Archive for the ‘Unethical Colleagues’ Category

Laurice L. on oDesk

Does anyone know someone by the name of Laurice L. who is offering her services as a Virtual Assistant on oDesk.com?

She has stolen my “Meet Danielle” text from my personal business site:

lauricel2

If you know this Virtual Assistant or have heard of her, please let me know how to get in touch with her. Thanks.

UPDATE 12/5/08: I emailed oDesk and also posted on their forum about the infringement. A user there flagged the offending account and offered condolences, but I never heard from anyone officially from oDesk. However, when I messaged oDesk earlier this week via Twitter, they said they “were on it.” Received an email today from Stephanie Crull of oDeck who informed me that the offending profile has been deleted from their network. Big thanks to oDesk for their responsiveness (although, it would have been nice to hear from someone directly a little bit sooner).

Plagiarism is Plagiarism is Plagiarism

There is a very troubling, disturbing trend that has been brewing and building in Internet-land. Clients are trying to engage people in our industry in an activity that is unethical and unlawful. What is this activity? It’s plagiarism, otherwise known as copyright infringement.

Here’s what’s going on… there are clients (and these do seem to be most often from the Internet marketing sector) who are taking the works of others (books, articles and other writings) and then asking colleagues to reword them (“so as not to plagiarize”) into new articles or reports or whathaveyou which they then intend to put their name on as the author.

Um… HELLOOOO?! That IS plagiarism. Said another way, it’s also making unlawful derivative use from the copyrighted works of others, which is called copyright infringement. It’s theft of intellectual property.

A member recently had a client wanting them to participate in this activity and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. (By the way, I absolutely adore our members–we have some of the most ethical, honorable, reputable people in the industry, and they refuse to sell their soul and their reputation just to earn a buck). She asked the client if she had permission from the people whose work was going to be used and the client assured her she did.

But she still didn’t feel right about it. Something about the whole thing still niggled at her. And she was absolutely right not to feel good about it.

Look folks, plagiarism is plagiarism is plagiarism no matter how you dress it up. It’s unethical and it can get you into hot water as well.

If you ever feel funny about engaging in something, don’t second-guess your gut instincts. That is your conscience and intuition telling you that something is not right.

Plagiarism IS wrong and any client who wants to engage YOUR business in activity that may not be lawful or that holds possible liability or ethical repercussions had better be prepared to show you the written permissions before you proceed any further. You have your own back, your own reputation, and your own business to look out for.

And really, folks, don’t let clients get away with that crap, or at least refuse to engage in that activity. Ignorance or not, set them straight. It’s absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong, unless they have clear, specific permission from those authors they are making derivative works from.

There are more and more clients out doing this and I think it’s a very sad commentary on society. I’ve even had my “How to Choose an Administrative Consultant” article plagiarized by some well-known people in our industry as well as several internet marketers.

It takes everyone through their own personal actions and choices to ensure that society doesn’t lose its moral compass. It all starts with what we allow people to get away with and whether we act as complicit partners in those wrong activities by not speaking up and saying “no.” If we don’t stand up and say, “Hey, that is wrong and I’m not going to participate,” we are just as guilty.

So hold those clients to task, for your own business protection if nothing else. Ask for those written permissions so you can inspect them and know exactly, firsthand, what licenses are being granted and what isn’t. It’s your right and your obligation as a business.

New Category: Unethical Virtual Assistants

I’m starting a new category on my blog here:  Unethical Virtual Assistants.

I think most people are inherently honest. I think others sometimes do wrong things out of ignorance or denial, but if they were made to think about it, they would know in their hearts their actions were wrong, and given the chance will put things to rights.

And then there are those slimeballs who live under rocks and get away with their dishonest, unethical behaviors because no one exposes their actions to see the light of day.

I’m not having it anymore.

It’s a pretty damn sad commentary that the only way to get those kind of people’s attention is to expose them. You can’t appeal to their ethics—because they have none.

So from now on, here’s what happens when someone steals from me and infringes on my intellectual property.

They get one chance and one chance only to make things right as soon as they hear from me.

If they play games or make the choice to not make things right, I will be posting their names and website links and screenshots documenting the evidence of their theft for the the world to see. (To anyone reading, you had better check to see if they’ve stolen anything from YOU).

I will also, of course, then be handing everything over to my intellectual property attorney. And trust me, once you force me to go to that kind of trouble, I’m pretty invested in going for your jugular at that point.

If you have been a victim of thievery by colleagues, I encourage you to do the same.

Take screenshots documenting their theft. Have your attorney issue a cease and desist and file paperwork to have the offending sites taken down. Go after every penny of prosecution and damages that you may be entitled to.

Maybe then not only will be break this growing cycle of thievery, but we can get back to real honesty and integrity in our industry again.

Be an UN-Cola

As an organization founder, I’m in a position to view lots of new colleague websites.

In the last year, I’ve been noticing website after website using the new, and apparently free, Microsoft Live templates.

Granted, having a website is better than having no website at all, but in this case, not by much.

Folks, I gotta tell ya, this is not the way to go.

If you want to do yourself and your business a favor, at your very first opportunity, hire a professional to design a proper business website for you, one that conveys some uniqueness, personality and professional gravitas.

A custom-designed website (read non-template that is quickly recognized as such and makes you look like everybody else) is one of the easiest ways to position your business apart from the crowd and give clients a reason to choose you.

Clients also correlate the presentation of your business website with your business, skills, competence and what it will be like working with you. Presenting a lazy, template-based website makes them think your work will be like that as well.

If you are serious about your business and getting clients, it’s one of the smartest investments you can make.

And since we’re on the topic, stop plagiarizing each other, for gosh sakes!

Not only will you find yourself in hot water with your colleagues, but I can’t tell you how many clients have complained to me that “all their websites look the same and same the exact same thing!”

Blending into the crowd and conforming to the pack is NOT what is needed in business.

You give no reason for client’s to choose you when you are parroting the same message over and over. They are looking for your unique value proposition. When all you do is say the same thing as everyone else, you become invisible to them, just more noise.

To stand out, you’ve got to start thinking for yourself, creating your own brand and putting your own unique personality and voice to what you do.

Stop looking at everyone else’s website for words to copy. Be an un-cola!