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I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off my — out. I know times are tight. This week I’ve gotten pitched by three people – two of them fellow agents – wanting to sell me their multi-level marketing – let’s call it what it is – pyramid scheme. I’m polite. I drank the kool-aid. Listened to the pitch. Today someone had to show me their wrinkle iron.

They don’t just want me to buy the product, they want me to become a distributor. That’s where the money is they tell me. I tell me I know where the money is. It’s where I’ve devoted the past six years of my personal and professional life – sometimes walking across a stage to receive a super-sized paperweight, sometimes breaking into the change jar for lunch money.

Lemme Get This Straight

You want me to pay you to join the club? You then want me to devote my time, money and brain power in a direction that has nothing to do with my profession? In case you didn’t notice, I am a professional. You want me to call the most valuable thing I have in my business – my clients – to tell them that I now sell gold coins?

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people! -Randy Pausch

Hear This

I didn’t drag my a** all this way to sell the latest miracle drink. Believe me, I understand the need for cash. Me = single and living in one of the most expensive economies in the country – ask Arnold.

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How about you? How badly do you want it?

Written By

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate



  1. Kelley Koehler

    July 31, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Vicki – I only got 2 pitches this week from fellow agents. Although the second one was kind of entertaining, as he thought – mistakenly – that I coordinated pleasure parties as well as sell real estate. The perils of calling yourself housechick…

  2. Bob

    July 31, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    I was leaving a listing of mine in a condo complex when I was approached in the parking lot by a young couple. They asked me if I could come over the next night and discuss listing their condo.

    When I got there, they offered me something to drink and the wife told me that they had decided to stay put. meanwhile the husband turned on the TV and said, “Since you are here, we would like to show you an opportunity…”.

  3. Jennifer in Louisville

    August 1, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Do some people make money in MLM? Sure, absolutely. But the vast majority don’t – cause quite frankly, you simply run out of people at the bottom levels because there are only so many people that you can bring in to do it because it grows exponentially for the number of people that have to get brought in at the bottom levels for those persons to enjoy some of the benefit similar to the people at the upper level.

  4. Bill Lublin

    August 1, 2008 at 5:51 am

    When I was 17 it was AMWAY, In the recession of the late 80’s it was AL Williams MLM Insurance sales. Now I get stuff like Pre-Paid legal and Credit repair scams.

    In my career, I’ve met a lot of people who made money in real estate – I don;t think I can name one person I ever met who was wealthy from one of these schemes- Maybe a coincidence but I don’t think so

    Go for the paperweight Girl!


  5. Eric Blackwell

    August 1, 2008 at 6:12 am

    All I can say is “AMEN”. I got pitched a couple of times this week…My crime: I work as the Technologist in a real estate office!

  6. Vance Shutes

    August 1, 2008 at 6:52 am


    Amen! It must be that, as agents, we have a beacon flashing from our foreheads inviting all the MLM folks to make a pitch to us! Actually, though, it’s rather flattering to be asked so much. They must think we’re “natural born sellers” who will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams by joining their downline. Not to mention the garage full of (unsold) stuff we’ll end up with – eventually.

  7. Ginger Wilcox

    August 1, 2008 at 8:11 am

    I am so thankful some of these companies aren’t popular in my market. I am not getting the asks thankfully. I am not sure I could have been as patient and polite as you!

  8. Matt Thomson

    August 1, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I’m traditionally a sucker for MLM schemes. I’ve fallen into 3 before my wife put the kabosh on me. Finally found one that I liked and that worked…because the product (greeting cards) acutally helped my actual business.
    I’ve done the vitamins, I’ve done the juice, I even bought into one that did vitamins, long distance calling, and car tires (how’s that for a focused business?!).
    I guess it’s guys like me that keep MLM working in this country.

  9. Eric Blackwell

    August 1, 2008 at 8:47 am


    I always try to be polite to them. Since we are in a sales business, it would be uncool to do less than that IMO, but internally….it’s expletive city. (grin)


  10. Vicki Moore

    August 1, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Kelley – Good thing you included that he was mistaken. Just sayin’ 🙂 Can you imagine? OMG. Calling a client to say hey I’m now selling…you know.

    Bob – That’s desperation. Holy cow.

    Jennifer – The timing of the MLM proliferation sucks. No one has discretionary income. Where were they when the economy was booming and everyone had credit?

    Bill – I could probably make more selling my paper weights.

    Eric – Thanks. I knew I couldn’t be the only one.

    Vance – Yeah. Yeah. That’s the ticket. I’m a selling machine.

    Ginger – Well, you just never know. Treat others… Hopefully what I’m thinking doesn’t show on my face.

    Matt – I hope your wife is the one with the checkbook. 🙂 You’re hopeful – that’s a good thing. I’m just trying to keep myself focused. These ideas take me off track for a minute with all of their wealth promises. Then I think – oh, wait a minute. I already have a job.

  11. Paula Henry

    August 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    They must assume the real estate market is so bad, we need a second source of income. We could help them out with a list of the agents who are not doing any business. That could keep them busy for awhile and maybe, just maybe, they will leave the rest of us alone.

  12. Brad Nix

    August 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I feel your pain and appreciate your honesty in bringing this issue to light. MLM schemes are easy to detect and are hard to pitch to professionals.

    On a similar subject, as a broker who may consider recruiting quality agents like yourself (seems like a good idea for my company)… what is the best way to approach agents with new brokerage opportunities?

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    August 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I especially like when Real Estate companies wrap up MLM with their brokerage offerings 🙂

    Agents who tried to be good at too many jobs, will good at none of them. MLM is based on folks typically using discretionary funds. If they have these funds – go invest in a house!

  14. Dan Connolly

    August 1, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I had a Seller trying to insist that I sign up for a gas company MLM since I got paid for selling her house, I owed her that much, she said, and really tried hard not to take no for an answer…. well eventually she did. She didn’t stay mad for long, I guess she realized if she wasn’t speaking to me she couldn’t keep trying to sell me on the idea.

    I especially like when Real Estate companies wrap up MLM with their brokerage offerings

    Uh, You’re talking about Keller Williams here… right? 😉

  15. Glenn fm Naples

    August 2, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Sad to hear real estate agents trying to sell “healthy beverages” and “travel companies”, but could it the sign of the times.

    Bob – sorry to hear you were kidnapped. 🙂

    Has anyone thought we are targets because real estate agents are supposed to have a sphere of influence and salespersons – good target for a MLM system. 🙂

  16. Holly White

    August 4, 2008 at 10:47 am

    My parents were in a network marketing business when I was a kid and on up through my adult life. My Dad’s moved on to heaven now so they aren’t doing it anymore, but it was a phenomenal organization and they did very well in it. They worked their full time jobs and worked that business as well full time until they were able to quit their jobs. I believe that any network marketing business that is legitimate should be given a fair shake. You get out of them what you put into them. Hmmm, sounds alot like selling real estate too. If you work hard, you make money. The thing about mlm or network marketing is that you are constantly on a high because of the level of enthusiasm that surrounds it. In these times, when the market isn’t what we would all like for it to be what’s wrong with supplementing your income with something else. Heck with the change in attitude it just might boost your real estate business as well. My broker introduced all of his agents to a network marketing company recently in hopes that everyone would get a boost somehow and it’s worked. The people in the office seem to be even more fired up about selling real estate than before because of their overall attitude change. To each their own. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for those that want to diversify and have multiple streams of income, it could be a positive thing.

  17. Vicki Moore

    August 5, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Holly – It’s great that your family found success where most others have not. It’s tough to determine what is legitimate – that requires a significant investment of time. Time is money. IMO it’s important to stay focused. Real estate is a huge commitment, especially when it’s competing with a venture that is as time consuming and costly as starting a business. There are many ways to get yourself motivated – I don’t agree that MLM is a good one to use. If there’s desperation for income, a position that will provide a steady paycheck is a sure thing – success in MLM is not.

  18. Jennifer Rathbun

    August 12, 2008 at 9:21 am

    You know, I considered an MLM franchise. But not because of this issue. It just happened to be local and more up to date than some of the other options. I don’t want to recruit other agents! I want customers to use me! I keep seeing adds likse these in our state magazine. But that’s not going to get me to come over. And if I happened to decide to work at that office, then I would be the bad agent. I just want to work. So tell me, what else does your MLM have to offer me?

  19. Vicki Moore

    August 13, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Jennifer – It’s not hard to consider when they’re throwing at you: You’ll make a gazillion dollars! It always makes me stop and think hmm – then reality hits.

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