If one Googles “Monat,” they’ll find that the first couple of commonly asked questions are “Why is Monat bad for your hair?” and “Is Monat a ripoff?” – which, as far as introductions go, beats the heck out of a random DM from a high school acquaintance that famously starts with “Hey, hun!”
Monat’s standing as an MLM is more or less ubiquitous knowledge, as long as one discounts the tens of thousands of sellers they “employ.” The company is not without its public failings: A court in Florida approved a class action lawsuit against Monat for peddling unsanitary products, and Business Insider famously ripped the company a new one for using “predatory tactics” and “coronavirus anxiety” to recruit.
Monat also inspired a brief but notably stupid trend of turning product bags, which are made from canvas, into masks to wear as a protective measure against COVID-19. The CDC adamantly recommends against using cloth masks with “single-layer fabric or those made of thin fabric that don’t block light,” but – as anyone on a ventilator would say if they could – ‘it’s the thought that counts.’
But Monat’s most recent foray doesn’t involve PPE, nor does it include a new line of flea-infested shampoo or a cow manure facial scrub.
Instead, they have created an elite education program – one that, for the low price of having to read five novels written by the same author, bestows a PhD upon the recipient.
The Monat PhD program syllabus describes the course as taking place from September of 2021 through August of 2022. On average, a PhD program from an accredited university takes four to six years to complete (not to mention prerequisites like a Master’s Degree from an accredited university and entrance exams). Course texts include five novels, all of which were authored by John C. Maxwell – someone who has, according to Business Wire, written over 100 books, many of which address leadership.
Should one look up Maxwell, they’ll find a heap of motivational texts followed by a few scathing critiques, the majority of which are from relatively prominent church leaders in the South.
Reddit doesn’t seem to think Maxwell’s works are anything special, either. In the “Anti-MLM” subreddit in which the Monat PhD syllabus was posted, one can find a slew of comments dragging the giga-author.
“I had to read a few of his books and I found them self-aggrandizing and badly written with grossly oversimplified takes on leadership,” writes one user, “…most of his leadership experience comes from running one of those megachurches where the pastors become millionaires off of donations.”
(As a point of interest, the “megachurch” in question is California’s Crystal Cathedral, a location that Maxwell frequented, but did not actually “run.”)
Others take issue with the PhD program while acknowledging its awkward validity. “It’s a scammy way to allow these huns to use Dr. as their honorific,” posits another Reddit user. “Completely misleading and can totally be abused in their marketing.”
Unfortunately, everything about this process is entirely legal – and, as the above user rightfully bemoaned, the honorary PhDs will probably become leverage for recruiting more unwitting stay-at-home folks. If the Milgram shock experiment taught the world anything, it’s that the average person will listen to someone who resembles a doctor, be it in title or appearance.
With Monat’s clear proclivity for levying crises (such as global pandemics) to bolster recruitment numbers, there isn’t a good reason to think they won’t use this program to push for growth.