Service of Lessons Learned

December 23rd, 2010

Categories: Cheating, Control, Dissatisfaction, Do-it-Yourself, Lessons Learned, Specialists


As we hurdle towards the new year, thought I’d address lessons learned inspired by Michael Kubin’s opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Ponzi Scheme that Changed My Life.” He’d lost the money he invested with Bernie Madoff and concluded that he’s better off for it because “Bernie Madoff opened my eyes. I now understand that life is a game of Minesweeper where the mines are real-and that letting someone else play for me is a losing strategy. For that I am, I dare to say, grateful.”

Kubin is obviously young enough to pick up the pieces and recuperate financially and he says he didn’t invest all his savings with Madoff and he still has money to invest.

About his conclusion to go it alone in future, we’ve covered before, in “Service of Specialists,” what can go wrong when you opt for a do-it-yourself approach. Usually it’s because you think you’re saving money not paying an expert-accountant, real estate agent, graphic designer, writer, marketing, advertising or PR executive. In most cases, such specialists will save time and trouble and generate far better results than you can.

moneyundermattressGiven that Kubin wrote that he has an “MBA from a well known Eastern business school,” he has more qualifications than most to make prudent and effective investment decisions. But he’s busy being a writer and media executive, according to the bio in the paper. Can he really do the best job by spreading himself so thin?  It doesn’t mean he should toss his money or a project at anyone and walk away. Supervision is imperative. Extremes usually never work.

If one doctor gives you an incorrect diagnosis or solution, do you eschew all medical help? If one hair stylist makes you look foolish or ugly, do you let your hair grow wild? If a gardener pulls out your flowers and waters the weeds, do you pour cement where a garden once grew?

I’ve been burned, not always by crooks, but at times by people who have made the wrong investment decision or medical diagnosis based on how they interpreted the facts they had. As I put my whole heart and brains into what I do and have not always achieved the results I’d hoped for, I like to give others some slack.  When I’ve had truck with a bum, I try not to paint all people in the profession or industry with that bum’s brush.

Please share some lessons you have learned. How do you bounce back from a reversal?


4 Responses to “Service of Lessons Learned”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    It must be a highly unusual soul who expresses anything positive in the aftermath of a tidal wave, or as in his case, being victimized by Madoff. It does not seem normal to find happiness by being skinned. If enough people praise old Bernie for his actions, he may be released from prison and cited for public service!

    The world is full of predatory creatures, and learning to avoid them, or to recover from attacks can be highly productive in the learning sense. I have had my head handed to me in a number of ways, and while hooking up to effective new strategies, it always seems that something new has the habit of turning up. While it becomes increasingly difficut to hornswoggle this tough old bird, there is no way she is about to admit enjoyment of one lesson.

  2. jeanne Byington Said:


    As I read your comment I wondered: Might Mr. Kubin be showing off?

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    You could be right.

  4. Martin St. John Said:


    I’ve been burned numerous times. There is rarely much that one can usefully do to remedy the situation. The law increasingly favors the powerful, and the cost of revenge, in emotional resources, time and money, is too steep. I find the best thing to do is to steer clear of people likely to burn me and situations in which I’m likely to be burned. Granted that vastly limits who I know and where I go, but at least I have peace of mind.


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