June 26, 2012

The same as Andrew Fastow?

I heard from a professor that Andrew Fastow is speaking on ethics and the various issues pertaining to his imprisonment. This professor asked if was “feeling the competition” brought on by Fastow, and if the lessons I share are basically “the same.”

To his first point I am not sure a real competition exists. Some schools and businesses embrace those who have had an imbroglio with the justice system. And clearly others do not. Those that do, however, easily outweigh those that are against the idea of welcoming a felon into the class or boardroom. For that reason, there could be 100 or 200 or 500 more guys (or girls) sharing their experience and the market would still have room. Indeed, some of our best institutions, including KPMG, Wells Fargo, and The FBI Academy (all proudly clients of mine), recognize the value in hearing from someone who has crossed the line and with that crossing paid a heavy price.

My issue lie with “the same” comment. I do not know if we share or learned the same lessons. How could I?

In prison, I embraced transparency and responsibility. I wrote openly through my blogs and book, and in so doing, tried to convey the message that I alone was responsible for my troubles with the law. Introspection forced me to accept that I could not change what had happened. All I could do was work towards a better life, and for me that meant sharing the valuable lessons that followed from my prison term. My writings from prison and beyond, in my opinion, make the case that I have learned from my mistakes, and that I am determined to do better. Easily, I will admit I still have a ways to go.

In my lectures, I make clear that facilitating a ponzi scheme caused a great deal of pain to so many people.  I created victims, hurt my family, lost two careers. Truthfully, the fallout continues. I reference all of these points in my lecture (not to gain pity; I do not need pity), but to hammer home the consequences of using others to advance our own agenda. In my career as a stockbroker my decisions were shortsighted (what could I gain today?). I never considered how those decisions would impact me 5 minutes, 5 years, or 50 years from now.

Before making comparisons, I would need to know what Mr. Fastow stands for. More than discussing corporate codes or rules that can easily be subverted, I would need to know about remorse, responsibility, and the lessons he learned from his prison sentence. Did he make the prison community better by giving back? What message does he have for his victims?

Getting this data would be beneficial to me. Until then, I will be unprepared to answer any questions addressing the “sameness” of our lecture and experience through the criminal justice system.

Justin Paperny



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