YW 77- Zac Bissonnette – Good Advice From Bad People

YW 77- Zac Bissonnette – Good Advice From Bad People

Zac Bissonnette is an author of several different books and is recently coming out with a new one called, “Good Advice From Bad People.” Today he sits down with Jason to give you a little insight about what you can learn from the book as well as talk about some of the problems with expensive colleges. Join Jason today and learn a couple of things about Lance Armstrong, Donald Trump, and more.

Key Takeaways:

3:00 – When we know nothing about a person/celebrity, make them our role model, and when they fall, we look back and wonder why they were considered a hero in the first place.

5:10 – Dick Fuld said, “When you know what you’re talking about, others will follow you because they’re safe to follow you.” A few years later Fuld lead the largest bankruptcy in US history.

6:12 – There’s very little accountability in Wall Street.

6:30 – One of Zac’s favorite financial failures is Donald Trump.

9:30 – There’s a leaked video from Jim Cramer bragging about how stupid SEC is and pretty much giving a finger to investors.

10:40 – Jim Cramer is on television too often to actually know anything. The research is being done by someone else.

13:45 – OJ Simpson said, “The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that’s the day you start to the top.”

 

Tweetables

“Lance Armstrong used his cancer to get enormous endorsement that were unheard of in the history of cycling.” Tweet this!

“Steal $100 and they put you in stir, steal a $100 million and they address you as sir.” Tweet this!

“I think the best thing you could say about Trump university is that it was sleazy and exploited.” Tweet this!

 

Mentioned In This Episode:

http://www.amazon.com/Zac-Bissonnette/e/B003MQAKK4

 

Transcription

Jason Hartman:

It’s my pleasure to welcome Zac Bissonnette to the show. He is the author of, “Good Advice From Bad People – Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong.” *Laughter*. Zac, welcome, how are you?

 

Zac Bissonnette:

I’m good. How are you?

 

Jason:

Good, good. You’re coming to us from New York city today. I always like to give our listeners a sense of geography. Tell us a little bit about your research and background in this field of selected wisdom murders, stock swindlers, and Lance Armstrong. *Laughter*. You’re picking on Lance a bit, but go ahead.

 

Zac:

You had Lance Armstrong who we were told was this incredible hero and was so inspiring, but it’s like, what did we really know about this guy? We knew that he was a really good biker rider, which no one that I knew cared about until Lance Armstrong, I mean can you name another cyclist? We knew he was good at riding a bike, then we knew he had cancer and because the prognosis was such that he could recover and had good treatment, he did recover, and then he made a comeback and went back to riding his bike.

 

I remember the people who were so convinced that he was such a hero. I mean, if he had a more aggressive, a more tragic diagnosis, when he hadn’t been able to comeback would that make him less heroic because the cancer was more aggressive?

 

I never really understood why this guy was a hero and a big part of why this guy was a hero was that he told us he was a hero. There was this huge PR campaign and he was using it to get enormous endorsement that were unheard of in the history of cycling, then, of course, it came crashing down because Lance Armstrong has said, “Winning is all about heart, its got to be in the right place.” It turned out to be what he was pumping into his heart was transfused blood and testosterone, and violent threats levels anyone who said they would expose him.

 

Jason:

Interesting. Very interesting take on that. I agree with you on some extent, for sure. It’s crazy how our society just reveres people for mostly celebrity oriented reasons, not for the quality of the person, not for something that they’ve really done to help the human race…Just really publicity.

 

Zac:

It’s often that they will have been really, really good thing. One often pretty narrow thing that really unrelated to most other elements of living a successful life. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tiger Wood’s father wrote not one, but two parenting books. Parenting books, not golf books. Parenting books. All that we knew about Tiger Woods was that he was really good at golf and he also talked about being a role model and did sort of the role model PR stuff, but we knew nothing about this person. Over and over with these people who become role models and then fall, when you look back at back it’s like, “What a second, we actually really never had any basis for making this person a hero.”

 

Jason:

Well, a lot of this, in the world of branding, this is called brand extension, people try and extend their brand to other unrelated areas and it usually don’t work very well. The best example that I can think of here is Paris Hilton. I mean, what has she ever done? *Laughter*.

 

Zac:

Right and to Paris Hilton’s credit, which is a phrase you’ll never hear me say again..

 

Jason:

Okay. *Laughter*.

 

Zac:

She never claimed to be a particularly wonderful person. I mean she was a coked out, kind of trashy person, who built a brand around that. I never found anything really hypocritical about her, I just found her terrible.
Jason:

Right, right, but it’s interesting in that the fact I kept wondering and I kept asking myself, “Where is her talent?” She’s just sort of famous for being famous. You know, there’s no actual reason that I can see.

 

Well, talk to us about Wall Street and stock swindlers. Wall Street is like digging in a pure vein of gold, because there’ literally a scandal every day. I mean there’s so many criminals on Wall Street. I call it the modern version of organized crime. *Laughter*.

 

Zac:

Right. There are so many creepy losers on Wall Street that descend to great power and then you find out, sort of like Lance Armstrong, “What a second, why was this person on this pedestal?” One of my favorite examples is Richard Fuld who was the CEO of Lehman Brothers for a long time.

 

Jason:

Right. Dick Fuld. He was also known as Dick Fuld.

 

Zac:

In 2006, at the height of his power, he went back to the University of Colorado Boulder to do a commencement speech of which he said, “When you know what you’re talking about, others will follow because it is safe to follow you.” And then two and half years later, investors, employees, and to a certain extent the US economy followed the leadership of Richard Fuld into the largest bankruptcy in US history. He became CEO of a company that was involved in huge amounts of esoteric financial products that he knew nothing about.

 

Jason:

It’s just mind boggling. Whenever you hear about Wall Street’s financial innovation, head for the hills. Anymore on the Wall Street stuff? It’s just amazing. Crime today is committed really through lobbyist, lawyers, accounting firms, and PR firms. This is the way modern crime is done on Wall Street or with big corporations in general. It’s just amazing the way it works out.

 

Zac:

Right and there tends to be very little accountability. There’s an old Jimmy Cagney song from a musical from the 20s, I think, that had a line in it, “Steal $100 and they put you in stir, steal a $100 million and they address you as sir.” I think that’s sort of the lesson that people took from that. One of my favorite financial losers, I’m sure one of yours too, is Donald Trump, who in a 1991 following up on his book The Art Of The Deal, which is still a popular book, God only knows why.

 

He wrote a book called,  “Trump Surviving at the Top.” What was very interesting about this book was that it came out, a book called surviving the top, right as Donald’s empire was unraveling under the weight of excessive debt born from grandiosity and in that book he said, “You have to be confident as you face the world each day, but you can’t be too cocky. Anyone who thinks he’s going to win them is going to wind up a huge loser.”

 

It’s Donald Trump. I think if you were to do a public opinion survey, most people would probably say he’s the cockiest person in America. If you were to say, “Who’s the cockiest person in America?” “Oh, Donald Trump.” easy. He was out there, while his company imploding because of his own grandiosity, lecturing people about the dangers over confidence. The title was so ironic at the time because his financial..well, the papers that were reviewing, Las Angels Times, wrote that Donald Trump coming out with a book called Surviving the Top would be as if Marie Antoinette had written a book called keeping my head.

 

Jason:

*Laughter*. That’s hilarious and now we see one of Trump’s companies embroiled in a huge lawsuit and that involves Trump university. I don’t know what the outcome is, I haven’t followed the story.

 

Zac:

There’s still hasn’t been no outcome yet, but it’s still an ongoing thing. I think the best thing that you could say about Trump university, I have read a lot about it, written about it actually, is that it was sleazy and exploited, whether it was criminal is something the courts have to decide, but it’s certainly embarrassing.

 

Jason:

That’s kind of the problem with today’s world. These bigwigs. Big people, big companies, they have so much power in the system. They have these incredible law firms that can reduce and cloud issues that are just so obvious in massive amounts of technically.

 

Zac:

That’s exactly right. These issues, if you actually stop and think about them for three seconds are not hard calls. I mean, Trump university, you have to be careful because there hasn’t been any outcome, but it’s pretty obvious that the representations made about what the program will provide for what it costs, were not inline with what the programs actually provided. That is the manifest from looking at any of the legal files. The media coverage, any of the company’s own ads, and yet we argue about technicalities.

 

Jason:

Zac, you know there’s this real interesting one, I bet you’ve seen the video, I hope you have, it’s with  Jim Cramer. Of course, Jim Cramer is a very famous Wall Street pundit. He is literally bragging about how the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission; we’ll call it the Scoundrels Encouragement Commission. *Laughter*. Some people do, but he’s literally bragging at how he has hoodwinked them, how their so stupid, and then I heard stories about Cramer going around suing people for putting that video on their website.

 

I doubt it it’s on YouTube anymore. I hope the listeners will look for it. It’s a shocking video. He’s literally giving investors and the law and the government the finger on the video. It’s just mind boggling. I can’t believe it’s actually..
Zac:

No, I mean. It’s a tough thing. I used to work at CNBC. I think Jim Cramer is a very smart man.

 

Jason:

Oh sure he is. Of course, I’m not denying that.

 

Zac:

And I think this is also, and this is truth with pundit and experts in general, there’s inverse coloration between the amount of time you can spend on television and the amount of stuff you can actually know. I mean Jim Cramer is on television too much to actually know anything at this point and I don’t think that was always cause, but all the research has to be done by a bunch of people who know him and take advice for him that he’s sort of a mouthpiece for because he’s too busy being a brand to actually do anything.

 

Jason:

You definitely get out of touch with the information when you’re just sitting there on TV all the time. That’s a good point. That’s a great equation. The inverse coloration there. I love it.

 

What about some of the topic areas that I know your cover is student loans. We’ll call it the college student loan government complex maybe or something like that. That seems to be just beyond absurdity nowadays. I mean the cost of college is ridiculous. Student loan debt is not dischargeable bankruptcy. It’s the only kind of debt that is that way. Is this thing just a big scam?

 

Zac

College? I don’t think college is a scam. No. I think how..

 

Jason:

The cost of it and the marketing of it.

 

Zac:

Yeah, I think largely tend to agree with you. I think some of the reasons the cost has gone up are sort of outside of the control people, you know, the affordability thing. I think the student loan thing, the bankruptcy thing I totally agree with you on.

 

Jason:

My theory is the government started putting all this money out there by guaranteeing student loans. Of course, the universities did what any good business would do and they are businesses. They rise their prices!

 

Zac:

Yeah and they just absorb that and increase the prices. What’s funny, kind of the canary in the coal mines in this stuff is the for-profit colleges because they’re publicly traded, most of time, and they release reports and talk to their investors. You know, in the course of selling stock, they kind of have to brag about the business model a little bit.

 

The parent company of the University of Phoenix once actually noted that they’d their increased their tuition price because of an increase in the federal staff resources of that year. They just said because of the increase we were able to this increase, no one picked it up, no one even remembers, maybe 10 years ago, but it was just hysterical, because he had been everyone denying, within the government, within education, everyone denying this relationship existed. You know, “No! Colleges aren’t rising the prices just because the alumnites go up.” But, they said they did.

 

Jason:

Yeah. The alumnites go up is the classic definition of inflation. You’ve got more money, more dollars, chasing a limited supply of good and services, the providers are going to rise the price.

 

Zac:

Right and while that’s happening..and the other side to this that I think is under covered is that state appropriations for public colleges have tanked over the past 30 years. The increase in tuition for in-state students at public colleges is in a large part being driven by the fact that their tuition used to be mostly covered by tax payer subsides to the colleges. Now those institutions have been largely privatized for students who are covering their bulk of their education. I think that’s under covered, but that’s the huge part of it.

 

Jason:

Before you go, you gotta give us some advice from murderers. We haven’t heard about them yet.

 

Zac:

Ah yes, well OJ Simpson was criminally acquitted somewhat controversially, but withheld civilly responsible for the death, I don’t have any problem with the murder, then he admitted to it in a book, but he said, “The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day stop making any excuses, that’s the day you start at the top.” Now he’s imprisoned for armed robbery, but is appealing it on the grounds that his lawyer didn’t do a good job, so that’s him taking the responsibility.

Jason:

That happens. You’ve got a great quote from Rod Blagojevich I’m not sure if you remember it all, but I don’t want to put you on the sport, but I think the most important thing is to restore a sense of idealism and cynicism. I mean, Rod Blagojevich was just a hilarious character in the media. He was trying to sell Obama’s senate-cy

 

Zac:

Well, yeah. He went on Donald Trump celebrity apprentice after.

 

Jason:

I didn’t know that. Wow.

 

Zac:

Yeah, it was really, really weird. Granted Chicago politics have been a hotbed of corruption..I mean, he was the 4th of the last 7 governors to end up in prison. Blagojevich, I think, certainly exceed in his goal in ending cynicism in government.

 

Jason:

Certainly true. Well, Zac, give out your website or tell people where they can get the book.

 

Zac:

Amazon.com is fine.

 

Jason:

Amazon.com the book is on there and it’s titled, “Good Advice From Bad People – Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong.”

 

So Zac, thanks so much for joining us today!

 

Zac:

Anytime.