FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Denver, Colorado, Feb. 10, 2015 — Citing unreasonable demands for an uncompensated non-compete and interference in a business relationship, today, Mercury Healthcare International, Inc.’s founder Maria Todd announced that she is stepping down from her volunteer position on GHTC’s Board of Directors.
Ms. Todd, was a founding member of the GHTC Executive Board and was appointed as its Education Chair when it was organized in Monaco in 2012. She served in both capacities without compensation and has given hundreds of hours of volunteer service to the organization since 2012. To support the efforts of GHTC, she waived her professional speaker fees in 2012, 2013, and 2014 to show support for the organization. Ms. Todd received no professional speaker compensation for preparation of class materials, presentation time, and hundreds of hours of travel time. To understand the magnitude of this offensive demand from GHTC’s chairman, Emin Çakmak, the average one-way flight time in each direction for most GHTC events from her home in Denver, Colorado has been about 40 hours in transit, the same amount of time that many people throughout the world work at their jobs in an entire week. In addition to the level of travel intensity, she placed herself at risk for thrombosis, exhaustion, and removed her availability from the calendar for other remunerative work. Another 40 hours was spent in transit to return home. Usually, all this and the time at the events are time away from family, pets, home, and other work, and all in a span of about 7 days. Todd felt that the demand for an uncompensated non-compete was both unreasonable and indefensible.
Interference of an ongoing business relationship
On February, 9, a client of the firm, made an announcement of an upcoming educational event in Kiev Ukraine, in which Ms. Todd was engaged to conduct a training course for medical tourism facilitators, travel agents, and healthcare providers, insurers, and government authorities in that country. The client in Ukraine was previously in a romantic relationship with GHTC Chairman, Emin Çakmak. Upon becoming aware of the April event, Mr Çakmak issued an ultimatum demanding that Ms. Todd break her contract signed in October 2014, with the client in Ukraine.
Ms. Todd has been a highly-compensated, international expert and branded, professional speaker, author and consultant since 1983. She has more than 2700 US and international seminars, workshops, webinars, book signing appearances, and lectures to her credit, and is the author of 14 commercially published textbooks, including 4 titles on medical tourism. No other speaker has given more presentations on medical tourism strategy, physician integration, concierge medicine, and managed care topics over the past 30 years.
Ms Todd believes that Mr Çakmak’s demand that she cancel a contracted professional speaking engagement while also expecting her to speak at three future events later this year without compensation was petulant and inappropriate. “These are two adults; to entangle my professional business activity in the middle of their acrimony is unconscionable” said Todd.
In cases where Ms Todd has agreed to non-compete terms with other clients, each client pays an amount equal to the economic disadvantage that the non-compete represents to MHI both in potential revenues and opportunities. The terms are renewed annually, on a market-by-market or client-by-client basis. She offered the same arrangements to Mr. Çakmak, for himself or as Chairman of GHTC.
Professional workshop organizers must pay their featured speakers and workshop leaders or they have no product to sell.
Several weeks ago, Mr. Çakmak requested her availability to speak at an event in Dubai scheduled for October, 2015, for which participants would be charged an admission to attend. She confirmed her availability but no Letter of Agreement was signed and terms of compensation for her appearance were not finalized. In his letter on 10 February, as if to add more incentive to capitulate to his ultimatum, he mentioned that he planned to “host” her to speak at other events in Ukraine and Turkey in October 2015, where participants would receive discounted or free admission as a membership amenity as members of the Turkish Health Tourism Council.
For all three events, she offered the same terms and conditions offered to other nonprofit associations who request her to spend 10-12 days away from her work to travel, develop the presentations and deliver each presentation so that the association can offer an educational event for fundraising. To both offers, his response was:
“Thank you Maria, good luck and wish you all the best.
Global Healthcare Travel Council”
She interpreted his response to be a constructive disharge from her tentative reservation of the dates for Dubai and has placed them back into her schedule for other assignments and bookings.
Todd concluded: “I have given generously to GHTC and to Turkey and Mr. Çakmak. The organization, formed several years ago has failed to gain the anticipated traction as a medical tourism council of councils. The countries that were invited to join have not given the necessary support for its mission and vision. I can no longer afford the time and effort to support this particular organization if it cannot move forward.
After careful consideration, I also believe that to ask that I break my contract with a different client who has already marketed the April program, would cause irreparable harm to her business. Further, it would harm my professional reputation as a speaker who commits my availability for an event and then withdraws so close the event date. I further believe that if I agree to this inappropriate and retaliative request not to participate in his former romantic partner’s event Ukraine, then other seminar and conference organizers in the international community will be next on his list. I cannot risk this. Therefore, in the best interest of my professional reputation, corporate shareholders’ interests, and my professional brand, all personal relationships aside, it is time to step away from GHTC immediately. It is unfortunate, but I simply don’t have time or interest in the drama of personal relationships gone awry. I am fond of Mr. Çakmak and his former partner, but I have a company to run and a limited calendar with heavy demands. I can’t become involved in these things.”
Maria Todd charges professional speaker fees and executive travel expenses to conference organizers at rates commensurate with her experience as a professional speaker and expert regardless of for profit or not-for-profit status. She has been listed with and booked by 7 professional speaker agencies for more than 15 years. These agencies market and arrange bookings for professional conference organizers (PCOs) who require healthcare experts and book authors to make presentations on topics about managed care, contracted reimbursement with insurers, medical tourism strategy, physician integration, physician employment contracts, healthcare marketing and branding, concierge medicine, and other timely topics. Each agency takes a commission for handling the bookings according to an agency marketing agreement. GHTC or Mr. Çakmak have never been authorized to act as an agency for Todd’s appearances.
Ms. Todd remains an independent and free agent as she has been for more than 30 years. She welcomes the opportunity to deliver training and expert presentations at conferences and events throughout the world. If any assertion to the contrary is made in the future or has been givenin the past, conference organizers are kindly requested to contact Ms. Todd for verification at +1.303.823.4662.
The Mercury Healthcare Companies
600 17th Street, Suite 2800-South Tower
Denver, Colorado 80202 USA
+1.303.823.4662 USA (Office)