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S2E17: Surviving Deceitful Workplaces: Zuhara Miriam Exposes Unethical Practices in the PR Industry

Imagine being thrilled about a new job, only to discover that your employer is deceitful and manipulative. That’s the reality Zuhara Miriam, a marketing and PR expert from Kenya, found herself in when she took a job with a fraudulent employer. This story is a stark reminder to be vigilant when entering into any employment agreement.

The episode begins with Zuhara sharing her experience of working with Catherine, a boss who not only delayed payments but also created a toxic workplace culture. These early interactions raised red flags about the ethics and transparency of the company. As a professional in the PR industry, Zuhara recognized the importance of honesty and integrity, which seemed to be lacking in her new workplace.

The conversation shifts to discuss the challenges of navigating employment contracts. Zuhara recounts how she was excited about joining Catherine’s agency, only for things to take a turn for the worse when payments started getting delayed. She emphasizes the importance of scrutinizing employment contracts and being wary of potential red flags. This section of the episode serves as a valuable lesson for listeners on the importance of understanding the fine print of any contract before signing it.

The narrative takes an interesting turn as Zuhara describes how she attempted to rectify the payment and communication issues. Despite her best efforts, the problems persisted. The situation reached a tipping point when Zuhara discovered that her employer was avoiding the spotlight to prevent their unethical practices from being exposed.

Zuhara’s story doesn’t stop there. She also discusses her experience with a freelance designer who faced challenges getting paid for their work and found out that the client hired cheap labor from overseas. This section raises crucial questions about the ethical practices of businesses and the treatment of freelancers in the industry.

One of the key takeaways from this episode is the importance of professionalism in the workplace. From the employer plagiarizing emails to showing a lack of maturity in running a business, Zuhara’s experiences underscore the need for ethical and professional conduct in all aspects of business.

The episode concludes with a focus on the impact of a toxic leader. Zuhara describes how Catherine’s actions affected not just her, but the entire team and company. The importance of keeping one’s word and how it reflects on their character is emphasized.

Zuhara’s story is a potent reminder of the struggles that many face in the PR industry. Despite the challenges, she remains hopeful and strong, inspiring listeners to demand better from their workplaces. This episode is not just a cautionary tale, but a call to action for better work ethics, honesty, and transparency in all industries.

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Read the script about this toxic PR industry

Gina
Host
00:00
So, nicola, do we just want to jump right in, or let’s?
Nicola
Host
00:05
jump straight in Zuhara. Do you want to introduce yourself and give us a little bit of information about what industry you work in, a little bit of information around you, know kind of where you are, because you’re not anywhere in our locations in the world.
Zuhara
Interviewee
00:21
Sure, so I’m Zuhara Miriam. I’m a marketing and PR expert. I’ve been working as a freelancer for over five years now and at the moment I’m working with Autapair. I’m based in Kenya.
Gina
Host
00:37
Okay, so can you give us sort of like an idea of what your day-to-day tasks typically are in your position, so that when you tell us your story we kind of might be able to understand it a little bit better?
Zuhara
Interviewee
00:53
Sure. So basically, as a PR person, we working with the agency, we have different clientele, so we get to understand the clientele, build their bios for them and then create different kind of pitches that can be able to have them as an industry authority spokespeople in their particular niche market so that it can be able to help, you know, place the brand in front of a lot of other people and also help to propel their brand and also, you know, build sales. So basically it’s like marketing but in a wider spectrum.
Gina
Host
01:29
Okay. So how did you? We know which job you’re gonna talk about, but our listeners don’t. So can you tell us how you kind of came across the position, how it was presented to you, Give us a little background on this particular job that you’re gonna take us through?
Zuhara
Interviewee
01:48
So I met her through the freelancers platform that was Freya and then we started working until the project ended. After that, she approached me later on and she was like you know, I’m putting a team together so that I can be able to come up with this agency and work it on a broader, you know, prospect. And then she was targeting women because she wanted it to be a women-led kind of organized agency working with different women as well. So that is how I came to get to know her. So once she approached me, we did a contract with her and I was like okay, this looks like an amazing opportunity and also the intention is good, so I’d like to be part of the team. And that’s how we started working together.
Gina
Host
02:32
So what was your? Do you have an employment agreement or a contract or anything like that?
Zuhara
Interviewee
02:40
Yes, yes, we did. I was working as her peer manager full-time.
Nicola
Host
02:44
Yeah, Okay and like and I don’t wanna jump ahead, but we know that things go pear shaped. So I’m curious to know when you got the employment contract to sign, were there any like weird clauses or anything in there that kind of stuck out to you as maybe a red flag at the time?
Gina
Host
03:06
Or.
Zuhara
Interviewee
03:07
Not really.
Gina
Host
03:08
Sidebar. Did you not even read it fully, like I probably would not have. I probably just been like signed, whatever, yeah.
Zuhara
Interviewee
03:15
Yeah, actually I did read it, not with an angle of something was going to go wrong in future, so I did read it just to see the kind of job description I have, the number of hours I’ll be working and that the amount we have agreed as payment has been captured correctly.
Gina
Host
03:32
So there was nothing that you were like, hmm, that sounds weird, and then never asked about it or or just was able to kind of explain it away in your own head, cause I feel like that’s what happens in toxic workplaces. You’re like they probably don’t mean that, cause that sounds insane. And then you’re like, oh, they’re like fast forward six months and you’re like, wait, they did mean that they are insane.
Zuhara
Interviewee
03:56
No, basically I think she pulled it from somewhere and just put it together, so everything seemed to flow at that particular time. Remember, this is somebody also has been working with organizations in terms of employee culture and all that. So I’m assuming.
Gina
Host
04:10
So Nicola and I kind of did a little bit of a I wouldn’t say the deep dive, but we got curious after we first talked to you. Are we allowed to say her name or her organization? Yes, yeah. Wasn’t her name Catherine Catherine.
Zuhara
Interviewee
04:27
Yeah, it is Catherine. 12 minutes yeah.
Nicola
Host
04:30
Okay, cause when we went on the website it was really weird, like everything was weird, and we did our best effort to try and contact her. We contacted her through the main website linked in, and then also.
Gina
Host
04:49
And then her other thing which I can’t wait for us to get to the culture. What is it called again?
Zuhara
Interviewee
04:56
Culture cure, culture cure, culture cure.
Gina
Host
04:58
Okay, so I can’t wait for us to get into that, but we did reach out to her cause. We wanted to hear her side. Maybe sometimes the truth is in the middle somewhere, but I don’t know if we necessarily believe that. But I think we’re on your side. But I think we just wanted to kind of get an idea of like why would you do this?
05:19
Like I don’t want to give too much away, but like if it was something serious, like the company’s going bankrupt or yeah, or something like Like just tell your employees be like, I fucked up, I accidentally like you couldn’t paint it however you want, but just be honest about it. Like you would have been pissed but you would have been like at least they told me that this was happening, you know.
Zuhara
Interviewee
05:45
You know like, but then we had this B to labin, because you can’t tell your employees that you know I’m broke, we’re bankrupt and you’re taking vacations and clients are clean. We’re going to get to that. We’re going to get to that, I’m going to get there.
Gina
Host
05:59
Yeah, but I think what Nikhil and I were we were A, we were, I think part of us were like maybe we can like ambush her and she’ll have to come up with something.
Nicola
Host
06:11
Maybe she comes up with some of the money she always you. Spoiler alert.
Gina
Host
06:14
Yeah. So basically this woman and we are going to get into it ends up not paying you for your work. That has been clearly documented. Like you came with receipts. Like you didn’t just allege this, you came with receipts. So From all the information that was presented to us, we believe you Zahara. So I think Nikhil and I’s idea was just to see if she would come on the show and kind of be like hey, what’s going on? And she didn’t respond to any of our inquiries. So there wasn’t too much we could do past that. But we did reach out to all, to both her regular marketing site and when we also looked at her. Can we just quickly talk about her resume or whatever that she has on the marketing site? It’s like she had one internship and then all of a sudden now she’s freelance and she’s like working for Coca-Cola and all these things.
Nicola
Host
07:09
But not just freelancing, she’s a really skilled PR agency person where it’s like you had one intern for like a summer somewhere, and now you’re skilled marketer, all right.
Gina
Host
07:22
So you got hired by her, alice. What are the first things that you’re like? Hmm, this seems strange.
Nicola
Host
07:30
Kind of the first red flag. Let’s go with beige flags.
Gina
Host
07:34
Or pink flags, any pink flags.
Zuhara
Interviewee
07:38
I think she went all in the first time was the non-existent accountant, because we agreed that the salary would be paid.
Gina
Host
07:46
Oh right, I forgot about this. I love this. Yes, go ahead.
Zuhara
Interviewee
07:50
Yeah, we agreed the salary would be paid by a specific debt. That was usually by fifth. So it comes fifth, it’s 10th and 10th. We’re almost midway the next month and she’s like. You know, I’ve talked to the accountant, he’s still putting something together and all that. But whenever I actually go to meet the accountant or even just get an email randomly from the accountant, nothing. So today I still don’t know if the accountant exists or she was still the accountant.
08:17
But that is when, you know, I started seeing the red flag because two months in you have not received your salary. And then she’ll come and pay maybe half of it and then maybe train clear, and then again the next month is going to be the same thing. But you know, here you are, you’re working with the clients, you know they are paying because you know there’s the back email confirm receipt of the payment and all that. And then she’ll be out like I’m going on a vacation. So most of the time we were running the organization as the, you know, as the employees, and she’ll go have fun and that’s about it. And then at one point, when I realized something was not a hundred percent okay, was I brought in a client. So you know, for the full package.
08:59
And one time she was like you know I don’t think I’m happy with how you guys are handling my you know I’m not seeing the results of what I’m paying for For PR. It’s there because you know you can’t I can’t lie that. You know I’m publishing stuff and they cannot see it on the links on the side. So she was like for PR that one can be documented, but on this other side I don’t see the value for my money. She actually asked for a meeting for the same. So I did talk to Catherine and ask okay, what’s going on? Is there a disconnect on how we’re doing her campaign? Because if that’s the case, why don’t we try and see how we can link the you know, pr with social media and other marketing and see how we can best expose, you know, build her brand? And eventually she pulled out. You know Catherine made the next piece like no, she’s just, you know someone else, she’s mad, she doesn’t know how to interact with people, so I’ll be letting her go. She won’t be renewing the package only to come and learn later that she pulled out. So that was question marks for me.
09:55
And then, months in, one of our colleagues resigned and she hadn’t paid her also for like that month, and that is the reason she resigned. But when we asked, you know, she came and started. Our clients were complaining about her work. She’s not doing her work well, and it’s ironic because the clients were so happy that they even paid her an extra bonus for the good job she had done for them. So that also started raising, you know, the pink, more like the red flag, but we tried to paint them pink just so that we can get by.
10:29
And then, three months in, she’s over me, over 10,000 USD, and I’m realizing, okay, this is not good. But now, what kept me going for the remaining part of the months was I didn’t want to leave the clients hanging, because you can’t just wake up and say you know I’m not working until I get my pay. And this is somebody you’re handling, because we directly talk to the clients every day, so you need to give them an update, you need to let them know what, how their account is doing and all that. So I gave my notice and told her I’ll be handling each of my clients until the end of their tenure and after that, if you haven’t cleared with me, then this is it, I’ll have to resign. And she came with the account.
11:12
Often she was like you know, when we started this organization, I overquoted in terms of how much I’m supposed to be paying you guys monthly, and that is why you’re not doing so well. And I even came up with ideas like why don’t you try and do this, introduce the retainer package so that at least you’re guaranteed every month you have something coming in, and then you can introduce other smaller packages here for different clients, so that you can be able to pull different kinds of clients to ensure that there is a consistent cash flow. And if you’re like yeah, so if you are okay after the once. And then she was like okay, let’s review your contract so that at the end of this month, if you agree to it, we can revise how I’ll be paying you the package I’ll be earning. So we agreed that if she clears my debt by that time, then I can consider taking in the new package, because that will be a need and then client basis. But come that end of the month, nothing happened. So that’s when the roller coaster began.
Gina
Host
12:12
Okay, so how did it start the roller coaster?
Zuhara
Interviewee
12:18
Medially in terms of delay in terms of payments, and then excuses after excuses. So once I handed in my resignation later on now, after fully resigned she was like one client is complaining that the work was not well done and you are solely handling that client. So this is your fault. That means I’ll have to deduct from whatever I owe you 1500 USD to repay that client back. So the good thing was I pulled up my email you know the email conversation and the trailers we’ve been having with the client and was like this is my recommendation to the client.
12:54
This is me asking her to give me one, two, three things and, according to our contract, if you’re asking for some items from the client and they do not communicate, they cannot penalize you for that. And I was consistent in terms of reaching out and whatever I’ve been able to work. This is the report I compile. Here you go, you can show it to the client with the same. But I was like okay, so there’s nothing, she’s going to penalize us because we have done our part in terms of according to the agreement of the contract, we had the no show clause where if the client does not get back to you with the information you need for a specific period, then once the contract is done, she cannot they cannot ask for refund or you know, an extension for whatever has not been done here.
13:39
So that one, I think I beat her to eat, so she didn’t know how to react and she was like, yeah, yeah, you have a point. So let’s see how it goes. But I’m working on something, the accountant is working on some money. And then a few days rather a few weeks in, I realized I’ve been blocked from Slack so I couldn’t contact her through the Slack channel that we used to communicate. So I switched to email and I was like, okay, we have this amount pending, so when are you going to pay me? And then, come October, november, december, january, in February, I told her you know, if you’re not going to pay, I think I’ll have to take legal action. So she went ahead and paid me around 2000 years Now, leaving a balance of the 4,200 USD.
14:21
So that one, I think, was just to silence me and just like, yeah, I’m working for the remainder of the amount and then I’m going to clear it with you. And then, yeah, we’ve been having the back and forth. And then I realized she has blocked me also on email. I couldn’t contact her because whenever I send out the email and then it will bounce back. So, yeah, I think my final email to her was like you know what I think, why it has reached, even if you don’t get to pay me, but it’s time I go and tell my story so that people can get to know the kind of person you are because you have people working under you.
14:54
These people are parents, they have kids, they have responsibilities and they’re doing a full-time job for you. But you can afford to spend time or money that you’re earning from the clients they’re working for to go out on vacations, but you can’t afford to pay them. So people are either lagging behind.
Gina
Host
15:11
How long did you actually work for her and how many of those months did you actually get paid for?
Zuhara
Interviewee
15:18
I think about a year. Okay, so, yeah, so she kept dragging, but now what you have left is a month.
Gina
Host
15:28
That’s how much she owes you now a month worth of back pay, essentially Okay, so yes, so you mentioned she was going out on vacations. When was that happening? Do you give us an idea of within the timeline, within the year that you were employed there? How often was she going on vacation? Where was she going? I need details.
Zuhara
Interviewee
15:50
Okay, she’ll say she’s going to work with a client outside the country, wherever during the tenure of work, and then she’ll go for like two weeks, three weeks, come back and then she’s going to a different country and then come back again. So the others, you could get to see it from the Facebook post wherever she’s gone or the kind of vacation she’s having. But it is something that I’ve learned even recently. She’s still been doing so.
Gina
Host
16:16
So, yeah, so is her company still like around?
Zuhara
Interviewee
16:21
Yes, yes, I even saw that I was replaced. Someone else was hired to fill my position, so it’s still running.
Nicola
Host
16:30
I find it weird that it’s running because we tried to reach out obviously quite a lot on all of the email addresses on LinkedIn and we didn’t go in with, hey, we know the secret about you. It was more hey, we’d like to connect. You’re kind of kind of-.
Gina
Host
16:46
Like we have this podcast, maybe it’ll get some I didn’t even say, podcasts.
Nicola
Host
16:50
I was like, oh, we’d like to talk to you about your skills in this space, and nothing.
Gina
Host
16:59
She’s probably on vacation.
Zuhara
Interviewee
17:00
Nicola, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised. But what I also noticed was during the time I was working for her, I landed her some of the interview opportunities with big organizations so that you can be awarded for the kind of movement you have in terms of in your field. And each time she’ll be like I don’t have time to work for it. So I kind of realized she’s avoiding the limelight. But I thought like, okay, maybe she has a reason for that. Now it makes sense. But then I presume maybe she’s too busy. She can handle, she’s working with clients. But I realized if this is an opportunity to place you and the organization out there, why would you jump on it? Because one of it, I think, was an award and she was nominated for it, yeah, so maybe that’s when she doesn’t reach back out.
Gina
Host
17:49
Because maybe the house of cards will fall.
Zuhara
Interviewee
17:53
Oh yeah.
Gina
Host
17:54
Maybe, Like a lot of these big companies, they require like certain I mean I’m speaking from my industry, but like they were like, for instance, they’ll need like certain audits before they can do work for you. So, or work with you, rather, like for me, I work in manufacturing, so they need to make sure the factories are ESG, like socially, environmentally, you know, economically responsible, all those things. And I’m wondering if some of those big companies would need the equivalent of that Like maybe they would need to have access to like people’s working I don’t know their IDs like make sure everyone’s above board, you know, I don’t know what that could be.
18:39
Is there anything that you know, of Nicola and like marketing or PR that would be required.
Nicola
Host
18:45
No, I’d say probably just a portfolio.
Gina
Host
18:49
Right, is there a way to vary? Or even for like big big companies, like, I don’t know, like Coca Cola, you would?
Nicola
Host
18:56
absolutely like if you’re putting in a RFP or like a tender for a big company, for sure you want to make sure that you know. For New Zealand, as an example, if you’re putting in an RFP, you absolutely need to state that you are meeting all your legal obligations. And then the big one, the effort, work for marketing or something it would be you know, portfolio or proof that you can actually do what you say you’re doing.
Gina
Host
19:22
So here’s my thing Maybe and I’m just thinking about this like it just popped into my head Maybe she didn’t want to work with these big companies because the expense, the outlay, even though they’re paying something right Like the outlay on the company’s part might have been too much, too big that you couldn’t afford.
19:45
I don’t know Maybe it was something like that, because that seems very strange Like if somebody came to me, like if anyone in my industry came to me, it was like, oh, you know, sephora wants to meet with you. I’d be like I’m on the next flight, I don’t care.
Nicola
Host
20:00
I’m choosing a pole. Let me go, yeah.
Zuhara
Interviewee
20:03
Yeah, like I would, just be, like I’m on it.
Gina
Host
20:06
I’ll do anything. Do you need to take an arm and a leg Like yeah? So that seems very weird that she would kind of shy away from that. So I’m sure there’s something, because there must be something that we’re missing there. Sure, Okay, so how? So what was the last communication you had with her?
Zuhara
Interviewee
20:26
I think it was around that February match. I can counter check, but after that she went silent.
Gina
Host
20:34
So the payment has been paid.
Zuhara
Interviewee
20:35
Yeah, yeah, I tried reaching out to the through a lawyer and she was like you know, there’s this close-waft freelancers can be charging interest on whatever amount that is pending, so you can include that, but it was like that wasn’t on the original contract. I say and then why don’t you just clear my principle and then, if you feel like you want to pay the interest, you can go ahead and pay the interest, because I’m not even pushing for interest, I’m just asking for you just want for the money that you worked for.
Gina
Host
21:04
Yeah.
Nicola
Host
21:04
Right, yeah, which makes sense. So after that, that’s just logic.
Gina
Host
21:10
Right, and it’s like if, exactly, you are actually being very gracious, like I would have been. Like, pay me my money and pay me 15% interest you, horrible bitch.
Nicola
Host
21:19
Like, like I would be like, it’s just like you just, you just do you boo, pay me when you can.
Gina
Host
21:28
No, I mean, I don’t. That’s the thing. Like if someone like tries to F with my money, like I get mm-mm, like I get real, like you’re way more gracious and generous than I would ever be. So did the lawyer reach out to her?
Zuhara
Interviewee
21:43
Yeah, she did. And then she she sent him the same same close about. You know she can start charging interest and then if it accrues for, I think, around three years, then I don’t know what happens. I didn’t even go through that Because what I told her was like no, we don’t need you to pay everything else. All you want is for you just to settle the principal pending amount and then the lawyer’s fee, which is just a hundred USD for the band letter. Yeah.
Gina
Host
22:11
And so is the lawyer still in contact with her.
Zuhara
Interviewee
22:15
No, she went to the silent and was like okay, just chill, let me do research and see what else, how else we can do. Because what I realized was if I was to press charges from my end, even if I was to win the case, I’ll be forced to still travel to Australia to be able to whether it’s to auction any of her things, to be able to recover the money. So it wouldn’t have made financial sense at that point.
Gina
Host
22:38
Right, and that’s like do you know she only hires like from Kenya area or where is she from? No, actually the majority are from Philippines.
Zuhara
Interviewee
22:52
Majority are from.
Gina
Host
22:53
Philippines. That’s cheap labor. That is cheap labor. That’s why that’s fucked up. What is she doing? Okay, carry on.
Zuhara
Interviewee
23:05
So I think it was the only Kenyan then, and then the rest were from Philippine and herself, but from the new set of people, so I think the PR ladies from Australia like her. And then there were two new recruits, I guess from Stess or something, I’m not sure.
Gina
Host
23:21
Okay, so that gives me like a little bit of a red flag because, like everyone’s remote, everyone’s in a different country, she probably doesn’t have any idea what those countries employment laws are like, and it’s harder.
Nicola
Host
23:37
She’s from Australia. The employment law in Australia is very robust. It’s like ours, even for freelancers or contractors, like it’s very specific. So if you are employing people from overseas, you would have to meet certain requirements in Australia.
Zuhara
Interviewee
23:57
So I think she’s striving for the fact that we don’t know that information, because I’m in Kenya, so whatever I’m doing, it would be based on what will our load do, and all that.
Gina
Host
24:08
And then the contract is time, right because you’re familiar with your legal system in your country same with the Philippines. So like I would never know that, what Nicola just said, I would never have known that. I didn’t know it before this moment. I just know it now. So that’s my point. I think she’s probably doing this because it’s like a workaround, it’s like a loophole kind of.
Zuhara
Interviewee
24:36
So she can get away with whatever it is that she’s getting away with, yeah go ahead. And I think when it came in again, there’s another face of you know employees who had left and majority of them have been complaining. You know there’s been delay of salary and then when you ask for the salary, you’re a bad person. You haven’t been doing your work well. There’s always something to accuse you so that you look like the bad person in the end.
Gina
Host
24:59
Mm-hmm.
Nicola
Host
25:02
That’s wild daughter, yeah.
Gina
Host
25:05
Yeah, okay. So amidst all of this, you dropped a nice little bombshell about culture cure. Can you explain what culture? Care is and why it is laughable that this person also I think she had like a 20-minute YouTube video that was like seen by seven people, something like that. Right, nicola Mm-hmm For this. Okay, so explain culture, cure and how you found out about it, and then Nicola and I will start laughing.
Zuhara
Interviewee
25:37
So my parents started coming in for the first time when she paid. So it was under the culture cure and she told us you know, I rent this agency where I’ve been training organizations on how to handle their employees, how they should treat their employees and sure they belong how they’re supposed to be paid on time and all that.
Gina
Host
25:56
you know everything to keep saying I’m losing my shit right now. Okay, go ahead.
Zuhara
Interviewee
26:01
Go ahead. Yeah, so I don’t remember when I was asking, or I was like I remember you told me you’d be.
Gina
Host
26:11
We’re just getting into the good parts. I love your primary color jumper. It’s like such a school teacher. It’s my hide jumper. I love it.
Nicola
Host
26:22
They’re so cheerful because I’m at the office today.
Zuhara
Interviewee
26:25
Training organizations of these.
Nicola
Host
26:26
So when you’re frozen, you’re sorry.
Gina
Host
26:35
Okay, so you were explaining what culture cure supposedly does. She’s supposedly teaching other companies how to run a company properly. Meanwhile, her only real experience in corporate whatever corporate marketing has been I believe it was one internship that we know for sure. So I’m just going to say it’s clear. Okay, and do you so you start getting paid from there.
Zuhara
Interviewee
27:03
Yeah.
Gina
Host
27:05
So from culture. So she starts. She explains to you what culture cure is.
Zuhara
Interviewee
27:10
Okay, then what happens? And then that’s that is the same receipt and I think addresses have been. We’ve been receiving our pays from when these starts are happening, you know you’re not earning anything and they delaying the salary, and when you try and raise it up, or when somebody designs the bad people. So I was like, okay, you say you’re training organizations on how they’re supposed to treat the employees. How come you’re not practicing the same with the organization? Because I mean, you should be a living example If you know so well when you’re delaying salaries is going to affect these people you’ve taken, especially those who are mothers. You should be the last person you know practicing that. And she’s like no, you know, it’s not that, it’s just the accountant. I’ve been trying to balance.
Gina
Host
27:57
Oh, the accountant who probably didn’t exist.
Zuhara
Interviewee
28:01
The ghost accountant.
Nicola
Host
28:04
But not only that, like Nosez On the website they have like a manifesto on like behavior and like a manifesto on how best to treat their own employees Right. Remember we went through the manifesto we did and we were like this is wild, because now she’s taken the time to write this bullshit and doesn’t even follow any of us.
Gina
Host
28:29
So my question is did we ever find out if she had any actual clients for culture care? Like what happened there? Because, how? Because my here’s my line of thinking if you’re getting paid from an organization that I it’s like it’s it’s not for profit or it is for profit, it’s for profit organization, okay, I’m wondering because it’s like under this like I don’t know weird, in a weird niche, like maybe there was a tax benefit to getting paid through an organization like that. Like maybe it’s it’s not like an S corp or an LLC, it’s, you know, one of the other formations that you know there could potentially be some sort of money savings via taxes, like because I know if you’re like, you know, if you’re a nonprofit, you have special, there are special things that you are able to do in term because you’re not for profit, you have, like tax break.
29:31
So I’m wondering you know, I don’t know the laws in Australia, but I’m wondering if that’s why it was happening, and I would love to know who the clients were for culture care, because, based on that website, it was very I don’t think it was like updated since like 2018 or 2019. Right, yeah.
29:48
And it looked like it was just like cut and pasted from other things.
Nicola
Host
29:53
That’s true.
Gina
Host
29:55
Yeah, like she probably Googled, like best practice and workplace, and like, just like, copied the text and changed a few words and you know, okay so, culture, care, the irony, okay. So then what happens?
Zuhara
Interviewee
30:14
No, she just, you know, rubbish that off. And she was like the accountant balancing clients not paying. So the excuses kept going on and on and I was like, okay, enough is enough.
Gina
Host
30:28
Okay, so at this point, has any of your other like fellow colleagues from your time working there? Has any of them reached out to you? Has there been any other like information that was gathered from I don’t know? Just it seems like you’re kind of keeping tabs on her. So has there been any kind of additional information that you found out after the fact?
Zuhara
Interviewee
30:55
I think before then I just realized she was. She was still going on the frequent vacations and that clients have been paying, so she just wasn’t paying me. That is the only thing that was going on. But we realized one of those colleagues that I used to talk to, you know, I couldn’t reach. I think she had blocked me or something. So I realized maybe it’s her or she got the directive. You know you need to cut links with her if you want to stay in this organization. So I understood that.
Gina
Host
31:23
So, as far as you know, were you the only employee who didn’t get paid for time worked.
Zuhara
Interviewee
31:32
As of now. I think so because those who are left behind they say there’s been, you know the delays, but I don’t know if they eventually got paid or not. Because I couldn’t reach them, oh yeah.
Gina
Host
31:43
Right, of course, Because this is so bizarre. All right, Nicola. What are your thoughts?
Nicola
Host
31:48
I just think, like you know, I think it’s so curious because you know we’ve seen the emails right and it’s just so like all the emails are so excusing, like there’s always something that is out of my control and this is the reason I can’t meet you, but there’s never really any concrete reason as to why she’s not meeting those contractual obligations, which I find really weird. And then also, I find it really weird that, you know, I think for me, my, probably my biggest red flag is the fact that she has gone just from this internship and opened this business and is, I wonder, if you know, there’s kind of circles all the way back, gina to write the famous phrase right at the very beginning.
32:39
But I actually wonder if maybe she’s immature in her understanding of how business works and doesn’t actually understand that her behavior impacts others. Yet I don’t know if she’s at that point in her career. How old is she?
Zuhara
Interviewee
32:58
I don’t know, I think she’s in her late twenties. Oh God, yeah. Should be late twenties at the 30s, yeah.
Gina
Host
33:07
No, no one should be owning a company in your late twenties. I, one of my first. I I did. I actually started my company, my first company, when I was around the same age and I completely mismanaged it. I like that was 100% my doing. I didn’t have any employees, so it only ended up affecting like me. But I but I also learned from it. I was like, okay, if I go into business for myself or create something else, I’m going to have to learn from these stupid things that I did. Like I just I had no idea how to like do a proper accounting. I you know, it was just there was, you know. So now we have an outside accountant. So it’s like that actually does exist.
Zuhara
Interviewee
33:54
It’s true, it’s true, I can give you information.
Nicola
Host
33:57
At least you made up her name and you’re just like from her email address.
Gina
Host
34:02
Me. Yeah, I read an article not going to lie, I read an article not that long ago that people, people in positions that are like you know, I don’t know, maybe higher up, maybe middle tier, will create their own assistant. And it’s really just them. And so they’ll like call restaurants and they’ll be like yes, I am making a reservation for Mr Smith and he must come in and like they’re a lot bitchier, and then they get shit done. But it’s really this, it’s really them, and I was like that’s amazing, I should start doing that.
Nicola
Host
34:37
So on board. Oh my God, what would you assist in?
Gina
Host
34:43
I don’t know, I don’t know. I would have to really think about it because, like it would have to be something like unique.
Nicola
Host
34:52
So okay. So my like, if I’m going to give a fake name, like you know, when you go to a house and you look at a house and they’re like write your name down to show you at the house, I always get Sarah Summers All right, all right, I like it.
Gina
Host
35:07
So your fake assistant would be Sarah Summers.
Nicola
Host
35:10
Absolutely she would be. If you’re getting an email from Sarah Summers, know that it’s me, that’s you. Unless this is Sarah Summers who wants to be my assistant, I won’t pay you.
Gina
Host
35:23
I love Sarah Summers.
Nicola
Host
35:27
Okay, Zuhara, what would your assistant’s name be?
Gina
Host
35:29
Yeah, what would your fake assistant be I think I’d go with Susan.
Zuhara
Interviewee
35:32
Susan, they get things done, hello.
Gina
Host
35:37
It would. Mine would be Karen. Mine would be Karen. Yeah, Because Karen would be like you clearly can’t handle this problem, so I’m going to have to speak to your supervisor.
Nicola
Host
35:49
Sorry.
Gina
Host
35:49
All right, so wait, so we? I truly don’t believe the accountant existed. I don’t Because even for me, like my first company, I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t, I was not even wise enough to fake an accountant. Also, this was like 20, no, 2008 maybe, so I don’t think like anyone was so savvy yet with, like you know.
Zuhara
Interviewee
36:15
Anyway, but I remember when one of the clients was venting and she was like you know, she, I think she took the time and decided to go to social media and see what you have done. And she was like if you own the organization and you don’t even have a you know, social media account, so how are you going to do marketing for someone else when you cannot even manage your own? Even the company didn’t have a social media profile and all that.
Gina
Host
36:46
What wait? Hold on. Yeah, Let me just rewind. So you’re saying, just to be clear for the people in the back, you’re saying she was in social media and like marketing management, and not only did the company, did culture here have an Instagram presence. No, I don’t see one, so none of her companies actually have an Instagram presence and they’re not doing any, so how did? You get new clients. I’m so confused. Yeah, where are these clients?
Nicola
Host
37:17
I don’t know.
Zuhara
Interviewee
37:20
I don’t know if she reached out from a previous contact or something. Yeah, we are falling out because for the LinkedIn profile, for the catalyst brand strategy, I’m the one who created it and started managing it. So where I dropped off, that’s where everything stopped.
Gina
Host
37:40
Okay. So yeah, as of now, what do you hope to have happen with this situation? What is your biggest hope? I mean, of course, you would like to be paid, but do you feel like you’re actually going to get paid?
Zuhara
Interviewee
37:57
Honestly, I don’t know, but I think from what I know is I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience, because right now, if somebody is sending me out a contract, I need to see, you know the whole process, because with I just had the interview, here’s the contract, let’s start working. So it was all that at once. I didn’t take time to realize okay, you know, we don’t have HR in this organization and I’ve never met the accountant and we don’t do regular company meetings just to update the internal kind of meetings, because most of the meetings were we meeting the clients and then maybe updates in terms of this and that. And I remember we were given a Christmas bonus of $10. $10? Yeah, I think they’re about. It was less than $100 actually.
Gina
Host
38:52
I feel like. I don’t even want it. At this point I’d be like this is insulting. I don’t even want it, Wow.
Zuhara
Interviewee
39:00
Yeah.
Gina
Host
39:01
Okay, cool, cool cool. That’s terrible. So at this point I don’t know, nicola, do you think she’s going to get paid? I don’t. I don’t think you’re going to get paid at this point.
Zuhara
Interviewee
39:15
I’m actually. I’ve reached out to an Australian debt collecting company, so I’ll be talking with them tomorrow.
Gina
Host
39:22
Yeah, so I wanted to see how that’s going. Okay, but my feeling is if she has the balls to ignore a lawyer and to just cut you completely out, she’s whatever. Whatever these debt, because even debt collectors and it’s not like back in the day when, like the debt collector would go to your door and be like give me the fucking money, like it’s all done, you know, virtually basically. So there’s really not much unless you’re like getting involved with like the mafia, like they’re not, they’re not going to make house call.
39:54
You know they might call you incessantly or bug you incessantly, but if she has no intention of paying unless there’s something different going on in Australia, she’s not going to pay.
Zuhara
Interviewee
40:07
So they say something like they’ll have her listed and then maybe her credit score will go down or something. So most businesses don’t want that.
Gina
Host
40:16
Yeah, I mean we’ll see. I’d be very interested. I just feel like her credit score is probably garbage anyway, considering how she manages money. So what’s another hit on credit score? It’s like garbage, less garbage.
40:32
It’s like I think so I think, like, like my wish for you is just that people become people hear your story and they’re wary of this. Like I do think, post COVID and during COVID, all of this remote work from all over the place brings its own host of issues like this, like what is the idea? And so it seems kind of crazy, like that it’s being used, that like it’s kind of like I just feel like there’s so many other issues that that brings, you know, just being remote and various different, you know just various countries involved. Like Nicola, you had that issue with our company, like we didn’t, we didn’t know under whose jerk jurisdiction, like your employment contract was even, you know, like it definitely was New.
41:33
Zealand, so I should have actually found that out later, yeah, so it’s like I just feel like working remotely, having these issues are, like they’re going to be more prevalent, so I hope that people hear your story and that they could safeguard themselves from this, because you were basically doing free labor.
Zuhara
Interviewee
41:53
Yeah right.
Gina
Host
41:54
She wasn’t even like buying you lunch or anything like free labor, so it’s like. It’s like yeah, so what do you think, nicola? What do you think the takeaway here is for everyone?
Nicola
Host
42:08
I think the takeaway here is you know, make sure you keep receipts, check your, check your contractual obligations from both parties, not just one side. I think you know, unfortunately, sometimes, unless you fight really hard, sometimes it just doesn’t. You know, sometimes it just doesn’t go to plan. I guess, like this is this is one of the most horrible, awful stories.
Gina
Host
42:39
Because it’s like so overt it’s not even like I feel like like I didn’t feel like like in some of the other toxic workplaces like that. It’s much more subtle, it’s more like they work on your psyche, whereas this is just outright like fuck you, I’m not paying you. You know what I mean.
Zuhara
Interviewee
43:00
Yeah.
Gina
Host
43:05
Okay. So if you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Zuhara
Interviewee
43:12
Honestly, I’ll take a closer look at the company, you know, do some little research, some back on research. Yeah.
Nicola
Host
43:19
I’m so glad that you’re going to the death collector. I’m curious to know what happens. Keep us updated. Yeah, who will? Yeah, let us know, because obviously we’ve got an interest in this now, right? So, yeah, I’d be curious to know how it all plays out. But it’s been going on for so long, like you’ve been having these challenges for so long, and that’s you know that’s stressful on your mental health and your well being as well. You know it’s not even like financially, like park that for a second, but it’s degrading on your mental health and your well being.
Gina
Host
44:02
Yeah.
Nicola
Host
44:02
I’m sorry this happened to you.
Gina
Host
44:06
I think maybe people would also want to know, like are you currently working? How are you getting jobs? Are you still working freelance? Like give us a little info about that.
Zuhara
Interviewee
44:17
Yeah, I’m actually still working freelance mentally on LinkedIn and then on Indeed. That’s where I get most of the clients from. But I can say my new employer I did the due diligence and the whole process is obvious that these are people who know what they’re doing. You know, you had the HR, you had the onboarding process, we had all that lined out, right, yeah.
Gina
Host
44:41
I mean that not to say that bigger companies are better, but there are hopefully a little more checks and balances. When it’s a small company, you know it’s somebody. They may not have all of that, the ability to do that. You know, like for me, like in my business, it’s like I’m HR, I’m also like I do, I do a lot of things but mainly like for me, I let, I have my, I have employees that I just kind of let them do their thing. I try not to get involved because it’s like if I knew how to do what they were doing, then I’d be doing it and clearly I don’t.
45:16
So any input from me is going to be like you know, I stick to what I’m good at and that’s it Stick to your wheelhouse. Yeah, exactly, all right. Well, this has been an interesting chat. I’m sorry we couldn’t get her to join. The invitation will stand if she ever wants to come on and talk about her company.
Nicola
Host
45:39
So that would be lovely.
Gina
Host
45:41
We would like it. I would like to know kind of where culture here, where that idea came from. Okay, it would be interesting. Hit us up if you’re listening to this, which I’m sure you’re not, because you probably preemptively blocked us. Catherine, like she’s, she’s like the blocking queen. She’s probably blocked us just after we even just said hey, we want to talk to you about culture. Her, like you, suspicious block.
Nicola
Host
46:13
Well, we can people find you to her if they want to, if they want to recruit you in as well. Where can people find you?
Zuhara
Interviewee
46:20
on LinkedIn as the Zuhura Miriam, I think I’ll share the link with you.
Nicola
Host
46:26
Okay, sounds good, and we will put it in the show notes as well, so people can come looking for you.
Zuhara
Interviewee
46:32
Awesome. Thank you so much and it’s been a great chat and I’m knows anything about this woman Also, let us know.
Nicola
Host
46:41
Oh, yes, that would be if anyone here has one of my employees.
Gina
Host
46:46
Yeah, former employees, anyone. If it reaches them. You never know who’s gonna listen to us. Crazies, Please reach out. We would love to hear more.
Nicola
Host
46:57
And I think as like a closing remark, if, if heaven forbid she were to be listening today, what would you like to say to her?
Zuhara
Interviewee
47:09
Just keep your word. I mean a word should represent who you are, because it can be low, destroy you at the same time.
36:16

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