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The old saying goes: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Screw that — it’s annoying.

You spend so much time crafting your business or personal image, brand, delivery and style. And then, people see it. Maybe they also see how well it’s working for you. Maybe they just like it, regardless of it’s success factor. All of these things are good things.

But it’s a pretty sucky feeling to know someone else is taking credit for a creative or style you put beaucoup (*cough* ‘a lot of’) time into developing. Well, my dear #AlphaBabe, you… as tempting as it may be — DON’T be consumed by your overwhelming desire to throw major shade. 😉 HERE’S HOW TO DEAL:

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  1. Make SURE it’s a copycat.
    • Is he or she simply an overly-eager friend… or a swagger-jacking foe? If you pick up the vibe that it’s simply an admirer who is emulating your style in a non-threatening way, think about just letting it be.
    • If it’s an actual friend, consider a non-confrontational chat (over cupcakes. People love cupcakes.) —  and be prepared to distance yourself if you feel some major ‘Hand That Rocks the Cradle’ stalker vibes creeping in. The last thing we want is for your life story to turn into a Lifetime original movie.
  2. Be first & lead the way.
    • Blaze your creative trail and make it immediately known to any influential people or circles that are important to your business or brand. Brand yourself as a leader, so that anyone else who bites your creative content later has no choice but to fall into the ‘follower’ category.
    • Timestamp anything that can be timestamped, so that it’s clear who came up with the idea — and when (I like to email my ideas to myself, just to have a digital record of when I first thought of something). If you create the content first, share it in a public way that can be traced back to you having shared it first.
  3. Get legal. Protect yourself!
    • ‘He said/she said’ ain’t that cute in a court of law. Research intellectual property law and consider applying for copyright and/trademark protection if your creation or brand fall under the necessary criteria for legal protection. Nothing says ‘back off B’ like a lawsuit.
      • Always take proper legal counsel before taking any big steps — a lot of people mess up paperwork when they do it alone, and end up without the legal protection they thought they had.
  4. Call them out or keep it moving.
    • Whatever you do, DON’T simmer. Passive aggression is better channeled at family holidays and live-in boyfriends (kidding. be nice to your boyfriend). Decide if you want to nip it in the bud or not — commit to doing that, and then move on.
    • Don’t let your anger or annoyance become so great that it becomes a distraction from the most important thing: creating more copycat-worthy stuff!
  5.  Stay quiet until you’re ready to share.
    • Maybe Tip #2 isn’t something you’re ready to go for yet… If that’s the case, keep completely quiet about what you’re working on until you’ve taken the necessary precautions to protect your work.
    • Keep track of the shortlist of people you DO tell — if the secret leaks you can trace it back to someone and go all ‘Frank Underwood’ on them in your payback tactic (House of Card reference. Sorry, non-Netflixers).

If you have an actual business, and worry that your competition is crossing a professional line when they copy you, then here’s a great video I found with a few tips on how to handle it:

REMEMBER — No one can do ‘you’ better than YOU. I know I’d rather be a first-rate version of myself, than a second-rate version of someone else. Accept that copycats come with the territory of doing something really cool, so take the compliment. Just make sure you protect yourself and your brand to the best of your ability… and brush the rest of the B.S. off!

Oh… and if all else fails, just look at this super cute photo of a copy cat kitten. If it doesn’t cheer you up, then you’re dead inside.

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Have you ever had to deal with someone stealing your style? Or a co-worker who stole your well-earned shine? VENT below!

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