RAFM Event Organizer Turns Abusive

I have been saving this post for a while. The internet has revolutionized the nature of human discourse, making it easy to blare out messages in public, but difficult to retract them later. This is dangerous; human emotions did not evolve in a world powered by the internet. Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath, to calm down, and to think before diving for the keyboard. Having done that, I want to share with you an example of the abuse I occasionally receive, from people who dislike the stories that Commsrisk publishes. This abuse came from Mohammad Ali, the Chief Marketing Officer of Falcon Business Research. Falcon describes itself as an event management company.

Readers may remember Mohammad Ali from such posts as “RAFM Event Organizer Accuses Rivals of Fraud” which was about the time he used LinkedIn to say his competitors were running ‘scams’. Or maybe you recall “Is Shane Fryer Speaking at Your Conference?” which pointed out the discrepancies between the published agenda for a Falcon event and who had actually agreed to speak. Obviously Falcon’s CMO does not like me, as made clear when he emailed to say “we don’t give a damn about you (sic) posts.” Despite his not giving a damn, it seems I made him very angry when I posted an article about the large number of speakers confirmed to speak at the RAG Summer Conference. The article used a comically pixellated version of an image that Falcon had shared on the internet a few days before. That image featured the small group of unhappy people who attended Falcon’s May RAFM event in Dubai. Here is the photograph again, in case you missed it first time.

miserable-RAFM-conference

The article did not mention the name of Falcon. The faces of Falcon employees were obscured. So what upset Mohammad Ali? If you look very closely, Falcon’s logo is still visible in the background. I did not look that closely. But Falcon CMO Mohammad Ali was very upset, so decided to demonstrate his communications skills by sending me the following email.

From: mohammad.ali@fbr*****.com

To: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

Date: 02/06/2016 09:11

Subject: Coward

Hi Eric,

I see you are promoting your RAG conference and you have pasted a photo of over conference where our company logo is not blur and I am happy that for us your activities are proving quite beneficial for us. And its way out of your reach to blur Falcon.

We are Falcon not vulture like you. The Falcon and Vulture flies in same sky but both have different ways of living. The Vulture eats carrion(Dead Flesh) while as Falcon preys. So who is more awesome and majestic. The same way you are picking up the things what falcon left behind.

Keep writing fairy tales about Falcon.

Regards,
Falcon

Let us not bother picking apart these ridiculous analogies; I struggle to understand what is good about an event organizer ‘preying’ upon telcos and vendors. Here was the reply I wrote.

From: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

To: mohammad.ali@fbr*****.com

Date: 02/06/2016 12:09

Subject: Re: Coward

Hello Mohammad,

Probably nobody would have noticed your company’s logo on that photo. I didn’t. And even if they did, they wouldn’t recognize your logo, because your business is small and not well known. The photo was issued by your company using a social network so it could be shared via the internet, so I see little justification for you complaining when someone shares it via the internet.

However, now that your have written this email, people will notice your logo, and they will know that it represents Falcon Business Research, a small business that organizes events and which is based in Jammu and Kashmir, a northern Indian state that borders Pakistan and China. That is because I am going to publish your email, so people can see what kind of abuse I have to take from people like you. I will also publish this reply, so people can see how I respond.

People will read your email, and some of them will share it via the internet. The number who read your email may prove greater than the number you typically reach using your own website and via LinkedIn. I assume you recognize the popularity of Commsrisk; on several occasions you asked if you could get free advertising though you were never prepared to pay for it.

You seem to think that promoting ‘my’ RAG conference is a bad thing. Unlike you, the RAG Committee works hard to put on educational events whilst never taking a penny for doing so. So when I publish your email, it will be clear who is the real vulture feeding on the telecoms industry but giving little back.

A short while ago you fostered a bad reputation for yourself by publicly describing your former business colleagues as fraudsters. Why did you employ fraudsters? And where did they learn that it was possible to make money by tricking telecoms people into attending fraudulent events?

I have had a successful career working for telcos. That explains RAG’s success; we are not vultures, we just know the subjects we talk about and we know the people we invite to our events. After I stopped working full-time I offered to spend some of my free time helping to organize RAG meetings, without seeking payment. What qualifications do you have to run educational events for telecoms professionals, and what justifies the prices you charge for doing so?

Eric Priezkalns

At this point a smarter man would have realized that nothing would be gained by feeding me content for this website. Falcon CMO Mohammad Ali is not a smarter man.

From: mohammad.ali@fbr*****.com

To: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

Date: 02/06/2016 12:18

Subject: Re: Coward

Our clients know how we care from for them.

And for your information all the operators attending our conference do not pay us. our conferences are free for operators in fact we provide business class air tickets and 5 star accommodation free for our operators.

Do your homework now.

Seriously. He actually wrote that, although Falcon’s website says attendees must pay in full before the conference begins, and despite him trying to get a free advert on Commsrisk by promising Commsrisk readers would get a discount on the usual attendance fees. However, Falcon usually avoids stating what they charge telcos; nobody knows the value of a discount if the original price is a secret.

Mohammad Ali felt no shame that some of the miserable people sat in that photo were sponsors of his last event. They were probably wondering why they spent so much money to meet so few telco managers. Now they know why they spent so much money. So I kept writing, in the hope that this falcon would keep taking the bait…

From: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

To: mohammad.ali@fbr*****.com

Date: 02/06/2016 13:00

Subject: Re: Coward

Mohammad,

Why do you insist on making things worse for yourself? I will also publish this latest email from you.

You have just explained why your sponsors meet so few telcos at your events. As you have now stated, no telco employee would choose to go to your event simply because they hoped to learn something whilst they were there.

The only telcos you can attract to your events are the ones who go because they receive a business class flight, 5-star accommodation, and a little holiday. That delivers terrible value for your sponsors; it would be cheaper for your sponsors to separately fly to the offices of each individual telco.

You describe me as a vulture, but the RAG has never paid for flights or hotels for any telco attending our events, and so has never demanded from sponsors the money needed to pay for those flights or hotels. Our members attend because they want to learn and to network with their peers. In return, our sponsors behave well and they do not aggressively market their products and services. Our sponsors know they get a good deal just by taking part.

I am amused that you think you are correcting an error I made. My email expressed no opinion on how you generate your profits, so thank you for sharing that information. In my experience, commercial event organizers like yours often avoid stating a clear and transparent policy on the fees they levy from telco attendees; they will charge some telcos if they think they can, whilst effectively paying other telcos to come to the same event.

It pleases me that you have now stated that all telcos can attend Falcon’s events for free. I suggest you update your brochures and website to make that clear. Now you just need explain to everyone why only some telcos deserve free flights and free accommodation. You obviously could not afford to give those benefits to every telco, if more than a few decided to attend your events.

Eric Priezkalns

As previously mentioned, a smarter man would have just stopped sending me emails. Falcon CMO Mohammad Ali kept going. He kept on abusing me but provided no useful information about his business… until he delivered an unexpected twist to this tale of woe.

From: mohammadali*****@gmail.com

To: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

Date: 18/06/2016 20:23

Subject: YOU PROVED YOU ARE COWARD

Eric,

I know you have contacted my boss and made complaint against me and that’s the only reason I was fired.

But life doesn’t stop here and i am not a coward. I have been offered jobs from my previous organizations GSMA & Informa and both the companies are very big and they are 100 times bigger than commsrisk.

Just wanted to tell you that you the an hypocrite person.

Ali

I was not going to lose sleep because this imbecile lost his job. But I did put the record straight.

From: eric.priezkalns@*****.com

To: mohammadali*****@gmail.com

Date: 19/06/2016 01:59

Subject: Re: YOU PROVED YOU ARE COWARD

The only person who got you fired is you. I have never had any contact with your boss. The most contact I have had with your boss is when he sent me a LinkedIn invite earlier today, but I ignored it.

Even though you were fired, and even though I told you not to email me, and even though you complained publicly that I replied to your previous emails, you have decided to continue sending me abusive emails. What you don’t know is that I have been planning to publish them all but you’re so unimportant that I was in no rush. These latest emails will be published too.

Benjamin Franklin said “experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” It seems that not even that school can teach you a lesson. Nobody is going to employ you for long if you send abusive emails to near strangers, leave deranged comments on popular websites visited by your customers, use social media to rant wildly about competitors, and do all the other things you keep doing.

It is a struggle to understand why you chose a career in marketing when you’re so obviously unsuited to the work.

E

The termination of Mohammad Ali’s employment was confirmed by Falcon’s official twitter account.

Since I wrote the original draft of this piece Mohammad Ali has published a LinkedIn article that contains an extraordinary string of untruths about me, and about the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) on whose committee I serve. You can find that post here (unless LinkedIn tear it down because it violates their terms). It is hardly worth challenging the many misrepresentations in Mohammad Ali’s LinkedIn post. For example, the RAG Committee consists of respected professionals from several different businesses, and they know that nobody is paid to run or promote their events.

However, I think it necessary to refute the most outrageous of Mohammad Ali’s lies, which is that I started a vendetta against him after I demanded money that he refused to pay. The following image is a screen grab of LinkedIn messages between us, showing the opposite happened: after he failed to pay an invoice on a timely basis, I withdrew the offer of an advertising slot on Commsrisk.

mohammad-ali-linkedin-exchange

Maybe you will come across Mohammad Ali, the former CMO of Falcon Business Research. Maybe he will be working for the GSMA, or for Informa. Whichever business employs him, you can be pretty confident that they did not properly research his online history, as is the norm when hiring marketing executives. Reviewing an individual’s record of communication is an effective risk mitigation technique, because not many businesses want to be represented by people who communicate like this. And that is the main reason I am publishing this, though I admit that I enjoyed hearing how Falcon Business Research sacked this wayward employee.

Mohammad Ali may get lucky. Many people bear the same name, so his errant behavior may be lost in the crowd. I have never had that option, because my name is unique. As befits that simultaneous advantage and drawback, I try to leave a lasting impression, and to stand by my words. If Falcon really have fired Mohammad Ali, they made a wise decision. Anyone who considers hiring him should think again – and should search the web first.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.