My first adventure with Amway happened in 1994. I was then the president the so-called "Bean Society". We held monthly meetings to the tune of 75-100 participants. As anyone with a mind to make money off their friends would think, this was a golden opportunity, and so I was approached. The friend who approached me made it sound like he really wanted to catch up. Our last bonding experience was a drive to a Fathers and sons activity and during this drive we talked about the movie, "What about Bob?" When he called again, I was wondering if there was more to discuss about this movie. He was 4 years my senior, we never really did hang out, but after a mission, one is excited to catch up with anyone. He was very excited about meeting, and quite excited about the things I was working on, evidently. When the appointed day came, I was hanging out with my friend, Matthew, I asked my friend if it would be OK if I brought along a friend. To my surprise, he thought that would be most appropriate. He asked about the Bean Society, and I told him. At the time I was really enthralled with the Bean society--actually, I still am. He showed some good-will by showcasing some projects he had worked on that were similar in spirit--if not in any way--to projects of said society. This was by way of: "See, I totally get what you guys are all about, because I work on similarly fun projects!" He then took out a book with lots of pictures of very fancy houses. Exactly the kind of thing my unmarried, no commitments whatsoever mind was looking for:a gigantic golden house.
What really interested me was a card that depicted different levels of, shall we say 'success'. The houses I was looking at were houses of 'diamonds'. Well, you can well imagine I wanted to be a diamond. I then asked where he fell on the different levels. He was somewhere between rubies and emeralds (note: I'm not exactly sure on the names). Guess what? In just one week, a diamond was going to be giving a presentation! Talk about the chance of a lifetime! We didn't leave with any sort of commitment, or any clear sense for what the whole set-up was, except that it led to riches unfathomable. and my involvement with the society could very plausibly facilitate a rapid climb up the mineral ladder. At the time, I hadn't heard of Amway.
On another occasion, a networked friend of this previous friend spoke with me and my friend, Weston, about the prospects of using this society to get gain. He related that what he most looked forward to in his adult life was just being able to go skiing with his kids, or travel the world, and not to have to worry about financial matters. He then reminded us that we had assembled in whatever way we had, a group of up to 100 people, "You guys obviously have some drawing power!" and he asked: "Do you know how much money that is?" I don't think I had ANY idea.
One of my favorite experiences came during my married life. Apparently we had agreed to listen to a presentation at our home. The visitor was a very nice lady, and I suspect she was fairly fresh off an initiation in the book that displays the homes of 'diamonds'. She was most excited about these homes. "Can you imagine living there! Oh man!" I imagine we were one of her first presentations, she kept lobbing unconnected statistics and anecdotes that, if carefully tied together in some sort of overall narrative, could have presented a persuasive case to bum cash off your friends in exchange for everyday, household goods. My favorite line of hers was this:
Lady: OK, let me put it this way: Do you know how much a penny is worth if it doubles everyday? (She didn't specifiy any time-period).
Us: (shaking heads) No, no, we don't.
Lady: It's a million dollars! Can you believe that! A million dollars!
My next experience came surprisingly when a friend stayed over at our house. He was passing through New York, and the subject turned to "What is going on?":
Friend: Well, I'm working at this advertising agency for the time being, but I'm really excited about some other really exciting projects I'm working on.
Me: Really? What is it?
Friend: Well, it's a pretty slick idea. It's very simple. It's basically, well, you buy groceries, and other items that you buy anyway, and you basically eliminate the middleman. It's basically e-commerce. I have a simple e-commerce site, and you know how great e-commerce is these days! Then I help people set up their own on-line stores, and I save money by shopping from my store, and they can save money by purchasing the goods from my online place, or I can help them set up their own, then I am helping other people benefit in the same way by helping them set up their own e-commerce location, and I get a small percentage of their revenue. And they can do the same. I love it because I get to really help people. Like I say, it's a pretty slick idea.
Me: Yeah, it sounds pretty awesome.
My last adventure is the most brief, but in some ways the most telling. We were passing through Salt Lake en route to Provo and there was a convention happening at the Salt Palace. We pulled over to talk to some of the conference attendees. The exchange went like this:
Us: So what brings you here...what is all this activity about?
Them: It's a convention...(awkward pause) an, it's, uh it's an Amway Convention. [It's a Harley...compatible. It's a Harley compatible, its basically the same thing]