Thursday, July 14, 2005


In the past few weeks we have seen a rise in the number of entrepreneurs and business leaders caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. What makes everyday people commit extraordinary crimes of fraud and deceit? In Vernon, BC this week we read about the Mayor who misappropriated his expense money and resigned in shame and embarassment.

Ian Thow, while working as a Senior Vice President of Berskshire Investment Group in Victoria,BC, lived an extravagant lifestyle with jet airplanes, a 17-metre Sea Ray yacht and a $4.6 million-waterfront home. On May 31, he resigned from Berskshire, Since then four groups of clients have filed lawsuits claiming he induced them to invest millions of dollars in the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. In some cases, they claim, Thow persuaded them to mortgage their homes to finance the share purchases. They also claim that, if he ever bought any shares, he didn't deliver them or return the money. Thow has denied the allegations, Berkshire----which has been named a co-defendant --claims it knew nothing about Thow's share dealings and denies any responsibility. Ian Thow's career appears to have many parallels with that of his brother, Phillip. In 1987, both were working as mutual fund salesmen at Investors Group, Ian in Victoria and Phillip in Vancouver. Both were effective salesman and quickly promoted to regional managers. But under this rosy exterior, there were some strange dealings.

Bernie Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, was on Wednesday sentenced to 25 years in jail for orchestrating an $11billion fraud, the biggest in US corporate history, at the once high-flying US telecommunications company.

US district judge Barbara S.Jones said the sentence reflected the gravity of the crime.

“Although I know this will probably mean Ebbers will spend the rest of his life in prison, sentencing him to anything less would not reflect the seriousness of the crime.”

Ebbers' sentence is one of the most severe to be handed down for a white-collar crime. Robert Mintz, a lawyer with McCarter & English, called the sentence “staggering”.

“This sends a very chilling message that if you get convicted of these large-scale financial frauds, you're going to be looking at a sentence that a Mafia kingpin or a druglord would face.”

Ebbers' sentence came as United States federal prosecutors decided on Wednesday, in a further high profile white collar fraud case, not to pursue perjury charges against Richard Scrushy, the former HealthSouth chief executive.

Scrushy was acquitted last month in a multi-billion dollar fraud at the healthcare company. The decision brings an end to two years of government efforts to hold Scrushy criminally responsible for the fraud. Mr Scrushy still faces civil charges.

How tough is it to be honest these days--really tough. Ever since you were a child you have been taught that to fib is okay---a "little white lie" never hurt anybody. How about that little fib when you didnt declare that new watch you bought across the border. They'll never find out--I'll just wear it. Or how about when you lied to the teacher when you didn't do your homework---I was cat father had to go to the hospital----anything to avoid the pre-conceived notion that the result of the truth would mean a terrible punishment or reprimand, and in the mind of an 8 year old-- too gruesome to imagine. The fear of discovery is far greater than the unknown consequence of the truth.

As a society we are driven to succeed in virtually everything we live our lives for. We are driven to succeed in public school, in University, in sports, in our marriage, our business, our relationships with our children. Everything is measured by success. This need for success is the single most destructive force operating in our free enterprise system. Take a look at the so-called self help section of any bookstore...lined with books on "HOW TO SUCCEED" in your marriage...your golf game..your tennis game...your poker game...your life..period!
Every new workshop or seminar has a Tony Robbins look a like clone telling you he has the 7 secrets of success or highly successful people, and for $1,000US he'll tell you the secrets, so you don't have to walk around with your head down thinking you must be a LOSER. I know the game...I played it...I am a recovering Tony Robbins franchise owner.

How about the pressure to succeed being so strong that you are willing to sacrifice your integrity and your friends to join an MLM company just because somebody told you they are "looking for a few good leaders" to help others become financially independent and SUCCESSFUL. PICK ME...must have been written on my chest! And when you go on stage, you pad your monthly earnings, so that others will say...well if he can make it and he's just a truck driver I can make millions. Then you see your "upline" driving a jaguar and you're still driving the volkswagen and you wonder what's wrong with this picture---who's zooming who! And then you read a book called "FALSE PROFITS"--Spiritual Deliverance from multi-level marketing, and you find out that only 4% of multilevel participants actually make any significant money. In there haste to enrol their downline...your upline will never tell you that. I've been there..I've been an upline...I am also a recovering MLM addict..having been involved in a multi-level company from every letter of the alphabet from Amway to Jewelway and every letter in between. And remember the scorn when you left the were banished to the Island of MLM Quitters...the equivalent of a leper colony...nobody would talk to you or be seen with you.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate CEO you must achieve---you must succeed--and you must prove to others that you can succeed---your teachers, your parents, your coach, your wife, your children, yur boss, your friends, and indeed yourself. If you don't..what are the consequences--poverty, lack of respect, deprivation, and most of all humiliation. We've all been there--I have ---you have-- and unless we change the DNA in our children--they will too.

I believe all of the men and women who have risen to the top have paid the ultimate price and if you ask them confidentially..they'll tell you that their biggest fear is that they'll be found out. What if people find out I actually am petrified at the top. How will I ever measure up to what's expected of me. After all I was selected over 250 applicants to be the ONE--THE CHOSEN ONE. I must always "pretend to know what I'm doing (I read Tony' book--Ultimate Power.."Fake it till you make it"!) it's okay to pretend for a while. And I must never ever admit to not knowing who I really am.

Fear corrupts the mind and it makes one do things without remorse...because as programmed as we are we must do everything to avoid failure at any cost. "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION" is the mantra of the young entrepreneur who just started his new business and in the background are the voices of the fallen..the dot-com failures..the dot bust overnight millionaires now gone bankrupt and taking tens of thousands of unfortunate believers with them saying...wait you'll see my's NOT ABOUT THE MONEY!!

Buddha says: "The wrong action seems sweet to the fool until the reaction comes and brings pain, and the bitter fruits of wrong deeds have then to be eaten by the fool."


False Profits, by Robert L. FitzPatrick and Joyce K. Reynolds, is an exposé and analysis of the multi-level marketing (MLM) industry, (Amway, Nu Skin, Herbalife and companies of that sort) and an analysis of illegal pyramid schemes and their relationship to MLM.


buddhaspeaksbiz said...

Excellent article...R. Anthony

MadIrishMax said...

Enjoyed the article. If it sounds too good to be true then it most likely is too good to be true.