Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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I love to learn and be inspired, don’t you?

Whether it’s music, beautiful locations or world-changing ideas.

But there is a big difference between using someone’s ideas to get your creative juices flowing and flat out stealing someone else’s stuff.

When it comes to both money and creativity, there's always more where that came from. Click To Tweet

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, I have another word for it. As you’ll see, I get pretty fired up about this. That’s because this is a really important topic.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that there are no “new” ideas. I’ll be the first to share that everything I know and teach, I’ve learned from someone else.

I’m constantly feeding my brain with new ideas from family, friends, books, blogs, audios, teachers and mentors.

But I also work really hard to give credit where credit is due, and revamp old ideas with a fresh perspective.

Today’s video is all about giving you the tools to deal with this sticky “copy cat” situation that WILL happen to you at some point (especially as you get more successful).

In the comments below, share two specific insights you gained from this video and how they will impact your business.

Or if you have strategies for dealing with copycats, let me know that too.

This is such a juicy subject, let’s get some group wisdom going on!

Please share as much detail as possible in your comment as your insight might be just what someone else needs to read to have a breakthrough.

Thank you, as always for tuning in to our business ideas for creative entrepreneurs.

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  1. I’ve yet to encounter copycats of my business. However, I’m constantly challenged to walk the fine line between modeling and being a copycat. I consider myself a great writer and an idea generating machine, but sometimes it can feel hard to navigate the way on your own when folks are killing it left and right around you, providing so many great examples. What most motivates me to take risks without necessarily having a proven model to look to is the huge learning potential. Ain’t gonna learn much if you’re just copying and pasting someone else’s ideas into your business! (And you’re gonna make a lot of people angry.)

    • marie

      Love what you shared on taking risks Kaneisha. That’s what creativity and innovation are all about.

      • I don’t know where this came from, but it’s one of my (many) mantras:
        ‘A turtle never gets anywhere without sticking its neck out.’ It really IS all about taking risks…

      • alberto

        Hi Marie,
        I wanted to say thank you for the great people you have around you.

        The other day I wrote an email to your company about connecting with a fan of yours and Louise reached out to me right away and helped out.

        It made my day and I want to publicly thank her right here.

  2. I’ve had to deal with copycats a few times (that I’ve caught so far..)
    I’ve had my custom designs lifted completely and re-used on other sites. In one instance I was told “it’s just graphics my overseas contractor found on the internet” and “it’s not a big deal, it’s just a website” – I was completely dumbfounded!

    I called the parties involved and then followed up with an email giving them 30 days to redesign the site or I would take legal action — after my prodding on day 25, they had a revised site (though still heavily influenced by my design).

    This is a problem I see all the time — there is a serious lack of ethics with regard to stealing graphics and content online and something I think needs to be addressed.

    • marie

      I can imagine how frustrating that was Michelle. Great work with your follow-up, sounds like you handled it like a pro. And as a fan of your work – you truly are an original!

  3. Femme

    amazing and inspiring video, as always… i wonder when will you supply your book to philippine bookstores. been looking all over major bookstores but can’t seem to find ’em. they are definitely a good read and can be a great gift to my girls..

    thanks thanks thanks and more power!

    • marie

      Hi Femme! When it comes to my book – it’s in the hands of the publishers. We’re in 11 languages so far and like you – we’d love to see it go even further!

  4. I’ve recently had people ask me what I am doing to protect my work from copycats and I usually say that people can try and copy what I do, copy my biz illustrations but chances are they won’t be able to because we are all unique and different.

    Emulating someone’s best practices etc should be viewed as a compliment and credit should be given when due. As you rightly said Marie, ripping off someone’s ideas and passing them off as your own is only doing one person a massive diservice – YOU!

    Rocking as always – and I voted for you, of course 🙂

  5. Love your tweetable! Great tips & advice Marie. I want my fellow business peeps to copy my tips & ideas for organization! That’s why I give it to ’em for free on my website. Love your new site!

    • marie

      Right on Melody!!

  6. Thanks Great Vid!
    Now I’m wondering, what is the best way to credit other peoples work. I mean is simply putting there name in a blog post sufficient or do we need to contact them directly and what about references to other peoples books etc in training materials.
    I know this can get a bit complicated so are there some simple guidelines to follow?

    • marie

      It’s definitely a complex topic Sarah. I recommend using your gut. If any part of you has a “wiggle” that you should credit someone or mention their name – do it! If you’re quoting someone directly (a portion of their book, blog, program) always give’m props.

      • Moira

        And on that note, if you have a website you should post somewhere your “sharing” policies, specifically what others can share and how. in the US has an excellent discussion about attribution and licenses with language you can use on your site if you want to share your work.

  7. This is a very interesting topic! I used to do occasional videos, weekly blogposts and monthly podcasts. About 6 months ago I decided I wanted to do weekly videos so I got out and looked at others who were doing the same, it’s why I subscribed to you actually. I wanted to see if it would lure me in to watch every week as a regular thing, and it did, so I decided to announce my commitment to making a weekly video just this new year. If I would want to come back every week and watch, it really might be a good way to stay in regular contact with my own podcast listening and blog reading audience too.
    I look at this a good research, it’s sensible to see what is working well for others who are reaching out to a wider audience. For me the essential thing is that my content is authentically me and looking at things in a way that others in my field don’t seem to be doing. (Don’t worry Marie – no need to send the lawyers over to me!)
    I am a shamanic practitioner, and the methods I have learned are well documented and are taught by so many people around the world. Some of those people are trailblazers and I am delighted to have been taught and mentored by some of the best in the world. But even though they are the best, I work hard to do things they haven’t done. I have chosen the angle I am looking at health & wellbeing issues from (personal power) and the focus of my professional healing teaching all hangs on a central theme (creativity and individuality) and in this way I am developing well known ideas in a different way. I have also chosen to communicate in a different way – I set up my own online radio station and brought together teachers I am inspired by to be presenters, I do regular videos & free gift mp3s, and now I’m developing audio course materials that I have never seen the like of from any other teachers.
    I use my own practice to check in with myself and make sure that I am always being honest. I look for what is missing that would excite me to bring in. And I look at what others are doing that inspires me to push another boundary. Thanks Marie for being one of those inspirations!

  8. Hey all really interesting comments from Marie as always – and right in my field as an intellectual property lawyer!

    Big tip I would give is try not to get emotionally connected – it will CONSUME you if you let it. If it’s BIG copying or you are really upset then consider the attorney route to take the emotions out of the issue (just be careful that you don’t swap anger at the copying for shock at the attorney’s bill!).

    Don’t forget that some stuff is really not new, but the expression is. I don’t know many people who talk about the big banana…

    • marie

      Excellent tip Aaron about not staying emotionally connected. Most of us can’t stop being emotionally triggered initially, but we can have a say in how long we stay there. Using the 24 hour rule (don’t respond until you’ve had 24 hours to process) is often a good idea in these circumstances.

    • Suzanne Swint

      I agree. There is nothing new under the sun. I think this is the first time ( & I have been a Tuesday girl for about a year & a half) that I saw true emotion in you, Marie… A bit of a sore topic

    • Jonathan

      So needed to watch this episode of Marie TV and read Aaron’s comment. I’m going through a tough battle with a copycat at the moment. Staying emotionally disconnected is not always easy but it is keeping me sane, and more importantly professional. I only communicate with my copycat through my lawyer.
      Grateful for the common understanding of this topic amongst like-minded good-hearted people like yourselves. I feel like I am being seen, understood, and validated. Thanks!

  9. Louise

    Love your stuff Marie!
    Its annoying when it happens but as I get better dealing internally with the issue of copycats my stuff gets better because I don’t hold out on giving it out. It helps to know that it really gets our collective creativity going that one step further, and that can only in the end serve us long-term even if a pain in the short-term.

  10. Copied

    I was really hoping for a magic piece of advice here, which I sorta knew I wouldn’t get, since it’s not so easy to answer. Sadly, I have what I call a “Copycat Stalker,” which means that this person is doing everything in her power to ruin my business…and it’s working. I did contact her about it (several years ago, when the very first incident occurred) and not only did she deny it, but from that moment on, made it her mission to copy everything I do, while spreading lies that I’m the copycat. I figured someone would notice, especially since her product is so inferior, but nope! Many of my customers also buy from her and I have to watch as her products are hailed as “So unique!” etc. all over the web. No matter what I do, she’s one step ahead. To make matters worse, the mental exhaustion this has caused me over the years has resulted in my backing off a bit, since my creativity is sapped. Unfortunately, since these are handmade items and she’s only copying my (very specific) themes, wording, materials, colors, etc., I’m S.O.L in regard to copyright action.. even though I have copyrighted several designs and have posted clearly that they have been formally registered (as a tactic to try and scare her off) … You’ll never guess what her response was- she simply put up an identical copyright announcement (along with a snide remark, intended to implicate me as a copycat) and scrawls a huge copyright notice all over her images. I’m at a total loss. How do you deal with a person who is devoid of conscience? I just don’t have the energy for this. I know if I publicly outed her, I’d end up looking like an ass. I mean, look at the rant I’ve just posted! I’m sure you all think I’m completely mad. And I suppose I am. I’m effing sick of it.

    • I don’t think you’re mad [as in crazy] but I think you should get mad [as in angry]. Mad enough to formulate a plan of action.

      Definitely nothing spiteful. Nothing hateful. Nothing rude. But ALL you! Take your best idea and make it BETTER. Take your best product and make it more AMAZING. Be honest about your journey. There’s nothing wrong with ‘coming out’ and letting your tribe know you’re having a few issues and therefore will be developing some ‘new’ things, and document your progress so everyone can know it’s yours and that you were FIRST.

      Like, how about you do some videos showing your creative process – from idea generation to follow through. Nothing necessarily specific – perhaps even just talk about your philosophy on product/content creation.

      Explain that you’ve been dealing with – like, for the last few years – a copycat. You refuse to ‘name and shame’ because it’s ‘beneath you’, admit to your tribe that you’ve been ‘worn out’ by it all, but that you are now officially throwing off the shackles and focussing your creative juices on you and your business and you want the whole wide world to know that YOU are creating it, and that YOU are doing it first.

      Date everything.

      Make everything clear and concise.

      Leave NO doubt in anyone’s mind that YOU were the one who came up with you NEWEST most BRILLIANT idea and when you did it!

      Don’t necessarily blog/post/vlog about your progess as you’re going along – but create the blog posts or videos as you’re going so you can launch EVERYTHING at the same time! The videos showing your behind the scenes, your processes, your creative energies…

      Your tribe will love it.

      • Louise

        Great suggestions Vashti!
        I’m also on getting the internal congruency happening as I start to take action. So if I may offer some suggestions ‘Copied’ I would check that you’re not hitting an internal ‘upper limit’/a belief or set of beliefs which is showing up here as the angst/anger with your copycat.
        The short answer is to do the thing you’ve been avoiding doing. This won’t be a mental response (otherwise you’d have hit on the solution already) but more a stepping back from the situation and allowing a deeper knowing within you – which has the solution to this problem.
        You say she’s doing everything in her power to “ruin your business and it’s working.” What part of you is allowing this to happen? And, which part of you knows what you need to do?
        You have it in you to surmount this!
        Warmly Louise

      • Jane

        Dear Copied,

        Be very careful NOT to say names or attack as you could be counter-attacked for slander.

        I was in a situation where 2 people tried to bully every and anyone remotely connected with a project to provide them with my business plan, budget, contacts, etc. – the whole kitten-kaboodle.

        Here I’d like to second Aaron’s wise advice – do NOT let the emotions get in the way as you will wear yourself out.

        At the end of the day you will have to decide a) to get a good lawyer and be willing to pay the fees or b) change tacks and ensure that you have duly registered/copyrighted all material prior to going online and place notice online that copyright infringements will prosecuted. This perhaps you can do less expensively with a few consults with a copyright lawyer than by trying to build up a huge case.

        Personally, I chose route (b) since it involved no emotional strain (hey, I was changing tacks – I was in control) and inevitably the entire experience becomes a growing one – how to be a better professional.

        As I see it – correct me if I’m wrong Marie – Marie is unique and no matter HOW much copying some less-talented person might attempt, never could they provide the quality that Marie provides. For this reason, Marie is able to hold sold-out events, programs, etc.

        Keep the faith and good luck!

        • Copied

          Thanks for the input, guys. Believe me, I’m completely aware of how this is consuming me. And yes, I’m aware that my own actions (lessening my work production, for example) are playing a big role in letting her win. A couple of years ago, I vowed to never again look at any of her tweets or her website, since I was getting angrier and angrier- and I’ve stuck to it, but there’s still Etsy, which is where she’s stealing most of my ideas from. No way I can leave etsy or block her from there, I don’t think. And yes, I’ve worked hard to make my designs better, and I’m actually thrilled with the work I’m putting out! A few loyal customers are more than willing to stick with me (and one even knows about the copying), but most of them have no problem buying from her. I guess what I’m confused about is exactly how to make myself more known. It seems no matter what I do to get ranked on Google etc., her shop/items are always a whole page before any of mine. She re-lists her ENTIRE etsy shop twice a day, which I myself can’t afford to do. Anyway, here I go again. *Breathe*

      • NW Barn

        This is such a good post.
        I think I have a solution for “copied”. You may be able to sue her, and get her IP address blocked from your website completely. So at least she won’t be able to see what you are doing from her home address or computer.
        Secondly, a way that you could stand out is to send a message directly to your customers letting them know you are changing your domain name (maybe she’ll be thwarted), or you could leave your designs up and tell clients (privately) that you will take commissions.
        Another way is to put up mock designs (things that you never plan to sell) and screen save your website page with date and time, then check her website to see when she places her copycat designs. Once you do that you can screen save her web page, and sue her. This will prove that you are designing the items first, and that she is COPYING YOU! Contact an attorney first (so there is no backlash), and once you have your social proof, I’d twitter, facebook, myspace, linkedin, youtube, email blast all pertinent details on her lying, stealing ass!

        Go get ’em!

    • Kay

      You are way too emotionally involved here. You need to get back on track and stop stalking your stalker. While you are consumed with her copying you, she is busy producing more of your work.

      GET BACK ON TRACK! Invest in some time to be inspired and focus your energy on creating the next best thing in your field….and then continue to do that. Regardless of how many people try to copy Steve Jobs, Pica aso and even Marie For leo there will always be only one Steve Jobs, , Picaso and Marie Forleo……and no matter who copies you, there will only be one you.

      So stop crying and definitely stop stalking your stalker and be the best artist you can be. You have already invested way, way to much energy in her. Now invest some in your work.

      • Susan

        I LOVED seeing all theses comments and great advice. It’s uplifting to have a group of women really supporting each other—even if we’ve never met. Totally made my day.

      • Anonymous

        I agree!

    • I feel your pain

      I know this is an old post but I wanted to let you know that I am going through the same exact thing. It is horrible. Everyone says “forget about it” and “there’s nothing you can do”. Well you must do something about it. Doing nothing means that you are accepting the behavior and to the copycats that means that you are allowing them to copy without recourse. They will never stop unless you stop them.
      Stand up for yourself and fight back!!

    • Monique

      Oh darling, you’re not mad! you sound like an inspired visionary, an entrepreneur brave enough to create and then launch a unique offering. And, I completely empathize with you as I’ve also been subjected to this type of spirit sucking behavior by others who seem devoid of any imagination, self confidence, or honesty. But, (and I have to say this to myself as well) you cannot let such a vampire suck your energy and enthusiasm –these blood suckers cannot succeed in damaging not only your brand and business but your soul. Do NOT give this person the satisfaction to zap your power to create and build. Do take some time off to regroup and beyond that I’m a bit out of advice as how to proceed beyond getting back on the proverbial horse (legal action or publicly outing the sponge has its pros and cons and also can be draining so there must be much strength -and likely resources -shored up to pursue these routes) as I’m still recovering from a large scale ugly copy-cat (taken me 2 years and I’ve withdrawn from my own beautiful business as a result–just now beginning to venture back into the limelight..). But, DO know you have sisters out there who are with you, wish you the best, and know that no one can crush the spirit of a true entrepreneur. You are an innovator, a trailblazer and do not ever forget it! Now, get back up and go get ’em tiger! 😀 xoxo

    • Jenn

      I am in the EXACT same situation as you. Quite honestly it scares me. I have to remind myself that this person is actually crazy, and there is no reasoning with a crazy person. I have reported her copyright violations multiple times to Etsy (where the bulk of this is taking place, although recently she has been lifting copy and design from my website as well). Her shop was suspended for a day. I am afraid to take it further. I don’t want to spend money on attorney fees because I could be spending that money on my craft. But every single day, I see her in my shop via Google Analytics (which I shouldn’t track as often as I do, but it is a wonderful tool for seeing who my audience is and if any changes I am making are working, etc) If I create a new thing or change something in my shop, she does the exact same thing. It’s infuriating, and really feels violating. But I either let it consume me, or I ignore it and focus on creating new, better work (which she will then copy). Ugh.

      • Caroline - Team Forleo

        Jenn, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in the same situation as “Copied” above. It sounds like you’re taking all the right steps, but I know dealing with a copycat is incredibly frustrating.

        I hope this episode helped provide a few helpful thoughts. It can be tough to focus on anything else when you’re dealing with a situation like this, and remembering to be gentle with yourself and focus on the people who appreciate and purchase your work (and who behave ethically and responsibly) is so important.

        We’re sending our best thoughts your way, and hope this is something you’re able to get resolved soon.

  11. Morning from Mattapoisett.
    1. As always, great video.
    2. Similar to Kaneisha’s comment, I walk on the side of emulating and am SUPER DUPER sensitive that I am just copying structure and behaviours, not actual text. For me, someone for whom copy and catchy slogans isn’t my strong suit, it’s great to turn to leaders in my industry for inspiration. That definitely helps get my creative juices flowing.
    3. And your tweetable is spot on.

    xo Johanna

  12. Marie,

    I LOVE how serious you got when you looked in the camera and say copycatting is downright douchey! hahhahaha Thank you for the laugh.

    Personally, I try to be very cognizant of giving credit where credit is due. Plus, people always appreciate getting the credit and are more likely to forge strong, positive relationships if they know you are giving them their props!

    Keep the hits coming!



  13. Hi Marie

    This is a great Q & A 🙂 It certainly is a tricky one and you’re right that there is a fine line… and I think that the main problem is the person usually isn’t actually aware of it themselves- because they don’t actually know who they are yet (or who they’re not) and what they want to do!

    I do think that the clearer we all become about our own message, and part of the picture we are painting, the less possible it is for someone else to copy what you do. I know that the more I am clear about my message, and step into my boldness about sharing it, the further away I feel from anyone else…

    And then I feel incredibly ‘unique’- almost distant!

    It’s been an interesting exploration as I teach the Method that my husband created and teaches world wide! He is the person who birthed and created it, and is a genius… and here I am finding my own expression of this information. It’s really made me go deep down inside to find my unique expression of me, and in turn I see how we perfectly compliment each other… we are speaking the same language, but with totally different expression.

    It’s essential for us to all find our unique perspective and boldly share that- and that is what you do so brightly.

    Thanks for being you! (as I read my own words every time I visit your site!) Congrats on getting ya web-baby out there… she’s a great reflection of YOU 🙂

    • marie

      Excellent point Laura on some people not **knowing** who they are yet. That’s why it’s important to take the high road and approach sticky situations with compassion and respect, without losing your clarity or directness. We’ve all made mistakes before we’ve learned better, and having someone point out an error in a clear, yet compassionate way is healthy for all.

      • Absolutely! I also think that it is absolutely essential that we all are passionate and in integrity in finding our own expression. Supporting others to do that is a part of that.

        I think that what we are all participating in right now, is a process of recognizing our collective ‘same-ness’, but expressing it uniquely. If we don’t each honor our personal expression, we are not going to be able to work effectively together, because then there is always an underlying fear of comparison, contradiction and unhealthy competition.

        When each individual knows & trusts their uniqueness, then we can whole-heartedly work together as a community and planet…

        And of course, it’s a fun process with plenty of chances to learn 🙂

        Thanks for this dialogue! Really got me thinking today, and led me to let go of some more fear of expressing me & comparison.

  14. Anonymous for Now

    I have a question: what if you’re asked to copy at work? Like directly copy other people’s website designs for “inspiration”? How do you handle in a business setting the company tactic to just do things that seem either spammy or without people’s permission? “We’ll do it till we get our hands slapped” is becoming a common phrase in the workplace. Have you ever found yourself in this situation or advised people on this topic? Thanks for your great, inspiring, original content. You’ve helped the hard days be just a little bit better (who am I kidding–a LOT better!).

    • marie

      Take the lead and say that you believe in looking for best practices and inspiration from other sites, but you want all the work to be 100% original. Never give anyone else the power to compromise your ethics.

  15. You hit the nail on the head with THIS video, Marie!

    Good on YOU for making and posting it!

    I’m a photographer, and THIS is a hot hot HOT topic for my industry – always!

    I agree with EVERYTHING you say on this one!

    *high five*

  16. Thanks for the great vid Marie! There’s definitely a fine line to walk when you’re trying to learn the ways of the interweb, especially with some coaches advising not to reinvent the wheel. (I’ve even heard coaches specifically tell students to copy their stuff…) You can definitely FEEL the difference when someone is being authentic and when they’re ripping off someone else’s goods.

    I’ve had a couple of copy cats and a twinge of annoyance along with it, but nothing too severe. Mostly I just focus on my own stuff and don’t worry about it. I figure they’re just trying to find their way and eventually they will…

    And BTW your new website is gorgeous 🙂 xoxo

    • I second that, Rachel. A terrific video and, as always, it always seems like Marie really hits on the hot spots.

      Authenticity is key and I’ve seen what you’re talking about with the coaches – in fact I can almost look at some people’s work and tell which coach they’re working with! I love this quote from Judy Garland: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ”

  17. Joy

    Thanks for this one Marie; it’s both direct and super encouraging.

    This happened to me last year, when someone copied a recipe on my site–verbatim–and used the accompanying photo to pass it off as her own. It was a particularly challenging situation, because she was located in another country and had translated it into another language. I wanted so much to make a crazy public issue out of it, but instead kept my wits and calmly sent an email threatening legal action. I had to do that twice, in increasingly serious tones, but in the end she removed the content.

    The wonderfully odd conclusion is that back at my site, the recipe she stole became my all-time most popular post. Without me saying a thing. Karma at its finest.

  18. I study and use medicinal herbs, food and Lifestyle to heal and prevent illness, as does every other herbalist.

    No matter how original I want to get making home remedies and the cause of “arthritis” or any other illness will look pretty much the same across the board.

    So I struggle with not wanting to copy that I procrastinate and let my monkey mind tell me it’s no use it’s already been done.

    example: I’d like to make an e-course educating parents on how to use herbs with their children. Other’s have done this, and no matter how original I want to get we are all going to suggest the same kid safe herbs and the same ways to administer them and all kids have the same type of ilnesses (cold/flu, ear ache/ diarhea, pink eye….) So I am trying to figure out how to share the same content in my own way. Any advice?

    • Susan

      “It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.” Simon Sinek, Tedx. I highly recommend watching it and seeing if it helps with differentiating yourself. And with solo businesses, it’s about YOU—as in if they connect with you and how you deliver, what you deliver and why, they’ll want YOU instead of the next herbalist.

      It takes time to build creds and you’ve got it, you just have to start flaunting it. 😉

      • Liz

        Susan – thank you so much for referencing Simon Sinek’s video – it’s hugely inspirational and very helpful for me as I continue to differentiate my business from the rest of the pack. MWAH!

    • marie

      Susan gave you great advice here girl. You will bring your own flavor to these remedies in terms of your copy, the design, photos/illustration, the stories you tell around it, case studies, resources, do’s & don’ts YOU’VE learned from experience. The list goes on!!

  19. Great video Marie! This is something that I’ve run into since stepping out of a pure 1×1 consultant/coach and developing programs that I offer online to my community. I’m a researcher by nature and I have to say, for most offering business advice, there very few original ideas. Often I’ve found advice in one person’s content, only to find the exact same advice somewhere else. In fact, I recently found an entire program that looked eerily familiar to a program that I paid $1K for — sitting for free on the internet! Not sure who ripped off who there but as the consumer – I felt ripped off!

    It can be too easy to look at your peers in your niche and suddenly you’re speaking the same language. I’ve found the more I focus on my strengths + experience, the more I prevent the copy-cats and avoid copy-catting my peers.

  20. quick question: what about if you aren’t a copy cat and you have had a project in the works for two months and you are just about to release it and BAM, 2 weeks before you release said project someone releases something VERY similar. Looking like a copy cat is a huge fear of mine, but to scrap all that work, is not feasible.

    • marie

      Awesome point Courtney. There is a collective creative consciousness and similar discoveries (in medicine, science) and in the arts (fashion, movies) do happen independently all the time. See what I wrote to Genevieve above about focusing on your take and using copy, design, stories, and your unique positioning to differentiate your product.

  21. No one has ever copied me. Not successful enough yet for that kind of problem! 😮

  22. I’m with Doka–:). Also, I’m a therapist so it’s not like most people are clamoring to get inside my head in order to know theirs, much less spread the inauthenticity…

    Loooove your new header Marie!

  23. I typically approach the person first with a direct conversation sans attorneys and the premise they don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong. At times, this has been sufficient to stop the copying (though one such time the copier was an ATTORNEY who stole my logo – how embarrassing for her to be caught as either so naive or so devious!) I’ve also had to pull out the legal pistols to shoot over some letters and copyright documentation. I think the online info share has confused some, so I make it clear in my client agreements, and online with a little “how to use my content legally” statement. I also have observed repeated copying as a clue that the market wants content I’m providing, and I’ve slapped a price sticker on such making thousands of extra dollars instead.

  24. Leslie

    Wow! It’s like you picked this topic just for me. I am part of a co-op and just last week I walked in and saw a product that was a spooky copy, not only was the product the same, it was packaged identical, this was an item I designed and made myself. My problem is even bigger though, the person that copied me runs the space and could easily toss me to the curb if she wanted to. This is not the first time this has happened, last time we were selling the same product, it wasn’t something handmade, I talked to her and we got past it. My first reaction was to pack up my stuff and open my own store, but I quickly remembered, I don’t want to own my own store. What I did learn by following my 24 hour rule,( I try to sit with something and think about it before reacting, ) is 1. Don’t want my own store, 2. I am too dependent on one space to sell my work, 3. Copycats will always be there. Soooooo, not being weak, but I see no point in saying something, instead I am going to start looking for more ways to get my products out in the world and not get distracted by this. Thanks copycat for the push I needed.

  25. ali

    I just have to say…you are so funny.

  26. Reading all the comments below I am struck by how many people copy. It’s a total lack of creativity and it’s pathetic.

    I agree with Marie that copy is not flattery and I’m happy that someone finally is saying it out loud. To copy is bullshit and it means you have no talent or are lazy.

    That’s the rant part of my answer. Now moving on…

    Tom Ford was once asked what he feels about copy cats and he responded “I’m always one step ahead of them”.

    There you go. Be one step ahead.


    Like Abraham Hicks says “be on the leading edge”.

    Push the limits of what’s been done before.

    Go beyond and most of all don’t waist your time or energy. Instead hire a lawyer if you need to put your foot down.

  27. Thanks Marie! I’ve been dealing with this for awhile but what do you do if they don’t respond to the attorney and continue blatantly stealing your work?

  28. Marie, you said ‘Downright Douchy’ and girl, that is why I am in every week. Iz lurves you!!!!!!!!!!!! LMAO.

  29. kathy

    This is something I often wonder about. I teach people how to be organized who are not organized by nature. I was helped by “The Sidetracked Sisters” Pam Young and Peggy Jones, authors of “Sidetracked Home Executives” over 20 years ago. I have been helping many people for almost as many years to do what I did, conquer the sidetracked nature in me, using their system. I have just made a business out of it. I did ask them for permission to do it, and even purchased their mentoring program that they offered. I always give them credit where credit is due.

    But you have to wonder. Where do you draw the line? There are many preachers on Television, are they stealing each others ideas because they teach the same things? And how many men and women who taught those things that went before you do you credit before you go on with your message? Everyone has their own style and all people don’t receive the same information the same way. Truth is truth, and what works.

    “The Secret” came from the ideas in the book “The Master Key.” there is a book “As a Man Thinketh” and so many others that give the same message, is that stealing? How boring would it be if we heard only one persons view on the same idea or truth.

    There are many, many grocery stores, and each do the same type of advertising and marketing and offer the same products, are they stealing? Stephen Covey teaches things that are taught by many other organizers, because some things are just universal. He came out with his ‘weekly plan’ after Pam Young and Peggy Jones had written about it in their book. Did he steal that? I don’t think so… It is a necessary function in living an organized life.

    My method and form of getting the message out there to help people to conquer disorder will reach many people that another ‘s would not reach because of my twist on it and experience.

    What do you think about what I have written here? I would love to know.


    • I think one differentiator is intention. And when one CAN credit a source, that one do so! You’re reminding me to add to my own “how to use my stuff legally” statement something like, “I read and learn constantly; I appreciate and credit my sources whenever possible. If I’ve reported something without crediting what you believe to be your intellectual property, just let me know and I’ll fix it.” That said, because of the Truth phenom you observe accurately, it could open an irreconcilable can o’ worms I’ll bet my attorney would advise against. Will have to check….

    • Stacy

      I’m an aspiring dance teacher who is starting to teach my own classes. I’ve been assisting my dance teacher for the past year and have learned everything from him. My class and style is based off of what I have learned from him. I don’t want to be a copycat and also don’t want to compete with him but I’m ready to go out and do this on my own. How do you differentiate yourself from your teachers/mentors and do this in an honest way that is your own and not a copy?

  30. Oh gosh, I just loved this video. I have had some serious encounters with some horrible copycats (in the world of photographers, this is all too common). A handful of these thieving copycats I found on my own by stumbling online and some were brought to my attention by others. Its frustrating. The most infuriating was a former client of mine who copied many things, including an entire email campaign changing only my name to hers. When I confronted her about it, she told me I was ridiculous for being getting upset but she was sorry for using “my template”. Really? My template? When did my well thought out words become a template. Anyway – great vid Marie. Love ya!

  31. This is a real problem in my industry! As an illustrator and licensed artist we file formal copyrights but that doesn’t always mean people don’t copy our style or ideas. One thing that has actually been liberating for me to do is talk about how an idea started and how is came to fruition like I did in this post where I talk about the inspiration behind a fabric collection. My peeps enjoy seeing my process AND I believe that by documenting my process publicly, hopefully that adds another layer of deterrence. (I have not had to write any cease and desist letters yet!)

  32. Great video, as always. One of the best ways to be un-copyable is doing something that’s so unique, so “you”, that it simply can’t be done.

    Nobody could copy your videos for example. They could “model” them of course, but they couldn’t pull off your unique Marie-ness or is it Forleocity?

    Unfortunately, not everybody is smokin’ hot enough to do video and not everybody has the budget to do it well.

    Some of us have a face for radio and that means podcasting on the interwebs. If you find yourself a radio guy who wants to earn some moonlighting moolah, you can have them be the loyal sidekick on your own podcast. They interview YOU and the spotlight is shining where it belongs. It’s a more comfortable way to create content than writing it out and delivering it like a speech. Being interviewed about something you’re an expert in or passionate about is eeeezy-cheeezy.

    Once you’ve got that podcast produced, you can have it transcribed and turned into loads of other content…blog posts, ebooks, best-sellers, etc.

    Doing a 10-minute podcast, once a week will get you almost 80,000 words after a year. That’s the length of a business book.

    BTW…I know where to find those radio guys.

  33. Anonymous

    Great video (as always!)

    I recently had someone (who is in the same industry as me) literally ask to steal one of my marketing ideas. It kind of ticked me off but instead of getting really mad (because we are friends after all & she has helped me on several occasions with different things here and there) I gave her a couple suggestions so that her marketing stuff was as unique as mine but still not my exact thing.

  34. Hi Marie!

    As a private tourguide in Barcelona, appart from my website I often advertize in online tourguide listings, and from time to time I’ve seen colleagues (or should I say here… competitors?) copying chunks of my profile and pasting it on theirs.

    I do get inspired by other people’s profiles (usually the best from other cities and countries, not from my own one!) to get inspired and complete my texts, but I usually totally transform their words into my own thing.

    So when I’ve seen other Barcelona tourguides copying my stuff I’ve immediately contacted them asking for changes. They get upset (sometimes rude) at first, but if I insist and even threaten with complaining to the platform customer service, they usually end up changing what they copied.

    I agree, people can tell who’s a copycat and who’s unique, but I do think it’s important to set up limits and encourage difference.

    Another important point to take into account: content, content, content! Most copycats will be too lazy to copy A LOT from your texts/pics/designs. So if you have a lot of content, that will show that you are creative (and generous for sharing so much!) and will put a lot of distance between you and the copycats. I’ve actually heard that other Barcelona tourguides wanting to launch a website checked out mine and complained because it was impossible to compete against me as there was soooo much great content!

  35. Mel

    Oh I had copycats and it downright sucked the life out of me. Blog posts copied with grammar errors and typos… photo locations and poses nicked 1:1, entire pages of my website copied… you name it…

    Now, I am more zen about it and yes, in future, they just get a nice letter from me, penned by my lawyer.

  36. Being a participant in a culture, whether societal, business, or otherwise, necessitates mimicry as a survival. It’s hardwired into us. Shared tribal behavior ensures the growth and longevity of the group. As well, once success has been proven with a particular strategy, then what was once innovative becomes the standard. We often look around in order to learn “how it’s done.” Yes, it’s a fine line sometimes.

    One way to maintain integrity is to do less exhaustive “research,” (ie: immerse ourselves in consuming what everyone else is doing in our industry) – which influences us on both conscious and subconscious levels. Another way is to expand your influences – allow yourself to be inspired by the modalities of different industries, or by the wisdom and beauty of nature. Too, we can practice stillness and let our inherent and everpresent creativity rise up and blossom. Finally, we can be rigorous with ourselves – examining our motives and insecurities for leaks and weaknesses.

  37. I am an interior designer. This has been one of the most irritating things I have run into in 30 years. There is not much you can do about it. My designs have been taken to other people to try to steal and price lower. Someone sees my design and copies it. My logo has even been copied. It is not worth the effort or the money to go after them. The only thing…and this is my bad…if they are not clever enough to come up with their own good designs, they are usually not clever enough to carry it through. In business…they aren’t around long. The business practices that lead them to steal ideas carries through in other facets of their business too. So…keep on doing what you are doing and feel bad for them that they just can’t or won’t do it for themselves.

  38. Hi Marie,

    Yep, I’ve been there too, around ten years ago, several times. You’ll laugh about the case where someone had copied so much from my web site that one of the other party’s clients linked to MY web site, instead of to the copycat’s web site. I didn’t do a thing about it, as it seemed clear that the copycat was not heading anywhere anyway, and I was right.

    A second case was less funny. A large multinational had taken research material from one of my web sites and placed it on its own web site – with its own copyright notice, and including a typo that I happened to have made in someone’s unusually spelled last name. I sent its management a letter with an invoice for my research and I also contacted the webmaster. I never heard back from the company and never got a dime, but they did remove the material. I should at least have gotten an apology (and some reimbursement, but that likely would have required me to hire an attorney).

    Still, I also saw it as an opportunity to turn this multinational into a client, as they clearly had a need for my services, and it was likely not the management that had placed the material on the web site. I never did win them as a client and feel I should have handled that better. I was probably too chicken about it, and should have kept calling until I got one of their top people on the phone.

    Keep up the good work, and continue to inspire so many people out there! Bring it on!


    • Angelina, I had a very well-known intn’l company steal content one time – in the dark ages before internet. It was a middle management team that I’m confident had no idea about the laws surrounding their behavior, though the ethical implications should have been red flag enough. I sued. They won. They were older and had more insurance:) But I never forgot this lesson. I only work with top management now, in measured doses of doling intellectual property, and though there has been some overtly horrific behavior there too, at least in their case, I’m confident they’re devious and not naive.

    • Hi Dodie,

      That really sucks! This points out how important it is to establish good records of who created what and when that will hold up in court.

      This was not actually a company I was personally dealing with. At some point, I did a search on one of the literature references I had used, and to my amazement, found my own content on their web site.

      And I just found another one:

      It offers work that I wrote and put a hell of a lot of time in and never transferred copyright for as a download from their site, and see what they say about copyright. I will look into this, but nobody ever asked me permission. I will have to look into this and put my thinking hat on as they are offering it as download that someone else created – and rightfully so – but that still doesn’t mean that they can simply put it on their web site, and I doubt that the other party knows about it.

      • Hm. I see that the download is not available when you search their website or database, only when you search the internet. Is likely an honest accident, then. Such cases do happen.

  39. Hi Marie,
    Love the video! I can’t say I have been copied in my business. I love the idea of mentors especially successful ones like yourself. To me you are one of many who have paved a path which is great. I create my own footsteps in my business. The beauty of my writing (and website) is it’s all about my life experiences.

    I just want to mention a program designed for men, women, and children that is a business plan to be USED, so yes everyone uses the same plan, but with their own unique story. I think its a great way to be a united front without having to “copy.” I am talking about which is not my business so I am not plugging for myself. A suggestion for those who are struggling to find clarity in their business and a way to avoid being a copycat.

  40. This is a HUGE issue in the jewelry biz! I have even heard of prototypes -made out of imitation materials- being stolen at trade shows. Add to that the possibility of having designs copied and made overseas for much cheaper, and it is easy to imagine that many jewelry makers fear being copied. So much so that they will not market online!
    My approach is to choose materials and processes that cannot be easily sourced or replicated. Also, the more I develop my distinct design identity, and market it out there in the world, the less chance a copier has to market an imitation of me. Yes, some retailers or individuals will buy it, especially a cheaper version, but the best clients will always go for the original.
    I haven’t had to send one yet, but I have a commercial lawyer lined up to send a ”cease and desist” letter if I ever need it!

  41. Decades ago when I taught aerobics, other teachers would copy my combinations and although it annoyed me and I called them out for it, I knew NOBODY could ever teach my class like ME 😉

    I have kept that attitude in my current business where I have seen not only my ideas copied, but even my actual recipe photos!

    Someone gave out my recipe and it’s photo that I shot on fb as hers (and getting alot of attention- it is a double layer raw birthday cake that is simply gorgeous!).

    Apparently, because she had purchased my book with this recipe/photo in it, she thought she had the right to share it…huh???
    I privately asked her to give due credit, she did!

    She has since blogged about me and continued to put up my pics and quotes- and she always credits me now. And when she wrote her book and asked me to write a testimony, I was happy to!

    I know how draining and frustrating this whole situation is, but it’s super important to 1. deal with it directly and 2. continue to be innovative- because copycats just don’t have the self blessing tree of creativity that you have (well, they do, but aren’t tapping into it).

    • Beautifully put! I absolutely agree!

    • Love how you turned the situation into a cooperative relationship. This couldn’t have happened without your first step, assuming the best first.

    • Stacy

      I wrote this above but noticed that you were an aerobics instructor who was copied and I’m curious what you would say to someone just starting out. I’m an aspiring dance teacher who is starting to teach my own classes. I’ve been assisting my dance teacher for the past year and have learned everything from him. My class and style is based off of what I have learned from him. I don’t want to be a copycat and also don’t want to compete with him but I’m ready to go out and do this on my own. How do you differentiate yourself from your teachers/mentors and do this in an honest way that is your own and not a copy when everything you have learned is form your teacher.

  42. Hi Marie,
    Glad you brought this topic to light, it’s a hot one that I am always reminding my students about-to not take my work and make it your own.

    I When I begin my trainings I remind everyone that my work is copyrighted and you are not allowed to use my words as your own and if someone desires to they must quote me with a link back to my site.
    Even though I do this much to bring awareness to how important it is to stay true to ones’ own inner creative outlet, and inspiration, there are some who bypass this information and do it any ways.
    I am going to have to take stronger measures in keeping my copyrighted work in check and intellectual property my own.
    Thanks Maria!
    Love the new look -:)
    Deborah Skye

  43. Have you seen the website: Everything is a remix?
    Fascinating stuff that proves there is a fine line between re-invention and invention. A couple of years ago, I helped someone write a book. In the book, she wanted to say: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When I told her she had to attribute that quote to Albert Einstein, she said: “What are you talking about? That’s my quote!”
    Often people *think* they are creating something new, when in fact they are just re-packaging or re-freshing old themes and ideas. Of course, blatant copying is douche-y and downright wrong. Yet, many would argue there are no original ideas, only original people…

  44. I haven’t yet been copied in my business, either (that I know of, at least), but these sound like great tips to deal with it – and now I’ll know where to go when it comes up. 😉

    I still can’t get over how AWESOME the new site is, by the way. And congrats on the nomination for a Shorty Award – I just popped over and voted for you. 🙂

  45. What is copyright law for content on website or in programs? I have actually had a mentor use my verbage in her own programs (which sucks) and want to protect my copy.

  46. As an attorney who has dealt with this for my client as well as someone who has been copied multiple times, I do agree that it does show that you are doing something remarkable in your industry.

    Definitely call your attorney if you are a victim of copycatting in a major way (meaning enough to really upset you). I have had infringing websites taken down in a matter of days for copycatting my clients.

  47. I’ve seen this happen in both my raw food business and my web design “triple threat” business as well. The funny thing is that I don’t believe the people who copied my names/themes really thought they were doing anything wrong. And to be honest I think that being first and building a strong brand can go a long way in deterring copycats.

    Still, I think it’s easy for all of us to slip into that “group think” mode where we get a little too much inspiration from other sources. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to other people copying, because I know it’s easy to get carried away and not know where to draw the line. That being said, I haven’t had cases where it hurt my business – so maybe I’d react differently in that case!

    • Hi Nathalie!

      I think I already told you once, but I want to acknowledge you for the fancy e-mail signature add-on I started using after seeing it being used by you.

      And thank you for all the great techy tricks that you share every week that are helping me improve my website so much!

    • Totally agree Nathalie! I think focusing on your unique brand and offerings is the way to go. I’m a big believer that nobody can really “hurt” you or your business – if you’re constantly innovating and creating.
      As another reader mentioned above…nobody can copy Marie’s personality and style. It’s totally “Marie”. Her voice. Her unique self.

      Copying is douchey (love you Marie!) and karma’s a bitch!
      Simply out-perform, out-create, out-everything(!) your copycats, give it 200% and I have a feeling they’ll shrink and disappear into the sunset…eventually.

  48. Oooh-wee, was this ever an awesome Q&A! My poor husband gets to hear me bitch about the dozen or so copycatters I have stealing my every move, so this vid hits close to home. I agree with all of your tips, Marie, and I think what has helped me the most in dealing with this issue is remembering the fact that you brought up, that copycatters are always one step behind, and I’m the one coming up with innovations and improvements. That helps me keep the murderous rage at bay when I see another rip-off online. 😉

    And yes, I’ve also had success following your advice in contacting the copycatters directly–at least they know they’re not operating in this magical internets bubble that’s somehow invisible to the people they’re stealing from.

    I could go on an on, but I suppose if I were to look for one positive that has come from being copied, it would be that it has forced me to constantly improve and consistently bring my A game, which only helps my business, so read this and weep, copycats! 😉

  49. Mollie

    Thanks so much for addressing this! I have my very own copycat. So far, the only thing I’ve ever done is to take the high road. Addressing it directly may be the best thing. Thanks!

  50. Kelly

    I recently had my jewelry designs ripped off, and I’ve been seething about it not knowing what to do. My designs are not copyrighted or anything like that, so I wouldn’t be able to pursue it from a legal standpoint. So I’m just trying to feel better knowing that my work is better quality. It’s easier said than done! As far as creating new and better ideas, well I’m afraid to because those will just get stolen too!

    • Hi Kelly,

      Just thought you should know that you still have the option to take legal action even if you haven’t registered your intellectual property.

  51. I used to share my Big Ideas with friends and colleagues until a “friend” who I’d shared the outline of a business idea with took it and made it happen. I’d discussed it with her because I was looking for advice and some help with networking. Well, she took the idea and ran with it. My idea is now an international movement and last year, a movie was made about it! I have never confronted this person because we share networks and I don’t want to alienate our clientelle/communities. The biggest bummer is that both of our businesses revolve around the ideas of women supporting women!
    There have been a couple other incidences where my plans or projects have been “stolen.” I never know how to deal with this and it caused me to shut down creatively. It makes me afraid to share any of my work for fear of seeing someone else take it and produce it before I can. It takes me a lot of time to get projects from the idea-stage to full manifestation as I’m the sole parent of two kids!
    Thanks for your ideas and suggestions. And, thanks Marie for hitting on this topic!

    • Karina, this is tough. Sorry for you to have to experience it. A family member – “W”, who is a prominent songwriter in the music biz, had a similar experience. He had a long-time writing relationship with “T” at a major publishing company; they had written many songs together. “W” came to work with a new song, almost completely finished, got together with “T” to polish it as usual. “T” must have realized then that the song was a super major hit. He left the publishing company right away, went to another one with the song & later that year “W” had to watch “T”, & the artist who recorded it, win several Grammy’s.

      I asked “W” why he didn’t do something. He said much more damage would have been done if he had made a stink. The industry tended to ostracize people under those conditions. He couldn’t prove that this was his, except through his wife & the person who stole it. He was a champion at letting it go. Years later, at a party, he heard “T” complaining about a song of his being stolen. He was able to look him in the eye & say, “Now you know how it feels”. “T” didn’t reply, but the exchange between them was huge.

      Things like this truly are dealt with on a spiritual level. And we don’t always understand that consciously. We just have to trust that there is something so much greater at work for the good of us all. The best word I can give you in this instance is just Be Love.

  52. Okay, can we all just pause here and give Marie a shout out for the pitch-perfect emulation of her brand… not to mention modeling it so fine. How spot-on is that Silk Raglan Shift Dress? That is Marie Forleo International to a T!

    • marie

      Thank you Jennifer!!! I appreciate that 😉

  53. This subject is tough for me as being a professional story teller and knowing that you can not copyright ideas so sometimes you have to take a deep breath and be careful who you brainstorm with. But in my health care and yoga business I have had people who have been around for longer steeling my ideas and sometimes even copying off my website. I never take much action but I will next time. Thanks for the inspiration:)

  54. Over the years I have developed a different attitude towards the copycats. I don’t think it’s the “sincerest” form of flattery, rather a little passive/aggressive.

    However, I do think it shows the “competition” is worried…about little ole me. It also tells me that they are in a negative place. Being consumed with what I did yesterday leaves them one day behind. 🙂

    • Akua

      love it!

  55. Akua

    Copycats! Ugh!!!!!
    While in Atlanta on assignment I met someone who had a “bootleg” copy of my book (SUPERWOMEN & GODDESSES).
    I couldn’t believe it! Unbelievable.
    I’ve had people actually take and use the name of events that I produce, take a very obscure song from my site and use it in their video…that I didn’t handle so well. I asked her if she wanted my logo too! 😉

    At one time in my life it traumatized me so much so that I started not to share my goodies as generously and openly for concern that others would take it and actually get further than me.

    I am just now realizing there is abundance in the Universe and to just share in the name of LOVE & CONTRIBUTION releasing my need to always get credit.

    You’re absolutely right Marie that you’ve gotta just keep it fresh & Rock What YOU Got!

    Loving your new site. I am very inspired by you. Keep doin’ your thing LA girl. I’ll see you soon. You’re in my town. 😉

  56. This is a great video and topic, Marie. I’ve definitely heard people say they want to brand themselves like you, and I always recommend that they create their own brand and style. Not everyone can pull off the sassy, fun style, but they could succeed if they’d find their own.

  57. Hey, Marie:

    I think that that part about venting to a friend just to gain clarity in an emotional situation, as well as the 24 hour rule, is the super-dooper key. If I make decisions that are emotionally charged, the outcome is usually not a very good one.

    In business decisions and in life, I always have to ask myself this key question:

    “Do I want to be happy, or do I want to be right?”

    And happiness *always* prevails….even though sometimes there are claw marks left behind 🙂


  58. Marie! I love you new website! Thanks for addressing this. I had someone, a former yoga teacher, steal some copy from my website and vaguely manipulate it for her own. It was annoying, but I knew that I am more successful and have more integrity as well as maturity than she does, so in the end it will mean nothing. I also agree that having a lawyer and a friend is better than getting upset. And once again, glad you finally found the web design that represents the true you! Brilliant!

  59. Wow, this is a hot topic! and such warm and supportive responses (the responses to ‘copied’ are truly moving!) Two thoughts, there are no original ideas out there so we all are discovering, talking about, espousing known ideas. But, as was stated, we are unique and how we present that information can be through our unique point of view. Just as one person will resonate and another will not, it is not always about the content, but most often about the delivery. We all need to show our unique selves to the world it’s what makes this world so beautiful!

  60. Good one Marie – had this exact conversation with a client today shifting his head to the place where he could see it as basically “free marketing”. To know you’re being copied isn’t always easy and sometimes people go too far. But to be able to say “You see everyone else doing this; I was the first.” Cool place to be 🙂


  61. GREAT post. Well said. Especially <3 "There's a saying that imitation is most sincere form of flattery. I think it's downright douchey." and "Nobody is copying the losers."

    I've been in my game for a long time and have too many copycat stories. It gets me so bent out of shape every time. Good advice to get less bent.

    I'm currently working on something AWESOME that I'm keeping top secret until launch. I'd love to share more on my process in the moment, but I'm being more conservative to prevent being scooped or copied. Experience has made me more conservative/closed than I'd like. Completely agree that there's so much money and creativity where that comes from – I'm just not leading people straight to my well. ;^)

  62. Hi Marie!

    LOVE this video. I talk about this a lot – and have coined it “Digital Copycatting.”

    As a brand strategist, I always want to let people know that copycatting dilutes the impact of your brand in BIG ways. It’s not you – it’s not authentic – and it’s not sustainable.

    Thanks for bringing more awareness to this conversation! As an FYI – I recently ran a free class on “The Cure for the Copy Cat Brand” that talks all about this and ways to deal with it. It’s at


  63. Sri

    I guess there is no perfect fool proof method to protect yourself from copycats . I was a member of a dance company 2 years ago and we’ve had many instances when people have blatantly copied our original choreography step by step and performed it saying it was ” inspired ” by our work ! The biggest blow came when a group performed our choreo and won an award for it and the event was telecast on a satellite channel that broadcasts all over the globe . That was truly painful . They had copied our work from our YouTube page . This incident and many other such incidents later we just started putting less work up online and then eventually the bad energy generated just took over the business and we all separated . It was sad really . How can you protect your original choreography ?

    • hmm yes Beyonce has gotten in trouble a few times with this – she called it a “homage” to the original

  64. Thanks for this, Marie! I even had a colleague forward me today’s video (I hadn’t checked my email yet!) because she knows how frequently I am faced with this problem. I’m a leader in my industry (holistic health) and I’ve had to deal with my colleagues purchasing my information products and programs and then re-using them as their own.

    Here’s a twist and I’d love to get some feedback from anyone: some of the people I’ve confronted have no clue that what they are doing is wrong! They feel that since they’ve invested in my product, it’s now theirs to use. I’ve put up a proprietary statement on my products, but I’m still wondering whether, as an industry leader, do I have some kind of responsibility to help educate those who just don’t get it?

    Has anyone else had this experience?

  65. I recently had a FRIEND copy me. Copied my “voice”, mannerisms to a tee in her video and use language she would never feel comfortable using. I cuss and my customers love it, but she can’t pull it off.
    First I had a talk with her and she took down the more obvious stuff but it is still a challenge (thankfully, the dialog is still open) to get her to see that I crafted a specific voice for my customer (one that is definitely MINE).
    I would think the aspects that aren’t physical are harder to deal with.
    It all felt very Single White Female.

  66. “It’s not flattery… It’s downright douchey!” That’s a great line, Marie! 🙂

    Question: how do you stay on top of copyright and trademark infringement? Is there some kind of monitoring system you use, or do you catch a copycat simply by word of mouth and/or trolling the Internet?

    I’m working on trademarking my brand (fingers crossed that the registration goes through) but I’m still a little confused about the extent of my “ownership” over my idea/intellectual property without going through a bunch of legal rigamarole… Any advice? Insight?

  67. I recently had to deal with a copycat (and its someone I completed a program with). I asked a few friends to compare the content in question and when they all agreed it was too similar to be coincidence I contacted the person and made a very logical, organized case for how the content was all-too-similar. I let her know I didn’t want to bring my lawyer into our discussions and asked that she change the content within the week. Within a few days the content in question was changed and the designs lifted from my site were removed from her site.

    Don’t be afraid of confronting people stealing your work! Engage them in dialogue, be clear in stating how you would like to proceed and set a deadline for them to remove or modify the content in question.

    I have found Creative Commons ( to be a great way to let people know content can be shared, but you must attribute the work to its original author. Linking to the original source and giving credit where credit is due is important to keep the peace and avoid being a copycat.

    • marie

      Erin – a fantastic example of the right way to handle this issue. Thank you for sharing the exact steps you took. All are classy, compassionate, strong and clear. Well done!

  68. Hi!

    I’ve wasted some energy chasing content thieves and found it wasn’t worth my time, my energy and my focus.

    Nowadays I even don’t want to check if anybody is stealing my content.


  69. EM

    Girrrrrrrrl !

    Get those ends trimmed…I’m just say’n 🙂


  70. Maria brooks

    I make driftwood art and encountered someone selling driftwood hearts on a site recently who said she owned the IPO for driftwood hearts. Is that possible? Just wondered!

  71. As I entered into the profession of photography, I already learned that there’s always a way for people to steal your work as long as you put your work online. So it’s just a matter of being smart about what to put out there (low resolution, small files, etc.). It’s a sad fact to accept. But one thing that we all creatives should rest assured is that people can copy your work, but they will always be one step behind you. 🙂

    I’ve also got photographers as my fan on my Facebook fan page (the type that signed up and never said hello. :-)). At first, I was apprehensive. Then I realize it’s only healthy for me to smile and take it as a compliment. 🙂

  72. Hot Topic, indeed~ “Good artists copy; great artists steal”~ Pablo Picasso
    “It is better to paint from memory, for thus your work will be your own…”~ Paul Gauguin
    While I seek permission from the artist, if I am going to use their work, or give them credit, not all do. Jobs stole from xerox, Gates stole from Jobs, Schmidt stole from Jobs. Copyright laws are on the books, but, pursuing litigation, if you find an infringement can be expensive (As you must know, Marie).
    There are roadblocks to prevent copying of graphics, or pics, such as invisible gifs placed over the image, or an image splitter and there is an HTML code which redirects when someone attempts to copy, but, the written word is not as easily defendable.
    To see if an image is making an unannounced appearance elsewhere on the web, you can go here~
    Like the juxtaposition of the quotes I started with, being too zealous in the name of copyright, or trademark protection, or using them as an excuse to restrict and shackle the internet is also an issue, as is demonstrated in the ‘act’ disguised as a ‘Trade Agreement’, labeled ACTA. Forbes recently did an article on it and you may learn the details on Wikipedia, or view videos about it on YouTube. There has to be a balance to the pendulum.

  73. Marie, great vid. As a brand strategist, this is exactly what I do with my clients: help them find their own story and voice amidst a sea of competitors. People can sell the same things (and they do) but it’s all about what YOU authentically bring to it and how you spin it that sets you apart. It’s why I’m able to work with many coaches, for exampe, and yet they each come out with their own unique brand and message. No two people offer the exact same thing, even if they sell the same products or services. The sooner you get to what makes your brand and offering unique, the less likely it is that someone can just copy that effectively. And if they do, they’ll just end up looking stupid!

  74. Lesley Groven

    Hi Marie,
    I am glad you brought up this issue. I do not have advice on the topic however I do have another concern. I have been in love with your video’s and always have the feeling after watching you : “That is so like me” . Just like you always had a passion for dancing, I always wanted to be an actrice, so stepping into the advice giving world (health coaching) I thought about making video’s like yourself with Q and A and funny stuff (I swear I think some of the things you do were stolen out of my subconscious mind 🙂 BUT I have a real problem with the guilt feeling of thinking I am copying you. I know I would have different topics since I am a health coach, but I just want to make sure I am modeling and NOT copying. I am also part of your B school program, so I get so many of your ideas (an LOVE it by the way)
    Just want to stay unique, yet get great ideas from you!

  75. Youre right Marie. There is a line between copying and modeling and, it is a sad reflection on today’s society that, people either cant tell the difference or choose to ignore it.

    Integrity. Now theres a word we dont read much these days.



  76. No copycats for my biz yet, but as you say, it’s sort of an honor. A crappy, douchy sort of honor, but an honor nonetheless. There was a time ages ago when I totally felt like a rock star- in an art class- and yep, I had me some copycats. But their work was clearly NOT mine. Didn’t have the quality or heart.

    I do often worry about inadvertently copying someone’s work- something that sticks in my head without it’s proper references. But I suppose it’s not likely anyone would inadvertently copy someone else’s entire thang.

    Thanks for the videos!

  77. Many years when I was making hand painted cotton knit dresses, a young woman who worked for me left the business. I later learned she was making her own Tshirts using the techniques she had learned working with me. I actually felt proud that she had learned something of use and had the gumption to start off on her own.
    I never felt competition with my art, because people either like your art or not, we all have different tastes.
    However I later found out she had actually stolen my art! This was hurtful and I was very upset. Venting to a friend is a great idea, and the person I spoke with was also an artist who designed clothing. She said to me” You are the artist, she has to steal your art, so make something better!”
    And so, I changed my designs, made even more incredible art, and as I hear about her “copies” I thought, well, everyone knows they are copied and not original.
    The experience inspired me to get more involved, create more art which is what I love, and move on.
    My name Laurels Originals is just that, no copies!
    I love your videos and your energy!

  78. I haven’t had experience with copy cats (YET – because I plan on being BIG ;D), but I’ve seen it done before and it’s really unfortunate. Modeling is BRILLIANT and I’ve been looking under the hood of businesses and people that I admire so that I can build a successful brand doing what I love.

    And agree with Brianne above, ““It’s not flattery… It’s downright douchey!” Haha, awesome line. xo

  79. Your video today is perfect timing! A lot of my business is through events that we create for our customers. I woke up today to see a Daily Deal for a company that is very closely copying my ideas for princess tea parties. I was so mad, I immediately called my sister and she told me to calm down and that we would just have to make our parties even better. I’m the only tea room in town that’s been doing princess parties for the past year and I’m starting to see some copycats. There’s another tea room in town that has even copied my website. It’s not word for word, but I know where she got her text. Grrr. Thanks for the calming advice!

  80. Whoohoo, Ms. Marie! I am the letter-writing Jennifer, so imagine my surprise to hear you read my letter this morning (I admit – Tuesday was crazy so I am watching your video early Wednesday morning). Thanks so much for taking the time to give us all valuable advice on this issue! And things (at the current moment, anyway!) have panned out just as you hinted – I have 1,705 FB likes and 101 “talking about”, and she has less than 200 likes and no one is ‘a talkin’! She has also cancelled her last raw food prep classes she had planned (we’re both raw food businesses), and I am rolling alone just fine! I don’t say that to be hurtful, but I think it shows that unless and until copiers focus on their own unique talents and ideas (which I wholeheartedly believe this person does have), there is only so long that they can last!

  81. Juicy, Marie! I’ve had a copycat hanging around for a couple of years. She began emailing me, saying she loved my work, then asked me to offer events at her workplace. When I did the work to create a special event, she cancelled it & created her own. When I released my book, she emailed enthusiastically wanting a copy. I left an autographed copy at her business when I was nearby. She later emailed saying she was appalled at the price of it – $25 for a hardcover that includes a CD (price was clearly on the info she had seen). Then ideas from the book showed up on her website. Her copy changes right behind mine & is almost identical at times.

    I’ve chosen not to say anything to this point. I’ve thought of just not responding next time she responds to one of my offers. Unless I see outright plagiarism, I don’t see much I can do & don’t really want to drain my energy fretting about it.

    I think our battles must be reserved for serious cases. This is a difficult issue because, the law states that words are IP. However, as Chas rightly pointed out in an above post, there has to be a balance. An entrepreneur I greatly admire has just released a book with a title (& corresponding program) that is the same as my own stuff. She did not get it from me, nor I from her. It’s just that the same energies surround us & our work. She’s better known, so I hope I won’t appear to be a copycat at some point, because I’ve been using the terms my whole life.

    As I said, ’tis a juicy & very challenging subject! Thanks for bringing it forward. The discussion is important.

    BTW, I have some song lyrics in my book – the work of those writers greatly enhanced my own. I asked permission, they granted, & I’m so happy to showcase their work. It feels great to help each other shine.

  82. I personally believe that Karma eats copycats.

    Copycats live in fear….fear from not knowing themselves, fear from not believing they are good enough or have anything original to say, and fear of being found out as frauds.

    We all need our sources of inspiration. We can follow each others’ pinboards, blogs, fashions, Facebook pages and more. We can Tweet other people’s words all day long. But sooner or later we each have to make our own walls of inspiration.

    • Karma eats copycats = Awesome.

      Tanya, I love what you say about copycats living in fear. True originals come from their own source, can generate their own ideas. Copycats live in constant comparison

    • Sarah Scales

      Well said Tanya! I have been ripped off several times, very recently.

      There is only so much us creative being can do to stand up for ourselves. Intellectual Property lawyers help…but Karma is a B!tch…(excuse my language)

  83. Marie, thank you so much for this video!

    This time last year I had someone in my close social circle directly lift large sections of my marketing copy and try to pass it off for her own in the marketing she put together for a teleseminar with a mutual colleague and friend. I felt so betrayed, especially when I was offered an argument that she and her partner (in business and in life) are fine with other people taking their stuff so she didn’t bother taking the time in her busy schedule to ask me if we would be ok to take mine.

    I went through so many stages with this feeling the wrench this put in our social dynamics with our close circle of mutual friends, the impact on my relationship with her fiance who was my business mentor, and an even deeper betrayal of my feelings around sisterhood and how you just don’t do that to a sister (especially because this woman likes to talk about feminine leadership – in my view healing our relationships with other women is one of the keys to our impact as women on the planet). It’s still tender sometimes when I see her socially and I am doing my best to let it go and move on since I also see it doesn’t serve me to hold on to the righteous feelings I have around it.

    I whole-heartedly agree with you that there is no limit to our creativity – and what this episode did was have me realize 1. my stuff is good enough for someone to want to take and 2. there’s a lot more where that came from! I stepped into a new level of confidence and professionalism and trust in myself after that – the great blessing of it all.

    Thank you for sharing this today and giving me the opportunity to move through another level of healing with it.

    Lots of love to you Marie!!

  84. It doesn’t seem like a big deal- just a button to push one’s ego.

    I think the more techniques and experience in the world, the better. Copyrights & patents were developed to help spread the use of new technology (while of course crediting the originator) – but because of human nature, it’s turn into a hoarding instinct where it’s all MINE MINE MINE- and- ‘don’t steal or else legal lawsuit action will impede doom upon on your world.’

    I think it’d be great if people who tried to copy each other instead collaborated together. Obviously there is some connection there- and how great it would be to work together towards a common goal instead of apart of it. Who cares if it’s yours or mine- let’s create something bigger together.
    But i’m pretty idealistic X}

    I know it will always hurt to feel copied without permission.
    & I too get the same feelings of relishing in one’s own accomplishments when I see copycats not doing so great, or feeling possessive over certain manufacturing techniques we’ve discovered through experimentation.

    In the end it’s all dog eat dog- you just have to not be afraid to put yourself out there and be the first on the scene. Once you have your core audience, everyone will know (or soon discover) who was really first. & hopefully your knowledge of your industry will give you insights to lead in ways copycats won’t be able to!

  85. And then there are coincidences 🙂

    Here’s an article I wrote on ‘how competition can steal your uniqueness—and how to stop them’. 😉

    • marie

      Love this article Sean! Especially the how to stop them part. Great work and thanks for sharing this.

  86. I agree, a good lawyer can do wonders to give these ebusinesses, that like to hide behind their computer, a wake-up call. It makes them realize that yes there are consequenses to their actions.
    Thanks Marie

  87. This is a very interesting one for me as it is actually someone ‘higher up on the pecking scale’ of the kind of work that I do who is basically turning her entire business around now what seems to be following a conversation we had where I shared my ideas for working together and making big changes of my own. Although it is slightly flattering I must admit that the frustration and feeling of being stumped in my tracks (said contact has a massive network and works fast) is somewhat the stronger emotion around this issue. My tactic is to just keep my eyes focused on what I am going for – we cannot be exactly the same after all and just trust that I am coming from the right place.

  88. This was a great video! I’m nowhere near in a position to be copied and I can’t even imagine the frustration you must be going through.
    Having a lifestyle site and show most of what I do is inspired from others – but never copied! and always with my own twist.
    I think you’re absolutely fabulous, amazing and no matter how good she is at copying you, she’ll never have the special je nais se quoi that you do.

    Hugest Bubbles of Love from me to you!

  89. P.s. I voted for you – of course 🙂

  90. Thanks again, Marie, for an awesome video!

    Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but there is a line that you shouldn’t cross… it becomes creepy.

    I have a number of role models that I pick up tips from but I never try to be them because, well, they make the world better being themselves and I make the world better being myself. Heck, there’s only enough room for one of me in the world – why would I want to be someone else?

  91. Great tweetable Marie!
    I’m happy to say that I haven’t discovered anyone copycatting my work – but I did find someone who copycatted YOU. It was not as blatant as some that you described: She had a Q&A series of videos where she read and answered incoming letters. The kicker was that she shot the videos in front of a brick wall! Benefit of the doubt would say maybe that was the only blank wall she had available. And at least she didn’t try to copy your personality – not that she could if she wanted to! You are great!

    • I’ve considered doing Q&A videos myself because I genuinely get questions from folks and it’s a great, straightforward format. I do think one can do a Q&A w/o being a copycat. Yes, the brick wall thing starts feels douchey.

      • Oh yeah, I’m not saying that no one else can do Q&A videos, but find your own visual, right? The brick wall is such a prominent feature of Marie’s videos.

  92. Hey Marie,

    Solid information as usual. I was wondering (hopefully you read this), what is your opinion on derivative content?? What I mean by this is let’s say someone reads an article and the main point or concept is something that a person wants to build from, improve on, or simply re-iterate but in their own words to inform their audience.

    Would you consider this to be ‘copycat’, or is there room in the online business arena for improved, albeit derivative content creation?

    Thanks Marie! Great site!


  93. Leonore

    Hey! I saw your site one second ago and I love the design, the concept, your pictures and your attitude! It’s great! Like a magnet…

  94. Jeff from Toronto

    Hey Marie,

    My wife and I love your videos! You do a great job.
    We are launching our e-commerce site in the next few weeks and we’re scrambling to get our Facebook and website videos ready. Can you please do a vblog on your most important tips for creating a great video (some thoughts – You tube video, SEO, acting, script, lighting, etc.) We would love to hear your thoughts!!!

    Cheers big ears!


    • This is a great idea Jeff – I’d love to see behind the scenes of Marie TV. Like, how is it all put together and how many does she shoot in a day. How many outfits, who’s on the team – and maybe how we can emulate it on a smaller budget!


  95. p.s. I really like the new website design Marie!

  96. I find that the more I work with clients and the more I help them, the more my work and the products I create start to look like others’. Ouch. While I’m not blatantly stealing from people ~ like lifting off their website and such, I do find a lot of similarities in our materials. Some of that has come from COMPLETELY different sources; some of it just born out of following what my clients are asking about and their needs.

    Every once in a while two people will come up with almost the exact same idea from completely different places, and the material will come out at the same time (this happened with 2 Tarot decks a while back). Other times it’s like some weird synchronicity, or we’re all drinking the same Kool-Aid. Sometimes you realize you remember something you read or heard from years ago, and you don’t even know where it came from but you use it anyway.

    Unless someone is cutting and pasting your blog posts (which does happen) or is using your pictures (happened to a friend of mine), then it’s really hard to pinpoint copying vs someone trying to find his/her own voice. If I see it, especially on a blog, a little comment like, “Hey! I just wrote something EXACTLY Like that!” with a link to my blog (which shows the date) works wonders.

  97. Love all the new pictures of you on your new website.

  98. Good day Marie,

    I haven’t had a problem with this, per say; but I have had instances where I would try something new, or write on a topic; and within the next few days… or maybe hours…. someone comes along and tries to imitate it undercover while putting (I’m guessing) their own spin on it.

    I’ve usually looked at this as flattering though. That someone actually thinks enough of “a newbie” to bite off of my style and technique. It does get kind of annoying, you betcha! But, isn’t everything sort of a bite off of something, anyway.

    Take Coke and Pepsi; two colas different name. I may get my head bit off for this one, but I seriously can’t tell the difference between the two; especially when they’re mixed with Jamaican Rum! 😉

    My point is, if the individual that’s been copied is actually doing things that makes other’s want to follow their lead; I’d simply recommend them to continue being a trend setter. Someone has to notice a trend setter… right? Gee, I hope so! You’ve got me thinking now! 🙂

    Great article… I think you are the cat’s meow for this one! Keep em coming, Chica! 🙂

  99. I just think copy cats make me smarter and more creative! I love your information Marie and I can totally understand why someone would want to copy you. I mean you are awesome! Keep up the great work…you never know who is watching you 🙂

  100. Pf

    I have great difficulty in keeping emotion out of this situation when it happens to me. As a creative person, my emotions are what I draw from to do what I do! There’s a little bit of my soul in each of my designs and that’s compounded by the fact that each item is made by my own hands. I find it comforting to read that I am not alone in my feelings though I see the “business sense” in not letting it rule how you react to the situation. I am a very small (read as “tight budget”) business and would be interested in more info on the process and cost of copyrighting designs and items created by me. This seems the logical place to start in order to be able to enforce anything but I know nothing of copyrights or trademarks. Maybe a future Q&A Marie?

  101. Line

    Aw this is a downright enoying topic, and I’m really glad you are sharing Marie, your tweet I what it comes down to for me.I am a fashion and textile designer and omg is there a lot of copying in this industry!
    I recently developed a womens wear collection for a company who took it all without my permission, and changed it let’s say 5 % and sold it in their store the week I wasn’t in that city (I was busy doing my excams) but saw it the day after. Now I have to say I get really pissed when I experience this, I just get so sad which of course turns to anger in a second ( at least I’m this topic for me)
    But after u dealed with it througly, it was made very clear what to do and I simply just tool the entire idea and concept to another level, another audience and another continent!The U.S. From tiny Denmark full of copycats to Los Angeles and sold my collection and developed it even better for that particular company!
    Anger penetrates things to th better, if you want!
    Loved your video Marie, THANK YOU!

    Xoxo line

  102. Brilliant advice Marie. I think especially in the internet marketing and writing world it’s very easy to copy someone without even realising because we can get so influenced by following mentors etc.

    I see many people online who sound like mini parrots of their mentor and it’s pretty unattractive but it’s part of the learning curve.

    The truth is though that if you don’t develop your own unique style you’ll never have a big brand right!

    I’ve had a few people steal my copy and try to pass it off as their own and I’ve found that by contacting them (or leaving a comment on the piece) they usually remove it pretty quickly!

  103. My business is fitness with a twist and we deal with copy cats on a regular basis. It’s fitness – it’s hard to keep revamping the same stuff we’ve been doing since we realized we could move our limbs! Our copy cats either have huge balls or are really stupid because they constantly flat out ask us to teach them everything we know!!! Well, it felt good to hear that I’ve been doing something right all along –
    1. I tell myself and my staff (after we vent) that they are NOT us which means their clients aren’t getting the expirience we give them.
    2. Decided to make money off of them because they’re going to steal anyway so now for a fee we certify them on how we do it!

  104. Wow- talk about divine intervention! This one is so unbelieveably timely, it’s spooky! I invented a product that is so simple but so great, I can’t believe there isn’t anything else on the market like it. My major worry though, is that it IS so simple, I’m afraid it’s going to get ripped off as soon as my sister and I start getting it out there in large quantities. I’ve been researching my ass off and plan to spend the day perusing for as many ideas as I can take in.

    I’ve never run a business so I’m in scary waters and sometimes feel like we’re getting in over our heads but what the hell- nothing ventured nothing gained (I hope!)

    Thanks for the advise.

  105. GREAT and Touchy post Marie. OUCH! I had a fan who loved my gig and my Yoga Nurse brand and logo which is copyrighted thank Goddess. She blatantly copied my name and claimed herself as Yoga Nurse on her website. sigh. Back and forth with emails re my copyright and her insisting that she did not agree with me….until I just had to get seriously serious after trying to be nice and reasonable. The legal intervention did the trick. Then she wrote me back and asked me to REMOVE all the nice posts she had made on my website. Yikes. THEN, good news it all dyed down, she found her own niche in the Nurse Entrepreneur world and now is ‘cool’ with me and the whole incident.

    I put a note on my website on a couple pages at the end of the page stating that the Yoga Nurse and Yoga Nursing was registered with the US trademark office and it’s use was only applicable with my express permission.

    Take away. BE AN ORIGINAL and COPY RIGHT your brand. xo

  106. Love your new website Marie.


  107. Sophie Frederick

    Hey Marie,
    I love your new site. Congrats. Hey I was wondering did you find it copy-cattish when Mana Gena did a video launch with her and Ann Davin on black and white backgrounds going back and forth in a manner that looked *very* similar to your launch for SYS with Daniella Laporte. In know you are all pals, and I was wondering did you find that to be appropriate modeling or too close for comfort?
    My question is not personal about them, rather your opinion on that type of modeling?
    Thanks, in support. xox

  108. We get super emotional about “our” creations and forget that there are others out there creating as well. Nothing is ever original. We all have a yearning to be truly unique. With the bajillions of people in the world all being that thing that sets them apart we are bound to knock right into a carbon copy of that self, especially when we actively looking for those that are doing the same things as we are. Where did Zuckerburg get his idea for facebook – from something all ready created, he collaborated with others and grew that idea. A shared collective! Marie (darling I <3) is a fan of Karen Salmansohn, her book Make Everyman Want You has a TOC that is styled very similar to Karen's book, the 30-Day Plan is that coping our modeling? Ideas come to us from an infinite number of sources. The best way to make sure your modeling doesn't make you a copy cat is to stay true to your core personality and be genuine in your service or product. And like Marie said above, approach everything with compassion and empathy. For every person you think has copied you there are probably three in the rear saying the same of you.

    xox- Z

  109. I don’t know why but every time I have a dream of a great blog post or think up something cool, I look on all the people I follow’s websites and inevitably they have just done something very similar and so now if I were to put up my idea it would look like I had just downright copycatted!!! It gets a wee bit frustrating to say the least. I like your tips though and will apply.

    I am an ex-nurse, coach, meditation teacher and thinking about studying hypno-psychotherapy so as there are many coaches out there now (many of whom are not qualified properly might I add) the kinds of things I want to rock I feel I can’t cause someone who has been going way longer than me and have much bigger platforms does it bigger and better!!!

  110. So far I’ve been so focused on designing my website, learning how to increase the number of Readers, and writing content that I have not looked to see if I have a copycat.

    I believe in my idea.
    I believe in the purpose of my website.
    I believe that I am offering something new and enjoyable.

    What advice will I give myself about copycats:

    Stay focused.
    Stay on track.
    Stay confident.

    In the long run copycats can only follow me.

  111. Marie, I LOVE that you addressed this topic! I’ve had a number of my ideas ripped off in the past. I used to get upset and frustrated, now I know that my expertise is valuable and to put strong boundaries in place. A friend of mine in the entertainment industry said “Joanna, for every good idea you come up with, you need to think of another nine or make yourself the talent”. From that point forward, I made sure that I didn’t hand my power away. I became more proactive and reminded myself that these people were now on board because they saw talent in me. Sometimes I’ve let it go when I’ve found someone copying my work, other times I’ve had my lawyer send a Cease & Desist letter. Before I make a decision as to my best action, I always meditate on it first so it is aligned with my core values:)

  112. Ingrid

    What if the “copy cat” is your FRIEND?!?!?!? 🙁

  113. coming in on this late … thank you for posting this Marie! wonderfully said!!

    i have shared it in an article on my blog:

  114. Ingrid

    Hi Marie =)

    Here’s a tough one. What if the person copying you is a close friends?!


    Thanks for all you do for me

  115. I have read a few just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how much attempt you put to make any such magnificent informative website.

  116. Laila

    This subject is one I really would like help with. The copying thing I’ve experienced on a few levels and it’s difficult because it’s always been done by my closest friend. Any advice would be appreciated. I had a friend who started with will you help me be more attractive to my boyfriend? Then will you highlight my hair like yours, then soon she looked exactly like me, she was told by another friend, hair, haircut, clothes, shoes etc.. Another friend was angry that other people would carry the same product she carried in her business, then soon she finds it completely ok to rip off every aspect of the products I carried. Anything I would sell she started to sell. I had another friend years ago who copied whatever I was doing as home decorating, and currently a friend is doing something similar. I notice they hate being copied themselves but don’t have any qualms about copying me!! I got a new pink water sprinkler thing and she had to go buy one. I bought wine barrels to plant in my front yard and now she informs me she has one she wants to bring out front. I never saw it before at her house. It wouldn’t even be so annoying, but she lives only a couple of doors down. It is beyond annoying leaving me feeling like I just want to say “Don’t you have a single idea of your own?”. Any further help on the subject would be appreciated. Thank you!

  117. Thank you for sharing this! I just dealt with copyright infringement for the umpteenth time. Sometimes it makes my blood boil and it’s hard to remain professional. This was so helpful and reminded me to take a deep breath. I am now a loyal fan and will be sharing this link. Maybe the copycats with get the hint. 😉

  118. I have a copycat/stalker of 10 years. I own a music studio. I hired her 11 years ago, & she quit when she didn’t agree with students paying $20 to do a recital… took the students she wanted, left the ones she didn’t (within a day). Ever since she started her own “studio” … She teaches at school, then has some students take lessons at school. She has been on my website taking and making it a word for word copy of mine. I grew up in NY never had anywhere to perform so started a group of my students that perform all over in large and small arenas. She has copied each and every one til I finally took our performance schedule down so she couldn’t get any other ideas. She still finds out where we will be. She will wait by herself for hours and “hide” to listen & watch my singers. She has told them terrible things about me, has ruined my online reputation rating me as a terrible teacher and getting others to do so. I never retaliate nor speak ill. I’m just creeper out and honestly scared for my safety at times. Since she works at a school (I’ve been asked multiple times but declined bc I don’t want to teach at schools so I can spend time with my autistic son)… I have word of mouth, Internet and phone book advertising but she makes it her mission to make my students her own. She just took a guitar teacher from me… She has no original ideas and sad thing is… She could have a successful business going in her own direction but she doesn’t. She then takes my student makes it her show pony and I honestly feel bad for the rest of her students- they are children!!! She is so obsessed it is scary. I hate it. I want her to get pregnant, leave me alone. Her husband is a local police officer, so I am scared to do anything. I just want to be left alone more than anything so I can focus on my job. It’s becoming impossible. I feel trapped and alone.

  119. This was a great subject to address! I find that the copycats I’ve seen were just having an airhead moment and did not understand they were stealing. It takes someone approaching them directly for them to understand what they were doing. And by copycating they stiffle their creativity.Of course there are those who understand but do it anyways. Either way, the direct approach is the best. Thanks again for addressing this subject.

  120. Great video, thanks for sharing. I have a very annoying copycat who pretty much lifts text from my website, including pricing structure and everything, and just changes a few words here and there. Everything I do, she’ll do a week or so later, but badly.

    To be honest, I’ve not even bothered acknowledging it, because in my opinion, she’s making a laughing stock of herself and people are noticing. If she hasn’t got enough creativity and initiative to even write out her own website copy, then there’s noway she’s going to have what it takes to run a successful business and nail all the things that people can’t see going on, behind the scenes.

    She’s already fallen at the first hurdle so as far as I’m concerned, she can knock herself out! Let her dig her own grave.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Sophie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with a copycat, but I love your attitude and how gracefully you’re negotiating this situation. Rising above is such a beautiful thing!

  121. Joanna

    Great video! We have a newish cutting edge rental business (3 years old) in the last couple of years we have had a ton of people trying to dig around for information in the most shady ways here’s a few of the folks we have encountered

    1.) The trespasser- the person who actually finds the address of one of our rentals and who we catch snooping around

    2.) The person who calls and asks if they can come see the place (and they have a local area code)

    3.) We had a woman write us saying she was a journalism student and was writing a paper on unique rentals–asking if we wouldn’t mind answering some questions about how we run our business and what exactly we did to get started. rigggggghhhht.

    4.) our most recent was a phone call where the person acted like they just wanted to see the property before they rented…and then finally when i declined they flat out admitted they really just wanted to do something similar but were stumped as how to do it like we did “but we are not really competition so we were hoping you could show us what you did”

    c’mon really? People are sneaky!


  122. Another artist recently told me that she’s copying my painting! I was really confused about how to respond and wrote about it here:

  123. anke

    i wish i could show you guys my jaw dropping copycat. i am a photographer and this other photographer copies most of my newborn shoots to the last detail. i’m fed up. it’s wrong.

  124. Inshaf

    how would you deal with fragrances which is virtually impossible to trademark/patent a smell? even though only packaging & bottling can be trademarked how to deal with the aromatic compound? there are many copy-cats which is made of synthetics which almost perfectly replicates the natural aromatic oil.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Hi Inshaf, thank you so much for checking out this episode! I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with copycats, and it can definitely be trickier in some industries than others.

      We’re not trademark experts ourselves, so you may want to talk to an attorney or someone who specializes in that kind of trademark to inquire about the possibilities.

      The unfortunate reality is that there are always some people out there who may try to copy others’ work, whether it’s trademarked or not, so the best thing you can do is protect your work as well as you can by seeking good legal advice, and then spending your energy on making your product and marketing as good as it can be.

      Most people can sense copycats, and I know there are many people out there who would prefer a natural product to something synthetic, so really focusing on the quality of your product and speaking directly to your customers will really help.

      For a few tips on that, check out this MarieTV episode about standing out:

      I hope that helps, and thank you again for tuning in!

  125. I came up with a design 10 years ago, to use naturally fallen tree branches, left in their natural form, for pepper mills. I copyrighted the design, and started selling wholesale. One store, Espace Pepin in Montreal, started selling them. Very difficult and demanding customer right off the bat.

    She decided to copy my design, and sell them in her store. Cease and Desists did nothing. Now I hear she’s trying to find a woodworker to mass produce them.

    Any advise?


    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m really sorry that happened to you, Cam. I know that’s super stressful, especially since it sounds like you’ve put a lot of work into your designs. It may be helpful to seek legal help for this. If sending a cease and desist didn’t do the trick, it looks like a lawyer may be your next best step. Definitely keep records of the cease and desists to show to the lawyer since that proves that you did your due diligence. We’ve got our fingers crossed that everything will work out soon!

  126. Yuen

    I have my own bakery running out my home kitchen I started two years ago. An acquaintance of mine just recently started to do the same and starting up a bakery out of her home kitchen. Last week, she posted a cupcake flavor combination exactly identical as mine and with very similar wording description about the cupcake that I used in my social media post. My social media post was made in February this year, which was more than half a year ago. I emailed her about it and in the end, she claims that I do not have copyright for that cupcake flavor or wording, so she refuses to admit that our two cupcakes are so similar. In the end, she just claimed she found the idea online from a course she took. I couldn’t do anything about it. And she kept demanding I apologize to her. The hardest part about all this is that she is an acquaintance and she is close to my husband’s group of friends.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Yuen, thank you so much for tuning into this episode, and I’m so sorry to hear that you ran into a problem with a copycat. I hope some of the tips Marie shares in this episode are helpful in navigating the situation.

      I know it can be tricky with recipes and copyright, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to steal someone else’s work. We did another episode a while back about some tips for what to do if someone is leeching off your success, so I thought I might share that one as well in case it’s helpful:

      It can be really difficult to deal with someone stealing your work, but we always try to remind ourselves most people will enjoy your work without ever thinking of using it dishonestly, and it makes it much easier to stay focused on just being the best we can be.

      I hope that helps!

  127. My daughter has been copied!

    My daughter is is getting copied in school (3rd grade) by the boy who sits to the left of her, and right when she is finished with her work! I have mentioned telling the teacher to move her, but the teacher will not. I think if the teacher isn’t going to help, then she needs to deal with it herself. I have questioned everything, even having my daughter “flirt” with the copycat, but that’s just bad parenting, and I need some tips on what to do, because its really making her upset, and I have also tried writing wrong answers for him to copy, then changing them, but nothing really works. Help!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That sounds awful! I’m so sorry to hear you and your daughter are having to go through this. It may be helpful to contact the principal about the boy’s copying. It’s a disservice to your daughter to have her work copied and it’s a disservice to the boy that he’s not learning to complete the work himself, as that could handicap his learning in future classes. It may also help to tell your daughter to hold her arms over her work so as to make it harder for the boy to copy her. I hope this helps!

  128. Sally

    We just felt the burn of a copycat. My husband and I have successfully run a part time barbecue business for the last 7 years. We both work full time jobs as well. We decided to take a year or two break from the business. We have a mobile business, catering parties and events, and concessions. We do a lot of the smoking and grilling at home. Our neighbors were always over and we traded food with them. Baked goods for barbecue. My husband talked to them all the time about his dream of getting a food truck and being the first one in our town. To make a long story short, our next door neighbor recently started up our town’s “first” food truck with our menu items spruced up a bit. They stopped talking to us about a year ago and I never knew why. Then a truck appeared in their driveway. They stole my husband’s dream down to the last detail. They are cheating by using a small electric smoker while we have 2 large wood fired smokers on trailers. We are so mad and hurt that we don’t know what to do. We did stop our bbq business but now we have to witness theirs everyday.

  129. Lily

    What if it’s your best friend? She is coping my clothing, decorating style, hobbies and using my dating advice I have paid good money for! Its hard because we do have many of the same interests and it’s confusing to me, that I share myself with her, and then see her literally copying me days, or months later. I feel angry and dont know how to address it.

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this, Lily. It’s one thing to be hurt by someone in business and it’s a whole other matter when it’s someone as close to you as a best friend.
      Is there a way that you can calmly express your observations and ask her about them? And if she denies it and you feel like she’s lying, maybe stop sharing as much of the advice that you’ve been paying your money for and keep it for yourself.
      It’s never easy to have conversations like this, yet when you come at them with an open and kind heart, hopefully your friend will feel that and return it back to you.

  130. Hi, Marie.
    Thanks for this. I have had two BIG organizations copy my ideas recently including my blog title and twitter hashtag phrases to launch their own initiatives. I am small fry but I feel like this is stealing. Am getting conflicting ideas on how to handle so thought I’d ask you. Thank you in advance.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Oh no! I’m really sorry to hear that, Ariel. Having one company take your ideas is bad enough, but two is especially rough!

      Although we’re not lawyers and aren’t able to tell you what to do, it may be helpful to get in touch with a business or copyright lawyer so they can determine if you have a legal case and see what your options might be. I think it’s fairly common for lawyers to send cease and desist letters to people or companies who are infringing on copyrights, so that could be one possible option. A legal professional would know best how to handle this. We’ll be wishing you luck in getting this resolved!

  131. Kiki Carter Webb

    Copycats used to frustrate the hell out of me. One of my top strengths is ideation. A bubbling over idea-fountain is me. I had a close friend who used to run with my ideas after I shared them with her. Grrrrr. Kind of like the other good friend that used to snag guys I was dating (three in a row.) At the time I was so frustrated, hurt and pissed!

    Now I have a different perspective. I see these people in my life as helpers who help me separate the wheat from the chaff. Those three guys I’m not with now? Hallelujah! They were SOOOOO wrong for me. In retrospect my friend did me a favor. We’re still friends to this day and I love her.

    With ideas, I have so many, I can’t possibly attend to them all. I’m kind of happy when an idea I don’t have time for “accidentally” lands in the lap of someone who loves it and snags it. I can thank the Universe that somebody birthed it into being. (And was it really “mine” to begin with? Where do ideas flow from anyway?)

    What about the ideas I LOVE and really want to hang on to and create with? I’ve learned to just keep my dang mouth shut! And when someone starts outright copying something I created, I just turn it over to the Big U, and say, “Universe, would you please take care of this for me? Thanks so much!” It all seems to work out. <3

  132. Jazmin

    Hi Marie, I recently open a new business ( a new concept in where I am living ) a healthy food kiosk …. and in the same month I opened ,4 similar store/ restaurant open too ! ( including a Nutritionist that I was going to ) it was so annoying to see same everything from recipies ( imitation was not the same recipe ) name, ideas, etc around me. I was so annoyed at first and so sad because they will not care and it was super obvious what they were doing! Anyway, thank to my super awesome husband he just make me promise to stop watching them online , or even talk about them and concentrate on my creations and my clients, and I got to tell you it worked amazingly! Those copycat 2 already are closed ! And the other two are doind other things ! It hurst and frustrate you as hell but I got bussy on my own work and that my friends was my best solution ! …I also see this in the coaching business ( which I want to start soon ) and you can smell a copycat across the globe ! Modeling is one thing …but using your ideas and looks, or work is totally no bueno ! I can see when you don’t feel confident in your own work you can try to do what a successful person/business are doing but the reality is that you cant never be exactly the same thing ! …. besides start a business or run a business with lies or coying will not last , will make you sad, and is not good for the soul ! …

    • Sarah Willcox

      Im loving these comments! They are really helping since they are real life situations. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  133. Hi, Marie,
    Thanks for making such a wonder video which makes me much more easier at this moment. I got a copy cat last week. The old version of me might be super angry which is kind of time-wasting or energy-wasting you taught us before. So, I just want to say after watching or following your videos for over a year, I think my mind has been shifting like you shared before. Thank you for making such a positive influence to the world.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s awesome, Jamie! We’re so glad Marie’s videos have been helpful. It doesn’t take long for people to figure out who the copycats are and to gravitate to the heart-centric, original people who really care and we’re proud of you for taking the high road. <3

  134. Lena

    I usually don’t care about the copycats, I’m a Jewelry designer and I have enough creativity to build my own path. But…there’s always a but on this issue, I recently realised that one of my suppliers took my inspiration and some tips I mentioned in conversations throughout the years, diversified the business and is having a huge success, more than me. That bothers me, of course. This isn’t really a copycat, but If I didn’t exist she wouldn’t be pursuing this path and competing with me. I don’t know what to think of it, sometimes I’m mad, other not even care and a little proud of seeing some of my inspirations having success.

  135. Deneen Morgan-Burley

    One way to deal with a Copycat is to:
    •Write them a message/letter;
    °Mention that I wrote the piece and am glad it helped us both;
    •List my specific credits,
    (words, phrases, rap, hashtags);
    °Wait for the Copycat’s response before taking LEGAL ACTION.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      This is a great strategy, Deneen – often disputes can be resolved most effectively through direct communication, so if this is something you’re facing, I hope the copycat gets back to you and you’re able to work everything out!

  136. Sarah Willcox

    I’m having trouble at work because another employee not only copies me but does it better. It’s to the point where I feel like not working there anymore. She copies other people’s life choices as well. She has been confronted but says she is “inspired” and wiggles out of any backlash. My career is very competitive and I have lost jobs because of her. This is greatly effecting my creativity.
    Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
    Best, Sarah

  137. De

    I have had copycats from time to time. They will buy one of my dog coats and then make something just like it, then try to market it. I don’t have copyrights on any of my patterns because each is uniquely made, plus it seems to be pretty pricey. I have occasionally said something like “that looks exactly like what I made” to see what they respond. They usually ignore it or give me some defense like “it is totally different”. Or “I came up with this”. I generally let it go because as I watch them, they have minimal success. Do you know of other tactics that help?

  138. Positive copycat story… I became the nominated spokesperson to talk to a copycat. I approached it from, I like your work and don’t want you to get a bad name for yourself. It never occurred to her that anyone would notice what her little business was doing. She took it well and appreciated me looking out for her. She has backed-off religously following people and changed some of her wording/products…even more heart-warming, she is finding her own voice.

  139. Georgina Murphy

    This is great, I´m dealing with this copycats almost every week and it´s so frustrating… and that´s just from the ones I know about…!
    I´ll do all three steps recommended in the video and also, I think is fundamental to work out! Yeap…. dance, move, jog whatever… when you exercise frequently your brain thinks clearer and you prevent all that stress and frustration form getting inside… and if you do get some frustration… you handle it better, ´cause you´re in a better mood…
    Thanks Marie and team Forleo, love your videos and your sense of humor

  140. ljc

    Unicorns. I play in a punk band. We had these inflatable unicorns. They were/are a giant hit! Everyone loved to play with them at the live shows. They lived on our social sites, in our press photos, we had a unicorn on our bass drum head, we had unicorn costumes with folks dancing around in them… there was a whole social campaign with people posing with them to drum up hype for our shows… they were left in the bars that we played and they lived on in those venues and yes anyone could just buy them online but we used them very successfully in a very unique way.

    Our band has had a slow period and we may or may not be slowing down. Either way we are going to release a record at some point and we as a band are not sure what we are doing moving forward yet… At this point a acquaintance who used to attend a bunch of our shows mentioned she might use them for a one off gig. This made me really uncomfortable since it was really a big part of our bands marketing strategy but I really didn’t want to make a big deal out of it if it was just for one gig. The next thing I know she is using them her press photos without ever asking… which also really made me very unsettled it felt icky and I felt ripped off. So I tried to just let it go… We had put a lot of work into the marketing for the band and the unicorns were a big hit and a big win marketing wise. Why would someone just take that and try to make it their own when it was not theirs? Like who does that?

    Then finally the sh*t hit the fan. When we (both myself in a different non-unicorn project and the copycat) were in a battle of the bands. (and battle of the bands are kinda dumb since I am not a big fan of music competition. That is not why we play music…) but she all of sudden said she was going to use them again. At this point since the other project of mine was in the competition I felt even more strange bringing it up… since I would look like I am trying to ruin her chances by telling her band what to do. But I had mentioned to a bunch of folks how uncomfortable I was with it… anyways I tried to ride it out. But once I saw the photos with all my stuff in them and her band getting a ton of attention by basically stealing our stage show while at the same time competing against my other project it hit a tipping point and felt really fucked up. Then I had to sit through a set and just spectate for the whole thing watching our bands great idea being pouched in real time. It made me not want to be her Ally. I was literally rooting for her to lose since she mentioned it and seeing it I couldn’t even enjoy her set.

    So now the unicorns have their own page and they have been trolling her band. Now I know this is not the most up and up way to go about things. But from what I understand we are not the first person she has copied from and it is just really messed up to steal someone else’s art. Whether that be a song or a painting or a piece of performance art or a marketing idea. And I know we are talking about fucking inflatable unicorns!!! I would have been excited for her if she at least tried to do something similar but still her own. Like get flamingos instead of unicorns or a different type of unicorn prop but nope she just stole our thing… intern taking away any of the risk that is art since we had already proven over the past 5 years it would be super successful if she used our stage show/marketing plan. And now the press keeps writing about her unicorns and how fun it is to have them flying around at shows… And I am like they are not hers they were my other bands and we know they are fun cause they were a giant hit for our project and a big part of our stage show and still are… Am I being an asshole? I just feel like I need to defend my art. But everyone likes her and just says I am being mean… But I feel completely ripped off and now that there are photos and press and all this other BS I feel like the damage is already done. Also thing unless I fought back like I am doing she just would not care and just keep on doing it. Like if my band played a show tomorrow and someone saw us and did know they could think we are the folks who are ripping someone off and I don’t like that since I am not a copy cat. I really go out of my way to be authentic.

    Part of me really wanted to be able to laugh it off but it just feels too icky… I have not really been copied like this before and it feels not awesome.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m really sorry that happened to you, LJC! You’re not an asshole at all and your feelings are valid. It never feels good to be ripped off. We’d hate for this to discourage you from making music and trying new things, so we hope you’ll keep going and show your audience that you can’t fake authenticity and that––along with excellent music––is what you’re giving them. 🙂

  141. I’ve learned to incorporate my personal story of transformation into into everything I do. A personal friend in the same type of business repeatedly tells MY story to sell the same products that I sell. It’s common practice in the network marketing arena. But I follow Spirit’s call that’s continuing to pull me forward and don’t have time to look back. It’s been said that copying is the sincerest form of flattery. I view it as LEARNING. It happened in another business of mine where I made things to sell. Those that copied never made them as well because they didn’t understand WHY they were designed that way.

    • Renee – Team Forleo

      We’re so sorry to hear someone copied your personal story, Donna! As you mentioned, it is definitely a learning experience for you. The even better news is… no one can tell YOUR story like you, so even if someone steals it, it’s not going to resonate the same way. Your authentic story will only be authentic when it comes from you… so keep going! You’ve got this. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. ?

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