I once had a prospective client ask me to provide my credit report to him before we could discuss a potential relationship. I thought he was kidding at first, then I thought he was nuts.
While I declined out of concern for my own privacy, years later I began to understand where he was coming from. Very often, the way one conducts his personal affairs offers a crystal clear window into how they might act professionally. The old axiom about not using a cobbler whose children walk around town barefoot is highly applicable to financial professionals. Some of the most reckless brokers I’ve known over the years were also in debt to the IRS and their credit card companies and their mortgage bank.
What my prospective client understood was that a reckless or desperately indebted broker would be highly dangerous to his customers – the need to make short-term money almost always leads to Hail Mary trades and the reaching for business that shouldn’t be done.
Anthony Weiner’s tearful public humiliation yesterday is instructive in this regard. The overarching message of his “apology” was that he didn’t violate any House of Reps rules nor did he use a government BlackBerry to text crotch pics to women, so he’s not resigning nor should he have to. While technically correct, he misses the point completely.
We have gained enough of a view into how he conducts his personal life to know for a fact that we can’t trust him professionally. In just ten minutes, we learned the following about our elected official:
1. He is a schmuck on wheels
2. He lacks all common sense
3. He has no respect for his position in government
4. He has no judgment whatsoever
5. He is a lying, scheming coward
The fact that he is such an accomplished liar is perhaps the most damning. Here’s a quick idea of what kind of a reptile we’re dealing with, it’s the distinguished gentleman coaching porn star Ginger Lee to lie for him while pretending he’s actually helping her out:
“Do you need to talk to a professional PR type person to give u advice? I can have someone on my team call. [Yeah, my team is doing great. Ugh].”
“The key is to have a short, thought out statement that tackles the top line questions and then refer people back to it. Have a couple of iterations of: ‘This is silly. Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter. I don’t know him and have never met him. He briefly followed me and sent me a dm saying thank you for the follow. That’s it….And then maybe insert some y’alls in there.”
So is this a personal affair between Weiner and his wife that they need to handle privately? I don’t care. I also don’t care if he violated any government policies or not because we now know what he truly is.
It took the credit crash and the Great Recession for a generation of frauds and pretenders to be unmasked, the tide went out and some of the most well-respected, highly regarded businessmen in America (and Europe) turned out to be swimming naked. The “smartest guys in the room” were mostly lacking in both judgment and common sense, “risking the franchise” and jeopardizing thousands of jobs and the families that depended on them. Other than the pot-smoking and apathetic laziness innuendo surrounding Bear’s Jimmy Cayne, we knew little about the titans personally.
I wonder how things might have been different if that weren’t the case.
There should always be separation between people’s professions and how they choose to live their lives outside the office. But when one’s personal life is such a public wreck, whether or not they’ve broken any laws becomes irrelevant – they simply cannot be trusted professionally anymore.