It would be fantastic if it were about provocative ideas and interesting points of view—in fact it is, the problem is they aren’t his ideas or his points of view, though he presents them as his. See the controversy he has created is about his lack of respect for other people’s hard work, his disdain for copyright law, and ultimately his disdain of his audience.
Michael plagiarizes the best ideas and blogs from numerous well respected bloggers. He goes further by putting his own copyright on the materials declaring them as his own original works. He stands proudly behind a cloak of “integrity.” When he was caught by my friend, Jonathan Farrington, he immediately offered his sincere apology, laying the blame on an over zealous “creative director.” In his apology to Jonathan, he states, “Any unethical behavior under my leadership will NOT be tolerated and I appreciate you (and others) bringing this to my attention.” He goes on to say he will terminate the offending employee. He concludes his letter: “Again, you have my most sincere apologies for this unacceptable act on my employee’s part, which in turn, is a direct reflection on me.”
Just a few days after that apology, he’s back to his old tricks, copying and plagiarizing content from great bloggers. As many of my friends protest this, apparently Michael has once again taken his blog down. But we know people like Michael, he will re-appear doing the same thing, perhaps under a different persona.
Michael, however, provides us a great case study. He declares his core values as Passion, Balance, Integrity, and Expertise. Declaring these values doesn’t make them so! Demonstrating these values every day in every interaction is what counts! It’s how we understand the real measure of a person. It’s how we establish trust and how we build our reputation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Michael J. Roman’s out there. Their behavior seeks to drag everyone to the lowest levels. Their behavior drags down the standards and reputations of their companies. In Michael’s case, it is Modis IT Staffing–knowing Michael represents them would cause me to be concerned about doing business with them. Do they have the same “high” standards as Michael? Do they have the same ethics? I’m sure they don’t sink to the depths that Michael does, but it causes people to doubt them.
Ultimately, our reputations are not judged by what we declare–regardless of how loudly we declare them, our reputations are developed by how we live and demonstrate what we stand for. If we have high personal standards, we surround ourselves with others that live by high personal standards and shun the bottom feeders like Michael J. Roman.
A number of my fellow bloggers have written outstanding posts about this situation. I encourage you to read them, I’ve put the links for several below, I know I’m missing a number, my apologies:
Jonathan Farrington: Michael J. Roman; Plagiarism; the Apology; Final Thoughts
Jill Konrath: “There Are No Shortcuts to Success”
Wendy Weiss: “Stop Thief!”
Kelley Robertson: “When Imitation Is NOT the Best Form of Flattery”
Tibor Shanto: “Please Don’t Steal This Post!”
Leanne Hoagland-Smith: “Is Plagiarism Worth It in Blogging, Article Marketing Social Media Universe?”
Ken Thoreson: “When Plagiarism Is NOT Flattering”
Niall Devitt: “When Plagiarism Is Not Flattering”
Nancy Bleeke: “Being Yourself in a Transparent World”
(Thanks to Skip and Jonathan for links/pictures/etc.)