Protect Your Circumstances
5 Fundamental Practices based on Universal Truths to Keep Riches, and Avoid Circumstances that might lead to Ruin.
Through powerful examples and “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me” stories, you will learn how better to keep compliant in today’s regulated environment, as well as to better protect yourself and your company from outside forces that could do you harm.
Henry Harrison is an entrepreneur from Dallas Texas that has started and acquired over a dozen companies, across a variety of industries. Henry and his partners owned a securities firm and started an Oil and Gas company which in fewer than 3 years raised $500 million from investors and $300 million from a joint venture partner. The business grew to over A Billion Dollars in value and over 100 employees. During the 2009 financial crisis and natural gas price collapse, the Securities and Commission took over their company and three years later the Justice Department indicted them. This resulted in a 6 year legal Odyssey which led to Henry spending over a year in Federal Prison.
You're shaking hands with the owner of a huge oil company, one of American's wealthiest men and a billionaire, right after he's agreed to advance your company 300 million dollars in a joint venture. He looks you in the eye, he shakes your hand and he says, "Congratulations, you're going to be a very wealthy man."
My story starts out sounding like another success story of an entrepreneur. My partners and I had founded this oil and gas company, and have grown to under three years to have as many as a hundred employees and 150 full-time contract landsman. We were right on the cusp, with this new technology enabling us to drill down into shell and extract oil and gas. So, it was a land boom and a rush and we were grabbing as much of it as we could.
Five years later, and I still get a little shaky when I talk about this, you get word that you've been indicted and you know that potentially means years in prison.
This was the environment of the world being on edge because of the financial crisis. This was the environment when banks were failing. This was in the aftermath of Bernie Madoff. The fact that our company, had been tremendously successful and grown remarkably fast, and had raised over 500 million from individual investors, we found ourselves under investigation by the federal government.
After living through all this I still struggle with how it happened. It's still, even among friends, difficult to get up here and talk about this….But I've come to appreciate that that doesn't matter. What does matter is that you protect your circumstances.
…I’ve developed 5 fundamental practices, to help you protect your circumstances.
Currently…in this country there are 2,300,000 adults in prison. 1 out of 35 people …is either on parole, on probation or in prison…1 out of 5 is a convicted felon…
60% of the people are there for…white collar issues…
Did you know that the department of justice wins in trial 90% of the time? …a prison sentence that was 5 years is now 25 years… It used to be you get a chance to plead guilty, go to prison for 2 years, go to trial and lose, get 4 years. Nowadays…the government accuses you of something and they offer you a chance to plead guilty and go to prison for 2 years… you're going to get 5 to 10 times that if you exercise your right of trial …and lose. That's 10 to 20 years...97% of the people held guilty by the federal system have pled guilty and avoided the risk of trial.
…there's a number of ways that people can get in trouble…Don't understand a rule, something happens on their watch, something…the government thinks they should have known about…
I met …people in prison that had even worse circumstances…someone…was giving…false documentation for the tax return and got in trouble…said, “…my accountants knew about it, they were helping me," next thing you know…he ended up in prison.
…met a guy who was a hunter…boat drifted out of the designated hunting...made a kill, went to prison…
…met a guy that owned a medical company…CFO…over-billed Medicare, went to prison for that.
…met an owner of a big car dealership… sales guy …phonied up …rebates …customers think …getting a better deal, he didn't now about it and he ended up in prison.
The lessons, I believe, apply to lots of other dangerous and outside forces…think about all the government agencies, state and federal, that can give you a hard time…not prison, but still a pretty hard time.
…interest groups, associations…licensing bodies…regulators all over the place, even competitors. There might be a target on your back and you don't even know it…
…learn from my failure, my heartache, my pain…how to protect your circumstances.
In this fast-paced, intense, ever-changing environment that we live in, I've come to appreciate how powerfully important it is, to focus on these fundamental principles to protect your circumstances.
It will change how you approach things, and help you forever.
...he gives you a document and across the top in big bold letters it says, the United States of America versus you. The United States of America versus Henry Harrison.
....you ever want to feel alone? Feel like you're up against Godzilla with a pea shooter, that's what that felt like.
...you're roaming around like usual but absolutely nothing is normal, you go to EO events but you're facing trial and your lawyers and the government are telling you if you go to a trial in front of a jury and you lose, you're going to get decades, up to 200 years, life, in prison. It's goodbye to everything, spouse, family, friends, everything gone.
Have you ever had something you just can't believe is happening to you, and then it just goes on and on and on?
When my grandfather was at the end of his long 93 year old life, I visited him in the hospital every day, and he said a lot of eloquent things to me, but the last thing he said even though it wasn't his most eloquent really stuck with me. He's got a tremor, tubes all in him, in and out of consciousness. He kind of turns his head slightly, and in a whisper with a hoarse throat, he says "remember, life is an adventure. Enjoy it, and appreciate people. The journey goes fast." And that was the end of his journey, the last things he ever said to me.
So I have been through a four year legal battle, FINRA attacking us that regulates securities, the lawyers that took over the company suing us, the SEC suing us, and the justice department indicting us. Think armies of lawyers looking for things to criticize. Four million documents, hundreds of employees, a billion dollars, and we worked on this case virtually every day for four years. Depositions, you name it. It was like one massive Harvard business case study. And I I think I learned a lot through that process. And it boils down to what...
Or I boiled it down to what I call three fundamental practices which I think will help any citizen which are both personal and professional. And while there will be some reminders in there, I think that I never would've thought how important they were until I went through what I went through. While nobody here has any mal-intent, nobody in this room, we all want to protect our circumstances including our health, our hamily- our family, our financial welfare, our homes. We all want to be able to protect our circumstances.
...on the government side of the fence, the people that work there typically don't have private sector experience much less business experience. And when they pull out the magnifying glass to look for things to label as negligent, reckless, or fraudulent, their viewpoint may be very different than your viewpoint.
Look at your house from your neighbor's yard and consider your circumstance from that perspective to stay out of trouble.
Protect Your Circumstances!
Surround yourself with people that will help you when they party's going on and back you up when the party's over.