3 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Top Sales World Going Bad.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you see people doing bad things and appearing to be successful in spite of their poor behavior.
You should never forget that time has a wonderful way of putting things back in their right place. People who do bad things get what is coming to them — and your continued focus and hard work will yield you the results that you want for yourself.

I was reminded of these lessons with my recent falling out with Top Sales World, led my Jonathan Farrington.

Here’s the story of a good guy gone bad.

I’ve been a part of Jonathan Farrington’s Top Sales World  organization for what seems like a half dozen years. He invited me to join — and I donated a few hundred dollars to his cause. He was an underdog with a grand idea — be a “shining light” for the sales community.

Over the last few years I’ve been a part of contributing hundreds of articles and other content that I’ve created over the years. I was never paid for my content — and I was okay with that because I bought into Mr. Farrington’s belief that Top Sales World could help people create better lives for themselves.

In the last two years, a few of my close friends and mentors left the group. Most of them didn’t make a big deal, but they just observed that “everything wasn’t as it seemed”. I figured that out for myself at the beginning of this year.

Sometimes you realize what you were fighting for isn’t real.

When I launched EDGY Conversations in April, I asked 100 of my favorite business influencers to help share the news about our launch. They were all wonderfully kind — recording podcasts and writing blog articles and sharing the news of our best selling book on social media. They helped me sell 20,000 copies of the book in a few weeks — which was amazing.

The only one who wasn’t willing to help was Mr. Farrington. He told me that if I wanted the support of the community that I helped to build and promote — now almost 200,000 members strong — that I would have to pay him. I was shocked to my core.

After investing hundreds of hours in his underdog success — without ever asking for money or promotion, his attitude towards helping me out was appallingly cold water. As a matter of principle, I refused to pay him anything.

Maybe I should have spoken up sooner.

Instead of causing a scene, I just decided to gently ease my way out the door — not let other people drag my attitude down. Up until today you have not heard me gripe or complain about Mr. Farrington’s selfish behavior. That was between him and I.

Last week I learned that the Vice President of Content for Top Sales World wasn’t being paid for work done over several months. Imagine if you went into work and your boss told you that the money you’re owed for working yesterday and last week — and over the last 3 months — won’t be coming to you and that your only remedy is to “sue me.”

Again, I was shocked when I heard the news. And then I felt guilty for not speaking up months ago when I first experienced problems of my own. The organization labeling itself as the “shining light of the sales profession” is majorly screwed up. Perhaps now in legal jeopardy.

I have no axe to grind with Mr. Farrington.

Anyone trying to change the world for the better has my vote.  I’ll put my money and time behind it almost every time — like I did with Top Sales World. Sadly, Mr. Farrington has steered his organization onto the rocks, and I can no longer with good conscience be a part of it.

More personally, here are a few valuable lessons I learned in this process. Chances are, you are going through something like this right now too. If not, these lessons will be helpful down the road when you run into a problem like this of your own.

  1. Asking hard questions up front can save you from disappointment later. — The idea of using other people’s content to build a community isn’t new. The Huffington Post did it successfully a few years ago when they sold to the new AOL. I didn’t challenge Mr. Farrington’s ideas at first. I bought into it. Why not change the world for the better? Had I dug a little deeper and asked hard questions, I would have learned that Top Sales World is really a retirement plan for Mr. Farrington — use other people to build a community and then sell that community to a willing buyer. By the way, there is nothing wrong with that plan. Capitalism is awesome. My problem was willful ignorance. Had I uncovered Mr. Farrington’s monetization strategy earlier, I would have been less bought into the “change the world” rhetoric. I failed to act with eyes wide open.
  2. Apologies and appreciation are more than words. It’s a lifestyle. — We all want to feel like we’re more than a piece of red meat for someone else to get their way. So many of the problems in the past with Top Sales World between Mr. Farrington and willing promoters — like myself — could have been easily resolved with a simple apology or heartfelt appreciation. I can’t rightfully judge Mr. Farrington’s intentions or motivations, but I can tell you how his actions made me feel — which is something you don’t easily forget. Many times when I voiced my concerns about the direction or positioning of part of Top Sales World, I was smacked down. Perhaps Mr. Farrington isn’t aware of his emotionally unintelligent style. My challenge is make sure our clients and community never feel that way. I hope you’ll call me out like this if I lose my way.
  3. A bad business plan might turn you into a bad person. — If you don’t have a plan to do the right thing it’s likely you’ll find yourself in a world of gray that has you crossing the line into doing bad things. By the way, a bad business plan doesn’t just hurt you — it impacts your employees and contractors. In this case, Mr. Farrington seems to be doing bad things — which is hard to reconcile with my perceptions of the gentleman who originally invited me to help him make a difference with Top Sales World. I’ve seen it before though. Money get tight and instead of having hard conversations, leaders decide to point the finger and blame everyone else.  It’s a reminder to me that the decisions I make have consequences months from now.  The employees and vendors we choose might bring out the worst in me. It’s something to remember.

Ever find yourself in a position like me?

Frustrated and confused and angry about people doing bad things and seeming to get away with it?

The truth about success for any of us is that our results are what we make them. It doesn’t really matter what other people do to us — or around us. Each of our response to frustration is ultimately what defines the level of greatness you achieve.

I suggest you tell yourself what I whispered in my own ear: “Stand up. Move on. Go be awesome.”

Learn something that will change the rest of your life.


Update: The monies not paid to the Vice President of Content were not paid over three months and not an entire three month’s worth of payments.

0 Replies to “3 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Top Sales World Going Bad.”

  1. Dan, I would love to find a way to achieve the mission I use as a tagline, and help elevate our sales profession. It’s not the work of a lone ranger, and an aggregate site has potential appeal for that purpose. Unfortunately, most motives are not that pure (although like you, no issue with capitalism here). Without sharing details, and without an invite to join that community until very recently, I came to the same conclusion, based on things I have experienced personally and which have been shared with me privately.
    For anyone who feels compelled as we do to attempt to make a difference in the profession, I encourage them to explore the Sales Education Foundation at http://www.salesfoundation.org. I’m proud to have just accepted an Advisory Board role (unpaid) to support their mission. Less than 80 of the 4,000 U.S. universities have a dedicated Sales curriculum. The SEF aims to change that, and to elevate the sales profession through university education.

    Hope you don’t mind me adding that here… It did seem to fit. Kudos on speaking out and stay the course.

    1. You are ever the salesman, my friend. The door got cracked open a hair and you already have your elbows in. 🙂
      Love your passion and wit. I am clearly outmatched, so let me just note that elevating the sales profession is a worthy cause and I suggest people spend a few minutes checking out Sales Education Foundation at http://www.salesfoundation.org.

      DISCLAIMER: I don’t know anything about them other than that they have the Official Kunkle Stamp O’ Approval. Website looks pretty. Spending time this weekend to learn more myself.


    2. Kudos Mike for your efforts in making a difference.
      I like and support the idea of elevating the sales profession through university education. Over the past few years I have seen countless articles, posts, and predictions from people calling themselves “sales experts, thought leaders, etc.” that are so far off the mark as to be harmful. The aggregate sights which “promote” these authors are no small part of the problem.

  2. Dan you raised some very serious points to ponder. Definitely food for thought. Thanks for sharing in the most emotionally intelligent manner.

    1. Just sharing my perspective, Leanne. And trying to do it in a way that brings awareness and room for improvement.


      p.s. I have mixed feeling about writing such an article, because I considered “Jono” a friend. But I can’t be silent. Frankly, I shouldn’t be silent.

      1. Challenging the status quo always gives ethical and humble individuals mixed feelings. This is part of authentic discernment.

  3. Wow. I know and respect you Dan but what you wrote doesn’t resonate at all with me. I’ve been one of the contributors you wrote about since day one and this is all quite inconsistent with my personal experience with both TSW and Jonathan. Perhaps it’s a matter of expectations but I think my minimal expectations have been exceeded while it seems that yours weren’t met. It’s poor etiquette to publicly take someone down over unclear expectations. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be edgy if you took the alternate path and took it up with him privately.

    1. Hey Dave,

      This isn’t about me. This is about right and wrong — and navigating your way to greatness while managing to keep doing the right thing.

      The post is about the real world “wrongs” that many people in sales face on a daily basis — sometimes it looks like doing bad things is the right path. It actually works for a while.

      It pains me to pen the truth, but where do you draw the line? When is it time to speak up? Who has to get hurt first? Until today it was easy for me to shrug this off as “it’s not happening to me so it must not be happening at all.” It is happening. And it’s not the way we as leaders should act.


      p.s. BTW, I wrote and rewrote this post to attempt to be kind, fair and insightful. Should I reread this post in the future and find it unnecessarily harsh, I will apologize.

  4. Kudos to you, Dan for having this EDGY conversation. Unfortunately I’ve seen this situation and it is wrong in any company. People deserve to be paid and given credit for the great work they do. How else can they take pride in what you’re building – and what they’re helping you accomplish with their support?

    1. I agree. And let me add that if an employee is not working out you should reset expectations, propose a probationary period (if necessary), and ultimately replace that individual. That’s the real edgy conversation.


      1. Dan – you don’t have the facts on the contractor situation, and is it really your business anyway? How do you know that your suggestions of what “should have been done” weren’t?

        1. Barbara: I do have the facts. Sadly. I do. They are undeniable. And is it my business? I made it so. I have been equally candid about my own shortcomings (writing a book about it). To cover up this behavior in exchange for ongoing support isn’t something I am willing to do.


    2. Kendra – I’m a Top Sales World contributor like you. Why do you act as if you are not given credit for the work that you contribute? We were not promised compensation. The compensation is in the promotion that TSW provides us. Frankly, they do it better than any other community I contribute to.

      1. Barbara, as Dan said, unfortunately these are the facts, and I am aware of them as Dan is. I’m not suggesting I wasn’t given credit for the work I contributed. To me, it’s not about that. It’s about giving back to our staff and supporting them for their hard work. We each have to make our own choices and I applaud Dan for having the courage to challenge everyone to consider the choices they make in their businesses. As the leaders in our industry, we can’t look away when we see something we don’t agree with.

      2. Wait a minute… is TSA a self-promotion community of some type where everyone promotes each other as experts. Is that the compensation you mentioned?

  5. Hi Dan,Congratulations to speaking up. I applaud you for going public with what most people would write off as a private disappointment that comes up in any field. Your candid and courageous report helped me make up my mind to distance myself from Top Sales World in the future. We want to improve the profession of selling by honoring those who are true contributors, true to their word and true to their followers.

    1. We have known each other for many years now, GG. I did not relish writing these words.

      Again — I am not starting a competing organization or wishing to “take over” any leadership role from Mr. Farrington. I am simply troubled. And like I have written candidly about other organizations that have lousy leadership or poor strategy, I am addressing TSW — a group I have been a part of for some time now.

      I believe Jono is well meaning and is attempting a noble purpose, but I believe some introspection is in order.


  6. The key may be to avoid being jaded when people do you wrong. It gets harder as you get older. Trust me.

    I still believe in the general goodness of people, but I left naiveté in the dust years ago. Like you, Dan, I’ve helped people, contributed to their effort and never had so much as a “thank you” much less reciprocity. And there have been times when I put hard dollars on the line – sometimes LOTS of dollars – to invest in people…only to have them squander it, lose it and go dark. It happens.

    So what’s the bottom line? It’s the same one I told my kids (now grown) as they were growing up, “Look in the mirror because that’s who you can control. Do what’s right. Be the person you need to be, even if the other guy isn’t.” That’s still my conclusion after all these years.

    1. You brought up the most important point of all, Randy. Who cares what other people do (at some level)?
      The key to success to do the right thing — even when no one is watching.

      That’s why I ended the article the way I did: “Stand up. Move on. Go be awesome.”

      Great lessons for me to remember all the time.


  7. I didn’t know what Top Sales World was until I saw it in association with “Edgy Conversations,” “The Sales Blog,” and “A Sales Guy.” I know I’m just a sample of one, but I think it’s worth asking: whose brand was building whose?
    As you know, the givers always win out in the end. And I don’t really know much about Mr. Farrington but you, my friend, are a giver to the core!

    1. Much appreciated, my friend. BTW, I enjoyed that podcast we did together. How much fun was that?

      Candidly, I am as flawed as the next guy. Ask the ‘Princess’ — she knows all my nonsense. But I have this burning desire to make a difference. And as I look at the lives of these 1000 amazing people who started off ordinary I see “GIVING” as such a huge part of their success DNA.

      Glad we’re friends. Are you close to your 1000th book yet?


  8. Hi Dan, thanks providing much food for thought.
    It does make me think about voluntary positions, and people, in general. Some people are givers, some are takers and then there are the traditionalists.

    I’ve offered my time and resources to organizations in the past without compensation. This was always willingly as at that time (and I’m sure a time in the future) it made sense for me where I was on my personal journey with business. It makes me sad to think that there will always be cases of this especially in a world where “always be helping” is a common mantra.

  9. Dan – Knowing the kind of person you are, I know this was a difficult decision to make to write about it and I can tell that you tried to find a way to have it be about lessons learned. I’m confident this is not something you wrote just to be edgy. You must’ve truly felt it needed to be said.
    It’s tough to be in a position where you help and contribute and are selfless in generosity and then feel that it was misguided or misplaced. I have had this happen to me before.

    I’ve been able to brush it off and move on (although not without feeling a good deal of stress in the gut). But when I feel that others are not
    being treated fairly – heck – it’s just hard not to say something.

    That being said.. Stay edgy my friend…


    1. It was difficult, Nancy. I’m glad you recognize that. I agonized over even writing it in the first place and then wrote and rewrote it in order to be substantive and insightful — rather than just a personal attack against Jono.

      My own experience was 5 months. I went running and burned off the steam. I never wrote about it or tweeted or made a big deal. I just internalized.

      When I learned more about what happened recently I realized that someone needed to speak up. So I did.


  10. Dan,
    I have respected and admired you and your work for some time now. That you push the status quo, challenging all of us to be and do better, I’ve always appreciated. To say that I’m disappointed in your personal character assignation of Jonathan Farrington on your blog is an understatement. As you know, I’ve written about poor service experiences with companies, but I have never once made it personal or called anyone out by name.

    Like Dave Kurlan and others, my experience in working with Jonathan and the Top Sales World team has been nothing but positive. Your expectations about the “quid pro quo” of what it means to be a contributor to Top Sales World is out of whack. We aren’t promised freebies, but we are promised that our content will be promoted heavily to hundreds of thousands of people. Top Sales World delivers on that promise every single day!

    Obviously, you are pissed off because Jonathan asked you to pay for a special book promotion, but why would you think it should be a
    freebie? Because you contributed content? When were any of us made that promise? Ask Gerhard what Selling Power charges to promote book authors and their books. I’m not calling out Selling Power, I’m simply saying that paying to advertise your business, books, speaking gigs or whatever is not a new concept.

    As if your post wasn’t bad enough, you then have the gall to insinuate that Jonathan is having financial difficulties? On what facts do you
    base this slanderous suggestion? A former contract employee with an axe to grind? Well, in the spirit of being “edgy”, in my world, if someone doesn’t do the job as agreed upon, they don’t get paid.

    And as off base and mean spirited as your post comes across, you now have people sharing comments on your post who have their own gripe with Jonathan, largely based on false expectations and big, selfish egos.

    Shame on you, Dan. This post wasn’t edgy. Neither was it enlightening, except perhaps to reveal your true colors.


    1. Barbara,

      I don’t expect freebies. I expect transparency and loyalty. You can’t tell me “let me know what we can do to promote you” on one hand and then turn around and ask for money. Pick one. We spent tens of thousands of dollars in promotion for the book — so we are wiling to pay.

      We can disagree about the other topics that I raised in my article. Frankly, I am not sure an explanation would be of any further value. I respect Jono’s determination in building the community. He spent time and money and effort putting this massive effort together. I was a big fan for a long time.

      But this sort of behavior is wrong — for anyone. It is inexcusable. You can call me mean-spirited and other names for pointing it out, but sometimes you have to take an unpopular stand. This was mine.


      1. Dan – all I can say is that I know the Top Sales World model is based on sponsorship. Your book and work has been promoted. Heck, I’ve shared the tweets myself but if you wanted a one off email blast to go out to promote your book to the list, there is a fee. Jonathan has always been transparent about his services and associated fees. It seems there was a misunderstanding now made ugly in public.
        For me, I support people taking a stand on what they believe in. You have your reasons, I get it. I just don’t agree with the very personal attack. That isn’t who I thought EDGY guy was.

        1. Unfortunately, the personal experience I shared regarding book promotion was a poor illustration of the larger point that I was attempting to illuminate.

          This isn’t about me. This is really a larger discussion around how we treat people — and how we allow those around us to be treated. I would have left this alone had not Paul’s story one more time brought to light this issue of mistreatment of partners and consultants. That was enough to prompt me into action.

          And if you notice other people leaving comments saying that they have observed similar things you should not assume that everyone is lying or spiteful, rather that perhaps at least part of what I have shared is accurate.


          p.s. I respect your hard questions. We might just have to agree to disagree if my speaking up was appropriate in this manner.

          1. Dan – to be clear – I am not assuming anything. At least one of the commenters is upset that they didn’t make the 2014 top influencer list. They contributed content and assumed that entitled them to be there. Your post provided them an opportunity to twist the knife. I think that behavior is petty and unprofessional.
            Have people had issues? Perhaps. And as you can see, there are plenty of us who have not. I am here commenting to hopefully bring some balance to the story.

          2. I shared my experience — how I felt — publicly to be clear: Having a big dream and sacrificing to get there doesn’t mean that you get to take advantage of people and do bad things. That is wrong for any of us.


    2. I’m a bit late chiming in on this on so please forgive me but Dan, Kurlan & Associates runs full page ads and promotions in the TSW Magazine and I assure you that they are all paid for. The only things I have received from TSW that weren’t paid for were audio interviews and I have a feeling that you must have been the recipient of at least one of those too. I never even considered that the site or the magazine would run MY promotion without MY company being charged a fee. It’s unrealistic to expect a company, a media outlet or a community (and TSW is all three) to promote you, your book or your business at no cost. The only exception I can think of is the community of Bloggers who, from time to time, will promote others’ work. Unfairly edgy.

    3. Barn, now that Jacqueline has entered the discussion and verified that a payment was withheld do you still feel that Dan’s post amounts to a character assassination of Jonathan Farrington?

      1. Yes, I do. The whole story is not known here. Attacking someone online with only one person’s version of the facts is completely inappropriate.

        1. Perhaps you have a point; This discussion has been primarily Dan’s side of the story although the Commercial Director of TSW (Jacqueline), the person responsibility to make payments from Top Sales World, has participated in the conversation. If the story is only one person’s version of the facts it is not because the other person did not have the opportunity to participate.
          However, I do not view Dan’s comments being a “character assassination of Jonathan Farrington”. Dan wrote a post about his experience. That hardly qualifies in my opinion as a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation (character assassination).

          Ironically, Jonathan Farrington’s posts about Michael J. Roman which appear to be only [one person’s versions of the facts] seem to be a [shining example of online character assassination] in the sense that Mr. Farrington appears to encourage others to deliberately continue the process of destroying the credibility and reputation of MJR through their own means. You wrote, “Attacking someone online with only one person’s version of the facts is completely inappropriate” so I am curious to how know how you view those posts.

          1. You wrote, “Attacking someone online with only one person’s version of the facts is completely inappropriate”.
            I found what appears to be a post from MJR giving “HIS” version of the facts:

            “To set the record straight regarding any negative publicity you may have read about me, my personal website was hijacked by a disgruntled employee whom I had to terminate in mid 2010. Shame on me. I should have built additional security into my website to prevent what ultimately happened.

            “John” as we’ll call him, hacked into my website and attempted to ruin my professional reputation by making be look like a thief. “John” tapped into my blog and would copy articles posted by well know bloggers/authors in my industry and post them on my blog. Then he would notify the actual author and claim that I plagiarized their writings. Needless to say, I ultimately had to shut down the site altogether because the original authors of the articles took to the web in an effort to shred my reputation. Frankly, I don’t blame them. I only wish they would have contacted me directly so that I could explain the circumstances.

            I just want to state for the record that I am NOT a copyrite thief.”

            The title to Dan’s post is, “3 VALUABLE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM TOP SALES WORLD GOING BAD”. Is Jonathan Farrington’s comments about MJR not an example of, as Dan put it, people doing bad things and seeming to get away with it?

          2. J.K.:

            While I appreciate you grabbing a sword and taking up the fight, I’m going to close out the commenting for this post.

            The executive was not paid money. I was outraged at this (and other similar behavior) and wrote about it. Now, I am told by that executive that he has reached a settlement with Jonathan and was paid “some” of the money that he was owed.

            That has to be good enough for me and you, OK? In the meanwhile, let’s go do something awesome.


  11. Dan, I have replied to you privately and am taking you up on your challenge to go public with my comments. Although I have much more to say about this and about the arrogance and ego I feel your post displays, in this forum I’ll just add this particular point which has not yet been raised.
    Your post is extremely inconsiderate and careless. By publicly denouncing Jonathan and Top Sales World and ignoring facts that are inconvenient to your position, you are hurting other people, too. I have benefited, personally and professionally, from fellow contributors in Top Sales World, especially those who set their egos aside to be supportive of the community. We have collectively contributed to the world of selling and to hundreds of thousands of people we bring in by being unified in purpose. Your attack diminishes our work and jeopardizes our reputations and associations with one another. I don’t appreciate that you have misrepresented so many facts to serve your own agenda with utter disregard for the rest of us who are innocent bystanders.

    If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    1. Hey Deb,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective both privately and here publicly. I would assert that my facts are indeed accurate. Without getting into personal attacks or sharing intimate information, I have to gently reassert that what I written is indeed accurate.

      I continue to benefit from my friends and peers who are members in TSW and the larger sales universe (some of whom disagree with my writing this article). I felt like this was worthy of me speaking up — so I did.


      1. Dan -The facts you are asserting to be correct aren’t even the real issue here. But since you are clinging to them, perhaps you should back up your claims. If you want to convince us, show us some proof.
        The larger issues are your personal and public ambush, the harm you’ve done to others by choosing this path, your taking from all of us without giving in kind (at least not to me when it comes to reciprocal posting, honoring commitments, making right what was wrong, etc.), and an intent to be hurtful rather than helpful.
        “Worthy of speaking up” sounds noble. Too bad your actions really aren’t.
        – Deb

          1. Dan – Here are 2 things we can agree on. Everyone should be able to choose whether or not to argue about their own personal character. And, yes. we are all flawed despite our best efforts to share truths and insights as we understand them. It is appropriate to give that same grace to others that you have given to yourself. As I said in my earlier email to you, I hope that you will take steps to do so. – Deb

          2. I think that the truly injured party in this is Paul Simon who curated the content for TSW and didn’t get paid for the work he did for the past three months. That’s a $10K ouch! I wonder if Barbara Giamanco actually listened to his side of the story? We also don’t know why Jonathan decided not to pay. Who who knows what really happened? And who cares? The fact is that Dan’s bruised ego got the snowball rolling downhill, sucking up airtime while Paul, who got the short end of the stick is ignored by the community he served.If you truly want to turn selling into a respected profession we may be able to put our petty jealousies aside and act like mature adults who truly care and contribute. I will pledge $200 for a Paul Simon fund. Are there 50 more who truly care? I challenge all of you!

          3. Gerhard – had he called me, I would have listened. That aside, I am aware of the facts. This is a he said/he said situation that should have been resolved between the parties involved. It didn’t need to go online.

          4. Thank you Barbara. The good news is that we already raised $1000 for Paul Simon. There is evidence that this community has tremendous constructive capacities that we can be proud of.

          5. There are two-sides to every story and the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

            I agree, it’s a he said/he said situation. Jonathan has been a great supporter of virtually every one of us. In many ways, he’s been the captain of the ship. I personally believe his intentions are, and have always been, good. He’s given us a way to reach a broader audience and to share our own thoughts and expertise with the sales community.

            I also know Paul and Paul is a generous and gentle soul. He works extremely hard and played an important role in helping to build the Top Sales World Community.I’ve hired Paul myself and I know the kind of work he does.

            I choose to contribute to Paul’s fund because It’s my way of giving back to him for all he’s done for me and the community.

            That’s my last “2 cents worth” on the subject.

          6. There is already something like that in the works, Gerhard. Several of us who have content related needs are pulling together and hiring freelance time from Paul in fill in the gap.

            The fund is a great idea too. Is there a link to where people can donate?


    2. Hypothetically… if someone was damaged by the actions of another and you knew about it but did not take action to stop it and then down the road another person is damaged in the same way are you not in some way part of the problem?

  12. It’s bad enough that one in three teenagers have experienced cyber bullying, but recent Pew Research shows that three times that percentage of adult social media users have witnessed people being mean and cruel to others on social network sites (“Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, August 24). Clearly, cyber bullying is not just for teenagers, but has entered our world.

    As an educator and coach I have tried to live what I first learned at home: if you have a problem with someone go to the person directly and first to discuss and try to work it out. It is wrong to bring an issue and a reputation to a public forum without this human courtesy. Name calling, spreading rumors and half-truths, asserting questionable “facts,” making personal attacks in the name of not keeping silent, sharing personal emails, and axe grinding all add up to cyber bullying.

    We are in dangerous territory here. The ability of others to “pile on” blogs or articles over the internet makes the bullying even more destructive and the reach of the audience makes it more damaging. We in the field of learning and development, communication, and sales are in a position to raise the bar on behavior, not reach new lows.

    Too often the cyber bullies and harassers go uncensored and rarely are they big or aware enough to apologize. With the ability to spew aggression and to perpetrate harm with a simple click, we must police ourselves. We must ask what is the intention. Is it to grind an axe, retaliate, embarrass? Or is it to right a wrong, to make a change? Under any circumstance cyber bullying can’t be justified.

    The responibility is enormous because of the reach of the internet; it far exceeds the schoolyard. As adults we should be stronger than teenagers and better able to handle unleashed aggression. But in fact that is not necessarily the case. The potential damage is so great that even the strongest can be hurt professionally and personally. And we can’t allow that for anyone at any age. There must be a better way. Let’s find it together.

    1. You ask a specific question: What is my intention?
      Let me be candid. My intention in writing this piece is to clearly make the case that having a noble purpose like building TSW is not an excuse to trample on people along the way. I shared this with Jonathan 1-on-1 privately. That behavior is either unknowingly selfish or something worse.

      You can call me a bully for voicing concern publicly, but it seems improbable that everyone else has an axe to grind. I suspect that others have observed or been the target of similar behavior from Jonathan that has left them feeling devalued, belittled, and emotionally crushed at times.

      As Dr. Woodward said: “When you hear hoofbeats, don’t think zebras. Think horses.” The common sense explanation is that people are mistreated and then shamed when they speak out. The unlikely explanation is that there is an evil plot against Jonathan.


    2. Hypothetically speaking… if a person was to do what Dan wrote that someone did, and that same person was spoken to about what he/she did yet continued on that course of action, how would warning others who might be next in line be “bullying”?

  13. It is extremely important that the truth is printed here: It is totally incorrect to suggest that Paul was not paid for 3 months. As the Commercial Director of TSW, it is my responsibility to make payments. We decided to withhold one payment, whilst we conducted an audit of work carried out. Paul was made aware of that. This has now been completed, and we are in contact with Paul – as we promised we would be.

    1. Hey Jaqs

      Thanks for posting here. It sounds like you are recognizing that monies due to Paul have not been paid to Paul. Much of your wording here is still vague — perhaps intentionally so. I trust that Jonathan will do the right thing and deliver on the promises he has made.


      1. Dan I was telling you that saying Paul hasn’t been paid for the last three months is untrue; he has been paid. The money withheld was in order to audit his work. I have known Jonathan for 45 years, and he always delivers on his promises. He promised Paul to audit his performance, and he has now done that. We have made – or are attempting to make contact with Paul.

        1. I look forward to hearing that you are indeed delivering on promises made.
          It is a shame that it took such a whirlwind of emotion and energy to bring about righting this wrong. We can argue about the details of how long this has gone on. That it went on at all — and under such a tone — is the reason I wrote this article.


          1. There is no need to thank me Dan, be assured, nothing you have said or done has changed our process, which was the correct way to handle these situations.
            We always do the right thing, as many of the comments here have illustrated. No need to argue about anything, we do our thing, and no doubt in your company, you do yours – which we do not publicly examine. Your motives for writing this article are your affair!

          2. You don’t always do the right thing, Jaqs. No one does. Which is why appreciation and apology are a lifestyle — not something you do when a situation like this erupts.

            All Jonathan had to do was apologize and give the VP of Content his rightful money and this would have been over and forgotten soon. Instead — excuses are made, minute details are debated, and the right thing is left undone.


        2. Jacqueline, when I spoke with Paul last week I understood that you guys owe him close to $10,000. You didn’t state how much money was withheld and your statement suggests that the amount in dispute is a lot less. What I found curious is that you posted this statement AFTER I started a fundraising campaign so we can all chip in to get Paul paid. We’ve raised $1,200 within 24 hours, but after you published your (vague) statement and assurances that promises will be kept, the giving stopped.What you didn’t say is of concern to me. How much money is outstanding? What time range do the outstanding bills cover? What amount is in dispute? What you will pay by when? and What (if any) will be the shortfall?
          My objective here was to heal the hurt created by TSW intentionally or unintentionally and Paul is clearly the injured party. The only thing writers have to sell is their time and for a free-lancer a $10K loss is a huge gap. I think that TSW has done a great job promoting the profession of selling and you have many loyal supporters. I urge you to be TRANSPARENT and avoid obfuscation to restore your credibility. Plus, I’d like you to give the community a chance to chip in if you can’t fulfill your obligation to Paul. We’re all willing to help.

    2. Jacqueline, it is now at least three weeks later and inquiring minds want to know, has this issue been resolved to Paul’s satisfaction yet?

  14. Dan,Thank you for the risk you took in posting this article. If we can’t have public conversations about what is working and not working in the realm of Transforming the World of Sales, then what amazing things can we ever accomplish?
    While I am not familiar with the issues about TWS, I took three very valuable lessons from your article:
    1) Take care of the hands that take care of you: Over the last five years, I have been building a small but mighty base of supporters and contributors. I call them my “snowflakes” that are turning my efforts into a “snowball” that I trust will turn into an “Avalanche”, making new, empowering messages available to those awesome sales pros who go out and make it happen for their companies, families, and communities every day.
    Should I ever realize my dream (one of also being financially sustainable and beyond) I have taken to heart the message to always remember and be grateful for opportunities to reciprocate the generous contributions that have been made to me. (You know who you are). I hope I always remain honored to give back in big ways and pay forward in bigger ways.
    2) I, too, am sometimes deeply flawed. I will no longer hold this concern as a way to play smaller or not GO FOR IT. And I will remember to apologize when I screw up. Which is bound to create endless opportunities to accept responsibility for my impact in my communities.
    3) A bad business plan is dangerous to the people who come on board and believe in my dream. I am stepping up my game to create a responsible, accountable, transparent business plan as we go to market this year and create our future.
    Thank you, always, for saying it straight. I don’t always like it, but it always grows me. Thanks for creating a scary dialogue and being willing to present all sides. It shows that you can have a stand, AND be open to differing perspectives.
    Let’s all take a breath…and then Go Forth and Be Awesome!
    Love it ALL UP!

    Dianna Smith
    The Irreverent Sales Girl

    1. Hey Dianna,
      This is a scary conversation for many people in the community. Frankly — it was scary for me to write. It’s scary to answer some of the comments.

      But, I have delivered the conversation publicly so I am here answering as clearly as possible every question or concern that is brought to the table.


      p.s. I’m giving some thought to a longer blog post about the challenge over when to go public. It reminds me a little bit of “Steubensville” — but I need to think more constructively about this idea.

  15. As I have been observing the actions and reactions around this matter, I have been hoping above all else that there would be movement towards doing the right thing. It appears (although vague) that through a representative of Jonathan there might be progress toward getting this behind us all. Let’s hope that this gets resolved and both Jonathan and Paul can put it in the rear view mirror.

    This has provided a learning opportunity for me on how to handle this type of situation if I ever find myself involved. I have been reminded that:

    1. There are no winners when things get to this point.
    2. A lack of transparency when arguing either side of an argument is foolish and short-sighted.
    3. Get everything in writing.
    4. Inspect and communicate to others involved in a work effort before, during and after the task(s) are finished.
    5. There are agenda’s at work in all this.
    6. It should be expected that people will defend what they fear they might lose.
    7. In the end, the truth will come out.

    Criticize Dan all you want, he spoke up about what he believes was a wrong against a friend. I find no fault in that. Public vs Private- there were both pursued and in that order so no complaints on that front either.

    It will be interesting to read through all these comments in 3-6 months. Agenda’s will become clear, what is being protected will become clear, and hopefully Paul will have received compensation that is due to him.

    1. Hey Miles,

      It appears that there is indeed progress toward TSW doing the right thing — perhaps only due to the pressure of many good people like yourself.

      I am hopeful that it will not take another 3-6 months for Paul to get paid, but I do think you bring up an interesting point about perspective and time — and how this will look in a few months. Hopefully if there is a winner, it will be Paul.


  16. Dan,
    This isn’t the type of post I’d normally comment on but there is one aspect of this I think should be addressed.

    First let me say that I view both you and Jonathan as friends. As is common in long standing relationships–I’ve been dealing with Jonathan for about 8 years I think–I’ve had disagreements with Jonathan, but none have escalated beyond a minor skirmish. I am aware, however, of several others who have had very different experiences than mine.

    I fully support your attempt to lay out what you believe to be a serious issue. However, I regret that you mentioned Paul by name as I know he didn’t want this to become a public issue and I suspect he is embarrassed by the whole thing.

    I realize that addressing this while keeping the aggrieved subject anonymous would have diluted the content to the point that more would see it as nothing more than sour grapes on your part, but I think Paul’s privacy would outweigh that, even if it meant not writing the post at all.

    Obviously in this case it is too late but in the future if any of us use someone’s situation as an example maybe we should get clear consent from that party first.

    1. You are right, Paul. I deliberately kept his name out my post — referring only to his title, but then somewhere in the comments it slipped out. I called him earlier today to apologize that that had indeed happened. It was indeed unfortunate — and unnecessary.


  17. I disagree with your statements, they don’t make any sense for me and they don’t reflect reality. My experience working with Jonathan Farrington was and is always based on essential fundamentals that make any valuable relationship working: trust, respect, reliability, sticking to commitments and a shared vision of success. One of those visions is to elevate the sales profession and to believe in the idea of communities based on conscious collaboration to contribute to this vision. Of course, there are many different ways to accomplish that goal, and each one of us working in this space contributes with what he/she can do the best.I have never seen – not even once – that Top Sales World or Jonathan in person have not mentioned the content’s author. Authors are always mentioned. And personal and corporate brands build each other. I remember that we twittered (tweeted?) a lot via the daily Top Sales World twitter list – which is what the community shares. Of course.
    Demanding a special book promotion – of course there is cash involved. Ask any of the other existing sales communities – you need to pay for even getting on the reading list. Fairness looks differently, in my opinion.
    Writing about a personal issue between you and Jonathan in the public market shows – unfortunately – that respect is no longer existing, and it takes into account that another person’s reputation gets seriously damaged. It creates only negative energy that needs to be cleared again. For me, that’s not aligned with my basic principles of living and working: fairness, appropriateness, responsibility, consciousness. Especially the latter is what I’m missing here.
    Furthermore, using an additional issue that affects a third person’s name and reputation, is also not acceptable. For which reason? Just to increase the damage? It wasn’t necessary to touch this issue, for the point you said you wanted to make.

    1. Tamara,

      It’s not about what happened. It’s about the “how”. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars on advertising and promotion — so the idea of paying for services is not something that we were not willing to do. I felt belittled by how my experience went down. I also observed other friends and organizations receiving the same treatment. Most of us never said a word publicly. We just went away quietly into the night.

      But what was done to the VP of Content is different. He doesn’t have a platform or money to fight this bullying against him. He just had to “take it”. And in my reality — that was worth speaking up about.

      We can disagree about where the line is when you or I decide to speak up, but I know from your character (and your comment here) that you do believe like me that there are times when you must stand up for what is right. TSW is an awesome endeavor. But it must not be built by trampling on those who are not willing or able to fight back.


  18. Dan, you may not publish this post but have you ever read Jono’s posts about Michael J. Roman?
    Here are the post titles:
    When Plagiarism Is NOT Flattering – Stand Up Michael J. Roman
    Michael J. Roman; Plagiarism; the Apology; Final Thoughts

    Below are a couple of blurbs from those posts.

    “You see, Michael doesn’t actually write his own material – he steals it from other people. He just goes and copies it from other people’s sites
    and claims it as his own.”

    “I would like to introduce you to Michael J. Roman – Michael who? Exactly. But after today, so many more people will be familiar with that
    name, as it flies around the “Blogosphere” and becomes the topic of much “Twittering”.”

    “If you want to help you can:
    1. Retweet this post to your followers.
    2. Send an email to Michael and express your concern with his unethical behaviour.
    3. Contact any author, trainer, speaker, expert in your network and let them know about this plagiarist.
    4. Blog about this unethical behaviour.”

  19. I would probably be shocked too. At least you know now where you stand.I suppose Paul now knows where he stands too.
    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

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