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A Schooling in Mediocre Business

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My friend, leader of the 12 for 12k clan and incredibly smart biz guy, Danny Brown recently shared something with me that I found rather appalling. It is a situation that involves a relatively well-known biz declaring itself to be most un-mediocre and then, behind the scenes of course, revealing it’s true nature.

I have so little patience for that. And, sadly, I see it every single stinking day.

I can’t resist the great lessons in this story so I am going to share it with you.

First, let me tell you the names of the players so you can follow along:

BlogCatalog: a Blog Directory that (and I quote from their site) “bring the voice of the people to you. From breaking news, to personal blogs, we are the largest user submitted blog directory the world has ever seen.”

Selina Eckersall – super savvy platform designer and owner of Sublime Digital Media.

IMHO: an ethical consumer review site where bloggers creatively and candidly review products or services that compliment the content of their blogs, with no marketing persuasion from advertisers. IMHO was a partnership project between BlogCatalog and Selina Eckersall.

Now that you have the cast of characters, here is the story of what went down:

Last year, Selina and BlogCatalog partnered to develop IMHO. Selena agreed to take a one-third ownership in the company and BlogCatalog took a two-thirds ownership. Once this new IMHO platform generated revenue, Selena would be paid. Until that time, she agreed to donate her time, her talent, her vast list of contacts and her marketing expertise to get IMHO off the ground.

BlogCatalog fronted the cash to design, program, and launch the site, form the LLC, draft an operating agreement, and provide cash flow until the business could sustain itself.

Great so far. This is how a lot of startups are set up early on.

Ah, but then the plot turns.

After a very soft launch at SXSW, BlogCatalog noticeably withdrew their attention from the project. When Selena inquired, she was told that they were re-vamping their primary site and that IMHO was on the back burner.

Fair enough. Gotta put attention where the money is being made.

BUT, when Selena asked to take full ownership of IMHO (she had done ALL of the work) so that she could get it launched, things go ugly.

The long and the short of it is that BlogCatalog demanded all of Selena’s designs, resources and copyrights, asked her to delete her account and threatened her with legal action if she made any attempt to contact any members.

Oh and they began diverting members who had signed up for IMHO to another site.

No discussion. No open and honest communication.

And here is the kicker. This is how BlogCatalog publicly describes itself: “about humble opinions about humble companies. Companies that don’t say one thing and do another”.

Now, to  me, it is fine if there a particulars in an agreement that need to be worked out. Or if each side has interests that they want to protect when a parting of the ways comes to the table.

But when you are a company that is declaring itself to be different, to be about sharing opinions, about humility and about doing what you say you will do?

Wow.

Fortunately, Selena walked away from this crazy situation rather than duke it out (you can read her resignation letter here) And I applaud her for that

So here is one of the many lessons I am taking away from this (and I would like to thank BlogCatalog for giving me such an excellent teaching example). A company, or a person, can make their public mission statement say anything they want. And they can keep up the facade for a good long while. But at the end of the day: 1) they have to sleep at night and b) their true nature will be revealed.

For me? I’d rather just be who I am from the beginning. It’s just a whole lot easier.

What say you?

P.S. I am gong to shamelessly self-promote the 30 Days to Creating Irresistible Presence Blog Series now. Read more and sign up here: http://bit.ly/irresistiblepresence

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