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Monat, a notorious MLM, is offering a “PhD” program to herd the huns

(EDITORIAL) Cue the Boss Babes and that acquaintance from high school in your DMs: The MLM, Monat, is offering up a “PhD” program for their “employees.”

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African American woman in library with two books and graduation cap.

Monat, a notorious MLM that features “premium” hair and skincare products as their preferred indoctrination vehicles, is now offering a one-year-long “PhD” program for partners.

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.

Black and white photo with black and white cat behind 3 Monat products.

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.”

Woman in hijab showing lotion on a video call.

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.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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Opinion Editorials

How to sound more confident in your next interview or office email

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) After COVID, collectively, our social skills need a little TLC. What words and phrases can you use to sound more confident at work?

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Interview with woman and a man opposite as they each sound more confident/

In-person work communications are on the rise, and it’s no surprise that, collectively, our social skills need a little bit of work. CNBC shares some examples of common phrases people tend to use when uncomfortable – and what you should use to replace them to sound more confident in your next interview or office email.

After explaining a personal philosophy or situation, it’s all too common to say, “Does that make sense?” Aside from occasionally sounding patronizing, this question more or less implies that you believe your worldview or lived experiences to require validation. CNBC suggests saying “I’d like to hear your input” or – if you’re in an inquisitive mood – asking “What are your thoughts?” instead.

This invites the interviewer to give feedback or continue the conversation without devaluing your own perspective.

CNBC also recommends getting rid of weak introductions, listing examples like “For what it’s worth” and “In my opinion” in order to sound more confident. Certainly, most of us have used these phrases to recuse ourselves from perceived criticism in meetings or emails; the problem is that they become an indicator of lacking self-confidence, at least for employers.

Simply jumping straight into whatever it is you have to say without the soft-paws introduction is sure to be appreciated by higher-ups and colleagues alike.

Passive voice is another thing you should remove from your communication when trying to sound more confident. For example, saying “I performed this action because…” instead of “This action was performed because…” shows ownership; whether you’re taking credit for an innovative decision or copping to a mistake, taking responsibility with the language you use is always better than removing yourself from the narrative.

“I’m not positive, but…” is yet another common phrase that CNBC eschews, opting instead to start with whatever comes after the “but”. It’s always good to maintain a certain amount of humility, but that’s not what this phrase is doing – it’s getting out in front of your own process and undermining it before anyone else has a chance to evaluate it. Regardless of your position or responsibilities, you should always give your thoughts the credit they deserve.

Finally, CNBC suggests removing perhaps the most undervalued phrase on this list: “I’m sorry.” There is absolutely a time and place to apologize, but “sorry” gets thrown around the office when a simple “excuse me” would suffice. Apologizing in these situations belies confidence, and it makes actual apologies – when they’re necessary – seem hollow.

The language people use is powerful, and as arbitrarily contrite as the workplace may inspire many to feel, humility can absolutely coexist with confidence.

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Opinion Editorials

10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional work game

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, procrastinate, and feel unproductive. Here are a few tips to help you crush your work goals.

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work productivity

Self-reflection is critical to a growth mindset, which you must have if you want to grow and improve. If you are ready to take your professional game to the next level, here are some stories and tips to help you remain focused on killing your work goals.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the quote goes. And, in the workplace it’s bound to make you second guess yourself and your abilities. This story explains when comparison can be useful, when to avoid it, and how to change your focus if it’s sucking the life out of you.

2. Burnout is real and the harder you work, the less productive you are. It’s an inverse relationship. But, there are ways to work smarter and have better life balance. Here are some tips to prioritize your workload and find more ease.

3. Stop procrastinating and start getting sh@t done. The reason we procrastinate may be less about not wanting to do something and more about the emotions underlying the task. Ready to get going and stop hemming and hawing, you got this and here’s the way to push through.

4. Perfection is impossible and if you seek this in your work and life, it’s likely you are very frustrated. Let that desire go and learn to be happy with excellence over perfection.

5. If you think you’re really awesome and seriously deserve more money, more responsibility, more of anything and are ready to drop the knowledge on your supervisor or boss, you may want to check this story out to see if your spinning in the right direction.

6. Technology makes it so easy to get answers so quickly, it’s hard to wait around for things to happen. We like instant gratification. Yet, that is another reason procrastination is a problem for some of us, but every person has a different way/reason for procrastinating. Learn what’s up with that.

7. Making choices can be a challenge for some of us (me included) who worry we are making the wrong choice. If you’ve ever struggled with decision making, you know it can be paralyzing and then you either make no decision or choose the safest option. What we have here is the Ambiguity Effect and it can be a real time suck. Kick ambiguity to the curb.

8. If you are having trouble interacting with colleagues or wondering why you don’t hear back from contacts it could be you are creeping folks out unintentionally (we hope). Here’s how to #belesscreepy.

9. In the social media era building your brand and marketing are critical, yet, if you’re posting to the usual suspects and seeing very little engagement, you’ve got a problem. Wharton Business School even did a study on how to fix the situation and be more shareable.

10. Every time you do a presentation that one co-worker butts in and calls you out. Dang. If you aren’t earning respect on the job, you will be limited in your ability to get to the next level. Respect is critical to any leadership position, as well as to making a difference in any role you may have within an organization, but actions can be misconstrued. There are ways to take what may be negative situations and use them to your advantage, building mutual respect.

You have the tools you need, now get out there, work hard, play hard, and make sh*t happen. Oh, and remember, growth requires continual reflection and action, but you got this.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are maybe a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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