Shan’ann Watts: MLM & Magical Thinking – just how bad was it?

MLM and Magical Thinking go hand in hand. In the same way that God created the heavens and the Earth, and Harry Potter rose to fame and fortune simply by incantation, we can too. We can also create heaven and whatever Earth we like, we can also slay our enemies – even sickness – simply by saying the right things. Right?

If you’re an actor, yes, maybe. For the rest of us, including the likes of another The Secret follower – Jodi Arias – life turns out a little different no matter how elegant our semantics, no matter how compelling or fake our diaries. Words have power, certainly, but words without action tend to create conflict – and crime.

One definition of Magical Thinking reads:

Magical thinking is the belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. A four-year-old child, for example, might believe that after wishing for a pony, one will appear at his or her house.

MLM is much the same way. It’s a sort of brain fart where people wake up one day and just because they’re told they can have anything they wish for, they think they can. And when enough people wearing the same logos on their hats and shirts say the same thing, it can reach a critical mass with the weak minded.

Le-Vel’s Facebook page shows there are plenty of them out there, over 1.1 million in the Thrive cult at present.

The video below provides plenty of additional psychological back story to Shan’ann. She talks about still being affected by issues of childhood. But she’s abundantly clear that her family is Thrive, her lifestyle is Thrive, her philosophy is Thrive and her savior is Thrive.

She’s specific in stating that in 2016 her team fell just short of $300 000 in sales volume.

Fullscreen capture 20181002 011323 Is that a lot when divided by a team of roughly four, or was it more than four? It’s not clear what Le-Vel’s various levels actually mean. Shan’ann described herself on Instagram in 2018 at the time of her death as a 80K VIP LeVel Promoter. So was she earning $80 000 in sales per year, commissions, was that her total income?

 

I’m not going to spend any more time here trying to figure out the MLM finances right now, although that’s a labyrinth that needs to be decoded into simple bottom line figures eventually. Perhaps ex-Thrivers can comment anonymously below on how the dollars and cents add up – or don’t add up.

What we can say is no matter how successful Shan’ann was or how wonderful Thrive products are, the Watts family were in serious financial difficulty when the murders happened. They were being sued by their homeowners association, and it looked like they were headed for a divorce. It also appears as if Shan’ann was losing her MLM mojo for the first time in July and especially August 2018, when her Facebook Live videos dropped to zero.

Fullscreen capture 20181002 014108

What’s the typical space of time for MLM people to be sucked in and spat out? According to one small business website:

  • In the first year of operation, a minimum of 50% of representatives drop-out.
  • After five years of operation, a minimum of 90% of representatives have left the company.
  • By year 10, only those at or near the top have not dropped out – making it safe to say at least 95% of representatives have dropped out.

So by mid-August 2018, Shan’ann was nicely in the middle of the 2nd projection. The other factor is of course her husband, Chris Watts. Whether or not Shan’ann was still gung ho about it, was he? And if her business partner wasn’t, what did that indicate about Shan’ann’s income, with or without his participation?

Fullscreen capture 20181002 014348Fullscreen capture 20181002 014255

As is the case with all MLM, it’s easy [or easier] to make those initial sales. It gets harder and harder to maintain them as the market saturates, and as those drinking the Kool-Aid pass the gullibility peak, and pessimism [otherwise known as reality] sets in. When people start picking up a shitty aftertaste to the Kool-Aid and the momentum turns in MLM, it tends to do so permanently.

MLM lives and dies on buy-in. When your partner promotors become ye of little faith, and abandon all hope, the house of cards craters into a pile of dust. Those promoters who buy into it the deepest have the most face to lose, so they try to dig in, hoping the tide will turn.

When it comes to magical thinking, just as hay can be spun into gold, and God can breathe life into dust, bodies can become dust again, and gold can be spun back into hay. Sucks don’t it?

Fullscreen capture 20181001 012851

The screengrab above is from Shan’ann Watts twitter page, indicating just a few of the accounts she was following. She was also following dozens of lupus-themed accounts.

Fullscreen capture 20181002 014959

For further reading on MLM click here.

29 thoughts on “Shan’ann Watts: MLM & Magical Thinking – just how bad was it?

  1. Their house has always struck me as quite empty. A few pieces of furniture like a stage home, but not actually a real home. metaphorically the appearance of success from the exterior, but a hollow shell inside.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MLMs are predatory. They succeed in ripping off hopeful participants because our economy offers few jobs with decent wages and benefits,(childcare, flexible hours, healthcare, retirement packages, etc.), especially for young mothers like Shanann who are trying to achieve a work/ life balance. It’s no wonder then that people like Shanann are drawn to these companies’ promise of sustainable at-home work. And it’s no wonder that when this promise proves empty that a family like the Watts experiences serious financial and emotional stress. If this case goes to trial, Thrive should be identified as an “accessory” to this crime.

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    • Totally agree. Predatory. I have recently started to read some Websleuths on this case and the thread I was on now has a Thrive promoter as a verified insider. Sounds very much like she’s there to control what is said about the company. There is now a warning placed on the thread about discussing their bad practices. How cynical is that.

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  3. Good luck trying to take these companies down. They are every bit a booming industry as self-help gurus. MLM’s are perceived by some as “get rich quick” opportunities, and those have been around since way before any of us were born. Let me make something clear, when you are approached it is by someone who has gained your trust – might be a family member, it could be someone from a Bible study class, or another school teacher, or someone who is successful in their chosen profession. Remember what Sha’nann said – she was skeptical. She was negative about it, she didn’t believe any of it, at first. Her parents were skeptical. But most probably situations sprang up in her life where she felt she needed something of her own where she could help her family’s financial situation. That was her “hot button” most likely, that and it was a company promoting wellness, health, and not just going through the motions of living but thriving! Once you agree to come in to these companies you want to make it work. You want to see if it does work. One of our sayings was “plan to work and work your plan.” And by the way these companies do not offer healthcare, or retirement packages. The only ones who get one of those are the “gold emeritus nationals” at the top of that pyramid, who are being asked to retire (at least in the company I was involved with). There are literally thousands of these companies. Look them up, you might find some on that list that surprise you. And, they spring up all of the time. Much like the self help industry. As long as you “get value” what is possibly lost? Watch commercials on television, it’s the same thing – buy this buy that it will change your life or fix it. Credit cards are scams. Yet people keep maxing them out and getting new ones because “it will help your credit score.” If you are late one payment your introductory rate of 8% jumps to 22.9%. Try and get that paid off. Just be smart, stay alert that’s the only kind of advice I can offer at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very sound advice but who wants to listen to logical financial/career planning? Everyone sees “get rich quick” and suddenly you don’t give a F about the product and just blindly buy-in. I would if I were broke and no career to fall back on with 2-3 kids looking at me. Forget the friends and the fake lifestyle as that is the real motivator in this case it seems (so sad!!) I so very much appreciate your input as a former MLMer, Pauline. This entire case has so many side roads to venture down but this Thrive piece is really the most intriguing to me with all the crazy attached to it…..I will be very focused on what lawyers on both sides do with this piece. I liken this Le-Vel as an accomplice in this horrible situation (loafty but how I feel with this cult crap)–was SW as unkind, snippy, and not present to CW before the Thrive push? I wonder….

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  4. Pauline, I agree on all counts. However, these companies and other predatory enterprises, such as credit cards, only thrive because the overall economy is a scam manipulated by and on behalf of the extremely wealthy one percent. In that regard, the MLMs are a microcosm of our overall economy, which is complicit in delivering economic instability and misery to so many in order to benefit a very few. Until economic policies (access to affordable healthcare, childcare, education, and living wage jobs) are developed to provide sustainable opportunities and consumer protections for the many, these companies will continue to flourish, because they ultimately profit from desperation.

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  5. I think though, in all fairness, no one preyed on me, nor was I desperate. What attracted me to it was that I could be my own boss, set my own hours, build something where I could move up due to my own hard work and merit compared to my 9-5 that paid me a set salary, with a 3 month review and possibly a raise after 6 months to a year of only a few more dollars a month. It also helped me in other regards. I was friendly and sociable but afraid to speak in front of people. Two years later I was asked to participate in an area-wide conference in front of 700 people. I thought I was going to choke, but I didn’t. So in many ways direct sales strengthened me, but what I’m most sorry for is that I continued to believe I was actually getting somewhere financially long after the writing was on the wall. I was not contributing financially to the marital funds because everything I sold I put right back into the product. Or training seminars. I just have to wonder when Chris Watts figured it out. Because my husband and I didn’t until the very end, 6 years , and even then he was shocked when I announced I had had enough.

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    • Pauline if you follow the link at the bottom of that piece, MLM is predatory. It’s like a psychological drug that sucks you in and takes all your money.

      Q: You wrote something called “The Main Street Bubble.” In there, you said that you believe that the MLM industries– losses are substantially greater than the Madoff affair. Explain.

      A: Well, we’re talking millions of people. Madoff conned a relatively small number of people with investment money. Multilevel marketing is using a different system. Instead of taking a million dollars from 10 people, you take $10 from a million people. That’s the way the system works. I’m just using that analogously. But the numbers add up to be staggering amounts, year upon year upon year.

      Q: You talk about the amount of money that’s being lost. How much money is being lost?

      A: Ten– tens of billions.

      Q: How do you know that?

      A: Well, again, you just take the numbers of people who are involved. Look at how many could and have earned a net profit. Therefore, you can determine the losses. Multiply those losses over years. And you’re up into the tens of billions of dollars, far more than Madoff’s one single hedge fund scam.

      https://www.cnbc.com/id/100366687

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      • Yes, I know these MLM’s are predatory, I’m just stating for the record that I don’t consider myself a victim. I wanted in for various reasons, I wanted to be trained in something where I could be my own boss and build a business. But I was scammed (along with hundreds and thousands) that I could ever achieve what the top Nationals were making. Apparently they no longer publish their commissions, but back “then” it was used as a carrot to dangle in front of us that we could get there with alot of Yankee ingenuity and hard work. If you subtract what a national has done to stay on top of the heap they aren’t making the figure they are published as making.

        It wasn’t until really a few years ago that I got that the very nature of a pyramid company is that you can’t get there. And if you do your pyramid could crumble at any time. You are never safe. The stress of it! I was still under the belief after I quit that if i had only done this or that, etc. And I’m also saying that none of us are scam-proof. I used credit cards as an illustration of that fact. The banks who offer them know that people want to buy things whether they can afford them or not, so credit is issued in the form of a credit card. They entice you with a low interest rate or “kickback” rewards and they know you are going to use it, from everything to a cup of double espresso latte to a $500 couch, and more. Then your interest rate goes up, and as you struggle to make $300 a month payments you are told that by doing so it will shoot up your credit rating Pretty soon you are using it to make a house payment. Scams abound. I did the right thing – I gave up – finally, and I also returned most of my product for a refund. I kept some of it to service a few residual customers, but didn’t have the heart in it to make the phone calls anymore, so gathered it all up and sold it to a flea market vendor, which I took some small satisfaction in as the company (via the senior sales directors) would express horrified opinions over that our product should never be sold at a flea market! Look at my former company, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Look at where they are on the MLM group scale – Top ten. And still thrivin’.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This post was an attempt to step back and show the bigger picture, as it relates to this case.
        It’s great if people with experience in MLM can share their views. It’s not so great if those views are somehow mitigated in favor of themselves, but running completely counter to this case. That’s exactly what’s happening on social media. Tens of thousands on social media are interpreting this case not on merit, but through their own investments in MLM.

        I try very hard to communicate in a systematic way that doesn’t send out mixed messages, especially because the criminal aspect is so murky. That’s why I find this sort of thing so annoying.
        MLM is predatory, “but for me…I didn’t feel like a victim”. That’s great. Your response to the “how bad was it” question appears to be “hey, not so bad”.

        So how do you think someone with no experience in it responds when they read your commentary? I provided an excellent resource to show just how damaging MLM is to America and millions of people and families. There’s research that shows a prescribed pattern of dropping out and destruction. It’s costing the US economy tens of billions. It sells false promises and ruins people in virtually every way you can be ruined. It’s like a virus and a cult built into one. And then there’s this wishy washy ahhh, it’s not so bad attitude to it. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

        Is it so hard to admit you’ve made a mistake?

        But maybe you didn’t, maybe not everyone’s a victim. Maybe Shan’ann Watts wasn’t a victim of MLM either, or maybe if she could speak from the grave she’d also say she’s not a victim and the MLM had nothing to do with her death. So if we take that part away, why did she end up dead, and her children? If it had nothing to do with the MLM then what’s the Watts case actually about? This is a serious question.

        What I love about these counter arguments is they take a theory, invert it and leave you with nothing. That part might not be right, but what about this non explanation for anything?

        If you’re serious about true crime and a particular case, then you start piecing things together. There’s analysis but also synthesis. Analysis alone is breaking down but you will never end up with any useful information if that’s all you do, and yet so many people do. So often you’ll put forward 100 facts and someone will notice one fact that doesn’t sound 100% right. And that’s what they gravitate towards. Classic missing the wood for the trees.

        Synthesis is building a case and putting thoughts and ideas together that weren’t there before – a hypothesis. And then one tries to strengthen the theory with more and more evidence from a case, and also what resonates from one’s own experiences. I’d like to see more people in true crime thinking for themselves and building ideas than nitpicking on one element of someone else’s idea. But I think to truly think for oneself in a meaningful way one has to be truly honest, and how many of us have the courage to do that?

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  6. Magical Thinking. That about sums up their whole life together- finances, relationship, future until the tragic & violent end. Should be a title for one of your books Nick, with the vision board for the front over?

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    • Great idea but I’ve sort of taken the same theme and given it a slightly different spin. Pity I can’t post the 3rd book cover here.

      Dumb question, but where is a picture of the vision board. I don’t think I’ve seen it.

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  7. Wrong blog page but thought you’d be more likely to see this here.
    Guessing it might interest you Nick, when you’re updating your book on the disposal site.
    History resonates
    ” I investigated, and found a family saga rooted in the heyday of Colorado political journalism, in the gas and oil boom years, including rodeo circuit stardom and family tragedy, and the criminal indictment and sentencing of the landowner, Mr. Mike Cervi, for violating the Safe Water Act by injecting petroleum wastes into the High Plains / Ogalalla Aquifer ”

    https://www.coloradopols.com/diary/85239/weld-county-trump-supporter-poisoned-groundwater

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  8. One thing I notice about her videos is she is passive aggressive. If they were having marital troubles for months or so she seems to be getting little digs in at him through her videos for Thrive – his little brain, “no one likes a cheater” when they are playing checkers, etc. His appearing to go along during the videos as well belies his covert plotting in his mind to bring all of it to an end. If you think it was he who covered the doll in the plastic twister cover then I think he was sending his own rather passive aggressive message.

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    • Pauline, I agree on the doll possibly being a covert message sent by Chris. I have an ex who operated this way (inexplicably left a copy of the movie, “The Grudge” on my coffee table post-divorce; like Shan’ann I thought hummmm). Obviously, I’m still alive, but I learned to watch what he did versus what he said: nice guy on the surface (others referred to him as golden) but harbored resentment underneath. As with Shan’ann I wore rose-colored glasses for many years, until he removed his mask. Of course, most passive-aggressives don’t murder their spouse; however, realizing they’re not the person you thought they were is absolutely shocking. It takes a while to absorb and understand it. Unfortunately Shanann ran out of time. Anyway, this thread is supposed to be dedicated to magical thinking as per MLMs, but I certainly understand how it can extend to misconceptions regarding one’s mate.

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    • It has been verified that Shan’ann took the picture.. Chris was at work when the picture was taken. She wrote on a comment under the pic she was the one tht took the pic.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is my theory on what happened in the early hours of August 13th. First, let me state for the record that there is no way a pregnant, loving mother, who just got home from a business trip, would strangle her two children. Not buying it for a second. It was not a shock to Shan’ann that she and Chris were separating. It may have not have been known yet but it was not a surprise to her like Chris wants us to believe to back his theory of revenge on Shan’ann’s part. No innocent father and family man would dispose of his precious babies the way he did if he truly did not kill them.

    Chris hated Shan’ann with a passion and with absolute rage. At the end, there was nothing but contempt for Shan’ann and their precious girls.

    He is a covert narcissist-psychopath, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing – a complete fraud to the core. The videos of him with his children make me sick. It was all a lie.

    Chris wanted Shan’ann to suffer. He killed beautiful Bella and CeCe before he was seen by a neighbor grilling steak on his back deck. The neighbor saw him outside without the girls, around 7:30 – 8pm. So the murders had to take place after the birthday party they attended (5:30 -7pm?).

    Shan’ann was supposed to be home earlier but her plane was delayed. When she got home, she took off her shoes and luggage by the door, and like any decent mother went immediately upstairs to check on her babies. The house is dark.

    Chris is waiting in a closet in the girls’ bedroom, and watched Shan’ann walk past to only find Bella and CeCe deceased in their beds, but still tucked in as if they were merely asleep. Before she can scream or even run for help, probably in a shaking state of total shock, Chris is already behind her and unleashes a psychopathic rage and hatred that rivals those under demonic influence/possession. I think he beat her before strangulation.

    I see Chris’ eyes are black. He is methodical as a madman, now unrecognizable to Shan’ann. He ripped off the mask – his faked persona – and revealed his total depravity.

    There are tons of Chris Watts’ and Scott Peterson’s walking around today. Jodi Arias’ and Casey Anthony’s, too. People like them thrive (no pun intended) in our social Media-obsessed society. They can create a fool-proof persona, hide behind a beautiful wife and family, share-share-share on social media and blend in until the right stressors and triggers present themselves. In Chris’ situation it was the new love interest at work, the financial debts mounting, the new baby, and his growing resentment towards Shan’ann.

    Once created, energy can not be destroyed. We are energy. Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste live on in eternal love and care of our Savior. They are beautiful souls.

    I’ve read somewhere that while we are living on Earth we are asleep but when we die, is when we become fully awake and aware. Life is but a dream.

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  10. I’m fascinated by how little traction the posts critical of MLM are. When MLM is handled in court hopefully a few pennies will drop. Between now and then thousands of lives will be ruined, but they really can’t complain that they weren’t informed and forewarned, can they?

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    • I agree, Nick. And I believe it’s a form of magical thinking. It’s an inability to recognize or admit that an economic determinism exists in this country that enables predatory MLMs and other abusive enterprises. I think this refusal to recognize that most of us are merely trying to survive versus thrive in a rigged economy is because doing so explodes the American myth that we are all in control of our own destinies. Looking at what we know about the Watts’ debt is an example of trying to survive versus thrive, that is a sizable chunk of the Watts’s credit card debt was due to medical bills and education costs. Unlike other developed countries we have no or very little access to affordable healthcare and education, both of which provide stability and enable social and economic mobility. Couple these challenges with lack of decent living wage jobs with benefits and affordable housing. ( admittedly, the Watts overreached with the mausoleum mansion), and you have people turning to MLMs that offer a fantasy income and lifestyle—all cruelly and callously predicated on the lie of self-determination—if you work hard you will succeed, you will thrive. I recall one of the Thrive promotional videos where Shanann discusses her life prior to Thrive: holding down two part-time jobs, one of which I think was a swing shift. She went on to note how exhausted she was juggling the jobs , children, domestic chores, and how it was difficult for her to even get out of bed in the morning. This admitted inability to rise and face another day sounds like depression, not due to some chronic personality disorder, but due to exhaustion—and hopelessness. Overall, I see the Watts’s lives unraveling in the larger context of these economic cravasses that aren’t solely accountable for the Watts’s tragic demise but are certainly complicit in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The high cost of higher education, makes it unaffordable for most folk. Student loans (also listed on the Watts bankruptcy paperwork) with high interest rates can sweep you into the undertow. Then when you get out where are the jobs – you are competing with hundreds of other applicants all wanting the same job. I saw an advertisement in a Barnes and Noble in the bay area in 2012 that said “help wanted, must have a degree in library science.” Really? Because no doubt the college educated were applying for a $15 an hour job and why shouldn’t the company try and get a sales clerk with a college degree. When manufacturing companies become over regulated and taxed they can’t afford to hire labor in America or offer insurance so they move overseas. Now the uneducated can’t get employment either. So it’s enticing to think that if you can come up with a downpayment to get into a business where you can sell a good or service to others you can bring yourself up and that’s what a MLM is promoting. Not just a brand new car, a diamond bracelet and an expensive coat, but a path to making it. And of course the razzle dazzle of buying “more stuff” to put in your house as George Carlin used to say. Cheryl: The Grudge? I’m sure it wasn’t funny then but 🙂

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    • Pauline, I found the Grudge incident funny—even then—but also just a tad bit concerning—lol! The best horror is a mixture of fear and humor, moreso when it’s not happening to you. Hitchcock knew this well. Once in a while you get to star in your own Hitchcock film, although, overall, I’d liken my marital journey to the old movie classic “Gaslight,” the title of which is now synonymous with the crazy-making behavior of passive-aggressives. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend doing so—a great study of this type of behavior.

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  12. Pingback: Shan’ann Watts: MLM & Magical Thinking – just how bad was it? | MemePosts

  13. I think MLM was a big factor in this case. I read she was involved in two or three others before thrive. Why would she stop unless she was losing money? Of course Chris resented her. She quit her job and spent the money he earned on MLM. Apparently they couldn’t keep up with their HOA payments. They lived above their means, more magical thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hi Miranda.
    You said that Shanann took that picture of the doll on the coach?
    Very interesting.
    When I saw that pic, I thought a msg…..
    Your next.

    Like

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