Deb Sofield


Add a word – get a third

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I have a client who is going to be a country music star. I’m working with her on interview skills so when her time comes, she’ll be ready for the bright lights, big hair and big city.

One day while we were working together and I was looking at her CD cover I asked who the other people on the CD were since they were not backup singers and I knew they didn’t write her songs –she told me how she learned some very hard lessons by being so young, innocent and trusting in Nashville. She said, Deb, “don’t you know the phrase – add a word – get a third” And I asked what that means. Well, she said, in the music business everyone wants to piece of success so if someone can “add a word” to a song…they can then claim some sort of ownership and be paid for life

Really, I said, that is ridiculous. I say brilliant things all the time to help others out and I don’t get paid any more than my coaching or speaking fee at that time (we decided I should move to Nashville).

Add a word – get a third. Isn’t that interesting but the more I thought about it – the more it really ticks me off and then I realized I see that happening in business all the time. Someone adds just a little something to a project and then takes full credit. Someone changes a color on a brochure and then tells the world they are the art director…Someone adds or deletes a few words on a paper and then claims ownership and who is there to stop them? Except you should hear the words of your mother ringing in your ears to stop taking credit for others work…it is wrong and if you’re doing that stop before it catches up with you.

Hey, I have an idea, why don’t you do it on your own and then be the owner of the idea or concept. Without having to resort to stealing others work.

Just because you run in front of the parade doesn’t mean your leading it… to be a leader you must have followers. And no one follows a dishonest person for long… and if they do – you’re in bigger trouble than you thought.

The reason this is important is not just because it’s wrong (although that is big deal) but because if you’re not that clever, bright or verbal – over time people will find out that you can’t turn a phrase or your design skills are limited to computer graphics and your paper is just not that good and then you’ve condemned yourself to the role of cheater, liar or thief. And nobody likes those people.

I speak on the circuit on how careful we must be nowadays – because no matter what we say – someone can bring it up on iPhone and do a fact check and then tell the world that your numbers are not true and your concept is not your own and that is not your design…and then your days are numbered – because although many people will forgive – they won’t forget.

Years ago, when I was working on a project to take to market. I had a company called the Original Little Fur Coat Company… and I made a Christmas stocking that looked like a little mink coat (don’t worry it was fake fur, but it looked and felt amazingly real – they were beautiful)… I fell in love with it and thought it was a brilliant idea – why hang an old sock when you could hang a little mink coat… made sense to me hanging on the mantel… you know stocking, stocking, stocking – oh a mink coat – must be Mom’s stocking…anyway I needed a seamstress to help me with my pattern design (mind you I had given her a pattern and she was to do some finishing work) – she finished a version of my project and as she was handing me the final product she informed me that since she had made it better – she was now a partner in my company.

Hmm… I don’t think so – since you were work for hire and you signed that piece of paper that said non-compete… and if you think that is way, I do business you might want to hire a lawyer.

She wisely backed off…but isn’t it a shame that so many try to get by when they have no standing, no ownership, no skin in the game. Yes, she did work for me, but the contract stated that it was work for hire and nothing else. And I can tell you – that whenever anyone asked me about who could help with pattern ideas – I never give her name – because she can’t be trusted. Her dishonesty overshadowed her talent. I found plenty of other great seamstresses who did beautiful work for a fair price and without ownership.

I have to tell you this quick story – so I had developed a number of different patterns and animal print for the coats… I was in TN looking for a production house and the owner of one of the shops we were in talks with – asked to keep a coat for review and a week later when I went back to pick it up she claimed she didn’t have it… now we know she did – she fell in love with it like everyone else – but instead of making a version of one for herself she took mine… and that one petty theft of one coat killed our desire to hire her firm to do our work… a $120 dollar theft costs her tens of thousands of dollars of work – in a depressed area of TN that the people needed to work. She not only did damage to me, but to herself and her community… crazy.

So, let’s talk about this – because how you treat others will come back on you or to you 10-fold so let’s make sure you’re doing the right thing so you can walk that path of success, hold your head high and do business honestly and fairly.

Now I know if you’re reading this post or listening to me today – you’re not the problem… it’s the other crazy people in the office – but how you handle and guide others can make a big difference in their life to put them on the right path for success if you’re willing to speak up…and be a leader (and it will hurt because you’re shining a light in darkness but it is the right thing to do)

Zig Ziglar said it best – and I am paraphrasing one of his quotes… “Remember the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”

But let me remind those who spend your time taking a bite out of others to taste success – you could do it on your own (but that takes hard work but you could do it) and if you can’t or won’t or are simply too lazy – I’m pretty sure most folks don’t like you anyway so don’t add to your troubles by taking credit for others work.

I know today’s post is a little different – but every once in a while when something so big hits me and then I realize I see it happening all the time (just by different names) and then – because I have birds eye view I see that damage that comes back on people or the trouble that is caused… I think someone (in this case me) needs to speak about it and remind you that you’re better than that…or you should be…

And if someone is taking credit for your work – you might want to step up and confront them in private at first – in public if you have to… because if they are bold enough to steal in private, they’ll take you for all you’re worth in public…so stand your ground.

I had a person tell me once that if he was going to steal he would steal big because when you steal a little people find out but when you steal big folks are so shocked by it that can’t wrap their heads around the fact that you walked away with billions – I guess Bernie Maddoff taught us that…

I remember saying to him – how about you not steal at all… which after a very uncomfortable silence he backed up and said he was joking…. To that I say – the body will go where the mind has been… so be careful.

I love the quote – Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

James Allen said it best – You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.

I have a friend who has 3 Rules for life – Honesty, Loyalty, and Compassion.

And those who are doing well by doing right – keep up the good work – and don’t worry because we can see the difference – true talent cannot be hidden…. it always shines through.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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