Friday, August 24, 2012

The anarchic, feminine genius of Mary Kay’s sales structure

8/24/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We recently attended a Mary Kay event for the first time with our better half and were astounded by the simple genius of this amazing organization.  For starters, the products are terrific and, by most counts sell themselves.  From Satin Hands to the revolutionary TimeWise Repair, there is simply no better way to keep one’s skin soft, smooth, and younger looking.

Yet the true genius of this world class organization lies in what we call its anarchic, open source sales structure.  It is a structure that not only appeals to feminine tastes, but ensures an optimum sales force which manages and promotes itself.

How do they achieve this?

First and foremost, when the founder Mary Kay Ash set out to create her dream company, She consulted Accounting firms, Management consultants, Human resource experts, and MBAs of the day with business plan.  As legend has it, every one of them told her it would not work.  Mary Kay had simply examined what she liked about her direct sales experience with other companies as well as her needs as a woman and mother and created a place where literally anyone has the opportunity to succeed and advance in the sales structure.

It is the sort of thing that is difficult for those with advanced degrees and professional credentials to grasp.

As we now know, Mary Kay Ash didn’t listen to them.  As a result, working for the company can be a woman’s dream.  It emphasizes, relationships, beauty, goal setting, self improvement, and recognition.  It is literally a sisterhood of like minded individuals driving the vehicle (the sales structure) that Mary Kay Ash gave them to achieve their dreams and help encourage others to do so along the way.

Mary Kay offers the chance for all those who are interested to become a retailer of their world class product offering.  For a nominal fee, which amounts to the production cost of the products included in the starter kit, anyone who is interested can become a Mary Kay Consultant.  Establishing this relationship gives the consultant the right to order products at the wholesale price, which is 50% of the suggested retail price of the products.  This is in line with what one would expect a small scale retail markup to be in any line of business.

In order to maintain the right to order products at wholesale pricing, the consultant must maintain a minimum order volume over the course of each three month period.

The next part of the structure which we will explore is the tiered referral commission structure.  This is the part of the structure where those consultants who have actively recruited other consultants can naturally move up the ladder and begin collecting a portion of the sales of those whom they have recruited.

The structure is simple and works in the following way.  The consultant who is responsible for signing on a new Mary Kay consultant has the right to receive a commission of up to 26% on the new consultant’s sales.  This 26% may be shared amongst three tiers of consultants depending upon the receiving consultant’s level.

It is important to note that this commission does not impact the selling consultant’s 50% take on sales, rather, it is paid by the company (technically, the customers via the company).  We can imply, then, that the Mary Kay Corporation, who is the manufacturer, must produce their products and cover their overhead for 24% of the suggested retail price in order to break even.

Selling Mary Kay cosmetics is not a get rich quick scheme.  It is a real company selling real products where, in sharp contrast to jobs in the government or financial industries, six figure incomes must be earned.  According to one statistic, roughly one in 2,000 consultants will attain a six figure income from their annual sales activities.
Mary Kay Pink Anarchist Flag
The Mary Kay Pink Anarchist Flag, and homage to Mary Kay’s anarchic sales structure

And therein lies the anarchic genius of the Mary Kay structure, it gives literally everyone a shot at working to attain said six figure income, which cannot be said of many jobs out there.  The barriers to entry are practically nil and sales training is freely available in most cities from fellow consultants, who naturally stand to benefit from the overall success of their fellow consultants.  The only limitations placed on the consultant are the time, energy, and ingenuity that they are willing to put into the endeavour.

The genius of the Mary Kay structure is furthered in that the commission and the sales leadership structures allow for advancement in almost direct correlation to the of effort and ingenuity of the individual consultant.  For the most part, there are no administrative barriers to income advancement, and at any point the consultant can choose to attempt to increase their income by increasing their efforts towards product sales or towards recruiting a team and supporting their team’s efforts at product sales.

It is the entrepreneur’s dream, and it appears to work as the founder, Mary Kay Ash, intended it.  The sales structure of Mary Kay allows the manufacturer to harness the anarchy in which we all live to maximize the sales potential of their considerable product offering.

The secret to success in any income earning endeavour is self determination (being one’s own boss) and working one’s tail off.  Mary Kay provides the tools and gives the consultant the first part of the equation from the outset.  Results and advancement are then determined by the initiative of the consultants themselves.

Starting one’s own business can be a hard, thankless, and sometimes losing proposition, especially during the first few years when the proprietor is learning the ropes and testing what works and what does not.  In Mary Kay, as with anything in life, there is no guarantee of success if one gives it a run, but there is a guarantee of failure if one does not try.

Even if one has no need for skin care products, it is impossible not to admire the anarchic genius of Mary Kay’s sales structure, for it is a microcosm of organic economic activity as nature intended it.
Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for August 24, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.46
Oil Price per Barrel:  $96.07
Corn Price per Bushel:  $8.02 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


8/20/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We have recently released our latest e book here at The Mint entitled:

Eschatology and Money: A brief look at what is to come

For as long as we leave it up, it can be had for free over at

As the title suggests, it is a brief look at what is to come in the monetary realm as the Biblical prophecies regarding the end of the world unfold.  While nobody can predict when or exactly how these events will play out, it is important to be aware of them and, if necessary, take the gift of time afforded us in the here and now to make the proper adjustments to one’s relationship to both their money and The Living God.

The Beauty of Rapture
Students of Eschatology will note our belief in a pre-tribulation rapture.  For those unfamiliar with the term, the concept of rapture is the taking up, out of this world, of we who accept Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Jewish Messiah.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection undeniably changed the world.  He is the ultimate expression of God’s mercy towards us.  To us it is logical that we are to be called up to heaven to watch God’s final judgments unfold from the safety of our new home with Him.  Admittedly, anyone who has taken the time to read the book of Revelation would be either masochistic or insane to not want to subscribe to a pre-tribulation rapture.

Even so, there are strong arguments which find support in scripture for a “mid-tribulation” rapture or even a “post-tribulation” rapture.  Further, there are those who believe that the book of Revelation is simply an allegory for events which occur from time to time throughout history.

Given the seemingly sound, yet grim, alternatives, on what basis can we have confidence that this pre-tribulation rapture is true?

As stated above, the basic logic of our worldview leads us to this conclusion.  God loves us jealously and mercifully.  He is bringing the judgments described by John to the earth to prove once and for all the He is the only God.  For those of us who already understand this, the display of sovereignty and wrath is unnecessary and inconsistent with who He is to us.

However, if God is making one last merciful attempt to call His creation to Him, the events in described in Revelation are perhaps the only way to get their attention.  The time of evangelism of the living saints will be over.  Were God to allow those of us who have already chosen to give our lives to Him to suffer further through the tribulations, it would only serve to cause confusion amongst those whom He will call during the time of tribulation.

For those who believe that God will need many witnesses at that time, would not the rapture of the saints, who would disappear without notice, be perhaps the most powerful witness since Jesus himself first appeared?  We argue that many who witness the rapture but do not partake in it will be God’s most fruitful evangelists through the tribulation that is to come.

To apply this logic to the events examined in our e book, for the believer, the test of allegiance that will take the form of the mark of the beast appears to be, has already been passed.

Beyond logic and into Beauty

Yet beyond logic, or perhaps to further affirm it, there is a beautiful symmetry between God’s first universal act of redemption, at the resurrection of Jesus which occurred on the date of a Jewish festival call the Passover, and what will be His final act of redemption before He returns to physically reign, which we believe will be at the time of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish day of atonement or judgment.  It is also known as the Feast of Trumpets.

Jason Hommel has written extensively regarding the Feast of Trumpets being the appointed time of the coming rapture of the saints.  Through his insights, we gather a greater glimpse of the beauty of Jesus’ plan to rapture His bride, the church.

For the rapture will not be an emergency airlift operation of a people in distress, this is what the day of our salvation from sin was.  No, the rapture will be Christ knocking at our door to take those who are prepared and have our lamps lit to our wedding feast with Him.

Somehow the word beauty seems inadequate.  For God has given us the model of the Jewish wedding, a seven day celebration which begins at an unexpected time.  This is consistent with the scripture, “You will know not the day nor hour, but the season.”  It is also consistent with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, which generally takes place over a period of two days for the simple reason that no one knows exactly when the new moon, which marks its beginning, will occur.

You will notice that while we may be certain of the time of year which Jesus will come, no one is certain as to which year it will occur, nor the specific date, the only certainty is that the doors of heaven will be swung wide open at that time.

It is just as God intended it, and it is beautiful.

Rosh Hashanah for the year 5773 (or 2012, according to the Gregorian calendar) begins on September 16th.

Is your lamp lit?

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for August 20, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.37
Oil Price per Barrel:  $95.83
Corn Price per Bushel:  $8.15
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.81%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,621 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  8.3%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,272
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,308,300,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,037,100,000,000

Monday, August 20, 2012

The CTP and the Black Locust, a Lesson in Deferred Maintenance

8/15/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

After a brief hiatus we return to our perch here at The Mint where we see the world very much as we left it with one glaring exception:  Prices are rising.

This phenomenon comes as no surprise to our longsuffering readers.  By our imprecise calculations, we saw that the tidal wave of money that the FED unleashed into the economies of the world would begin to hit main street circa March 2012.  We may have been a bit early, but when preparing for an inflational Tsunami, it never hurts to have a few extra months to prepare.

As prices for everything from gasoline to houses rise, it may be natural to assume that this is a temporary increase which will fade as supply and demand come gently back into balance.  For those of this opinion, most notably the members of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, we have some disturbing news.  The same imprecise calculations which gave us March 2012 as the genesis of this latest inflationary wave tell us that the Tsunami of cash will relentlessly pound the shores of consumers through AT LEAST November of 2015, and that is if the FED raises the target rate at its next meeting on September 12-13, which is highly unlikely.

Those who think that the general public can tolerate the sustained price inflation which awaits in the trappings of the current system are making a fool’s bet, for the current monetary system will not survive this Tsunami.  Our advice?  Sell financial assets and buy real things.   This is all one really needs to know about the current state of the economy.


Our hiatus has not been spent pondering life as we know it, rather, we used the time to prepare for what we thought would be an easy professional examination to attain the CTP, or Certified Treasury Professional, designation.  We thought it would be easy for two reasons.  First and foremost, we work in treasury on a daily basis, which should have given us and edge.

Second, the exam deals with Finance and Banking concepts.  With all due respect to the bankers and financiers of the world, as an accountant by trade, we have always found finance and banking to be rather simple numerical sciences.

We passed the CPA exam back in the days when it was administered in large open convention center spaces with No. 2 pencils.  It was a two day event which was both physically and mentally exhausting.

With this mind numbing experience as our point of reference, we may be excused for thinking that a 3 hour exam and a computer testing center would be a walk in the park.

Nonetheless, we blocked off two solid weeks for which to cram for the CTP exam which, in our accountant’s arrogance, we nearly underestimated.

It turned out that the 3 hours in the testing center were not so much mentally or physically grueling as they were a mind game.  The climax of this game came at the bitter end end of the exam when, instead of flashing our results up on the screen so that we could experience the thrill of victory or agony of defeat in front of twenty others taking various nursing and other such certification exams, the computer instead forced us to take a brief survey regarding our preparation for the exam.

After the survey, the screen directed us to leave the testing center.  What did it mean?  Did we fail so horribly that the computer was too embarrassed for us to deliver the news?

As we left the room in disbelief, we were greeted by the attendant, who during the exam sat behind a glass window and observed us as one observes animals at the zoo.  She handed us a printout.

To our relief and, at this point, surprise, the word “Congratulations” appeared across the top.  We couldn’t help but smile.

And now, here we are.  While we do not feel any different, we are now one of only 23,000 Certified Treasury Professionals in the world.

The Black Locust

With the exam behind us, we prepared for some much needed R&R through the month of August.  We had taken the exam on a Friday and were still catching up on the details of life which we had eschewed during our cramm…er…preparation for the exam.

That very Saturday evening, we drifted into a type of deep sleep that only complete mental exhaustion can produce.  Our slumber was abruptly interrupted by the anxious words of our better half:

“Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” was our groggy reply, which was a question and an answer all at once, an efficient use language which appeals only to the hopeless utilitarian’s amongst us.

“That loud sound outside…”
Black Locust, Falling Trees
“That loud sound outside…”

As we got up to do a brief inspection of the grounds, we expected to see nothing and prepared in our minds the familiar speculation that the family of raccoons which roams our neighborhood had caused the disturbance.  However, as we opened the front curtains, our jaws dropped.

The large black locust tree which graced our grounds, measuring 25 meters in height and weighing perhaps 10 tons, had split in two and come crashing to the ground in an event that most certainly registered in the Richter scale.  While God had miraculously spared the house from being crushed, the tree was sprawled across the entire front side of the lot.

At midnight, the scene was surreal, what was just minutes earlier a brief 20 second walk to the street was now an obstacle course which could only be duplicated if the producers of “Wipeout” and “Survivor” were to collaborate on a project.

Our limited inspection of the grounds revealed that the tree had split, fallen, and pinned the overhead power line firmly to the ground, snapping the mast and electrical meter from the side of our garage like a toothpick.

As we observed the damage, we took a glance up at the remaining half of the tree, which in the night looked like a giant walking ala the Lord of the Rings trilogy, at any moment prepared to bend down and snatch us up.
Black Locust, fallen tree, power line
The local ecological paradigm shift

It was just to much to process.  We fought the natural urge to fire up the chainsaw and went inside, where we moved our sleeping quarters to the rear of the home, called the power company to disconnect the line, and went to sleep.

The next morning, the neighborhood awoke in shock and awe as they saw the giant that lay slain.  Instead of continuing to recover from the exam, we began, along with our generous neighbors, the grim task of cutting a path to the street.

Two weeks on, we now have had the rest of the tree taken down and what will be, once cut, a great stash of firewood.

Now that a good portion of the grunt work is done, we pause for reflection on the lesson of the tree.
We call the lesson “Deferred maintenance.”

What the tree taught us is that there are two ways to deal with things, be they something as simple as a tree or as grandiose as a nation state’s foreign policy or the world’s financial system.  You can either pay a bit for upkeep along the way at regular intervals, or you can choose not to pay for the upkeep and simply wait to pay an unknowable price when an inevitable breakdown occurs.

In the case of the tree, we had many opportunities to have an arborist prune and treat the tree.  The tree was like a magnet for those in this line of work.  Had we chosen to invest in the upkeep, the tree would have been pruned and inspected.  If we had wanted to keep the tree, it could have been cabled together or a rod could have been placed through it to hold the rotting, diverging hulk together.  As it turned out, we did nothing until the tree collapsed and our hand was forced.

As a result, our views on trees have changed.  Where we once saw peaceful giants all around us, we now see potential house crushers waiting to collapse.

In the case of a nation state’s foreign policy, perceived threats to national interests can be dealt with via diplomacy or, if necessary, small scale skirmishes to keep adversaries either friendly or in check.  If this regular upkeep, if you will, is not performed, the nation state may wait for a Pearl Harbor type of event  to occur before being roused to taking meaningful action.

Finally, in the case of the world’s financial system, the authorities could allow for bankrupt entities to be pruned from the economic ecosystem from time to time, or wait for a blow up of the Central Banking and national currency system.

In all three cases and any number of other examples which could be called upon, it seems clear that taking the route of ongoing upkeep is the most prudent, especially when trying to preserve what is deemed to be the natural order of things.

However, those who either consciously or unconsciously take on the enormous risk associated with ignoring regular maintenance are essentially choosing not to insure themselves against a probable outcome whose only variable is the timing of the event.

If the event occurs at a time when they are not affected by it, they have come out ahead, as they will have should the event occur and turn out to be less catastrophic than had been anticipated.  Indeed, it may even be beneficial if what is really needed is not simple maintenance, but a paradigm shift.

In the case of the tree, we now have sun shining where there once was shade, ideas of what to plant in its place, and great pieces of wood which make us wish we were chainsaw artists.  None of this would have come about had the tree been encouraged to stand.

While there is much to be said for prudent maintenance, sometimes it is necessary to let things go and brace oneself for a paradigm shift, for the inevitable can only be put off so long by the machinations of mere mortals.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for August 15, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.36
Oil Price per Barrel:  $94.31
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.94
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.81%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,603 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  8.3%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,165
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,301,800,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,941,700,000,000