“That Inspiration Thing” – From The Good, The Bad And The Ugly… (Podcast)

The gift…

The gift I’m offering is about what inspired me to bring one of my very own ideas and dreams to life… This is actually a true story…

So, what is that gift? 

You gotta take inspiration from wherever
and from whoever you can find it.

einstein

My story starts with a totally irrational determination that I had to write my new book…

As I started the project, I had hit a wall—but I was determined not to quit. And even though I felt… This determination still mystifies me…

Stumbling

Incidentally, did it bother me that my help came from two political giants I’d never met, and from a failed company and a swindler?

Nah, notta bit.

So, I wanted to share my personal story with you as a special gift. Like one of those Russian dolls, my story also has gifts within gifts…

Russian dolls

The smaller gifts would include, for example, the need to keep one’s eye of the danger of self-delusion—and never to sacrifice common sense and curiosity to the alter of greed…

The main gift, though, is that, in bringing life to your ideas,  you should always to allow yourself to be inspired by the good, the bad and even the ugly…

The good, the bad and the ugly…

I suppose it might make sense to start by identifying the good, the bad and the ugly in my story—

The good are represented by Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton…

mandela-impossible

clinton

The bad are represented by two groups…

The first is Enron and all those other companies that scammed their investors, bankers, customers and employees—and anyone else they could find to scam…

The second group comprised their professional help. These dudes stood by and did nothing as they profited from their clients’ crimes. Some actually actively participated in those crimes and thereby contributed to the carnage… So, shame on them all—and a pox on all their houses…

Ken Lay
Enron’s Ken Lay

The ugly is Bernard Madoff—the swindler without a conscience, who preyed on the greed and lack of curiosity of all who did business with him…

Madoff Perp Walk 1-13-14
Bernard Madoff

My idea and dream…

So, what was my idea and dream that the good, the bad and the ugly had inspired me to bring to life?

My idea and dream was to write a book, but not just any book. No, I wanted my book to be about my three fascinations…

Really, I thought, just how difficult could this be?

The answer staggered me…

I’d never written a book before. And, until I received unexpected inspiration, I was paralyzed. I knew what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know how to do it—or even where I should start. I just couldn’t get going.

I’m sure no one reading this has ever had a similar experience, right? 

One major challenge I faced was this:

To cover each of my three fascinations in a single book would obviously require me to figure out the link between those three fascinations. But I was having huge trouble figuring this out…

Maybe you need to know a little about my three fascinations…

My first fascination: Scams…

For more than 30 years, I’ve negotiated deals all around the world. And despite the cultural differences of those who live on different continents, I’ve found there are remarkable similarities when it comes to the negotiating process in general and to negotiating skills in particular.

Over the years, this has intrigued me. I know it shouldn’t have. There’s a totally logical explanation for these similarities, but logical explanations have never previously bothered me. Never before have I allowed a logical explanation to get in the way. Why should I start now?

Anyway, because some of my clients were quite wealthy, they attracted scammers from every corner of the world. As a result, I’ve seen some pretty remarkable scammers ply their trade and try to work their magic up close and personal.

With all due modesty, as our experience dealing with the cool cats grew, my clients and I managed to see looming scams very quickly… We never ignored the clear early warning signals whenever they showed themselves…

Something puzzled me about the huge financial scams of a few years back. It was that, with so many hugely talented professionals involved, nobody seemed to see any of the same warning signs that we had identified…

This struck me as being more than a little weird…

My only conclusion was that when these professionals had to choose between integrity and making a lot of money off their clients’ illegal shenanigans, they chose the money.

I hope this revelation hasn’t shocked you… 

Incidentally, very early in my professional life, it had occurred to me that a scam was really a negotiating duel between the scammers and their marks.

And this is a quite elegant segue into my second fascination…

My second fascination: The negotiating process…

Think for a moment about what scammers are always trying to do…

They are always trying to persuade you to buy something; or to get you to do something—or not do something…

These acts of persuasion are simply a negotiation… And if they can’t persuade you, their scam is doomed…

Because of this, the very best scammers are extraordinarily good negotiators. And this, of course, this represented a remarkable challenge to those marks amongst us… For us to identify and avoid a scam, we had to be an excellent negotiators ourselves…

My third fascination: Nelson Mandela

For totally understandable reasons, my third fascination bordered on being a very personal obsession.

During the height (or should I say “depths”) of apartheid, I lived in apartheid South Africa. I experienced its injustice and evil. Even as a member of the privileged white class, I also experienced the fear it generated…

Despite his failings, Nelson Mandela displayed extraordinary courage as he inspired a nation to survive…

What he accomplished in saving his nation and keeping it from plunging down a precipice was quite mind-boggling. It was stunning and inspirational—at least to this particular expat South African…

Overcoming my paralysis…

My book was not going well…

Fortunately, with a bit of inspiration from Bernie Madoff, Enron, Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, I figured it out how to shake myself out of my paralysis and figured out how to get going…

And thereby hangs a tale, the answer to which lies in the short podcast I’ve attached…

Because the book deals with the gift Nelson Mandela offers in helping us to know the qualities we would need to identify and avoid scams, I decided to call my book: “Detecting The Scam: Nelson Mandela’s Gift”…

So, the Preface to my book deals explicitly with Bill Clinton’s valuable gift to me that got me going… It also explains how I stumbled upon the link between my three fascinations and how that link lit a fuse that resulted in me writing the book… Finally, it lays out a fascinating tale about the self-delusion of Enron, Harvard University, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton himself as they chose to honor Nelson Mandela…

The podcast is simply me reading that Preface… It is my latest gift to you… Its only a few minutes long… I hope you’ll like it…

And don’t worry… Unlike my normal writing, this is fairly light fare…  🙂

Detecting The Scam

One thought on ““That Inspiration Thing” – From The Good, The Bad And The Ugly… (Podcast)”

  1. Inspiration, curiousity, fascination-for me, the trinity of the mischievous imagination. Over the years I have found all three invaluable in not only my work but in shaping a richer interest in life in general. I have to admit however that through the years my own have perhaps been on the fringes on perceived “normals”. I found Katherine Dunns writing in Geek Love to be both fiendishly amusing and filled with heart wrenching empathy. It has to this day made me appreciate “different” as the gift of not being average. In university I regularly read if I could get them from Tower Records book section, the once banned RE-SEARCH journals and discovered worlds I had no idea existed. My movie collection is a peach of “better watch alone” classics not for the PC nor for first dates. (Perhaps not for any dates me thinks) I do not look for inspiration in these avenues but certainly there is curiosity and fascination in that there is a different perspective out there. Inspiration I reserve for those moments that my mind is most quite – which I admit is not often. I find however that it just creeps up on you and before you realize you have absorbed this great energy, atleast to me, inspiration is like energy, food, fuel. Unlike curiosity and fascination I don’t go out my way to find it. Like my car keys, it just seems to show up.

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