Episode #25 - Narco Mindset Podcast - Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people
Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people
July 22, 2020
A discussion on how powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people.
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INTRO: Before we watched TV shows and movies on Narcos, and even before Pablo Escobar’s rise to fame, there was one man who was the ultimate Narco. He lived the Narco life of greed, money and power but found a way to reclaim his life, and use his astonishing experiences to empower others to live a life of hope, meaning and redemption. Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast where Dr. Jorge Valdes shares his journey through life before and after the Medellín Drug Cartel. From torture and multiple prison sentences to how he refocused his life onto a path of principles learned as a Narco. It’s time to share that raw truth with you, right here on the Narco Mindset podcast with your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes.
Jorge: Today on the Narco Mindset podcast: Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people. Payroll people, to us, never, ever have the guts to tell us that we’re wrong. I didn’t believe in God. I believed that God is whoever you make him out to be. I don’t ever want you to tell your story until you have a different story to tell. The biggest way that he preached to me was with his joy. Do you want to know who your friends are? Go to prison. As you rise to the top, find someone that you're accountable to.
Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast. My name is Dr. Jorge Valdes. Today, I want to talk about another topic that really relates a lot to me. You’ve heard me say before, to me, one of the best communicators and preachers out there is Andy Stanley in Atlanta. I say communicator because a lot of people that are turned off by Christianity or religion or organized religion, hear the word preacher and immediately they turn it off and they associate all kinds of things that they in their minds have about all preachers.
Some rightfully so, and some are definitely wrong. I say Andy Stanley is a great communicator because he does base all his arguments on some biblical passage but not in a preacher way, in a simple way that it really, really connects with each one of us. I’ve heard all the great preachers out there. I’ve heard tremendous messages but you know, I keep coming back to Andy.
As I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I and our kids are Catholic, and we go to the Catholic Church. Every Sunday, no matter whether we went to Mass or didn’t go to Mass, we will make sure that as a family, we sit down and we listen to that week’s message by Andy because I think it’s very, very powerful. I like the way he communicates. It resonates with me. I say that I am a Catholic Evangelical but at the same time, the biggest thing for me if I was to really describe myself, I would just say that I’m simply a lover of Jesus. Not in a religious way, it’s just that his love transformed by heart when I was just a hardened, miserable sinner or just a hardened, miserable human being.
I tell people, if at the end of the day I’m wrong and there’s no Jesus and it’s all been a big old prank, I really have lost absolutely nothing. I’ve lived life thinking that I’m accountable to someone greater than me. Somehow, I would then have no explanation of what happened to a person that didn’t care about anybody, selfish, corrupt mentally, and at the same time, suddenly transformed.
If there is no Jesus, then it must have been butterflies that transformed me but I’m going to go through the rest of my few years that I’ve got left or as the song goes, the next twenty-five summers or maybe just one summer, or maybe just one fall that I have left just believing that he’s real, that he was the one that transformed and changed my heart. In this message, it’s so good because the message is in reference to a book that he read, and out of that book, he ended up getting a live message that he and his wife, there’s a phrase that they just live by.
I want to title this podcast today “Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people”. Think about that. Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people. What do I mean by that and how does that relate to me? I tell people that when I got to a point in my life when I felt that I was God, it wasn’t because I woke up one day, I looked in the mirror and I said, “Wow, Jorge, you’re so good-looking that God must be like you.” No, it was the fact that people would just come around me and they would just worship me, and nobody really held me accountable to anything.
They saw me cheat on my wife and they thought it was great. They saw me do things that were just not right, and they thought that was great. If I got fat, they just looked at me and thought I was healthy. If I ate too much to the point that I got in the back seat of the car and opened up my pants because I couldn’t even breathe to go home, they said, “Wow, he really enjoys food,” instead of saying, “Wow, he’s a glutton, and he’s killing himself.”
The problem with people like I was in that position, and the problem with people of authority, and why is it that powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people is because payroll people, to us, never, ever have the guts to tell us that we’re wrong. Instead, what do they do? What they do is that they're constantly seeking our favor, and our favorite is so desirable to them that they would do anything for it by any means possible to gain that favor.
The truth is that I remember when I turned my life around after three years of encountering Tim Brooks. He was a guy that was not seeking my favor. I lived a very lavish life, he lived a very simple life. I had a lot of money, he had no money. But at the same time, he was a happy human being where I was a miserable human being but he was the first person to get up in my face.
I remember the first Karate lesson that we took. He ends up saying, “I’m going to teach you about the sword,” I was so excited because I thought he was going to take out this samurai, and I’m like, “Man, this is really cool. I picked the right guy. Wow! I’m so smart, Jorge.” Instead, what does he do? He turns around and shows me a Bible. I was so mad and irate because I was just a hard, hard atheist. I didn’t believe in God. I believed that God is whoever you make him out to be and people that need a religion were just weak people that had no way to find meaning for their lives within themselves.
I looked at this man, and I’m like, look, dude, like I would have done to anybody, to any of my payroll people, right? Anybody that I paid, it was my payroll people. In essence, he was my payroll person. I would have done what I would have done to any of them. If they ever contradicted me or said something that’s so outrageous as I’ve got something to give you that you’ve got no money to give me.
This guy didn’t even know how much money I had. I had millions at that time. In my mind, I could buy anything and anybody that I wanted because I had been doing that for so long, and I had been applauded for doing it for so long that to me, it had become second nature. When he said that, I looked at him and I’m like ... almost like saying, “Listen, dude, you work for me.” But I said, “Look, I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in that book. I’m paying you a lot of money for you to teach me Karate, so tomorrow you leave that stupid sword home, and bring the real sword.”
Well, most payroll people would have said, “Yes, sir, I’m sorry, I apologize, I didn’t mean it,” because they would be fearful of losing their favor or the money I was paying them. I was paying them a lot of money every day to teach me karate. But not him. To me, that was audacious and it was like, “Wow, this is crazy.” I rejected it immediately. The first thing I realized was that he was a 7th degree Black Belt. I didn’t have a gun, he was going to beat the crap out of me. Immediately, I said, “Hey, well, don’t get excited. When the steam room heats up, I’ll go ahead and you can waste your time reading that stupid book.”
The truth of the matter was that in reality, deep down inside, I’m going like, “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” It just triggers something because it triggered that when a payroll person tells a leader or a person of power something he does not want to do, then it just triggers that, “Well, he can’t get away with that. There’s no way that he’s going to get away with that.” But we all seek that. Every human being seeks that, and I tell people in power, the most important thing to do in life is, as you rise to the top, is to find someone that you are accountable to. When I got out of prison, I did not know how to behave as a Christian or this new life that I wanted to live. I wanted to do everything opposite than how I used to do it. I decided that I was going to be accountable to this professor, Dr. Walter Elwell.
Think about how hard that was for me. Here I am, I’m going to be accountable to this guy. This white, older man that has never lived a life that I had lived, has no idea what it means to be in my world or go through the things I go through, and I’m doing to let him tell me what to do? I’m going to agree with him that I will never make any major decision unless he agreed too?
I’m going to tell you, in the beginning, right off the bat, I thought it was a bad idea. But I’m a man of my word. When I commit to something, I commit to something because I’m an extremist. What I did is I said to him, “Okay, we’ll do that.” Immediately, think about this, immediately, like within no time at all, I had no money, I took a job as a TA because they gave me a per diem as a teacher’s assistant at Wheaton College in the Greek department because they paid me $ 25-30 a week and at the same time I had a card that I could eat for free in the cafeteria for lunch.
I remember going there for lunch and taking a baggy and I started stuffing the baggy with food so that I could have that for dinner time because I had no money at all. I was 40 years old. Whatever little I was getting I was sending it for child support, $500 a month. I was living off the student loans because I had no tuition to pay. I was on full scholarship so I would take whatever loans they would give me, and I paid child support with that, and whatever little I had left paid for my rent and my gasoline and insurance. It was very, very tough. Suddenly, when people started to find out who I was in churches, they started to invite me to come and share my testimony. The first thing that they would do, of course, immediately, I said, wow, that’s great because some churches can give me $200, some $500, some big church can give me $1,000.
To me, that could mean like a whole month of being able to have a little extra money so that when I started to go out with Sujey, on Saturdays, our date was we would go to Barns & Noble. We’d go there to read. Unlike other people, we had to take our own coffee because we had no money to buy coffee. It would have been nice if we could have gone there and buy an espresso but that $2 that that espresso costs would have just messed up literally our whole month, so we did not buy the espresso.
I’m saying to myself, “Well, that’s a great idea.” I go in and run it by Dr. Elwell. I go, and, every Wednesday when we met for lunch, I would go and I would run by his anything, decisions I had to make. I remember him saying to me, “No, I really don’t want you to do that.” I was like, “Dr. Elwell, I’m helping people to hear my story and at the same time, I need that $500.” He was like, “Jorge, let me tell you something. The church is amazing about making heroes out of people but it’s just as good about destroying those heroes. I don’t ever want you to tell your story until you have a different story to tell.”
You know it was 20 years until I realized what a genius of a statement that was because now when I tell my story, I don’t only tell about this horrific drug dealer that God changed his heart and went to prison and came out of prison. Now I can tell that that drug dealer reinvented himself, found hope and redemption, and is able to share with others that our past does not define our future.
Why? Because that horrific person, who all I could say back then was I lived this life, I was rich, I was a bad person, Jesus came into my heart and I became a born-again Christian. Think about it. That might be a great story to tell for some people but for me, it wasn’t. The great and impactful story is the one that I can tell that I came out. I earned a Ph.D. and I met the most amazing woman God has ever, ever created especially for seven years that I have been celibate. I met a woman that satisfied me in every aspect a woman can satisfy a man.
When I used to pray, God, can Sujey by herself satisfy me? My mind had been so corrupt that if I didn’t go to bed with two women, I could not have any sexual intimacy. Here, I’m meeting this girl and who’s a virgin, and was very holy. Can I be satisfied with her? I prayed that for two years when we were engaged. God honors our sacrifice. God honors our commitment and God honors purity. I tell my kids, listen, “Why do I look at my wife now after 25 years of being married? Why do I look at her with so much respect and so much love versus how I looked at my other wives?” Again, it’s nothing about them, nothing that my other wives did wrong. It was about me. It’s all about me. I was a bad person.
The common denominator in my two failed marriages was that I kept bringing myself to them. The difference was, I had sex with them very, very early in our relationship, literally just about a day after meeting them. I waited for two years to have sex with my wife. Think about it, a guy that was going to bed with different women every day of his life. When I gave my life to God, I became celibate for seven years, again, because I’m an extremist. Then I end up having this amazing relationship. Every day, I’m more and more in love with my wife, and every day, our intimacy is greater and richer because we have a lot more, and we created a marriage based not only on how good our sex was but we created a marriage on many, many aspects, spiritually, intellectually, and yes, sex is just as important in a marriage but if it comes in the right moment and in the right manner, it just becomes that much worth it.
Getting back to why payroll people do not ever answer up to their leaders, I agreed because I gave my word to Dr. Elwell but I was cursing myself every day. I wanted that $500, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t want to struggle as I did for all those years. But it worked out, and it became great, and it became amazing. In this book that Andy Stanley mentions that I ended up buying, Albert Speer, and I urge people to read it. It’s a thick book. It’s called Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer.
Albert Speer was the architect of Hitler’s and probably the only person that Hitler really trusted. He was really closest to him. In the book, and Andy Stanley mentions something that is so real. He says, “A special trap for a holder of power, whether a director of a company, head of state or a ruler or a dictatorship, his favor is so desirable to his subordinates that they will seek for it by every means possible. Stability becomes endemic among his entourage who compete among themselves in the show of devotion.” When he said that, it just hit me right because I remember all of my bodyguards, I remember all the people that served me, fighting to see who could lick the best in front of me. The truth of the matter was that the more they tried to please me, and the more they ... well, let me just put it bluntly, the more they kissed my ass, the less I liked them.
Andy goes on and continues, “This, in turn, exercises a sway upon the ruler who becomes corrupted in his turn.” Here I was, a young man who was very, very ethical, very moral, cared about people, just very committed to succeeding in life ended up, because of all these people as I gained money and power, kissing my ass, it became corrupt and it corrupted my mind. I remember telling my mum one day when she was telling me, “Son, what you do doesn’t please God.” I’m like, “Mum, are you crazy?” and I called her stupid for the first time in my life.
Here’s a woman that I adore, that I held on a pedestal, that I had never, ever in my life disrespected. I called her stupid because she was telling me what I’m doing doesn’t please God. I remember telling her, “Mum, I am God. What can God do? He can buy and sell anyone he wants. So can I. Can God have anything he wants? So can I, mum. Does God have power over life and death? So can I, mum.” I stormed out of that room irate and really in deep pain. But she was not my payroll person.
Immediately I went to my payroll people, went to those that surrounded me, and I told them about it. They laughed and they were like, “Well, you know, your mum, she’s so religious but you know, Jorge, you know what you're doing, and you're the best.” In essence, what they were saying is, “You're right Jorge, she’s crazy, you're God.” But they knew better to say anything negative about my mum. Andy goes on to say, “The key to the quality of men in power is how he reacts to the situation.”
He’s quoting here from the book, the Third Reich, “The key to the quality of men in power is how he reacts to the situation. I have observed a number of industrialized and military men who knew how to fend off this danger.” In other words, there are people in power that know how to fend off that danger and, in an essence, I don’t believe I had power when I came out of prison but by being accountable to Dr. Walter Elwell, I was able to fend off all that temptation and all the things that could and would have come my way.
Albert Speer goes on to say, “Hitler himself put up no resistance to the evolution of a court.” Andy closes his message by saying, “People who will always tell you what you want to do. That’s what the court is. Those people that are kissing your ass and telling you, “Oh yeah, what do you want to do, that’s wonderful.” You want to go cheat on your wife, yeah, no problem. You want me to go get a hotel room in my name so she can’t find you or figure out where you are at? Of course. You want me to take the clothes and the champagne to the room?
My guys did. In reality, they were enabling me and they thought that by doing all this stuff I would think higher of them? Not really. I would never think higher of them. I never would have thought, ever, ever, about them the way I thought about Tim who had the guts to tell me I had no money to pay for what he was about to give me, who was bold. It wasn’t about preaching to me. He just simply read from the Bible. The biggest way that he preached to me was with his joy. The way he lived his life. He was married to his wife for twenty-somewhat years, they were madly in love. I couldn’t understand that back then. Impossible.
I understand it very clearly right now. He was so happy in a little itty bitty house and I’m like, “This guy’s crazy. That house is a shithole.” The truth of the matter, it was about 1,000 square feet. My guest house was almost 5,000. I lived in this big old mansion. I had this ranch. I had a professional baseball field, basketball, gym. I had built a Karate studio. I had everything a human being would ever want but yet I was miserable. He had nothing and he was full of joy. That was actually the greatest witness to me. When people say, “What did Tim say that changed your life?” I say, “Really, nothing.” The two hours that he was talking to me, I was just barely getting over that ass-kicking he had given me, but it was everything that he did. How he walked. The love he had. How he and his wife would have tremendous joy.
We went to a Karate tournament in Seattle, and I felt so embarrassed that I flew coach with them and I was like, “Oh, my God, this is like the most horrific thing in the world.” I mean, roughing it to me is going first class and not in my private jet but they were all going coach, so how could I just go first class. So, I’m like, “Look, I can suffer through this trip.” You know what? It was the most joyful trip because they started getting apples and they were slicing them with their fingers like a Karate chop, and they were having fun.
Everyone was laughing and everyone was joyful. I’m saying, “How can you have fun back here? How can these people enjoy themselves? The seats are small. There’s no champagne, the service sucks.” This is way back then. This is in the ‘80s when we still had good service on the airline, way before a bag of peanuts and a little plastic cup of soda. Everything that he did is what transformed my life.
The biggest message and Andy stresses, and I think it’s very, very important for all of us to hear. In whatever position of power we are, or whether we are climbing the corporate ladder or not, is that if God makes you a queen or a king, keep those who knew you before close. One person that knew me way before then was my brother, and you know, I abandoned him. Had I listened to my brother, had I stayed close to him, you know, I thought my brother was a coward because he was afraid. He did not want to get involved in the drug business with me. No, he wasn’t a coward. He was a genius. He didn’t miss one single visit when I went to prison, and then he wrote that song to me, The Hungry Years. You know, The Hungry Years. What an amazing ... I urge everyone to listen to that song.
My brother sent me the words to that song by Neil Sedaka – The Hungry Years – when I was in prison. It was so applicable but he changed the wording, and I’ll quote you some of the words, “Brother, you made it to the top. You went so high, you could not stop. You climbed the ladder leading you nowhere. You forgot the two of us together when we were building castles in the air. You spun so fast, you could not tell the gold ring from the carousel. How could you know that the right could turn out so bad? Everything you wanted was everything you had. Oh, my brother, I miss the hungry years. The once upon a time, the lovely long ago. We didn’t have a dime, those days of me and you we lost along the way. You know, how could you be so blind, my brother, not to see the door closing on the world that you hungered for? Looking through my tears, I miss those hungry years.”
He said, “I remember our daydreams one by one. We made plans and it was so much fun.” I remember I vividly saw the picture of my brother and me, we were 10, 11 years old. Hungry, no money but making plans that one day we would succeed because we were going to work hard. We were getting up at 4.30 in the morning to deliver newspapers, coming from school walking 10 blocks. We cut grass and we cleaned cars. We did whatever we can to help feed our family. Then he writes, “We share our daydreams one by one. Making those plans was so much fun. We set our goals and reached our highest star. But the thing that you were after, my brother, they were so much better from afar. Now, here we stand, just me and you, with everything and nothing, too. It wasn’t worth the price you had to pay. Oh, my brother, how I miss going back to yesterday.”
Then he ends, “How could you be so blind not to see the door closing in the world you hungered for. Looking through my tears, I miss those hungry years.” He was so right because he was my brother who was not a payroll person but was willing to tell me exactly how wrong I was. I got far away from him because I didn’t want to hear it. It wasn’t until I went to prison that the only person that stood by me was my brother, my mum and my dad. I tell people, you think that you do things wrong, and you break the law and you’ve got all those friends that are kissing your ass, telling you how they're going to stand by you, how they're going to die for you.
I had bodyguards paying $5,000 a week that would say, “Oh, I would take a bullet for you.” Well, let me tell you, the first Christmas when I got home from jail, I didn’t need anything from anybody. I call home and my brother answered the phone and I’m like, “How many people are there?” Because every Christmas, every New Year, there were hundreds of people around my house.
I had a whole bedroom full of gifts that people would give me just to kiss my ass that I didn’t even open, and whenever someone’s birthday came up or something, I would tell the maid or I’d tell my ex-wife, go in there and get something out of there. I called and I asked my brother who else was there, and he said, “No one’s been by, my brother. Just me, mum and dad.” I went back to my bunk and I cried like you can’t even imagine because I just couldn’t believe it. How could they have abandoned me like this? I made them all rich. I bought them for all houses. They applauded me. I was their God. How could they not come by and at least spend an hour with my parents? They didn’t need anything. They wouldn’t have taken anything anyways. But just the fact that they were there would have made them really, really feel good. Not one single person went there.
Do you want to know who your friends are? Go to prison or get deathly ill. You’ll find out who your true friends are. I urge you, as you're climbing the ladder of success, or you are there. If you want to truly be happy, if you want to truly find meaning for your life, and if you truly want to live a righteous life, go back and find those that knew you when you were nobody. Listen to them. Find that accountability partner. Humble yourself. Run major decisions by people that you trust. People that you know are going to tell you exactly how it is because they're not there because of your glory or your glitter. They're there because they knew you when you were nobody.
My friends, life is short. We only get one stab at life. I urge you, take a good stab at it. Live a righteous life. Don’t allow those people who kiss your ass to make you feel like you're God. Because at the end, it will do nothing but corrupt you. Thank you so much. I’ll see you next week on the Narco Mindset podcast.
If you have enjoyed this podcast, go down to the bottom of the page. Go ahead and hit the subscribe button. Join our community. You’ll get a free copy of my latest book. You're going to find out all the contents. I’m coming up with some coaching programs. We are doing a lot of content. Every day I’m posting a small saying for the day. Sayings that I’ve lived by all my life every day. For the last week, my son has been recording what he calls A Day in My Life. He’s an up-and-coming filmmaker, my youngest son, Estevan. He thought it was a great idea that he would go ahead and tell people about the father he knows because eventually, we want to do a story about my life but it’s going to be through his lens.
I don’t think if it’s ever been done before. Number one, because a lot of us that lived the life I lived is not alive or free to tell about it. There really is no other life to tell but the life that they lived as a drug dealer, as a powerful mafia boss. My son wants to tell the life of the father that was there for all the Little League practices. The father took him to all the golf tournaments. The father that cooked him breakfast in the morning and drove him to school and picked him up from school. The father that went to the movies with. The father laughed and joked. The father that now would play Uno after dinner. The father always instilled positive messages in his heart. The father said I was sorry when I was wrong.
But there’s another father that he never knew. That powerful drug lord that was corrupt, that made millions and felt that he was God. He also wants to tell that story because the thing is, at the end of the day, we only think that bad things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to very good people and they do when we cross the thin line. So, again, go to my webpage, subscribe to my channel, subscribe to my YouTube channel, sign in to our community, subscribe to my social media pages and I’ll have a lot of content. I’m on a mission, and the mission is really simple. With your help, we’re going to change the world, one child at a time. God bless.
OUTRO: We’ve come to the conclusion of this episode of the Narco Mindset podcast but your path towards hope, meaning and redemption continues. For more information and resources to help you on your path towards finding a life built on integrity, honor and truth, head to jorgevaldesphd.com, and join our community. We appreciate you joining us for this episode, and look forward to helping you find your turning point right here on the Narco Mindset podcast.