I had a phone call the other day from what I guess I’d call a friend-once-removed (an FOR), by which I mean she is a person who is friends with another friend of mine, and who, consequently, I see several times a year but don’t really have anything else to do with. I like her fine. I’m just not particularly close with her. An FOR.
Although I was initially surprised to hear from her, her motives became clear as soon as she said the words ‘hoping you can help me with a little venture I’m working on.’ My suspicions were confirmed when her schpiel ended with ‘can I meet you for coffee?’
“Is this Arbonne?”
Arbonne is a line of products whose marketing scheme is word-of-mouth and rhymes with “Fonzie.”
“I’m not buying anything– you should know.” I didn’t want to mislead her, though clearly she was trying to mislead me by making it sound like she cared for my actual companionship.
It’s fine, she told me. Even if I didn’t buy anything I’d still be helping her firm up her pitch and it would be good practice. I was being asked to help. I was flattered. We made a date.
I don’t necessarily disrespect people who choose to chase the dream and make ‘a little money in their spare time,’ as it were. In fact, I was totally impressed by FOR’s verve , get-go, drive, or whatever you want to call it. It takes some serious cajones to call people out of the blue when you barely know them and try to get them to open their hearts, schedules, and wallets to you. Of course, it makes it easier if you’ve already destroyed relationships with all your original friends, but it’s all worth it, I think, when the Arbonne people show up at your door with a thank-you gift in the form of a white Mercedes. No, really, they promise you a Benz if you sell enough body lotion and shampoo. Whooooa. Happy days!
I was trying to avoid sarcasm in this post and now look at me. I blame the Fonz but the Fonz doesn’t care. Aaaaay!
So I met with this FOR at one afternoon at a popular coffee place which I will not name but rhymes with Spar… Bucks… and I brought my Little One, who happened to have a day off. He was excited for the hot chocolate aspect of the meeting, and I was excited to do my friend of a friend a good turn as she began her journey to purported financial freedom.
I should mention that I’ve already been accosted by friends in the past who got on the Arbonne train. In fact, I’d won an entire gift basket worth of merchandise from a trade show and through some internal political hierarchies having to do with geography and/or nepotism, the person assigned to my followup telephone call was a girl not-removed from me, but an actual friend. An actual friend that I had to listen to as she rambled on about the products for fifty minutes until I managed to find some reason to excuse myself from the conversation. So I know a little bit about Arbonne. I’m still friends with that girl, by the way, but we’ve never ever spoken about what I’ve come to think of as The Horrible Arbonne Incident.
I scheduled FOR’s coffee date for the end of the school day just in case it… uh… didn’t have a natural end. I figured 45 minutes was enough time for her to practice her shpiel, drink a coffee, try some products, and get out. To make a long story short, I learned about Arbonne all over again, even though I told her, in nicer terms, about my previous education in the same department. I had the complete presentation including power point, demo booklet, and a little trial kit of toiletries — six products!! — that I was meant to use daily and return to her after three days. Six products? I feel proud if I have the energy to brush my teeth at the end of the day! I can’t even remember to take my ADD meds three day in a row!
Of course, I ended up taking it all home in a tote bag embossed with enormous company logos. I somehow followed the skincare routine for three full days (though I used up the little squirt of night cream on DD’s dry hands when we couldn’t find her regular lotion). I even met her on the morning of day 4, though I forgot the tote bag which I’ll have to get to her at a later date. I did not remember to take my pills during this time.
To add insult to injury, turns out the FOR is not new to Arbonne. She did not need to practice her pitch on me because she has been doing it for over two years. My efforts at do-goodism were for naught. I’m such a sucker.
But I digress.
Seeing FOR in action, even though the action was being taken against me, in a way, was somehow inspiring. The girl has a goal: to supplement her income (which I would describe as steady but limited). She has a means: The Fonz. She has a market: Other FOR. She has a modus operandi: Call, cajole, coffee, call again. And she does it. It sounds easy, but know how difficult it can be to tear oneself away from a good game of candy crush and make even a single sales call. I know it’s hard to put oneself out there and present oneself with confidence, even if you believe that the rewards are great and have optional seat warmers.
So even though I don’t think I’ll be peddling beauty products anytime soon, I can take a lesson from my FOR and push myself to write one more blog post or send out that promo package.
Because as she, and so many zombie-like and glowy-cheeked Benz hopefuls before her remind us: Don’t think “what if it doesn’t work?” Think “what if it does?”