Compliance in Business with Tom Fox

August 11, 2020

Tom is literally the guy who wrote the book on compliance with his seminal one volume book “The Compliance Handbook” published in May 2018 which was the No. 1 new bestseller on Amazon.com through its initial run. Additionally, Tom has authored 17 books on business leadership, compliance and ethics and corporate governance, including the international best-sellers “Lessons Learned on Compliance and Ethics” and “Best Practices Under the FCPA and Bribery Act” as well as his award-winning series Fox on Compliance.

Tom leads the social media discussion on compliance with his award-winning blog, The FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog and is the Voice of Compliance, having founded the 40 show Compliance Podcast Network. He is also a member of the C-Suite Radio Network. He can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit TheMarketingMasters.com.

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I am John Shegerian, and I am so honored to have with us today, Tom Fox. He is the Compliance Evangelist and the voice of Compliance. Welcome to the Impact podcast, Tom.

Tom Fox: John, it is really my pleasure to be here.

John: You know, Tom this is fun for me. I got to tell you, you were so kind to have me on two different podcasts on the in Compliance Podcast Network before which you are the founder of and you run. And you are doing very important work, but now I get to interview you today and I get to turn the tables and turn the mic so to speak, so it is fun for me but you are doing great work. Before we get going, I want you first to share a little bit of the Tom Fox journey and experience. Like share with our listeners your biography and how you even got to become the Principal of the Advanced Compliance Solutions and the founder of the Compliance Podcast Network.

Tom: Sure, John. I am a Recovering Trial Lawyer. From that work, I went into the corporate world and I learned about a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that law prevents US companies from engaging in bribery and corruption outside the United States. It was my introduction to compliance inside of a corporation. I came on board after the company had violated that law. I came on board and was part of the original or the new team to implement the new Compliance Solution. I did that for a couple of years. The company was sold and I went out on my own or rather what I really wanted to do with my life at that point was race bicycles. I went on this great journey of bicycle racing. I was over 50 I could ride in the Senior Division. Until one day, I was taken out by a Hummer on a training ride, pet into my cycling career.

Tom: At that point, I was going to have to go back to work and I decided when I convalesced enough, and I could get on my walker and topple into my office to focus on what I learned in my last corporate position, which was the design, creation, and implementation of best practices compliance programs. I was laid up and the only time I could leave my house was to go to physical therapy. So I created this entire International Consulting Corporation literally out of my house, in front of a computer. I could not go meet anyone. I could not go to dinner, could not go to a conference, could not go to a meeting, could not really do anything, so I learned how to do compliance virtually. I started blogging as a marketing exercise, try to get my name out, and that led the podcasting and the podcasting led to the founding of the Compliance Podcast Network about 3 years ago. And now, I have a 40 show network which 28 are mine and you have been gracious enough to join me for a couple of shows.

John: Well, it has been absolutely my pleasure. It has been really important, what you are doing in the platform, you are giving. For our listeners out there that want to find Tom’s great work, you can first go to fcpacompliancereport.com or compliancepodcastnetwork.net. You know, they call you the Compliance Evangelist because to have a platform of 40 different podcasts on the compliance and the complexities of compliance issues and the importance of compliance. Can you share a little bit about what your shows are covering and why they call you the Compliance Evangelist?

Tom: Sure. In ancient Greek, an Evangelist was to bringer of good news. And I certainly believe that for the business professional, for the business executive compliance is the good news. And compliance is the good news because you can look at compliance as a way to avoid regulatory fine and penalty, would potentially violent in a criminal law. Well, I say effective compliance programs equate to more efficient business processes which actually make companies more profitable. So I evangelize that better compliance will make your company not only better but it will make your company more profitable. And if we can move the conversation of compliance being a cost center to a profit center, that is where I think companies are really going to understand the true value, but more importantly the power, the compliance.

John: You know, you got your podcasts out there and you have all different specialists come on these podcasts with you to cover topics that are current you know. We are going through a very, very weird time now during COVID-19. We are also in an election year. Can you share some of the hot topics that you have covered recently and you are going to be covering the future during these very strange times, let just say.

Tom: Sure. So when we all sort of went into lock downs in early to mid-March, I decided my role in this was to start yet another podcast. So I started Compliance and Coronavirus, and that you have been on that podcast–

John: Yeah.

Tom: And that podcast was designed to bring clear and saying business information to the business professional. It was not sort of a health-related Compliance Podcasts on the Coronavirus and COVID-19. It was how does this impact your business? What are the regulators saying? How can you do business when your workforce is now remote? What is the mental health of your workforce? How are you as the business owner, can help your employees who may be feeling lonely, maybe feeling isolated, what can you do? All of these things and everything in between, obviously that is significant. And as we move now towards the reopening, how do we do business going forward? Can we get together in a conference in Q3 or Q4 of 2020? How can you do business in different ways? So that one is pretty popular and certainly timely, I do a daily Compliance News Podcast, which is a four-minute wrap-up of the four top stories and lastly, I do a weekly compliance wrap-up.

Tom: And then, I try to bring detailed information to the compliance practitioner from a wide variety of sources, from other compliance practitioners, from lawyers, from people who may touch the compliance world, but they have a little bit different focus. You came on one of my favorite podcast called Innovation and Compliance and although the word Compliance is in the title, it is really about innovation and you certainly fit the bill for innovation. And there when I am trying to bring these new and different ideas to the law of legally trained Compliance Practitioner to think about, “Hey, maybe there is a different way to do this that is actually more efficient.” And that is certainly one of the things you talked about when you joined that podcast.

John: Wow, you know besides your podcast which are just incredible, your network and I really enjoyed appearing on two of your podcast because you really know how to get to the heart of the matter. You have written 17 books. I mean I have friends that have been talking to me 10 years about ever writing their first book. First of all, I do not understand how one human being is that prolific. That is incredible unto itself Tom, but I know how really smart you are trust me. But one of your books became a best-seller called the Compliance Handbook. Talk a little bit about what caught the eye of the readership out there that that became a number one. And then talk a little bit about becoming a successful author because obviously you have done it, you have done it 17 times over. And I would love for our listeners who are dreaming of writing a book, to get some best tips from you on how to go out and actually do it.

Tom: So let me start with the second one first because that is by far the easiest. When my daughter was seven, she wrote her first book and I said, “Honey, how did you do that?” She said, “Dad, it is easy to write a book, you just sit down and do it.” And that is what writing a book is, just sit down and do it. Write something every day, and write one page a day, in one year, you will have 365 pages. Just sit down and write, do not wait for inspiration to hit the lightning bolt. It can hit you. I am not that kind of writer. I write every day and I keep at it and at the end of the year, I have something. In terms of the Compliance Handbook, it is a single volume, a detailed summary of the design, creation, and implementation of a best practice compliance program. The Department of Justice released in 2012, 10 Hallmarks of an effective Compliance Program. So there are 10 chapters, one for each hallmark, there is a beginning chapter on best practices or rather, how do you create a compliance program in 30 days. And there is an ending chapter on operationalizing compliance.

Tom: So it is very biblical, 12 chapters, it is designed to read one page a day and give you three key takeaways that you can do at little or no cost that day from your compliance program. So I try to write very practical things that people can use today. I am editing that that handbook, I am updating it this year. And I was going along great. I was of nine chapters into it. I was going to deliver it early and then Monday, the Department of Justice released updated guides. Now, I got go back and rewrite everything where I used the 18 guides. And I have got to update it to the 2020 guide. So that is just a little bump in the road, but I try to write practical stuff that people can really use–

John: So your book, that is fascinating, so it is actionable items, bite-sized reading and it is not all above their head, it is stuff that they can really roll up their sleeves in there. You are giving action steps for them to take, so they are going to really get something out of the book that makes total sense–

Tom: Right.

John: That makes total sense. Wow. So wait a second, now that you brought it up, so when your seven-year-old daughter gave you that advice, what is she doing now, where is she, and what career to path did she take?

Tom: Well, she is a senior in college, I think. It is quite clear to me but–

John: It never is when you are a parent, believe me everything you got mother, you know our whole thing of going through in four years and being on very tight timeline that kind of sort of blurred when we became parents and our children went through college, so now I do not know how that got blurred.

Tom: But I will say she has a flexible format, but given the hiring situation for new graduate, I am kind of inclined to think she is right about maybe wanting to extend it out. Nevertheless, she is at Portland State. She is in Graphic Design. She is very artistically-inclined and she has done podcast, she has done artwork. Now, she is doing graphic design, so she has always had that sort of band and that is kind of what let her write a book when she was seven. And it has just been a ton of fun to watch. I do not think there is anything more enjoyable than life than watching your child grow up.

John: I think you are right. I will tell you, I am a brand-new grandfather for the first time and I am going to just tell you, that also becomes also a great, blessed experience also. Both the children and the grandchildren part of life is really the fun part of the journey, really the fun part of the journey. I cannot agree with you more, but boy she gave you good advice and you followed up on that 17 books and a best-seller. And again Tom is doing as he said he is doing a reboot of the book, The Compliance Handbook, so if you are interested, I am sure you can buy it on when it comes out on amazon.com and other great places those books are available nowadays.

John: Talk a little bit about where you are going to take this, with 17 books and 40 shows on your Podcast Network; you are doing a lot, Tom. You are a busy human being and I also know that you are also happened to be a lawyer by profession, which you humbly do not even mention in your biography. You are really, really an accomplish human being as people go in any society and you are young. So what is the next step, since we are all working now into our late 60s and 70s and 80s, what is your vision for the years ahead for your network and your writing?

John: So I really want to grow this network and try to create something of value with this network. I really firmly believe in the podcast. I believe in the podcast format. I love doing it. And so, I think I am going to continue to grow that and see where I can take that and at this point, I do not really have any idea how far I could take it, but I am going to. I am going to experiment with different forms of story-telling for the corporate world, from corporate communications. You are right as a lawyer, it is death by PowerPoint, I have been in presentations with 300 PowerPoint’s. And you look around you can tell the lawyers and you tell a business guys because the business guys have their eyes rolled inside their head at PowerPoint number 4. And so and the lawyers are wrapped because we are talking to my case citations–

John: Right.

Tom: So those sorts of communications, how can you and I communicate, how can you communicate the compliance obligations that you have and your customers have and your third parties and your supply chain has in a manner that people are going to remember. So I try to create stories, there are always stories in the anti-corruption compliance world that if I told you those stories, this is how this case went down, this is how this enforcement action went down. You would look at me and say you made that up, nobody is that stupid, nobody would be that brazen. And those are the kinds of real life events that people want to hear about and they want to hear about them to help learn lessons so they can incorporate them into their own compliance programs.

John: You know if someone thinks they have important compliance information to present to your listenership, how do they apply to come on one of your podcasts?

Tom: So with 28 shows, one thing I am always looking for is content. So if you are listening to this podcast and you want to come on show, just email me at tfox@tfoxlaw.com, I would love to talk to you.

John: Any last thoughts before we say goodbye just for today?

Tom: So John, I really appreciate the opportunity to visit with you. And the one thing that I would, just whatever you do if you are thinking if you got had laid off, if you are in economic dislocation, look inside your heart and just do what your heart says you want to do. You and I have both done that, we are doing that now. We live a lifestyle that really facilitates that and it took me a long time to learn that but I finally did and I take it one day at a time and I love what I am doing.

John: You know Tom, you not only love what you are doing, but you are great at what you do and it shows. It shows in your work and your work is important, that is why you are always invited on the Impact Podcast because you are making an important impact in society and you are making the world a better place. For our listeners, again who want to find the Compliance Evangelist, Tom Fox, please go to www.fcpacompliancereport.com or www.compliancepodcastnetwork.net and Tom has said if you want to come on his show and you have a great compliance story or important information to get out and you want to apply to come on one of his podcast tfox@tfoxlaw.com. He is the Compliance Evangelist, you are Tom Fox. I am so grateful for your time today, Tom. It is an honor to have you on and thank you again.