A Game of Telephone Gone Wrong

This past week, I retweeted the following statistic (for you non-Twitter users, that means that somebody posted something on Twitter that I re-posted for my network to read): “Of the 6% of women in the United States that earn over $100,000 per year, 80% of them are in direct sales.” It’s a statement I’ve seen before, and I actually thought that I had seen that it had appeared in USA Today or something like that.  Because of that, I felt comfortable retweeting it to my network.

And then someone asked me to share with them the evidence that backed it up.  They wanted to share the info, and wanted to show the facts behind it.

No problem.  I figured it would only take a quick Google search to pull up the facts.  Only it didn’t.  While I saw the same statement shared on Twitter, blogs, and opportunity pitches, nowhere could I find any evidence that corroborated the statement. Hmmm.

Thinking that perhaps the original was just old, I emailed my friend Amy Robinson, VP of Communications and Media Relations over at the Direct Selling Association (DSA).  She runs the awesome site Direct Selling 411, and I was sure she would have the facts I needed.  Here’s what she wrote back to me:

Ugh! I wish this crazy quote would go away! Every few months it pops up and I get a rash of emails about it. I just got one yesterday from someone else.  Not only is the actual information sourceless (and definitely not from us!), but I doubt that it’s even true (or for that matter that it could even be verified).

If you see that stat again, grab a sword and chop it in half.




And that brings me to the point of today’s post.  Unverified information that we share so freely through our social networks.  Sure it would be AWESOME if that stat was true. But it’s not.  And I should have checked before I passed it along.  The spread of misinformation helps no one in our industry.

These days we’re often encouraged to pass stuff along through our status updates.  Rarely does a day go by where someone isn’t encouraging people to repost something, be it a change to a setting in Facebook, something to delete, a cause to promote, etc.  But when we use our social networks for business, it falls on us to be even MORE careful, and verify things before we blindly pass them along.  Some things we pass along could actually damage our computers.  And sometimes the information is just wrong.  If we want our business to be taken seriously, we have to be credible.  And that means only passing along that which we verify.

So the next time you’re tempted to “spread the word” about something, check the facts first. (I certainly will!) It only takes a minute to do a Google search.  And then you can avoid spreading misinformation that discredits you and your business.  It will also cut down on the spread of misinformation in general.  And that helps everybody!

Photo Credit: Alex Kerhead

17 Responses to A Game of Telephone Gone Wrong
  1. Mindy
    July 25, 2015 | 5:08 pm

    Ironically, it resurfaced again last year at the DSA Annual event IN a speaker presentation. Oofda. Thanks for clearing the air on it and speaking truth Jen.

    • Jennifer Fong
      August 7, 2015 | 3:06 pm

      Crazy! Not sure why this particular one just won’t die. Thanks for commenting, Mindy!

  2. Melody
    October 11, 2012 | 1:26 am

    Funny, I just saw someone share this stat on facebook and I wanted to verify it before I used it. Now here I am finding the information I need on one my favorite blogs. Thank you for being my trusted source of accurate information again Jen!

    I’ve learned to fact check things before I share them too, my friends and followers deserve it. It’s a shame that after two years this same misinformation is still going around.
    Melody recently posted..Looking For an Online Home Based Business Opportunity?

  3. Jim Thompson
    April 15, 2011 | 9:23 pm

    So, given all this, how do I know this is true, what you say. I’m sorry if you a well known authority, I have never heard of you but again I apologize if this is the case. I mean, I won’t say I’m shocked the data is false, as I was looking to verify this statement and found this, but how does one actually verify something in the electronic world? For instance, can Amy tell us what the numbers actually are? I would think the DSA would want to publish the correct information on their site, or at least post something on their site that this information is wrong. I found nothing in searching the DSa site, so I am still unsure. I would love to know more. Donn
    Jim Thompson recently posted..Secrets of the Stars! – Safe- Fast- Lipo Reduction Before The Oscars and Emmys Using Proprietary Body Wrap!

    • Sara Priebe
      October 11, 2012 | 7:26 pm

      She is a reliable resource. She spoke at our Arbonne conference and is a respected leader in social media! Aka, girlfriend knows her stuff.

      • Jennifer Fong
        October 12, 2012 | 2:19 pm

        Thanks Sara! 🙂

  4. Amy Haarbrink
    January 31, 2010 | 8:22 pm

    Wow! I sure appreciate you being so honest and upfront about the misstatement. I, too, have heard this many times, being involved in two direct sales companies.
    Thanks for the clarification and challenge to check sources before restating “facts” we’ve heard from whomever.

  5. Carolyne Taylor
    January 30, 2010 | 10:56 pm

    Thanks for your honesty Jen – so glad that you brought it up – I love to share information with my friends and followers and this is a great reminder!

  6. Cindy Chin
    January 30, 2010 | 7:37 pm

    Very good idea to verify info because it is way too easy to just pass along. And Julie Anne, I do use Snopes often to check out myths I find in my inbox. I’m wondering who the source is for the ding you got on Snopes — are they credible? Sometimes hard to know these days.

  7. Lisa Young
    January 30, 2010 | 12:06 pm

    It’s funny. You mention this in a social media context, but I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the upper-level leaders and even corporate trainers that have used some variation on this statistic as well – and honestly, I used it once or twice myself until I couldn’t find the proof anywhere – and no one I knew could validate it either!

    But here are figures you can use (courtesty of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):
    About 70% of the working women in the US are moms with kids under 18. About 30% of working moms are self-employed with children under the age of 6. This is a huge demographic that speaks more effectively to what direct sellers can offer. Sure, many women are pulling down 6+ figures, but most women that join a direct sales company aren’t looking to make 6 figures – they just want to be able to stay home with their kids, and make a better way for their families.

    Let’s step away frm the pie-in-the-sky recruiting tactics and face the reality of the world we live in and how direct sales can meet that need.

    Just my two cents – with some data to back it up.
    Another great post, Jen.

  8. Michelle Sanchez
    January 30, 2010 | 11:33 am

    I know the feeling – I think we have all been there at one time and had to send the embarrassing retraction! Most of the pass-along emails I received are NOT true or contain only partial truths! In fact, I have found that many of the emails that say “I verified this on Snopes”, some even going so far as to put a link to the supposed Snopes page, but when you go there, it does not even exist! And like Julie Ann stated, many people believe that Snopes is not the best or final authority either. A quick Google search will give you multiple resources to verify any info and if they all agree, you are probably safe to pass it along. Thanks for sharing your story so everyone can learn from it! As the saying goes “It is good to learn from your mistakes, but it is better to learn from the mistakes of others!” (Verified by Snopes! LOL)

  9. Nancy Laichas
    January 30, 2010 | 9:25 am

    Thanks, Jen, for this terrific post. I’ve run into this same kind of situation many times. It always serves to remind me that, as valuable as the Internet is for instant communication and information, reaching out to subject matter experts can often save time and provide the most accurate information. Once again, you’ve demonstrated that social media is a tool to build relationships, not replace them!

  10. Barb Orozco
    January 29, 2010 | 2:02 pm

    Because of your willingness to be transparent, you have shared a valuable “lesson learned” which I need to remember and implement…. the “checking it out” part, I mean. We all make mistakes. I appreciate your high sense of integrity in authentically sharing it for our benefit. Thank you, Jennifer!

  11. Julie Ann Jones
    January 29, 2010 | 12:54 pm

    Right on, Jen. I’m so glad you shared this experience and this message. I’m a skeptic at heart when it comes to this (although nowhere else in my life) because I’ve been similarly burned. I rarely take things I hear through Facebook, Twitter or e-mails on face value until I check them out. I even got an e-mail last week about Snopes and that you can’t always trust what they post there because it’s run by a very liberal couple in California. I used to count on that as my main reliable source of info regarding urban legends, etc. but now I’m even checking those further.

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