Jim Campbell, and the Truth about Bernie Madoff


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TSC 94: Jim Campbell, and the Truth about Bernie Madoff

Episode Summary

Jim Campbell, author of Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History, returns to The Sydcast to reveal the truth about Bernie Madoff, how his mind worked, and how he came to run the most infamous Ponzi scheme in history. Jim’s direct access to Bernie and his family makes for new and never-before-heard details about this master criminal and his scheme. Get into Bernie Madoff’s mind and learn some lessons about owning up to and facing our failures and mistakes in this episode of The Sydcast.

Syd Finkelstein

Syd Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor Finkelstein has published 25 books and 90 articles, including the bestsellers Why Smart Executives Fail and Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, which LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman calls the “leadership guide for the Networked Age.” He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Management, a consultant and speaker to leading companies around the world, and a top 25 on the Global Thinkers 50 list of top management gurus. Professor Finkelstein’s research and consulting work often relies on in-depth and personal interviews with hundreds of people, an experience that led him to create and host his own podcast, The Sydcast, to uncover and share the stories of all sorts of fascinating people in business, sports, entertainment, politics, academia, and everyday life.

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell has been the host, since 2008, of the nationally syndicated “Business Talk with Jim Campbell”; and, more recently, the syndicated crime show: “Forensic Talk with Jim Campbell.” “Biz Talk” is known for its “deep dives” with leading figures from the world of business; and the business of politics and sports. “Forensic Talk” features Wall Street crimes to unsolved murders to international scandal and corruption.

Mr. Campbell is also Assistant News Director at a Connecticut radio station – AM 1490 WGCH Greenwich. Previously, he was a National Director with a Big Four Consulting Firm – KPMG Consulting; an Officer with Dean Witter Financial Services (now Morgan Stanley); and an Analyst at IBM. He has a BA, Magna Cum Laude, from Tufts University, and an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth.

His book Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History is now available.

Insights from this episode:

  • How Jim Campbell got open access to Bernie Madoff and his family.
  • Why Bernie decided to talk to Jim, and what it reveals about Bernie’s psychology.
  • What you don’t know about the Bernie Madoff scandal, including when and how it really started and other behind-the-scenes players.
  • Could Ponzi schemes like Bernie Madoff’s still be happening today and can you protect yourself from one?
  • Tips and advice for aspiring authors and interviewers and secrets of the publishing business.

Quotes from the show:

  • “I said ‘Well, Bernie, this is your chance to talk to history, but I’m going to vet every single word you say for the truth…The rest was history, 400 pages of communication later. It didn’t come out quite the way Bernie had anticipated, but he was obsessed with telling me and rationalizing everything.” Jim Campbell [10:57]
  • “In his world, he was not a bad guy. He was obsessed with explaining, number one, that his investment strategy really did work. He would go through incredible details, very technical, and then say, Jim I realize I wasn’t doing any real trading. So that’s sort of delusional.” Jim Campbell [11:17]
  • “Bernie did not act alone, because not only were there these Big Four, but the feeder funds were willfully blind, the SSC was unwittingly blind, and the 17th floor, which was high school graduates, were completely witless.” Jim Campbell [14:35]
  • “The demons of his ego couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. He could not accept-- this is a fundamental thing-- he could not accept losses. How could you be in a trading business and not accept losses?” Jim Campbell [19:34]
  • “He was very good on innovation and cost control… [Bernie’s other] business itself, while it was legitimate, was worth 3 billion dollars, independent of the hedge fund, which was the Ponzi scheme, so yeah, it was successful. It broke down the monopoly of the New York Stock Exchange. It legitimized discount brokerage firms. In a way, he was a populous… He was a genius in exploiting opportunities.” Jim Campbell [22:07]
  • “Initial perception is this is greed. He’s stealing his customer’s money… He wasn’t making all the money. He wasn’t doing it for greed. He was doing it to maintain his reputation in any way he could.” Jim Campbell [26:57]
  • On Ruth Madoff: “I asked Ruth, what did you say when you heard this, and she said her first question was ‘What’s a Ponzi scheme?’ ...She was cult-like programmed by Bernie.” Jim Campbell [30:01]
  • “[Bernie] would even use the words, remorse is a complex thing for me, and until you’ve managed high-net worth investors’ money, you can’t understand what you are saying. ‘I was basically’ --and this is an exact quote-- ‘I was a product of corrupt culture on Wall Street.’” Jim Campbell [37:02]
  • On JP Morgan: “When you get below the scenes, a lot of ugly stuff. They smelled bad stuff, Madoff blocked them from doing due diligence, they got their own money out of hedge funds and left their clients in.” Jim Campbell [47:58]
  • “No other book has looked at the SSC, SIPC, JP Morgan, feeder funds, and has the whole thing and the Big Four because it’s not a story of just Bernie behind a curtain.” Jim Campbell [54:06]

Resources Mentioned

Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History by Jim Campbell

Stay Connected:

Syd Finkelstein

Website: http://thesydcast.com

LinkedIn: Sydney Finkelstein

Twitter: @sydfinkelstein

Facebook: The Sydcast

Instagram: The Sydcast

Jim Campbell

Website: http://www.campbellbiztalk.com/

Linkedin: Jim Campbell

Twitter: @JimOCampbell

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This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry (www.podcastlaundry.com)

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