Help your vendor help you

I have a friend named Kris. Kris spent most of his professional life as a DJ—the radio kind, not the ecstasy-riddled rave kind. Years ago, Kris was offered two passes to an exclusive Prince concert. Kris accepted and invited a blind date with a penchant for partying like it was 1999. Upon arrival at the event, Kris was immediately mistaken for Kenny G. (That’s much funnier if you know Kris.) (more…)

Schedules: Recognize and Capitalize

Alarm

My wife Jen is a math teacher. She is also an avid runner.

On weekdays during the school year, she wakes up at 4:15 a.m. (As do I, thanks to our freakishly loud alarm clock. Then it takes me an hour to go back to sleep—on a good day. But that’s another story.) So my wife is up and the sun has yet to rise. Jen grabs a quick breakfast, heads to the gym, jogs five or six miles on the treadmill, drives home, inadvertently wakes me up as she takes her shower, and then dresses and leaves for work. Jen does sleep in before her “long” run on Saturday, waiting until 6:00 a.m. before our clock’s WOOP, WOOP, WOOP jolts us into consciousness.  

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Swing for the fences with pre-surveillance scouting

If you run in certain circles, the start of Major League Baseball season brings the inevitable re-telling of romantic tales honoring both diamond heroism and failure. Whether from the lips of legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully or your own father, you’ll never escape the stories that begin with “I remember when.”

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Quality Attracts Quality

Baby chameleon at Cottbus Zoo

I’m a journalist at heart. Always have been.

As a kid in New Jersey, I started my own sports publication. The content featured baseball standings and stories based on Mets games I’d seen on TV. I subsequently worked for our town’s twice-weekly newspaper, earned a journalism degree, and bounced around as a sports editor and freelance writer before transitioning into the risk mitigation industry.

Immediately, I noticed a number of similarities between the fields: legalities involved with obtaining photographic/video documentation, information gathering practices, hyper-attentiveness to detail, etc.

I also found a significant—and welcome—difference.

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Improvise and Thrive

So the Little League World Series is in full swing. And once again, I’m hooked.

As someone who’s spent half his professional life as a sportswriter, I thoroughly enjoy this event. Truly, it brings back great memories.

During my days with a scorebook and reporter’s pad, I loved covering youth sports. For starters, Little League parents had not yet blossomed into self-appointed experts and therefore voiced less complaints—or at least voiced said complaints at lower decibel levels—than their high school peers.

More than that, though, seeing those light bulb moments unfold was magical. You cannot help but smile when a No. 9 hitter digs in, keeps his eye on the ball, and WHACK—delivers a single up the middle.

Those kids on ESPN are clearly more accomplished than most of the youngsters I wrote about. Their skill-sets are amazing, especially for this age. The big mind-boggler, though, is their ability to read, analyze, and react. Not only do they have a solid handle on traditional game situation decisions, their ability to improvise based on opposing personnel and organic developments is stellar.

That same quality is vital in fighting fraud.

My first job in this industry was in background verifications. During week one, they handed me a list of questions to ask a job candidate’s former employer. One question involved whether the employee left voluntarily or was fired.  The next queried whether said employee would be rehired if his/her position was open.

On my first call, the employer told me our subject had been terminated. However, he noted that said subject would be rehired if there was a vacancy.

I asked why.

Apparently, the subject was released due to a departmental cutback, not poor job performance. I noted this and finished the interview. When the individual training me reviewed my sheet, he questioned why I went off script. Apparently, “why” was not a company norm.

I was floored, and I resigned within three months.

Folks, let’s face it.  I did nothing revolutionary here.  I ran into a scenario that was not covered in black and white and improvised. It was Journalism 101, and it’s everyday life in any risk mitigation firm worth its salt.

While investigators either in house or in the field should have a strategic game plan, it’s equally important to make educated adjustments to ride the ebb and flow of a given assignment.

Whether born from experience, instinct, or somewhere in between, it is imperative that decisions stream rather than stagnate and ultimately advance toward a concrete resolution.