didn't dawn on me until recently ish that they just got in really, really early. You know, and that actually does matter and you do see people kind of rank up, perhaps organically, but there's a lot of placement happening. There's a lot of stacking happening where people put people underneath other people. I did that on my team because I didn't have any other builders. So I enrolled everybody, placed everybody, and then when it would fall apart, I'd do it all over again. It was a mess. It was just, you know, a lot of management of the tree or the pyramid, if you will.
Candice Schutter: 26:51
Was there any point in time at which you were actually making money working with doTERRA or was it always a hustle without any reward?
Jamie Smith: 27:01
Yes, and yes. You do see income claims with multi-level marketing companies a lot. You know, sometimes it's like, do you just wanna make an extra hundred or $200 a month? Sometimes income claims are much bigger. You know, on the website for our team, they pitched it as free healthcare, right? That doTERRA can essentially replace your healthcare. So it's a health claim and an income claim in one, which by the way, those are reportable to the FTC. So, it's convoluted. The way that they tier your participation is, like you earn enough just to get your oils paid for, so you know, you're spending at least a hundred dollars, but maybe you make a hundred dollars. In order to do that, you have to promote the oils, teach classes, do all these things. Probably buy extra product for samples, buy business. So even if you're just sharing and not trying to build a business, you still have to do quite a bit to just to kind of break even.
Candice Schutter: 28:05
Jamie Smith: 28:06
Um, so, I mean, I I took a loss on my taxes the four years that I participated, but I also sort of had doTERRA under my umbrella of my actual business. You know, I honestly never really parsed out those numbers specifically.
Candice Schutter: 28:21
Jamie Smith: 28:21
But even if I made $200, I was probably spending at least 150 of that just on my personal order. And I'm sure I was spending at least another $50 on a booth or table fee on all the things. Right? Yeah. Like there are so many expenses that are not accounted for when they tell you how simple it is to do this.
Candice Schutter: 28:44
So we understand the hook and how people come in. What do you think, is it like a sunk cost fallacy thing? Like what do you think keeps people in? Is it, you know, they've invested so much already and that's kind of what keeps them going at it? Like what's your feel of why people stick it out and continue to hustle even when it's not really showing up in the numbers?
Jamie Smith: 29:04
Yeah. Um, you know, well I put this much into it, I might as well keep going. I met with my upline every week who was incredibly encouraging. I received a lot of love bombing, and friendship, you know, like she was a lovely person. Lots of really lovely people on our team. I'm sure you probably know some of these people, you know, it's like.
Candice Schutter: 29:28
Potentially, yeah.
Jamie Smith: 29:29
Yeah. So I think when you just, you're in an environment where you keep hearing like I mentioned earlier, the messages, if I can do this, you can do this.
Candice Schutter: 29:38
Jamie Smith: 29:39
The only people who fail are the ones who quit. They even sort of do this, this thing where they like preemptively answer your questions, right? Like, oh yeah, we know multi-level has a bad name, but we're different because.
Candice Schutter: 29:53
Jamie Smith: 29:53
Right. Or they were really a big fan of somehow comparing your time investment and your financial investment as an actual investment. So they'd compare, like if you did doTERRA for five or 10 years, and if you just ranked up one rank every year to become a millionaire, you'd have to put this much money into your invest. So like all these comparisons that are like you would never really think to make.
Candice Schutter: 30:19
Jamie Smith: 30:21
You know? Yeah.
Candice Schutter: 30:22
Right, right.
Jamie Smith: 30:24
Candice Schutter: 30:25
It's really a misrepresentation the whole time, and how are you to know that you only know what you know.
Jamie Smith: 30:31
Candice Schutter: 30:32
And you're being sold a
Jamie Smith: 30:33
Candice Schutter: 30:34
a vision that isn't necessarily viable.
Jamie Smith: 30:37
Yeah. I mean it's tricky because on the one hand, and maybe this is doTERRA White, or maybe it was just on our team, but we were very education focused and so we learned a lot about the products. We had physicians on our team that would teach classes. You know, so there was a lot of kind of authority built into it that seemed validating to me. So because there was that focus on education, the idea was sort of get people to fall in love with the products. Eventually they're gonna love it so much, they're gonna just naturally wanna do the business. So we didn't have a focus per se on recruiting, but if you wanted to actually earn money, you absolutely had to recruit. And we did have business trainings on how to do that, but it really was you're sort of like going through this process with a customer of building a relationship and maybe eventually introducing the business. Maybe that kept me in it longer because it was a little bit more of a get rich slow message, so that felt more possible than any kind of get rich quick thing, right?
Candice Schutter: 31:43
Sure. Yeah. Definitely.
Jamie Smith: 31:46
Um, I can tell you though, I got extremely relationshipped out. Like I could only take so many people to coffee and give out so many samples and talk to so many strangers. It was insane. You know, you can only get out of your comfort zone so much before you realize that it's just going against all of your natural instincts.
Candice Schutter: 32:06
Jamie Smith: 32:07
And then fast forward to four years down the road, I remember talking to my husband so many times, should I keep doing this? This isn't working. I'm gonna, I'm gonna try it this way, I'm gonna try it this way. Like switching up my approach over and over again, but essentially I could really just start to see kind of the lies really clearly. You know, that the time freedom pitch, I could just see that my uplines, it was their whole life.
Candice Schutter: 32:34
Jamie Smith: 32:34
That didn't look like time freedom to me.
Candice Schutter: 32:37
Jamie Smith: 32:38
And something that happens early on is, you know, getting you to dream big. And I did have some big dreams and I thought that doTERRA could sort of like finance that in the background. But then what I really saw was that it really does become your whole world.
Candice Schutter: 32:55
That's a big ding ding ding for me in terms of overlap with the experience that I had in the, in the new age wellness cultures that I was in.
Jamie Smith: 33:04
Candice Schutter: 33:05
And that, that piece that, I believe it was Dr. Janja Lalich, which was the first person I heard say it. Like, people often want to know what makes a person susceptible and there's not really a great answer to that. Many times organizations are recruiting people who are super high functioning, super smart, don't necessarily have trauma in the background. Like all the things that people wanna default to in terms of assumptions.
Jamie Smith: 33:26
Candice Schutter: 33:26
That's not usually the case. And the one thing that seems to really rise up is this sense of idealism. And if you can plug into somebody's vision and a sense of purpose, and if you can really get people to be super oriented toward a shared vision, then you can sign them up for your mission. And then what I also found was that in these organizations, it wasn't really about the mission, it was about the company. It was about feeding that, that top line, I guess, as you would call it, in an MLM. You know, the same sort of structures are built in hierarchically in the organizations that I was in, it just wasn't about wholesale products. And yet the hierarchy's still there. And there's lots of, if you can get people to sign on for the vision and for the ideal that you're all working toward, the educational component, like that was the same in the mind body fitness company that I was in. We're educating people, we're opening people's eyes, we're helping them to find wellness in their lives, body, mind, and spirit. If you can get people on board for that, the sacrifices that people will make, myself, I should speak for myself. The sacrifices that I would make and the things that I would turn a blind eye to just be like, well, you know, but we're changing people's lives. I mean, that was like the buzzword, right? We're changing people's lives, and.
Jamie Smith: 34:43
Oh yeah.
Candice Schutter: 34:45
I mean, there's so much overlap there in terms of the culture.
Jamie Smith: 34:48
Candice Schutter: 34:48
That creates this dynamic. And this is where I think the wellness piece is really important to look at. It's like, what is this larger umbrella that we were both under? And maybe in some ways are still kind of pulling ourselves out of like, what is wellness really, and how has it become this commercialized culture? Where this sort of mechanism is operating a lot of times where it seems like it's about one thing, the vision, the wellness, the holistic health. And yet when you really look at it, it's about products and sales.
Jamie Smith: 35:18
Candice Schutter: 35:18
And money.
Jamie Smith: 35:19
Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, doTERRA as a company really pushes the message of service and being mission driven. Empowerment, personal empowerment, empowerment for your families, serving others. And, you know, in the broader umbrella of wellness, part of that is pointing out the flaws within the medical establishments and the healthcare systems, which are real. But you know, really get leveraged and manipulated in these environments and communities, and demonized really, you know.
Candice Schutter: 35:58
Jamie Smith: 35:58
It's, they're really pitted against one another. So yeah, I mean, I don't quite know how to respond. It's just, I mean, I feel like MLMs are capitalism on steroids, which feels really ironic when you know it's all about your why and your mission and your service and you know. It's just really hard to parse out what is this really? It's the answer to everything. It's gonna answer your financial problems, your health problems, your lack of community pro, like it answers everything?
Candice Schutter: 36:31
Yeah. That's the big red flag, right? Is you know, that's one of the takeaways I think from all of this for me and definitely from this conversation and seeing how a seemingly very different experience is so similar in so many ways. People often wanna know, like, how do I know if I'm getting involved in something that's sorta culty, that's got a little bit of that? And that's one of the red flags big time is what is it promising you?
Jamie Smith: 36:53
Candice Schutter: 36:54
And does it sound too good to be true? Because you know what, then it probably is, and it's probably a smoke screen for something else that's going on.
Jamie Smith: 37:02
Candice Schutter: 37:02
Behind the scenes. It's distracting you from what's really happening. And, and that ability to examine, I think often for so many of us is like a hindsight thing. This, uh, concept of moral injury is something that's really spoken to me in a deep way. It really resonated with me the first time I read about moral injury and this when our values are actually used against us in a way when our values are hijacked and we think we're working toward one thing.
Jamie Smith: 37:31
Candice Schutter: 37:31
And we spend all this energy and then we learn that it really wasn't ever really about that.
Jamie Smith: 37:35
Candice Schutter: 37:36
It's, it's a deep wound. It's very painful. Oh, you resonate with that?
Jamie Smith: 37:43
Absolutely. I mean, what's coming up for me when you talk about that is being in one of our training seminars, it was kind of more of a day long thing. Which is another aspect of like, you're putting a lot of unpaid time into the trainings and those sort of things. So this one was really about connecting to your why and your why should make you cry. So there was a lot of like emotional manipulation and
Candice Schutter: 38:09
Your why should make you cry? Wow. That's a hook.
Jamie Smith: 38:12
But you know, at the time I was very passionate about the potential of transforming the healthcare system to be more equitable and holistic. You know, alopathic and naturopath, you know, like all of it.
Candice Schutter: 38:23
Jamie Smith: 38:24
And, I think I shed a few tears, you know, like that. I got it.
Candice Schutter: 38:28
Oh yeah, girl. I know it.
Jamie Smith: 38:29
You know, but also sort of that manipulation of your ability to dream and vision and think about your future. I feel like that is a moral injury I'm still recovering from. Like, is it safe to dream again?
Candice Schutter: 38:42
Jamie Smith: 38:43
Is it safe to want more? Like how much more should I actually want? What's reasonable? All of that still feels really skewed. Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: 38:55
I love that you named that. I really do. I know that I'm not gonna be alone in being able to relate to that. And it really, what the therapist that I've been working with for the last few months has really helped me to understand, is this the way that it becomes like a spiritual wound, even if the organization that you're engaging with has nothing to do with spirituality. The wound of disconnection from self. What you described for me, the way that shows up is that like an inability to trust myself.
Jamie Smith: 39:21
Candice Schutter: 39:21
To say, Okay, I made these choices before based on the information I had available, and I kind of got myself into a pickle and then oops, I did it again, and then oops, I did it again. It's happened more than once for me.
Jamie Smith: 39:33
Oh, sure. Me too.
Candice Schutter: 39:34
Yeah. So this the remnants of that, of just like, can I even trust my own instincts? Can I trust when I'm interested in something that I can move toward it? It's like we wanna keep our hearts open and yet there's this protective shell that kind of gets created and
Jamie Smith: 39:50
Candice Schutter: 39:51
Yeah. Just navigating that as part of the healing, I think is one of the hardest things for me, definitely.
Jamie Smith: 39:57
Mm-hmm. Yeah. There is perhaps a human tendency to trust until you've been burned enough times, you kind of need to unfortunately learn the hard way. I don't know.
Candice Schutter: 40:10
Yeah, I think there's, there's probably something to that. And, it might have been when I first started listening to cult podcasts and whatnot, maybe it's around NXIVM, I can't remember. But one of the survivors was talking about dealing with the shame and the embarrassment internally around being duped, having been sort of conned or misled and having fallen for it. And, and part of what was hard about leaving was actually saying, well, if I leave then I have to admit this to myself.
Jamie Smith: 40:37
Candice Schutter: 40:38
That, that I was duped and I wish I could remember who these folks were, but there was a discussion and one of the people being interviewed said, well, you know, one of the ways we can forgive ourselves is to understand that when we go into a situation, it's not that we're naive and so innocent and what's wrong with us. It's really, if you don't have the capacity to think diabolically or if it's not in your wheelhouse to really think about how these manipulations might occur. Of course it's not gonna occur to you.
Jamie Smith: 41:11
Candice Schutter: 41:11
To look for them. And then when the person, let's, let's say an abusive partner, for example, we see this a lot in abusive relationships. When the abusive partner does something like gas lighting or something like really manipulative, why is that person given the benefit of the doubt? Well, often it's not because the person giving the benefit of the doubt is so naive. It's because like even to conceive of that level of manipulation, it's just so far outside of the realm of possibility that we are just like, oh well it, there must be a simpler explanation.
Jamie Smith: 41:42
Candice Schutter: 41:43
And so we just justify all these little things as like you said, from the very beginning, you had the cognitive dissonance. It's like the alarm was going off the whole time. Same for me.
Jamie Smith: 41:52
Candice Schutter: 41:52
The alarm's going off inside. Something's off, something's not right here, and then you're love bombed and all this stuff is happening. And of course the default is to trust because you're being told something. Why would you assume that people are just lying to your face?
Jamie Smith: 42:07
Candice Schutter: 42:08
Jamie Smith: 42:09
Lovely people. Yeah.
Candice Schutter: 42:11
Yeah. And they're lovely people. And the thing is that this is what's so I think, painful and, and, uh, I know that I played a role in that. I know that I recruited and manipulated people without realizing it. And I think the key is to understand that you know, there's always extreme examples, which we hear of when we talk about cult dynamics. It's always about the malignant narcissists doing all these awful, awful things. And then it's like, well, what's happening underneath that? Genuine people with who've bought into the belief system and the indoctrination, and they really do actually have good intentions.
Jamie Smith: 42:42
Candice Schutter: 42:43
And they're saying and doing all the things that are manipulative, not even realizing
Jamie Smith: 42:47
Candice Schutter: 42:48
What they're doing. So it's that self forgiveness. I think part of it is we get angry at everyone around us, but really we're sort of mad at ourselves for falling for it. And also we don't know what to do with the fact that they probably didn't mean to hurt us, but they did.
Jamie Smith: 43:04
Yeah. And I think part of recovery is, you know, that self forgiveness and like letting go of shame and realizing that you didn't fail. It's the system set up to fail.
Candice Schutter: 43:26
Jamie Smith: 43:26
Like it's, it's built in. So, I can sit here now, four years later, finally, cuz it took me a really long time to kind of even start looking at it critically. They were really brilliant and intentionally manipulative, saying if you quit, quit on a good day. Which means that whoever quits just sinks into the shadows and never says anything. Not like, Oh, I had a bad experience. Right.
Candice Schutter: 43:52
Jamie Smith: 43:52
Like, you know, so I continued to, I mean, I didn't really moderate my Facebook group anymore, but I, I said, hope you continue to enjoy the oils and here's my upline for support and all the things, right? Still supporting the company, still placing my own orders for a good year or two after, until I began finally hearing this information about the dark side of MLM and things like that. So yeah, I think it can just take a while to unravel all of that. It certainly did for me.
Candice Schutter: 44:27
Yeah, same. Oh yeah, big time. So you started an Instagram page, there's just a lot of information on there and you post videos every so often. And what inspired you to step into the spotlight in that way and to start speaking out?
Jamie Smith: 44:42
I think at that point I had listened to a few kind of things that had an impact on me. I listened to the podcast called The Dream, that was really informative just about sort of like what is multilevel marketing and the history of it and how it operates. So I recommend that to anybody just curious about,
Candice Schutter: 45:01
We'll link to that. Yeah.
Jamie Smith: 45:02
Mm-hmm. And then I think it was a year and a half or two years later, there was a Netflix series called Unwell, and the first episode was on essential oils. And that for whatever reason, the timing of it just kind of clicked for me. And I was like, this is gross. And you know, I could just kind of see a different layer of it. And then I, it was around that time, I don't know if I'd seen Leah Remini's Scientology Aftermath before or after that, but, you know, I was starting to come across this content more and more. And then started more intentionally seeking out anti MLM content on YouTube primarily. There's some great content creators there. And I felt like I was getting an education. Because they really discourage you from looking at any of this material.
Candice Schutter: 45:53
Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Jamie Smith: 45:54
They really discourage, you know, I can't quite remember how they talked about it, but it's like, we felt kind of insulated from it.
Candice Schutter: 46:01
Yeah. And I just wanna highlight this for all the listeners out there who are really wanting to learn about these dynamics, that one of the other things to pay attention to when you're asking yourself like, is the organization I'm getting involved in sort of culty is, are they, maybe not overtly, but in many ways discouraging you seeking other input, information. They're discouraging from being exposed and you're in this sort of insular type environment. All the answers are here, which goes back to that first red flag, right? It's like all the answers are here, so why would you go there?
Jamie Smith: 46:35
Right. We're gonna answer your question before you even have them. So why would you need to look outside?
Candice Schutter: 46:41
Exactly. Exactly.
Jamie Smith: 46:43
I think, you know, at the very, very beginning, and this is something that a bunch of us promoted over the spring was the FTC was collecting comments for what they call the opportunity rule that MLMs were excluded from because the direct sales association lobbied so hard to be excluded from this rule that applies to things like franchises and other business models where, you know, when you're being offered an opportunity, you have to be given certain information.
Candice Schutter: 47:14
Jamie Smith: 47:14
So MLMs for example, you would be given the income disclosure statement, which I never saw until I was out, that shows those statistics, right, of failure and success. And there would be like a little waiting period, maybe seven days or something like that. So there's not this FOMO or sense of urgency, or like, I've only got two spots on my team. Which is a total lie; there's infinite spots.
Candice Schutter: 47:40
Jamie Smith: 47:41
You know, the, anything that's like, there's this deal, there's this incentive. Join now. Any of that, I would now consider a huge red flag.
Candice Schutter: 47:53
Jamie Smith: 47:53
And I would warn anybody to ask for those two things at least. Time to think about it and time to see the income disclosure at the very least.
Candice Schutter: 48:01
Yes, yes. That, red flag of not having economic transparency. Big one. So big. And I love that you really highlighted this piece around that urgency. And you and I have talked about this privately, but just to share with the listeners, this is really why I stepped away in a big way from the coaching industry. When I kind of went all-in with my coaching, I was buying into the Boss Girl business programs. And I went through Marie Forleo's B School in 2012, and I was just super involved in all that. And I did all the things, and I did make some money and I, I was really conflicted about the money that I made. And I'm sure most of the listeners, you've been on a sales page and you know, you're just scrolling and you, the price is like way down at the bottom and it's telling you all the things that are gonna happen. And there's testimonials peppered in. And it's really strategic, super strategic because it works.
Jamie Smith: 48:57
Candice Schutter: 48:59
And it creates psychologically as the person scrolling and they're reading through this, it creates that sense of urgency. There's usually a time crunch of some kind, or it used to be the time crunch was enough, but now it's all about freebie events. So I'm gonna do this free webinar on Saturday. Sign up. There's only four spots available. In reality, the webinar's happening a lot. But you, you must sign up for it right away. And then you go through the webinar and you're given free content, so you're like, yeah, you're taking notes. You're like, Oh my God, this is great. Like my business is gonna rock. And they're telling you all these sensationalized success stories. And then at the end comes the bait and switch. Here's the thing they're actually selling and you need to act right now in order to get it.
Jamie Smith: 49:43
And only available at this event or whatever.
Candice Schutter: 49:46
Exactly. We're genuinely creating a vulnerable state, we're tapping into their pain point, we're pushing on it, and then we're creating this sense of urgency and then coercing them into taking action when they're in a certain type of thinking. When it would be much better for them to sleep on it, take a few days, think about if it makes sense for their budget and their family, and yada, yada, yada. But that's how the structure was. I created the sales pages, I did all the things and I made some money. But the thing was, Jamie, like people were signing up for my programs and the only people who were really truly benefiting from them were the people who were working with me one on one as well.
Jamie Smith: 50:27
Candice Schutter: 50:28
And a lot of that was because people don't, usually they don't need a coach and what a coach has to offer unless they need some accountability. There's no accountability built in. Like they buy a thing and then for the next six weeks on their own, based on some canned emails that I send out, they're supposed to go through this process of transformation, which is utter bullshit. Because we change through genuine connection and transformation happens slowly. It's not a quick fix. And so, so much of it, I felt so out of integrity and the push to become like a online celebrity and like, I'm the expert, you know, it just, it just left a bad taste in my mouth and I pulled back from all of it. And so many of my colleagues whom I love and respect and I think have the best intentions in the world are using these models. And I'm a little cringy and wary and I, I have concern about if people are making the best choices because of that urgency. Because I know I totally took the bait. I was like, yeah. That sounds great.
Jamie Smith: 51:31
Candice Schutter: 51:32
Sign me up, right? Yeah, yeah.
Jamie Smith: 51:35
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I had the same experience when I became a health coach and was taught those same formulas and also felt super cringy about it.
Candice Schutter: 51:47
Jamie Smith: 51:48
Which is one of the reasons I was vulnerable to a different opportunity.
Candice Schutter: 51:52
Jamie Smith: 51:52
That was in my wheelhouse. You know, and I also took the bait on lots of those things myself, right. Like as a healer, as a helper, as somebody invested in my own healing and helping others.
Candice Schutter: 52:05
Jamie Smith: 52:05
I took the bait on that stuff a lot. And then in doTERRA too, it was like, Oh, we found the best coach. We found the best new system. There was always a better new system. So you're always reinvesting in new business materials or a new program. Mm-hmm. um, you know,
Candice Schutter: 52:24
Well, that really points me towards something that you brought up when we were talking in preparation for this, about this general focus on needing fixing, right? That there's this insatiable hunger that the marketing gods tap into this something's not enough. I don't have enough. I don't know enough. I haven't gone deep enough, like whatever the thing is, there's this insatiable hunger. I know for myself, I had so many self-help books, all of the books.
Jamie Smith: 52:52
All of the books.
Candice Schutter: 52:53
All of the things, all of the processes. I did all the things and I would experience some benefits and feel a little progress. And then it was just like the hunger would come back just as strong. Like, oh, like what's the next thing that I don't know, I need to learn. And there's people telling me all the time. I think we think of marketing in terms of like, Oh, maybe it's Maybelline. And we also have those pressures in terms our body dysmorphia and how the media's fed that. But also internally, I think we, we don't always talk about like how we're also internally being preyed upon.
Jamie Smith: 53:24
Candice Schutter: 53:25
It's not just our superficial self that needs cleaning up. It's our internal selves. Like there's something incomplete.
Jamie Smith: 53:32
Candice Schutter: 53:32
What are your thoughts on that?
Jamie Smith: 53:35
Well, as always in these conversations cuz it's so layered going in 12 different directions, but with doTERRA it's very clearly like an entry point, pain point. Like you have a headache or this or that.
Candice Schutter: 53:50
Jamie Smith: 53:52
Or it could be a financial pain point. You need to make more money. Um, but then, you know, like as you get more into it, I mean, it's not only just like the health protocols that by and large people in MLMs or doTERRA specifically are not qualified to promote or teach or counsel people on.
Candice Schutter: 54:12
Jamie Smith: 54:14
Um, you know, luckily I felt somewhat qualified having a certification, but still, you know. That's questionable. You know, so like, then you're getting deeper in, in that way, like learning more and more protocols. But if you're trying to do the business specifically, which I'll just quickly name, like, you're not a business owner if you're operating an MLM. If you're a consultant. If you're a distributor. You're not a business owner. You work for a billion dollar corporation. So you're not cute. But, you know, then it starts getting into mindset, belief training, and like, why can't I find these other builders? Like, I'm doing all the things, it must be a mental limitation that I'm having, or I'm just not in the right vibration to attract the right builders, that sort of thing. So you, you know, I, I guess I'm just trying to contextualize this within doTERRA and my own experience there, cuz I certainly experienced it elsewhere, but you know, it's like, getting that mentorship every week to like look at these questions every week and try to sort it out when that might have been lovely to have that support and that connection, but it still doesn't work in this framework, this business model. Um, so yeah, I constantly felt broken, like I was doing it wrong, even though I was following the systems. But I suppose more big picture or that bigger umbrella of wellness was, you know, really hooking into the natural solutions, quote unquote, that we offered. Just, I, I was so in alternative everything. Yeah. So,
Candice Schutter: 55:57
yeah, I'm glad you brought in the magical thinking piece to, to to sort of see how the mechanics of it are working. It's like people get pulled in and become attached to an identity, like you said, they're a business owner. It's like, Wow, I have a business like a sense of purpose and a sense of possibility, like we talked about the vision. And then we have the identity, yet we have to live up to the identity. I have to prove that I'm a boss babe. I have to do this. And then when we're getting coached, because this is how our coaches have been coached, which was similar in the organization I was in, that was the trainers, the teachers, and the students. Indoctrination's coming down from the top. So everyone's doing the same thing. Then you're, you're continually told, well, if it's not working, then there's something else you need to be doing. There's something wrong with you and it's not out there. It's inside. And so,
Jamie Smith: 56:45
Candice Schutter: 56:46
We end up in this system where we are trained to gaslight ourselves over and over and over again. Like, Oh, it appears as though something isn't working on the outside, but it's just my vibration. It's my, my beliefs, my past trauma, like whatever it is. We're like beating ourselves up, right?
Jamie Smith: 57:05
Candice Schutter: 57:06
Jamie Smith: 57:07
And it's doing work that very likely is not going to work. I remember the first time that idea of, you know, in multi-level marketing or any pyramid or Ponzi scheme, it's just about getting the next three people. Cuz then those people are gonna get the next three people, right? Like theoretically, you only have to find three people.
Candice Schutter: 57:28
Jamie Smith: 57:29
Theoretically, right?
Candice Schutter: 57:30
Jamie Smith: 57:31
So, when I was even struggling to find those people and you know, law of attraction-ing my balls off that, you know, I remember kind of complaining to one of the trainers on our team. I'm like not making any money, but I'm being the leader that I wanna be. Like, I'm acting as if, embody a leadership position when I was nowhere near a leadership rank. Um, that's a little bit of a sidebar, but I remember them saying, you just have to do it. Like if you're not finding the builders, you just have to build your team. And I was like, oh, okay. So it's not that easy, right. You know, like it was the first layer of the veil coming off, where, you know, I was like, okay, so it's not just following these systems, it's not just getting myself in a magnetic position.
Candice Schutter: 58:24
Yeah. I always thought that was real fascinating when I was really involved in the industry as a coach and as a teacher. And I would watch the folks who were really successful, and the folks who were really successful were often the ones who were saying the most about law of attraction and vibes and all this stuff. And then when I would get close to them, they were working their asses off and also, some of them had privilege to invest in creating that business. That was something that I saw a lot where people would be like, well, you know, you just need to invest in this, this, and this. And I'd be like, Yeah, I don't have two dimes to rub together. Like, what are you even talking about?
Jamie Smith: 59:03
You know what, I wanna be really transparent about something is after my dad died, I did receive an inheritance that I wasn't expecting, but I did, I did have money to spend on this without it bankrupting me like it does other people. So I absolutely was able to leverage my privilege to participate until I realized, you know, that it actually didn't pencil out and that spending those resources in that way was not a good idea.
Candice Schutter: 59:34
Yeah. Thank you for saying that. I think it's really important, you know, I mean I certainly had, there's plenty of privileges I could speak to in terms of what I was able to do and why I was able to do it. Uh, and, I think it's really key since we are talking about MLMs in particular, like people do literally go bankrupt because they get involved in situations like this.
Jamie Smith: 59:54
Oh, absolutely, they do. And, and I do think it takes a certain amount of privilege to even participate because there is that pay to play model. It's like you're not just a sales person, you're your first customer.
Candice Schutter: 1:00:09
Jamie Smith: 1:00:10
Um, so there's a, there's a minimum quota that you have to buy into. You know, and then the products are already so inflated in terms of pricing that. Yeah, it's, it's challenging. I'm really not sure how it continues to be justified.
Candice Schutter: 1:00:29
Jamie Smith: 1:00:40
In this moment there's a huge issue happening with Young Living. I haven't plugged in super deep. I happened to catch a live stream on YouTube yesterday, just totally spontaneously. I'll give you the link to it. You can post if you'd like. So they read the transcripts and, um,
Candice Schutter: 1:00:58
And the transcripts are from a hearing related to,
Jamie Smith: 1:01:00
uh, from a hearing against Gary Young. So when you look at like Young Living versus doTERRA, Young Living has so many glaring red flags that one of the reasons after learning about anti MLM stuff that I wanted to start connecting with people in the broader anti MLM community, and I had the opportunity to share my story a few different times on YouTube channels and podcasts and stuff is because doTERRA doesn't seem to be one of the big, big companies that gets criticized. Young Living does a lot. And that's fine. And it's good that they're, I mean, they're pretty much a sinking ship right now. And, that's kind of a win for the anti MLM community.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:46
Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
Jamie Smith: 1:01:47
Um, but just because doTERRA doesn't have this incredibly problematic charismatic leader.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:56
Jamie Smith: 1:01:56
And just because they all left and, you know, tried to really polish the turd is, is one way to say it. You know, like doTERRA looks good in a lot of ways. Like their marketing is good. Their messaging is good. They're not blatantly or explicitly religious. They're appealing I think in a lot of ways. Especially compared to Young Living. But, you know, for all the reasons that MLMs are bad, doTERRA is also bad. They're still an MLM. They're still promoting a business model where tons of people fail. Very few people succeed. So, my voice in the conversation is not necessarily as an educator cuz I haven't read all the books. But you know, I just try to offer my insight as a former insider. That's kind of my role, I guess.
Candice Schutter: 1:02:52
Sharing stories and experiences is, is key, you know, as my former guest, Tracy Stamper and I started this support group for people who have left the organization that we spoke about, and the power of people just being able to share their story and to hear, I mean, cuz people can listen to all kinds of educational stuff, but there's something about, Hey, I walked in your shoes and this is what I thought it was and this is how it felt and this is when I was disenchanted. And this, there's, there's such a relatability and it's so key to have people like you out there just transparently going through this process of, of unpacking it all. And I just love that you're doing it. And you have it separate from your personal page, so I didn't even know you were doing it. It was really wild. I like released this cult series and suddenly you wrote me a message and was like, Hey girl. I'm like, what? It was pretty cool. And I loved, my favorite was your hashtag 'donterra.' I just love that. It was just the best thing ever. DonTerra. It's so great. I was like, did you come up with this? So clever. I love me a play on words.
Jamie Smith: 1:04:00
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's fun.
Candice Schutter: 1:04:02
And, One of the things I wanted to highlight that was something that you said, I have it here in my notes when we were talking last time. We were talking about that hustle and that growth and, and uh, you said something about instead of a growth mindset, I'm sort of interested in a rest mindset.
Jamie Smith: 1:04:18
Yeah. Yeah. Compost mindset. You know.
Candice Schutter: 1:04:22
I love that.
Jamie Smith: 1:04:23
I mean, I'm really into rhythms and cycles. And, uh, when you're in coaching world and MLM world, it's just about growth. And so there's really no respect for light and dark or ebb and flow, if you will, you know.
Candice Schutter: 1:04:39
Jamie Smith: 1:04:39
It's, it's all about the next rank and what you just have to do to get there.
Candice Schutter: 1:04:45
Jamie Smith: 1:04:45
And, Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I just I have to believe now that the people at the top of our team, even with their good intentions, know that this is not gonna work for most people. And so, asking people to hustle in that way, asking people to keep showing up, even acknowledging like they did, like we know that, you know, the people at the bottom, we know that you guys are hustling the hardest, but it's gonna pay off.
Candice Schutter: 1:05:17
Jamie Smith: 1:05:18
You know? It's just, it's gross.
Candice Schutter: 1:05:21
Yeah, It does. It gets, it gets pretty icky and the way that it incrementally happens so that a person gets to a point where they're saying these things, I'm speaking these untruths, like having never had any intention to do such a thing.
Jamie Smith: 1:05:33
Candice Schutter: 1:05:34
I mean, I definitely see that in the Org and, and the way that, it's interesting cause I can't, I, I won't call it an MLM and it's also interesting to me that it started with students worldwide and then teachers, this sort of team of teachers and then trainers who are training the teachers. And then over the last few years they've been continually adding trainers. So there's more and more and more and more trainers, but there's not the demand at the bottom. I don't know what it is where they're sort of feeding the middle and these folks are like working, a lot of them doing a lot of stuff for free, which happens a lot cuz of the mission, right? To like feed this down line. And the down line isn't, isn't building like it's not there, which is really similar to what happens in an MLM, right? The demand is not there and yet you're feeding, you're bringing all these people in. And so the only way to keep the organization alive, viably, financially, is to keep recruiting more trainers, right? More teachers, more trainers, more teachers, more trainers, more teachers, more trainers.
Jamie Smith: 1:06:31
Candice Schutter: 1:06:32
And it's not about the service anymore, it's about feeding that, that upline and, and yeah, all that to say that growth mindset, I think folks don't even realize that trance is being cast on them, that that's even what they're feeding until they get to the point where there is an urgency and it's like, hey, I have to tell people what I have to tell them and what I've been told to tell them, because I have so much riding on this now.
Jamie Smith: 1:06:55
Candice Schutter: 1:06:56
And I see that a lot in the Org, like folks who have been in for years and years and years and turning a blind eye to the dysfunction at the top, which is a whole other dynamic. And then seeing what's being created and not making really living money. And this is where privilege really plays into it. A lot of folks, this is their side gig, yet they spend 70 hours a week on it. And, they're not really making a living, but they're changing lives.
Jamie Smith: 1:07:23
Right. Yeah.
Candice Schutter: 1:07:24
And it's like, I think there's also something about the savior complex. This idea that like, we can't rest.
Jamie Smith: 1:07:30
Candice Schutter: 1:07:32
Right? Like, we have to save the world. We can't rest. And it feeds these dynamics.
Jamie Smith: 1:07:38
Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I know I have it. I have it now with anti MLM, where like, I see somebody please get out. You know, like, I totally wanna save people. And so yeah, I mean, we talk about this a lot in the movement or community, people call it different things, wanna call it different things. Um, but how to not perpetuate the dynamics that we learned within MLM you know, now that we're out, like how do we, how do we, how do we not continue that behavior, um, in all,
Candice Schutter: 1:08:13
Can you give an example? It's really fascinating. I love that.
Jamie Smith: 1:08:16
Well, I mean, the savior complex, I think is one. I've seen it come up with people like, I guess being kind of on fire for it and like being so passionate about it that they kind of reach out to other creators in inappropriate ways. To try to make connections to, you know, boost their YouTube or whatever, things like that that
Candice Schutter: 1:08:42
Jamie Smith: 1:08:43
I'm honestly not that participatory in. But, um, yeah, I guess those could be two examples. Just trying to stay mindful of it, right? Like, putting boundaries in place where needed. Being able to disagree with people respectfully, not all having to believe the same thing. Um.
Candice Schutter: 1:09:02
Yeah, that's a big one. And I even see that in, I wanna name in myself even as I'm moderating this group, and, you know, I wanna say like the indoctrination that I experienced, part of it was the Org and for me it was more a broader new age wellness indoctrination that occurred in a lot of different places.
Jamie Smith: 1:09:21
Candice Schutter: 1:09:22
So I'm still kind of, weaning myself off of that and shifting my thinking in a lot of ways. And I'm in this group and I see it happening with people who are coming in as well, where we're sort of not wanting to repeat the same mistakes. And yet, for example, as I'm reading through people's posts, I feel that old impulse to make sure that people aren't being victims.
Jamie Smith: 1:09:48
Candice Schutter: 1:09:49
Right? Like if they're having a moment and they just wanna rant and finally express their anger at the injustice, their righteous outrage around the ways they were taken advantage of. And I see it, and fortunately I am awake enough that I check myself, but my impulse is to be like, Oh, I need to shut that down.
Jamie Smith: 1:10:06
Candice Schutter: 1:10:07
Right? Like, instead of just allowing people their humanity for God's sakes. Right.
Jamie Smith: 1:10:12
Right, right.
Candice Schutter: 1:10:13
They're just expressing themselves. Like, that's on me. That's my stuff. That's not theirs. And, and I have to check that cultic behavior of shaming.
Jamie Smith: 1:10:20
Right. You guys are just being so negative. Yeah.
Candice Schutter: 1:10:24
Yeah. It's just tricky. It's such tricky stuff and we have to check ourselves.
Jamie Smith: 1:10:28
There's so much, um, I guess gate keeping is one of the words that's used around, you know, like what behavior's acceptable or not.
Candice Schutter: 1:10:35
Jamie Smith: 1:10:36
So that comes up in the anti MLM circles as well, uh, you know what's okay to talk about and how to talk about it in certain ways. And, you know how that came up in doTERRA. One example is, you know, you were allowed to complain to your upline. You were not allowed to complain to your down line to perpetuate the appearance of it's all good.
Candice Schutter: 1:11:02
So that was explicitly stated?
Jamie Smith: 1:11:03
That was explicit. Yeah, for sure. And I think I had enough of a real relationship with my upline that, you know, she would be transparent about her struggles with me. So I, you know, I feel like I got to see it both ways and not just within that prescribed model. Um, she was still making way, way, way, way, way, way, way more money than me.
Candice Schutter: 1:11:26
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know? Anyway, uh, yeah. Is there anything in particular you would say to people, we've talked about sort of general red flags, but in terms of MLM specifically, like what should people pay attention to that you wish you had known to look out for?
Jamie Smith: 1:11:46
I mean, honestly, just don't join an MLM. Like, there's so many better options. Like I said earlier, if MLMs gonna continue and it will, and if these safeguards are gonna get implemented, it's gonna take years. You know, So, because it's not required, I would just say, if you are presented with something and you're curious enough to want to explore it, looking at the income disclosure, not just the dangling carrot of the compensation plan, but the income disclosure statement. Talk to people who have been in it or maybe who have left. And just take your time. Like really think about it. Cuz I joined on an impulse.
Candice Schutter: 1:12:29
Jamie Smith: 1:12:30
The person was my friend and I trusted them and it fit all the things at the moment, so.
Candice Schutter: 1:12:35
Jamie Smith: 1:12:36
Um, it's hard because if somebody's gonna say yes, they're probably just gonna say yes. But you know, my hope is that, that the MLM world will just crumble. I think it's super unethical in so many ways. So it's hard, it's hard for me to say like, well just, you know, consider these things. It's like, please just don't.
Candice Schutter: 1:12:58
I'm glad that we're clarifying, like, I'm not saying like, Hey, what should people consider before they joined an MLM? I'm saying, how do they know that it's an MLM? Cause I think, I mean I've almost joined them before without realizing it until like later, like, oh, that's what that was?
Jamie Smith: 1:13:13
Oh yeah. And in Portland we had the gifting circle going around, you know, which is a straight up Ponzi scheme. So yeah, I almost did one of those, cuz again, like good people were, anyway.
Candice Schutter: 1:13:28
Yeah, I was invited into one of those as well. And honestly, I probably would've done it in the moment because the person who was telling me about it was somebody I really trusted.
Jamie Smith: 1:13:37
Candice Schutter: 1:13:37
But I didn't have the money.
Jamie Smith: 1:13:39
Candice Schutter: 1:13:40
So that's, I think the thing is like what you're saying, push the pause button and go find out what it is that you're potentially agreeing to.
Jamie Smith: 1:13:49
But it is hard if you don't even know the question to ask. I did not even realize what an MLM was when I joined, really. Like I had an idea, but I didn't really know. So, I mean, I suppose just find out, is it a multi-level marketing?.
Candice Schutter: 1:14:06
Straight up ask. Yeah.
Jamie Smith: 1:14:07
Yeah. If you know that word now multi-level marketing ask, is this an MLM or is this a network marketing company?
Candice Schutter: 1:14:14
And you'll watch people maybe who have been coached to dance around the answer to that. And so pay attention to that, right. Like when they're sort of like answering you but not quite answering you. Like, well, some people say, but it's not really like, that was kind of how it was in organizations I run. It was like no, it's not really culty like at all. Like you can feel when somebody sort of has that cognitive dissonance as they're responding to you. So maybe we can encourage people to pay attention to that. Like listen for that.
Jamie Smith: 1:14:41
Yeah, I think that would be a very likely response. Or there's sort of the other thing, like really own it and are just like, multilevel level marketing. It's awesome. You know, and like talk about why it's great.
Candice Schutter: 1:14:54
Jamie Smith: 1:14:54
But there are all these false promises basically that they're talking about. So, yeah.
Candice Schutter: 1:15:01
Mm-hmm. Wow. I mean, there's just so many places we could go with this conversation, and it means a lot to me that you were willing to come onto the podcast and talk about these kinds of influences, which I think is really important for people to hear that specificity. Cause there's so many MLMs in disguise out there. Yeah. Thank you.
Jamie Smith: 1:15:20
Candice Schutter: 1:15:20
Thank you so much. I'm so grateful that you're willing to share your story and I know that this conversation is just the beginning. We're gonna keep learning and communicating in the social media ethers and otherwise, and just stay connected around this cuz there's so much that's still coming to light that we can keep sharing with each other. So I'll share your information so that people can find you in the show notes. For sure. And I'm just super grateful that our paths intersected, although I'm a little bummed it was because of this.
Jamie Smith: 1:15:48
I know, I know. But it was, it was nice to, you know, think about how we met and how our paths have kind of intersected over the years and Yeah, for sure. Had a really fond memory of like doing a meditation group with you. At one point. It was like, remember the Oprah,
Candice Schutter: 1:16:04
Eckhart Tolle thing? Oh my gosh. The New Earth or whatever it was.
Jamie Smith: 1:16:10
Yeah, but it was great. You know what? Yeah, it was, it was good.
Candice Schutter: 1:16:12
We were all, we were all in on that stuff back then.
Jamie Smith: 1:16:15
Oh yeah. It was fun.
Candice Schutter: 1:16:16
That's so funny. Thanks for reminding me of that.
Jamie Smith: 1:16:18
Yeah, but you know, I always just enjoyed your work and your approach and it's always felt really grounded even in the midst of the environment of New Age thought, you know.
Candice Schutter: 1:16:29
That's really nice to hear. Yeah. I had the same experience with you actually. You know, this is maybe the destination we were moving toward all along. It's just, it's how we learn and grow, right?
Jamie Smith: 1:16:40
Yep. Trying it on.
Candice Schutter: 1:16:52
I wanna thank Jamie for joining me this week, for being so generous with her story, and for giving us so many insights into the red flags to look out for when it comes to multi-level marketing. I'll be back next week with a hard-hitting conversation that you won't wanna miss. Until then, please consider rating or reviewing the podcast on your favorite streaming app. And also, check things out over on Patreon. You can join us there for as little as $1 a month. And Tracy and I just dropped another episode of Deconstructing Dogma, one that's really gonna speak to former members of 'the Org' or anyone who's waking up from the indoctrination of New Age wellness culture. You can access the bonus episode along with other extras at patreon.com/thedeeperpulse. Special thanks to those who've already joined us there. Your donations, are what make this work possible. And to everyone out there, thank you for tuning in and I'll see you next week. Ciao.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter