"Active" IBOs & Their Income

In my last post, I compared the cost of business education through the WWDB mentoring system vs. the education costs of some random career paths available on a part-time basis online via randomly selected universities.

I received the following comment from reader Ty Tribble (former IBO, currently in a business model designed specifically to compete against Quixtar affiliated IBOs):

Are you going to compare average incomes of WWDB vs a college graduate of these establishments next?

I'm guessing, no.

I could use the Quixtar compensation plan to calculate the income of a specific business structure as easily as any person, but I do not have access to financial detail of all WWDB private businesses. Since both the goals and the structure of each business vary per independent business owner, it is difficult to average income the way one can with a full time employment salary of a specific vocation. Pulling arbitrary business structures out of my hat would likely suit neither of us...
Nor would comparing that arbitrary business structure to the national average salary listed for an intermediate programmer ($57,817 per salary.com)
Because in doing so, there's an unstated assumption applied here: That possessing one of these degrees earns a person a certain income per year in a specific field. Actually, the assumption runs deeper than that-- It assumes that a person who had invested in the education examples given succeeded in meeting the following criteria:

- Applied and was accepted in a position for the field of their degree
- Maintained a work habit necessary to retain their employment
- Ability to work continues uninterrupted by injury, illness or death
- Employer continues intent and ability to retain employee

The reason it's important to specify those criteria is because, in order to be intellectually honest in our comparison, we must apply the same criteria to the results of both types of training I've sampled. (I'm operating under the highest assumption that intellectually honest query is the pure intent behind Ty's question, regardless of his affiliations).
So, how supportable are the above assumptions?

Continuing with the field of choice selected as an example in my previous post (Computer Science) let's look at some statistics:

This study tracks those with a bachelor's degree in, among others, Computer Science, who graduated in 1992-93 and followed up on their employment status in 1997.

Within the study period, 3 percent had sought higher education (i.e. incurred additional training expenses) so we're down to 97% without even looking at the criteria above. Actually, that's the highest percentage who did not seek further education compared to other fields of study, so the selected field is one of the most conservative examples available verses other fields.
So, now to the criteria: Only 57.9% of the remaining 97% ended up working in their field of study, or 56.2% of the total. I'll be generous and also include the 12.9% working in engineering/software engineers/architecture, which brings us up to 70.8% of 97%, or a total 68.7%. So between 56.2% to 68.7% are actually earning a wage in the field of their study. Not bad, but certainly not a guarantee.
What about unemployment rates? 39.4% of the 97% of computer science degree holders had experienced unemployment since graduation. The study doesn't break the unemployment down by field of work, but I don't think it's too far of a stretch to assume that this average would make only 60.6% of the 56.2% to 68.7% who did not experience unemployment.

That cuts it down to only 34.1% to 41.6% of computer science graduates that we can say with any confidence that are earning the average $57,817 salary listed above.

Remember that the Computer Science degree holders fared among the best of their fellow bachelors degree holders (Humanities degree holders, my condolences.) Note that this is non-renewable (non-residual) income requiring the repetition of full-time effort yearly in order for the salary to continue yearly. Keep in mind also, this study was done in the economic buildup before the tech market correction of 2000-2001 and before IT Services related jobs began to be outsourced to India and other Southeast Asian countries in significant numbers.

Now, the FTC-reviewed figure you'll hear quoted in a WWDB business plan for a Founders Platinum-- qualified 12 out of 12 months-- is $60,000 residual. I don't know what figures have been reviewed for other organizations.
I'm sure, however, that Ty is clever enough to know the FTC reviewed documents regarding the Independent Business Ownership Plan and is prepared to cite them against any figures I might name otherwise. But there's an inherent leap (or should I say, derailing) of logic therein which does not apply the same criteria as I've applied above. So let me discuss the statistics of which Ty, as a frequenter of critic sites, is likely already aware.

Critics are quite gleeful to quote these statistics (commenters have done so on this blog in previous posts) but what they fail to disclose is the criteria behind the statistics.

Why do they fail to disclose them? Why does their interest in disclosure only go so far?

Let's look at those criteria, and perhaps their reasons will become clear. (Source: WSA4400 10.11.04)

-One out of every 218 "Active" IBOs qualified actually achieved 7500 PV (required for the level known as Platinum) in at least one month of the year surveyed.

That equates to 0.46% or less than 1/2 a percent. Sounds pretty bad at first glance, doesn't it? "Wow Anon," you may be saying, "34.1 to 41.6% sure sounds better than 0.46%! I'd better go with a computer science degree!"
I'd be inclined to agree with you IF an "Active" programmer was defined by the same criteria as an "Active" IBO.

So what was the activity level of these 218 IBOs which only produced one (1) solitary 7500 PV achiever from among them?

Based on the independent survey, these were IBOs who:
- attempted to make a retail sale (regardless of success or failure for that sale)
- OR presented the Independent Business Ownership Plan (regardless of whether that plan resulted in sponsorship)
- OR received bonus money,
- OR attended a company or IBO meeting
in the year surveyed.

This is certainly NOT the same criteria as applied to the computer science degree holder above. So let's level the criteria, shall we?
Let's assume our computer science degree-holding programmer is an independent contractor who:

- attempted to write a piece of code for a client (regardless of whether the code worked)
- OR pitched their services to a prospective client (regardless of whether the pitch resulted in an awarded contract)
- OR received any payment for programming services
- OR attended an industry-related meeting
and they only had to do any ONE of the above once within a year's time to be considered "active."

Under those criteria, what are the percentage chances that our "active" computer programmer is earning $57,817? Better than 1:218 odds? I don't see any justification for that expectation.
Now the reason I assumed our subject was a contractor should be obvious-- in a full-time employment situation, our subject would not be employed long under those criteria. Our subject would more likely be fiddling with code at a hobby level in their free time aside from their full-time service industry or laborer job (in which 2.2% and 3.3% of our computer science bachelors degree holders ended up employed, respectively.)

See how worthless those statistics are, once the criteria is revealed?

Why wouldn't critics disclose that fact? Hmm.. Perhaps intellectual honesty is not their goal after all? (I'm shocked, utterly shocked.) Perhaps they realize that full disclosure would engage common sense on the part of the reader. Common sense is not compatible with the aims of shameless invective.

Is it clear now why the Average Monthly Gross Income for "Active" IBOs in the survey period was $115? Could we state with any certainty that our "Active" Programmer under the same criteria would gross more than $115/month? Hardly.

In conclusion, we have no statistics for IBOs which applied the same criteria as would be expected for full-time salaried employees of specific vocations. If there were statistics based upon criteria which required even a quarter of the activity level of full-time salaried employment, we would have something more comparable to work with. However, since salaried employment does not allow the flexibility of a Quixtar-affiliated independent business, we also have no statistics for salaries of specific vocations which apply the same criteria as "Active" IBOs.
Thirdly, we have no statistics which apply based on LOS affiliation, so we cannot say with any certainty whether the income of WWDB IBOs specifically are within the same average as the above-noted worthless "Active" IBO statistic.

So the short answer to Ty's comment is no... I won't engage in speculation of figures for which neither of us have meaningful statistics.

But thanks for playing.

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WWDB Tools System & Online Universities comparison

A cost comparison of training systems which can be done in one's discretionary time, ostensibly for the purpose of improving one's lifestyle.
(Note: I've chosen the below online universities and degree programs mostly at random-- based simply on my awareness of them.)

Average yearly investment:

WWDB tools system:

Annual renewal $35
Standing Order:
6/mo x $2.5 x 11 mo = $165
Specialty (Profiles of Success/DVD):
4 X $10 = $40
Extra CD/wk: 4/mo X $2.5 X 12 = $120
WWDB premier membership & my.biz website
$41/mo X 12 = $492
CommuniKate unified messaging system:
$32 X 12 mo = $384
Major Functions:
Dream Night - $65
Spring Leadership - $125
Family Reunion - $250
Free Enterprise - $100
$7 X 3 sessions X 4 mo = $84
$7 X 4 mo = $28
Misc Supplies:
PFR & WSA4400 sheets - $10
Books - $120
Recorders, batteries, tapes - $50
Pens & Notepads - $20

Unlike the programs below, this program can be pursued (and it is recommended that it is pursued) in tandem with business development activities, so that the profit and tax deductions from the enterprise can absorb the costs.

Total: $2088/year (not counting gas/food expenses)

Update: The IBO Chronicles has a similar cost breakdown for the BWW system here.

University of Phoenix Online
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (http://www.uopxonline.com/BS_Information_Technology.asp)
60 credits x $475/credit

up to 27 credits per year (http://www.uopxonline.com/FAQs.asp) - average time of program completion, 2 - 3 years.

Total: $12,825/yr (not including textbooks, supplies, or gas/food expenses)

Westwood College Online (http://www.westwoodonline.edu/admissions/tuition-and-fees.asp)
1/2 time student
$299 – $424 per credit hour (I'll avg to $361.50)
(6 - 8.5 credit hours)
There is an online laboratory fee ($30 per credit hour) that can vary by term and is added to the student’s account.

Associates - Software Engineering: (http://www.westwoodonline.edu/pdf/2006_wol_catalog.pdf)
106.5 credit hours x $391.50

Total: $41,694.75 for 20 months (not including textbooks, supplies, or gas/food expenses)

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Google Spamming

Well, I regret to inform any IBOs reading this site that I have come across information online that has reversed my opinion on a company I once regarded highly, which I once considered to have outstanding products (even if they seemed a bit pricy at first glance).

As background, I should explain that I first came to be involved with this company and it's products through a friend of mine at work. Apparently, his parents were selling the product out of their garage. After meeting the parents, and trying out the product, I was convinced of it's value and made a commitment to it.

I had been very happy using the product for nearly a year now, and have been speaking highly of it and recommending it to all I knew during that time.

What a fool I've been.

Apparently this company has committed the internet sin of engineering web pages to (*gasp!*) influence their visibility in search results of the popular search engine Google. For a company to endeavor that their products and services be regarded in a positive light is quite frankly beyond the pale.

This, based on Quixtar critics' logic, has convinced me that this incident by this company is proof that the company's business model is a scam, that their products are over-rated and over-priced, and that countless unethical salesman affiliated with the company really have tirelessly attempted to get people "into one of those things." Obviously, the webpage engineering is just an attempt to obscure these unseemly details about the company to the unknowing internet surfer. Proof that it has never been a reputable company.

It's a crying shame, and I hate to be the one to break this news to my fellow... BMW drivers.


(Transparency disclaimer: Although the author is in no way affiliated with BMW Germany or its American counterpart, he does drive one of their products and finds it neither over-priced nor over-rated. Despite the incident linked above, he will continue to enjoy the product without apologies. Yes, the author has no shame.)

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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Last night to celebrate Groundhog Day, my wife and I watched the Harold Ramis movie, Groundhog Day. (what else?)
If you haven't seen it, I recommend it-- it's one of the most inspirational comedy films of our time. Wikipedia has a good plot summary (Spoiler Warning!) but the theme I'd like to focus on is illustrated in a scene early in the film when Phil (played brilliantly by Bill Murray) begins to realize the implications of being stuck in a time loop.

While this story's plot is about this day that keeps repeating for Phil, this story on a deeper level explores what it means to be stuck in life, using the mechanism of the main character in a time loop.

He says to one of the blue-collar locals he's getting drunk with, "What would you do if you were stuck in one day and nothing you did mattered?"

The man replies, "That about sums it up (my life) for me."

A funny, observant line. Like the humor in most well-done comedies, it's rings true to how many people feel about their lives at least some of the time.

Phil decides to drive his drunk friends home, when the question arises, "What if there was no tomorrow?"

The answer, of course, is that Phil could do anything he wanted. And he does. "I am not going to play by their rules any longer," he declares as he goes for a drunk-driving spree. At first, Phil uses the situation to magnify all the worst parts of his character-- lust, greed, gluttony. Eventually, the indulgences bore him and he sets his sights on Rita, his producer. But none of the tricks he had plyed to bed the local women work on her, and as he falls genuinely in love with her, he comes to realize that the reason is character: "I could never love someone like you."

He recognizes himself for what he is, and fears he will never realize the love he feels for Rita. "...I don't deserve someone like you, but if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life."

After going through a self-pitiful suicidal phase, Phil embarks on a journey of personal development: He studies piano, classic literature and poetry, masters ice sculpture. He begins to use his (by now) nearly omniscient knowledge of the town on that day to serve others: Catching a boy falling out of a tree, fixing the flat tire of an elderly woman, saving a man choking on his steak in a restaurant, buying the entire spectrum of product offerings from a former high-school acquaintence turned insurance salesman, giving all his money to a old street beggar and later trying repeatedly (though unsuccessfully) to prevent the old man's death at the end of each iteration of the day. As the film nears resolution, Phil has learned to truly love himself, his (albeit repetative) life, the people of Punxsutawney and becomes a genuinely attractive person through the process. Everyone who comes to know him, loves him. Including Rita. And upon his successful transformation-- he has gone from being what National Review's Jonah Goldberg calls "a thoroughly postmodern man: arrogant, world-weary, and contemptuous without cause" to a caring, selfless, charismatic person-- the spell is broken, the time loop ends, and he is able to move on with his life.

The brilliance of the film is the clever illustration of one of the laws which govern success: Becoming a great person requires placing the interest of others ahead of one's own. It's the great irony of life, and it applies in all areas, including business. John C. Maxwell defines charisma through the illustration that, when you walk into a room, your focus is on other people and adding value to them.

There's some other great insights that can be gained from the movie, though. After the movie, my wife asked me: If that were you in Phil's place, what would you do? What kind of things would you spend your time doing? I expected this question because I had pondered it myself at some length after my first time seeing the film.

My first inclination was that, were I placed in a similar time-loop situation, having the ability to act without apparent consequence, I would likely go through many of the same phases that Phil did, to a lesser degree. I began to list the things I would do or develop within myself... Then I realized that if you broke this question down to it's essence, it becomes a very familiar question to many Independant Business Owners (IBOs): If time and money were no object, what would you do with your life?
Or as an IBO might ask a prospect to itemize on a 3x5 card in a 2-Step, What are the things that you absolutely have to do, have or accomplish in your life before you die?

I encourage you to go through this exercise yourself if you haven't before, or recently. Whatever you come up with is your "Why." And whatever vehicle you choose to best address your "Why," you will never find satisfaction in life unless/until you are at least actively making progress towards the accomplishment of those things.

And here's where the second insight comes in: Absent the advantage of a fictional 10-year timeloop, what is stopping you from accomplishing these things? Why can't you start working toward those things now?

The answer is the same as the real reason most IBO's don't build a big business, and the same reason Phil had gone his whole life previously without making those changes: Because there's nothing forcing you to do it.

Or, more accurately, in both Phil's case and your own, nothing had yet driven home the realization that the actions, habits and attitudes that make up character must change in order to be and have the things in life that make one truly happy.

In reality, you and I will never have an actual Groundhog Day in Phil's sense-- and yet...

To return to Phil's drinking buddy in the bowling alley, on a certain level, Groundhog Day is the story of our lives. More likely than not, you knew yesterday what time you would be getting up today. Where did you go today, and what did you do? For most working adults, isn't it essentially the same thing you did the previous day? Same stuff, different day, right? Aren't you, like Phil, tired of playing by "their" rules?

So the date on Phil's calendar never changed and that time loop gave him effectual immortality. So the things he did had no apparent consequence. Otherwise, though, are we really that different from him? Don't we often feel that many of the struggles we go through are of no consequence? And yet...

There did turn out to be one thing that persisted, one consequence: Since he retained his memories from the previous iterations of the day, the consequence of his struggles was his character change, and it was ultimately his character change which made the difference.

And HOW did he do it? Slowly, painfully, one "day" at a time. By maximizing his time outside of his daily obligation (his morning broadcast from Gobbler's Knob, i.e his job). By focusing on the most important activities (thereby replacing the irrelevant or unconstructive activities). By being on purpose. We are no different.

Today is Groundhog Day. Every day.

What are you going to do with it?




Hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most
violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Due to the high level of maturity and respect shown by critical commenters lately,
[/sarcasm] I am now moderating the comments. I had hoped not to, as intellectual honesty thrives better in an open exchange. Apparently the critics are not up such high standards as, oh, basic civility.

And people accuse IBOs of poor behavior? You guys make Monty Python's Frenchmen look dignified and polite. (Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!)