I recently read a Facebook post from a respected and successful professional who is described as “a Businessman, coach, mentor, author and International speaker. He has studied and observed the psychology of influence for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on influencing human behaviour and how it relates to sales, marketing and personal transformation.”
The post was called “The Peak Performance Blueprint” and the “Tip of the Day 1” was called “Touch it Once”.
In his introductory paragraph he says “I had to develop this process because I was one of those people that let their inboxes overfill and explode – only nine months ago, every single day I would open my inbox and there’d be over 3,000 emails accumulated.”
The only thing is – he didn’t develop the “Touch it Once” discipline. How do I know this? Because Chet Holmes, the recently deceased American businessman who was considered to be the best sales and marketing strategist in the world, wrote about it in his book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”, which was initially published in 2007.
Now, there’s a chance that Chet Holmes didn’t invent the “Touch It Once” principle either. But chances are, he did. He was that kind of person who truly was leagues ahead of everyone else, a true innovator and not someone who would lip-sync their way through the National Anthem.
I was recently on a webinar about how to communicate to your clients in a way that really resonates and strikes an emotional cord with them so that they ultimately buy from you. The speaker advised that the key was to identify your client’s BAP – otherwise known as the “Bad Ass Problem” – and suggested that he had coined the term himself. Given that this guy was otherwise softly-spoken, mild-mannered and conservative, “Bad Ass Problem” didn’t quite feel congruent with the rest of his language. The other thing is that Frank Kern – the Kombi driving, (former) beer swilling, occasionally swearing, board short and flip flop wearing, long haired and doesn’t-fit-the-mold American guru of internet marketing – has been doing keynote presentations to American audiences for years where he talks about identifying that “Bad Ass Problem”. I personally saw him speak at “Business Mastery” in Las Vegas in 2011 and “Bad Ass Problem” rolled off his tongue like it was part of the woorkwork. Again, he may not have coined the phrase but it sure fits in with his overall persona. Then again, he never claimed to have coined it. Which probably means he did.
Third example – and this one is a true disgrace – one of the facilitators for one of the most recognized and influential “motivational speakers” in the world takes the material that he presents on behalf of the founder and sells it as his own to naïve “boot-camp” clients willing to pay $10k for the privilege. Apparently, he doesn’t even repackage or represent the information – it’s just a straight out boot-leg. Granted, these clients might still elect to pay the fees and proceed with the course even if they knew they could go straight to ‘the source’ and get it there (ironically presented by the same person) but shouldn’t they at least be given that choice?
Last but not least, when I went to Tony Robbins ‘Date with Destiny’ in April 2010 I had recently finished reading David Deida’s book ‘The Way of the Superior Man’ (published in 2006) and was struck by how Tony presented the exact material from the book as conclusions based on his own studies of human behavior. David Deida, born in 1958, has spent his life’s work studying and writing about the way men and women grow spiritually and sexually and, as a contemporary of Robbins, was apparently not too impressed when he heard his work was being claimed by someone else. I heard there was the threat of a lawsuit from “Deida’s camp” but it was quickly buried and settled. In the subsequent ‘Date with Destiny’ seminars I have attended I note that Tony is very clear in crediting Deida for that particular material and is also mindful about discussing his observations and theories in the context of the larger work of others.
I get that the need for “significance” would compel some people to take credit for things that do not originate with them. I understand that their inner critic might be saying, “if you’re not smart enough to come up with your own stuff, why should anyone buy what you’re selling?” And believe me, I have my own finger well and truly on the pulse of ‘Fear of Failure’ to understand that exposing your own authentic self opens you up to vulnerability, criticism and the “I am not Enough” terror and syndrome. But the real failure lies in the dishonesty of pretending to be the author and creator of something that just ain’t yours. That’s plain and simple fraud and in the world of mentoring, coaching, motivational speaking, performance strategists, leadership (and especially youth leadership), its sacrilege.
Now that Tony is more mindful to give credit to his peers, does that in any way lessen or dilute the impact and effectiveness of his teachings? Not in my books. If anything, it gives him more credibility because he has the humility to acknowledge that his learnings and teachings are collaborative and co-creative. As Aristotle said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It is so much more elegant and graceful to acknowledge the part others play in our life, indirectly and directly, then to pretend to be “Master and Commander” of all we survey. Even Einstein had some help from his predecessors.
“Be impeccable with your word” is the first of The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz). Tell the truth.
“There is no such thing as an original idea”. And so what? Who cares? It doesn’t need to be original to have a wildly prolific impact. Ultimately, nothing in this life is about you anyway.
In “The Speed of Trust” Stephen Covey talks about “trust” as being “no longer a social virtue but a hard-edged economic driver” that is no less than “the new currency of the new global economy”. The first step to building trust comes from within – it is when you are completely aligned in everything you feel, think, say and do.
The people I am buying from these days are the people who aren’t afraid to own their own human-ness, aren’t afraid to say “I don’t know”, aren’t telling me THEY are the be-all-and-all as they pound their chests from the balconies. The people I am buying from these days are the people who are earning their living honestly and have enough humility and sense of co-creation to recognise that another person’s greatness and achievement doesn’t need to be show-ponied as their own for it to affect a greater good that goes beyond individual significance.
Best Facebook update of the day: “I am heart-poundingly, eye tearingly in love with my wife”. Doesn’t get more honest, raw or vulnerable than that. I don’t even know this FB “friend” personally but I do know he is someone I would buy from.