My oldest son (age 4) is on vacation this week which, of course, means that the world is exploding with catastrophes. Well, not the real world, and not real catastrophes, but just one annoying problem after another.
After putting out most of the fires, it was time for a little story time before nap. I found a book of fairy tales that my mother had bought him. I opened it up to a random page and came across The Fox and the Goat. It’s shortest enough to quote a couple of versions that I saw online here:
“By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there.
‘Oh, have you not heard?’ said the Fox; ‘there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?’
The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well.
‘Good-bye, friend,’ said the Fox, ‘remember next time: Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties'”
Here’s another version I saw:
“A FOX one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of escape.
A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend.
The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a scheme for their common escape.
‘If,’ said he, ‘you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.’
The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying himself with the Goat’s horns, he safely reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he could.
When the Goat upbraided him for breaking his promise, the fox turned around and cried out, ‘You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape.’
Look before you leap.”
And just to belabor the point, here’s a YouTube video:
Deconstructing MLM via The Fox and The Goat
Most people familiar with MLM should instantly recognize the relevancy of this fable. Nonetheless, I will explain it as clearly as I can for all potential goats.
It has been repeatedly shown that at least 99% of people in MLM lose money.
It has also been repeatedly shown that few people make any real money selling product. Usually the products are very, very expensive and don’t compete well with reasonably priced non-MLM products. Also, many of the products are generally available on Ebay for very cheap prices from former
Nearly everyone in MLM is “a man [person] in difficulties.” It’s mathematically shown to be true.
The way out of losing money in MLM is to be the fox. The fox needs to convince many goats that the MLM’s water (sometimes literally) is great and to come into the well. It is as if the fox needs to put together 20 goats to build a goat-ladder to get out. And since this is a fairy tale, we’ll pretend a magician turns each of those goats into foxes and puts them in their own wells. We repeat the process over and over until there are millions of foxes stuck in their wells.
In the world of MLM, there are many ways that foxes convince the goats to come into the well. They may show pictures of luxury cars, houses, or vacations. Even the FTC says this is misleading. Other times MLMs use illegal health claims like these to target goats. That’s why I’m against companies like Youngevity, DoTerra, and Le-Vel Thrive, just to name a few popular MLMs that I have written about in the past.
Moral of the Story
I am completely floored that Aesop so accurately described MLM more than 2500 years ago. As best I can tell recruiting/pyramid schemes didn’t even exist back then. I don’t know what’s beyond “floored”, but I love that he found a way to explain it so that even a 4 year old can understand it.
Moral: If you come across a fox in a well, don’t be the goat. Show the world that you are smarter than a goat or a 4-year old.
Instead of falling into the trap, give that fox a ladder by sending him/her an article like this one. To (not-so-accurately) paraphrase Smokey the Bear, “Only you can prevent foxes in wells.”