Kayla Ybanez Blog

An Open Discussion With Emma Olson

podcast May 03, 2022

We are about to jump into one of the most jaw-dropping episodes I've ever recorded. But I want to do a little disclaimer before I begin because I am so grateful that Emma wanted to come on the podcast and just share her story and her experience in network marketing so openly and so vulnerably. But what I also love about Emma is she is not taking a victim approach to this, she is taking full ownership of where she made mistakes and where she didn't do what she needed to do. She treated people in a way they shouldn't have been treated. And she is committed to growing and being an even stronger leader for it. And I feel like that is the solution-based direction that we can take from this episode. 


This topic is not one that is limited to one person, one team, or even one network marketing company. This stuff happens all over the place in this industry every single day. And this is definitely going to involve an even deeper conversation, an even more open discussion, and an even more internal reflection than we can cover in just this podcast alone. So I challenge you to go into this today with an open mind and just realize that we love network marketing, we love this industry. And it's our job to make it better. And it's our job to encourage change on a corporate level all the way down to our teams and our individual person. Thank you so much for being so open with this episode and sharing it. And as always, I welcome all thoughts, feelings and opinions because the goal is not blame game. The goal is awareness. So with that said, let's go ahead and jump right in. 


I am joined today by Emma Olsen. 


We’re not mentioning real names or anything. But it is important for us to recognize that if these things are happening, they're happening across the board. And the only way to rewrite that and say that it's not okay. And that we can make those changes within our own businesses is to bring it to light. And when you shed light on something, it just, it kind of takes away the darkness from it. If you're like, ooh, could this be something I'm doing, I just encourage you to look inward. And if you are looking for ways to really be able to help your leaders, I'm sure you can also DM Emma. And you can also like totally message me like, no shame in the game, really. We're here to change the industry and really, like bring these important topics to light.


Emma, can you please tell us about like, how you got your start in network marketing? Like how did it come about for you to join this business model?


I followed my coach, we're just gonna say her name is Jennifer for this example. So I followed my coach Jennifer and her upline, we'll call her Susie, in this example, I followed both of them for years before deciding to be a coach myself. It wasn't until I became a stay-at-home mom. I left the corporate world and I needed the community and the support after having gained over 70 pounds during my pregnancy, I knew that I needed to put myself as a priority. And I signed up first as a customer. I did that for a couple of months. And then I stepped after I had a physical transformation. And I felt like I was worthy of being a coach. I became a coach, which is almost three years ago now, which is feels like forever. 


But so three years ago, the first thing that I had heard during my welcome to coaching was 99% of you won't be here in a year. And that for me, I was like, Oh, I'm going to prove that wrong. Like, I'm going to be that statistic that stays here. But I think now back to the people who maybe didn't have that belief in themselves, I guess or were kind of on the fence about it. How hard that could have been heard of a statement. So I became a coach. I became a successful starter right away. So I was like seeing success within my business right away. And then I started to recognize that if I wanted to be recognized or beyond leaderboards, or really have a seat at the table within my coaching team, I would have to build a team of my own and rank advance in that way. And so I started to change gears and do that. 


In January of 2020, I started recruiting, started earning, and was really being recognized. And then my coaching team, a lot of things happen in their lives. Some went through a divorce, one had a miscarriage like things that they talked about openly on social media. But it was where they felt like they needed to take a step back from coaching or not do it in the capacity where they were pushing for rank, which in turn meant that I dropped my rank and the seat at the table warp was pulled out from under me. I was removed from group text messages. I was taken out of group trainings and things because of what my back office said and it didn’t feel good. I recognize that it made me feel less worthy. 


As a coach, I started to question why I was doing this in the first place. So I had that pole to my heart, within, I guess a year of pushing for rank and my team stepping back, where I realized that I wanted to be more client-centric. And although my back office maybe didn't show that I was, “building a business in the traditional sense”, I was really giving my clients an experience that they were changing their lives with the tools. And I put a line in the sand where I said, I no longer want to push for rank because it doesn't serve my heart. And I want to change gears and pivot a bit to be more client-centric and to really focus on onboarding people with the tools. And again, my seat at the table was taken away, like my posts in the group were deleted. And it just didn't feel great.


So you hit rank. And then you had people who had things that happened? This was also like, in the early days of the pandemic.  I'm just curious within, like your bigger organization, did you notice changes happen within the team during those early months of 2020 when things were shut down, and everyone was losing their mind?


Yeah, a lot of things had changed. There's actually a quote that our team had used, which was “be the 1%.” And it was like, be the 1% of people who are willing to hustle and put in the work. And we're going to be the people who are going to get up early, there was a team call, actually, that I was on. And one of the people on the team who was leading it said, you know, you have to wake up two hours before your, your before your kids wake up, you have to wake up two hours before, and you have to spend an hour, sending invites, and then an hour doing your workout and doing personal development for yourself. And I unmuted myself on the call, and I was like, my daughter wakes up at 4am Right now, I'm so tired. Like, what, how do I wake up at 2am. And she's like, if you really want to hit your goals, you have to wake up at least two hours before your kids. And I left the call and I was like, oh, like I can't make that happen. Right. So yeah, the conversation started to change where it was like, hot. Like I think people started to get worried about how they would continue to rank advance, like when the Success Club numbers and those things weren't as high as previous because, during the pandemic, people were losing their jobs. And people weren't able to purchase a total solution pack or those things. And so they were maybe opting for something like a three-month membership, because they weren't sure of what their financial situation would be like, in three months.


And I will admit that throughout that time, I was definitely in a privileged position where like, I didn't have to worry about losing my job or making sure that there are people there to take care of my kids and deal with the homeschooling. So I just think about the people who love their business. And we're also dealing with all of that. I mean, no one in our lifetime has gone through something like that. So I'm sure a lot of people were feeling the heat. And so the response was essentially “get up earlier work harder.” 


Did you have anyone that you could kind of confide in about those feelings as they come up in 2020?


I reached out in the team page, and I just said is there anyone who wants to be like a group success partnership, for being client-centric and pushing for helping clients reach their goals. And we put together “The Coach Squad”, and we still talk every single day. So we brought it, and we came together in October 2020. And we're still fly to see each other often, we just became such close friends. And we realized that so many relationships that we had established within the business were conditional and that people where partnering with us because we were some rank. And then as soon as we weren't that rank, they forgot about us or unfollowed us or we weren't as important in their lives. And so yeah, I made business partners with people who were feeling similarly. And we just love each other so much that I realized like, Oh, these other relationships, they were conditional.


The craziest thing is that this is exactly what anti-MLM talks about and why the industry sucks.  And it's one of those things also where like, it's, it almost becomes hard to defend it at times, because you see it happening, and you feel it happening. And it's and that's just and this was a while ago to for you. So that was October of 2020. You've got your crew together, like you're supporting each other, you're supporting clients, building businesses, what started happening, like even within your organization, as you started to make the shift? 


I had six personally sponsored coaches on my downline, who were all working the business in some capacity. And I had taken out a whiteboard, and our team called it the whiteboard effect, where you take out a whiteboard, and you figure out your roadmap to get to elite. And what I recognized was with the standards for elite, they have to be newly enrolled coaches, to hit Diamond to hit elite that following year. And what I'd recognized where all the coaches on my team, besides I think one or two of them had enrolled with me before that year. So even if they did rank advance to that next rank, I wouldn't hit elite, I would have the like stars under My Account, and I would get the compensation for that. But I wouldn't hit elite. And I stopped partnering with these coaches, I stopped mentoring them, because I was like, What's the point, if they rank advance, I'm not going to get the recognition for it. And I basically cut them out of helping them. Like I stopped responding to their messages. And then, I became pregnant with my son, I had a C section. And it's actually funny. Today, a year ago, I was a day after I had my C section with my son, and my entire team text me quitting, that I had stole the joy from coaching, that they did not want to do it anymore. They didn't want to push for these big things. And they simultaneously on the same day quit. Wow. And I was so hurt, right? But now I'm like, no wonder why.


I was in the hospital, and I text my coach friends. And they were like, well, that's okay. Because you're not pushing for rank anymore, right? Like, I still have this pole in my heart. Like, I still wanted the recognition. But I didn't want to admit that I wanted the recognition. I still wanted a seat at the table. But I didn't feel like I needed to pull one out for myself. I don't know. And so I almost quit coaching after that. 


I feel sorry for my previous self because I think of all of the Wednesday nights when I was checking my back office when I would look at Oh, who who's it who's going inactive? How can I get them to purchase something? How many PV do I need? Like I think of all the moments that I spent stressed trying to maintain a rank. And then I think why? What was for what? It wasn't making me more income really.


So I reached out to my coach. And she was like, “Okay, well, you know, I've had multiple diamonds quit on me before at the same time, and you just start all over.” And I, my heart sank. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, I just spent two years with these people. And now I'm starting all over. Okay. But then I started to think about what Well, I asked my husband, I was like, should I quit coaching. And he's like, you really enjoy it, though. And I'm like, do I though, and he said, You enjoy your clients. And that was my moment to think of like, ooh, if I left, I would miss my client so much. And that part serves my heart so much, that that's why I couldn't walk away in that moment. And then I started to unpack how I would prioritize talking to my coaching team, rather than talking to my clients. And I think about how every week I would talk to my coaching team, but there are new clients that I'd never spoken to on the phone, I just talked to them via text or via Instagram. And I thought, what type of experience would I want to create for a customer? That's a new customer and a long-term customer? What shifts can I make in my business? To put them first it'd be really client-centric. And so I started to do that I missed Success Club for the first time. A couple of months after that, and it was really hard for me, I'm not seeing my name up there.


I think it's also important to recognize that you want to do things better but still also, like missing how things were and still wanting the seat at the table. Like both of those feelings get to exist, like you get to miss the things that you had before and, and still Yeah, work through this kind of internal battle. 


Why do you think it is that it seems that people will hit something or even shoot up and then just drop like flies? From your perspective? Why do you think that is?

I think it's because first of all, there are scripts that people use to copy and paste on how to invite or like how to set someone else with their package to purchase. And I think when you do it that way, you're not putting the client's needs first. And so I think a lot of coaches will hit a rank and then their client isn't getting using the tools in their toolbox that they're set up with because it wasn't personalized necessarily for their problem. And so they don't get a product on auto subscription after that they cancel the following month because it wasn't for them, or they didn't know how to use it or it wasn't walk through with them, it's still sitting in the bag. And you have to hold the rank for six weeks for it to be official. And so when that auto-ship happens, a lot of people don't purchase again. And I think that that plays into the fact that if you put your clients first, then you actually do have so much more retention in product, and longevity of your customer being there. I have clients who have been with me for almost three years, and they purchase products at least once a quarter. And to me, I think that that's awesome. Have that consistent relationship long-term. And so I think that's why I think that people build a really shaky foundation, and a lot of it is self made.


Then I met you from your podcast. I went into the Facebook group and I had been a fly on the wall in your group for a long time. And then I enrolled for the modes project recently. You put so much value in not only like your just your social media posts, captions, like you can learn so much from you just in that way. But from your group on Facebook, there's just such a warm environment. And I really enjoyed being in there and listening to your lives and things. So

absolutely. Well, I appreciate that.


And so you've like been in the community, you've been doing these things, right? And so at what point were you done trying to have a seat at the table? 


My coach, Jennifer was hosting a diamond retreat. And I had held my rank for over a year. And then I had dropped it right before a week before the qualification cut off. And so my invite was resend it like was taken away. And I didn't go on the trip. So I didn't earn the trip. But then I started to talk to people who did go on the trip. And they weren't actually at that rank when they attended the trip, which was like the requirement. And so I felt like wait a second, I was told I couldn't go on because I for over a year held this rank that was required. But you had new coaches, newer coaches that helped you to qualify for elite and these things. And they dropped and you still allowed it, them to be there. And then I felt like that is so conditional. And it it broke my heart I almost thought about quitting.


I don't blame you, especially when it's like someone that you really care about in they cared about you to feel like it's like literally like getting picked last in gym class.


Yeah, but then there was this moment. So as they went on this trip, and I watched what they did on this trip, and I was like, Ooh, I wouldn't have had fun there. I really recognize that. Like, if they were photoshoots. And they went out drinking at night, and they were doing all these things. I was like, who I wouldn't have enjoyed myself, like when I think of a retreat. And I think of getting away away from my kids. Like if I'm gonna take time away from my kids, like, I want to go through mindset work, I want to like do yoga on the beach in the morning, like I want to do energy work, I want to relax. I don't want to go spend hours doing reels. And that just didn't feel like I would have enjoyed myself anyways. So that was my moment where I was like, That's it. I'm creating my own thing. I am partnering with coaches who I know have the same business mindset as I do. And I need to completely disconnect.

And that was that last year this year.


The retreat was in October of 2021. And I had missed Success Club October and November. That now I'm remembering the pieces and then And I had reached out in so people were pushing for rank, right like for elite status during the holidays. And I had posted an apology to my team in our bigger team network. Like I had said earlier, I recognized that I was not being a great leader to the people who had been mentored by me for a year plus after I recognized that they wouldn't make me an elite purse coach. I apologize to them publicly. And I posted a leaderboard, everyone was posting their leaderboards I believe it was for November. And instead of posting a traditional, like, here's how many points I got this month, I posted how many clients I had helped and like oh, success, something about each client, something that they were proud of. And my post was deleted from the group.


Because you chose to recognize it just in a different way, were you given a reason why it was deleted.


So I noticed at first I was a lot of people, a lot of coaches, were commenting on it being like, Oh, this is so refreshing to see, I love that you're focusing on your clients. And a lot of the comments were for new from newer coaches. And so I was going back to comment, and then I saw your post is no longer available, whatever. So I look and then I'm removed from the page completely. Oh, yeah, he is. Then I get a text message from a leader on the team. And she was like, what you're doing is unethical, you shouldn't be talking about this. And so I reached out to my coach, and she's like, Yeah, we have to have a talk. I'll call you. So we talked to the phone for like an hour. And she basically said that because other coaches on the team, were pushing first a rank. And this was the deadline of it, that my narrative went against that. And if a new coach who is impressionable and just starting out in the business, I saw that they might take their foot off the gas from rank advancing. And that would hurt the team.


I don't want this to sound crappy. But like you were given that much weight in your posts, like your post is going to make people all of a sudden abandon their own goals and take on your goals. It's like, why would anyone think that I that I had so much importance? I don't know. 


And I just think it's crazy that like, it's not like it was received negatively, like people were commenting publicly, like, this is so cool to see. And like, I love this, but because it wasn't what other people wanted. Therefore, like it wasn't good enough. It wasn't worthy. It's because you were focusing on helping people. And we're in a health and fitness support company.

Yeah, yeah. And I said that during our call, I said that just because my how I'm running my business doesn't align essentially with how maybe you're running the business or other leaders on the team are running their business. That doesn't mean I don't deserve to have my voice there and like to be silenced. Feels really, really hard, like bad. And to be deleted really bad. 


Did anyone else reach out to you like, I'm so sorry, that happened? Like, I can't believe this, or were people like scared to say anything?


A lot of people reached out privately, but they would say like, please don't let anybody else know that I'm reaching out to you. Yeah. But then I would I had, I think I had six or seven coaches that were leaders who completely blocked me off of social media. A few of them sent me private, like text messages saying I should be ashamed of myself. Wow. And I was exiled from the team.

completely flabbergasted. 


And you did nothing other than just say, I want to focus on helping people get results.


And what is just so just mind-blowing to me is that you know what happens, but when you hear it straight from someone's mouth, it's almost like, how did we get to this point as an industry like, you hear the anti people saying this? And you're like, No, like, they gotta be over exaggerating. Even I say that because I'm like an optimist. I'm like, someone's wires are getting crossed. That's totally not what happened. But then it's like you hear someone say it, who went through it themselves, not heard from our friend from a friend. And it's like, this stuff is actually happening.

Yeah. And I was mind blown because I kept I was walking in circles yelling at my coach on the phone. I'm going, I just want to help people. Literally, I just want to help people with these tools. And why is this like, I don't deserve to be here? Because I just want to help people. It makes no sense. Oh, it was, it was really like, just a moment where I thought I don't want this culture. This is not what I want to build.


I understood that many people who are reaching out to me definitely felt like I was a threat to them, essentially, because I did have a lot of customers who were customers reached out to me saying, “I have a coach who is not involved, who is not supporting me, who I've never heard back from after I purchased my cart or whatnot.” And I would like to switch to you because I want to be personally helped. And I reached out to my coach about that. Because there were there I had gotten a message saying that I was trying to take my coach's people. And my coach said, I don't have any room in my business to personally help people in that way. So if somebody needs that support, I would rather than go to you anyways. And that made me sad, because the amount of people that my coach brings on, I just know that they're not able to get such a personalized experience. So I just wish that coaches that put people in a group, and then they don't talk to them as like, I'm going to hold you accountable. Like I wish that we would have to change how we market it. Because I think that we set this expectation for clients that they're going to get like, Oh, if you're not working out, I'm going to make sure to reach out to you and hold you accountable. When in reality, they put them in a group and they post like post your sweaty selfie. And then they don't get that personalized experience that a coach should be able to provide to their clients. 


What do you think would be something that if you could go back in time, and there was an opportunity for people to like, do things again, and like, choose differently? What do you think would have made you feel more supported? 

Yeah, I think that having conversations with my downline or even with me, like from my coach, that were like, Hey, I recognize that you posted or I saw that you posted about something hard in your life. And I just want to let you know that I read it and I'm so proud of you for speaking on that. Do you like I'm here if you need me to hold space, like bringing humanity to having a connection with your team, letting them know that you're seeing them other than seeing them from a Success Club board or from a rank.


And that's where I think as an industry, we have a lot more room to grow. The nurturing doesn't stop at the transaction like the transaction is just a chapter. I mean, even before the transaction is chapter one, it's like the transactions maybe like chapter three, but we still got a Harry Potter series length of chapters ago… And so since you've spoken out about this, right, have you gotten any sort of like apologies, or like asking, like, how can I do this better or anything along those lines?


Yeah, so my coach had reached out to me over and over again, like, every time I speak out about it, she'll reach out to me first, and she will say, like, what do you think I could be doing better, and I do give her feedback with that. And she does take my advice, like she changed to running her groups herself more, she's changed her recognition strategy a lot. So she has changed so much. And she tells me all the time, that I help her to, like see a different perspective. And that's her. And so she and I are usually on such a good page with that. She really does support me, she just runs her business differently. And I don't think that it was necessarily her it was the people around her that didn't know where my heart necessarily lives. And I think that it was she was having a hard time with managing those personalities. So she does go above and beyond with, like, making me feel heard and seen. So I think for any leader listening, come from a place of like, I hear you. And that was not my intention. And like, How can I be better? 


Make sure to follow Emma on Instagram. 


Until next time! 

Kayla Ybanez is a top industry business coach, international public speaker, and founder of The Modes Project and Ybanez Media. Kayla says goodbye to outdated strategies like icky “hey girl” cold messages and HELLO to changing societal norms about the Network Marketing industry.


Kayla Ybanez is a top industry business coach, international public speaker, and founder of The Modes Project and Ybanez Media. Kayla says goodbye to outdated strategies like icky “hey girl” cold messages and HELLO to changing societal norms about the Network Marketing industry.