Today I came into work and found a bottle in the break room with a different company name on it, drying by the sink. I asked the secretary about it, and she pointed me to the CEO's office, telling me it was his. I asked him about it, and he explained to me very professionally that the company was a supplement company, and that he had taken up "promoting" the brand as a personal hobby.

After I sat down at my desk, I did some quick research, and deduced that this "supplement" company was a glorified pseudo-scientific pyramid scheme. Now I have absolutely no problem with people spending or investing on anything they want, however to see the highest executive fall victim to a pyramid scheme is troubling for me as an employee of the company.

We are a relatively small company, and I have a good relationship with the CEO, however it makes me question his ability to lead if he is willing to invest in a blatant scam. It's important to note however, that he has not used any company time to sell any products, and the most "promoting" he's ever done in the office was leave a branded bottle by the sink. If I didn't see the coffee mug, I would probably have had no idea that he was involved in the company at all.

Additionally, I would also like to point out that we are in no way competing with this supplement company, we are in a totally different industry, with completely different markets and products. I'm honestly not concerned with the CEO splitting his time between the two companies, as he is very professional in his conduct, I'm just concerned that his personal decisions might be indicative of poor decision making in general.

As a low-level employee, what are my options here?

  • 6
    "As a low-level employee, what are my options here?" - you could quit, you could talk to the CEO, or you could do nothing. Jul 11, 2016 at 14:01
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    I think you might be overreacting just a tiny little bit. It's not like he signed his soul away, or commited you all to promote that brand. He has a life too, you know. Just do your work, and leave well enough alone.
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:11
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    Remember with a pyramid scheme there are people who make money at the top of the pyramid. It is through taking advantage of the people lower down the pyramid and selling snake oil but still. Until he tries to get you to buy in I would leave it alone.
    – JasonJ
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:29
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    He does describe it as a hobby, and hobbies are usually costs rather than income sources. For all you know he could be gathering information for a book about sucker-traps such as MLM. As long as it's on his own time and his own dime, I agree with others that the most you can or should do is gently remind him that a lot if these schemes are bogus and leave it at that. He isn't trying to sell inside the company, he isn't embezzling company funds to support this, it isn't really that different from the co-worker who sells Tupperware on their own time.
    – keshlam
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:40
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    You did some quick research, and deduced that this "supplement" company was a glorified pseudo-scientific pyramid scheme. Have you considered you might be wrong?
    – paparazzo
    Jul 11, 2016 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


Share your findings with the CEO, or keep the information to yourself.

If you are confident in the accuracy of the information you found, this might be a good opportunity for you to improve your standing with the CEO. Or it might be a good opportunity for you to make her angry. It is a calculated risk.

If I were the CEO, and I had made an error in judgement, I would be grateful to whoever warned me before the decision could hurt me. On the flip side, if there was little to no chance of any harm to me, I might be annoyed by the "help."

You might ask yourself, how much does the CEO stand to lose? Is she aware of the risk? If there is little or no risk to the CEO, I would choose to keep the information to myself.

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    Potentially just send an email with a link to what you found. "Decided to look up Company XYZ and thought you might find this interesting." No judgement or accusation, just sharing potentially new information.
    – David K
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:41
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    Though I will add, after reading a bit more myself, make sure that you are using a reputable unbiased source. If this company is an MLM, there are a lot of extremely biased sources out there.
    – David K
    Jul 11, 2016 at 15:43
  • Also bear in mind, the CEO may be aware that it is a pyramid scheme and is counting on you being ignorant of the fact and attracting you to "invest" as well (i.e. malicious intent). Most of these schemes work on the basis of benefiting high recruiters the most so if you joined she would directly benefit. So be careful!
    – toadflakz
    Jul 11, 2016 at 16:02

In my experience, when people fall for pyramid schemes, there's nothing you can do. No explanation, no matter how smart, will manage to persuade them that the scheme is a con. They will insist that they are smarter than you, and you are just a timid coward for not taking part in this great opportunity.

In your case, update your CV, look around for job opportunities elsewhere, watch carefully for any signs of financial trouble, and make sure you jump ship first if there is trouble. For others, just pray that it's not wife / husband / children that fall for this scheme. If it's children, make it 100 percent clear to them that if they enter a pyramid scheme there will be absolutely no financial support to them whatsoever.

  • 2
    Um, I think the wife/children/husband sentence should be deleted. It makes no sense in terms of the question. Jul 11, 2016 at 20:09

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