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A Teaching Moment

Girl on Beach Sunset   It was just an ordinary night. Well, maybe, not really. I was in Boston instead of Boulder and I was hanging out with a table of ten of my friends in New England. But it seemed ordinary because I felt at home.

And then I received a FB message from a complete stranger, which completely blew my world for the next few twenty-four hours and would change the way I looked at my business and others most likely forever.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet,” she said. But someone in your very own business course, has completely plagiarized your personal website and is passing it off as her own. And she had. This girl has literally lifted my exact copy, my stories, and my graphics off my website and was now posting how proud she was of her work. Really? My very own stories? How did she think she could pass that off as her life? At first I was pissed but after a few minutes I actually found it kind of funny. How silly for one of my very own students to steal my own words and identity. The table of friends I was with thought it was pretty funny too.  Pretending they didn’t know what just happened, they all jumped into the Facebook Forum for that business course joking about copyright infringement and plagiarism, with the intention of educating others that lifting copy off someone else’s site did not make it their own. When I arrived back to my hotel room that night, I messaged my marketing director, who I had actually paid to write some of the copy for me. She didn’t think it was that funny. In fact, she wanted to send the plagiarizer an invoice! And then we started playing online and found a second site with my very own words. And then a third. We stopped counting after fifty sites with stories that sounded identical to mine. While this was happening, my heart started to race. This wasn’t simply a case of the ultimate flattery i.e. someone copying the format or design I used on my site. THIS WAS CREEPY.

It was like coming back from vacation and finding someone else living in my home.

They had taken all of my words. I was frustrated, angry, hurt. When I started my essential oil, coaching and leadership development business, my main focus was to help other people become successful by showing them exactly what they can do to be successful. But when I sawmy work – the work I had actually spent endless hours writing and even hired a professional (spending thousands of dollars to work with me), copied from my site word for word, literally verbatim – well, it left me really feeling taken advantage of. What was the course of action? An email? A Cease and Desist? Legal Action? I was in the heat of the moment. My emotions were raging. I felt violated and abused. I got angry. Not nice things were said. Conversations went off course and became not so constructive. I finally fell asleep at about 2am. And when I woke up, I decided to make an attitude shift.

I decided to use this experience to teach, which I really believe is the point of every moment of upheaval or distress in our lives.

We are human. We have emotion. We get pissed. We raise our voices. We often, at least I do, say things we are not proud of later (even if we don’t really regret saying them). But each of these moments is an opportunity for a true leader to step up and educate. So I share with you what went on, not to condemn anyone, but as a teaching point. This is NOT OK and not the way to build a business. One of the reasons I love my business model is that you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Strategies have already been laid out. All you need to do is take the tools given to you, develop the necessary skills taught by someone else who has shown success, and duplicate. And should you do that, we do everything in our power to help the tree we are planting together grow. The point here is that you follow the strategy. You don’t copy someone else’s work.

Here is how to be successful in business – bring your uniqueness and create your own voice. @hayleyhobson (Click to Tweet!)

Model the success of others and brand yourself as…. Well….yourself. How would you feel if you arrived home and found someone living in your house? Have you ever felt violated or taken advantage of? How did you react? How would you have preferred to react? Please write your comments in the box below and share on FB, Tweet or Pin. I’m sure others will benefit from your feedback as well. Originally posted in Positively Positive XO, Hayley  

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