Does it feel like more people are cheating? Whether it is chess, walleye fishing tournaments, poker, or CEOs of cryptocurrency exchanges, the news is filled with liars, scammers, and frauds. In this episode, we examine the cheater’s mindset and what can be done about it.
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Why Do People Cheat?
(And What Can Be Done About It?)
Frank had a girlfriend years ago that no matter what happened in the tabloids, she would always follow it up with, “All men cheat.” She would be mad at Frank for a week and no matter how good of a guy Frank was, she would paint him with the same umbrella, “All men cheat.” Whenever someone gets busted in the paper, we still say, “All men cheat.”
That is hysterical. I forgot all about that.
Do you remember the time we had a few too many beers that we called her at 3:00 in the morning, and we said we were cheating right now with her with ham sandwiches and mayonnaise?
Yes, that was before the weekend we were together when you may or may not have said something.
That may or may not have even happened what Frank is alluding to.
What was funny about that was it was the same time you had come back from Italy. You guys had conceived. I didn’t even know it yet. You brought back all these Brunellos, and the two of us had nine bottles of wine. By the end, I’m like, “This one wasn’t as good as the first one.” You were like, “Yes, that is how it goes, Frank. It brings out the best shit at the end.”
I’m not giving you a $500 bottle on bottle 9. Frankie, we are going to talk about fairness and cheating. It seems like every day, when you open a paper, it has been this rash of cheating scandals happening everywhere. One of the first ones that I saw is this story went crazy viral. Have you seen the videos of the guys at the fishing tournament? There is a walleye fishing tournament that he cheated to win the tournament.
I did not see that.
It is a TikTok video. They had weighed their fish in and these guys won. It was a three-day fishing tournament. They had weighed in, and everyone got suspicious because their fish looked to be about the same size as everyone else’s fish, but they weighed twice as much. The main official at this event cuts open their fish. People claimed foul play. They cut those fish open because it is way too heavy. Frankie, I would not want to be those two dudes that got caught. They are surrounded by a bunch of angry sports fishermen with multiple gun racks.
Most people who fish are card-carrying members of the NRA. That is going to be ugly. As that whole thing was happening and we were watching that video, it was super uncomfortable. You thought someone was going to get shot right there. I had to completely miss this story. Ian has been texting me about some things we are going to talk about later. I didn’t even watch it.
This is the first time I have seen it. It makes you pissed off for the people who were cheated. What we are going to drive now is there are people who are cheating you. You were like, “You son of a bitch. How long have you been getting away with this?” You can hear someone even screaming in the video, “All these years.”
It is not even now. This is what we are going to get into a lot. This was the most followed story on TikTok, which is a young person’s deal. I got to imagine walleye fishing was not a terribly searched topic on TikTok before this happened, but it resonated with people all over the world. It has millions of views. Everyone who posted it got a million views on this.
It resonates with people because you don’t need to be a walleye fisherman to have been cheated before. Do you have felt like you were playing a game that was rigged to have felt like someone got away with something? This is where the whole thing breaks down and people get mad. It is not you screwed me because there are real cash prizes, $25,000 to $50,000, for these big tournaments. The guy in number two was like, “I was straight-up robbed out of this.” They called the police. The police took those guys away. That guy left in a police cruiser because people filed criminal complaints against him. He got out of jail. I don’t know if anything is going to happen out of that.
They didn’t file them away with Red and Andy with the Sodomites.
You got laundry duty on the new fish. Where it breaks down and where people get angry is if this is going on, how many other people will now try to get away with it? Is it even worth fishing in these tournaments if I don’t believe that they are fair? If I believe that the system is rigged, do I even want to fish anymore? Do I even like this sport? The whole thing crumbles if folks like this are getting away with this on a regular basis and it makes you feel like you are playing a game that is not worth working that hard for.
I’m going to go way broader on this. As we are recording this, there is a war in Russia. Russia has attacked Ukraine. It feels like everybody is behind Ukraine. I live in Richmond, Virginia. There are yellow and blue flags everywhere. We are supporting them. Who isn’t supporting Ukraine? Who is supporting Russia? Iran, China, and these traditional bad actors who have been bad actors for centuries go back. The reason I bring that up is what pisses us off so much is because we have an understanding that there is a point where you stop caring and how far the ball drifts from the dock. If this is allowed, what follows it and what moral fabric is left? I started thinking about broader examples.
Frankie, stay on that. That is brilliant. I didn’t even think about this. Why are we spending billions of dollars? Why is America giving billions of dollars to Ukraine, which is on the other side of the world and not a big strategic partner of America or our security interests? It is because if you allow Russia to do this, it is breaking international laws that the world had agreed to. If this goes, what’s next? China goes into Taiwan and takes Taiwan. Iran will start making more nuclear weapons. People start ignoring all of the international laws. You have anarchy. You don’t have a society.
Let’s stop with those three things. Russia moves into Ukraine. China goes into Taiwan and there is the other piece of Iran. It is not just Iran, but if they are going to pick on anybody that is in their region, it is Israel. You start looking at these things and it denigrates into. There were these rules, laws, and things put in place. If they can’t be trusted, what can be trusted? It is like the difference between standing on solid ground and standing on quicksand. You don’t know what you can trust.
There needs to be some type of organization, legislation, or policing that will set the rules and holds people accountable. The fact that those two guys were taken away in a cruiser is what should have happened, in my opinion, after watching that video. If they weren’t, someone is going to follow and probably hang them. We are going to get into the story. You are going to tell a story about what Neil said. There is going to be some vigilante justice on that because that is not the type of group of people you want to screw with.
Frank, when you even look at what is happening in Ukraine, why are there Ukraine flags in Richmond, Virginia? It is because humans share a common sense of a just world, there is humanity, and there are laws. We follow them and you can’t be let get away with certain things. Everything we are going to talk about when it comes to cheating is about the domino effect. It doesn’t take someone with a high IQ to see that if Russia goes in and takes Ukraine. That won’t be the end of it. The dominoes keep getting away. There has to be some accountability when there is cheating of some kind. When you talk about accountability here, those guys were mad.There has to be some accountability when there's cheating of some kind. Click To Tweet
Our good friend, Neil, is the only fisherman we know that would be in a competitive fishing tournament. I asked him, “Is this normal to cheat?” He was like, “Yes, people are always accusing people. Some guys will put a fat fish in a cage, put a buoy somewhere in the water, let them out of the cage, catch it and drop it in there. He’s like, “There are people who have done waiting before.” Going this viral, those guys will never fish in a tournament again in the country. Not in 5, 10, or 20 years. They are infamous now.
Neil thinks there is going to be some justice. They are going to mess with the guy’s cars or houses. Someone is going to do something even worse to those guys because, in that community, there is a deep sense that there was a miss justice and there needs to be a reckoning and ramifications or it will keep happening and it will ruin the sport.
We are not fishermen so let’s get into the next story.
The other story is similar and there are multiple that are around the same lines, which I find fascinating. Frankie, are you any good at chess?
I’m more of a checkers guy than a chess guy. I have never taken the time to learn chess. Magnus Carlsen is good at chess. Even if you don’t know anything about chess, you have likely heard of Magnus Carlsen. He is largely thought of between Magnus and Bobby Fischer as the two greatest to ever play the game. Kasparov is up there. He is on the Mount Rushmore.
If you are thinking about tuning out right now because it is chess, the two brilliant stories with incredible followings are fishing and chess. Allow me to say the following. This is the Queen’s Gambit meets anal love beads. If you were thinking about tuning out, this is the moment. I would take us from two times speed down the one time speed. It is going to get good.
No one turns us off. Magnus has been the champion since 2013. He is the goat of our era. He had a 53-match winning streak, which is preposterous. You go that long in chess without ever losing. He goes into a tournament. He is playing the lowest-rated player on the field. This would be a sixteen-seed playing number one duke in the March Madness Tournament. He gets whipped. It is a blowout. He gets burned. This is a guy that did it happen. Everyone is like, “Whoa.”
He loses to a guy named Hans Neimann. He had this insanely hot run from a no-name to someone who is considered one of the better chess players. In chess, that doesn’t typically happen. Carlsen comes out afterward and has a couple of cryptic tweets. Finally, people ask him, “What do you mean?” He says, “I believe that Neimann cheated more than he has publicly admitted.” Digging in, it comes out that Hans Neimann had admitted to cheating when he was younger.
Chess has changed a lot since COVID. Beforehand, it was always in person, but online chess blew up during COVID because they couldn’t have regular tournaments. Big names like Carlsen started playing online chess. With online chess, artificial intelligence and these computers are now better than humans when it comes to chess. They can predict millions of moves before they ever happen to the point where even a dumb ass like myself could enter an online tournament. If I had the right AI software, it would have me beat Magnus. It would tell me the right move every time to beat him. He can’t compete because he can’t keep it all in his head.
This all comes out. Neimann says, “No, I didn’t cheat. This is bogus.” They have a rematch online, and one move into it, this is Magnus Carlsen’s big protest moment. He resigns from the match and clicks his camera off. Everyone goes nuts. They were like, “ This is scandalous. I can’t believe Carlsen did it.” He was protesting that this guy was a cheater. Chess.com went in. They have software that can predict if you have been cheating. It knows your normal moves. It can see and sense when you start performing at a much higher level than your capacity. They went and found that 100 of his online wins were dubious at best that looked like he was using illegal artificial assistance.
Now, the chess world is on fire for the same reasons. How is this happening? This is where it gets fascinating. I’m going to let Frank explain this a little bit. For our readers that aren’t aware of the world of vibrating anal beads, Frank is well-versed in this world. Frank, tell everyone how these work. Frank told me before the show he is getting embarrassed now. He is getting a little shy. You can buy anal beads that go in your butt that vibrate on cue. Frank says you got a little remote control. It is like a back massager. You can do different settings. He got the expensive ones. He walks around to work with these things. It keeps him motivated and excited.
Apparently, people have been cheating by sticking anal beads up their butt. What happens is a lot of these tournaments are live streamed so you can see the moves as they are happening. What they need is a partner who is watching the match and then giving them morse code symbols of what to do in the next place. The bead will vibrate that is up their butt because they’re patted down at these events. Now the chess world is losing its mind.
They’re paying for all the security. They’re going through full-body scans. They can see if there is an illegal object on your butt. They see if there is any radio frequency coming out of your body. They make their money based on people believing it is a fair game and paying to watch this stuff to convince people it is a fair game.
It is not just chess. In High Stakes Poker, a top-rank player, Garrett Adelstein, lost to an amateur who went all in on a nothing hand. The poker world is divided as to whether she cheated. People are saying either she cheated because she knew what cards he had or she is a terrible poker player to have gone all in on that hand. People are insinuating that she has been using vibrating anal beads. That is at the heart of the scandal. It has been all over the paper. All of these scandals have happened in the last few months, which led us to discuss why people hate cheaters so much.
As you were telling these stories, the only thing I could think about was that scene in the casino where the guy almost gets his hand cut off. There is the vigilante justice that comes due at this part.
They beat it with a hammer. When you watch that scene, Frankie, it is a satisfying scene. You were like, “That son of a gun is getting what he deserved.”
You are rooting for the guy to get it dismembered. Let’s get into it. Why do people cheat?
What is the top reason that comes to your mind if someone says, “Why do people cheat?”
When I was a kid, if you would cheat, it was because you wanted to win. As an adult, if you cheat, it is because you are not willing to put in the work to do it legitimately.
Is it laziness?
No. Laziness is someone who smokes a shit load of weed, plays video games, and doesn’t do much. It is laziness with ambition. It is hard to do it legit. There is that side of it. If you have ever seen Blow with Johnny Depp or any of these movies, you always root for the criminal. When criminal gets caught, they always try and go mainstream. It is harder to do it that way. You get accustomed to life and you want to come back to it.Cheating is laziness with ambition. Click To Tweet
There are multiple reasons why. I think it is ambition and a lack of patience. You are ambitious to the point that you can’t wait and do it the right way. You want to try to take some shortcuts to try to get there faster because you can’t patiently follow the right path.
You have never had the goods. If you ask me who is the biggest cheater you have ever come up against, what I would say is it was the Spin Doctors. That is a band. I will tell you the story. I was a high school senior in 1993. I bought tickets for myself and a date. We went and saw three bands. It was two lesser bands. It was the Screaming Trees, Soul Asylum, and Spin Doctors. The Spin Doctors were the hottest thing ever.
I don’t think the Screaming Trees are that great. They got up on stage and sounded good. They sounded like they did on the radio. I was like, “They are not my favorite, but they are good.” Soul Asylum was awesome. They were great musicians. They sounded great and their stage presence was great. The lead singer was dating Winona Rider. They were legit and second. When you go to a concert, the people who play last are supposed to be the best. Spin Doctors had 2 or 3 super popular songs. They got out and they were awful. They were off-key. They sounded bad. They were like dorks. They didn’t belong there. It pissed me off. I’m like, “What the fuck?” They are cheating.
What they did was they had incredible production. They had 2 or 3 good songs. They didn’t sound good, but in production, they made them sound incredible. I remember feeling pissed off for years. I’m still pissed and it has been several years. I thought about it over the years and I realized this. Spin Doctors were never going to make it unless they cheated. They did. They wanted to get there.
You wouldn’t know their name if they didn’t cheat because they weren’t good enough to do anything in the first place.
Somehow or another, they ended up with 2 or 3 good songs but they didn’t have the goods.
They might have been putting lots of hours in. They had the production but all the hours in the world were never going to make them good. They had to amplify it.
I don’t know if they wrote their songs. Maybe they were destined to be songwriters and they wanted to be performers. Two Princes is one of their big songs. Do you know that song, Ian? This thing was bananas. Maybe they were songwriters and they weren’t artists but when they got up on stage and sang, it was repulsive. I still can remember that.
Two guys that are linked to taking steroids to be better at baseball are Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds. What is the difference between Canseco and Bands in most people’s opinion?
People always thought Canseco was a bit of a crook. He couldn’t be trusted. They always thought he was dirty. Jose Canseco is an outsider. Barry Bonds is not an outsider. Barry Bonds is an insider. Barry Bonds’ dad played Major League Baseball and his godfather was Willie Mays. He is baseball royalty. He is the number one overall draft pick out of Arizona State. He was always royalty.
Canseco did the Spin Doctors route. He faked it until he made it. He got in there and he was lovable. He and Mark McGwire together. It came out early he was on steroids and everyone goes, “He is.” He also admitted it and he goes, “I’m not the only one on steroids. There are a lot of people on steroids.” What it turned out is the person who was incredibly dirty was probably the most honest. What people think about now is, “He was dirty but he was honest about it.” Is he going to go down as one of the greatest ever? No. Is his rookie card worth shit? No. Is he going into the hall of fame? No. Was he great when you were thirteen watching him smash home runs? Absolutely. You hold a special place in your heart for him.The person who is the dirtiest is also probably the most honest. Click To Tweet
Barry Bonds was better than Jose Canseco. He had natural gifts that Jose Canseco didn’t have. Canseco had a 12 or 13-year career while Bonds had a 22-year career. What Bonds did is he had the audacity to be incredibly great from birth plus he stuck around for twenty-something years and then he broke one of the most hallowed records in baseball. Because he broke that record and baseball is a sport of box scores, people hate him for it. He is looked at as a major pariah because of what he did, and to my knowledge, he has never come out and admitted any of it.
Both of them are stories of ambition but Jose Canseco falls under your definition of didn’t have the goods. Canseco was a nobody. He would have never gotten out of the minors. He was a late-round draft pick, not a big prospect, and all of a sudden, one year, he shows up to training camp, and he is 25 pounds heavier and massive. He put on a ton of muscle. He is fast as hell and he is hitting bombs everywhere. He fast-tracked straight to the pros. The only time we ever knew of Jose Canseco was him with huge biceps and big chest-hitting dingers.
Barry Bonds was one of the best players in baseball. He won multiple MVPs as a skinny left fielder with a quick bat in five tools. He was destined for the hall of fame. If he had stayed skinny, he could hit homers. He could run with speed, could throw, and catch. All of a sudden, he put on 50 pounds and became the best player in history. He was not the best player of his era but he was better than Babe Ruth and big names that are sacred in the sport. They elicit different reactions out of people.
Conseco was like, “I had never heard of him if not for the steroids.” Bonds, people are pissed about because you went and ruined the record books to the point where Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs. Most people are saying that is the home run record. Not Barry Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire. Judge did it. We will get into this legitimately. We will see.
There are two different things. One was, “You are a nobody and no one would ever be heard of you without cheating.” The other is, “Your ambition is so big. You weren’t good enough at just being great. You had to be the greatest of all time so you cheated.” People do things out of desperation. Sometimes, they are in a bad place in their life. They cheat and find ways to do it because they are in a breaking bad situation. It is a slippery slope on why people cheat. They do something small where most people wouldn’t care and they get away with it. It is rewarded. It grows into something much larger.
I have an awesome story about this from college. A good friend of mine went to Michigan State. He is one of the smartest guys I have ever known in my life. He was like that in high school. He got away with it in high school. He didn’t study and would still beat me on tests that I studied for hours on. He was smart.
He would try to get away with little cheating here and there. It was his stated goal, Frankie, to do as little work as he could at college and still graduate. He was great at it. I would go see him a month into the semester, he still has plastic on his textbooks and he hadn’t even opened them yet. He gets himself into a bad place where he needs a final exam or he is going to flunk a class. He is not getting away with it anymore. He is in engineering and trying to figure out how to do this.
In this class, there were many people in it that there were two exams and you could choose to go to the morning exam or the afternoon exam. The morning exam was at 9:00 in the morning and the afternoon exam was at 3:00 in the afternoon. My buddy did his homework on it and figured out how the exams were set up. What he did, and he thought of this at the beginning of the semester, is he grew a beard out for the whole semester and he grew his hair long. His hair went down to his shoulders. The teacher didn’t know what he looked like. He didn’t go to class all semester. No one knew what the hell this guy looked like.
He goes in the morning and he fakes like he is taking the exam with his beard looking like the Unabomber. You had to go turn the exam in to the professor at the end of the exam. He writes down all the questions on the exam on his hand and inside of his arm. He gets all the questions for this exam. He goes in and he turns in an exam with a fake name at the top. It is written out like he had been taking it.
He looks the professor in the eyes, hands it to him, and leaves. He goes home. He has got four hours now with all of the questions from the exam. He goes to the barber, shaves cleanly, gets his hair cut into a crew cut almost as low as he can, and dresses up nice for the afternoon exam. Now he got all the answers to the exam. He goes in and retakes the exam looking like a different person.
He wears a button-down shirt. He dresses like a nerd. He dressed like a grunge guy in the morning. He goes in with all the answers, crushes the exam, and goes in. I get sweaty thinking about it. The guy he had turned the exam into five hours earlier walks up with his exam, looks him in the eyes, and hands him the exam. This professor would look you right in the face. He nodded at him. The guy didn’t recognize him. He walked out. He had the guts to do all this. He got an A and aced the class.
When he told me the story, I laughed my ass off because it was stressful to do what he did. It would be easier to go to class and study. I thought it was funny but then I got a second piece of this story. The next year, I’m in a class. It is called Electrostatic Physics. It is one of the hardest classes I ever took. It was the class that made me think, “I don’t want to be an engineer. This shit is hard and boring.”
Frankie, I put many hours in for little returns in that class and I eked out a sea. The guy that was in my fraternity class didn’t go to shit all year long and failed the first two exams. He failed everything. He was in desperation mode. If you aced the final, you could either get the grade on the final or the average of your grade so far in the class. If you aced the final, it replaced everything. It was a multiple choice test which most engineering classes were not engineering. They were showing your work. I studied my ass off. I had written him off. He was getting an F.
Is this the same kid or is this somebody else?
It is a different guy. This was at my school in Purdue.
The first didn’t go to Purdue. I thought he did.
No, he went to Michigan State. This guy goes into the same exam that I’m in. I muddle my way through. I barely get a C on the exam after studying for months. This guy goes in and cheats off of the smartest kid in the class, the kid that always sat up in the front. He got an A on the final exam and in the class. He did no work but he risked getting expelled from school. When the guy who was in my class did what the other guy did, cheated to get an A in the class, I didn’t find it cute and funny. I didn’t find the story interesting.
It is because you were a victim.
I wasn’t a victim. I got a C no matter what. There wasn’t even a curve but I was pissed. I wasn’t like, “That is funny.” I was bitter because I had put in many hours on this. It stuck with me for a long time to the point where I was like, “What the hell am I working hard for? I might as well do what he did,” even though there were risks and everything that came to it. Why we hate cheaters so much is because it breaks down the whole fairness of the game.
I don’t know the answer as to why we hate cheaters but all I can tell you is we dislike them. I looked it up. Jose Canseco was in the Fifteenth round. That is when he was drafted. Barry Bonds was the number one overall pick. The four guys from the Spin Doctors did write that song. They are good songwriters.
Frankie, look at athletes that got disgraced. Mike Vick and Mike Tyson. Mike Vick, because he was running a dog fighting ring. He was the most hated person in the country for a good few months. Do you remember that? It was gross. People could not stand Mike Vick. They hated his ass because Americans love dogs.
I’m in Virginia. It happened right here.
Now, that has all been forgiven. He is on TV. He is a radio personality. He is working again. I largely don’t have the same hatred and feelings for him. I feel like he is a victim of how he grew up. At that time, I didn’t like him. It is the same with Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson, for a while, was persona non grata when he went to jail. Now he is this friendly Uncle Mike. He got his podcast. People love Tyson again but it is different than Bonds and Canseco. What is the reason why it is different?
They cheated outside of the ring. In the ring, they were honest.
Even though they acted as bad people in society, they weren’t bad actors inside of the ring or on the football field. They didn’t hurt the integrity of the game.
The best example of this I have is Kobe Bryant. They did a whole documentary on the Redeem Team. I haven’t watched that. I have read about it. The Redeem Team was the team we lost the gold. Krzyzewski came back and he went after Kobe first. He recruited him. The reason he wanted Kobe is because he was the best basketball player in the world at that time. LeBron, D-Wade, and Carmelo were all young.
Kobe had lost all of his endorsements because he had gotten accused of rape. He didn’t handle it well. He was still fucking arrogant throughout the whole process. What happened was Krzyzewski made it as pure as could be. He made him the captain of the team. They brought him to a point where he could play basketball, be great on the biggest stage in the Olympics, and help our country win a gold medal when we hadn’t won one before.
Kobe died tragically below 40 years old. When Kobe came after that moment, he was beloved again. He got incredible amounts of endorsements. He was forgiven that he was a terrible human for at least a snapshot of time. He was forgiven because he was an incredible athlete. We put it in a box of maybe he is a bad guy but he is somebody who is an incredible performer and was rewarded by us. I will ask you this, Ian. In this list, who is the worst and who is the best? Maybe say who is the one you dislike the most if you are going to rank them. Here is the list, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Pete Rose. Who is the one you like?
I like Pete Rose the most.
I don’t even know how to ask the question. Who is the one you dislike the least? Is there a way to ask that question? Why do you dislike Pete Rose the least? I can tell you why I do.
His scandal was he bet on baseball games.
He was a terrible human. He had IRS problems and gambled but he always gambled on himself. Clemens, who I loved as a Red Sox. He was taking PEDs. Same with Bob McGwire and Bonds. These guys cheated the game. I would take Rose, who was arrogant as shit, and would bet on himself over anybody else because, to our knowledge, he did it clean on the field.
For your career, it is the same thing. In general, people are incredibly forgiving of missteps in their lives. Those things tend to fade away no matter what bad thing you do and people remember the quality of your work. One thing people are never forgiving of is an integrity breach. You can spend your whole career building up your personal brand and it comes out that you are cheating.
What it does is breaks down everything. Now they say, “How many other things do we not know about that you were cheating about? If you are not a person of integrity, is your whole career a lie?” When it comes out that you were cheating, I feel like it is one of the few things that are irredeemable. You can’t ever come back from it. You can come back from almost anything in a career. Cheaters tend to be labeled the rest of their life as all of their success is because they didn’t play it straight.
One of the things that Ian and I both loved was the ‘80s wrestling. Ian is wearing an ‘80s wrestling shirt right now. Who is the Iron Sheik? There is always a heel in wrestling. Rick Flair is probably the most popular heel of all time. He was a heel. That is what he did. He was a little too arrogant. He was too much. In international sports, the biggest heel to me was the East Germans and the Russians. This wasn’t for show. This was for real.
The popular ‘80s movie was Rocky 4, where Rocky is good and fights against evil. The systemic problem in the Russian system is they cheated systemically. That is the problem. That is the reason why they were never thought highly of. They are incredibly good, but you ask yourself, “What percentage of this is legitimate? What percentage is it because you have been getting a needle in the shoulder since you were six? What percentage is it is hard work and talent?” When you look at the Olympics, it is supposed to be amateurs.
All the East German female swimmers with mustaches and deep voices.
We are not even going to get into the woke cultural thing that is going on with people with penises swimming as girls. We will leave that out. In my lifetime, it was always that group of people. You knew they were cheating. It wasn’t like some mom driving their daughter to gymnastics starting at four. There was an element of that but there was also the element of what unfair advantage that person has because of it. It makes for good TV but it also leads to hatred.
There is a reason why parents of female swimmers are open arms about people with gender transitions swimming against the girls. There are rules and fair play. The way they say it is, “Where does that end?” Any guy puts a Speedo on, jumps in the pool, and competes against the girls. If that is the case, why have girls’ and boys’ sports? Why not say, “They are sports? Anyone can compete. You are breaking down the boundaries and rules of what everyone thought they were doing. My kid is playing it fair and working hard but it is not a fair environment.” That is why there is so much anger built up around it that a lot of people think, “That is straight-up cheating. You have testosterone in your body and girls don’t. It is not fair. It is scientifically proven.”
There is also something else to it. The thing we talked about with chess earlier is you are taking someone who isn’t winning and immediately start to win. The competition is different. It is one of those things. It is a little bit different because it is not quite as understood. At the same point, the ire comes from the same place.
Frank, I do not even want to delve into politics here but it is political. The average American is not disgusted with the idea of paying taxes. There have been lots of surveys on it. The average American would say, “Yes, we should pay taxes to live in a country that is great and to have the services that we have.” Survey after survey will say that Americans despise the idea that others are getting away with not paying the taxes that they are.
If you look at both sides of the political spectrum, the Democrats are always going to say, “The rich are getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes.” Whatever that means. On the Republican side, “They get all worked out of shape that Democrats aren’t paying any taxes at all.” We are covering 80% of the country with some of the richest people. Those two sides always feel that way.
There was a survey done by one of the Ivy League universities. They surveyed 1,000 Americans, and 88% responded, “Yes, I am a taxpayer.” They were asked, “What percentage of Americans do you think pay taxes?” That number was 66%. 90% feel like they are paying taxes, but they feel like some 30% lower than them are paying taxes. There is this balance of fairness that comes into play. If you believe everyone else is getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes, what does that make you want to do?
Do not pay yours.
This race to the bottom where everyone feels like they are the only ones playing a fair game. They start cheating or finding ways to pull fast one on the IRS or not paying their fair share because they don’t want to live in a world where they are the only ones held to a certain standard.
You want to be involved in a consistent group struggle, but if you feel like people are outside of the fray, there tend to be problems.
There is a psychology term for this, Frankie. It is called the Just-World Viewpoint. Have you ever heard of the Just-World Viewpoint?
I have because I read the agenda.
Picture kids. They come into the world with a Just-World view. The golden rule is if I treat people right and I follow the rules, everyone else will. It is wishful thinking and it is a little ignorant when you are a kid but you find out over time that is not exactly the case. That is how people get cynical and bitter when they start realizing that life doesn’t work that way. It is not always a fair game. There are biases. The game can be rigged against you.
We are social species. We need to read each other. We need to be able to detect cheaters and liars. That is essential to evolution. There is not a society on the planet where cheater detection isn’t a fundamental issue. Cheaters need to be detected and punished. It is central to the integrity of a group or a society. If cheaters are allowed to flourish, what is the point? It is in peril. It is the same with any organization.There's not a society on the planet where cheater detection isn't a fundamental issue. It's essential to evolution. Click To Tweet
I go back to governments with corruption. With governments with corruption, most people like to leave. They do their best to leave because it is hard to understand where you are. One of the reasons that America is a place that people have always wanted to come to for the last several years is because there is a series of rules. We live by those rules. Are the rules perfect? Of course not but they are written and understood. You got a guideline and a framework. There are strong men running the countries and they persecute. One of the reasons we have thrived is because we have a series of rules that people are mostly held accountable for.
Take cryptocurrency right now, Frank. There are not a lot of laws around it and regulators that regulate cryptocurrency. It is one of crypto’s biggest problems. Every week, there is something new coming out. A new person got scammed or lost $1 billion of investors’ money. Until it starts conforming to the same rules, it is not going to ever do anything.
It is also why I think Batman is one of the most popular comic book heroes of all time. If you think about Batman, he is a vigilante that, on a nightly basis, goes out and breaks the law. He hurts people, breaks legs, breaks arms, and throws people off of balconies. He doesn’t kill people but he does horrible things to people. People love Batman because he is doing these horrific things to people who deserve it.
He only goes after villains, people that have already committed crimes, and people that are getting away with it. All the villains you can think of in a Batman comic, whether it is Joker, Riddler, or Penguin, all of these are heads of criminal organizations that are out operating freely in society. When Batman beats the crap out of one of them, you love it because they represent people maybe in your own life that are getting away with breaking the law, cheating, and doing other things. You can’t do anything about it. You feel helpless. People love reading about Batman beating the crap out of people who are constantly getting away with breaking the law.
The reason I rode down on this is Robinhood. You talked about taxes earlier. Most people think rich people are not following the same rules they are because there is no possible way they could have gotten rich. I don’t know how many reboots of Robinhood there have been since we have been alive, but it is dozens. It is the reason for that. It is the same thing. You think someone is taking from the rich who unjustly have it and giving it to the poor, which is a good pursuit. To that end, he is a popular figure going back hundreds of years.
What happens in a company if the leaders don’t act when someone gets caught cheating or in an integrity breach? What happens to the culture of the company?
As far as I’m concerned, the culture of the company is deteriorated and pulled back. It is not necessarily cheating. It is ethical breaches and bad behaviors. There are other things to it than cheating. If you have a superstar performer who is a terrible human being and treats people like shit, it pulls at the fabric of a company. It is important that your company has a moral compass and the leadership holds people accountable to it.
We have both dealt with this. There are superstar performers who, in a lot of instances, are not superstar humans. You tend to have performers who are not superstars but are superstar human beings. What typically happens is there is a rub between the good human and the good performer. What you have to do is you have to have a series of rules, things in place, and checks and balances, or things will get out of whack.
I have seen that since I was a kid in certain organizations. I can tell you as a leader, a business owner, and a manager, it is real. You have to balance those things out. You can’t let something get so far out of balance that you lose your integrity. One of the things that Ian and I both love is Warren Buffett’s saying. It is in our company’s core values. It is about not doing anything to disgrace the company. If you lose a dollar, that is okay, but if you lose a shred of dignity, it is not. It is how it is loosely summarized. That is how you have to act.
In a company, you have written rules. There are unwritten rules that are the golden rule. You hear a lot of companies say, “Do the right thing.” Frank and I worked at a company that said, “Do the right thing.” It wasn’t original because the company before that told us, “Do the right thing.” Honestly, it is the right advice. It is the same advice you learned from your mom and dad growing up.
There are some things that don’t need to be written down in policies and procedures, like fair play and treating customers with a certain level of respect. One famous example, Frankie, is Wells Fargo. I always thought it was a piece of a company, and I still do. They put so much pressure on employees. They are managed horribly from the top down. Everything is a metric. Everything has hit your number. They put so much pressure on growth.
After the financial breakdown, Wells Fargo was one of the few banks that came out of the financial crisis with strength. They took a lot of shares. They didn’t have a lot of write-offs. They were managed well going into it. Out of it, they put so much pressure on the growth on their people that everything was about opening more accounts. They tied bonuses to it. They pitted people against each other with their rankings. They started promoting people who opened the most accounts regardless of how they got theirs and looking at what human beings they were. They fired people who couldn’t keep up with opening accounts.
The problem was some of those people getting promoted had figured out, “We are going to start opening accounts whether people ask us to or not. You picture a little old lady who is 75. I opened a couple of extra checking accounts that she didn’t say she wanted. She is not even checking or seeing that that is happening.”
Their peers saw that people were cheating to open up more accounts to hit these numbers, go on these lavish contest trips, hit their bonuses, and get promoted. They thought, “That is what the company rewards around here. I’m going to start opening up accounts. It is that easy. I just got to open up accounts no one asks for.” Everyone starts doing it. It spirals out of control, Frankie, to the point where there is a congressional hearing where they have been opening up tens of thousands of checking accounts for customers who never asked for it. The CEO gets up in front of these people and says, “I don’t know what the hell got into these people.”
You put all this pressure on people. You promoted all these bad actors. The whole company followed suit and now you throw them all under the grease when you have to go in front of Congress. Both of that happened under your watch and that culture because you let it happen once. It spiraled that fast and it became a major scandal. Wells has not recovered from it. Wells reported their earnings. They have no trust from the American people because they cheated. They opened accounts without people asking. It is this slippery slope where I got away with it once. No one said anything and I got rewarded. I do it twice, and all of a sudden, it becomes what I do. It is that way with any cheating.
I grew up in South Florida. The first time I ever saw Wells Fargo was in Back to the Future 3, which came out in 1991. It was cool. It was the California Bank. I remember when Wells Fargo moved its way across the country, you saw those beautiful horses and you were like, “This is so cool. It is mythical.” Back then, they were a very well-run bank. I bank with them because I have had them forever. They bought all the banks where I had all of my money. I almost do it begrudgingly. I certainly don’t do anything with them besides having a checking account. I don’t fucking trust them.
Anything that has that branding on it with Wells Fargo, I get skeptical. I have an extended member of our family who works there. I’m like, “What is that like?” He goes, “I have to deal with that judgment quite a bit. The people I work with have all moved over from different branches. We do the right thing. It is tough because we are not proud of highly.”
I worked in a home building where there were millions of signatures for thirteen years. I used to tell people all the time, Frankie, “I’m going to make this simple and I don’t need to put this in writing. You only sign your own name. Your initials and you only write today’s date.” Those are the three main areas where I saw people signing for other people, initialing a page that they hadn’t seen for them to be fast, or backdating something so that they could get it done.In the mortgage business, you only sign your own name. You only initial your own initials. You only write today's date. Click To Tweet
Those three things are all illegal if you do that in the mortgage business because it is highly regulated. I would say those three things and we make it simple. I said it all the time and I had someone in Florida who was signing for customers all the time. He was doing it to make his bonus. He wasn’t a good performer. It wasn’t a great time for it to happen to us. I flew down there, I figured it out, he admitted to it, and I fired him.
Summarily on the spot, it was miserable, Frankie. I had 100 customers in his pipeline and I had no one to give them to. I had to fly people in and out from Virginia for six months. It ravaged our profit and service. It ruined my whole year for that region. I had to do it because I told everyone I would do it. That one was easy. Several years later, one of my favorite employees ever did it and got caught. Initialed, signed, and backdated. It’s a couple of documents but it got out to the whole branch that he had done it.
For years, I had been getting in front of my whole team saying the same thing, “If you sign for someone else, if you initial anyone else’s initials, or if you date anything, not today’s date, I will fire you.” I had said that many times. I want to make this clear. It broke my heart because this was one of my favorite employees. He made a mistake and I couldn’t go back on it because I had fired people before for doing this. I know the slippery slope. I know that when you say that and then you say, “I’m going to give you a chance.” Now, I have said, “If you sign for another customer, you get one chance.” There is no longer a rule.
There is a person who was 1099. She worked on the outside that we brought under the tent. She is now in court and going through a whole bunch of things. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That is happening now in Richmond. It is in the business paper every day. We found out it wasn’t completely disclosed to us. We did the right thing. We gave her some time to sort her affairs out and we treated her well. At the same time, we had to say goodbye. She couldn’t work here anymore because if we are going to be moral and ethical, you got to be moral and ethical, and you have to be willing to do tough things no matter what it means what your sacrifice has to be to get that done.
Most people who cheat start somewhere. There is a gateway to it. I will use a different example because this is easier to see. I have a grandfather and an aunt who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. One of which died early. My granddad and my aunt have been in and out of prison multiple times. I grew up thinking I’m probably an addict or I’m addicted. I stayed away from drugs and never did them. I got in trouble with alcohol when I was nineteen and I decided I was not going to drink for two years. The reason for it was I could see my life spiraling out of control. That is a controllable thing. I saw it and I’m like, “I do not want to go in the trajectory of them. I’m going to change it.”
With cheating, it is harder because there is usually a gateway or something you do. I was like, “That was okay. I got away with it. How can I keep doing that?” It is not as cut and dry as drugs and alcohol, but you have to understand where you are, and you have to say, “I’m not willing to do this.” It is easier and cleaner. If you make that commitment, you have to live that commitment. It is unforgiving in some ways. This is the whole purpose we are doing this. In the end, we all think, as a society, we are better off if we make the right choice because if we didn’t, what would we have?
Frankie, I remember when you told me about that whole situation going up and it blew up. There are lawyers involved and an article on paper. It was a mess. Do you remember the visceral reaction? I got angry. This is a person I like, but do you know who I like more? Frank’s dad. It is one of my favorite humans in the world. Frank’s dad’s name is on Frank’s door.
I told you that. I said, “I know your emotions are tied up in this. It is a good person and all this, but that will drag. If you allow that and you defend it, you are saying that Cava stands for this behavior, and your dad stands for that.” You have to draw the line and say, “There are certain things that we accept and don’t.” Frankie, what is your wrap on this thing? What are your final thoughts?
Cheating is seductive because it is easier than doing the work. Don’t be seduced. Do the work. Do the things you have to do. I’m going to go back to your buddy, West Pierce. He got seduced in a way where he worked harder to not do the work than if he would have done the work. He got seduced again by penny stocks. There was a period where he flew all of you guys out to Vegas in a private plane.
It didn’t age well for him. He had a couple of incredible highs, but most of the time, it didn’t age as well as it could have because he didn’t do the work. The people who I see are the richest are not necessarily through dollars. Ian’s dad is rich. We have had this conversation. He went to work every day. He did the right things. He built a legacy, day over day, by doing things he loved. He had a skill set that was left behind. That is what reward looks like in this society. It is not to the cheater or the person who tries to skip the line. Skipping the line is fun for a moment, but long-term, it is not a sustainable thing.
The last thing I will say is people are incredibly forgiving of failures, mistakes, lapses, and judgment, but they are not forgiving when it comes to cheating, integrity, and people without a moral compass. Certainly, those who attain some level of success by working outside of the rules. It is something you will be painted for the rest of your life. I have been in business for several years. I had to fire a hell of a lot of people and a lot of them for performance. The ones that got fired for performance, Frank, I can barely remember why they weren’t performing or what happened.
I remember every single person who had an integrity violation. If I had fired them for it, that is all I think of. A lot of people that I have fired for failure have gone on to do other things. I’m happy for them, and that is great. I don’t remember why it didn’t work, but the people who had integrity breaches, that is who they are for the rest of their life. It is a scarlet letter on them. If you were confused anywhere earlier in the episode and you want to learn more about vibrating anal beads, you can send Frank a direct message to ask him more questions. He is more of an expert than I am. He taught me a little bit about it before we got into the outline.
I’m going to take a second chance at a wrap, and I’m going to tell you this. My mom and dad were in town. We were talking about something. We are a family that remembers things and holds a grudge. We are also incredibly close. We are not going to go after each other in a way that is malicious. We were talking about an event from 1992. We were re-legislating it at my dinner table.
What I can tell you is that it is not an anomaly. People remember and hold grudges. People will hold you to a standard. If you are a cheater, you are going to be branded a cheater for a long time. If you make a mistake, that is different. That is allowable. We all make mistakes. If you are branded a cheater, it is hard to come back from. People’s memories are very long. You got to be careful with that. If you are cheating and you haven’t gotten caught, stop and figure out how to get around it. They don’t age well. That is what I would say.
Frankie, you are aging tremendously. I have been looking at old videos of you on this show. You don’t look a day older than when we started this 106 episodes ago.
You are not kidding. It is my incredible lighting.
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No doubt. Good talking to you.