PART 1 — THE TITLE
In 2011, I started my career as a Personal Branding Consultant. However, since I had a lot to learn and I lacked the experience of being one — I didn’t want to call myself an “Trainer” or “Coach”. Another reason I didn’t want to use these terms was because Coach & Trainer were so overused by every tom, dick and harry. So after spending a few weeks creatively thinking I coined the word “Personal Branding Strategist”.
And given that I didn’t want to have only one stream of income — I took my public speaking credentials of having won over 800 awards in Public Speaking & having trained finalists for Toastmasters World Championship Finals into my profile and also called myself “Award Winning Communicator”.
Finally, as my business, my influence & my clientele started to grow, I realized there was no other “Personal Branding Strategist” in the Middle East. And so, I coined the term “Middle East #1 Personal Branding Strategist”. And these three designations I used interchangeably whenever I met any potential client or clients.
It was more of a tagline than anything else but it had it charm and its uniqueness. Best part — it worked like a Charm.
PART 2 — THE GROWTH
As time went on, I started to get gigs with Oracle, IBM, LG, Samsung, Intex, Emirates Airlines, many business groups & organizations. The money wasn’t that great but the exposure was.
And because of these opportunities, individuals started to approach me for private one-to-one sessions. And these sessions paid me more money per hour than the public gigs. So I started focusing more on individual clients.
Very soon, I was making a comfortable living and earning good money out of my new found profession so much so, I was able to work 5 days a month and earn enough for the whole month. Best part — there was always a steady stream of clients.
PART 3 — THE BEAUTIFUL LADY
One fine day, a really beautiful young lady booked a session with me to ask me tips, tricks & strategies on Personal Branding, Blogging, Vlogging, Coaching and Making money online. She was exceptionally smart, very educated and very hungry to learn. And why do I say ‘hungry to learn’ is because she literally took notes of each and every work I stated.
It was flattering to receive this kind of attention but I kept the relationship strictly professional.
Whatever she asked me — I gave her an honest & truthful answer to it. After the session was done with, we said goodbye and that was the end of it.
And why did I mention this incident?
Well, you will come to know later…..
PART 4 — UAE TO THAILAND
So after enjoying a successful practice of 6 years, in 2016, I decided it was time to leave Dubai, UAE.
Dubai, UAE was undergoing many changes in its laws, rules & regulation. And given how I predicted market conditions would be in the next few years — I knew it was now or never.
So on December 2016, I left UAE for good and I moved to Thailand.
Once in Thailand, I began my new Goal & new Challenge — To set up everything online.
PART 5 — SKIN IN THE GAME
Given that I knew the fundamentals of Personal Branding & Freelancing — all I had to do is make it work online. And after a lot of mistakes, hits & misses & expensive failures — after 12 months, I finally started to see serious money roll in.
It was hard.
It was me putting my skin in the game.
It was scary.
But eventually — I did it.
Hard because I had to create something from nothing.
There was no book or process or mp3 or mentor or youtube video that could guide me on creating this ‘new lifestyle’
Skin-In-The-Game because without putting in 12 to 16 hours of study, learning, research, analysis, lots and lots of money as investment and being creative enough to build a workable system from scratch — nothing would work.
Scary because I had left a successful business practice, friends, clients and my country of residence of 40 years — Dubai, UAE which was the most happening city in the world — to a simple forest life in Koh Samui where there was no potential client, no friends, no one whom I knew — not even people who spoke the same language. And from being a ‘face-to-face’ realtime business — where I would see, touch, interact and be physically present, I was now taking my entire business model online — where I would get paid money ONLY if someone would search for me. And the most scary part of the whole deal — if this plan would fail — there was no plan B.
SO after spending more than $100,000 of my own hard-earned money, 12 Months of hard hard hard hard hard work and 14 to 16 hours of breaking my head — I succeeded.
Today my entire business model is online and I exist and interact with all my clients online. I am very happy about my tiny little achievement. Everyday I get to do more, learn more and discover more.
PART 6 — THE SHOCKING DISCOVERY
A few days ago, as I was chatting online with a potential new client who was based in Dubai, UAE. He asked me all the information about my work, my brand and my services — you know the typical questions a new client asks when he wants to be sure if he should pay or not. All the questions were normal when suddenly out of the blue he asked me — “What is the difference between you as a Personal Branding Strategist and this lady who is more or less just like you?” No sooner he said that — he sent me the link to this person’s website & youtube channel.
I looked at the profile & the website and to my surprise & amusement, this woman was my ex-client. However, what was really surprising was that she now called herself….
- A Personal Branding Strategist
- Award Winning Communicator
- Middle East #1 Personal Branding Strategist
In fact, not only were her designations & titles matching mine, some of the content on her website matched my work.
I spoke to the client letting him know about the lady, as in not bad-mouthing her or anything like that but letting him know that he had the luxury of choosing between either her or me.
Once the call was done with — I went through the website and the content and then I shared her website and content with people whom I trusted and knew would give me a fair analysis.
As I suspected, almost everyone I knew & trusted shared the same feeling. The ideas, the concepts, the rhythm & the content of what she was doing online truly matched my work. And when I asked for their advice what or how I should react to this — I was told to start naming & shaming her publicly, to threatening her with copyright infringement to even writing about her. I took in all the ideas but decided to meditate and think about it in a cool mind.
PART 7 — COOL, CALM & COMPOSED
You see, whenever I have a problem or an issue for which I am unable to think clearly or something that is strategically important — I always give myself time to cool down and reflect. As I meditate and give myself time, I always come up with a truly creative, innovative and appropriate solution.
So during the next few days as I continued my day-to-day work not thinking about this particular incident, a thought struck my head — How many other people or clients had done the same? Copied my work or strategy or content and claimed it was their own?
So I decided to do a bit of research. And I asked my good friend & SEO mentor — who is an ex-google employee to search and find out if anyone had copied my content or my answers. After a week, the answers were in.
To my amusement — I found 4 people who were also doing the same. The odd bit — they were all people whom I knew or interacted with at some point of time.
PART 8 — PLAGIARISM — HOW?
One was this lady.
The next one — 2 young men had decided to take the format of coaching other people and giving book review both on their blog as well as on their Facebook. Most of the advice that they were giving were copied from the 6,000 Quora answers I had given for free.
And the most humorous one was this 20 something young man who didn’t have a job, didn’t have any money and was living on his parents kindness but he had now positioned himself as a “Business Brand Strategist”
I read some of his content and smirked — not out of disrespect mind you but because of the way he had presented the information. You can imagine the irony of someone not having any experience in business or life and that too unable to get a job but giving you statements like ‘you can achieve business success if you focus hard on your dreams’. Oh yeah — and did I forget to mention — while chirpy Indian music played in the background.
PART 9 — WHY DO I ENCOURAGE PLAGIARISM?
Now, let me tell you something funny here.
- I do not have the legal rights to the designation “Personal Branding Strategist”. Even if I did have the legal rights to the words “Personal Branding Strategist” — I wouldn’t bother.
Because Personal Branding is what I do.
The Brand is “Loy Machedo” — that is me.
And no one can copy me.
- When I had created my content many years ago both video as well as in the written form, I was very aware of the fact that everyone and anyone could copy or download the content. There are so many online tools that allow people to do this. So when anyone and everyone can do this — why bother?
- The people who illegally download, copy and share content do so because they either don’t believe in paying for content, or they are poor or they are just plain outright unethical or stingy. Whatever the case, these are not people who are my target market or my customers. Because my customers have to pay me a premium price.
- There are Billions of people on this planet. Not everyone is going to copy my content. Not everyone is going to be my customer. I can only handle one customer at a time. And given that I work only 5 days in a month — why bother? When the world is so large and the pie is so big — why sweat it?
- If someone does want Loy Machedo — they will come to me and refuse to go to anyone else. And in order to do that, I have to make myself so irresistible that my potential clients only see value in coming to me and no one else. And how do I achieve that? By putting out even more content and even more value
- Here’s a secret. If you copy someone’s content — article or video, your website, blog or youtube channel actually loses its SEO & Google ranking. Had this not been a reality, I suppose everyone would have copied everyone else.
- Here is another secret. 11 years ago when I wrote my first article — it took me nearly a week to write 100 days. Seriously. Because I didn’t have the skill, the experience, the knowhow or the ability to blog. Today after 11 years, I can write a 3,000 worded article effortlessly. The same is the case with creating videos, editing, creativity, sales — all areas of my life. Do you think I would have improved if I took the easy way out and copied other people?
While these individuals are busy copying me, I am busy using my creativity, my thought-process, my skills and my talent to create new content. And in time I keep sharpening these skills. The more I do it — the better I get. Guess who is getting faster, better & stronger?
- I love the sense of competition. And given that they are copying me, forces me never to take it easy but to stay on the edge and keep churning out new content. Isn’t that nice?
- Your Reputation & Your Public Image is like glass. Once broken or cracked can never be repaired. Its a permanent career suicide. Just imagine if someone found out whatever it you are known for was copied from some place else — do you know the irreversible damage it will do to your brand? Trust me — you wouldn’t even want to get there.
PART 10 — THE CRUEL JOKE
There is a joke that moves around…..And it goes like this.
‘any monkey who purchases a cheap DSLR Camera, clicks a few photographs & gets a few likes — immediately creates a Facebook Page titled “XYZ Photography. And all of a sudden calls himself ‘a professional photographer’
In fact, today, anyone can create a free FB account and call himself a DJ, Life Coach, NLP Coach, Business Strategist or even Personal Branding Strategist.
However, the question is…. what do you AFTER you have created this page or this blog or this youtube channel?
And the bigger question for those who copy other peoples work is…..
What do you do when someone finds out and spread the truth that YOU are a fake? A person who plagiarizes? A person who uses others people’s content and calls it his own? What do you do then?
PART 11 — WHOSE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IS IT?
Piracy, Plagiarism & Photocopying ideas is an ugly reality of our world and a punishable offense.
Yes, you can take a person to court.
Yes, you can punish these individuals and claim what is yours.
But do you have the time, the money & the mindset for it?
I agree Piracy, Plagiarism & Photocopying Ideas is wrong.
But here is what I want you to think about.
When you were born — what did you know?
Whatever you learnt when you were young, you technically ‘copied’ this information from a text book, from someone else or from thanks to someone’s guidance right?
So in a way — nothing that you are sharing today is actually YOUR OWN ORIGINAL NEVER BEFORE USED CONTENT — right? So then how can you or anyone claim anything that you share online is your own or ‘their own’?
Yes, there is the part of creating something from nothing.
This rule can be applied to painting or sculpting or a movie.
But when you are talking about books, about information, about videos where a person speaks, talks, teaches what he has learnt from someone else or some where else or some place else — can you seriously claim this is work that is so original — that no one knew about this — no one on the planet — just you?
I don’t know about you but I can speak for myself.
I was born to a poor Indian village family.
I was a school dropout.
I only knew what my worthless, useless & mindless teachers & parents thought me — total valueless rubbish.
However, I had a mind that wanted to study and learn. And in the pre-internet days where the only way to gain and get information was either by reading books, by asking people, making mistakes or through experience. And that is exactly what I did.
In fact, I can tell you this much — Whatever it is I know, I teach and I share — it is thanks to the books, the advice & the experiences I learnt from others.
And where today’s generation — they are so lucky to have Google.
Today anything you or I want — we can get it online for FREE.
All we have to do is search.
So when this reality exists — what can we claim as our own original & authentic pieces of art?
If you are talking about painting — fine.
But if you are talking about the knowledge sharing business — can you seriously claim this is YOUR intellectual property?
PART 12 — THE CONCLUSION
Let me conclude by telling you this much.
Anyone can claim anything or portray themselves to be anything.
Yoga Instructor, Wellness Coach, Crystal Healing Guru, Psychic Reader, Business Coach or even Personal Branding Strategist.
You want to do it
Talk about it.
Tell everyone about it.
Be whatever you want to be.
Do whatever you want to do.
But remember this much.
We live in a Social Media connected world where any and all information online is available to anyone anywhere in the world — all it takes is just one person — one in 7 billion to type your sentence, search your image or research your content — and voila! If you are not authentic — you are headed for permanent disaster.
And for this to happen, you do not need CIA or FBI or M16 kind of equipment. All you need is a smart phone, an internet connection and a web browser. And with websites like Reddit and a controversy hungry public — you wouldn’t even need James Bond to unearth the truth.
So the next time you find out someone has copied your work. Or if you yourself are planning to indulge in Piracy, Plagiarism & Photocopying ideas of someone’s work (or even mine), I would seriously encourage you to let it happen.