December 12, 2012
Last week, I conducted a lengthy interview with Advisor One Magazine. I learned they are planning to do a story on me for their February issue. I’m always interested to see the angle or direction editors will take in my interviews. Some, take the redemptive, feel good story approach, while others (the majority), take the approach that probably attracts more viewers: “Felon out of prison gets paid big bucks to share his story”, or “Ponzi Schemer shares sordid tale of crime and greed.”
The woman with whom I interviewed was polite and thorough. She took the time–and clearly had the interest–to probe into details most other editors do not. One example, for instance, involved her asking about the consequences my family had to endure as a result of my conviction. In my speeches and interviews, I make clear that I was responsible for my troubles with the law, and in so doing, helped turn investors into victims. I understand that regardless of my efforts to reconcile, and to earn forgiveness, some victims will never forgive me. In this interview, however, we delved into the pain I brought my parents. I was pleased with the question because to adequately share a story of “crime and greed”, one must fully tell the story. In this case, that involves the pain that those closest to you have had to endure. In my case, it was my parents.
While I was pleased with her detailed probing, I was vexed at one of her last questions. “Are you a psychopath?” Because I served time in prison, I know, some people assume I must be. Because I facilitated a fraud, alongside my senior partner and UBS, I must be. I must admit I have been asked this questions many times, mostly at the end of my lectures.
Frankly, I struggle to answer the question. Of course, I do not think I am a psychopath. Then again, would a psychopath admit to being a psychopath? “Yes, I am, thank you for asking.” Some questions are unanswerable through words, and can only be answered through actions, I told her. Review my actions, I politely demanded, clearly upset at the question, since surrendering into prison boundaries. Review how I have accepted responsibility, and how I have taken measurable steps to reconcile with society. Judge me by the track record I have created, rather the cliches and judgments most associate with someone who served time in prison.
I am looking forward to reading the story. I will do a photo shoot for it next week. I am not overly optimistic that this will be some feel good, redemptive story. I may be wrong. At the least, though, I hope it is properly conveyed that I paid a heavy price for my crime, and that I consider it a privilege to spend my time educating audiences on the perils assoicated with dishonest and illegal behavior. Speaking as a consequentialist, at least for this upcoming story, I hope the greater good benefits, even as others seek to filet me.