Mike Staver visits Fraud Busting. He recounts his story of being defrauded by his assistant in the ‘90’s and the mistakes he made that led to the losses. There’s been recent activity in the case that only 4% of fraud victims experience. You’ll be shocked at what happened and what he’s done as a result.
Traci Brown: Mike, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting. It’s really an honor to have you. Like I said, I’ve heard so many good things about you. Thanks for taking the time.
Mike Staver: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me Traci. I’m looking forward to talking about my stupidity.
Traci Brown: Let’s get to know you first because I think you’re one of the smartest guys around. What has been the thing that you least expected you would be doing, maybe even out of character, during this pandemic? It’s been going on the majority of the year now at this point. Did you binge watch any shows or hoard anything at the grocery store, anything out of character?
Mike Staver: Yea. I gained 17 pounds. That’s out of character.
Traci Brown: Oh my gosh.
Mike Staver: Holy cow! I eat pretty healthy. I’ve weighed within 5 to 6 pounds of my same weight since high school, so for me to gain 17 pounds is a big deal. In fact, this is way out of character, I’m on the keto diet right now, so if I can’t remember my name, that’s why.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay.
Mike Staver: Yea. I’ve eaten . . . here you go. This is a little useless trivia for your listeners. I’ve eaten 6 or 7 pounds of peanut butter since March 14th.
Traci Brown: Okay, let’s talk about this a little bit. What kind? Is it Peter Pan or. . . ?
Mike Staver: Skippy peanut butter.
Traci Brown: It’s not even the natural stuff.
Mike Staver: Not crunchy. Smooth only.
Traci Brown: You’re smooth. Okay. Now, big spoonful at a time?
Mike Staver: No, no. On toast usually.
Traci Brown: Toast.
Mike Staver: Or, I discovered . . . you wonder why I’ve gained 17 pounds, or on apples it’s really good.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Mike Staver: I would take some peanut butter with a knife, put it on an apple, eat it.
Traci Brown: Was this all day at your desk or . . . ?
Mike Staver: In the morning, I’d eat quite a bit, and then, that’s it, just in the mornings I’d eat some toast with peanut butter and then eat a couple of apples with peanut butter.
Traci Brown: Wow. Like every day. So then is the stimulus for the keto diet that you’re on?
Mike Staver: The 17 pounds is. I got to the lake a few weeks ago and the sheriff came over and said, “Do you need some help getting back in the water?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because that’s where all whales should be.”
Traci Brown: Did he really say it? They didn’t say that.
Mike Staver: No, no.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay.
Mike Staver: You obviously do not know how it is, but I’m never been a weight gainer, ever, and so I started putting on clothes and I’m like, what is wrong? Anyway, I’m 7 pounds down, and so that’s good.
Traci Brown: Okay. Alright.
Mike Staver: No peanut butter though. I’m off of it.
Traci Brown: You’re off peanut butter. Alright, alright. Well, fair enough. You had like a 3-year supply.
Mike Staver: And 5 or 6 pounds packed. The only reason I know that is because it says it on the jar. It says how much it is.
Traci Brown: Oh, boy. Okay. Tell us a little bit about you. What are you up to now? Then we’re going to jump in because you’re a fraud victim, at least today for purposes of this show, that’s what we’re after. But what do you do most of the time?
Mike Staver: I did the last keynote in Vegas at the Wynn Hotel in March, March 14th I want to say. In fact, they were literally closing the Wynn Hotel as we were walking out the door. It was the strangest feeling, very weird, and sad for the employees too because all of them looked so sad and told me sad stories. Like anybody who’s been in the speaking industry, a coaching business, hospitality industry, I guess a lot of industries, we very quickly shifted, my team shifted, from this is what we’re doing for this amount of money to help the hurting. On that next Monday, we got together, and I said, “All I care about is helping the hurting going forward. That’s it. We’re going to help the hurting. I don’t care what it costs. I don’t care how much time it takes. I don’t care if we make a dollar.” We started doing a lot of webinars, offering some free consultations on crisis management plans. Back when the fraud happened, that’s what I was doing. I have a coaching practice, a really robust coaching practice. I’m very blessed to have about 30 coaching clients, and then I have some retainer clients. I’m doing a lot of coaching, a lot of online stuff, and working hard on our virtual leadership development platform.
Traci Brown: Got it. Are you mostly leadership or sales or where’s . . .
Mike Staver: Leadership.
Traci Brown: Leadership. Okay. Okay. You had a little problem though a little way back. Tell us what exactly happened with this fraud situation you winded up in?
Mike Staver: I was looking for an assistant because the business was starting to get a little more out of control than I wanted it to and invoices were going past due, not paying invoices, billing. I decided to hire somebody, but I didn’t have any money to hire somebody, so what I did was I said, as part of your compensation, I will give you space in my home for free.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Mike Staver: The office was in my house back in those days. I paid some minimal amount of money, like $20,000 a year, and I’ll pay you $20,000 and you can have that side. I had a house with two masters, and so it was the other side of the house. I said you can have this. A very young person, probably her second or third job, she wanted to move to California. She was an East coast person who wanted to wanted to move to California. I don’t actually remember how I got in touch with her. I want to say it was a referral from somebody. I believe it was a referral from somebody who I had met. That’s what happened. She came out. I trained her on what I wanted her to do. I trained her and all I really wanted her to do was manage my calendar and manage my invoicing and deposits, so if you could invoice the clients, manage my calendar, and make deposits, that would be great.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Mike Staver: That’s what she started doing.
Traci Brown: And then what happened? She’s living in your house, and there must have been . . . like something went wrong at some point when you went, whoa, wait a minute. Tell us about that moment.
Mike Staver: I was in northern California. I was speaking at . . . well, I was on my way to northern California. I was living in southern California at the time. I was on my way to northern California to do a public seminar. I was in the public seminar business in those days. I worked for a company that put on public seminars years ago. I didn’t work for them, but they were my biggest client. They were very good about paying, very, very good about paying. I was looking at my receivables and one thing she was really good at was keeping good records, which if you’re going to commit fraud, it turns out that’s one of the things you need to be really good at.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Mike Staver: Is doctoring up the records. So, I was looking at an invoice and think God I did not give her access to my bank account. I just gave her access to the checks that were coming in, no checks going out. I was looking at my bank balance and I thought, I did this many gigs, and this is what the receivables were, but my bank balance did not reflect that. I thought, that’s weird. I went to her and I asked the question, I said, “This doesn’t jive.” And she said, “Well, they’re just slow pay.” I said, “They’re never slow pay. I wonder if something’s going on, or are they unhappy? Did they miss an invoice?” Never once did it occur to me that I was getting robbed. I called. I’ll never forget it. I was in northern California, speaking at a . . . I’m sorry, right before I left for northern California, I called the client and I said, “Hey, it’s kind of weird. This invoice and this invoice are more than 60 days past due.” They usually paid in 14 days.
Traci Brown: Right.
Mike Staver: The person I talked to, who I knew very well, was my connection there, she said, “That’s really weird because we have a policy to pay in 14 days, as you know from the close of your event.” I said, “I know.” I got to northern California. I was speaking. I got a call, and she said, “I have good news and bad news”, this person from my client. I said, “What’s the good news?” She said, “The good news is we paid you in 14 days. The bad news is you don’t have the money.” I said, “That’s right.” She said, “I have one more thing I’m going to do, and I’ll call you back.” I said, “Well, could you check . . .” She said, “Why don’t we do this. Why don’t we see if the check has been cashed?” Now, to tell you the truth at first I was kind of offended by the question because my first instinct was she just thinks I’ve got a bad memory.
Traci Brown: Right, right.
Mike Staver: Or bad bookkeeping skills. I did the next hour and a half. I was standing in a little tiny office in a community center, like one of those theater kind of community centers in California.
Traci Brown: Okay, yea.
Mike Staver: There was a fax machine. I’ll never forget it. There was a fax machine in this room, and she called me, and she said, “I’m not even going to mention it to you. She goes, “I’m going to fax you something and just stay on the phone.” I was on the phone and I’m staring at this fax machine, and through the fax machine comes the front of one of the checks that the company had written to me.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Mike Staver: There were actually two at this point. It came through and there it said, Mike Staver, the amount of money, and she said, “Do you have the first fax?”, so dramatic, and I said, “Yea, I have the first fax.” She goes, “Now, I want you to sit down, and I’m going to fax you the backs of the checks.” Those were back in those days, right, when you sent real checks.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Mike Staver: The fax came through with the backs of the checks, and it said paid to the order of my assistant’s name with my signature forged on the back of the checks.
Traci Brown: Oh, boy. Caught red handed there. Was your signature a match?
Mike Staver: It was close, not good though. Anybody could have looked at that and gone, what? Did a five-year-old make that signature?
Traci Brown: Okay. Then what happened? Let me back up. How much money are we talking about? Do you want to say?
Mike Staver: Right now at this point, it’s about $4,500.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Mike Staver: On those checks. I will tell you, and this was years ago. In those days, and the beauty of this story is how it ends, right, I don’t know if it’s beauty, but it’s irony. I was in my mid-30s, early 30s, so that was a very long time ago, so $4,500 was a lot of money, but here’s the moment, this is the moment, so here I am, I’ve got 400 or 500 people in this audience. I’m sitting in this office. I’m looking at the back of this check, and I’m thinking, she stole this money from me. She has access to everything in my house. She is in my house. I am 500 miles from my house, or whatever it is. I can’t get her out of my house. What do I do? So, I did what any speaker does. I went and finished my seminar.
Traci Brown: Yea. You went on stage.
Mike Staver: I did what I was supposed to do. Right. Yea. I flew home and I walked into the house. She had prepared herself to leave. She had a guy that she was allegedly in love with, so she had told me that she probably wasn’t going to do this job much longer. My discovery of this coincided with her desire to move on and so she had already had a preplanned trip back to her home state to visit this guy. The woman I was dating at the time . . . I got back and she was already gone. I called her. Remember the old days, we had those answering machines that go: Hey, thanks for calling, leave a message. . . ?
Traci Brown: Right, right, yea.
Mike Staver: She had one of those, and I don’t know if you know this or if you remember this, but you could push a button on those and record a call right to the machine.
Traci Brown: Oh, I never had to do that.
Mike Staver: Yea. My girlfriend and I called her, and we were just talking to her, catching up. She was very gregarious and hilarious, a friend to everybody, and never met a stranger. She was amazing with my clients. To make a long story short, my girlfriend was a very good interviewer, she finally admitted it.
Traci Brown: Really? She admitted it? That’s unusual.
Mike Staver: I think the reason she admitted it was because I told her I had the checks in my hand that she had signed and that I knew what was going on, so what was her plan to reimburse me? I said, if you don’t right now give me the money, then I’m going to take another step.
Traci Brown: What happened?
Mike Staver: She did not reimburse me. She said, I don’t have the money. I just needed it really bad. I said, whatever, well if you needed money that bad, you could have asked me, and I could have given you some money. You lived in my house for free. You have no bills except the bills that are self-induced. My mistake was – I won’t get into all my mistakes. I made several mistakes, but basically what I did was I said, look, you’re going to have to pay me back, and you’re going to have to figure out a way. I don’t take . . . I will bend over backwards to help you. I probably would have given her $4,500 if she needed it, or loaned it to her, but if you take advantage of my generosity or my kindness or my, whatever you want to call it, I’m going to come after you. So, I go to the bank. I don’t want to use the name of the bank. That wouldn’t be fair. Let’s call them Wells Fargo.
Traci Brown: Sure.
Mike Staver: I go and I walk in with the checks in my hand. It turns out there were more. We later found out there were more. I went with the checks in my hand. This is how stupid I was and what I hope your listeners will get, if they don’t already know. I went with the checks in my hand, and I put them down in front of the bank that she deposited those checks in, which was not my bank. I don’t know what bank I was with in those days, but she was with Wells Fargo. I put those two signed checks that she had endorsed to herself and said, “You cashed these checks. You are liable for those checks.” They said, “No, we’re not. That’s your problem. It’s buyer beware” or some stupid thing. I’m like, “You need to give me this $4,500. You deposited this money. This is obviously a fraud.” Then they gave me the manager. It turns out they didn’t do anything. They didn’t reimburse me. They didn’t acknowledge that they were liable. Then I decided, well, what you need to do is you need to go to the police, so I did. I went to the cops and I filed a police report. The police officer said, “This is such a minimal amount of money.”
Traci Brown: They’re not going to pay attention.
Mike Staver: It doesn’t really matter. I found a detective. A detective called me. I wish I could remember this guy’s name. He was one of these kind of old, crotchety, old school, crooked tie . . .
Traci Brown: Coffee and donuts. Yea.
Mike Staver: Yea, yea, probably a thousand years old, but he was like a good, solid leather beaten, street pounding cop that was out for justice. I just loved talking to the guy. He’s like, well – probably a heavy smoker – he was really raspy. “Well, Mike, that’s not a lot of money to Wells Fargo, but it’s probably a lot of money to you, son.” I said, “It is a lot of money to me, sir, and I appreciate that.” He said, “So, I’m going to submit it to the DA’s office for prosecution because” he said, “It is obviously a fraud” but he said it also – I can’t remember – he said obviously it’s grand theft person. She stole the money from you, and it’s something else and something else. He went to the DA and submitted it, and I got a letter from the DA in Orange County, California, not the DA, but whoever does that.
Traci Brown: Yea, their office.
Mike Staver: While it is unfortunate that this occurred, the fact is that the money is of such a minimal nature that we are choosing not to pursue it because it’s such a little amount of money.
Traci Brown: Ugh.
Mike Staver: I lost my money. Literally, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was living in Irvine, California, and I just my money. I was like, what?! I immediately sent a letter back. Of course, this was before email. I sent a letter back and it said, Dear whoever . . . no, I sent it to the DA, not the Deputy DA. I sent it to the District Attorney. I said, I received your letter. The letter is enclosed – because in those days that’s what you had to do – and I am distressed to see that you’re not going to do it and that this is the way Orange County decides to treat small business owners. Since it’s not that much money, please find enclosed my invoice to you for $4,500 because if it’s not a lot of money, I’m guessing your department will just pay it and I’ll call it good.
Traci Brown: (Laughing). Oh man, what happened?
Mike Staver: A week later I got a letter from the DA’s office. I am sure, he or she or whoever it was at the time, didn’t sign it. It said, we have reviewed the file, and we are going to take the case.
Traci Brown: Oh, good job!
Mike Staver: And issue a warrant for her arrest.
Traci Brown: Then, did she get arrested?
Mike Staver: No. She skipped town. She skipped town and went back east where she was from. I just could not let go of it. I just could not let go of it. It wasn’t the money, to tell you the truth, although it did hurt. It was just the outright betrayal. This is my weakness. People who are listening, maybe some of your listeners have this same weakness, I tend to believe the best and so I tend to be very helpful, very helpful, very helpful, and then when I get taken advantage of, I’m like, what was I thinking? Why did I do this? I just wouldn’t let go of it. I called a lawyer friend of mine, a lawyer acquaintance of mine, and I said, “What do you recommend?” They said, we could file something civilly, small claims, but it’s not going to matter. She’s back east. What I would do is find a private investigator in her hometown and hire that private investigator to find her and confront her. I said, “Okay.” I hired a private investigator, and the private investigator called me on the phone, interviewed me, and he said, “I usually give this to one of my people, but I’m going to handle this myself because I’m a small business owner too. I’m going to do it myself.” I said, “Okay.” Maybe a week later he said, “Alright, I know where she works. I know where she lives. I know what kind of car she drives. I know all that. Here are our options.” He said I can confront her directly. I can go to her home. He goes, “Here’s my recommendation. My recommendation is that I talk to her when she comes out of work.” I said, “Great, that’s what I’m paying you for.” He went to her work, and he just sat there in the parking lot, waiting for her to come out. Of course, I had a picture of her.
Traci Brown: Sure.
Mike Staver: She came out of the building. He walked up to her and told her that he was a private investigator, investigating a fraud perpetuated on a California company, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and that his client would be willing to drop the whole matter if she would just reimburse him, make restitution for the theft.
Traci Brown: Right.
Mike Staver: She burst into tears, runs away, gets in her car and goes home. The next day – this is a long time ago – so roughly that week, I get a call from her father, pleading her case. She’s just a young girl. She made a mistake. Can we just let bygones be bygones? I went . . .
Traci Brown: No.
Mike Staver: I said, “$4,500.” There was dead silence on the phone. He said, “It’s $4,500?” I said, “It’s more than that.” I said, “It’s probably closer now to $7,000 or $8,000.” I said, “But you know what, if she’ll come up with the $4,500 that I can prove, I can pretty much prove the other $4,000, but I know I can prove this because I have the checks.” He said, “Well, how do you know it was here.” I said, “I have the signature, the bank verified the deposit, I know for a fact it was her.” He said, “Alright, let me think about it. I’ll call you back.” Then about a week later I got a call from their family’s attorney that said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “What do you mean, what do I want to do? I told like five people connected to her what I want to do. I want my $4,500 back.” He said, “Okay. But you know, she’s only in her 20s. She’s early 20s. She’s just a kid. She doesn’t have any money.” I said, “Then get Daddy to do it.” I said, “I don’t care who does it. I want my money.” That was the last I heard from her, or him, or anybody else.
Traci Brown: Nothing.
Mike Staver: That was 1993.
Traci Brown: Oh boy. Okay. I know that there is some recent activity on this or more recent, but what were the biggest mistakes that you think that you made? How can we have people not repeat your same mistakes and end up in this jam?
Mike Staver: Not expose people to opportunity without good procedures in place. I think it is unfair – I’m going to own my responsibility in this because here are the stupid things I did. She’s clear in the . . . when I tell you how the story ended, you know, karma is a bitch, but . . .
Traci Brown: Right.
Mike Staver: I will tell you that I don’t think it’s fair to expose employees without accountability to things that would unnecessarily put them in a predicament should they get in trouble. For instance, the mistake I made was I gave her access to the inbound checks and deposits without any accountability. I managed the business out of the bank account, instead of managing the processes that she was using.
Traci Brown: For instance, would you have – I don’t know – sent the mail to a P.O. Box and got it there? Because a lot of my business owners have similar challenges to what I’m hearing from you, but you had her living in her house, because what they’ll do is have their checks sent home so they at least got them in their hands first. Given the situation . . .
Mike Staver: I don’t know that would have made a difference because I would have still handed her the checks and said deposit them. She was responsible for making the deposit. I think what I would have done is I would have met with her every Friday and been very clear about the receivables because I was managing the account out of the bank balance rather than what the process was. Does that make sense?
Traci Brown: Yea.
Mike Staver: What I should have done was I should have had a spreadsheet with just standard receivables, payables, and deposits and seen where we were, and I would have caught that much faster. I would have caught that much faster. That was a big mistake. The second mistake I made was I didn’t do any kind of background check on her. I didn’t talk to a past employer. There might have been two or three past employers. I don’t know. She was young. She was 20 years old. I didn’t talk to any references. I just said, well, she’s vouched for my somebody who I trust who did some assistant work for me before that needed to make more money, and so I just took the word of somebody. That was a mistake. But I think the biggest thing was checks and balances. I didn’t have good – like now – I have four bank accounts and my finance person now is in charge of one of them and it’s a tax account, and I know every single detail twice a week. I get an update on Tuesdays and an update on Fridays. Then I back verify it with my accountant and my bookkeeper. It’s very specific. I will tell you that I manage the big account in the company now. Anything that comes out of my accounts now are all electronic, so there’s nobody handling the money on the outbound side or the inbound side, so we really manage that deposit trail. I have probably three backups that I didn’t have then. I was basically working out of a shoebox, money in. The shoebox was the bank. Money in the shoebox, pay the bills, money out of the shoebox comes to me. It was too casual. It was too – I’m not really big enough to have any kind of formal processes, and that I think leaves a door wide open, wide open.
Traci Brown: Got it. You’ve got triple backup now.
Mike Staver: Yea, yea yea.
Traci Brown: Now, tell us about the victim’s fund. What’s going on with that? That’s a California thing. I had never heard of that.
Mike Staver: I have it in the other room. I should have brought it in here. You know the call you never want to get. There are two calls I don’t ever want to get. I never want to get a call from the IRS and say, “Hey, we want to talk to you about a matter.” I don’t want that.
Traci Brown: Yea, that’s not good.
Mike Staver: And I don’t want to get a call from the District Attorney that says we want to talk to you about a matter. I am somewhere – I don’t know when this was – it was before the holidays, and I get a call from an investigator from the District Attorney’s office in Orange County, California. I’m like, oh God. Am I getting sued? Ugh. I don’t know why, I don’t know why, I don’t know why, it’s like a cop being behind you, you’re just sure you’re going to get stopped.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea, totally.
Mike Staver: I’m like, ugh . . . in fact, talking about it right now gives me anxiety.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Mike Staver: I called him back and he said . . . It was a weird call, Traci. I mean it was one of these . . . It was like, “Hey, this is John Jones from Orange County District Attorney’s office. I’m an investigator for the DA. Call me back at this number.” I’m like . . . I call him back, but it doesn’t say, welcome to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, put in your party’s extension. It just went to this voicemail that said, “This is John. Leave a message.” I’m like . . .
Traci Brown: Oh. That’s weird.
Mike Staver: My stupidity, I just call him back. He said, “Hey, I’m calling, investigating a case that you were involved in.” I’m like . . . It never occurred to me that it was this. It never even crossed my mind. He said, “Apparently, in the 1990s, you had a case against somebody who you alleged had stolen money from you.” I’m like, “Yea, that’s true.” He said, “Well, as fate would have it, she moved back to California and started writing back checks.”
Traci Brown: Oh, so this is a lifestyle for her at this point.
Mike Staver: Yea. What is that? 2003? That’s 27 years ago. She would be 47 years old probably now.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Mike Staver: He said she was investigated on a bad check charge and when she was investigated, they ran her information and your warrant came up that they had issued for her in 1993 – whatever it was, 1993, 1994, or 1992? He said, “So I am investigating what you want me to do with your case.” I said, “What are my options?” He said, “Well, you can pursue it. You can drop it. Or, you can make a suggestion to the judge. All I need from you is what you want me to share with the DA so the DA can share it with the judge.”
Traci Brown: Oh my goodness. Okay. What did you do?
Mike Staver: I said, “You know.” See, this is what gets me in trouble, between me and you and all your listeners, this is what gets me in trouble. I’m like, yea, let bygones be bygones. That’s what I thought in my head. Then I said, “You know what I want it to be is a lesson for her.” Be sure your sins will find you out. I said, “Listen, why don’t you have her do something for a victim of a crime? Why don’t you tell the DA that I would like her to do is I would like the judge to sentence her to go work with victims of fraud who were really hurt by it.” I was hurt by it then. I’m not hurt by it now. I said I make a good living. I have a good business. Things are going well. If I get the money back, it’s going to be nice, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t going to alter my lifestyle one way or another.
Traci Brown: It’s not make or break. Yea, yea.
Mike Staver: But if she could go sit in front of a single mom or a single dad or somebody with cancer who somebody fraudulently cleaned out their bank account for some treatment, if she can go face to face with those people, perhaps she would get clear.
Traci Brown: Right.
Mike Staver: He said, “Wow, that’s very generous.” I’m like I don’t know that it’s that generous really. I said, “If it was then, I’d be saying I want a pound of flesh.” That was it. Whenever he reached out to me, right in that time period, when I did that post, I got a check for that amount of money with a letter. It’s not called a victim’s fund, but that’s basically what it is. I got a letter that said, please find enclosed . . . My wife opened the letter, and she said, “I’ve got a check here for you for $4,500 something dollars from some organization in California.” Traci, I had forgotten that I had talked to the guy. I can’t remember what it is. I can get the name for you, but it was some organization and apparently, it’s a not for profit organization that works in the – I want to say the rehabilitation space. I don’t know if that’s what it is. That’s what it seems like it is. Then apparently, people who . . . they pay restitution into this fund as part of their rehab or sentence or whatever, and then the fund sends it out. It said, we realize this isn’t all of the monies that are owed to you as a result of your being a victim. I hate the word victim. But as a result of you being a victim of this crime, here’s the money.
Traci Brown: Wow! My goodness!
Mike Staver: Is that crazy!
Traci Brown: Almost 30 years later.
Mike Staver: But I will tell you, that check is still sitting in the little card thing to be deposited. I haven’t even deposited it yet. I don’t know.
Traci Brown: You better put it through your controls before you . . .
Mike Staver: It’s going in my account this time.
Traci Brown: Oh my goodness. Wow! That is quite a story. Now, have you heard anything from her at all or nothing? No?
Mike Staver: No. That’s the other thing I said, “You know what I’d like? I’d like her to write me a letter acknowledging what she did and apologizing to me and telling me what she’s going to do different in her life going forward.” That’s what I’d really like. I said the money doesn’t matter to me as much as her going to face to face with it. Clearly, she chose a path of . . . as a therapist friend of mine used to say, she had just a dab of sociopathy there.
Traci Brown: Yea, it’s a lifestyle for her. You’re really a rare case because about 96% of people never see anything. Nothing. Would you change anything you did about the way you handled it at the time, following up with the police or even talking to them lately? Anything you’d do different?
Mike Staver: I think after the fact, I was on such a tear. In fact, many of my friends are like, man, you just would not let go of it. I’m like, you know, it didn’t have anything to do with the money. It had to do with me feeling like the whole system was rigged. To tell you the truth I was angry because I thought the system was rigged against the little guy, and I’m not that guy that believes that, but I was like, what is it 80%, some huge percentage of the American economy rests on the shoulders of small businesses, and you’re not going to do anything? You’re just going to let it go? I felt like, and I’ve always felt like this, and I tell my clients this, I say, there comes a time when there is diminishing returns about the energy you invest.
Traci Brown: Exactly.
Mike Staver: Not only the time. But at some point, you are investing a huge amount of energy into something, and you’re getting no ROI at all, at some point you’ve got to let it go. My stepdad, who’s one of the – we lost him a year ago, but he’s just as much a dad to me as anybody in the whole wide world, very close, very successful business guy, didn’t get out of the 8th grade, started a company in the 1960s, just salt of the earth, southern gentleman, I remember sitting down and talking to him about several things that were going on at that time, and he said, “You know, Michael, life is about choosing what you spend” – he didn’t use the word energy, he used time, but for me it’s energy – what you invest your energy in. You just have to decide whether the amount of energy you’ve currently invested to get your money back is enough. If you took the same amount of energy you were investing to chase $4,500, could you go out and make $4,500 or $9,000, or $10,000, or $20,000, or $30,000, because he said at some point the principle doesn’t pay the bills. The principle of the thing . . . your mortgage banker does not care about principle unless it’s principal of the loan. I thought that was really helpful. I was really okay with it. I’d have been okay with it had I never heard from it again. I’ll tell you something interesting, at least interesting to me, my advanced degrees are in psych and the treatment of anxiety and phobias. It’s what I did in grad school. It stirred up a lot of crap from that period of my life though. It was very interesting. It was like . . . I live in Scottsdale now. I don’t live in southern California, but that period of my life had quite a bit of chaos in it right then. I was trying to start a business. I had just gone through a merger. I was trying to make things happen.
Traci Brown: Right.
Mike Staver: I had that occur. I had a bad breakup. I mean, it all happened in the course of about a year and a half. So, when he called and I got the check, it didn’t feel like, yes, it felt like, ick.
Traci Brown: It was all garbage.
Mike Staver: That’s what it felt like. It felt like stuff that I had dealt with years ago and grown past it and it was kind of a period of my life where I looked back and went, that’s just . . . the business was doing great. I was growing the company, but personally things were topsy turvy. I should write about it. It was really a fascinating sort of unearthing of something that had been gone.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. That is fascinating. I never would have thought that would have happened. But you know, because I have a background in therapy as well, that kind of stuff, it gets stuck in our mind and it’s still all there unless you’re willing to deal with it. Because we all have good times in life and bad chunks. That is so interesting that it just came back. People can do that to you, old Facebook posts or a call, or anything. This was a check which you’d think would be so good.
Mike Staver: I talk about the paradox theory all the time. Two seemingly opposite concepts that have to work together synergistically, like hot and cold water. Oh, look I got this, but ick, that whole . . . it just brought . . . she went out and got drunk one night with her boyfriend and me and my girlfriend had to bail her out of a bad situation. She almost got her butt kicked in a bar. I’m just like . . . just a bad whole thing.
Traci Brown: Whole thing. Yea, yea.
Mike Staver: We’re going to distribute that money a little differently. We’re going to sponsor a couple kids at a school in Rwanda. We’re going to double down on that.
Traci Brown: Oh neat! I had a feeling you were going to do something with it. You never told me that, but I was like, he’s not going to take that money. Wow, good for you! Now, why don’t you tell people a little bit about how they can get a hold of you because you do some neat stuff.
Mike Staver: Thanks.
Traci Brown: What can you do for folks? How can they get a hold of you? The whole thing.
Mike Staver: Yea. We’re just committed to helping leaders perform better and live better lives. If they go to MikeStaver.com, they can see all the goodies. At the top of the page of MikeStaver.com, if you want to subscribe to Mondays with Mike, I do a Monday morning vlog, I guess you would say, not really a blog because I answer questions. People send me questions.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Mike Staver: Some of them are very funny. Some of them are much more serious, especially nowadays. It’s a fun two-minute clip I do every Monday morning called Mondays with Mike. You can subscribe to that. There are all kinds of things there. We have a very robust coaching practice that people can apply to be a part of. Our online thing is the thing we are doing the most right now, our program called Quintessence Leadership. I did some research about four or five years ago on what it takes to lead effectively and we found that building culture, a rabid commitment to developing people, and understanding the science of scaling business are the three legs of the stool, and then we build the traits that help people succeed in those three areas. Yea, they can take a look at that if they want to.
Traci Brown: I love it. I love it. Be sure to reach out to Mike. If you’re listening, you’ve made it this far in the podcast, he’s just a gem of a guy. Thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting.
Mike Staver: Yea. My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.