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)


Second Chances? Barack Obama to Michael Vick – Have We become a Compassionless Country?

December 30, 2010

Well, for a guy who believes in Second Chances (hence the title of my new book – Second Chances) I was shocked and saddened at the media storm or fire related to Barack Obama’s comments praising giving folks – namely Michael Vick – a “Second Chance.”  As a nation have we become so full of hate and intolerance that we no longer can tolerate the idea that “Second Chances” are worth aspiring toward?

So this past Monday the following was reported by the Washington Post – quoted here:

On Monday, the buzz was about how the president had weighed in on the redemption of Michael Vick. Obama phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to praise the team for giving a second chance to the quarterback, who is again a National Football League star 19 months after leaving prison for his role in a horrific dogfighting ring that killed pit bulls by electrocution, hanging and drowning.

The president has not spoken publicly about the call, though aides acknowledged that it took place. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick’s comeback.

“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

While I may not agree with a great deal of what the President says – in this case he’s right!  Rarely do those who serve time get a “fair second chance!”  But AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – “Second Chances” are not just about those who have committed crimes and done their time.  Obama’s comment that “we did something on such a national state that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall” is really at the heart of the matter.

But, with such compassion stated by our President – the firestorm begins.

So what’s the fallout of suggesting that it is good to give folks a “Second Chance” – enter FOX News broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who said: “Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

WOW – TALKING ABOUT FROM LEFT FIELD (oops I should have said “Right” field for FOX)

Stop!  Media extremism is in play here.  Let’s get the ratings and buzz huh Tucker?  Dumbass statement that Vick should be executed is nothing more than an UNETHICAL PLOY to sensationalize a true heart-felt comment by Obama.  Have we come to be so angry and so hard-hearted that we will take the opposite opinion of anyone who does not share our ideological belief.  Wonder if Obama had said that he felt Vick should be banished to a desert island never to return to the US – would Tucker have then found it in his heart to give Vick a “Second Chance”?  Is it about coverage and opposites – winning or losing – black or white?  Have we fallen that low as a country?

What about “Second Chances” in other areas – love, being a father, recovery from cancer – Is the concept of getting a “Second Chance” becoming foreign to Americans?  Or is it the media that finds that NO SECOND CHANCES make for better ratings?  If it were his child that needed a “Second Chance” I think Tucker’s words would ring hypocritical this week!  Tucker what about it?  Care to comment?

BUT TUCKER’S NOT THE ONLY ONE…!

Reported in the LA Times –

But Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in the Philadelphia area, bristled at Obama’s characterization that the Eagles’ signing of Vick was motivated by wanting to give a convicted felon a second chance.

“If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Smith, who organized a campaign last season to collect food for animal shelters every time Vick was sacked on the field. “This isn’t about giving anyone a second chance; it’s about who can make the Eagles organization more money.”

Now I’m an animal lover, but the jaded view that it is only about money just doesn’t hold water.  Obama’s point was that Vick is a national figure and that showing compassion and providing a “Second Chance” is something worthwhile.  Vick isn’t the only one who’s been giving a “Second Chance” in life, but he is public.  I wonder if Bill Smith’s grandson (just an example) had been imprisoned for selling drugs and released, would he be in favor of him receiving a “Second Chance”?  Seems to me that for Bill it’s about his passion for animals that his view is so jaded?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps Bill will comment!

By the way, Bill did a great job making Obama’s point.  “If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” is exactly the point, we need someone as a model of what a “Second Chance” could mean and from personal experience, there are far too few people who will stand up and offer a “Second Chance”.  That’s sad!

WHERE FROM HERE?

First, I’ve been to prison for crimes I committed.  I am not proud of that, but it is a very real fact of my life.  It has been nearly 15 years since my release and yes, I have been given a “SECOND CHANCE”!  For that I am deeply grateful each day of my life.  Here’s an excerpt from my new book “Second Chances” that describes the night it became clear that my crimes were discovered and I had to face the truth that I was (at that time) nothing more than a liar and a thief.  It was the darkest night of my soul…

That night was the darkest night of my soul. That call that I shared didn’t make it better. It didn’t eliminate the consequences. It didn’t remove the pain. Rather, it gave me hope, hope that if I could make poor choices that would, most certainly, bring painful consequences, I also possessed the power to make positive choices with positive results.  His comment to me still resounds in my heart today. He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake! The choices you make moving forward will define your life forever and provide the foundation for your children’s lives. Think carefully as you make this choice!” 

When he said to me, “YOU are not a mistake,” it hit me─while the past cannot be changed, the life we are given and the choices we make moving forward are the only things that count. I felt a burden lifted. I could not change the past; all I could do was face the consequences. It was within my power to make good choices, now and in the future, that would produce a fruitful outcome. That was my destiny!

Do I believe in “SECOND CHANCES” – absolutely otherwise I would not be here and I AM here for a reason!  Perhaps that is the message that Tucker Carlson and others need to get!  We all, at some point in time, need a “Second Chance”!
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


Prison Inmate Presentation – Looking into Eyes seeking Hope! Comments by business ethics and fraud prevention expert Chuck Gallagher

March 22, 2010

February 23, 2010.  As I walked up to the main area where visitors are received at the prison, it occurred to me that some 15 years ago I was in prison.  What a reality check!

Now, for the first time, I was returning – just this time it was in a different role.  Fifteen years ago, I was an inmate and almost to the day fifteen years ago, I was taking my first steps out of prison to speak to students at a local school about choices and consequences – about what choices I made that got me into prison.  On this day, some fifteen years later, I was speaking to inmates, having successfully navigated surviving and thriving following prison, about choices and consequences – specifically how to succeed in life following incarceration.

And, as I write this I have the sneaking suspicion that some of you – haven’t looked closely enough at my background and will find surprise in my open revelation.  To me this is nothing new.  I haven’t hidden my past.  If you are open about who you are then those who would attack you are denied the ammunition.  But, more important than my past is the fact that I am not defined by it either.  I cannot change the fact that I am a convicted felon, but that label does not define who I am and the value that I bring to my family and society.

But this blog is not about me…rather it’s about what I saw when I looked into the eyes of those prisoners on February 23rd.

WHAT’S NEXT?  I remember asking that question…time after time.  As I took those first 23 steps into federal prison I knew that my life had changed.  This new environment was something I was unfamiliar with – a foreign experience and for sure something I was unprepared for.  I couldn’t go to Barnes and Noble and read “Prison for Dummies.”  Although, I’ve thought of that since 9 out of 100 Americans will be incarcerated at some point in their lives.  (Sad statistic).

Prison is a different world.  The rules are unique and one must adapt to this new society or face problems that most would want to avoid.  It’s not like the movies, at least not in every way.  Likewise, especially minimum security prisons are not “club fed” either…just ask anyone who’s been there.  Life is different and the adaptable survive.

OVER TIME…you become accustom to your new world…the world in which you work each day for 12 cents an hour.  This world knows you as a number, not a person, and all effort is practically made to strip you of your identity.  Bernie Madoff is no more important than John Doe…in fact, celebrity might work against you.

I tried in every way to keep a portion of who I was, but 2 steps forward were met with a push of 5 steps back.  The sooner you accept your number and learn to blend the easier it becomes to survive.  And, if you are cursed with a long sentence, then prison becomes a way of life.  If I’ve ever seen anything that creates an entitlement mentality – prison does.   It’s a bit like being stuck in a boarding school for a long period of time, you eventually think that life is what you are currently experiencing and forget that another “civilized” world exists out there somewhere.

NEARING THE END – But then you begin to see that the end of your sentence is approaching and again you wonder “what next?”  Actually, for most inmates, that end “What’s next” question is the scariest one.  Think about it…for “X” number of months or years this has been your life.  You have not had to be concerned with where you would sleep, what you would eat, how you would get medical care, or where you would work.  All of those questions were conveniently  answered for you.  After all you were the ward of the federal government or state…under their care and direction.  Now, however, you’re facing a new day…a day when those questions have to be answered by YOU!

THE PRESENTATION: As I stood there, facing a group of inmates for the first time since I was released, I knew as I looked into their eyes what they needed.  They needed HOPE!  They needed the reassurance that they could make it on their own, that they were not destined to be a repeat statistic.

REALITY CHECK:

  • Regardless of what they or anyone might say, the choices they made got them there.  The sooner we learn to accept that we are truly the masters of our fate – good or bad, the quicker we learn to apply those “master” skills to empower ourselves to achieve our dreams.
  • Life in prison (while truly a different experience and one that must be adapted to) is not normal and we must not forget that we are responsible for our own well being.  No one is responsible for us – and for some that is a hard lesson.
  • Yes…when you get out you will still be a convicted felon and many people will look down on your for that label.  The question is not what you have been but rather what you elect to be.  As a wise man once said to me, “Son, you’ve made a terrible mistate, but YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE!  The choices you make today will define your life in the future and the legacy you leave for your two children. MAKE THOSE CHOICES WISELY!”
  • But, Chuck, finding work will be hard.  Yea…that’s right, but they key is to do what other people are unwilling to do.  Have you ever wondered what makes folks born outside of this country so successful?  They see opportunity where others don’t.  So think about the most “unsexy” jobs that most folks don’t want to do and do them.  You can become rich in “garbage!”
  • Last, but certainly not least, believe in yourself.  Every human being, regardless of circumstance, has the power to move in the direction of your dreams.  In fact, there is a song by that title sung by Michael Gott.  I would highly suggest that you look it up on itunes…but it for 99 cents and listen.  What an inspiration!

It was my honor to speak to those inmates and I hope that other opportunities like that present themselves.  While speaking to a paying audience is wonderful, my “pay it forward” is addressing inmates and as I look into their eyes seeking hope – I hope that I fill their hearts with the knowing that they, too, can find joy beyond prison walls.


Tim Masters Finds Justice – at least $4.1 million of it! How do we answer the question now – Victim or Victor?

February 16, 2010

Almost one year ago I wrote the following related to a story that caught national headlines.  Tim Masters – wrongly imprisoned was angry and bitter.  Then I wrote:

As I rose this a.m. – checking e-mail, CNN – just checking in with the world I was faced with another article on Tim Masters – the Fort Collins, Colorado man who was wrongly imprisoned for 9 years.  This must have been an eternity, especially for an innocent man.  Having spent time in federal prison (justly deserved – as I was guilty), I know that prison can change you.  But, as a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, it wasn’t the wrongful imprisonment that caught my attention, it was the lead line of the article.

CNN’s writer states:  “Tim Masters squarely blames Fort Collins, Colorado, police and prosecutors for his inability to land gainful employment and for his not having a wife and kids at this stage in his life.”  The full CNN article can be found here.

Today, February 16, 2010 – some 10 days short of a year – CNN reports that Tim Masters may never get his life back (not completely), but $4.1 million as a settlement of a suit for wrongful imprisonment helps.  CNN reports:

It won’t make up for almost a decade of imprisonment, but a $4.1 million settlement is a “good start,” one of Tim Masters’ attorneys said Tuesday.

The Larimer County, Colorado, Board of Commissioners voted earlier Tuesday to settle a lawsuit that Masters filed after a judge exonerated him on a murder charge that put him behind bars in 1999.

“There’s no dollar figure that’s going to give him back his 10 years,” said David Wymore, one of the attorneys who represented Masters in the case. “Tim just wishes this never happened to him, but it did.”

Masters’ co-counsel David Lane emphasized there is still a lawsuit pending against the city and that Tuesday’s settlement represented only a “good start” to compensating a man who was “framed for a crime he did not commit.”

One year ago I wrote – Every choice has a consequence.  There must have been reasons that Tim was considered a suspect in the first place.  Not that it was his fault, but evaluating those actions (way back then) might prove to be powerful lessons to youth today.    Tim has a powerful story.  He can have an impact.  He will be heard.  The power to reach out to others and help them discover what and/or who they are and how their choices can shape their life is powerful.

I hope that as the issues with his suits against those involved in his wrongful imprisonment wind down that Tim can find some peace and channel his energy into using his experience to help others.  Tim has been a victim of a judicial system gone bad.  Yet, Tim has also emerged victorious in that truth came to light and (in a sense) he’s having his day in court.  No…money cannot replace the time lost, but then was it lost or has his experience created a foundation for him that can help others?

Tim…are you a victim or a victor?  Money aside…which is it?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Business Ethics Daily Roundup – January 15, 2010 – Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics Speaker

January 16, 2010

An interesting article appeared in the Wall Street Journal related to how business schools teach ethics and the impact of their teaching on the current state of affairs.  The article appears here:

Stop Bashing the Business Schools

Nice article on the difference between law and business ethics.  And, in my many presentations I find often that folks really didn’t know the difference at times between what the law requires and how ethics interplays.  The article is here:

The difference between law and business ethics – four flavors of the month

Across the world attention has been focused on Google and their stand with respect to operating in China.  Some question whether it’s a money grab and others suggest (and I agree) that it’s an ethics stand.  This article from India shows how others around the globe feel.  The article is here:

Premium on Business Ethics

Lastly, the Ethics Resource Center issued a new report on the state of businesses and business ethics.  With a downturn in the economy and incredible media attention, it’s not surprising that (at least on the surface) business is operating at a higher ethical level.  The article is here:

Ring in the Year with Good Business Ethics – The Innovators

It’s unfortunate but many consider business ethics a boring topic.  It reality it’s far from that.  Today – January 15th, 2010, I spoke to the International Factoring Association on business ethics.  The presentation was unique (most of mine are) and when I was at the airport, I recorded a brief video blog.  You can see it here.  We discussed the three components that move someone from ethical behavior to unethical activities.  One of the participants stated that, “If my employees knew this, I think it might cause them to think before taking an unethical action.”


No Negro Dialect – Harry Reid Apologizes! But What About All This “Political Correctness”?

January 9, 2010

So here’s the CNN report today:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Apparently Mr. Reid’s comments are included in a book soon to be released in journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book “Game Change.”

I’m sorry, but I must admit…this political correctness thing is just becoming way too burdensome.  I expect criticism from this post, but it’s getting to the point that a person, especially in the public eye, can’t express themselves without offending someone.  Is it not possible anymore to express your opinion and allow folks to accept you for who or what you are?

LETS BE FRANK!

I’m a speaker.  Over and over I hear about what one should say and how one should say it in front of an audience.  Don’t offend.  Well, I’m becoming more and more convinced that offending is becoming easier and speaking what’s on your mind more difficult.

Reid verbalized what many American’s said about Obama before the election.  I admire Obama’s voice, speech patterns and ability to deliver a speech and inspire a crowd.  Now…here’s a fact.  If Obama spoke like a street thug – be he black or white…he would not have captured the imagination of the American people.  Straight up – Obama did not speak like stereotypical black man and that did contribute to making him electable.

If, candidate Obama, had said in a speech over and over again – “Let me axe you a question…” vs. “Let me ask you a question…” – would he have been elected by the American people?  REALLY…I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK…  But read on…

SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

Fact: I was in prison in the mid-90’s and my cellmate was a young black ma named – Buck.  Buck became one of my closest friends and taught me much…in fact, he is one of the reasons that my prison experience became such a profound learning experience.  Today, when I deliver a speech I often share a dialogue that Buck and I had on my second day in prison.  When I share this exchange…I carry on the conversation just like it happened – speaking and sounding just like Buck.  He sounded like a Black street thug – which is exactly what he was when he entered prison.

I’ve been told – “Oh, you can’t do that.  You’re degrading African-Americans.”

No.  I’m not.  I’m sharing with an audience exactly what happened – tone speech patterns and all.  The lessons I learned from Buck happened, in part, because I was able to learn from his street smarts just as he was able to learn from my education.  Speaking like Buck is real.  What Harry Reid said was real and true.  I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?