Losing it All: A Hard Lesson in Greed and Self-Worth

UsMenTalkBy UsMenTalkMarch 9, 20206 Minutes

The year was 1999. I had just sold my financial services operation to one of New York’s largest investment banking private equity firms for many millions of dollars. I had started the company in 1989, worked hard over 10 years, and had 25 satellite offices up and down the east coast from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Fairfield, Connecticut. I was doing great and life couldn’t get any better.

I even introduced my friends in the business to this same opportunity, and they too sold out. Many of them made $25–50 million! Not bad, right? Now, they’re all retired while I’m busy sharing my life’s stories with you.

So what happened, you ask? Well, quite simply, I was greedy. I had an enormous ego, which was really just a cover-up for my insecurities and lack of self-confidence, and I based my self-worth on my net worth. Being flush with a big financial win, I was looking for that next big deal. You see, I needed another “self-worth fix.”

And wouldn’t you know it, within weeks, the universe delivered an unbelievable deal to my greedy little doorstep. One of my good friends at the time came to me with an amazing opportunity. Although he was a wealthy man already, and was a client of my firm and getting a respectable return on his money in traditional assets, this outside deal was generating him a 50% return monthly — guaranteed.

But that was nothing compared to the 100% return per month offered and contractually guaranteed on an investment of $10 million or more. The deal was so good that my friend came to my office and asked me to go in with him.

“Let’s put $10 million or more in 1 deal together,” he said.

Supposedly, we were trading bonds which were leveraged and borrowed at $100 to $1. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this scam before, but at the time, I was blinded by my greed.

“Yes, let’s do it!” I said to my friend. No questions asked.

Though I was well-versed in the financial services field, I had never heard of this type of deal before. But with my greed raging, all I could see were dollar signs. Mix that with my low self-worth at the time, and a guaranteed rocket ship to financial stardom, and I was “all in.” Yep, you heard me right. I took everything I had made from the sale of my business and bet it all on this one deal.

And then, instantly, what took me more than 10 year to earn, took me less than a week to lose. My friend and I were the last 2 investors in a $500 million offshore banking fraud, a scam so big it was featured on the show “American Greed.”

Ultimately, life had just dealt me a crushing blow, but also some important life lessons I can share:

  • Check to see what is driving your motivations and decisions. If greed for any reason surfaces as a motivating factor, walk the other way.
  • Don’t rush into anything with everything. Real opportunities will always be available and will come around often.
  • Lastly, anything done for the wrong reason — like greed, envy, lack of self-worth, etc. — will almost certainly produce a really bad result.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of me. In another article, I will talk about how I dealt with the financial devastation, physically, mentally and emotionally; how I kept my family and marriage intact; and how I rebuilt myself and my fortune again.

Okay guys, whaddaya think?

Have you lost money or been scammed out of money or property? It doesn’t matter the amount or the circumstances. Tell us what happened, how you handled it, and how the rest of us can avoid a similar situation.

Have a great day and a great life.

Larry Bryan
A regular guy, another opinion.SM