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Old 17 April 2008, 07:12 PM
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Icon605 Mary Kay makes millionaires

Comment: I got a letter from a lady who started talking to me on the
commuter rail one morning about Mary Kay Comsmetics. The marketing
materials included "some interesting facts about Mary Kay" including "3%
of U.S. women are self-made millionaires, of that 3%, 70% did it with Mary
Kay."
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  #2  
Old 17 April 2008, 07:25 PM
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3% seems high. One in every thirty-three people in the U.S. is a millionaire? Wiki says 0.62% of the population (in 2006), CNN says 7% of all households (in 2004). This article: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz...511_780723.htm
says that "3% of women-owned companies -- that's 242,000 out of a total of 10.6 million women-owned firms -- earn $1 million or more annually." That is not quite the same thing.
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Old 17 April 2008, 07:34 PM
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Why is it we never meet these millionaires? I heard the same thing many times over the years about Scamway (oops, sorry, I mean Amway). Their people made equally ridiculous claims that never seemed to appear in the mainstream press.
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Old 17 April 2008, 11:22 PM
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The math behind that claim is just outrageous. 70% of 3% is 2%. 1 in 50 US women are self-made millionaires by reselling cosmetics, primarily to other US women? To currently be a millionaire, after taxes and living expenses, they would have had to have sold about $2 million at least. Since their commissions are not 100% of the sale price, they would have had to have sold a retail value of more than that. Lets be generous and assume they get 50% commissions, so they sold $4 million in cosmetics each.

$4 million divided by the 50 customers per Mary Kay agent is $80,000 spent on Mary Kay cosmetics by the average US woman. I don't know about you, but that seems high. Even if Mary Kay had a monopoly on all cosmetics sold it would be high, but clearly they do not have a monopoly at all. I would venture to say that most people aren't getting most of their cosmetics from Mary Kay agents. So that would mean that the average woman who does get her cosmetics from one would have had to have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it to make these numbers add up.

These numbers also suggest that the Mary Kay corporation should be making on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. In fact, their wikipedia page says they had wholesale sales of $2 billion worldwide. As a point of comparison, thats less than 1/10th the sales of L'Oreal, so their market share isn't very pervasive. These sales can't be reconciled with their 70% of 3% stat at all.
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Old 18 April 2008, 04:06 AM
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It's a pile of crapola. You can read a very skeptical and no-nonsense look at the Mary Kay "dream" on www.pinktruth.com. The Numbers in Mary Kay entries are particularly revealing.
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  #6  
Old 18 April 2008, 08:55 PM
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I'm going to say it's very possible to be a self made millionaire selling cosmetics... it'd be a lot of hard work, but definately doable.

In reality becoming a millionaire is not all that hard to do now. I personally am halfway there, the thing that most people fall for when considering this is that to be a "millionaire" that means you have >$1million in assets. this includes investments, properties, etc. as Mary Kay considers money put into Mary Kay as an investment, it's quite easy to get into the $1million mark. granted it's entirely possible your debt to asset ratio isn't favorable, but your assets are greater than that magic number. even if it is fleeting. i think the numbers are a bit fudged, but definately doable. and in a few years, millionaires are not going be rare. they're already falling prey to inflation. just 50 years ago having $100,000 was a lot, now people laugh at that. i'm worth a lot more than that. and I'm broke! now if they were considered wealthy or had $1,000,000 in liquid assets that's another story altogether... and where most people fall prey to the "millionaire" phrase. people hear millionaire and think, they're bank account has over $1,000,000 in it. when that's never the case. I know several millionaires, and none of them have that much money accessable at any given time. sure some have like $400,000 in their chequing account, but they're rarer. most have maybe $10,000 easily accessable, with more accessable within a day or so, and a lot more that is harder to access.
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Old 18 April 2008, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullMetal View Post
I'm going to say it's very possible to be a self made millionaire selling cosmetics... it'd be a lot of hard work, but definately doable.
So you buy that 2% of US women fall into this category? If not, then everything else is irrelevant. Nobody here disputes that it could be possible that there exist some women in the category they describe. But the question is whether it could be as incredibly common as they suggest, and the simple answer is no, its not. Not in home equity, not in any way shape or form, the market they describe isn't large enough, Mary Kay certainly isn't large enough, and the numbers don't add up.
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Old 18 April 2008, 09:30 PM
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Don't Mary Kay salespeople make most of their money by recruiting other salespeople, not by actually selling makeup? If so, I don't find it too difficult to believe that there are a few self-made millionaires out there who made their living with Mary Kay, at the expense of the friends and family members trapped underneath them in the pyramid. Even given that possibility, the 70% figure is absurd.
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Old 18 April 2008, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
Don't Mary Kay salespeople make most of their money by recruiting other salespeople, not by actually selling makeup? If so, I don't find it too difficult to believe that there are a few self-made millionaires out there who made their living with Mary Kay, at the expense of the friends and family members trapped underneath them in the pyramid. Even given that possibility, the 70% figure is absurd.

I'm not sure exactly how it works. But I have a couple of friends who are MK salespeople. Even after I bought some product from them, there was intense pressure to attend what they called a "training session". I was told that the person I was buying the product from needed to practice their sales techniques, and I could get a free lotion for letting them practice on me. But when I got there, all it was was constant badgering about how I must be unfulfilled in my job. I repeatedly told them that I was very happy in my job, and that I don't have time to do extra work for more money. But they did just about everything but call me a liar. You know, expressing "shock" that I could actually like my job.

Another time, I listened to a promotion CD. It was absolutely the worst piece of sexist drivel I have ever heard, but it was masquerading as empowerment for women. No tube of free lotion is worth subjecting myself to that crap.

The thing is, I really like their face cleaner. I'm willing to pay the outrageous price of 18 bucks a tube, so you'd think they'd be happy with that!
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Old 21 April 2008, 03:00 PM
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[QUOTE=Errata;582525]
Quote:
The math behind that claim is just outrageous. 70% of 3% is 2%. 1 in 50 US women are self-made millionaires by reselling cosmetics, primarily to other US women? To currently be a millionaire, after taxes and living expenses, they would have had to have sold about $2 million at least. Since their commissions are not 100% of the sale price, they would have had to have sold a retail value of more than that. Lets be generous and assume they get 50% commissions, so they sold $4 million in cosmetics each.
Actually the commission *is* 50 percent. That is, of course, the gross profit, before all the usual business expenses of being in business for yourself. (samples, gas, marketing, etc)

Quote:
$4 million divided by the 50 customers per Mary Kay agent is $80,000 spent on Mary Kay cosmetics by the average US woman. I don't know about you, but that seems high. Even if Mary Kay had a monopoly on all cosmetics sold it would be high, but clearly they do not have a monopoly at all. I would venture to say that most people aren't getting most of their cosmetics from Mary Kay agents. So that would mean that the average woman who does get her cosmetics from one would have had to have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it to make these numbers add up.
The "millionaires" that Mary Kay claims, are not just getting commissions on their sales. These women are "directors", who have a sales unit of women they have recruited - I think they have to have about 20 or so to make a unit, and those twenty have to order a minimum amount of cosmetics each quarter. The Director gets a percentage of all those sales. Then, should any of her recruits start recruiting any one, she gets a percentage of THOSE sales, and should one of those recruits become a director also, she gets an addtional percentage over all of the sales in that unit, as well as any sales from recruits that THOSE recruits, recruit. The ones who really take off become something called a "National Sales Director" and they literally have thousands of commissions from their recruits...the math is not at all hard to fathom there, once you figure the minimum amount of recruits, minimum amount of sales, and commission percentage, multiplyed by so many.

Thus "multi level marketing."

I agree the percentages of US numbers seems pretty skewed. However, (I imagine they all do this) every month the company publishes a magazine and it lists the amount of commission checks sent to every director...there are lots of monthly checks well into the five figures. A few years of this and it can add up to a million dollars and then go over. When they say "millionaires" they mean women who have made at least a million dollars in commission. That is not my definition of millionaire, because a paycheck you got 7 years ago != wealth. So - if you can read between the lines, yeah, they are being truthful. But they sure the hell are streeeeeeetching things, I will most definitely agree with that.
Quote:
These numbers also suggest that the Mary Kay corporation should be making on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. In fact, their wikipedia page says they had wholesale sales of $2 billion worldwide. As a point of comparison, thats less than 1/10th the sales of L'Oreal, so their market share isn't very pervasive. These sales can't be reconciled with their 70% of 3% stat at all.
But Loreal has to spend millions and millions and millions on advertising (Mary Kay does very, very, VERY little national advertising - ever seen an MK commerical on tv? No, the recruits do it all, thus direct marketing) and Mary Kay doesn't have to rent space at Dillards or pay salespeople. They get saleswomen to sign up for it, the women buy the product PAID IN FULL, in advance from the company, and the company is done. Poof. Profit in hand, unlike Loreal or other regular companies who have to wait to be paid from the retailers and fight tooth and nail for shelf space with everyone else.


It's quite brilliant, really. The opportunity for exploitation and annoyance on a level of 10 is there, for sure, but it's brilliant - for the people at the top.
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Old 21 April 2008, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
Why is it we never meet these millionaires? I heard the same thing many times over the years about Scamway (oops, sorry, I mean Amway). Their people made equally ridiculous claims that never seemed to appear in the mainstream press.
It's possible you've met millionaires and never known it. Not that I believe the Mary Kay and Amway claims, but not every wealthy person lives a lifestyle that makes their wealth apparent.

On a related note, I saw a pink Mary Kay Cadillac yesterday. I think that's the first one I've ever seen. Surely if there were that many Mary Kay millionaires, we'd see more pink Cadillacs.
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Old 21 April 2008, 03:11 PM
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[QUOTE=Lainie;585567]
Quote:
It's possible you've met millionaires and never known it. Not that I believe the Mary Kay and Amway claims, but not every wealthy person lives a lifestyle that makes their wealth apparent.
After reading "The Millionaire Next Door" I think you are spot on. Most self made millionaires in America drive older, American made cars, wear rather inexpensive suits, drink Budwiser and eat chicken wings rather than fancy wine and pate's, and have very boring businesses such as plumbing, copy machine repair, etc. According to their research. Which sounds about right to me.

Quote:
On a related note, I saw a pink Mary Kay Cadillac yesterday. I think that's the first one I've ever seen. Surely if there were that many Mary Kay millionaires, we'd see more pink Cadillacs.
You have probably seen a bunch of Mary Kay cars and never realized it, because before you get the pink Cadillac, you get a red Buick of some sort. There are a lot of them around.

I thought I heard they were doing away with that pink Cadillac thing but don't remember.
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Old 21 April 2008, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullMetal View Post
I'm going to say it's very possible to be a self made millionaire selling cosmetics... it'd be a lot of hard work, but definately doable.

In reality becoming a millionaire is not all that hard to do now. I personally am halfway there, the thing that most people fall for when considering this is that to be a "millionaire" that means you have >$1million in assets. this includes investments, properties, etc. as Mary Kay considers money put into Mary Kay as an investment, it's quite easy to get into the $1million mark. granted it's entirely possible your debt to asset ratio isn't favorable, but your assets are greater than that magic number.....
That doesn't make you a millionaire. A millionaire has a net worth of a million dollars or more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
It's possible you've met millionaires and never known it. Not that I believe the Mary Kay and Amway claims, but not every wealthy person lives a lifestyle that makes their wealth apparent.....
I know a few millionaires, namely my father and all of his siblings as a starter. You couldn't tell them from anyone else. There are plenty of people who flash money around and talk the talk who have negative net worths. There's really no way to tell who is and isn't a millionaire without having a good look at their 'books'.

I did work at Amway for a while I met several millionaires and multi-millionaires who made their fortune on Amway. It takes a lot of hard work, sales aptitude and putting yourself in the right place at the right time. I've always felt that Amway was the avenue for their wealth, but they could have amassed the same money selling for another company. Amway wasn't the key to their wealth, they were.
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Old 21 April 2008, 03:24 PM
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A friend of mine was once head hunted by someone who wanted her to take over a McDonald's "restaurant". She was told that within a year or two she would be a millionaire (in SEK). Had this been true (which I severely doubt) I can only conclude that there must be something terribly wrong with the setting of wages and prices within that company.
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Old 21 April 2008, 04:46 PM
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I'm sorry snapdragonfly. Your comments don't make the statistic in the OP any more possible. Its impossible for the reasons I laid out, and if you still can't see it, then I'm not sure how else to say it, but math may not be your strong suit. MLM companies like Mary Kay make their money by preying on people who aren't good at math.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
The "millionaires" that Mary Kay claims, are not just getting commissions on their sales. These women are "directors", who have a sales unit of women they have recruited - I think they have to have about 20 or so to make a unit, and those twenty have to order a minimum amount of cosmetics each quarter. The Director gets a percentage of all those sales. Then, should any of her recruits start recruiting any one, she gets a percentage of THOSE sales, and should one of those recruits become a director also, she gets an addtional percentage over all of the sales in that unit, as well as any sales from recruits that THOSE recruits, recruit. The ones who really take off become something called a "National Sales Director" and they literally have thousands of commissions from their recruits...the math is not at all hard to fathom there, once you figure the minimum amount of recruits, minimum amount of sales, and commission percentage, multiplyed by so many.

Thus "multi level marketing."
Ok, so each of these millionaires has a team of 20. So that goes from 2% of the US female population who are directors to 40% in their team. Do you really think that 40% of US women are selling Mary Kay? And they can make money selling to the other 60%. That means that for every Mary Kay agent, there is only 1 or 2 non Mary Kay agents left to be customers.



Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
I agree the percentages of US numbers seems pretty skewed. However, (I imagine they all do this) every month the company publishes a magazine and it lists the amount of commission checks sent to every director...there are lots of monthly checks well into the five figures. A few years of this and it can add up to a million dollars and then go over. When they say "millionaires" they mean women who have made at least a million dollars in commission. That is not my definition of millionaire, because a paycheck you got 7 years ago != wealth. So - if you can read between the lines, yeah, they are being truthful. But they sure the hell are streeeeeeetching things, I will most definitely agree with that.
That simply does not matter. Its mathematically impossible for them to have ever in any way sent anywhere close to $1 million to 2% of US women. Doesn't matter what accounting you use, it just doesn't work.


Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
But Loreal has to spend millions and millions and millions on advertising (Mary Kay does very, very, VERY little national advertising - ever seen an MK commerical on tv? No, the recruits do it all, thus direct marketing) and Mary Kay doesn't have to rent space at Dillards or pay salespeople. They get saleswomen to sign up for it, the women buy the product PAID IN FULL, in advance from the company, and the company is done. Poof. Profit in hand, unlike Loreal or other regular companies who have to wait to be paid from the retailers and fight tooth and nail for shelf space with everyone else.
Doesn't matter at all. I wasn't quoting their profits. I was quoting their gross revenue. All the money they see, without subtracting out commissions or manufacturing costs or any other expenses. Their gross revenue is too small by orders of magnitude for them to have ever seen enough money to send $1 million over a lifetime to a signficant percentage of the US population.

And the point of comparing them to another, much larger cosmetics company, is not about comparing profits and business models. Its about establishing market share. It demonstrates that by far most of the cosmetics being purchased aren't being purchased from Mary Kay. They are just a small fish in a big pond. So that makes the idea of 40% of American women selling for them and the other 60% buying even more ridiculous. If less than 10% of the cosmetics sold in the US have anything to do with Mary Kay, they don't have that kind of market.

Last edited by Errata; 21 April 2008 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 21 April 2008, 08:11 PM
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I'm sorry snapdragonfly. Your comments don't make the statistic in the OP any more possible. Its impossible for the reasons I laid out, and if you still can't see it, then I'm not sure how else to say it, but math may not be your strong suit. MLM companies like Mary Kay make their money by preying on people who aren't good at math.



Ok, so each of these millionaires has a team of 20. So that goes from 2% of the US female population who are directors to 40% in their team. Do you really think that 40% of US women are selling Mary Kay? And they can make money selling to the other 60%. That means that for every Mary Kay agent, there is only 1 or 2 non Mary Kay agents left to be customers.





That simply does not matter. Its mathematically impossible for them to have ever in any way sent anywhere close to $1 million to 2% of US women. Doesn't matter what accounting you use, it just doesn't work.




Doesn't matter at all. I wasn't quoting their profits. I was quoting their gross revenue. All the money they see, without subtracting out commissions or manufacturing costs or any other expenses. Their gross revenue is too small by orders of magnitude for them to have ever seen enough money to send $1 million over a lifetime to a signficant percentage of the US population.

And the point of comparing them to another, much larger cosmetics company, is not about comparing profits and business models. Its about establishing market share. It demonstrates that by far most of the cosmetics being purchased aren't being purchased from Mary Kay. They are just a small fish in a big pond. So that makes the idea of 40% of American women selling for them and the other 60% buying even more ridiculous. If less than 10% of the cosmetics sold in the US have anything to do with Mary Kay, they don't have that kind of market.

I don't think you understood a thing I was trying to say. For one thing, I was NOT saying their statistics were possible. In fact you apparently missed where I said they were clearly stretching things. And your math isn't all that great either if you come to the conclusion that
Quote:
Ok, so each of these millionaires has a team of 20.
when I said their areas consisted of not only their own recruits, but their recruit's recruits, and their recruits recruits recruits, and so on. Adds up to more than twenty. If my mathmatically feeble brain is right on this, that is.


I don't even feel like addressing all your tedious point by point refutation of things I wasn't even trying to say. What I was trying to do was inform you of how exactly their sales and commissions work. I never ever said those percentages they claim were correct. I was explaining how they probably come up with them: again, to repeat myself, since I don't think reading is your strong point, that they call people "millionaires" who have recieved a million dollars worth of comissions. But that is not the definition of a millionaire. But that's how they are using it and this is how they are coming up with their claims. There, that's one example of repeating and explaining myself, perhaps you can do the rest for yourself.

BTW, as far as market share, some years ago they made the claim that they are the number one selling brand of cosmetics in America, based on some number somewhere: I don't remember what it was, and I am by no means defending that statement as truthful, but they have based that on some figure somewhere and I think they are still claiming to be the "number one selling brand" of cosmetics in America. If that is true (and I wouldn't take it for granted that it was) then they are selling a lot more than you are speculating. I suspect most of it is in some salesperson's closet. But it doesn't matter if the salesperson ever unloads it or not, her recruiter still gets the commission.

Last edited by snapdragonfly; 21 April 2008 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 21 April 2008, 09:12 PM
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In fact you apparently missed where I said they were clearly stretching things.
No, these aren't stretches. They are divorced from reality by a factor of over 100. That isn't bending the truth, its lying. Outright falsehood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
And your math isn't all that great either if you come to the conclusion that when I said their areas consisted of not only their own recruits, but their recruit's recruits, and their recruits recruits recruits, and so on. Adds up to more than twenty.
That isn't the point at all, which should be obvious from how I used the information. If they have more than 20 people under them then that just makes it more ridiculous. They would have to have almost the entire US as part of the Mary Kay organization and selling to themselves.

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Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
I was explaining how they probably come up with them: again, to repeat myself, since I don't think reading is your strong point, that they call people "millionaires" who have recieved a million dollars worth of comissions. But that is not the definition of a millionaire.
Wrong wrong wrong. YOU ARE WRONG. These numbers are arrived at by simple lies, because no version of the truth can be manipulated into that.

As I said, they are way off what they would have to be to have ever over the entire lifetime of the business have ever sent that amount of money total to 2% of the US adult female population. It doesn't matter if they've since spent it all or whatever. The math isn't even close to working out.

Over the entire lifetime of Mary Kay, they have retailed less than $100 billion. So assuming free product and 0% overhead, and 100% of that money funnelled directly to the most successful agents, thats no more than 100,000 people who could have made $1 million over the entire lifetime of the Mary Kay organization. There are about 90 million adult women in the US. So thats about .1% of women, not 2%, and it places absurd untrue requirements on how the revenue was allocated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
BTW, as far as market share, some years ago they made the claim that they are the number one selling brand of cosmetics in America, based on some number somewhere: I don't remember what it was, and I am by no means defending that statement as truthful, but they have based that on some figure somewhere and I think they are still claiming to be the "number one selling brand" of cosmetics in America. If that is true (and I wouldn't take it for granted that it was) then they are selling a lot more than you are speculating. I suspect most of it is in some salesperson's closet. But it doesn't matter if the salesperson ever unloads it or not, her recruiter still gets the commission.
I'm not speculating, I'm looking at revenue. They just don't sell as much as bigger players, no matter how deceptively they spin it, its an unsupportable statement. But even if they sold 100% of all cosmetics in the US, there isn't enough money in that market to support an ecosystem of distributors making up a huge percentage of the population. The fact that they actually have relatively little market share just makes it more absurd, but its not even necessary for these to be proven wrong.
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Old 22 April 2008, 01:31 PM
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It's possible you've met millionaires and never known it. Not that I believe the Mary Kay and Amway claims, but not every wealthy person lives a lifestyle that makes their wealth apparent.
[QUOTE=snapdragonfly;585573]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
After reading "The Millionaire Next Door" I think you are spot on. Most self made millionaires in America drive older, American made cars, wear rather inexpensive suits, drink Budwiser and eat chicken wings rather than fancy wine and pate's, and have very boring businesses such as plumbing, copy machine repair, etc. According to their research. Which sounds about right to me.
Yes, but also read Fake It Till You Make It to see who the figures are skewed and exaggerated for Amway.
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