Introduction to Isagenix MLM Compensation Plan
Dr. Harriet Hall has had not one storied career but two. The first way she has made her mark is as one of the first women to serve as a physician in the U.S. Air Force. By the time she retired from the Air Force, she had achieved the rank of Colonel, and she had worked as a pilot, a flight surgeon, and a family physician. Her autobiography Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon takes its name from a comment made to her by an employee at the airport where she landed her first solo flight.
Dr. Hall deserves a shout out just for her service in the U.S. Air Force and for being a part of the generation of physicians that made it normal for women to go to medical school and to work as medical doctors. It would be enough if all she did after her retirement was tell entertaining stories to her daughters, nieces, and nephews about her adventures in the Air Force and in the medical profession and be the person the neighbors could count on for a reliable answer about whether their kid just had a cold or whether it was an issue that required prompt medical treatment. If someone in your family works as a physician or nurse, you probably know that giving medical advice can become a full time job if you let it. The fact that not everyone has a relative who has formal education in medicine was part of what prompted Dr. Hall to start her second career. Those of us who are more than one degree of separation from a physician or nurse tend to consult Dr. Google, and thanks in no small part to search engine optimization (SEO), Dr. Google does not give us the best answer, but rather, the answer that ranks highest on the search results. Please don’t take offense, Dr. Google. I am aware that there are plenty of medical studies and scientific articles available online, but most people do not have the patience or presence of mind to click through pages of search results or squint at the tiny print and puzzle over the graphs in scientific journal articles when there is a puking kid three feet away from them.
Dr. Harriet Hall’s second career has been as a writer and lecturer dedicated to clearing up misconceptions and correcting misinformation about health and nutrition. Where do most people get this misinformation, you ask? From the nutraceutical industry, that’s where. If you have been reading this blog, you are aware that the nutraceutical industry is close kin to the multilevel marketing (MLM) industry. In fact, if you are a longtime reader of Notebook Crazy, there is a good chance that the reason you are reading this article is just to have an excuse to sit facing away from the floor to ceiling wall of unsold vitamin supplements, protein powder, and meal replacement shakes in your basement. MLM’s play on people’s ignorance about business, but nutraceutical companies play on their ignorance about medicine, and while Dr. Harriet Hall has never claimed to make anyone more financially literate, she may make you stop and think before you click to sign up for another MLM company’s nutraceutical products to be mailed to you every month on autoship.
Over time, Dr. Hall started to notice how many treatments were advertised in the popular media as “alternative medicine”, and she saw that, while some of them simply failed to cite studies supporting their claims to the health benefits of their products, some of them were downright bizarre. (If you do not believe me, read my reviews for MLM companies like the Amega, the purveyor of AM Wand that claims to make your cytoplasm dance its way back into homeostasis, and CieAura, home of the hologram patches that look like a shiny Band-Aid but supposedly cure your aches and pains.) At a Skeptic’s Toolbox conference in Oregon, her colleague Wallace Sampson encouraged her to write rebuttals to some of the more ridiculous alleged alternative cures she had seen advertised in the media. In 2003, she published her first article testing an alternative therapy. The first article she wrote was about the Vitamin O line of dietary supplements, and she published it in the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. Since then, she has written for Skeptic magazine and Skeptical Inquirer and has a blog called The Skep Doc. Hall has also written for blogs like Science Based Medicine and Quackwatch.
At one point, she took a critical eye to a study published by the Isagenix company, an MLM company that sells nutritional supplements, especially those used in “cleanses”. The study she reviewed compared weight loss in a group of participants taking Isagenix supplements in addition to diet and exercise to a control group trying to lose weight with diet and exercise alone. She found a number of flaws in the study. First, there were too many variables different between the Isagenix group and the control group for it to be possible to attribute the improved weight loss results in the Isagenix group to the use of Isagenix products with any certainty. If anything, it looked like both groups were losing weight because of restricted calorie diets, and the participant in the Isagenix group lost more weight simply because they consumed fewer calories. Second, the numbers in one of the tables in results did not add up, no matter which way she tried to interpret them. But to Dr. Hall, the most telling thing about the way the nutraceutical industry (or perhaps we should say “nutraceutical culture”, because consumers of nutraceuticals were certainly active participants in this) was the way that readers reacted to her review.
Harriet Hall’s Isagenix review did not go over well with the Isagenix users and affiliates who read it, to say the least. In her Skeptical Inquirer article entitled Defending Isagenix: A Case Study in Flawed Thinking, she summarizes the various categories of responses she received in response to her Isagenix review. The largest group of responses consisted of Isagenix testimonials, in which people described the various ways that Isagenix had improved their health. Others were anti-testimonials describing the Isagenix side effects the writers had suffered when taking Isagenix products. Another category consisted of ruminations on the nature of medicine and healing that ranged from the baseless to the downright unintelligible. People claimed that all prescription drugs are harmful while all drugs were good. Isagenix apologists defended Isagenix supplements against the claims of side effects, saying that these symptoms were just the manifestation of toxins leaving the body. The last category consisted of personal attacks slung back and forth between Isagenix defenders and detractors (in some cases the detractors ended their posts with links to other MLM companies whose nutritional supplements, the writers claimed, were superior to Isagenix products) and directed against Hall herself. Her all-time favorite comment was “Harriet Hall is a refrigerator with a head.” (This is especially perplexing because nowhere in her Isagenix review did she recommend a particular type of food as the key to health, much less one that needs to be stored at low temperatures, and because, if the pictures on Wikipedia are any indication, Harriet Hall appears to have a healthy body mass index.)
I consider Dr. Harriet Hall a fellow traveler, as I, too, am on a quest to set the record straight, but my mission is a bit different from hers. I am not a physician, and I have never claimed to be one. Dr. Harriet Hall’s Isagenix review is a tough act to follow, but here you have it. Here is my Isagenix review.
Isagenix: The Company and Its Products
The first thing you notice when you visit the Isagenix website is that it is available in a number of language; before you enter the website, you are prompted to choose your country and region. The company was founded in 2002, but it is already big enough to have a website in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. Isagenix has its headquarters in Arizona, which is a contender for being the nutraceutical capital of the world.
The Isagenix products listed on the website are divided into a number of categories. There are Isagenix supplements designed for weight loss, supplements for healthy aging, products for anti-aging (only in MLM does a company promise to help you get old and stay young), supplements to help improve athletic performance, supplements for general health (translation: multivitamins, like the ones you can buy at Sam’s Club for a fraction of the price), and supplements that target particular problems (“problems” being used here as a euphemism for “placebo receptors”). And then there are the snacks and mini meals, which have names like “whey thins” and “slim cakes”. It doesn’t surprise me that 8s and 90s nostalgia are here to stay, but why are people still eating fake-tasting nutraceutical snacks when the new generation of health fads says that dark chocolate that is more than 60% cocoa is a vegetable? Why not grab a Hershey’s Special Dark bar and announce to the world that you are eating your veggies? And speaking of which, where is Cookie Monster to act as a spokesman for the veggie chocolate diet?
But the products for which Isagenix is most famous are its 3-Day Cleanse and its 9-Day Cleanse. If you do not know what a cleanse is, consider yourself lucky.
The Isagenix Compensation Plan
Oh, but it gets worse. You knew that this was an MLM blog, so you knew this part was coming, unless of course, you just ended up on this page thanks to the wonders of SEO after you typed “Harriet Hall Cookie Monster”. Yes, Isagenix offers a multilevel business opportunity for distributors to recruit other people to sell Isagenix products, and there are commissions and bonuses for recruitment and downline sales. But the worst part of the Isagenix compensation plan is that it has binary structure, which means that the people you recruit are divided into two teams, termed the right leg and the left leg. In a pure binary MLM system, commissions are only paid based on sales made by the left leg. Defenders of Isagenix are quick to point out that commissions on downline sales are not paid exclusively on left leg sales. There are, however, requirements about what percent of your sales can come from which leg in order for you to be eligible for the bonuses, so that sounds binary enough for me.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- As I have mentioned before on this blog, everyone’s placebo receptors respond to different things, and there is always a possibility that the people in your warm market have placebo receptors that respond better to Isagenix supplements than they do to plankton juice, nicotine-free shiny nicotine patches, or any of the other paraphernalia that other MLM companies want you to convince your warm market to buy. Only you can make that judgment call.
- Most physicians do not recommend doing cleanses like the ones that Isagenix sells. People who wish to do cleanses should first speak with their healthcare providers about possible risks.
- The Isagenix compensation plan is a slightly more complicated version of a binary compensation system, which, as every MLM veteran knows, is a great way to get your hopes up about downline commissions and then end up being very disappointed by how little money you actually get.
- Isagenix sells vitamin supplements, and vitamin supplements pile up in your basement. You know as well as I do that having a basement full of unsold vitamin supplements from an MLM company is a lot more depressing than having a basement full of pre-veggie era Cookie Monster memorabilia.
The world needs more women like Harriet Hall. Dr. Harriet Hall, I salute you. Readers, you know as well as I do that the part of you that most needs cleansing is not your intestines but your conscience. Do you really have it in your heart to pressure your friends and family into buying more neutraceuticals?
If you need some stimulating conversation to take your mind off your basement full of vitamin supplements, schedule a call with me. I can give you my advice on how to make your at-home business profitable.