I was watching my boys, both 8 years old, play baseball in the back yard recently. I could see one of them getting increasingly angry over the calls his brother was making. It seemed every call made was going in Jackson’s favor. Finally fed up, Justin stomped off the field hollering back over his shoulder, “You’re making unfair calls. I’m done!”
The Whistle Blower, calling it as he sees it.
The Whistle Blower, calling it as he sees it.
Left to ourselves we humans can be pragmatic. And when pragmatism is our guiding paradigm, we are ruled by the thought, “What’s in it for me.” And when two young boys are in the backyard playing ball, “What’s in it for me” says, if the calls are close- I’m making them go my way because I want to win!
But what happens when we leave the backyard, grow up and begin playing in the bigger arena of adult life? If we take that same, seemingly insignificant incident ruled by pragmatism into the corporate world, what is the result?
I can tell you first hand with an example that happened 12 years ago to my wife. Pregnant at the time, she was at a local mall letting our oldest play in the kids’ area. It was then she was approached by a local, rather “famous” news woman, who requested an interview about being pregnant. Kristine thought, sure, I’ve seen this woman on t.v.! I’ll answer her questions.
In the interview, my wife was asked about her views on pregnancy nutrition. She answered the questions and was excited about the idea of being on the news. But oh were the rose colored glasses shattered when she watched the clip on the evening news. They had cut and spliced Kristine’s words to make her say what the t.v. station wanted! She was shocked! The interviewer was looking for someone to say that pregnancy caused her to have poor nutrition. Kristine didn’t answer that way! In fact, she said the exact opposite. She believed that pregnancy made her more aware than ever to make good nutritional choices. That didn’t matter. The news reel was cut and pasted to make her answer the way the t.v. station wanted her to. They were still Kristine’s words, but the interview was manipulated to make her own words answer the questions to suit the wishes of the station.
Too lazy to go find someone who agreed with their story line; “what’s in it for me” says, we can make this say whatever we want. And they did just that.
In backyard baseball, one can be fooled into thinking it doesn’t really matter. It’s just two young boys being “boys”. No harm done. Or has harm been done? Don’t young boys grow up to be adults? Adults who cut and splice news reel. Who can fool themselves and say, “What’s in it for me? It’s a short clip on pregnancy nutrition. I’ve got deadlines! It’s just a few minutes and this doesn’t really matter.......” Doesn’t matter or does it?
A few years ago I had my own experience with the media. But this time it wasn’t our local news, it was mainstream American media. Orrin Woodward was to be interviewed by Forbes magazine, and along with him, they interviewed me as well.
According to Forbesmedia.com, Forbes magazine has a readership of 5.4 million, with 18 million unique visitors monthly to Forbes.com. That’s pretty impressive!
I asked Orrin how this unprecedented interview came to be. He said, “Shortly after joining Monavie, I received a call from the Team office stating that Forbes had contacted me asking for an interview about Team.” He continued, “Why would Forbes want to do an article on a small, $42 million dollar company? Especially when it was in the middle of the legal battle of its life?"
Being part of the process myself, I remember Woodward telling me the interviewer asked questions about Team being a pyramid, which anyone who knows anything about pyramid law would know it is nowhere near being a pyramid scheme. She also wanted to know why is it that some people don’t make money and others do. Other questions focused on how much did it cost to be a member of Team and so forth. Woodward continued to explain that Team wasn’t a MLM, it only supplied the support for those building one; but that seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It became obvious to both of us, based upon the question content, that his interview wasn’t about finding the good in Team. Regardless, Woodward knew he had nothing to hide and answered all the questions truthfully and completely. I know that Woodward personally invited the interviewer to the Columbus Major as a VIP, but she already had tickets for a Willie Nelson concert and had to turn the offer down.
I also remember my interview, which lasted for 40 minutes. I actually thought my interview went really well. She asked a lot of great questions. I told her how I was able to get out of massive amounts of debt, how my marriage was dramatically improved, how I thought Orrin Woodward was an amazing leader, and that I thought the Team business was the best financial decision I’d ever made. Interestingly, not a single word of that 40 minute interview was used. Instead, a short quote jabbing Team about a man and woman who had gotten divorced due to her involvement in Team and Amway was used instead.
As it turns out, the man quoted in the Forbes article was an atheist and the woman a Christian. But the man claimed in the article the divorce was blamed on her involvement with Team. Why would Forbes choose to quote this person and not me? Or better yet, any of the thousands who believe that Team has strengthened their marriage? Had the interviewer attended the convention she could have asked any number of people the blessing Team has been in their lives. And yet all that was used was one negative quote about a divorce.
Meanwhile, I began asking my own questions. What led the reporter to take this article in the first place? What was her background in the leadership field and did she understand the moral dimensions from a Christian perspective? She admitted she had never heard of John Maxwell (the #1 leadership teacher) nor, even though living in Chicago, had she ever heard of Bill Hybels (pastor of Chicago’s largest church.)
Interestingly, Amway, at this time, was an advertiser in Forbes magazine. And when the Orrin Woodawrd article was printed, Amway and Woodward/Team were in a heated legal fight.
Could it be that pragmatism had reared its ugly head again? Could “What’s in it for me?” Be the guiding force for Forbes too?
After visiting forbesmedia.com, I found an interesting guarantee on pg. 28. It’s called the Brand Increase Guarantee. This is a Forbes guarantee that states:
If there is no significant increase in at least one of the key metrics- brand awareness, brand favorability, message association, purchase intent, Forbes will return advertising spend.
Could it be the interview had nothing to do with finding the balanced truth about the Team and Orrin Woodward?
In a strange coincidence, or perhaps not, less than two weeks later, Dallin Larsen, the CEO for Monavie, the company that Woodward joined after leaving Amway, received a call from Newsweek and they proceeded to do another “less than overwhelming” article on MonaVie. Fifteen years in business and no magazine articles and strangely two came up in two weeks for magazines with rather impressive readership numbers.
That's quite some coincidence.....In the middle of the legal battle between Amway and Woodward/Team in comes Forbes and Newsweek to do articles on Woodward/Team and Monavie. I find it interesting that the only entity with any relation to the powerhouse magazines was their advertiser: Amway.
Coincidence? Maybe. Needless to say, I learned a ton about the “free” press and its partnership with advertisers.
For more on the story check out what Troy Dooly, an MLM expert who serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Network Marketing professionals which works with both companies and distributors around the world has to say on the topic.