First of all, I wanted to let everyone know that I am not in open negotiations with Adecco. They have not reached out to me since my last post highlighting this important issue went public last Thursday. Second, I do not support or endorse any of the deeply negative or aggressive comments that are out there about you — clearly this issue is important to a lot of people which is why there continues to be a growing concern. The issue for me is about morals, about integrity, about corporate social responsibility 2.0, so to speak. The message deserves to be spread, but spread in a civil, thoughtful and constructive way.
When I first approached you on May 20th and asked you to stop using my brand, I asked a simple question: “Where did you get the name and brand ‘Around the World in 80 Jobs?’” I have yet to receive a direct response. When you tried to explain your campaign to me, you said it was really all about “Corporate Social Responsibility” and was an “initiative” to help the youngsters out there looking for hope in a jobless world. But let’s be honest, your entire business model is based on employing people — which is great — but you are not a non-profit. Call it what it is: a marketing campaign that increases your visibility, drives new leads, and garners attention on social media.
So you made a mistake. We all do. The thing is, you didn’t take responsibility for it, and that’s what has made it worse. Maybe it was an ad agency that pitched, wrote, and developed the campaign — I don’t know. Ultimately, only you were responsible for doing the due diligence and signing off on it. The only honest and fair course of action was to reach out to me before you went forward with your campaign. You didn’t. I may look like a small travel blogger to you, but big ideas can come from the smallest places, and all entrepreneurship has to start somewhere.
I contacted you in a gentlemanly manner and with a positive attitude, offering many ways to make it right. You refused to offer me compensation or even acknowledge that my brand was the basis of your campaign. To this day, you still have not taken responsibility. You spent 4 weeks stringing me along, making and rescinding offers, then sent me a contract that gave you everything and me nothing. So I decided to leave Thailand and fly to New York to get advice from friends and be on a more level playing field. Only then did you take me seriously. When I reached New York, you offered to compensate me, but not for my work or for the use of my brand. In my eyes, your offer amounted to paying me to stay silent, rather than paying me for my hard work. That, and it was too little too late.
When I recount this tale to family, colleagues, or my friends on the Internet, everyone sees the painfully obvious: It is clearly my brand you are using. Many people, including your representatives in our last phone discussion, suggest that I go to a lawyer and settle affairs via legal channels. But I’m not going to play your legal game, especially when it means I have to stay silent. It allows you to skirt responsibility and no one can learn from your mistake. I still believe that you can make it right and admit you were wrong. Recently, Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform made a mistake. But instead of ignoring it or fighting it, they graciously accepted their misstep and made it right. They also made a contribution to charity.
If you really want to help youngsters and give them hope for jobs in this world, you should start from a place of responsibility and encourage entrepreneurship by supporting the actual entrepreneur that inspired you — that’s the ethical course. Own up to your mistake, and we’ll all move on and make something positive.
You mentioned in your press release that you were looking for “common ground,” even though you haven’t contacted me once since I posted to my blog on Thursday. But if it’s true, I suggest the following:
1 – Apologize for your mistake, and take responsibility
2- Compensate me the same amount that you paid your advertising firm for the Around the World in 80 Jobs marketing initiative that was built off of the back of my work. From my understanding, this was about $50,000.
3- Cease and desist using my brand name Around the World in 80 Jobs and drop the trademarks that you are pursuing.
4 – Donate $50,000 to Save Elephant Foundation (a nonprofit dedicated to providing care and assistance to captive elephants) to prove your commitment to bringing awareness to social responsibility. This organization and its founder, Lek Chailert, are true examples of social responsibility and an inspiration to us all. I had the opportunity to work with the elephants and Lek and she really inspires me as she fights a lot of big vested interests in Thailand and Southeast Asia and pursues what she believes is right despite fierce opposition. A $50,000 donation would along way in showing you are committed to being socially responsible, more than merely throwing a contest with prizes.
I believe this is a reasonable course of action. So rather than getting involved in legal disputes that help no one and only create more anger, let’s turn this mess into a positive and support some great causes. If you do this, you would be making it right in my book and I will never hold a grudge — we can part ways amicably.
And lastly, I am launching an IndieGoGo campaign to help support my Around the World in 80 Jobs project to keep it alive. If you believe that ideas are important and want to support entrepreneurship, please get involved and help spread this important message: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-keep-around-the-world-in-80-jobs-alive-and-inspiring-others
Turner Christopher Barr
Creator & Founder of AroundtheWorldin80Jobs.com