The Lies Behind Multi-Level Marketing with Emily Lynn Paulson


May 1, 2023

Emily Lynn Paulson is back on the show to talk about her mind blowing new book “Hey Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy and the Other Lies Behind Multi-Level Marketing”. In her past life, Emily was highly successful within an MLM, but after she got sober, the work she was doing within the MLM started to feel…icky. So, Emily went searching for answers and uncovered the web of lies that ensnare people into the world of multi-level marketing. 

Join us to learn exactly how the MLM system is rigged against 99.7% of people who buy in, why the industry does such a good job of preying on motivated moms, the red flags to look for, and how to begin to find the facts if you are currently in an MLM. 

Pre-order your copy of ‘Hey Hun’ here: https://www.amazon.com/Hey-Hun-Sisterhood-Supremacy-Multilevel/dp/1955905258

Check out Emily’s last book, Highlight Real: Finding Honesty and Recovery Beyond a Filtered Life: https://www.amazon.com/Highlight-Real-Finding-Recovery-Filtered/dp/1733853219/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1639968186&sr=8-2

Hear Emily’s sobriety story on Sober Mom Life 


Learn more about Emily Lynn Paulson here: 


Check out Emily’s Sober Mom Squad here: 


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Speaker 1 (00:04):

Hi, welcome to the Sober Mom Life podcast. I’m your host Suzanne of my kind of suite and the sober mom life on Instagram. If you are a mama who has questioned your relationship with alcohol at times, if you’re wondering if maybe it’s making motherhood harder, this is for you. I will be having candid, honest, funny conversations with other moms who have also thought, Hmm, maybe motherhood is better without alcohol. Is it possible We’ll chat and we’ll talk about all things sobriety and how we’ve found freedom in sobriety. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic. You don’t have to either, and maybe life is brighter without alcohol. I hope you will join us on this journey and I’m so excited to get started.

Hello, happy Monday. Can you hear my voice? I am struggling with allergies, a cold, something, just kind of the crud. Oh my gosh. I don’t know if you guys are like this, but when I get sick, I get so triggered and I get <laugh>, which is very helpful. It’s very helpful to be sick and pissed off. I highly recommend it. It really helps heal and it helps you feel better. I don’t know if it brings me back to the hangover days or something, but I’m like, wait, I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body. Sure I eat too much sugar. But other than that, and I don’t get a lot of sleep because my kids wake me up three times a night and my schedule’s jam-packed. Okay, fine, I’m not doing everything I can, but I did one big thing and that was take out alcohol, so can you please like reward me by maybe not ever getting sick again?

So that’s always my first feeling when I get sick and then I reframe it, you know, I do the good old reframe and I’m like, okay, it could be way worse, obviously, so grateful and at least I, I’m not like feeling like shit and feeling shame about it because at least this wasn’t self-induced, right? And so I could take that off the table and I can just say, oh, I feel like shit. And somebody helped take care of me. Okay, enough about the sickness. I am so excited. We have our return guest, Emily Lynn Paulson is back, and if you missed her first episode, go back. She was one of my very first guests, maybe in the first couple of months of the podcast. She talked about her sobriety journey and her drinking and when she quit. So we did get into that, and that was with her first book Highlight Reel, which if you have not read, I highly recommend that.

I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes too, along with her new book. Hey, hun, sales, sisterhood, supremacy, and the other Lies behind Multi-level Marketing. Wow. I got an advanced reader copy of this book, and I’m telling you, it’s amazing. She burned the shit down. Emily’s very open about her journey of, and she was, you know, top level at this M mlm. She was very successful. And when she got sober and when she stopped drinking, it started to feel kind of icky and the practices that she was doing and what she was being told. And it’s, it’s almost like her eyes began to open to the truth of it. Emily is so lovely. I love that she stands up for what she believes she really, and thi this book is not just her opinion and it’s not just anecdotal. She has a lot of facts and stats and she really, really dives into MLMs and what they are and how they work.

And if you are in an MLM and you’re like, what? I can’t believe this. And you’re having some feelings right now, if you’re in your feelings, you’re feeling a little bit defensive, I understand if this episode isn’t for you. But then I would also just push back and say, what if you did listen and gave it a shot? Before we get to the episode, I wanna remind you to come support the podcast on Patreon. We have five, seven, and $10 levels. That’s monthly. You get to cancel at any time. No contracts to sign. You don’t sign your life away. You just come over there and support us and have fun. You get bonus episodes, the real sober mom chats. You get to sign up to be on that. Those are coming back to the podcast. We have an extra Zoom meeting on Fridays every Friday at 11:00 AM Central Time. Our book club Wednesdays 7:00 PM Central Time and Discord. So the ladies are chatting all throughout the day on Discord. So come over there. There’s a lot of fun stuff I love our community that we’ve created over there. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast that helps us out and rate and review it and maybe send it to a couple friends and share any episodes you like. Okay, I’m done. I’m done asking for things. Thank you for listening as always, and enjoy this episode with Emily.

Speaker 2 (05:35):

Emily, you’re back on the Sober Mom Life podcast. Hi. So glad to be back. I know you are our first repeat guest, so welcome back. Yay. Yeah. Um, we talked all about your drinking story on the last episode. So you guys, if you have not heard Emily’s story, go back to that. It was a while ago. Like you were one of my first, I think. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (06:01):

It was a while ago.

Speaker 2 (06:02):

Yeah. And so now today, I’m so excited we’re gonna talk about your new book. Hey hun. Okay, hold on. I gotta get this whole title right. I love it. Okay. It’s, Hey hun, sales, sisterhood, supremacy, and the other Lies behind multi-level marketing. Okay you guys, I just have to tell you, I read this book, I got an advanced reader copy and holy shit, you are gonna burn the shit down. You’re telling the truth. You’re blowing the doors wide open on all of this. And I am so here for it. <laugh> <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (06:39):

I know I could, I was like, once we talked last time, I was like, oh my God, you’re gonna love this. I gotta send this to you. <laugh>.

Speaker 2 (06:45):

I was telling Laura McCowen, I was like, no, MLM is like my new true crime <laugh>. Like I wanna know all of the, first of all, okay, we, we need to rewind because you were in an MLM and you were very successful in the M mlm. We don’t name what it is. You keep that. I think what I liked about this book is if this isn’t a gossipy, just bring it down to bring it down because it, you weren’t successful and you have some sort of vendetta that’s not this. This is you telling the truth about not only what you saw and experienced when you were in the mlm, but all of the research you’ve done since it’s all in there.

Speaker 3 (07:27):

It’s interesting, the criticism that comes is usually from people who, I mean, no one’s really read it yet other than advanced readers, but people who kind of just assume like, oh, you know, you were really successful and how dare you like shit on other women or whatever. And it’s like, that’s actually has, it has nothing to do with the people, right? It is all about the system and that it’s rigged. And the fact that I succeeded or the fact that someone else failed was neither of our fault, right?

Speaker 2 (07:57):

Yes. And and you talk a lot about that and like the fact that you succeeded and you really did. I mean, you, you made a lot of money in the mlm. You were like at, you know, not the tippy top, but you were up there because you had a lot of resources going into it like you were set up to succeed, right? And you talk a lot about that too. Like this isn’t some like get rich quick scheme that it pretends to be.

Speaker 3 (08:23):

Yeah. Well, and it’s sold as under the perfect conditions. You know, hey, you join and then other people join you and then they pay money and then you, it’s like, oh, okay, that makes sense. Right? So if you have this perfect set of circumstances of you join a company early, you join a company where there aren’t a lot of people in your area, first of all, you have money and then you have a network of people who have money, you’re probably gonna do okay. However, how are all those go? People gonna do, you’re never told that. You’re never, you’re just taught like, yes, you can do this, this is the system, replicate it and everyone else can replicate it. When in actuality it’s not possible.

Speaker 2 (09:03):

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, it’s that Rachel Hollis bullshit of like, well, you just have to work hard enough and then you’ll be successful. And if you’re not successful, it’s because you’re not working hard enough.

Speaker 3 (09:14):

Right? Well, it’s easy to, you know, say if you put the onus on someone else or you put the onus on yourself, right? Like I have the power within me. Like that’s a wonderful thing to think that I’m in charge of my own destiny and stuff. Wow. But then the problem is, if you fail that it’s your fault and then you can’t blame the company, you can’t blame your uplines and there’s no really way of knowing, oh, what if I had worked harder? What if I had done X, Y, and Z? Because you’re always expected to do more. Yeah. You’re never expected to like get to a certain place and then, oh, you’re done. It’s, well, you just haven’t done enough. There’s still another tier to get to. There’s still another sale you can make. There’s another person you can reach out to. It’s just this never ending thing. So of course you can blame yourself if it doesn’t go right, which 99.7% of the time it’s not gonna work out.

Speaker 2 (10:03):

That’s mind blowing. That’s stat. Okay. So it’s 99.7% of people who join MLMs will what?

Speaker 3 (10:12):

Not turn a profit.

Speaker 2 (10:13):

Not turn a profit. Okay. So lose money.

Speaker 3 (10:17):

Yes. And because it’s a pay-to-play system, you know, you join these, you buy a business kit, you buy a, a discount products kit, you buy whatever, they all have different names, right? A wholesale customer, like all, they have all these different like names. That’s like putting lipstick on a pig and you pay your money. So you’re out of the gate, you are negative out of the gate, you’re in debt. So first of all, you have to earn back that most people never do anything beyond that first purchase. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that’s something that the M MLM and people in the MLM will use against, you know, naysayers cuz they’ll say, oh well most people buy the kit for the discount. But <laugh>, when you look at the numbers, if you were going to buy a product and you have to push the consultant package, what does that say about the company? It’s because the recruiting, the recruiting of human beings, the selling of, again, those pay to play systems is what makes the money. Because once you’ve purchased it, the company in your uplines, they already have that capital. They already have the money that goes up trickles up.

Speaker 2 (11:27):

Yeah. And so that’s why MLMs fall back on this thing. Like, no, we’re not a pyramid scheme because you’re not required to recruit, but it’s all the same. Right?

Speaker 3 (11:40):

Oh, absolutely. You aren’t technically required, but that is how you make money, right? The products are just a gateway to getting people in the system because say I send a message to you and say, Hey hun, Suzanne,

Speaker 2 (11:53):

First of all, I love that because, because I’ve gotten so many of those. Hey hun, oh,

Speaker 3 (11:59):

Because you have a network, you have a big following. So you are a prime target of hey, you could and you could, I mean you were the perfect example of someone who could join something and people would probably buy it just cuz you’re you. Yeah. But then eventually that would wear out, you would turn people off, you would get to a point where there aren’t other people joining. Anyway, that’s a whole nother

Speaker 2 (12:20):

Thing. And the saturated market, right?

Speaker 3 (12:22):

So I say to you, Hey Susanna, I’m selling these products now will you wanna try one? And you’re like, oh sure Emily, you know, I wanna support you, blah blah blah.

Speaker 2 (12:29):

Right? I like you. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 (12:31):

I like you. Sure. I trust you. You buy a product. Well now I’m gonna say, Hey Suzanne, you know the best way to get a better discount on this product is actually join as a consultant. And then you have the opportunity to make money yourself. So even if you’re like, no, I just want this eye cream. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (12:47):


Speaker 3 (12:48):

Month I’m gonna be bugging this shit outta you to buy other products to again join for the discount. So the products are just a way to get your foot in the door with someone to recruit them into the system. That is the goal. Lead with the business. Lead with like recruiting is the

Speaker 2 (13:05):

Goal. Get them into the web. Yes.

Speaker 3 (13:07):

Get ’em in the web. There was a saying it was Rita is the answer, or Rita is like, recruiting is the answer.

Speaker 2 (13:13):

Oh, okay. I was

Speaker 3 (13:15):

Like, just remember Rita Recruiting is the answer. So,

Speaker 2 (13:18):

So they said the quiet part out loud. I mean that’s, yeah.

Speaker 3 (13:21):

Oh yeah. And the company won’t put this anywhere like on their website or like, you know, they make sure not to screenshot it, but that is what is coached is you are selling a system to recruit other people. If it was just about products, it wouldn’t be multi-level. That is the multi-level part. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (13:40):

Right. And that’s what makes all of them the same. And so like anytime I share your stuff, you know, I love sharing your stuff on stories and I’m like, yeah, I can’t wait for you guys to read this. I always get messages like, I got one before. Like, you have way too big of a following to share such an ignorant message. And I was like, oh,

Speaker 3 (13:59):

Okay. Oh honey,

Speaker 2 (14:00):

I know. And, and she was like, Beachbody is totally not this. And I’m like, it’s all <laugh>. I know. And I, I can only imagine the pushback you get because after reading your book and I didn’t know, you know, I’ve, I sold Beauty counter just, I included the links. I think I recruited one person and I was like, no, no, no, I, I’m not doing this. This was probably seven years ago. And I was like, okay, I just have no interest to be in that. You know, I had so many other things going on. But yeah, I, I mean just the pushback that you must get from people in the M L M because it’s like a cult. It feels very culty. It

Speaker 3 (14:38):

Is, it is. And I mean obviously you read the book so you know how much it really is like a cult. But here’s the thing about that. And I have to say, and I’m sure you do too, I have really good boundaries with like my dms and stuff like that, like, and my comments, right?

Speaker 2 (14:52):

Yes. You have to, if

Speaker 3 (14:53):

Someone sharing their negative experience there, and I share a lot of positive things too. Like it’s not all negative, but you know, their overall trauma pain, negative experience. If you believe that that message impacts you negatively, whether financially bringing you criticism, then you’re either in denial or you were part of that.

Speaker 2 (15:16):

Right. Or you’re in it. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (15:18):

Right. Like if you have such allegiance to a company that you will completely not look at someone’s real experience and frankly research that anyone can go look up the same stuff that I researched. Right? And then you just make ad hoon in my tax. Like that’s just something you should stop yourself and say, if I feel so comfortable with what I’m doing, why would I care what this person’s writing about?

Speaker 2 (15:41):

Right. And that is, you really talk and you break it down about like why it is a cult and like the information control, all of that. And that I, if you’re in a system where the only information you can get is within the system and you are really told not to look outside of the system for any information, guys, that’s like a huge red flag for anything, for religion, for anything.

Speaker 3 (16:08):

Huge red flag. And I think the number one question that, you know, I’ve heard and I’ve like, I didn’t make this up, it’s like what happens when you leave something that will tell you how culty it’s, right. Because I always use Orange Theory as an example. Like if you leave Orange Theory, they will probably be like, oh shoot, Emily, where’d you go? Are you injured? Are you okay? We miss you. But they wouldn’t be like, you traitor. Are you working out at CrossFit or something? Yeah. You’re

Speaker 2 (16:34):

Not ostracized.

Speaker 3 (16:36):

No. Like if you don’t come here, we can’t be friends with you anymore. What happens when you leave an M mlm? It is you, you gave up or you’re a hater or whatever. Wow. And that’s a huge red flag. You might just not like a product or you might not like a person if you leave a job, which supposedly this is a job, you can still be friends with people you used to work with. Right. Where else does that happen?

Speaker 2 (17:01):

Right. It is heartbreaking because I think so many of these, you know, a lot of them are stay-at-home moms who have lost themselves in motherhood. Like you were like, you have five kids. Like of course like we need to be something other than mom. Right? And so you can see how moms are searching and so much of what an M MLM brings to them is this community, right? This overnight community. And they feel in, and that’s a really good feeling. And so then how awful is that than just to when you do, either you leave for whatever reason, it’s not good for your family, you’re realizing, you know, like one of your best friends had to find actually a real job that had like benefits and a salary and actually made money. And so yeah. That’s heartbreaking. Then the community has just, you’re ostracized when that’s probably why they joined in the first place.

Speaker 3 (17:53):

Absolutely. And that keeps a lot of people stuck because even if you’re at the point, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this, and I probably repeated this when I was in the M mlm, was even if I made no money, I would stay for the people. And you gotta sit back and go, Ooh, really? So you’re, you would just monthly pay for these friendships when there’s other ways to get community. Like there are lots of other ways. And so to sit back and think like, I can’t leave this because these are my friends and obviously I couldn’t be friends with them if I left Yikes. Another red flag, right? I

Speaker 2 (18:26):

Mean that’s like, that’s like Scientology <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (18:28):

It is. And I can’t tell you the number of messages I’ve gotten that are like, please don’t screenshot this or please don’t share this, but I’m so glad you’re writing this. You know, or people who are in who again, they, they feel like they can’t leave, but like everything resonates with them. They’re like, I see this, I see this, I see this. I just financially can’t leave. It’s, it’s my sister I joined. It’s this, it’s that there’s some reason that they know if they quit, it’ll be detrimental. Like the damage of leaving is worse than the financial whatever damage of staying.

Speaker 2 (18:59):

Ooh. And it’s just packaged in this such a pretty shitty, I I hate just, yeah. The the boss babe, the, all of this, what is it called? Toxic positivity.

Speaker 3 (19:13):

Yes. Entrepreneur. And it’s also infantilizing, right? Yes. No. Cuz it’s never like, oh, you’re a man boss, you’re a bull boss, you’re a he e o, like none of the <laugh>.

Speaker 2 (19:25):

Oh yeah. The she e o is like, oh, I had never heard of that until this book. And I was like, holy shit. But there’s so many women out there in this and promoting this and not even knowing what they’re in and also just feeling like they’re failing. And I was shocked. You write a lot about how much you worked that the draw is like, oh, you could fit it in any, you know, fit it in when your kids are napping and just you get to fit it in and work from home and you were like busting your

Speaker 3 (19:56):

Ass. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> spending so much time, it was like, oh, make the moments count and all this bullshit. You know, half the time I had my face in my phone where I was on these pointless zoom calls or pointless phone calls. And this idea of time freedom, there’s so much cognitive dissonance there because you’re coached to sell the lifestyle. So when you’re by the beach, have your product and your laptop out. So work from the beach,

Speaker 2 (20:22):

Oh my God. Um,

Speaker 3 (20:23):

When you’re at the hospital having your baby post about how you love the freedom, it’s like, who the fuck wants to work when they’re giving birth?

Speaker 2 (20:32):

Oh my God,

Speaker 3 (20:33):

Who the fuck wants to work on vacation? So it’s this cognitive dissonance of joining something for freedom and then being locked into having to do this when you should be enjoying your family. Or again, like month end, you know, when you, you’re racing to get all these orders in it, it’s the opposite of freedom.

Speaker 2 (20:52):

Yeah. It did sound like hell on earth. Like as, as you’re like racing through trick-or-treating and you’re like, you have to make, and there are all these levels and they seem to change so much and it’s like just you can never hit this target and it’s constantly, you’re just constantly chasing. I think the through line of this is that if you are listening to this and you are in an ML m and you’re feeling like, why is this not coming as easily as, you know, the boss babe on Instagram who is telling me how to do this and that, it’s so easy and you have to do it, and you just have to work harder. And no matter how hard you work, you find yourself failing. That’s not a failure in you. That’s the system you are designed to fail in this, the

Speaker 3 (21:34):

System is rigged, the system is absolutely rigged and it’s preying on that hope that, you know, there are a few people who succeed at the expense of everybody else. And you see those stories a hundred percent of the time. <laugh>, you see the few success stories a hundred percent of the time. And yet if you’re listening and you’re feeling some sort of way, like ask yourself like what’s true? Because again, those boss babes sharing all that stuff, how much of that is actually true? First of all, you don’t know when they’re sharing their screenshots of their blurred out paychecks and their supposed orders, they’re getting coming in. It’s like, I’m here to tell you, a lot of that is bullshit. Yeah. And you know, again, at like, at what cost? Like at how long am I willing to do this? And it’s that sunk cost fallacy of I’ve already put in this much time, I’ve already put in this much of my resources, I’ve already done this, I’ve already done that. I’ve gotta stick it out. And knowing that even your friend who got you involved, your very good friend who wants the best in you, and she really does, right? Yeah.

Speaker 2 (22:36):


Speaker 3 (22:37):

You know, people want the best. I joined because I believed in the dream. I sold this dream, realized it didn’t exist. Right. I still had a financial motivation for those people joining. And so does your friend who recruited you, right? Nobody can want something for you more if they are getting the financial benefit from it.

Speaker 2 (22:57):

Totally. Yeah. They’re invested. I mean, they’re making money off of you. And if you were like one of the faces of your company, like you talk about the success stories and you keep hearing the same stories and you keep seeing the same people, like that was you, they would fly you everywhere. You would talk about your story. Talk a little bit about Yeah. Like the personal experiences that you used to help sell this dream.

Speaker 3 (23:24):

Yeah. From the beginning, you are really encouraged to be vulnerable. And there’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. It can lead to connection. We know that. But you’re using it to co-opt this scheme, right? You’re using it to sell products or whatever, but it starts to feel very natural because it’s just part, you’re swimming in the of other people doing that. And so you’re from the beginning, you’re, you’re told to, um, get your why. And you know, we do this in a lot of different areas too. Like your why for wanting to quit drinking or your wife for wanting to right. Climb Mount Everest. Like, it doesn’t matter. You, you wanna have like an internal like an intrinsic motivation to do things. So that’s all fine. But you are told to get so raw about like why you’re doing this pyramid scheme, you know, I’m doing this for my kids so that I can do this, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And so from the outset you are like spilling your guts to people and you’re encouraged to do this. There’s always these exercises like icebreaking exercises to really break down vulnerability in your pain points. And you’re taught really to target pain points, whether you think so or not. Again, you feel like you’re helping, you’re taught that you’re helping like, hey, a new mom, you know, she wants to lose baby weight and she wants a connection and she wants, she wants, right? Women want to have fewer wrinkles. Right? Women, all of these pain points of womanhood of motherhood, you feel like you’re offering something people want anyway. And so you, you spot vulnerabilities and if someone loses their job, your first thought is like, oh, I’ve got an opportunity for you. Right? So that’s already primed. You, you are primed to look for vulnerabilities, to share vulnerabilities.

And so when something happens, like you get a cancer diagnosis for example, you will no questions asked, roll it into your sales strategy because that’s what you’ve been primed to do. It’s like, Hey, how can I do something good? And again, the intentions are very good. Like I wanna do something motivating with, you know, make lemons outta lemonade or wait the other way around. Make lemonade outta lemons. <laugh>. Yeah. And you know, and at the time it was like, add some vodka too, right? And you know, it was like, I got this cancer diagnosis, how can I, oh, I’m gonna make this charitable donation. So anyone who buys a product, I’m gonna give all my profits to this organization. That sounds really nice, doesn’t it? Yeah, it sounds good. Yeah, sounds good. However, even though I was donating my profits, my upline was still getting money.

The company was still getting money and then I was still getting like a boost, a signal boost and promotions and all this stuff. So there was ulterior motives built in there. Yeah. It was exploitative exploited it for sure. But you didn’t feel like that. No. You’re exploiting other people too because you’re preying on their sense of wanting to help you. When I could have just said, Hey, can everyone give me $20 and I’ll donate it to this charity? I didn’t have to roll it into Right. But again, it, it seems like this would be a good thing. And so this just continued. And when I got sober, you know, and you know, that sobriety was a big part of how I started to unpeel myself from this company that was very celebrated and it really made me feel good how, how it was so celebrated, like, oh, good for you. And I was, it was at that time of my life where, you know, you first get sober and it’s like, ugh, you kind of feel regret and shame about things you’ve done. And I’m like, wow, they’re really proud of me. They want me to talk. That’s really cool. But it was just to lend another story to like rope more people in or keep more people like hoodwink to stay in. Yeah. Again, like the exploitative nature of it.

Speaker 2 (27:06):

And was it your recovery coach who first said like, wait a second, as you’re up there on those stages, you know, all around the world sharing your story. What did she say?

Speaker 3 (27:18):

Yeah, it was my, my first sponsor actually in aa and of course this was the person I had shared my deepest, darkest, everything. The first person really ever, I had shared every dark thing with. And so I, I thought she’d be like, oh my gosh, that’s, I’m so proud of you that they’re doing that. And she was like, be careful that they are not using your story to co-opt their scheme. Like, and, and she was very kind about it. But, but to me I was like, oh no, this is just for people. Cuz my first speaking gig was like, for people who are already in the company, I was like, oh no, I’m just talking to people who are already in. And I felt fine about that, but again, it was still keeping them entrenched. Like, oh my gosh, she can do it, I can do it too. If she did it through all of that, so can I.

Speaker 2 (28:07):

Well, and it’s so interesting to see like your, so your sponsor’s on the outside of it and kind of seeing clearly what’s happening. You’re in it and when you’re in it, you don’t see it clearly. Right. Because of all the brainwashing and all of this stuff that, that sunk cost and all of this stuff that plays into it. And that is, there’s so many parallels between MLMs and drinking, I think. And you know, the mommy wine culture and all of this toxic environment around drinking. When when you’re in it, you don’t see it. You just don’t see that it’s a trick. You don’t see that it’s a big lie, that it’s that you’re stuck and, and people on the outside, like you and I now that we don’t drink, we see mommy wine culture for what it is and we’re like, holy shit, this is a trick. And everybody’s being tricked and we never shame the the moms who are being tricked, but we do shame the, the triggers. Right.

Speaker 3 (28:58):

Right, right.

Speaker 2 (28:59):

Yeah. There’s such a parallel,

Speaker 3 (29:01):

There’s such a parallel and, and again, it’s like searching for that thing to fill the whatever is missing. Right. Whether it’s connection, whether it’s anxiety, whether it’s, so it’s, it’s, it’s all just, uh, half a dozen of one and six of the other. Right? Like it’s, it’s just the same thing. And, and that’s what’s interesting too, is that it’s that cognitive dissonance because same with drinking, you know, for so long it works, right? Air quotes like alcohol did help numb my anxiety for a while. And the mlm I did make money like on its face, I was the poster child for, I did the things and I was successful. And so that cognitive was like, but you know, I do see this, this and this and this, but I’m promoting, I keep promoting and I keep, I’m making more money and I’ve earned the car and I’ve done all these things. So, and again, like the system is rigged if you succeed or whether you fail, it’s, it’s not your fault either way. It was just happened to work. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (30:01):

Well, and, and there is so much drinking in that culture too. You write a lot about how your drinking really ramped up during this time.

Speaker 3 (30:10):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And, and again, you know, I think a lot now, again looking back, it’s like how we do happy hours and we do business over drinking and how much of that, that takes away your sense of control, right. And your inhibitions, which seem like a good thing at first when you’re, when you’re in it. And so many of the decisions I made, so many of the conversations I had, so many of the cold messages I sent were all done like under the influence. So the biggest like red flag that I started to see once I got sober was, oh shit, all these things I was doing, I can’t do anymore. I don’t feel comfortable doing this. This is my real self now coming online. That wasn’t me. Yikes. You know? And by then I was, I was in so deep it was like, now I really didn’t have to do those things cuz I had all these people underneath me who were, who I had coached to do them. And yeah, I’d gotten high enough, high enough in the pyramid at that point.

Speaker 2 (31:06):

Yeah. And you really paint a, such a clear picture of what happens when you stop drinking and then like you can no longer justify these things. And they, and they start to feel, you start to feel right because when we’re drinking, we don’t feel, and we just care less when we’re drinking, we care less. And so then once you start to care about kind of what you’re saying, who you’re tricking, you start to really see, oh wait, holy shit. I, I think that this is all a trick. I think I’m, you know, I’m a part of it. There’s shame and guilt that goes into that, but then also you are making a shitload of money. I mean, and you, you kind of lay out like the more money you make, the more you spend. And that’s just true. And so, like even the show billions, you know, you, you look at these like billionaires, you’re like, they have it all. No billionaires still spend so much money that they have to keep making that much money. Right. And so your lifestyle just like grows to fit how much money you, you make. And so you found yourself in that situation too. Right.

Speaker 3 (32:09):

And by then you’re, it’s like these golden handcuffs, right? And I always say I’m so thankful that I never fell into, you know, or my husband and I never fell into the, like he left his job or anything like that, which is, but

Speaker 2 (32:21):

He, but which he was pressured to do by other husbands too, right? That’s crazy. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (32:26):

For sure. Oh yeah. And thankfully he like had so much sense about him, but it, it’s golden handcuffs and I think it’s done by design that you, you do, when you get in you, it’s this lifestyle, it’s this aspirational. So you do buy the expensive shoes and you buy the expense of this, and you have now this car that you have to make a payment on and, and all of these things that

Speaker 2 (32:46):

Which is not free. The free car, that’s not free.

Speaker 3 (32:49):

The car is not free. So to just say, oh, I’m not gonna do that anymore and I’m not gonna make you know this money anymore. It’s like, okay, who do you live in reality? And that’s the, I think the most interesting criticism that I’ve gotten was like, oh, well now you should pay all that money back. And it’s like, do you know how finances work? Like, it, it’s not, I know, it’s not like I was putting it in a bucket like it was being spent Yeah. On my team. It was being put back into the system. That’s where the flaw is. And the fact that I did step away and it didn’t actually impact our finances that much is a result of I was spending a shit ton of money that I felt like I had to spend. Taxes were ridiculous. And again, I have a husband who has a job and was able, I had the privilege of being able to walk away.

Speaker 2 (33:39):

Right. Which is, which

Speaker 3 (33:41):

A lot of people don’t.

Speaker 2 (33:42):

Yeah. Which a lot of people don’t. And so it’s so interesting how closely drinking is tied to this. And I, I think that’s true for like a, a lot of women who are, who feel stuck in in MLMs because you can’t even, you’re just on your back foot. I think when we’re drinking anyway in motherhood in life, we’re on our back foot all the time. I mean, you’re starting from negative every single day. You, you can’t wrap your mind around leaving something, starting a new life looking for something else. So you’re just kind of stuck. And I feel like they have to know that, yeah, you, you keep these women drinking and that’s, that’s good for their business, <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (34:23):

Right? Well, and we’ve talked about this before. It’s like, I blame no one for turning to alcohol for stress. I blame no one for joining an MLM because again, what solutions do we have? Like, oh, where’s my, like my subsidized childcare and where’s my like, oh, it doesn’t exist. Okay, well here’s a five o’clock somewhere, uh, glass of wine. Where is a job that offers, uh, you know, flexible hours? Oh, there isn’t one. So I guess I’ll join this stupid pyramid scheme. <laugh>, I mean,

Speaker 2 (34:53):

Yeah, especially when we’re inundated. We live on social media, we’re inundated with posts and messages that drinking helps to relieve stress, drinking helps. Motherhood and MLMs are all over the place. Um, I mean, you, you can’t scroll Instagram without seeing an M mlm and that it’s the solution to your financial problems and your belonging issues and community like that. It’s everything. Right? And so Of course, of course.

Speaker 3 (35:20):

Yeah. What choices are we given? Not a lot.

Speaker 2 (35:22):

Yeah. So what advice do you have for someone who’s listening to this and who is, you know, she’s not at the top of the pyramid. She’s listening and she was like, God, you know, cuz you talk about this in the book, like in your gut, right? In your gut, you kind of knew, like you started to know and you started to know. But still our gut is like, especially when we’re drinking that’s offline. Like, it’s like, yeah, sure. I might know deep, deep down that this doesn’t feel good, this doesn’t feel good to like, hey hun, somebody from high school, you know, and tell all these people, just sell them on this. But as your gut comes online, and it probably is, someone’s listening to this and this is like triggering and it’s like a wait a second. Maybe they have a point. Maybe she knows what she’s talking about. What advice do you have for her?

Speaker 3 (36:11):

Yeah. So first, don’t give this podcast a one star review cuz you’re triggered. Okay. So that’s my Yes.

Speaker 2 (36:17):

Okay. Yeah. That’s my first <laugh>

Speaker 3 (36:19):

Or my book. Don’t do it with her book either.

Speaker 2 (36:21):

Yes, exactly. No, if you’re triggered, if you’re triggered, just stop <laugh>, take a deep breath. Yes,

Speaker 3 (36:29):

Yes. So again, my first, the first thing I say to anyone, like, same with like drinking with anything. This is not your fault. Again, the system is rigged. The fact that you thought this was gonna be helpful is how they’re sold. Okay? So you joined with the best of intentions, I guarantee you keep going with the best of intentions I guarantee. But leave a little bit of room, just a little bit, even 1% out of, you know, a hundred percent that maybe you’re not a hundred percent right. There’s just a, let’s leave a sliver. Okay? Yeah. That’s your first step. Yeah. Then do a profit loss statement. Hmm. Do a profit loss statement. Look at the money you have spent and be honest with what you spent on your business kit, what you spend every month. And don’t shoo anything away because you say, oh, but no, write down everything you spend babysitters, you know, conventions, trips, whatever, everything.

Website fees. Okay? Write down all the time you spent, and again, be honest, the scrolling here and there while you’re with your kids, doesn’t matter if you’re doing other stuff. Really. Like take a week, calculate how much time you’re spending doing this now look at how much you’ve made. Take out 50% for taxes. <laugh>. Okay. <laugh>. Yeah. And then do, do a little bit of math. Just do a little bit of math, how much you’re making per hour. And that should be all you need to know financially. Okay. Then make a list of like, what feels icky to you about this and what you like about it. Because I think if you’re willing to look at like what really is good about this, if it’s the community, okay. If it’s the money, you should hopefully see that you can take that off the list, right?

Speaker 2 (38:12):

Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (38:13):

And if it’s the community asking yourself like, oh, what would happen if I left? Could I still have this community if I left? And if you couldn’t red flag, it’s

Speaker 2 (38:22):

Super red flag. Couldn’t.

Speaker 3 (38:23):

Yeah. Where else could you get a community? You know, I, I think so. Not that you have to do anything, not that you have to make any decisions, but that’s to help build up that the other side of that cognitive dissonance, right? Instead of just spewing back what you’re told, believing what you’re told, believe that little bit that you are not right. And what you are selling to other people, good intentions are not is a scam. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (38:51):

Yeah. Because what you’re told is that you’re the problem and that you just need to work hard enough and you just need to know in drinking and in MLMs, you are not the problem. I think that that it, it all comes down to that. And are you still friends with some of your, I can’t remember the exact names, but what Becky is coming to mind?

Speaker 3 (39:12):

The Kimberly’s. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (39:14):

The Oh my God. Yeah. Not, I know you’re not friends with Kimberly anymore. <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (39:20):

Yeah. So, and again, this is by design that your warm market, the people who you target to begin with are your family and friends. Right?

Speaker 2 (39:28):

The warm market.

Speaker 3 (39:29):

The warm market. That’s why it’s so predatory because you’re taught like these people support you no matter what you’re selling. And so you target those people first. So usually the people who are in your organization are your friends and family. And thankfully for the most part, those people are, they’re, they loved you before, they’ll love you now. Right. And that’s been the case for me. Like luckily all my family was like too smart to join me, but <laugh>, you know, any friends who joined are still friends now. Even the ones who are still in. Right. So that, that wasn’t a condition of friendship before.

Speaker 2 (40:02):

Okay. The ones who are still in. Okay. If you were friends with them before, even if they’re still in now, they’re still friends with you.

Speaker 3 (40:10):

Yeah. And I would say that they never got quite as brainwashed as I did. Like they definitely drank some of the Kool-Aid, but like they totally support me writing this and uh, you know, totally. But also they’re like, well I make like a couple hundred bucks a month from this or whatever. It’s like the, you know, you do you like whatever.

Speaker 2 (40:30):

Yeah, fine.

Speaker 3 (40:31):

And I, I, there are some friends who I met in who some have left and some are still there.

Speaker 2 (40:37):

Wait, is Kimberly still there? Oh, go. Yeah, yeah, she’s still there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. She is. Yeah. Yeah. <laugh> and her husband is too. Oh yeah. <laugh> <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (40:47):

And for anyone, listen, these are all composite characters of many personalities.

Speaker 2 (40:52):

Yeah. We’re not blowing up somebody’s spot right here. I’m like, no,

Speaker 3 (40:56):

It’s not like a human person, but it’s personalities all uh, yeah. Actual things that happen in conversations, which is just wild. But yeah, so I definitely still have, there were friendships tucked in there that had more meaning than just the pyramid game. Right. But I mean, I would say 80% of the people who I met in there who, you know, just worshiped me when I was walking the stage, when I was spouting off my sobriety story arnell, like she’s an evil, like hater,

Speaker 2 (41:26):

Right? I mean, blocked you on Facebook, on Instagram.

Speaker 3 (41:29):

Oh yeah. Or written like comments under things. And you know what’s really funny is that I think I shared the today article that I wrote about exploiting the cancer, right?

Speaker 2 (41:41):

Yeah. We’ll link that in the show notes too. Cause so yeah,

Speaker 3 (41:44):

Someone wrote underneath it and was like, I can’t believe you would do something like that in our organization. We don’t, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I had done a training on his daughter’s team about vulnerability. Like, so the cognitive dissonance was so

Speaker 2 (42:02):

That’s hilarious.

Speaker 3 (42:04):

Yeah. It’s like, wait a minute. Like, I literally was asked by the person and company that you are like, yeah, defending to talk about this exact same thing. So like, there’s no hope for you.

Speaker 2 (42:17):

Right? No one’s different. If you guys are listening to this right now and you’re saying, no, mine’s different because we don’t call it that and we don’t. Nope. I don’t have to do that. I’ve never heard anyone talk about their cancer. None of them are different. It’s the same exact model.

Speaker 3 (42:31):

And frankly, if your company is saying they’re not an MLM and teaches you how to tell people it’s not an mlm a, it’s definitely an MLM and b, get the fuck out because that is, uh, such a red flag to say, to try and skirt around why it’s not the thing that it is, you know, using all these different words for it. Like again, lipstick on a pig, it’s the same thing. And doesn’t that say a lot about what they’re trying to avoid? They’re trying to avoid looking like themselves <laugh>, like come on.

Speaker 2 (43:00):

Yeah. They’re trying to teach you that they’re not themselves. And that’s like the whole, like if you Google, you know, do I have a drinking problem? Which I hate the term drinking problem because I think alcohol is a problem. But Yeah, if, if you’re Googling it, I mean, yeah, like that’s, yeah. You know, what do you think the future of MLMs are? It feels like, I don’t know if it’s just cuz I wasn’t in this world and now I, now I read this book and I’m like, oh, they’re collapsing. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (43:24):

I mean, as you probably know, after reading it, like there’s so much politically tied up in MLMs,

Speaker 2 (43:30):

Which that is insane too,

Speaker 3 (43:32):

Right? So like every Republican presidential campaign has had so many donations from the direct sales organization, which is just this lobbying group for MLMs, blah, blah, blah, boring political stuff. But there are so many very powerful, rich people who give money to lobbyists who keep these legal enough to stay in operation. So from a like global perspective, I don’t know that they will cease to exist at any point, but I do think they’re going to have to change, you know, company on a company by company basis because consumers are a lot smarter now. Consumers know. And there’s been a lot more in the media, you know, the Lula Rich documentary, there’s been a lot of talk about MLMs that

Speaker 2 (44:20):

This book, it’s gonna, it’s, yeah.

Speaker 3 (44:23):

Yeah, I hope so. It’s just, I want it to be part of the conversation of, again, I’m not condemning any specific person or people, or it’s not the people, it’s the systems that are rigged. And I think, again, it’s all about informed consent. It’s all about like, okay, you wanna join this mlm? Okay, here’s what really happens. Here’s the income disclosure statement. You’d be better off playing roulette because the odds are completely stacked against you. So at least you know, and here’s what the company’s gonna tell you. And they’re gonna tell you not to read this. And, which I know, in fact, I know. Cause again, I still know people who are in, who are like, oh my gosh, they’re telling us not to read your book, not to talk about it, not to post about anything, not to and good. Let’s just, the, like that closed system of, we’re gonna pretend there.

Speaker 2 (45:09):

That means they’re scared. It means you’re, you’re a threat and that’s great.

Speaker 3 (45:12):

Right? Again, if you feel fine about what you’re doing, if you feel like what you’re doing is on the up and up, why would you be worried about some chick writes a book.

Speaker 2 (45:22):

Exactly. It is true. I mean, I think about, you know, I, I’m a Christian even though that right now it’s, it’s a little bit scary to say because I’m not the Christian that I see on Twitter and on in politics and in your book you talk about Christianity as very present in MLMs. And it is, I think about with my religion, it’s like if I can’t question it, it’s not strong then I, there’s no faith there. And so I question it all the time. I’m like constantly seeking information about, okay, what about this? What, and it’s like, you keep coming back to that and it’s, that builds strength in conviction and what you believe. And yeah. If, if you’re in something you can’t question, that’s troubling.

Speaker 3 (46:06):

That’s troubling. And you know, that’s one reason why Christianity is so rolled into the M mlm because not only is it like you have the guilt of not doing everything you can personally, but also if you don’t, you know, you’re not giving the glory to God and you’re not serving Jesus in the way you could, or Jesus, Jesus must not think you’re a very good person cause you’re not succeeding. Like, that’s so damaging. That

Speaker 2 (46:32):

Is so crazy. I like how you write about the time that you were at like the big seminar, whatever, and, and they start talking about like giving the glory to God. And you’re like, wait, what? Like, Jesus doesn’t care about skincare. You guys, <laugh> doesn’t care about, like your recruits does

Speaker 3 (46:48):

Not care about your pyramid scheme. No

Speaker 2 (46:51):


Speaker 3 (46:52):

So, and there’s a lot of that like, oh, I give all the glory to God. It’s like, oh God,

Speaker 2 (46:57):

That’s that toxic that gives Christianity a bad name. And I’m sorry if that triggers anybody, but that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s not No.

Speaker 3 (47:06):

Oh gosh.

Speaker 2 (47:06):

It’s, it’s all, it’s all of that. Like Instagram, just that superficial toxic positivity bullshit that I’m like, oh, you guys, no, let’s talk about, let’s talk about real hard stuff that is actually edifying and and nurturing and nourishing to our souls and our minds and yeah, because life is hard. This shit is hard.

Speaker 3 (47:27):

Yeah. It’s not the things, you know, you are a deserving human of things and no matter what you do, no

Speaker 2 (47:35):

Matter what,

Speaker 3 (47:36):

Right? No matter what you just are. And so this idea that you have to meet this set of criteria for certain things, like that’s, that’s very damaging. Like you are a human who is deserving of love and all the things, and maybe you weren’t born into the circumstances that allow you to be as financially well off as some people. And that’s not because God doesn’t love you or God hasn’t. So to, to conflate the two of like the prosperity gospel and Oh, you’re rich because God loves you is like, that’s so fucked up <laugh>,

Speaker 2 (48:07):

That’s so fucked up. That’s literally the opposite of what it, that’s the opposite of what Christianity is and what I, it is for me, that’s why I, my mom and I have talked about this before she went to Trinity, which is, uh, like Christian college University and she’s a therapist. She’s not a Christian therapist, but she’s a Christian therapist, <laugh>, or you know what I mean? And we talk a lot about like how we don’t say like we’re blessed. Like, oh, I’m just, I’m so blessed. And it’s like, there’s so much in there, there’s so much ego and pride in that statement when people are say like, I’m just so blessed. It’s, it’s like, no, no, I’m, I’m grateful. Like grateful is such a better, it sits way better with me because if I’m blessed, God’s not saying you get, I get to be blessed and you don’t. That’s just not how it works. I don’t think. That’s

Speaker 3 (49:00):

Not what works. No, no saying

Speaker 2 (49:02):

For, for my religion guys, that’s not how it works. For my faith and spirituality. I, I would say not religion. Yeah. Oh my God, you guys, I, ugh, I cannot wait for you to read this. If this is peaking any sort of like curiosity, that’s where it starts. That’s where all of it starts, right? That’s where sobriety starts. It’s this, like you said, this informed consent and it’s this at least examine and question, right? That’s where like my sobriety started. That’s where you started seeing clearly what you were in and what you were a part of. It just all starts with that little seed of curiosity and questioning. And if you are feeling that, see where that takes you, lean into that. Get the book, read Emily’s I’ll, I’ll link everything in the show notes, like, just then find out what that is because generally where that leads is freedom.

Speaker 3 (49:58):

Yeah. And if you are listening and this makes you think of not yourself, but someone you know, your good friend or a sister or something, or your mom or whatever, and you wanna know how to support them, I talk a lot about that too, that, you know, what you’re probably doing is not supporting them. Like what, what you’re probably doing by buying their products. This the thing that you’re told is actually keeping them more stuck and how to deal with that and how to really give them the support they need. That they’re, they’re craving, right?

Speaker 2 (50:29):

Yes. Send them this podcast, send them the link to Emily’s book. Okay. When does it come out?

Speaker 3 (50:35):

May 30th. I’m just coming up. I know. May 30th. Oh my god.

Speaker 2 (50:41):

Okay. Well you’re gonna be seeing a lot of it on my Instagram stories cuz I’m gonna share the hell out of that <laugh> and you guys Yeah, sure. Send me your messages, tell me I’m ignorant and then we’ll get into it on dms, <laugh>

Speaker 3 (50:53):


Speaker 2 (50:54):

I’ll send you the link to this podcast because you’re my hero. You really are.

Speaker 3 (50:59):

Oh God. You,

Speaker 2 (51:00):

You’re doing, I mean, telling the truth is hard and like when no one else is, and being, being one of the first to stand up and say, you guys, no, this is, this is what’s going on on the inside and I need to tell you. And especially it’s really hard when you were a part of it and to say, you know, no, I’m owning my shit. I know what I did and you’re just, you did that with highlight reel with your first book with alcohol and now you’re doing that with this and you are changing the world and I adore you.

Speaker 3 (51:31):

Well thanks friends. I mean, yeah, if you can write books and just throw yourself completely under the bus and help people, you know, <laugh>,

Speaker 2 (51:39):

Why not? Why not?

Speaker 3 (51:41):


Speaker 2 (51:41):

Not? No. I mean, it takes, it takes a strong woman, you know what I mean? It does. And you are one. And thank you you, when I say you’re my hero, I’m not kidding.

Speaker 3 (51:50):

Thanks Suzanne. Of

Speaker 2 (51:51):

Course. Thank you. We’ll link everything in the show notes, tell everybody where they can find you.

Speaker 3 (51:56):

Yep. So I am Emily Lynn Paulson basically everywhere. My website, all the handles and all that stuff. Um, and you can find my book anywhere you buy your books. So support local bookstores. You can pre-order it at your local bookstore or any of the big box places. It’s available everywhere. And I have some fun, um, giveaways. If you go to the link in my bio on my Instagram, um, you can put your pre-order receipt in there and get some fun like stickers and stuff, so Oh good. Um, yeah. Okay.

Speaker 2 (52:24):

Oh, and the stickers are so cute, you guys, the branding for this book, I’m telling you, it’s so cute. <laugh>. Oh my god.

Speaker 3 (52:30):

And, uh, yeah, so, yay.

Speaker 2 (52:32):

Thank you Emily.

Speaker 3 (52:33):

Yeah, thanks Suzanne.

Speaker 1 (52:38):

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Silver Mom Life. If you loved it, please rate and review it wherever you listen. Five stars is amazing. Also, follow me on Instagram at the

Speaker 2 (52:49):

Silver mom life.

Speaker 1 (52:50):

Okay, I’ll see you next week. I’m gonna go reheat my coffee. Bye.

Speaker 4 (53:03):

Why are we doing an ad again?

Speaker 1 (53:04):

So that we can tell people about brand new information, a pop culture and political podcast.

Speaker 4 (53:10):

Say it in a way that doesn’t sound like game show host.

Speaker 1 (53:13):

Okay. Do you wanna be in a room of overeducated douche bags and feel comfortable? Brand new information is for you.

Speaker 4 (53:20):

What’s it gonna take to put you in this podcast today? We have brand new information on sale for free, free wherever you get your podcast.

Speaker 1 (53:28):

Yeah. We might not break the political and pop culture news of the

Speaker 4 (53:31):

Week, but we put it right back together for you. That’s

Speaker 1 (53:34):

Right. Listen, wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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