David is a former Cydcor Sales-Rep and Leader from New Jersey. The subsidiary he worked with focused on switching local residents over to Star Energy, under the false pretence of it being a cheaper alternative.
Here he expands on his Slave Circle: Extra Takes interview, and shares his insight into how marketing firms are utilising ‘hustle’ culture to motivate their reps, developing a warped image of entrepreneurship as a result.
HOW DID ‘THE BUSINESS’ FIRST INTRODUCE ITSELF TO YOU?
I was moving from NYC to Philadelphia and needed a job. I had been waiting tables in NYC, so I figured sales would be an easy transition. I wound up selling renewable energy door to door in southern/central NJ.
HOW FAMILIAR WERE YOU WITH SALES BEFORE ENTERING THE INDUSTRY?
I was trying to make it as a real estate agent in northern NJ while waiting tables. I had read sales/mindset books to help with real estate and had been applying those tactics to upsell items at the restaurant.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE SUBSIDIARY YOU WORKED FOR?
I was interviewed a few months before I moved to the area. At first it seemed like an exciting energetic environment with a lot of people my age I could make friends with. When I was interviewed I hit it off with another candidate and we were excited to work together. When I actually started I noticed that the friend I made was not there, and that several other people I saw in my interview no longer worked there either.
WERE YOU SUSPICIOUS AT ALL DURING YOUR INTERVIEW AND OBSERVATION DAY?
Not at all, I knew I was doing door to door sales, although the turnover did seem odd
HAD YOU ORIGINALLY WANTED TO RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS? JUDGING BY YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH OTHER REPS, HOW DID YOU DIFFER FROM THEM IN THIS WAY?
I actually originally sought out the salary that was advertised to fund a business idea I had flipping luxury assets that I had played with on a small scale when I was waiting tables. I believe the only other person I met in the months I was in the business who wanted to own a business prior to being brainwashed was a fellow leader who wanted to run a pizzeria, however I don’t think he went into the business to save money to open his own restaurant.
Most of my co-workers were convinced that owning a business was what they should do by Cydcor propaganda.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AN AVERAGE DAY IN THE FIELD FOR YOU?
My average day in the field would start at around 1 by driving to the field, usually alone, for anywhere between 20 minutes or an hour. On a good day I would complete my 1st “loop” of 50 doors and go to lunch around 2-3, typically eating a few pizza slices or a $2 Dunkin donuts breakfast sandwich, or if I had been making money I would splurge and spend $8 at Chipotle. On a bad day, the territory I went to would have been recently canvassed by a competitor, or I would be told to leave the premises by the local police and I would have to go to a Dunkin Donuts and use Google satellite images to find a backup territory to doorknock that day. Typically speaking if that happened I would eat lunch early to increase my chances of making sales because I needed to make up for lost time.
WERE THERE ANY CONSEQUENCES TO MARKETING STAR ENERGY AS CHEAPER, INSTEAD OF AS MORE EXPENSIVE BUT BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
For starters, Star wasn’t cheaper. While it was rarely more than maybe $30 a month more expensive, lying to people all day long will still affect you mentally. Especially when you know that someone is really trusting you, and you are lying to their face for your own personal benefit. However, if you were working in a lower income area or signed someone up who was receiving payment assistance, the 3rd party energy would remove that assistance. In those cases it was really bad.
If Star found out that we were telling customers they would save money, I’m pretty sure we would get fired, and as a result of this we would get briefed to practice the “vanilla” pitch whenever we were around and Star corporate employees for any training.
HOW WAS YOUR LIFE AFFECTED WHILST WORKING IN A SYSTEM THAT TOOK CREDIT FOR YOUR SUCCESSES, BUT CLAIMED THAT YOUR FAILURES WERE YOUR OWN?
It removed me from reality. I think that you should always look at yourself and your own decisions before blaming other people for what happens in your life, however it is a flat out lie that every single failure is your own fault. It’s taken me a lot of time and actual success/failure to learn that you can’t actually control everything.
By not taking full credit for your own success, you don’t build the confidence necessary to string together momentum to keep a positive mentality and outlook on life. You become a much unhappier person. Assuming complete responsibility for everything that goes wrong in your life will make you completely ignorant to what you actually can control. When you waste your time and effort trying to fix problems beyond your control, you can’t prioritize what you could fix to actually improve your day to day life.
HOW DID YOU MENTALLY ADAPT TO HAVING TO BREAK YOUR STATE’S LAWS TO RING THE BELL? DID SOME REPS TAKE TO IT FASTER THAN OTHERS?
For me, the fact that I was helping the environment with every sale went a long way. NJ has a lot of unnecessary laws and there is a large, state wide “Karen” culture, so I didn’t actually feel bad for breaking local laws. I also had a few run-ins with police when I was younger, so it wasn’t as shocking as it perhaps should have been. Most co-workers would quit after their 1st time having the cops called on them. I would always lie and tell my trainees that what we were doing wasn’t illegal, but people will complain and it’s always a good idea to leave if a cop tells you to. Which was a lie, however our owner would pay any fines incurred.
Watch David’s ‘The Slave Circle Extra Takes’ interview here
IN WHAT WAYS WOULD MANAGEMENT TRY TO MOTIVATE THEIR REPS?
Mostly by claiming they could make tons of passive income and that they were “in control of their own destinies” or will be millionaires etc.
DID YOU AT ANY POINT ASPIRE TO BECOME A CYDCOR SUBSIDIARY MANAGER/OWNER?
Yes, pretty much as soon as I heard about it. It was actually a huge selling point for me.
WHEN DID YOU NOTICE A DISCONNECT BETWEEN HOW THEY SOLD OWNERSHIP TO YOU, AND THE DEPRESSING REALITY OF THE POSITION?
I had inclinations, typically related to the lifestyles of the owners compared to what was sold. I didn’t know how bad it was until watching the Slave Circle documentary and learning about the business accounts/retrain process.
Expanding on this, I actually looked further into the mathematical chances of someone actually achieving the lifestyle sold by these companies and it’s literally 0% in 2020. In this MLM, you must promote 10 outside deals to become a consultant. The problem with this is that there can only be 7 generations of 10 new owners promoting 10 new owners before you exceed the population of planet earth. For there to be 7 generations of cydcor consultants, it would require every living person from the oldest person in Canada to the youngest infant in Sudan to be working for Cydcor. This is why all MLMs are destined to fail.
WHAT WAS THE WORST EXAMPLE OF BRAINWASHING OR CULT LIKE CONDITIONING YOU NOTICED?
Taking people who were looking for 9-5 jobs and telling them they needed to be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is oftentimes lonely, stressful, and has roller coaster highs and lows. If someone is looking for a stable comfortable job, you should never steer them down a path that could take more than a decade to earn the same amount of money they could at a 9-5 while having significantly less free time. That doesn’t even account for the fact that there are “consultants” in the business making 40k a year and that the whole “opportunity” is a lie.
WHAT WAS THE LAST STRAW FOR YOU ?
The office turn over is what got to me. I am fortunate enough to naturally make friends with most people, and having to essentially lose friends every week really got to me. I was also weirded out by my leader trying to get my girlfriend to befriend the girlfriend of a team mate, I thought it was incredibly weird.
WERE YOU APPROACHED BY YOUR FORMER MANAGER OR ANY OF YOUR COWORKERS AFTER LEAVING?
Yes, but not about the business. I celebrated new years 2020 in Las Vegas, and after posting pictures on Instagram my former owner reached out to me asking for suggestions on what to do in Vegas while he was there in February for the Cydcor ownership conference. I have however reached out to several former co-workers and we are still friends.
HAVING LEFT THE FIELD AND STARTED YOUR OWN BUSINESS, IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU BELIEVE THE REPS YOU WORKED WITH WERE MISLED WHEN IT COMES TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ‘HUSTLE’ CULTURE?
In practically every possible way. Entrepreneurship is glorified by these MLMs and in modern “Instagram” pop culture because of the lifestyle afforded by a successful business. The reality of entrepreneurship is drastically different. It is stressful, lonely, scary, and will at times demand that you prioritize your business over your short term happiness until you reach whatever your definition of “making it” is. The reason someone suffers through that uncertainty, and through the long hours, is to dictate their own life. If I have to go through a period of working until midnight, or dealing with a lot of stress/anxiety, once that period is over I can take a mental health break and sleep until noon, work a few half days, play video games, or make actual use of my free time by traveling or making time for friends and family. There is no one who can fire me for taking mental health breaks or working at less than 100% productivity from a laptop on a beach somewhere for a short time when possible to recover.
The ownership “opportunity” in the business is designed to look a lot like this life, while allowing the larger MLM to still dictate your life for you. Sure owners may make thousands that land in their business account, but they don’t have access to spend it on the things/experiences they want. The actual corporation may be in the owner’s name, but the controlling interest is the MLM. An owner may get to live the “grinding for my dreams” lifestyle and be able to relate to a Gary Vee post on Instagram, but in reality have no freedom to dictate how they spend their time, and effectively no valuable equity in the company they “own”. Owners have to follow orders from the higher ups, and are told they can only take home what they make in the field. Owners don’t get to go on vacations, owners can get shut down, they don’t even get to call in sick. They are employees in everything but name. Working under conditions that would be illegal to subject actual W2 employees to.
When you compare the horrible reality of the “opportunity” to someone making $800/mo reselling sneakers on eBay, the sneaker reseller is more of an entrepreneur in the sense of how much freedom they have over how they use their time, as well as decision making ability, income opportunity, and how capable they are of expanding and growing their business on their own terms.
OWNERS IN THE BUSINESS ARE ALWAYS QUICK TO MENTION THE SKILLS YOU CAN GAIN BY WORKING IN THE FIELD, BUT WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO ‘UNLEARN’ ABOUT BUSINESS ONCE YOU LEFT?
I had to unlearn irrational optimism and trust. I actually fell Into another scam immediately after Cydcor, and essentially went bankrupt because of it. I wound up desperate with no $ to buy anyone in my family gifts for Xmas and took a job that paid $225 a week. I lived on pasta with olive oil for months barely breaking even until I was able to increase my income.
WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL OWNERS IN ‘THE BUSINESS’, HAVING SUCCEEDED OUTSIDE OF IT?
Don’t think of being rich as having a 6 or 7 figure income. Rich is being able to meet the expenses for whatever is required to make you happy without having to work for it. Not only does that give you time freedom and the freedom to take risks with any additional income you make from other sources, but it will create generational wealth because you don’t actually have to work to make that money, so it will snowball for decades and you can pass it on in your family.
If you just said “that’s the entire point of promoting outside deals” you need to revisit algebra. As I explained earlier, for there to be 7 generations of cydcor consultants, it would require every living person from the oldest person in Canada to the youngest infant in Sudan to be working for Cydcor.
Expanding on that train of thought, no amount of sex, money, or materialism will ever make you really happy. It’s awesome having nice things, and it can make you feel really good in the moment, but actually feeling satisfied and pursuing your own happiness is far more important. Don’t wait until you’re wealthy to pursue your actual real dream. Remember who you were before someone in a $100 suit convinced you that you needed to be a millionaire.
If this experience made you realize you’re an entrepreneur or that you need passive income, try creating a side business that doesn’t require your day in day out effort to put money in your pocket. Once you have a profitable idea that can make you even a small amount of money every month, try scaling it without having to also permanently increase your workload in relation to the added income. Or if you enjoy working hard, learn a skill like web design or power washing that you can use to make money on the side and just do it full time. You’ll wind up making way more money than you ever would as an owner and actually be in control of your time.
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