A Plagiarism Thank You Card

NSBA conference logo

Today I had the good fortune to provide the luncheon keynote address for the School Leaders awards lunch, sponsored by the American School Board Journal – part of the National School Boards Association huge annual conference.

I was going to share with you what I talked about today, which was energizing.  And I was going to share with you information about the group, which is also energizing – winners of the Magna Awards for innovation in school district leadership.

Instead, I find I keep writing the words, “Thank you.”

And so here’s what I’ll do.  I will link you to a recording of my talk here. It’s the whole 20 minute keynote, fresh out of the oven.

And for the rest of this post, I will tell the tale of how I happened to be speaking here today, and how I happen to have an article in this month’s American School Boards Journal.  And most importantly, I will give thanks.

It all started two years ago. It was then that I learned that, through no fault of their own, the ASBJ had published an article of mine (Why Boards Micromanage) that had been plagiarized by someone else.  The article had been taken word-for-word from our site – including a story that happened to me.  The plagiarist simply plastered his name on the piece, changed MY story to HIS story, and signed a statement swearing the work was his.

Those were the circumstances under which I met Glenn Cook, editor-in-chief of the American School Board Journal.

Rather than let the lawyers rule what happened next, Glenn did something few people do anymore – something that created the future that has become the present for me, for Glenn, and for the 200 school leaders I encouraged to create the future of their communities today.

Glenn picked up the phone and called me.

After the initial shock wore off for us both, Glenn was gracious beyond my wildest imaginings, offering to do all the heavy lifting.  “Let me go after this guy,” he said.  “Then let me write an editorial, telling our readers what happened. I’ll link to your site.  I’ll tell people to read your stuff.  And when this is all over, I want you to write for us – this time under your own name!”

From that very first phone call – a phone call that could have been adversarial and ugly – something unexpected happened for us both.  Glenn and I became friends.  Since that day, just hearing his Texas lilt on the phone, I prepare myself to laugh at stories of his family’s adventures.

When we finally met in person last fall during Dimitri and my first Community-Driven tour, the three of us spent over 3 hours at lunch.  It was then that Glenn suggested that I address the school leaders during today’s event.

And so, to the gentleman who plagiarized my work in the first place, I want to thank you.

If it weren’t for you, I would not have spoken today to some of the most inspired leaders a community can wish to have.  I would not have an article on “School Boards as Catalysts for Community Change” in the latest edition of the American School Board Journal.

And most of all, I would not have met my friend Glenn.

You can hear my keynote for the Magna Awards here – “Your School Board as a Catalyst for Success.”  Please let me know if you would like me to keynote your event next!

4 Responses to A Plagiarism Thank You Card

  1. I love it when calm, cool and brilliant minds let smart thinking rule and create their own futures. Hat tips to Glenn Cook and Hildy Gottlieb for leading by example. We need more leaders like these two (& John Haydon too!)