TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2008
Remembering Baseball From Federal Prison
It’s Tuesday, December 2, 2008. Playing baseball was the highlight of my youth. Through baseball, I learned virtues that should have remained with me throughout my life. Good sportsmanship meant loyalty, discipline, integrity and a sense of balance. As a child and young man, I felt as if I embodied them all. They led to me earning distinctions that brought a sense of pride to my parents.
Through my success on the baseball diamond, I was invited to attend the prestigious Montclair Preparatory School in Van Nuys, California. My success led to scholarship offers from some of America’s best universities. I chose the University of Southern California.
While playing baseball at USC, I realized I was no longer one of the top tier athletes on the team. Whereas I had been a standout from the time I was 6 years old, I reached my peak performance as a high school player. My college teammates were continuing to develop around me and I had kind of stagnated. At USC I worked as hard as I possibly could, but was forced to accept that my unexceptional performance on a team that included many world class athletes would limit me to a supporting rather than a starring role.
I was in my early 20’s and I understood that without sports I would have to find another way to earn a living. I choose the financial services sector and immediately fell in love with the industry. I interned at some of the world’s top brokerage houses. I loved the excitement. I sat in the trading room listening to the lingo and feeling myself infected with the adrenaline rush. I watched men screaming orders into the telephone that had values in the tens of millions. I felt the same level of excitement as if I were playing on a team in a stadium with 70,000 screeching fans and national television was broadcasting the game.
Shortly after receiving my securities licenses, I learned the truth about the brokerage business. It was cut throat and ruthless. Unlike my experience as a baseball player, where I was surrounded by men of good character and fairness, in the brokerage business I was living in the midst of deceit, greed and questionable ethics. I surmised I would have to play by a new set of rules in order to make it as a broker.
In retrospect, I recognize my questionable code of ethics crumbled before I left UBS in January, 2005. From the beginning, I failed to stand up for fairness, integrity, discipline and the virtues I had been groomed to follow as an athlete. I quickly began my descent to the lowest common denominator of the brokerage business. Instead of promoting and living by a solid code of ethics, I compromised my own values and ceased to function as a team player. I allowed myself to become influenced by the worst parts of the industry, meaning that I thought about my own short-term needs rather than the greater needs of the team and a winning season.