“No accurate thinker will judge another person by that which the other person’s enemies say about him.”
— Napoleon Hill
Originally published Jan. 10, 2013
Orrin Woodward [bio – blog] is a leadership expert. He’s co-author, with Chris Brady [bio – blog], of Launching a Leadership Revolution, which was a bestseller on just about every list around: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and Money. In addition to authoring over a dozen books, they’re successful entrepreneurs with two 8-figure businesses, LIFE and TEAM, and they’re both Black Diamond distributors in Monavie. Orrin’s also a client and a friend.
But some people don’t like him, or what he does, or what he stands for.
To some extent, that comes with the territory. Some people simply don’t like network marketing, period. Or the personal development industry. Some people have had bad experiences, for whatever reason. When you take a stand, when you put yourself out there like he does, you’re going to be a target.
Legitimate criticism is fine. People sharing their personal experiences, even if negative, is fine. Baseless accusations and innuendo aren’t.
And, when we added an IP address checker to our system this year, two Guru candidates listed in the top 15, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, who have had substantial votes since 2010, were disqualified and removed from the list because more than 98% of their votes came for only three IP addresses, meaning that only three people voted for them over and over again. This accounted for almost 2000 of their votes.
The casual reader might look at this and be shocked. But I smell a rat, because I know Orrin and Chris, and this just isn’t consistent with what I know about them. Let’s apply a little bit of critical thinking:
- They simply have no need to game it. They have the real influence. Launching a Leadership Revolution has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Orrin is the #2 leadership development expert on Twitter, according to WeFollow [Ed. – See all Orrin’s scores here. He and Chris are both ranked for leadership, as well.] (not riggable, because it’s based on actual behavior, not just follower count) [Ed. – See comments for more about WeFollow]. LIFE events routinely have 10,000+ people at them. Their membership is highly motivated and organized. Their social media imprint could gather 2,000 unique IP votes in an hour, let alone a year.
- If they had wanted to game it, you wouldn’t know it. Frankly, they don’t have the know-how internally to rig it. I do, but a) I wouldn’t, and b) even if I did, there wouldn’t be any evidence. (And seriously, who makes a voting site and doesn’t prevent duplication by IP address?)
And I’ve talked to Orrin about it. They simply didn’t do it. They’ve also checked around within their organization, and it looks like they have hundreds of people who can verify voting for them, not 40 (2% of 2,000), as the site implies.
My first challenge to Evgeniy Chetvertakov, the current owner of Leadershipgurus.net, is this: present your evidence. What time frame are you talking about? Orrin stopped linking to the site at all when it went down last fall (did it change ownership?). What are the IP addresses? How do you know they’re from someone in Orrin’s organization, and not one of his critics trying to make him look bad? Given some of the tactics we’ve seen, that’s actually more plausible.
My second challenge is really a question: why make these accusations without even contacting Orrin or Chris? What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Or even just common courtesy? Why put yourself in the position of making defamatory statements without a proper investigation? And how can you run a leadership site without practicing one of the basic principles of leadership: get both sides of the story.
UPDATE 2/22/13: Following a letter from Orrin’s office to the site owner asking for the evidence, none has been provided. What type of alleged leadership site would make an allegation without providing evidence? Draw your own conclusions.
Let’s stick to the facts. And the fact of the matter is, Orrin’s and Chris’s credentials are indisputable. Ranking on this one site was just an acknowledgment of those accomplishments…not something they needed as validation. The fact that they referenced it in the past was simply good marketing. And I know their social media footprint — I will personally stake my professional reputation that they can easily generate 2,000 votes or other actions on any independent site in a matter of a couple of days.
UPDATE 7/15/13: After receiving no response from Mr. Chetvertakov following repeated attempts, Orrin’s office tried to track him down via other means…turned out to be not so easy:
An extensive private investigation has determined that the address given by Chetvertakov upon registration of the Leadership Gurus website is not (and apparently has never been) occupied by Chetvertakov, who has identified himself as a citizen of the United Kingdom. The address listed on the Leadership Gurus website, which is registered to Chetvertakov, and the Global Gurus’ Facebook page is completely fictitious and does not exist.
That’s from the lawsuit Orrin and Chris ended up having to file to clear up these false accusations, starting with a motion to service Mr. Chetvertakov (if that’s even a real person or real name) by email, because all of the other contact information for him appears to be inaccurate.
We’ll see how the lawsuit runs its course — the truth will come out, but for now, it’s clear that the new owner of the Leadership Gurus site has gone to a lot of effort to conceal their real identity and location.
UPDATE 5/23/14: A double victory for the truth: Leadership Gurus site publishes retraction and apology; Inc. Magazine names Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady to Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts:
I’d use the phrase “In a stunning turn of events…”, except that for those of us who knew the truth all along, it’s no surprise — exactly what we expected would eventually happen.
First, the Global Top 30 Leadership Gurus site printed this retraction and apology:
In January 2013 Leadership Gurus posted a note that we had disqualified Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady because most of their votes were from 3 sources. After one year of reviewing substantial legitimate votes for Mr Woodward and Mr Brady which are enough to keep them in the top 30 list, we now believe that previous votes we based our original statement on, may have been due to other circumstances including but not limited to, a few overzealous fans, multiple people using a central IP address like a university, or foul play from competitors to discredit them. Regardless, we believe we have made a mistake and would like to apologize to Mr Woodward and Mr Brady for the earlier statements. The note was unsubstantiated and has been removed from the Global Gurus Website and should not be referred to or relied upon by any other person, entity, website, blog or social media outlet of any kind.
Self-explanatory. I hope the critics who referred to this will take note and act accordingly.
Now, being the intellectually honest critical thinker that I am, I’ll just go ahead and point out something I’m sure the critics will take aim at: the list was actually created by leadership author/speaker/blogger Jurgen Appelo, not by Inc. columnist Jeff Haden, and yes, Jurgen Appelo happens to be on the list (at #40). Doesn’t matter (and thinking it does is a logical fallacy) — the entire methodology is spelled out in detail.
The fact of the matter is, there’s no one “right” way to pick the top “X” of anything, especially something as subjective as leadership experts. But what we have here is the next best thing — a methodology that is transparent after-the-fact, but not known about in advance, so couldn’t be deliberately gamed, even if someone wanted to. It’s based on multiple reasonable criteria. And based on those criteria, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady are among the top management and leadership experts in the world, in good company with people like Clayton Christensen, Brian Tracy, Michael Hyatt, Peter Drucker, and Marcus Buckingham.
Congrats to Orrin and Chris on the well-deserved recognition.