Season 3 Episode 7
Molly Bloom, entrepreneur, speaker and author

Molly Bloom is an entrepreneur, an inspirational speaker and a best-selling author of the memoir Molly’s Game. Her story of transitioning from Olympic-level skier to host of the most exclusive poker club in the world to FBI target was adapted to film by acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

In this two-part series, Molly shares candidly about her rise and fall, the concept of effective presence, and how to bounce back from the perils of self-betrayal.

Redirection after the end of a dream

Chris Allen: Well, I just want to welcome Molly Bloom to the seat in The Entrepreneur’s Studio. Welcome.

Molly Bloom: Thank you. There are two Molly Blooms. One of them is a literary character from James Joyce, who before my infamous criminal enterprise was really the Molly Bloom, and she was very scandalous. She was a very scandalous literary character. James Joyce wrote this soliloquy at the end called “Yes”. And it was supposed to be very scandalous and a little sexual at the time, so just carrying on the tradition of being scandalous, but not in that way.

Chris: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. All right, well, one thing I’d love to know is how did you go from being a US National Ski team member to running this secret poker night in the Viper Room in LA? How did you connect those dots?

Molly: Yeah, that’s a great question. I was a very serious student, a very serious athlete. In my family, I have two younger brothers who were kind of almost prodigies from the beginning. Jeremy was number one in the world in mogul skiing at 16 years old. And Jordan was just so clearly brilliant, and it really felt like my dad valued academic excellence and sports. I was a mogul skier, and at 12 years old, I got diagnosed with really severe scoliosis, and they fused my top 11 vertebrae together and put two metal rods down the side. And the doctors, my parents, and the coaching community said skiing’s off the table for you. But I just knew I had to try, partially because I loved it, but partially because it was the fabric of our family. I mean, that’s what we did on the weekends.

Chris: Yeah. Who were you without it?

Molly: Right. So I got back on the mountain and I think that was the first time. I think that was the birth of an entrepreneur because when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to stop asking for permission. You have to stop having people co-sign your dreams and you have to stop looking to other people to manage things for you.

And one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned during that time was the unbelievable importance and impact of being able to manage your mind and your emotions. For the first time in my life when I got back on the mountain, I had this voice in my head that we all have, this relentless inner critic, this voice that was just full of fear and doubt and was convinced everybody was laughing at me, and it was extremely distracting, and I didn’t know what to do about it. So I talked to my dad. My dad’s a psychologist. And there are many times growing up with a psychologist where you’re like, “Why me?” But then there are other times when it’s great, especially with a psychologist as brilliant and realistic as my dad. He said, “Molly, your problem is not the voice in your head. Your problem is that you’re listening to it. You’re giving it energy. You’re believing that all of the thoughts are the truth. You’re believing that the fear means you shouldn’t do it. You’re filling in the gaps. You’re creating these stories.”

So this was my first brush with learning mindfulness, which is this ability to sit above and observe the thoughts, observe the emotions, and then make a decision whether you want to get engaged with them. And for entrepreneurs, how many times do you fail? How many times do you feel like, God, I’ve just been going so long at this, it’s not working. It’s not working. I want to quit. I want to turn around, or today I don’t want to wake up and do what I have to do because I’m tired. So I think when you start to learn to not negotiate with those feelings, with those fears, with those thoughts, and you just do it anyway over and over again, and you can kind of find that inner stillness within and also just that place of observance, then I think you start to really be able to do extraordinary things.

So that’s what I did. I worked really hard on mogul skiing, but I worked really hard on mindset stuff. And after 19, I made the US ski team, and remember I have a thoracic spine that is immovable and welded together with metal. The next year, both my brother and I scored. We were third overall in North America. Then that made me eligible for an Olympic qualifier. And at the Olympic qualifier, this is just kind of how my life goes, it’s like you fail, but you fail in just such an...

Chris: Epic way.

Molly: I mean epic, but also just so dumb. So I was skiing down the course, I was having a really good run. If you know anything about skiing, your bindings are what hold your boots in. Mine are cranked to the top. I ski over this tiny little piece of pine bow because sometimes they put them in the course for depth reference, and it lodged itself in between my boot and binding. My ski pre-release is off the second air. I fell really hard. I know it’s going to be a year or two of recovery if I want to do it. And I just had to kind of give up this dream right there.

Chris: Yeah. Surrender the dream. Wow. That’s a setback, kind of number two, where you’ve got a health issue with your spine, and then you’ve got this dream that, at the end of the day, is in question about whether or not you’re going to pursue it and you have to surrender it.

Molly: I did. I ultimately made that decision, but I’m not sure anyone, including my family, realized how profound that decision was for me because Jeremy was this prodigy. For some reason, at the time it didn’t occur to them that I have the same results as Jeremy with this. But he was just so good. All eyes are on him. He’s one of the most incredible athletes to watch. He’s poetic. So my heart was broken for so many reasons, and I didn’t think I could be in Colorado for that ski season. So I did a study abroad in the Greek Islands, which was great, and had nothing in common with mogul skiing.

Then I came back and had to finish a semester and I had just taken the LSATs. The plan was, “OK, now you’ll go to a serious law school and have another serious life.” And I just decided I need a break. I want to be a kid, and I want to be warm because, for most of my life, we chased winter. I told my parents about this grand idea, and they said, “That’s a terrible idea.” And I said, “Well, I’m doing it.” So I had to go somewhere I could reach on a couple of tanks of gas. So I ended up in LA, and I always just think it’s so funny. I would go back and tell my younger self, if you’re lost in trying to find yourself, please don’t go to LA. Maybe the worst place you could go.

Chris: You’re going to find something else.

Entering the world of high-stakes poker

Molly: Yeah. So I got to LA, I got a bunch of jobs. I was working as an executive assistant for a real estate development company, and these were young guys, trust fund kids, with lots of connections. My boss came into the office one day and said something that seemed so innocent at the time, but it would change my whole life. He said, “I need you to serve drinks at my poker game tomorrow night.”

Do you play poker?

Chris: I desperately try. I play with as little stakes as possible.

Molly: That’s good. That’s smart. You should play with the amount of money that makes you stay interested, but that’s not going to change your life or ruin your night.

Chris: There you go.

Molly: Yeah. Just in retrospect. So I didn’t know anything about poker, and I went home and I Googled things like what kind of music do poker players like to listen to and what do they like to eat? And I made this embarrassing playlist with songs like “The Gambler” on it, and “Night Moves”.

Chris: Very campy.

Molly: I mean, it was like there was no creativity, no nuance. Then I got this cheese plate and I showed up to this game, and boy, the people that started walking into that room. I’m 23 years old from Loveland, Colorado, and all of a sudden, A-list movie stars, Ben Affleck, Toby McGuire, Leo DiCaprio. By the way, if I mention a name, it’s because they have mentioned their own names in regards to it. That’s just sort of my, that’s how I’ve handled it. But then there was also a politician who was a household name, and somebody from the tech community, and the head of one of the biggest investment banks, and the head of one of the biggest movie studios. And I’m just like, what kind of rabbit hole did I fall down?

Chris: And you brought cheese.

Molly: From Wisconsin. Not even the fanciest Spanish kind…

Chris: Yeah. You didn’t know. You’re like, I’m just going to bring some stuff.

Molly: I’m from Loveland, Colorado. I grew up across the street from a cornfield. Couldn’t get out of that town fast enough. So I’m completely mortified about my playlist as Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film “Titanic”) walks in the room.

Chris: Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Molly: I mean, I grew up watching Titanic. And the night started and people were speaking extremely candidly, and I was learning so much. So the night wore on, and I’m like, “I see a massive opportunity here to have this be my network.” Day five in LA, to get in front of these people to learn about the world. It was huge.

Chris: That was day five?

Molly: Maybe not.

Chris: OK. I was about to say that, but still really early on.

Molly: Really early on.

Chris: Wow, because that’s amazing. If you land the job and then he’s just like, “Hey, oh, by the way, I’m going to introduce you to all of these people and you’re going to be around them.” What an amazing thought though, to have at 23 and be like, network.

Molly: Network.

Striking out on her own, in style

Chris: That’s a pretty amazing thought. Well, what happened next? What period of time were you working with this group until you kind of broke off on your own?

Molly: So I would say probably six to eight months. And really early on, I realized a couple of things. First of all, I know how to do this better. Second of all, this isn’t just about poker, it’s about community. It’s about the mythology of it, the stories that people would want to tell brought them great joy. We rehashed the game a lot. And I also realized that you always wanted an exciting element every night so that there would be more, so the people became brand advocates. And then as soon as something happened, the amount of embellishment that goes on, but you had free massive marketing by this.

I took notes every single night, and I realized what the conditions were when someone was in that flow state. Now, I couldn’t control for the winning and losing, but I could kind of control time because if I were to seat that table with nine players with a very similar playing style, very similar skill level, and the stakes were huge, people would have these heart-thumping big wins and losses, but at the end of the year, no one’s really getting killed. So I was constantly looking for places to achieve that flow state. I mean, it’s no secret that people love pleasure, chase dopamine, and really hate being uncomfortable. And then for these people, even more so.

So then I started to think about, well, we need to consider all the senses. And we were playing in this dingy basement, and it was so much about escapism. It was so much about these people coming in for however many hours, forgetting about whatever was going on in their lives. So build on that, figure out the lighting, figure out what it looks like. Move it to the Penthouse Hotel in Beverly Hills, make it look like Monaco, make it feel like James Bond. So I would furiously write all these notes, but I had a problem. It wasn’t my game. Then my boss at the time made it easy for me. He said, “This game’s taking up too much of your time and bandwidth. I’m going to let this other girl, Lisa, have it.” But by this time, I had made real connections with the players. I had recruited players, I had hired people, I was keeping books on everyone. And it wasn’t just, “Here’s your Diet Coke.” I had really gotten invested into the business of it.

Chris: And you think that’s why he thought it was taking too much of your time? He recognized that there was some savvy in your kind of taking it all in and learning.

Molly: I think he wanted me to learn, but I think he first and foremost wanted me to prioritize being his personal assistant. And I think also because I was able to really connect with the players and forge friendships and forge relationships, only platonic, they were offering me opportunities. I think the whole thing was just kind of getting stressful for him. So he said, send Lisa all the contacts, blah, blah, blah, she’s going to be the new person. And I just had this moment where poker teaches you a couple of things, just by observing it. It teaches you that you have to take risks, you need to take calculated risks. And if you don’t, if you’re too afraid to take those risks, over time, you lose the game. I knew I had to take my shot, and it was a long shot. I mean, it was asking a bunch of people to go against the Billionaire Boys Club.

So I planned a game for two weeks from that point. I had it in this beautiful location. I raised the stakes from $10 to $50,000. I hired an entire staff of people, had them memorize everyone’s favorite drink order, food order, the things they cared about, kind of taught them about what is termed effective presence, which is the science of how you make people feel. And people make almost all their decisions with their emotions. They store all their memories from these experiences. So being able to understand how to have this positive, effective presence and have people feel emotionally good in your presence is huge. I had the beautiful flowers and the lights, and I upgraded my playlist. It was top-shelf liquor and the best food and masseuses for your shoulders when you got tired. Just this full luxury experience. And I invited everyone except my boss.

Chris: And are there people who refused, who didn’t want to come, or was everybody like, "Yeah, this sounds great?”

Molly: Well, a lot of people didn’t know he wasn’t coming.

Chris: Oh, wow.

Molly: Yeah.

Chris: That’s so legit.

Molly: It was a real coup. This is my first overthrow.

Chris: Oh, my gosh. So when everybody found out he wasn’t there, how did that shape up? What I mean by that is as soon as they go, “Wait, this isn’t his game.”

Molly: Yeah, most people were fine with it. A couple people were like, “This is kind of messed up.” And I said, “Well, anybody can have a poker game.” But the best part of the story is when at the end of the night, everyone was like, “This is a great experience. Well, this is where we’re going to play. This will be our home game.” So this wasn’t in the book. Maybe it was in the book, but it wasn’t in the movie. My boss called me over—

Chris: And you were still working for him?

Molly: Yeah.

Chris: OK. You’ve got some gusto.

Molly: I just knew. There are a couple of times where I’ve just known in my gut it’s worth losing everything for.

Chris: Wow.

Molly: But he called me over and just to give you a backstory, he is a terrifying human being.

Chris: OK.

Molly: You’re not sure how far he’s willing to go, and you kind of think it’s all the way. And he’s savage in business, and I used to walk around the office and say, “I’m worried for your soul.”

Chris: He’s like, “What do you mean? This is how the game is played?”

Molly: He said, “You need to toughen up. The world’s going to walk all over you.” So he called me over to his house that morning, and I don’t know why I went. I guess I just knew I had to face it. And it was early morning. I was sitting in this back room, unfinished room, and I’m like, “This is it. This is how it ends.” And he walks in and he has this really terrifying look on his face. Then he kind of softens and goes, “I’m proud of you.” And then he played in my games.

Chris: No way.

Molly: Yeah.

Chris: That’s amazing. He said, “I’m proud of you.”

How long had this been going on to get to that point where you watch Savage Dude, then you sort of swap his game out and he’s like, I’m down? How long was that?

Molly: Probably a year and a half.

Chris: Really?

Molly: Yeah.

Chris: OK.

Molly: But he tells me now, he’s like, “I could never train anyone ever again. It was so exhausting training you.” I’m like, “All you did was show me what not to do.”

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Molly: No, but I learned a lot from him. And just like anyone else, you take what you think is valuable and you leave the other stuff behind.

Getting caught up in the pursuit of money, power, and status

Chris: Yeah. I mean, I kind of called you the bootstrap millionaire with this thing. So how did you go from having this game to where you created an experience with this effective presence technique and all these different ways to make people feel? How did you start making money and when did you kind of go like, “Oh, this is the real deal, I’ve made it”?

Molly: I don’t know if I feel like I’ve made it yet.

Chris: OK. The relentless competitor. I like it.

Molly: Well, we can talk about that later, but it’s more like my calculus of success has changed. So the first night my boss said, “If you want to come back, tip Molly,” which I need to adequately thank him for because that set the precedent. So what happens then is the winners win and they come over and they give me a tip and they’re like, “I’m tipping Molly $10,000.” So it becomes this competitive thing. So right away, I was making money, and then when I took over the game and was actually in charge of the nine seats, and then I got into the role of, it’s sort of up to me how much credit you get. Then I started making real money, I think $1 million the first year, and then just a pretty steep road up to $6 million when I was in New York.

Chris: And how many games did you have running at the peak?

Molly: Oh, God. Too many.

Chris: Yeah?

Molly: Yeah. In LA it was just one. And I was making a lot of money, and I had time to... I was learning French, and I had time to spend time with friends. I had a boyfriend at the time. And then when I got to New York, I stopped being what I would call a healthy entrepreneur and I became completely obsessed with the money, and the power, and the status. It became like a drug. There was no consequence until there was. That could have driven me away. And there were terrible things that happened, but my entire identity became wrapped around this game, what it meant for my access, and how much money I was making. But the more I became that person, the less I liked my life and myself.

Chris: Well, I like how you’ve reframed success, the calculus of success. What did you think success was then?

Molly: As much money, as much power, as much status as I could possibly accrue so that nobody could ever make me feel unworthy, second best. But that doesn’t work.

Chris: You were protecting something, yeah? Or building walls around something?

Molly: Yeah. I mean, I think as a young girl, I learned some lessons. I remember the first time I got my heart broken, and it wasn’t like this sweet high school affair. I fell in love with the biggest jerk in the school, and he was just completely savage about it. I was so... I was deeply emotional. And I just remember after it happened, sort of laying in bed and being like, “I’m never giving anyone that kind of power over me ever again.” And it’s true.

But now at this point in my life, I realized that if that’s your stance, then you also don’t get the real relationships. But back then, I was hurt by my dad, who I thought loved my brothers better than he loved me. I was hurt by or angry at some of the injustices I had encountered throughout my career. I was kind of grossed out at how a lot of the men spoke about women. I was also disappointed in a lot of ways by what I found at that echelon, because I would’ve thought before I encountered those people, and this is not all of them, but this is a large percentage of them— I could see they actually turn their humanity off.

When money was involved or when something they wanted was involved, I could see this humanity just switch off, and I just saw these people do a lot of harm. Then to bring it full circle, let me just back up so you understand how I got to New York.

One of the most famous guys in the game at the time was starring in these huge tent-pole movies making probably $20, $30 million, and he became pathologically obsessed with this game. He started keeping numbers on everyone. And he would call me and say, “I don’t want you to invite so-and-so back,” because he wanted to make sure he was the best player in the game. He wanted to give himself some artificial edge.

In the beginning, I sort of pandered to him a bit, but then his requests started to get more and more unethical, and I had to govern, rule, and lead for the integrity of the whole game, not just him. So I started not acquiescing to these questions, which became demands. And then this weird thing happened, it all culminated with a couple of sort of demonstrative demands for compliance. It started out as a joke, but it was clear it wasn’t a joke.

Chris: Probably using money as leverage.

Molly: For instance, yeah. He came over and he was like, “Do you want your tip?” I said, “Sure.” And he said, “Well, then you should get on the desk and bark like a seal.” And then I laughed and I said, “Yeah, I’m not doing that.” And it kept going on and it lasted for like 45 minutes with him sort of getting more heated, the whole table feeling uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t back down.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, that’s dehumanizing for sure.

Molly: Yeah. And the only reason I tell this story in the book, and talk about who it is, is because it’s really important for me to impart to people who may feel like they’re in a less powerful position. You don’t have to do it. You can lose your job. You can be in fear and have uncertainty about what comes next, but don’t lose your dignity. Choose your dignity.

Chris: Betraying yourself is a costly thing.

Molly: It’s a costly thing, and I’ve done it, and it cost me everything.

Starting over in New York City

Chris: Yeah. The thing I think is really wild about the story is it’s like there are two parallels or two paths. There are the events that were actually occurring, and then there’s what’s going on inside. Like the whole time you’re telling me this story, I’m like, “There’s this raging inner critic.” You know what I mean? You have these moments where you’re having to choose whether you’re going to betray yourself or not. You have a value system and a really loud inner critic, and this tension is really kind of building on the inside. And you’ve got all these actual challenges, and some of the choices you’ve made put you in some really tough positions to keep it going. So where did it break?

Molly: That’s a really, really insightful observation that no one’s made. So I ultimately lost the LA game. He said, “You can come work for me. I’ll pay your salary if you want to keep the game.” I wanted to keep that game more than anything. It was the only thing I had ever done that made me feel like somebody, which I will address later. If you’re someone who relies exclusively on external validation for your inner validation, it’s going to be a tough road.

And it took me losing everything to realize that. So I turned his offer down still because if I said yes, then I wouldn’t have any more sovereignty. And after I started my own games, I said, “I’m never working for anyone ever again unless it’s like, I don’t know, NASA, but they’re not calling anytime soon.”

Chris: Wouldn’t that be amazing just to see what you would do for NASA?

Molly: Everything would blow up.

Chris: You’re like, “But that’s the goal. It’s like, how cool can we make this?”

Molly: Oh, God. Anyway, I lost the game. I was devastated. My parents said, “Oh, this is a great time for you to go back to school.” They were right as they usually are, but I needed to prove something. I needed to prove that that level of injustice and just ego and power on a whim to destroy someone’s life, I had to prove to myself that that’s not the world I live in. So I said, “I’m going to build the biggest poker game in the world. I’m going to do it in New York City.” “Do you know anyone in New York City?” “Nope.” “What year is it?” “It’s 2008.” “You think building the biggest poker game in the world in New York City with Wall Street people is a good idea in 2008.” “Don’t care.”

And the other problem was there were the same game runners that had been running the same games for decades, and they were kind of shady, and they were already sending me messages, “Don’t come here.” But I didn’t care. I mean, I cared, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me. So I just got creative and I started to go to New York and interview people to find out where the problems were with the current system. What I found out is there were big problems with trust. People weren’t getting treated properly. And when it comes to money, trust is everything. So, by that time, I was capitalized enough and had become very good at extending credit and knowing when to collect it. And in my six years in LA, I think I had to pay in once. So I decided I’d be—

Chris: It’s a great track record.

Molly: Yeah. It gets a little worse in New York. So I decided I would become the bank for these games. Then I just had to find players. So I had to get creative there too, because my business, although I was doing it legally at the time, I couldn’t take out ads on Facebook.

Chris: It’s the network.

Molly: Right. And I didn’t know anyone in New York, really. So I started going out at night meeting socialites who go out for a living, who have access to wealthy people who partake in a bit of a hedonistic lifestyle. I did deals with the maître d’s at the high-end restaurants who’ve known their clientele for 20, 30 years. I did deals. And when I said I did deals, I would financially incentivize them for sending me the players and financially incentivize them when they played. And then the concierge at the high-end hotels and casino hosts.

And damn, by the end of 2008, I had built the biggest poker game in the world, which I guess is a testament to the fact that even really terrible, bad plans can work if you execute them correctly. And my game in New York was a $250, 000 buy-in. I remember the TV was on, on mute. The president was giving the State of the Union on the 2008 mortgage crisis, and there was like $10 million on the table. It was just this picture.

Chris: What a picture.

Molly: And of course I’m like, “I won. I won.”

Chris: The world’s going this way, and you’re going this way.

Molly: I won. But not just that I won, which that’s debatable, but I didn’t let this power-hungry person just push me around and dictate where I was going to end up. That was really huge for me. But then I started to kind of lose it. So up until this point, I had always had this kind of overgrown conscience, which is why I used to run around the office saying, “Your soul’s in trouble.” And I had a very strong desire to do the right thing. So for instance, if somebody wanted to play in the game and I didn’t think they could afford it, I wouldn’t let them play, even if it meant not getting a game off. And sometimes I would make $150,000 per game.

So leaving money on the table to protect people, not allowing pros to come and play, even though they’re offering me stupid money, but I’m protecting my players. Then something started to change. First of all, I was like, OK, I’ll have this big game. And this game played so big that this was the game where eventually someone would lose $100 million. And whenever I say that, people are like, “That’s not the truth.” Listen, I wouldn’t exaggerate that much. You know what I mean? I’d pick a lower number.

Chris: Yeah, that’s insane.

Molly: Insane. And you better believe that made noise in LA. But then I built the lower stakes and the mid-stakes, and then I started to take Adderall to stay up and be able to manage everything. And then sleeping pills, because I’d be so wired, I couldn’t go to sleep. Then I was making so much money.

But what I started to see by having these multiple games and having this huge game is that so many of these players were addicts. They’re gambling addicts. And what I was doing was using this knowledge of effective presence, charm, saleswomanship to sort of lure people into places that could cause harm in their lives. And there was a moment where I saw it and I saw it clearly, and then I kept going. And that’s why I talk about—

Engaging in self-betrayal, and receiving serious threats

Chris: Yeah, that’s a betrayal right there, because you are somebody who has a disdain for injustice. You see it and you wave past it as it goes by.

Molly: Yeah. There are a million ways to justify it in your mind. And that’s why I talk about how important it is to have an integrity practice where you do some thinking about who you want to be in the world. Then at the end of the day, you compare your actions with the reality of that. Because I think in today’s society, we just expect people to be good. And if they’re not, then we take them down. And we have HR companies, consultants come in and tell us the difference between right and wrong. We all know the difference between right and wrong, but in this world that can break your heart a million times, you see some of the worst people succeed. How do we stay good? And I think it’s like anything else that’s hard. It requires effort.

Anyway, I didn’t get to being an Olympic skier and wanting to be a civil rights lawyer and having posters of RBG on my wall to being a convicted felon overnight, it happens in inches. It happens when you see something that feels a little off, but potentially has a big upside for you, and you make that choice, and then the next choice becomes easier, and the next choice is the ethics. And one day you wake up, or I woke up and looked in the mirror and had no idea who I was.

So then I had some really crazy things happen in New York. I recruited these guys. Some of the private investigators I used were the people who the RNC would use to vet their opponents, like the real deal. And these guys, their stories checked out, but they would show up to the games with backpacks of cash. And most people just played on credit, and they wanted to play all the time, and they loved getting checks at the end of the night. And there’s just something in my gut, I knew it was off, and I kept doing it because they were great for business. And it turns out, they were running the biggest insurance fraud scheme, and they had alleged ties to the Russian mob.

And the Feds were listening to their phones. The next thing that happened was absolutely surreal and terrifying. Some representatives from Italian organized crime came to me and said, “You’re the biggest game runner in New York City,” which was crazy. It had been within a year. And they said, “We want to partner with you.”

Molly: They said, “We want to partner with you. You’ll never have to worry about collecting. No one will mess with you, and you’ll give us a piece.” I was like, “That’s a really nice offer.” I tried to explain to them in the most polite way I could, that that wasn’t going to make sense. And I really didn’t feel like I was stepping on their toes. I was having games at The Plaza with The Yankees.

Anyway, they were very serious about it. I was making a lot of money, and they kept trying to call me. I didn’t answer. I lived in what I thought was a really secure building in Central Park West when there was a knock at the door. I just thought it was my doorman bringing some packages up. I will never forget when I opened the door staring into these eyes. It was like the coldest, not a trace of when you meet someone and you can feel that they’re a human being too, no soul.

He walked in and pushed me against the wall and put this big gun in my mouth, and I remember, my teeth started chattering almost immediately, and I’m like, is this going to make this gun go off? And it seemed like forever that he was sort of talking to me in this low, guttural voice, and he said, “You disrespected my colleagues,” or whatever term he used. “You will partner with us now, and you’re not going to tell anyone about this because if you do, we know where your family lives in Colorado.” And then he forced me to open my safe, and he took all the cash, some gold bars, jewelry, but also photographs and things that my grandmother, who I was named after, gave me. Then he beat me up. He really hurt me.

And I was the most alone and most ashamed, maybe not most ashamed, the next couple years would be full of shame. But my family. Now, I’m not just doing this to myself, I’m doing it to my family. And to be quite honest, I had been doing it to my family the whole time.

And for what what? For money?

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