Fort Collins, Colorado
I'm at war with business as usual. I help business owners bust through business ruts and build community by introducing fresh ideas and reviving storytelling.
Nice to "meet" you. I love your take on perfectionism and more importantly - failure. I had a similar moment of clarity when my friend (and former client) who I desperately wanted to shake and tell him to "just fuckin launch already", died. And I was so sick for his family and him and this big thing he was working towards but never quite comfortable to launch - dude was just a few years older than me.
Just makes you feel OK with "done" and less OK with "perfect".
Snagged your book and I'm looking forward to reading it!
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Guest Post: Failure Turns Me On (meet Mike Hrostoski)
Amber: nicely done. I always like hearing a fellow superhero's origin story.
Your honesty about depression is refreshing; it's not something you often see talked about in public (even though it really, really should be).
3 months, 4 weeks ago on Guest Post: Would You Like Fries With That? (Meet Amber Hott)
As a follow-up: it's all about the right kind of politics.
I can't speak to Barilla's market. I don't know those politics, for the most part - but I can guarantee you folks who don't normally eat Oreos felt some extra warm fuzzies about that bright blue packaging next time they visited the supermarket. I eat Oreos from time to time; I gave 'em up when I went on a health kick. Guess what was back on my shelves the next day after that rainbow Oreo Facebook post?
It wasn't even about the cookie... it was the thought behind it. Oreos stand for people coming together (or, you know, feeling better through binge eating after a breakup) - what better messaging could they have picked than to support something like *everybody* coming together in marriage? It was the right kind of Politics and messaging.
Now, let's say Oreo does something poking fun at the House of Representatives for "throwing a political tantrum" and likely shutting down the government? I highly doubt we'd have the same level of warm fuzzies and the "blue" packaging would become tainted with a dual meaning.
Politics... but not the right kind.
5 months, 1 week ago on From Chick-fil-A to Barilla – Is Courting Controversy The Next Big Thing?
"Courting" controversy? No.
Standing for something (running the risk of losing the folks who believe the opposite)? Yes.
There's a whole slew of PR and marketing professionals who would say, "No way. Shut up, sit down, and make a good product that will market itself." As in: don't do anything that pulls you away from the bread and butter center stream of the market.
Then there's folks like me (and you and the folks at Oreo and...) Any PR is good PR. Any messaging is good messaging and apathy is death.
It's OK to stand for something. It's OK to stray from center, bread-and-butter. It's OK to cause a ruckus. Personally, I loathe the politics aspect - but honestly, if your ideal target market is right-wing conservatives who want a "family values pasta" (whatever the hell that is), then yes - by all means go after gay marriage.
This reminds me of the Funny or Die video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSBFTKI-zIM) where the Colonel (played by John Goodman) indicates that KFC Loves Gays. In an aside worthy of Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, Goodman stares straight into the camera and says, "I don't actually give a ----, you're all just a bunch of money mouths walking around, talking and eating..." before getting back to his 'approved' script.
You can stand for something; stand for whatever you want - and there are tools to track whether or not you actually do and an audience of voracious psychopaths on either end of the spectrum who will stock up just for the love of a company that shares what they believe in.
Fake legitimate belief in something for "profit's sake" at your own peril.
These sound like mal-intentioned trolls who used the beta moniker to hide the crap out of their sales-laden drivel.
I hate it when that happens; and you know, they have no business selling you ANYTHING unless you have opted in for that. And worse, it shouldn't be in the fine print, it should have been blaring and actionable if they really wanted to make a sale.
"I would love to get information and offers on breed-specific products for my dog" (check or uncheck).
The sad thing is, it works for idiots. Idiots who run out of money, eventually - but idiots nonetheless. These are the folks who don't really understand how a computer works, how an email opt-in list works, and think that the email just got in their inbox by magic and mind-reading.
You don't make a great business out of practices like that. It's like knocking up every girl in the school and hoping you land the prom queen to live your magical fairytale ever-after story. Nevermind the externality of all that child support.
9 months ago on The Idiot’s Guide to Destroying a Community
So very spot on.
This happens across the span of a lot of different business issues - primarily graphic and web design. "How much does it cost" is the primary question - not "how much value will this add/how many more sales will we gain as a result..."
For the longest time, I thought Stargate SG-1 was the only "true" Stargate. I avoided Stargate Atlantis for YEARS, believing it was somehow inferior. Then, I committed to watching the first season and it made all the difference, I found two new role models and a whole slew of new favorite moments.
In my business, I LOATHED giving myself a title because it seemed to constantly change - which was really telling me that I should have been figuring out how to focus more and be less of a polymath.
9 months, 1 week ago on How a great bra can save your business
"People will know who you are because you are consistent". Boom!
Love it. Agreed. Shared. Commented. Want a churro.
Actually, in all seriousness - great advice, great delivery - and while I tend to avoid tequila after the "summer of OMGWTFBBQ!" (aka: the Great Memory Gap of 2010) I totally dig what you've said. Spot on.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on 5 Lessons Tequila Can Teach Us About Marketing (Guest Video)
@CShakespeare I would challenge your assertion that our society is desensitized to theft of intellectual property because "coming up with original concepts" is too hard.
Instead, I'd contend that a core part of the learning experience goes something like this:
1) Articulation - figuring something out, working it, moving it around, seeing what it's made of
2) Emulation - building a model of something, building a copy of something to know how it works
3) Adaptation - changing some aspect of the original emulated work
4) Modification - incorporating a new aspect into the original emulated work
5) Original Creation - combining new ideas based on what you learned in steps 1-4 to create something new
For instance, think of how you learned to write poetry. You probably had to copy a sonnet or two from Shakespeare to learn iambic pentameter. A few more sonnets and you could write your own. That process continued for just about everybody. Soon enough somebody had come up with, "There once was a man from Nantucket..." and then finally someday someone penned the most brilliant poem of all: "Ode To Spot".
It's not that the creation of original concepts or content is too hard, it's that most people think #4 is "enough" to constitute an original work (thanks in no small part to overworked, underpaid teachers and a system that rewards minor improvements on the status quo with millions of dollars of venture capital).
The way we learn to create new things is by learning how old things work and fit together - until we come up with some new combination of old things that is "truly" original (even though it's just a recombination of old ideas that has either never been tried, been forgotten from the past, or is novel enough to work at this point in time and not at the point in the past when it was discovered).
As copying is a necessary part of initial learning, we have to think critically on how we teach children and adolescents about the creative process, how we reward originality (at the moment: it's largely punished), and how we license our content and contributions to society.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on On Stealing Shit
This is why I have mad respect for you. You took a one line explanation you gave to me (and a few others) in a comment and turned it into a whole-hog blog post.
Not only that, you addressed the concerns quite a few folks had about the "slut shaming". Well done. Comment high-five.
@Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen You wouldn't trust me as much as you do if I wasn't totally honest with ya.
That said, I hear ya and I won't keep prodding.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on If You’re Going to Rip Me Off, At Least Be Creative About It
@Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen Erika, right back at ya (mad respect).
You didn't call me an idiot, I was just using me as the perfect example of someone who could have been the exact target of this bitch slap because of my understanding of what constitutes plagiarism :-D - and if the line was blurred for me until you explained it wasn't the content but the execution, maybe it was blurred for this Savvy girl, too.
Chai woman? Yeah, that's totally fucked up. I'd have expected this blog post and resulting outrage for her.
Savvy? The obvious change in content (if not other bits of execution) and her quick removal stops me from being outraged; so the slamming of her character, gender, and age seems really out of line to me.
Granted, I don't know what the back-end communication looked like. Maybe Savvy told you to fuck off or was rude. Maybe it was an innocent mistake which is now fixed. Even so, the fact that you're indifferent to it going forward now is troubling to me. You can't control what other people say and do, but you do set the pace and tone of your own community.
You and I, and all content creators - we SHOULD care about educating ALL our readers on this - and not on the Sesame Street-level lesson of "why you shouldn't steal things" (fucking duh) but instead on the much more advanced "you might think this isn't theft because you made an effort to modify it, but it is still theft..." Semantics and intent in that sense are *everything*.
That's not licensing ignorance or fuckery, that's basic business survival to prevent fuckery from propagating.
@Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen Erika - it's your community, their behavior as a result of your call-outs is on you.
I haven't been watching Facebook, I've been watching here. It's not being shut down. Your reaction to an ad-hominem commenter (Jackie Dotson) was "She knew what she was doing." Your reaction to another, similar commenter, Carol Smith, who commented on Savvy's genital configuration, was silence. Schadenfreude is an ugly fashion accessory.
As an aside, I'm not attacking Jen's stance. She never said anything was OK. I'm challenging her that copyright infringement won't decrease even with call-outs like this - if anything, future infringers will be much more unlikely to do anything once they get caught and become more embedded in their belief they didn't do anything wrong (because they don't get it in the first place, they just think they're being thrashed by a bully). It'll turn a legitimate request to remove copied content into "bullying", when it's really not.
I'm saying if we don't turn these into teaching moments, as to the exact nature of WHY they think it's OK to steal content... it won't change for anybody and you'll have made a rather large wave signifying nothing.
Just look at the comments. You have four basic groups: The folks who agree outright because you're Redhead Writing, then the folks who agree because they have similar knowledge or understanding of the copyright line, then you have people who think if they change the copy, but leave the system, the concept, and the design the same, it's not plagiarism... and then the last group are wondering why you think you can "copyright" the idea of coffee consulting.
That's the problem - the lines aren't clear because education is lacking. I'm no idiot, and even I was having trouble understanding your call-out until you put it in a different context for me.
It's EXACTLY the reason why I'm troubled by the ad-hominem attacks, because while the *intent* doesn't lessen the crime, it certainly should meter the response.
@SpartaJen As a dissenter, I don't think it's OK that the plagiarism occurred. Erika's call-out was a necessary thing.
Did the public thrashing clear up the issue? Not for me and not until I questioned what the infringement was.
I am troubled by the fact that quite a few of the commenters railed against Savvy's age, gender, face, abilities, etc - just on the basis of Erika calling her out. I'm troubled by the fact that nobody else seems troubled by that (or at least, isn't troubled enough to comment on it) and even more troubled by the fact that other commenters applauded and encouraged those ad-hominem attacks...
At the end of the day, the infringers learned nothing of copyright besides "don't fuck with Erika", some trolls were allowed to spew ad-hominem venom towards the target of the day, all while the original plagiarism might have occurred precisely because the line isn't a clear one until the execution is described (look at how many commenters equate copy to the idea itself - when it's a combo of the system, the design, the copy, and the idea itself).
If the only education opportunities these types of things get are either "CUT OFF HER HANDS"-level public call-outs or private letters between lawyers, it's no wonder they keep happening.
@veryafraidtosay To be fair, it was a pretty blatant copy of the system, layout, and concept - if not the copy (which changed slightly).
The execution of the idea was the problem (that it had such similar concept, copy, systems, and layout which add up to execution).
What SavvySexySocial did here is look at a sofa, built an identical sofa, moved the cup-holder, and upholstered it in a slightly different color.
The "line" that was crossed was that there wasn't at least some attribution back to Erika for the concept, systems, or layout (internals) - which weren't changed, even though the copy (fabric) changed shade.
The merit of the idea is in the execution - most of which was copied in this case.
@CAELANHUNTRESS I do think SavvySexySocial made a mistake here; the mistake was that she stopped at the paint.
It's sort of like stripping the internals out of an iPad, copying it verbatim, and then redressing it as a myPad in green, orange, and red instead of black or white and selling it for half the price.
The "line" that was crossed was that there wasn't at least some attribution back to Erika for the concept, systems, or layout (internals) - which weren't changed here, even though the copy (paint) was.
@Erika Napoletano That's an excellent answer, and it clarifies a lot for me: when you said the *execution* was the thing being copied. It's not about the words, the format, or the layout, it's about the execution (which is a combination of all three of those things plus intent) - which I whole-heartedly agree with. It's pretty clear that WAS copied.
I've said it before: I'm not bothered by you defending your territory or standing up for yourself.
For what it's worth, before the "execution" clarification - when I look at the side-by-side comparison, I get the similarity in layout. But, to a semi-layperson without that "execution" explanation, the content change and slight layout changes were enough to raise questions for me but not outrage. I'm not exactly uneducated on the topic of copyright law, but I'm also no lawyer.
Someone with a similar perspective to my original position (questions but not outrage) might have a difficult time differentiating "theft" from "building on". It doesn't make the theft any less wrong, but to say they "knew better" probably isn't accurate because it becomes a question of intent.
The semantics aren't always black and white - which is why Apple vs Samsung went different ways in different courts. The theft is that the bones here haven't been grown or modified, just redecorated - as in your couch metaphor. To "know better" requires an understanding that the execution - and not the copy or layout - is the soul of the thing being stolen.
You're right to call her out, but the community outrage based on an assumption that she had malicious intent (that she "knew better" when that hasn't been established) ... is troubling.
@JackieDotson I'm honored you took the time to read my comment and quote portions of it (obviously, I had both of those quotes in my comment), but I'm afraid without attribution that's copyright infringement. ;-) I think people who quote me without attribution are lazy, throwing up comments to generate passive praise. I mean, just look at her, her name is Dotson, like she owns all the dots over all the i's and j's on the internet!
Look... joking aside, my point is this: I DON'T think Erika's response was uncalled for. She made the right call with the right amount of Redheaded fury.
I DO, however, object to high-and-mighty pitchfork and torch lighting and hating on a woman who we don't know by people in the audience.
Schadenfreude is a dangerous game when we only have half of the story. Did SavvySexySocial screw up? Sure. It was a doozy. But the intent MAY have been honest.
You can rail against young people, "social media experts", and those who don't want to pay their dues all you want, but it comes off sounding jaded and bitter, not witty. I'm only 27. I've had more jobs than most people I know before I started my own company. And I work a lot harder than most people I know. I also have been called a "social media expert" because I teach classes on social media for charity, have pithy sayings, corny videos about speaking Klingon, and prices that sometimes end in 7's. I also occasionally make a duck face, though if anyone has proof I've probably murdered them already and destroyed the evidence. Do I make your list of an internet scammer? Or is that a reserved title for when I make a mistake?
Ad-hominem attacks don't help teach folks that copyright infringement is wrong - or even where the line is. And that's the point of my asking the question: where is the line? She obviously took time to recraft the message and the offer (though not the format or the idea itself - the bones were identical). But when do the bones stop being the thing that is copyrightable?
Your answer to that question is at the heart of the issue. Because that's what makes the difference between blatant theft and rookie mistake. That's not naivety, that's keeping an open mind until we know the other half of the story.
Just to play devil's advocate against the pillaging hoard (not the Redhead, because I think you're right with your response)...
When someone ripped off my PSA (Are You Burnt Out?) that went viral on Reddit, they left everything else, just removed my logo. That version was then shared by a page with 50K likes... and shared another 500 times after that. Which then found one of my friends... I was pissed, hurt... and I wanted to give up on writing another PSA, ever.
In your case... I get why you're pissed. I'm on the fence as to SavvySexySocial's intentions, though.
I think honest intent is what's key: she probably thought she was too small fry to show up on your radar or affect your business (which isn't really true for anybody or anything anymore). She probably thought she really doesn't offer the same services. She probably thought she changed it enough that it wouldn't be a problem. She probably thought it was an idea worthy of trying and thought she'd done enough to make it original.
I can't claim to know what she was thinking, but I know the mindset because I've been there, too (15 years ago when I was 12 and knew nothing about copyright and wanted to share my love of Star Trek ships, maybe by borrowing content from StarTrek.com and adding my own twists to it, but I've been there).
It's the mindset of a rookie making a mistake, not a master criminal.
I know a lot of people look up to you, me included. Of course a few of 'em are going to try out your tactics. Hopefully, they'll have enough common sense to change it up more than what happened here. With original layout. Original copy. Original spirit of the idea... not just a revision.
It should go without saying that if Erika Napoletano asks you to take down a page with a bitchslap, you'd better believe someone's gonna haul ass to take it down as a sign of good faith until they can figure out if they screwed up. It'd be more telling if they left it up.
That doesn't mean she *knew* that what she was doing was blatant theft or was intentionally doing something duplicitous; she probably assumed it was unique enough.
Was it a bad assumption? Fuck yeah. Was it blatant, intentionally harmful, "suck it, Redhead"-level theft? Hmm...
And, echoing what Caelan said - when does a revision become an original work? Obviously, SavvySexySocial didn't go far enough yet. If I were to launch a "buy me lunch" program with a similar sound (in my voice, of course), cost, benefit, and structure (because, a virtual one-on-one product and recording it and providing a report are not exactly new ideas) and we're masticating over marketing rather than sipping over being stuck, should I expect a bitchslap, too?
Obviously - I know enough not to directly copy your stuff, structure, etc - and to give credit where credit is due. But like Caelan said - she obviously edited the copy to be in her voice, if not the intent of the idea or the overall layout or structure. At what point do changes in copy become a unique iteration of a common idea?
@Annie Sisk This rocks.
11 months, 1 week ago on How to Deal with Negativity, Assholes, and Discouragement
Zing! I love it... YOU are the cause of all your problems.
I love it and hate it when I have to tell clients that (usually not about jerks, but sometimes when it comes to social media mismanagement).
Hang around the kinds of people you want to share values with; I just told my cousin this morning: some people are worth being nice to. Some aren't. The trick is having enough energy to stay nice to everybody until you figure out who's wasting your energy :-)
Great post Alden!