Dr. Lillian Glass vs Marsha Petrie Sue – Does being found liable of “Copyright Infringement” equal an NSA Ethics Violation? Part 1 of 2

January 15, 2011

Have you ever had one of those issues that seem to stare you right in the face – an issue that forces you to look in the mirror and ask yourself – “What am I going to do with this one?”  This issue is one of those defining questions that forced me to think carefully and evaluate “ethically” what I should do.  Do I ignore a major ethics question and issue within my profession, leave it alone, sweep it under the rug (so to speak), or do I discuss what, to many, is a subject that should see the light of day for the benefit of the profession?   I suspect that many will doubt the choice that I am making, but I have to say that “transparency” and “truth” for me prevails, as I ask the tough questions related to a major legal and ethics issue.

In the middle of December, 2010 – major news outlets from USA today to Businessweek to CNBC were reporting on the unanimous jury verdict in the trial of Dr. Lillian Glass in her copyright infringement trial against Marsha Petrie Sue – an NSA member and CSP (Certified Speaking Professional).  The decision was handed down in a Federal Court – 2:09- cv-08570-RGKL-SH, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

According to a news release that followed: “Dr. Glass had alleged that Petrie Sue’s 2007 book “Toxic People” had wrongfully copied from two lists in Dr. Glass’ 1992 book “He Says, She Says.” The jury of eight agreed and Bloomberg reported that, “According to a December 9 court filing, the jury awarded her $31,000 for the unauthorized use of content from her work.”

In communication with Dr. Glass she said she discovered Petrie Sue’s word for word copying of her materials after doing an Amazon search for her own book called “Toxic People.”  Surprised to see another book with the same main “Toxic People” title, Dr. Glass ordered Petrie Sue’s 2007 book and was even more surprised to find similarities in stories and examples.

So what happens – ethically that is – when someone is found guilty of what would appear to be a violation of one of the eight specifically listed Code of Ethics Standards established by the National Speakers Association?  Note, I said, “appears” because as of this writing there is no active ethics complaint or investigation underway with the National Speakers Association.

The NSA Ethics Standards are listed below:

Article 1 – Representation

The NSA member has an obligation to oneself and to NSA to represent oneself truthfully, professionally and in a non-misleading manner. The NSA member shall be honest and accurate in presenting qualifications and experience in the member’s communication with others.

Article 2 – Professionalism

The NSA member shall act, operate his/her business, and speak in a most professional and ethical manner so as neither to offend nor bring discredit to oneself, the speaking profession or one’s fellow NSA members.

Article 3 – Research

The NSA member shall exert efforts to understand each client’s organization, approaches, goals and culture in advance of a presentation, in order to professionally apply one’s expertise to meet each client’s needs.

Article 4 – Intellectual Property

The NSA member shall avoid using – either orally or in writing – materials, titles or thematic creations originated by others unless approved in writing by the originator.

Article 5 – Respect & Collegiality

The NSA member shall maintain a collegial relationship with fellow members that is based on respect, professional courtesy, dignity and the highest ethical standards.

Article 6 – Confidentiality

The NSA member shall maintain and respect the confidentiality of business or personal affairs of clients, agents and other speakers.

Article 7 – Business Practices

The NSA member is obligated to maintain a high level of ethical standards and practices in order to assist in protecting the public against fraud or any unfair practice in the speaking profession and shall attempt to eliminate from the profession all practices that could bring discredit to the speaking profession.

Article 8 – Diversity

The NSA member shall not participate in any agreement or activity that would limit or deny access to the marketplace to any other speaker, to a client, or to the public. This includes, but not limited to, economic factors, race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or country of national origin of any party.

SIGNIFICANT QUESTIONS:

Just the other day, being interviewed as a business ethics speaker and author on a radio show, I was asked about the definition of “ethics”.  While many would think the answer would be simple – the reality is – ethics and ethical choices are those choices that are “right” based on the facts and circumstances of the situation at the time they are made.  Beyond ethics – right and wrong choices that have a moral fiber running through them – is the question of legal.  Sometimes what may be unethical may nevertheless be legal.  Many would say that actions that our financial institutions took with sub-prime mortgages were unethical – yet, they were legal.

Some might question whether raising the question (as an NSA member) is a violation of Ethics Article 5 – Respect & Collegiality. I hope that those who read understand that discussing or opening a forum for dialogue about ethics within our profession is not, in and of itself, disrespectful.  Likewise, for clarity, I have interviewed, in one form or another, both Dr. Lillian Glass and Marsha Petrie Sue – seeking their input first as this forum is opened.

But what if a choice made is illegal?  Does that make it also unethical?  That seems to be the issue that likely will be facing an NSA colleague – Marsha Petrie Sue.  As a speaker in leadership and a leader herself in NSA, having earned the coveted CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) designation, the likelihood is that an ethics investigation resulting from her conviction will happen sometime in 2011.  According to a conversation I had with Stacy Tetschner, CAE and Executive Vice-President of NSA, an ethics investigation will only happen if a formal complaint is filed with NSA.

Beyond the specific Ethics Standards, NSA has clear guidelines related to “Intellectual Property Guidelines” when it comes to presenters and presenting at NSA Conferences.  The guidelines are listed below:

  1. Understand the definition of intellectual property. Intellectual property is broadly defined as the original expression of ideas, as well as symbols and words that represent the products or services of a company or person.
  2. Respect the intellectual property of others. Below is a partial list of items considered to be intellectual property: cartoons, speeches, photographs, written material, overheads, signature stories, videos, logos/trademarks, movie/TV clips, drawings, audio-taped artwork, interviews, and other proprietary music materials.
  3. Comply with the law and the code of ethics. If you utilize any type of intellectual property that is not your own, get permission from the owner. Either obtain a formal license or obtain written permission to use the material. Please note that in some cases, the creator of the property is not the owner.
  4. Share with the audience that you have that permission. Include a simple, brief statement such as, “These photos are used with the permission of….” Sometimes the owner may require you to use a more formal notice, including for example, a copyright notice.
  5. If you use handouts that duplicate intellectual property with permission, be sure to add the phrase, “Used with permission of….” Your handouts might also explain that you have permission to use other materials (cartoons, photos, music, etc.) in your presentation. For example: “All of the materials presented in this presentation are either original, licensed or used with permission.”
  6. Know that NSA has obtained some limited rights to music. NSA has secured certain performance rights for your presentation from leading performing rights organizations. This will allow you to sing or play certain music during your presentation. This allows you to play certain prerecorded music as well. However, if you wish to synchronize your music to another media (sound on slide, video, etc.), then you must obtain a separate synchronization license. This is your responsibility, not that of NSA. In other words, NSA has obtained licenses for you to sing or play a CD of many (but not all) of the latest hit songs. As soon as you play it in conjunction with a slide show, you are breaking the law, unless you have obtained the further necessary permissions yourself.
  7. Notify NSA’s recording partner, Content Management Corporation, if you intend to use music. Then they can (at their option) either secure a mechanical license to duplicate the music or else they will need to edit out the musical selections from the tape of your program. Because it is unlawful to duplicate intellectual property without permission, you should also help CMC obtain the permissions necessary to fulfill their legal responsibility. In other words, you can sing songs NSA has obtained a license for. Should CMC duplicate/ distribute your performance, however, without a mechanical license, they might be breaking the law. For video-taped programs, the same notification is required for any visual media that would be reproduced, such as photos or cartoons.
  8. Tell the audience when you have created or commissioned your own intellectual property. If you have gone to the expense of creating and/or commissioning your own intellectual property, the NSA audience needs to know. You might use a brief phrase such as: “I had these cartoons especially created for my seminars.”
  9. Remember, as an NSA presenter, you represent the standard of ethical behavior.

Since NSA has gone to the trouble of listing specific guidelines with respect to the use of intellectual property, it would seem logical that being found liable in Federal Court of copyright infringement (violating intellectual property) would create quite a stir.

COULD IT BE ETHICAL BUT ILLEGAL?

Some might say I’m grasping at straws here, but is it possible that something could be found liablous (by a jury in a court of law) and not be found to be an ethics violation?  In communication with Dr. Lillian Glass – she says, in her opinion, no.  But what does Marsha Petrie Sue have to say?  In the interest of fairness, I raised a number of questions directly with Marsha Petrie Sue which, (in the interest of space), will appear in Part Two of this business ethics article.  For now, what is clear is that there are significant unanswered questions.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Whether there is an NSA ethics challenge is a function of whether a formal complaint is filed.  Assuming one is filed – the ethics committee will review the relevant material and make their determination based on the facts and circumstances.  Their findings will be published in the Speaker magazine and could include the following: (1) no action (assuming no violation is found); (2) letter of censure either public or private; (3) NSA CSP designation be revoked; and/or (4) NSA membership be revoked or suspended.  Likely, any action taken would be any of the above or a variation on the theme based on what NSA feels it appropriate.  Certainly, the negative publicity is, in and of itself, significant.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME… (see Part Two for the Marsha Petrie Sue Interview and comments)

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Dr. Lillian Glass vs Marsha Petrie Sue – Does being found liable of “Copyright Infringement” equal an NSA Ethics Violation? Part 2 of 2

January 15, 2011

As I began the first part of this series, which oddly enough began as an exploration of NSA’s code of ethical conduct, I raised questions related to Martha Petrie Sue’s being found liable of “Copyright Infringement” and the ethical impact it might have related to her membership and designation within NSA (the National Speakers Association).

As part of my work, I felt that since I had reached out to Dr. Lillian Glass to gain her perspective – much of which she would not allow me to publish as she stood by her news release – it was appropriate to provide the same opportunity to extend the same to a fellow speaker and NSA colleague.  In the interest of fairness, I did find Dr. Glass to be open in her expressions related to the case and I felt that, while the win was limited in scope to two lists, my interpretation was that Dr. Glass felt that not only had she stood up for her intellectual property, but in doing so struck a victory for others demonstrating that those who copies another’s intellectual property would experience consequences.  For those that follow my work you know that I open each presentation on ethics with the phrase – “Every Choice has a Consequence.”  I believe in the power of choice and the inevitability of consequence!

But, (I know you never start a sentence with ‘but’)…but – when I reached out to Marsha Petrie Sue, I, too, found a person who was very open to sharing her side of the story – and we all know that every story has two sides.  Below you will see the questions I posed to Marsha Petrie Sue and her responses verbatim.  Beyond her comments, from time to time you will find my own and I will do my best to make sure that mine are clearly noted so as not to be confused with Marsha’s words.

INTERVIEW:

1.     In December 2010 you were found liable, by a jury in Federal Court, of “Copyright Infringement”.  Were you surprised by the verdict?

“Shocked because I did nothing wrong.  I prevailed on the majority of the lawsuit.  See below!”

2.     Assuming you were (if not skip this question), before this ever got to Federal Court, what attempts did you make to settle the dispute that arose between you and Dr. Glass?

“Yes – many.  See PDF 154-24.  We tried mediation and Glass would not even be in the same room as me.  Finally she agreed and would not shake my hand or even recognize that I was there except when she yelled abusive and vile comments at me.  Her lack of maturity and hate for me, for whatever reason, were very apparent.”

3.     Did Dr. Glass – when (I assume) she raised the issue at the beginning of copyrighted material request a non-court settlement?  And if so, what were her demands?

“Partly, but her settlement requests were ridiculous.  For example, in the original claim she said that she coined “Sticks and Stones will break my bones and names will never hurt me” and that I had stolen that from her books.  I believe it was Rudyard Kipling.  She said I should never be allowed to use that statement again.”

4.     According to published media reports, you had material (two lists) in your book, “Toxic People” that was previously included in Dr. Glass’s book – “He Says, She Says.”  How did you come about that material?

“Many years ago, as people often do, I was sent two lists with very generic information concerning men and women in the workplace. I asked the person if I could use their information and they said yes. The language was so common and the information so generic, containing 132 words that I didn’t think there was an original author and that the person that approved this was the originator. Being a professional speaker and author people often send me quotes, quips, lists and other information they deem of interest. I’ve even had people pass me notes after a presentation. Glass’s He Says, She Says, where the lists originally printed is a full chapter, Paragraph style and over 1900 words.  So they are NOT exact.”

5.     Were you aware of Dr. Glass’s book – “Toxic People” – before you penned your book?

“No and I never heard of her either.  I began writing “Toxic People” in 2004 and Google searching was not something I did.  My original submission to Wiley had the title of “Decontaminate Toxic People” and they changed the name to “Toxic People.””

6.     Based on your earlier email (Chuck’s voice here – I had sent an email requesting an interview) in which you said or inferred that the lists were sent to you by a connection, did you make any attempt to search the wording to find out if it was copied from another source?

“The lists are VERY generic.  I knew many people had come up with similar information.  They were too common to search.”

CHUCK’S VOICE  – There are ways to scrub your material to compare it to copyrighted material and/or to evaluate whether it might be subject to a claim of plagiarism.  Apparently this is how many in the academic community are now being discredited with respect to former writing.  Years back technology was not available to scrub material in the same way it is today.  Was it available in 2004/2005?  I don’t know, but I would assume that publishers would protect themselves and their authors by using such technology.  Perhaps they don’t!

7.     As you know from the Dr. Lillian Glass website – Stanford University Professor Robert I. Sutton accused Marsha Petrie Sue, an Arizona professional speaker, of “plagiarism” – what comments do you have regarding the Sutton allegation?

“I’ve never heard of him, and don’t know who he is.  He never contacted me. You might also find interesting http://www.pogowasright.org/?tag=dr-lillian-glass

8.     NSA has specific rules related to “intellectual property” and being found liable in Federal Court of “Copyright Infringement” would seem to fly in the face of those rules.  As a CSP and respected NSA member, what comments would you make regarding your conviction and the NSA position on “intellectual property”?

“I have done nothing wrong.  I have no control over a vindictive person who in the summary judgment had all issues thrown out except for the 132 words in the list.  The case is not finished.  Please also refer to below information re: details of the case – and I have more.”

9.     Likewise, NSA has specific ethics rules that we (NSA members) are held accountable to follow.  Some would say that you violated Article 4 – Intellectual Property.  What would you say in defense of that ethics violation claim (please note I am aware that no such claim has yet been made – however some at NSA feel that a formal complaint will be forthcoming)?

“Gosh – and this is the first I’ve heard of it.  I guess my colleagues and friends would rather solve this problem behind my back.  No. I have done nothing wrong.”

CHUCK’S VOICE:  I regret the manner in which the question was asked as it inferred I had some inside information with NSA and I do not!  Rather, I have heard from a number of NSA leading speakers that they expected that a formal complaint would be filed since a finding of being liable of  “Copyright Infringement” would almost certainly be deemed by most to be a clear ethics violation, especially since that is directly connected to “intellectual property” and NSA has taken a clear stand on such issues.  I accept responsibility for my poorly worded question and apologize to Marsha and NSA if I inferred something inaccurate.

10.  From a different ethics perspective, it seems that Dr. Glass has gone to extraordinary lengths to expose your being found liable including material front and center on her website, notices on Facebook and a make shirt blog on WordPress.  What do you make of all the public and national attention this case seems to have received?

“I believe Glass is trying “ruin” me because she is jealous and vicious. Also believe that she is trying to sell her own books creating a platform from my visibility. I think she should be pitied.”

11.   I have been told your book – “Toxic People” – can now NOT be sold since it contains “Copyright Infringement” material – is that accurate?

“Not true.  She settled with Wiley with no monetary exchange.  They still sell the book on all outlets (Amazon, B&N, etc.)  The book is still there and I am still selling.”

12.  Do you plan on revising the book to remove the offensive content and then reissue?

“The content was not offensive nor copied. This is Wiley’s call not mine.

Here are my lists – and her list was over 1900 words and set as an entire chapter – and in paragraphs.

What women need to do in the business world when working with men:

1.     Do not minimize your accomplishments at work.

2.     Keep discussions to job-related issues or news events.

3.     Lower the pitch of your voice.

4.     Get to the point and include who, what, when, where and how.

5.     Do not use tag endings, such as “isn’t it?” or “right?”

6.     Drop your tone down to make a declarative statement.

7.     Monitor your head-nodding and smiles.

8.     Do not apologize unless you are wrong.

What men need to do in the business world when working with women:

1.     Use more terms of politeness like “Please” and “Thank you.”

2.     Do not be afraid to ask for help – forget about your ego.

3.     Provide more facial and verbal feedback.

4.     Make more polite requests instead of barking out commands.

5.     Control your temper and handle yourself in a professional manner.

6.     Be aware of addressing women with condescending terms like honey, sweetheart, babe or dear.

7.     Do not interrupt or monopolize conversations. “

13.  According to your website – the publisher was John Wiley and Sons, the publisher of record – wouldn’t they “scrub” the book for content and compare it to other material so any issues of plagiarism or “copyright infringement” would be discovered in advance of printing?

“The material is so generic that is would be very, very difficult to “scrub” – see above comment.”

14.   If you were on the NSA Ethics review board (it may not be called that) – as a CSP – if this came up for another member and you were to judge whether an ethics violation had occurred – what would your opinion be?  And, what outcome do you feel would be appropriate considering all the facts and circumstances?

“I would want to fully understand out members side and why this has come about.  She sued Wiley and me in New York – and the case was thrown out (maybe not the right term) Her attorneys work on contingency and I believe this round of attorneys is her third group. And with a settlement of $31,000 – they and she lost a considerable about of money.

Pat the member on the back for not stooping to Glass’s level of vile attack and upholding the character and professionalism of NSA.”

FOLLOWING ARE ADDITIONAL COMMENTS MADE BY PETRIE SUE (in her words and unedited):

Glass was not the prevailing party because there can only be one “prevailing party” and Glass was not such a party. Glass alleged that I infringed copyrights to four of Plaintiff’s books: Say It Right; The

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Men and Women; Toxic People: 10 Ways to Deal with People Who Make Your Life Miserable; and He Says, She Says. This Court granted Ms. Petrie Sue’s motion for summary adjudication on first three of those books. Although Glass prevailed at Trial on the fourth book, that is not enough to overcome the fact that her copyright claim as to three of her books had no merit as a matter of law.

A plaintiff who prevails on one copyright claim, but loses on even more copyright claims (as well as all of her non-copyright claims), see Riffer Decl. ~~ 2-4, is not “the” prevailing party.

Glass’s motion which cites 24 cases, does not even address the dispositive fact for this motion — that she lost more copyright claims than she won. This is further evidence (as explained below) that

Glass’s counsel looked at this case as creating a billing opportunity.

Glass had no interest in resolving her dispute with me in a reasonable manner. She wanted a Trial, irrespective of the value of her case or the cost of litigation. She retained her attorneys on a contingency, so cost did not matter to her; her attorneys viewed the case as an opportunity for an attorney fee award, so the higher the cost, the better. She viewed the Trial as a publicity event that could generate stories about her to help her sell her books. Her final settlement demand ($233,000) was more – about $85,000 more — than the maximum a jury could award her ($150,000) for statutory damages.! The $85,000 figure was no coincidence either.

Her counsel candidly admitted that she really wants to go to trial – again publicity stunt material. I believe her counsel’s motivation was to create a billing opportunity. Her motivation was to generate publicity to help her sell her books.  Taking the energy and resources needed to tear me down could have been used to sell her latest books – and even the old ones.

Why would I pay more to settle than it risked even if lost a Trial, especially after such I had prevailed on all the other (copyright and non-copyright) claims in the case?

So, Glass received her wish. She had her Trial.  She so she claims to have ‘won’, even though she:

~ lost on three of her four copyright claims; ~ lost on every other claim in the case; and ~received a jury verdict of $31,000 when her last settlement demand, made only a few days before Trial, was $233,000.

Obviously, anyone who is “very happy” with such “results” had her own agenda, which was not to resolve the case in a reasonable manner, but rather to generate publicity to sell her other books.

REMOVED COMMENT  due to factual dispute… Couple that with her counsel having their own agenda as well. Obviously, anyone who represents to a Federal Court that the outcome of this case — a $31,000 jury verdict on one claim after losing all other claims — was “exceptional,” “very successful” and an “excellent result” had his own agenda, which was not resolving the case in a reasonable manner.

WHERE FROM HERE?

I guess I now need to retake the content control and say – WOW!  My intent was to open the door to an ethics discussion and I think I got a bit more than I bargained for.  While I am sure both parties will take offense to my next comment I suspect that those who care to read will agree…this is a bit of a cat fight!

Dr. Lillian Glass, who I will admit handled herself professionally in my interview of her, clearly had a strong emotional charge to the outcome and the fact that (whether Petrie Sue likes it or not) Glass won in a federal court.  Whether you win one count, four or forty…being convicted is being convicted!  Based on my personal experience, and I’ve had personal experience in Federal Court, if you’re found guilty – a good dose of humility and reflection is in order.

Marsha Petrie Sue, on the other hand, is (in my opinion) in defensive mode related to her conviction.  That is common when someone finds that they are in unfamiliar territory and for most, being convicted in Federal Court is unfamiliar territory.

Rather than making a judgment on Dr. Lillian Glass’s or Marsha Peterie Sue’s actions – pre or post jury decision, I’d rather quote from my book as I leave the issue of an ethics violation to NSA and you – the readers.

Every choice we make in life will have either a negative consequence or a positive result. The outcome we receive is directly connected to the choices we make. As we live our outcomes, the more aware we become of how our choices impact the results we live, the greater power we have to produce the outcomes we desire.  Choices made without self-integrity or ethics result in negative results, while choices made with self-integrity result in positive results. My life demonstrates both extremes. –

from SECOND CHANCES: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity – by Chuck Gallagher

Perhaps it’s time for both Glass and Petrie Sue to look in the mirror and ask the more significant question – what choices am I making today that reflect self-integrity and will be deemed to empower and benefit others?

Meanwhile…is it possible that one can become the title of one’s book?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Brenda Keefer and Willow Mist Professional Speaker Services – Business Ethics gone South or just a plain ole Scam?

September 28, 2010

I recall my uncle one time telling me as we were sitting in a boat fishing, “Son, sometimes you just have to call them as you see them.”  I honestly don’t recall what we were talking about and frankly, at the time, I don’t recall connecting with the true meaning of his words.  But today they ring true…  Sometimes you just have to call them as you see them.

Let me be clear to those who read… as an Ethics speaker and Fraud Prevention Expert, I often hear of circumstances – perhaps questionable in nature – and, from time to time, find it helpful to research further.  Rarely do I find that I have personal experience with the firm or organization.  In the case of Willow Mist and Brenda Keefer – unfortunately I do and it appears that I’m not the only one.

On November 6, 2008, I received an email from Brenda Keefer – apparent owner and operator of Willow Mist Professional Services welcoming me to her fold.  Her initial pitch was that she (through her firm) offered speakers (Motivational speakers, etc.) direct marketing services thereby helping those she represents increase their bookings.  For those services, speakers (such as myself) or perhaps (in retrospect) I should label myself as a “sucker” – would pay her a nominal fee up front and she would take us on as clients representing that she had limited clients (unlike traditional speakers bureaus).

Now, as a good ole boy from the South, recognizing that she was just over the NC border in Tennessee, I thought “surely she was straight up” and frankly, I thought to myself, “if I am scammed the amount won’t break me.”

Well…I WAS SCAMMED!

After the payment was received by Brenda Keefer – NOTHING HAPPENED.  I mean I got no calls, no indication that I was being marketed, NOTHING.  I followed up with several emails but (as one might expect) NO RESPONSE.  In fact, I called and finally got Brenda on the phone.  She seemed confused about who I was and our relationship (I guess that’s obvious as we had no relationship other than her taking my money).  When confronted about my payment she said she’d have to look into it, at which time I provided her information about my canceled check.

LET’S BE CLEAR

I am not writing this because of my experience.  To me that would be unfair and perhaps bring my ethics into question.  Rather, let’s look at the facts and then perhaps the light of truth will shine brightly on Willow Mist and Brenda Keefer.

For those who follow my blog you certainly know that I have a sordid past.  For those that don’t here it is in a simple clear format:

  1. In the mid ’80’s I was a CPA who (being really dumb) effected a Ponzi scheme
  2. In 1990 that fraud or scam that I created came crashing down and I lost everything
  3. In 1991 I made restitution to those I defrauded (not that that makes right my wrong – it does not)
  4. In 1995 I was sentenced to Federal Prison and on October 2, 1995 I took 23 steps in to Federal Prison
  5. Upon release I started life over and in 2006 was a Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for a public company
  6. Today I am the Chief Operating Officer for a private national company and a professional public speaker sharing insight into ethical behavior and fraud prevention.

I feel that sharing my past helps those who read know who I am and where I am coming from.  That said, when I talked with Brenda Keefer with Willow Mist I found out that she and I have something in common.  We are both CONVICTED FELONS (nothing by the way that I’m proud of – but our past is our past).

When I shared my background with Brenda she was willing then to share her’s with me.  According to her, I was an example of how someone with a “sorted past” can make different choices and turn their lives around.   Frankly, I did agree.  I think from that conversation I found a level of trust that now, in retrospect, was unfounded.

Some people learn nothing from past experiences and it would seem, in this case, that Brenda may be challenged with dealing with ghosts from the past in her present day dealings in business.  And, that give all folks, who may have made bad past choices – a bad name.

BEYOND JUST ME…

But, as I said, this isn’t about me.  Several weeks ago in the email blast – SpeakerNetNews I spotted something submitted from another speaker – asking about Brenda Keefer and Willow Mist Professional Services.  Since it had been almost two year, frankly I had put Brenda and Willow Mist out of my mind.  But the question jogged my memory and brought me back to my experience with Willow Mist.  I emailed and asked what the issue(s) were and was told that it related to payments not paid from Willow Mist to speakers and payments to Willow Mist for services not delivered.  More importantly, I was told that the response from the inquiry regarding Brenda Keefer and Willow Mist was somewhat overwhelming.

SO HERE’S THE QUESTION:

Is the operation of Willow Mist Professional Services with Brenda Keefer at the helm a SCAM?  Is it that Brenda is INCAPABLE of providing what she promises?  Have lessons from past unethical and illegal actions been learned or is this nothing more than a repeat of past prior performances?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  What I do know is this – if one takes money from another and promises to perform services and then fails to perform – even in the face of repeated questions and requests for performance – there is a good chance that doing business with such a firm is not only UNWISE, but from outward appearances it would appear that UNETHICAL ACTIONS or a SCAM is being perpetrated.

As a final note, it appears that Brenda Keefer worked for ISN Works doing essentially the same service for them before setting up here own business in the same town.  From what I understand, she is not connected with ISN Works and perhaps her departure uncovered similar actions (unethical) that has left ISN Works with a mess to clean up.

BE WARNED…

P.S.  Here’s a link that just adds fuel to the fire.  http://burnedbyisn.blogspot.com/2009/07/this-time-its-brenda-keefer-and-willow.html