I Did Business with Insane People
The word insane is drastically overused, for everything from mild moodiness and irritability to emotional changes. That’s not what this article is about, these are four stories of times I did business with people who were unwell psychologically.
Sometimes I ask myself whether it’s a degree of insanity within myself that has attracted these people and circumstances or whether it’s just a matter of dumb luck that I’ve been quite intimately ensconced in business 4 separate times with people varying from unstable addicts to genuinely demented… I’m leaning more towards the former than the latter. In addition to being entertaining, I hope that these stories can educate you on how to identify the tale-tale signs of insanity in the charming, persuasive people you are considering doing business with.
David was my best friend for 4 years, towards the end of that time it became increasingly evident that he was a none violent, high functioning psychopath.
David was on the path to become a doctor, he was incredibly hard-working and more devoted to his studies than any other college student I’ve ever known. David at any given time had at least one woman intensely in love with him, he had to pay for abortions at least 3 times that he told me about. To this day he remains the most charming person I have ever met.
David partied; he loved nightclubs, bottle service, cocaine and occasionally smoking crystal meth. He had a contagious ability to energize any room. David had a disturbing amount of confidence in his ability to drive drunk, he would, barely able to walk, drive his truck aggressively all the way across town. I remember watching David getting caught with cocaine in a nightclub bathroom and then proceeding to successfully convince the police that it was not his. He had an uncanny talent for getting drugs for free from gay guys, I remember several nights, going to hang out in seedy apartments so he could score drugs for free.
The only other passion that matched his appetite for intoxicants was his religiosity. He came from an intensely religious Mormon family (who I knew well, they where some of the classiest, most generous people I’ve ever known). Sometimes in a drunken fervor, he would explain to me how he was one day going to become a god of his own earth (this is part of the Mormon religion).
When I decided to enter the entertainment business at age 21 by organizing my first concert David was my partner. The last time I saw David he actually walked in on me having sex with a woman I had just met who had been admiring the brand new Maserati I was driving.
Most Insane Moment: David once stole and took on a joyride a tuner fast and furious sports car during a house party. When he returned the car’s owner, drunk on tequila, ripped him out of the driver’s seat and beat him up. David then hid in a room in the house with some girls while I tried to convince the car’s owner not to kill him.
A former banker, supposedly worth $12 Million, diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality syndrome), was the financier of an entertainment start up I worked for. Early in my career in the entertainment business a friend called me and told me excitedly that he had an investor who would finance whatever we wanted to do; concerts, nightclubs, clothing lines, football stadium events, etc.
They hired me as the second employee of the company and paid me $35/hourly to organize event marketing strategies and network with potential strategic partners (aka party). Ed had a beautifully codependent relationship with my friend, the CEO of the start-up who gave Ed’s darker sides continuous excuses to blow his money frivolously. One week they showed up with an Escalade (on 22's), next week a brand new Mercedes-Benz SLK350, then a new Maserati Gran Turismo from Ferrari of Denver. They also sent me on all-expense-paid trips to Scottsdale and Cancun, Mexico.
Ed took medication and saw a shrink to deal with his demons. What seemed to trigger Ed’s other personalities most consistently was drinking alcohol. One was a woman, one was gay and one was a reckless young man who just wanted to get drunk and laid. His personalities had a clever method for communicating with each other, they would call his cell phone’s voicemail and leave messages.
After several months of this spending, in an uncommon display of maturity and sobriety for a 22-year-old living like a rockstar, I wrote a formal letter to Ed and the CEO stating my serious concern with the spending before the business had made a cent of profit. Their response was a demotion, eventually, we ended up throwing a single event at the Denver Broncos football stadium, it lost probably $15,000 and I resigned.
Most Insane Moment: After a night of drinking Ed’s most malignant personality emerged while he was driving the company car, a black 2-seater Mercedes convertible with the CEO. The personality announced to the CEO that he was going to kill him. He then proceeded to run a red light doing +50 MPH and t-boned a sedan. Amazingly he didn’t kill anyone that day but he did destroy an almost $70,000 car.
A mild-mannered tech startup founder client of mine with a dark past. Early in my career operating a web strategy firm, I met a man with a great idea for an eCommerce marketplace. I agreed to develop his online platform in exchange for a four-figure payment and a piece of equity in his startup.
In the beginning, he came across as very smart, and easy to deal with, he told me he had recently gone through a tough divorce. As is common in the startup development world, we ran into all kinds of technical challenges and delays. We actually ended up having to sue a 3rd party vendor, I remember picking William up at his dad’s place for a long, awkward ride to the courthouse. About a year into the partnership William had significantly changed the project scope of what he wanted to website to do so he released me from my development responsibilities and had me focus on business development of future customers of the service, which I did building a list of over 100 potential customers.
I had a base of small business clients ready to use the service, but William was lost in a perpetual cycle of second-guessing and redesigning the technical side of things. I urged William to simplify the development side so we could begin serving the clients and generating cash flow. He started making me all kinds of promises, about increasing my equity, infusions of investment capital, licensing the business model in other countries, etc.
He was kind of a weird guy, he never went out to socialize or date, he lived with his dad and was singularly focused on his startup. Out of the blue one day, a woman on Facebook wrote to me notifying me of his history of domestic violence. Apparently, they had a kid together a long time ago and he had done a bunch of weird stuff to her. She provided me with police and court records to verify everything. Then I did something I hadn’t yet done up to this point: I Google searched my client William. The top results for his name was a news story identifying him as the Craigslist Stalker of Boulder of 2006 and other news stories of his weird and sometimes violent past.
4 years later, his website isn’t even up, no investment capital ever arrived, the customers I gathered were never served. In business, William wasted a huge amount of my time but I’m really just disappointed that this smart guy with such a good idea, worked so hard and never made it happen. From this episode, I learned that a great idea counts for nothing, even a great idea plus hard work is pretty useless without a clear way to scale into cashflow. I also learned to Google search the people I’m considering doing business with. Finally and probably most importantly, I learned that the kind of character that mistreats women is the kind of broken person who will never produce consistent results in business.
My business partner of a few years displayed frequent psychopathic tendencies. Patrick should have had a revolving door installed on his bedroom, he was a classic womanizer. As opposed to embracing polyamory he always had a girlfriend who was committed to him that he would cheat on at every opportunity. Patrick had a need for speed, he was passionate about fast, performance cars, he always had some kind of tuned up car that he drove like a demon.
Patrick had many redeeming qualities that made him a good partner. Any business I introduced him too he would learn fast and do better than me, he was a master networker; he would find ways to catch the attention of people more successful than us and land them as clients. He had high standards for the business and the quality of products and services we sold. As partners, he always made more money for the business than I did.
Towards the end of our business partnership, we become roommates for a short time and he was abusive to me, his girlfriend and our pets. I was astounded by his ability to not understand how his insanity made other people feel.
The last time I saw him we took a brand new BMW on a wild test drive through the foothills of Colorado. Patrick’s fast living and vices eventually caught up with him and he died in 2016.
Most Insane Moment: One night after seeing one of our favorite DJs at a nightclub we got into an extended high-speed car chase. Patrick was drunk, driving his racecar of a Honda Accord, he pulled into a restricted parking lot near the nightclub. Security guards approached the car, as opposed to apologizing, he screeched out of the parking lot, as he did the security guards bashed out two of the windows of the car with their batons. He clipped the fender of another car as he tore out of the parking lot, attracting the attention of two vigilantes in a white Jeep, who took up hot pursuit of us. We raced around the downtown area, running red lights and eventually got on the highway. Now usually one of Patrick’s cars could easily outrun a Jeep but the transmission of his Accord was going out as a result of his high-speed habits. The guys in the Jeep kept trying to run us off the road, they were not cops, they were people (probably friends of the driver of the car we had hit an run) who wanted to do bad things to us. About 20 miles north of Denver we finally lost them by taking an offramp and killing our lights simultaneously.
Originally published at www.limitlessmindset.com.