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April 2010

How To Build your Practice Through Active Listening

With experience working in a Bordello, at the corner of Wealth and Bondage, serving the Ultra High Net Worth Markets, (before I went to jail and got born again, thanks to Chuck Colson Prison Ministries) I learned that the key difference between a street hooker and an in-call escort was what we called "priceless conversations," keeping the Johns and Jills talking about their purpose driven life, as we serviced their needs all the way up and down Maslow's hierarchy. I find these skills, I mean active listening, and kneeling, to be transferrable to my new work as Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families. I am studying to be a Geisha to broaden my cultural literacy. Learning to make tea and play the flute while my Private Clients tell me ad nauseam about the meaning of their lives. Well, it is good for business, brightens their evening, and keeps me from the streets, unlike certain others I could name.

Since Values are Relative, What in Hell Should I Care?

Taste - every one has his or her own; some have good taste, some bad, and all tastes are potentially profitable. Bad wine sells, and premium wine sells. I myself prefer Thunderbird as my communion wine of choice.

Ethics - every one has his or her own; some have good ethics, some bad, and all ethics are potentially profitable. I prefer commericial ethics, or business ethics, as best suited to my station in life, and providing the least friction for my noble trade.  

My Role as Servant of Servants to those who Serve America's Wealthiest Families

To teach people of taste (good or bad) and of ethics relative or absolute, high or low, to have what are called priceless conversations, or conversations of purpose, with clients. The advisor then emerges as a Trusted Advisor, Morals Tutor, or Homme d'Confiance (Confidence Man, is one translation).


God has so made this world that every culture has some version of the saying, "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations." Other such sayings include, "Remember Caesar that thou art mortal." And, "Dust to dust." And, "Those the gods would destroy, they first make successful." And, "Call no man happy until he is dead." 

My Benefit to God's Plan

By training Fools and Knaves to give priceless or purposeful moral counsel, I give God a good laugh. We owe him that much for the mess we and our best clients have made of his earth.

Reading the Rich as Sacred Text


...I felt an implacable determination that I mustn’t allow La Bruyère’s aphorism to constrain the bounds of my hermeneutical practise.

In advanced sales classes I now teach students to read the client's life as a Gospel of Wealth. For this I am or should surely be damned. I wake up in a cold sweat, imagining that some wealthy client says, "Look, Jackass, you are not the only Fool in this Dream. I can see right through you."

Moral Physician Heal Thyself

Civic virtue would be a high price to pay for moral health. Instead the wealthy consult the family therapist and charge off the counseling as a health related expense. No wonder our society is sick. Oedipus, The King, took the sickness upon himself. He was ruined but the city was healed. Where the hell is Dick Cheney? Bush? Obama? Clinton? Would that they would tear out their own eyes and exclaim, "I once had sight but could not see, now am blind and see all too well." Instead, they too and their kids no doubt take pills. This strikes us as normal. And so we have succumbed to the plague, we healers as contagious as our patients. The best medicine may still be laughter, Sire, if my sick jokes may please Your Honor.

Checklist for Effective Disaster Response

At Philanthropy Now you can download a free checklist (in a short or long version) for effective response to disasters. Charles Maclean, PhD did the research, with funding from Raqim Foundation.

Many well-intentioned relief efforts are not only unproductive but may cause harm. Inappropriate items are donated. Items are shipped long distances when they could be acquired nearby. Un-needed supplies incur storage and disposal costs and divert time and energy. Shipments may not be timely enough to be useful or may fall into the wrong hands.

This Checklist helps organizations new to emergency response choose options for supporting disaster-affected people. It is informed by humanitarian principles and evidence-based practice in emergency response. It results from careful research, project debriefings, and review comments by experts.

I hope this will be widely distributed, most likely by word of mouth. Kudos, Charles!

The Candidia Cruikshanks Philanthropy Medal of Honor, Apply Here

Here we go again. (Game on.) My boss, Candidia Cruikshanks, she who rules us all, CEO of Wealth Bondage, proud sponsor of Gifthub, and social venture philanthropist beyond compare wants me to have a Gold Medal of Freedom struck in her honor, her face on the recto, her boots on the verso. The idea is to recognize a rising millennial thinker or grantmaker who has done the most to advance philanthropy during his or her most earnest and upwardly striving years. "Honoring those Sweet Young Social Change Funders Who have Learned the Ropes," is the tentative motto. Preference is given to MBAs. I found this medal online and will have to get it customized for a few bucks.

So here is the deal. I will let the millennial funder honored by this medal blog at Gifthub under a pseud of his or her choosing, That way he or she can be himself or herself, fully authentic, without risk of reprisal or ostracism. To further protect the identity of the winner, I will also create a totally fictional character, a monster of unreason and complacency, much like what you see all around you, but more so. It will be up to you, Gentle Reader, to determine what is True and what is Bogus. To make it easier, I will also continue to blog here in Propria Persona. All my posts are (I speak in all sincerity) Authentic, but we can do plenty of damage all the same, with the Semiotic Russian Roulette played as per the above. I will play the Sincere Stooge, or Straight Man, with my real life bio pledged as proof of my integrity.

Of course, Bogus is as Bogus does and it is possible that all the guest bloggers are Real, or that all are Bogus. Unless you can tell which is which how in the name of God can you watch TV, make grants, manage subordinates, vote for the candidate of your choice, or make Informed Consumer Decisions? I mean what if the people in charge are shining us on as a matter of course? How would we know? Should we ask them? 

Can Philanthropy save Capitalism? I asked Candy, apropos of this important new Millennial Freedom Initiative. Fucking A, right, she said. We are going to save Capitalism up the Ying/Yang for generations to come if these little grantmaking sweeties do their job and kiss my boots in a proven process for doing well by doing good. You get more of, Phil, what you reward, and less of what you punish. That is the first principal of management, whether of employees, strategic grantmakers, or strategic grant consumers. You set such a good example, yourself, Phil, don't just stand there and smile like a waiter. Do something servile! Or, no, let me see you sit up and beg!" The Millennial Medal of Freedom is a small step on stiletto heels in the right direction. I am pleased to play my own modest part in the larger story of Western Civilization.

Greetings from DC

I am speaking here at the Association of Advanced Life Underwriting on how advisors and nonprofits can partner with board level wealth for inspired outcomes - like financial security for the family, more fulfilling lives, and greater social impact via the nonprofits that the family loves, leads, and supports. To get to these results takes vision, passion, and advanced planning. Who has all that? Few do, so we need to partner, not around a pitch, an ask, or a product but around the vision of a better life in a better world that brings the board level donor to the table with this particular nonprofit. When we (donor, fundraiser and advisor) align on vision, the case becomes an estate planning case, a business continuation case, or a financial planning case whose strategies are optimized around not only personal but also around civic goals. What this means in practice is that gifts increase by several orders of magnitude, with donors who are delighted to have all this done without having to sacrifice their other goals. Who does such holistic work now? Few. Very few. So I go from place to place with this talk, making a convert here and there.

Beyond Print Based Newspapers and College Courses too

Interesting article on how Pierre Omidyar is funding a post-print "newspaper" in Honolulu. Beat reporters stay in conversation with readers by topic pages, blogs, discussion boards, and tweets. The print medium fades away. I would love to teach this way. "Students" would Interact with peers, interact with teachers, post their course related ideas and action projects, review each other's work, revise accordingly, get a "voted" grade from peers, and the teacher will post a final grade. Instead of a course fee, the student might pay an ongoing subscription. A credential might follow from having participated in a list of "topics."