An outfit called FreshBooks has put out an ebook that resulted in two dozen emails to me over the past two weeks, all on the same subject. The kinder interpretation was “these guys really learned from you,” and the unkinder was, “these guys are using your stuff.”
I downloaded a copy of the free book, speed read it, and immediately found about ten instances where the concepts, examples, or words themselves were mine, on the topic of value based fees, which I began writing about in 1992 and have never stopped. The concepts are in 20 of my books, most notably Million Dollar Consulting, and Value Based Fees.
I wrote to the authors and suggested that if they put something in a footnote, index, acknowledgment, introduction, preface—anywhere—that they recognize my work as a source or inspiration for at least some of their ideas and writing, well, that would be gracious and we could all go on with our lives. The author responding to the email told me he’d get back to me.
When he did, he actually wrote (he couldn’t have done this in person with a straight face) that he and his partner never read any of my work, never heard me speak in person or recorded, never Googled “value based fees” when they decided to write on the topic, and never read any other books on the subject at all. He claims the ideas just “came to them” and “his father talked about it.”
There’s all too much of this stuff that goes on and it’s more pathetic than it is threatening or vexing. I place my ideas in the public forum through books, articles, video, audio, and speeches. I expect the ideas to be applied. But I also expect the decency, ethics, and maturity to provide attribution when you otherwise seem to present the ideas and words as your own.
Perhaps I should write more on ethical behavior. I did write a booklet on the subject once, “Doing Well By Doing Right.” It was the worst selling booklet of the series of five I created.
But be apprised: FreshBooks is anything but Fresh Air.
© Alan Weiss 2013