I Wish I Had Written That — Oh, Wait. I Did.

Every time someone rips off my intellectual property, I feel two conflicting emotions. The first is a little thrill — hey, somebody out there thinks my stuff is good enough to steal! The second is a resentment that is ignited by several aggravation factors. If you didn’t give me any money, I’m annoyed. If you didn’t ask my permission, I’m annoyed. If you didn’t give me any credit, I am really annoyed. If you are a direct competitor of mine and you just took my work, without payment or attribution or a link, well…I’m moving beyond annoyed to…aggravated.

So, here is an article that has been up since October on a competitor’s website: attorneywebmarketing.net.

My first reaction on reading it was, “My, that’s awfully well written.” (Ha!) My second reaction was, “Hey, wait a second…”

Here is an article written by me a long time ago (Feb. 2005), published in a law journal, and featured on my company’s website.

Mind you, I’m a nice-enough fellow. If someone called me and said, “I’d like to reprint your article, giving you full credit” I’d have said okay — even if that person was a competitor. I’m down with the abundance philosophy: plenty of work for everyone. I’m not so down with competing against my phantom self, however.

So, let’s see…possible explanations. Perhaps Brian French hired some (foreign?) firm to create content for his site, and they are the culprits, and if he knew about the plagiarism, he’d be horrified? Perhaps he, or someone working for him, was lazy and intended to call me and seek permission — but just forgot? I know, god do I know, that creating new, worthwhile intellectual content requires time and thought and work. It would have been easy enough (even without my permission) to have written something that said: “Great article on creating elder law referral sources here” with a link to my article. But instead, it seems, this was deliberately presented as the work of Brian and/or his company.

So, what to do, what to do? Call Brian French and ask him to take it down? Call my lawyer and send a formal cease-and-desist letter? Do nothing, forget it, don’t worry about it?

Or perhaps just write this blog post and hope that embarrassment accomplishes the task?

You have to decide how much you want it

(Disclaimer: I know the grammatical difference between “bad” and “badly.” I’m going for a certain tone here.)

There are lots of things I want, but not enough. Not enough to work and sacrifice to get them. Not enough to spend hard-earned money. Not enough to spend that most precious commodity — time. Not enough to ruin my self-image by sucking at it. Not enough to give up some other thing that I want.

I’d like to speak Chinese. If I could add Mandarin to the English and French I already have, then add Spanish, I could probably communicate with 80 percent of the people on earth. (No idea if that’s true. I just made it up.) But you know, I don’t want it bad enough to study languages 3-4 nights a week for a couple of years.

I want to read every single book on marketing that has ever been written, but not enough to stop watching the Patriots on Sundays in the fall, or the Red Sox pretty much every evening in the summer.

I want ten new clients for SmartMarketing. My kind of clients. Do I want it bad enough to put in the time, make the phone calls, speak at the conferences, put together the emails — to devote the coming months to sales? It seems like a lot of work, a lot of time. There’s a risk that whatever I try won’t work.

I’d rather not. I’d rather you would all line up in my reception area, and wave your checkbooks at me.

Maybe I have enough clients. After all, I’m doing okay. Bills are paid on time, and I’ve got a few bucks left over for toys.

The question is: how bad do I want it?

Maybe I don’t want it bad enough if it will take a lot of time, or costs money, or involves hard work, or carries an element of risk.

I’m afraid that’s how most attorneys I meet think about marketing.

They tell me that they don’t have the money. That’s okay, I say, you could write blog posts, go to networking events, write a book — all of which are free or nearly free.

I don’t have the time, they say. Plus, I don’t have any talent for writing. And I really don’t like those networking things.

But that’s not the real problem, is it? The real problem is, they don’t want it bad enough.

We all play by the same rules. Our time is limited. Our discretionary funds are limited. Our attention span is limited. Our risk tolerance is limited. Our courage is limited. If we want to accomplish something, we are going to have to overcome some of those limits, at least some of the time.

If you want to grow beyond where you are today, you’ll have to go figure out which of those limitations you want to overcome. As for me, I’ve decided I really want those 10 new clients, so in the new year, I am going to take some risks, spend some money and bust my ass.

It might not work. But it won’t be because I don’t want it bad enough.