This American Life: #543: Wake Up Now
December 29, 2014 12:13 PM - Subscribe

As New Year's approaches and people are contemplating things they want to change about themselves, we have stories of people trying to wake themselves up, shake up their own lives, or wake up others. Including the story of a company – or maybe it's a movement – called WakeUpNow.

Act One: Something’s Happening Here and You Don’t Know What It Is.
Act Two: Board Games.
Act Three: Sleep No More.

TAL Show Notes Page
posted by jazon (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had a family member involved with Amway that went through similar things as described in Act One. He attended "business meetings", picked up a new set of friends that echoed the "success is just a matter of belief" mantra, and sunk all his time and money into being a distributor. He burned through his social network trying to get people to join in, and pushed away friends and family that tried to tell him the program wasn't working for him. He ended up leaving his wife and family, quitting his job, and turning his back on his mother, brother, and sister. I think he now lives in a trailer park with little income, but is still chasing the dream of instant success Network Marketing promises (but rarely delivers).
posted by jazon at 12:18 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I found this episode oddly disjointed.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 6:01 AM on December 30, 2014

I find MLMs particularly abhorrent and listening to this episode made me feel gross. I'm not saying it was a bad episode, just.... yeeetccccchhh.
posted by JimBJ9 at 6:20 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I found this episode oddly disjointed.

I agree, but I also really liked all three of the acts so overall I did really enjoy the episode.

I think that the biggest problem is that act two, with the CEO pay issue didn't really fit the theme.

The WUN segment took a really interesting pivot with the story of the guy who really just needed to admit that what his family needed was a stay-at-home dad, I'm glad that ended up happier than it could have.

The alarm clock segment is basically the story of my life. Everyday. And I am a grown-ass adult who is no longer in college and even goes to bed at a reasonable time on a lot of the days.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:31 AM on December 30, 2014

AND... it turns out that the CEO pay segment ended up being this week's Planet Money as well. I kind of hate it when my podcasts repeat themselves.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wish they would have just devoted the whole hour to WakeUpNow. That kind of stuff fascinates me and I feel like they could have gone way deeper on it. The origins, the background of the people who started it, etc. Next season of Serial! (Only half joking on that last part...)
posted by primethyme at 7:50 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Planet Money has put out a "nerder" version of the CEO story - available online at the Planet Money Website.
posted by jazon at 12:33 PM on December 31, 2014

I had the opposite reaction - I thought the Wake Up Now section was pretty boring. Maybe I just knew too much about MLM already. I do agree that the Damian segment was nice.
posted by bq at 9:09 PM on January 2, 2015

They were way too easy on WUN. The more MLMs sound like self-help the more horrible they really are. They should be shredded. I agree that the personal story about the guy caught up in it was touching, but they should have torn into that slimebag marketing officer way harsher.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:28 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

It reminded me a lot of 'The Secret' and I was quite surprised that they didn't touch on that.
posted by bq at 7:38 AM on January 3, 2015

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