Dick Cassin, who founded this Blog nearly twelve years ago, is retiring. Effective this month, Dick is taking what we might call senior status, becoming the editor at large. His extraordinarily capable son, Harry, has taken over daily operations.
We should pause to consider what our world was like before Cassin, and what it’s like now.
I’ll never forget my first encounters with the FCPA Blog. It was different from anything I’d read — so very fresh and interesting. And so real. It made you feel that something new was happening in the world, something good. Something you wanted to be a part of. Dick wanted you to be a part of it.
Others caught on. More blogs spawned. And Dick never wanted it any other way. He didn’t see his fellow FCPA bloggers as threats; this was never a competition. It was, and is, about building a worldwide community of believers and experts. The more, the better.
Only now can I see that Dick didn’t just write about the characteristics of good compliance. He exemplified them, in his writing and in his interactions. We came to understand these attributes not just by reading about them, but by feeling them emanate from him. I can think of at least five:
Genuine conviction. This is where it has to start, and where it started for Dick: strongly held beliefs about the harms of corruption and the possibilities of prevention, shaped by years of real-life engagement with the world. If you ever had the pleasure of interacting with Dick, you felt his integrity and his strength of commitment. There was no doubting it.
Lead by example. Call it tone at the top. Or conduct at the top. Or tone or conduct in the middle. But compliance requires leadership by someone whom others intuitively trust and respect. Dick has a rare gift for gently earning the respect and admiration of his peers, seemingly without even trying.
Be a team player. Compliance can’t be about making a name for yourself or proving you’re smarter — and certainly not more ethical! — than the next person. It’s bigger than you. The FCPA Blog was never about Dick Cassin. Heck, he couldn’t even bring himself to announce his own retirement. It was always about the larger enterprise. And it always will be at the FCPA Blog.
Deliver the hard advice. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who sometimes received advice from Dick that I didn’t particularly want. But I always needed it. And it worked because I trusted the source. I and countless others are better writers — and better people — because of it.
Build something that lasts. Compliance can’t be about short-term gain. It’s about playing the long game, seeing the big picture. It’s about envisioning a certain kind of company, one operating in a certain kind of world, then doing your part to bring that company and that world into existence. Today, the FCPA Blog has scores of writers and countless readers from literally all around the globe, with 1.5 million readers annually. They’re participating in, and leading, anti-corruption movements in Brazil and South Korea and France and most everywhere else. These are not fads; the anti-corruption ethic has caught on in a way that’s irreversible. What Dick worked to build is certainly here to stay.
There may be no person better positioned to sustain and grow the FCPA Blog than Harry Cassin. I had the distinct pleasure of working with Harry as a student at the International Anti-Corruption Academy and now as my editor. I’ve witnessed firsthand his intelligence, his sharp eye for good writing, and his fundamental integrity. Let’s just say this apple did not fall far from the tree. The FCPA Blog’s in good hands.
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I once heard a federal judge say there are two kinds of great people in the world. When we meet the first kind, we think, “that person is great.” But when we meet the other we think, “I can be great.” Dick made us all feel great, made us want to contribute to something truly great. He’s that kind of great person.
The FCPA has changed the world. Every reader of this Blog is participating in the change. But a few people have played a special role. We’ll look back one day and see there may well be an FCPA pantheon. Or maybe a Hall of Fame. And Dick Cassin is in it.
If you’d like to add to the thanks, kindly leave a comment below. Dick will love to hear from you.
Andy Spalding chairs the Olympic Compliance Task Force. He is Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law (Virginia, USA), a Frequent Visiting Instructor at the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria, and Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog.