A Half-Assed Apology and a Lesson or Two

For the past week I was involved in yet another nasty plagiarism situation among bloggers in the sales training industry.  No need to mention names.

I wasn’t the victim this time, although some of you remember that I had been a number of times before.  I injected myself into this situation because I truly want to elevate selling as a profession.  We’ve got a long way to go, and when people publish others’ copyrighted content, I feel an obligation to step in and let them know what the right thing to do is.  Some other sales expert bloggers jumped in, supporting the victim and letting the culprit know exactly how they felt. I was proud of them all.

Although the situation is now resolved from a legal perspective, all of us were left disappointed with the apology side of things.  Why?  There were excuses, cross accusations, and a general lack of sincerity on the part of the plagiarist.  It was a half-assed apology. And for that reason, now that it’s over, I feel like I need a shower.

I know what a real apology sounds like.  Since I’ve made plenty of personal and business mistakes over the years, I have learned how important an apology is to the victim and to me, the offender.  So I got really good at really apologizing.

Last year I was in a restaurant in Dublin with my wife and a good friend.  During the course of the meal, kids at the next table ran amok—around our table, into our seats, yelling, carrying on.  There was no other place for us to move and the kids’ parents were oblivious. Their shrugs convinced us that they had no control over their own kids in the restaurant or anywhere else, for that matter. The restaurant manager was useless. After we were finished with the entire meal, dessert, coffee, and all, the owner came over, apologized for the disturbance, and asked if we’d like another dessert to make up for the inconvenience we experienced.  Get this: he waited until we had bought desert, then offered us something he knew we wouldn’t want.  It was a half-assed apology, and I was really offended.

Eighteen months ago a wheel on my Briggs and Riley rolling carry-on luggage broke, outbound on a trip requiring four flights and a lengthy walk through MSP airport.  I wound up carrying the bag part of the way, dragging it the rest. When I got back home, I wrote an email to Briggs and Riley telling them how very bad the whole situation was.  I knew that they offered a lifetime guaranteed to fix any of their products, so I was covered for the repair.  How did they apologize? They sent me a brand new replacement, when they could have just replaced the wheel.  The person I spoke with was delighted that not only had I experienced their great service, but since “it had all these great features,” I would enjoy the new bag more than the one I had.  Now that’s an apology. Buy a piece of Briggs and Riley luggage.  They deserve your business.

If you mess up, apologize. If I mess up and apologize to you and you feel it’s half-assed, let me know. Please.

Photo source: Amazon.com



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  1. says


    You’re a kind and generous man; the offense of plagiarism as it played out here is egregious.

    I’m glad you gave some examples of half-assed and good (full-assed?) apologies; it’s instructive. I’m coming to think that the inability to do a full-assed apology is indicative of a real moral weakness. This guy is a great example.

    As someone who got a little involved and experienced this guy’s lameness first hand, I was left feeling that he’s really missing something. I’m not sure exactly what. Maybe a dash of narcissism; a chunk of immaturity; a seasoning of neuroticism; a healthy dose of greed; and a whole lot of self-centeredness.

    Or maybe he’s just a jerk.

    Someone who, with all the prompting in the world, and all the reason to do otherwise, can only manage to come up with a half-assed apology, is just kind of disgusting.

    • Dave Stein says

      Readers of this blog: Charlie Green is among the people whom I look up to. Not only for his command of our language, his intelligence, and his accomplishments (of which there are many), but most important, for who he is.

      Thanks Charlie. I hope we don’t have to join forces to combat another one in the future. But if we do, we’ll kick ass. With no apologies.

  2. says

    Thanks, Dave. This whole situation taught me quite a bit, actually. One lesson was that good people really do need to stand up when it is right to do so, and another is that leadership means you have to step out of your comfort zone. The risks are there, but the rewards are greater. Thanks for your help. You’re a true professional.

  3. Elisabeth Ringmar says

    Dear Dave, thank you for a great blog post which highlighted the importance of respecting copyrights, but also left a big smile on my face – honest and open people rock.

  4. says


    There’s no excuse for outright word for word plagiarism. I’ve seen one sales trainer copy word for word another blog post. It is hard to be creative but that’s what re-purposing content was intended for.

    Everyone should know about copyscape and for those that have large sites (100+ pages) they should get both the premium version and advertise the banner.

    Here’s the link, http://www.copyscape.com/ run a search of your own website and this baby will match web copy and tell you the author of origin. it will also pick up silly things like common quotes used and jargonesque language but it is pretty good.