Nelson Mandela

Detecting the Scam



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and Chapters 1-3





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Obama, Osama and Trump — And Nelson Mandela's Ghost

(May 7, 2011)


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a video introduction from the author

negotiating skills, ethics,
common sense...and the scam

MadoffFaceless folks bearing briefcases—all exuding hubris and apparent respectability... This theme runs through the high-profile Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff and sub-prime mortgage adventures.

One key to detecting the scam lies in understanding how negotiating skills, a moral compass and common sense can help detect the scam...

dor or irishmanMichael Friedlander's book (and this site) represents an attempt to show how, if we can hone our negotiating skills, recalibrate our moral compasses, and apply some old-fashioned common sense, we will be better positioned to detect some scams...

Not that all scams can be detected. Many can't. We will need whatever help we can get. This might start with Nelson Mandela, the 10 Powers of Negotiation and The Duck School: the school of common sense...

Nelson Mandela's Gift...

As Michael looked at some recent high-profile scams, he was struck by the almost stunning lack of curiosity of some of our finest and brightest. These were the same folks we relied on to protect us against those scams. Sadly, few displayed either the courage or the moral authority to stand up to the scammers.

Few were prepared to use their common sense and negotiating skills to probe the underlying premise of each scam. Many were prepared to stand quietly as they knew something questionable was being pitched while also knowing that others would rely on their silence as some form of tacit support for the pitch. Nelson Mandela had all of the qualities and skills so many of our finest and brightest that were closest to the scammers lacked. These would be his gift to us...

The Subway Test

Can you be scammed if you have identified the lie underlying the scam, yet still do the deal? Michael illustrates this by way of the Subway Test:

Imagine someone approaching you in subway. He offers you a Rolex. It looks exactly like a Rolex, but is light as a feather. The price is $50. You buy it. Have you been scammed? No, you simply bought a fake Rolex knowing it was fake...

Suppose, however, a friend with very little money later asks you if he can borrow it and you agree. He is having dinner with a prospective investor in a new business he's pitching. Coincidentally, you know the investor and your friend immediately invited you to the dinner. At the dinner, your friend shows the prospective investor the new "Rolex" that he claims he'd just bought at Tiffany & Co. This was the same "Rolex" you loaned him. He even says you were with him when he bought it. When does your silence result in you joining the scammer class? If not immediately, when?

How many of those closest to the high-profile scammers could have passed the Subway Test?

The 10 Powers of Negotiation...

In researching Nelson Mandela's historic negotiations with the South African apartheid regime, Michael identified ten beacons of knowledge or “powers” of negotiation he displayed in those and in other negotiations. He called them "The 10 Powers of Negotiation."

What intrigued him about these Powers was how many of them were non-technical. Equally intriguing was how Nelson Mandela was able to apply them simultaneously while under such intense pressure.

The Duck School—the school of common sense...

Michael created what he's called "The Duck School: the school of common sense." He identified 10 rules of The Duck School—and 10 obstacles we have to overcome to apply those rules.

Applying this to high-profile scams...

Michael's book has explored how Nelson Mandela's Gift and The Duck School could be applied to three recent high-profile scams: the Enron, Ahmed Chalabi and Bernard Madoff adventures. The site will continue to apply these techniques to other scams.

A first review of Detecting the Scam...

So how does one draw a connection between the statesmanship of Nelson Mandela, the sleaziness of Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay and the surreal world of Hans Christian Andersen? Well, Michael Friedlander does it brilliantly, logically explaining in an immensely readable, personable and witty way how Mandela’s political principles can be employed as a didactic device to detect financial scams and cry out, like that fantastic child, “But the emperor isn’t wearing anything at all!”


The Jerusalem Post


(This page was last revised on Thursday, July 28, 2011 7:11 PM )