I’m not fond of the “chicken or the egg” riddle. It’s a trick question with no right answer. One can’t exist without the other. In the multilevel marketing industry, there’s a similar riddle: Which one comes first, leaders or product?
In network marketing, there’s a growing divide between MLM distributors and companies. There’s more litigation against distributors, more angst and more finger-pointing. The speed of innovation is making it challenging for companies to provide leaders with competitively priced items, long term. And distributors are more transient than ever looking for shinier lures. It’s tough out there now, there’s no doubt about it.
Back to the riddle… Leaders first or products first? Distributors will say “Without us, nobody would buy your stuff. We’re independent contractors, not employees!” Companies say, “Without us, you’d never have a network. I dare you to try building a following with a business that stinks!”
They’re both right.
Suppose a leader enrolled in a business that sold $1,000 rolls of paper towels. We’ll call this business “BRAWNEE WANABE.” There’s nothing special about the paper towels, they’re just the kind that can…..you know…..wipe up spills and stuff. On sale for $1,000 per roll. And suppose the BRAWNEE WANABE website is awful. The checks rarely arrive on time and when they do arrive, they sometimes bounce. And there’s no street address for the company, the company owners are anonymous and there’s not a shred of support for the field. Suppose Dexter Yager, one of the most prolific networkers in history, decides to hang up his Amway business and join BRAWNEE WANABE. Do you think he’d maintain his downline for long?
The product matters. The company matters.
“But I own the downline! I worked hard to build it!” This is what distributors argue, and it’s a good one. But did that downline develop solely because of their leadership? Or….did it develop with their leadership PLUS with the branding and support provided by the company?
In reality, the relationship between a leader and company is a tightly knit partnership. It’s like a goldfish in a tank partnership. The goldfish grows to the size of the tank (I’ve heard). If the tank is small, the goldfish stays small. If the company is awful, the leaders will never be able to build a sustainable downline regardless of talent.
On the flip side of the coin, the companies absolutely NEED leaders. Without leaders, there’s no product sales. Leaders build up the value of the brand in conjunction with the company. They’re vital.
So which one is more important, leaders or companies? It’s a loaded question. They each rely on the other for their existence. Yes, companies can get new leaders and leaders can get new companies. But for a program to really work, companies need to provide cutting edge value daily and leaders need to remain committed, even during the rough patches.