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Tuesday
Sep112012

[FIND] Schedule - a day in the life

Thomas H. Humphreys, Nashville private investigator, schedule.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012.

6:00 - Wake up. Start Coffee

6:30 - Walk with wife/partner/writer/friend, Kim.

8:00 - To Kenny Polly's Shell station for coffee and conference on how to solve the world's problems, all of them.

9:00 - Front porch coffee, review current events via iPad, enjoy chilly morning air and return emails.

9:30 - Brentwood to pick up 9 client files and another cup of coffee with attorney client.

10:30 - Back in office. Another cup of coffee. Research, blog post, plan for the rest of the day. 

11:00 - Meeting with Allison, the world's most competent assistant/PI/manager/etc...

12:30 - Yoga

2:00 - Client meeting.

4:00 - Report-writing marathon.

6:00 - Cocktails with my buddy Josh, one of the most amazing chefs in the country.

Unknown - The cows come home...

 

Tuesday
Jul242012

[FIND] Expertise - Altruistic Reciprocity

How do we take simple truths from life and apply them to our business? Why do we so often forget that the way we conduct business is a reflection of the way we live our lives? 

M.L.K would ask if you plan to, "..walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." 

I have long held the belief, probably based on my early exposure to Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar, that the way to get the things I want is to help other people get what they want.

I watch PIs hoard secrets all the time. Find a new method, a new gimmick, buy a hot new gadget and then try to keep everybody else from learning about it. I see established PIs try to discourage others from learning their particular skill.

"I am the one who does surveillance the best. How dare you try and do what I do?" 

"How can you consider yourself an expert? You haven't done as many murder cases as I have." (Actual quote from an older investigator to one of the best criminal investigators I know.)

"I've spent years learning how to research, why would I dream of helping someone take my business?"

These attitudes are short-sighted. I like the idea of giving, freely and openly, without any specific agenda. Not just a Christmas box of cookies to the guy who assigns stories. (Though this is not a bad thing, it's nothing but marketing.) A gift of time, information, or friendship-sweat-equity, throwing in a few extra hours to help make a friend or colleague's life easier. 

Seth Godin says, "Sending someone a gift over the transom isn't a gift, it's marketing. Gifts have to be truly given, not given in anticipation of a repayment."

The winner, the gal who is seen as the leader in her industry, is often the one who freely trains and advises. The winner, the guy who owns the most successful company, is often the one who has time to grab a coffee. The winner, the boss who is a true leader, is often the one who encourages you to create your own business.

Winners are not afraid of losing. They know that helping other amazing people reach their goals is the easiest way to maintain their position of influence. And they honestly enjoy lending a hand.

Pay attention to the leaders in your community. Church, industry, rotary, chamber of commerce, whatever...the leaders, the ones who stand out, are always giving. They always have time to volunteer, to write a post, to share their tips, to lead. They always remember your name.

Here are a few leaders in our industry. These are the people who take the time to share their tips and tricks, their stories, their ideas. Pay attention to these folks, they are leaders. They give.

Brian Willingham, CFE, Anonymous PI, Scott B. Fulmer, Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, Dean A. Beers, CLI

Pay attention, too, to leaders in the business of encouraging startups: Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau constantly inspire me with their energy and optimism, their generosity and approach to life.  -THH

 

Tuesday
Jul032012

[FIND] Expertise - 5 research tools you probably never considered...

From the files of Nashville private investigator, Thomas H. Humphreys:

Here's a brief list of open source resources you need to know about. If you're an investigator and you ever need to find someone or information about someone, check out these free tools.

 

 

5. BING - Seriously, don't stop at GOOGLE. Click on over to www.bing.com/social and see what you find there. Bing can find mentions in Facebook and Twitter. Google, not so much. We used this to track a reluctant witness. She was 23 years old, reticent, and addicted to twitter. She actually tweeted flight number and arrival time at BNA. 

4. You Tube - Did you know you can search right there at www.youtube.com? We've used this to locate video evidence in insurance fraud cases, domestic cases, and to find embarrassing video of our friends. Refute that.

3. Tineye - Found a picture and you want to know whence it came? www.tineye.com You can find out how many places the same image shows up online. Also, you can (on occasion) use Exif metadata to tell where and when a picture was taken. Okay, so number 3 is actually a two-fer. Any time you find a photo on line, strip it for information. 

2. GIS Searches - Most counties have some degree of geographic information system in place by now. If you can find the gateway to your county's GIS system, use it. Maps, aerial photos, tax records, deeds, zoning informaiton, etc. etc. all for free all on line. It may take a little bit of snooping to find your county's GIS portal, but hey - that's what we do. Isn't it? 

1. Wedding Channel - This little gem is right at the top of my list for under appreciated resources. I have to give full credit to Cynthia Hetherington over at The Hetherington Group for this one. If you're trying to locate a skip or a witness, www.weddingchannel.com is a brilliant angel for intelligence. If your subject has registered for wedding presents at Target, Kohl's, Macey's, etc. etc. they will very likely be here at www.weddingchanel.com. Check it out.

Here at [FIND] Investigations we try to stay on top of useful tools. The list above is based on our research over the past several years. The number one pic comes directly from an ACFE sponsored seminar we attended while at the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference. For more information on how to fully exploit open source intelligence, you should probably check out Cynthia Hetherington. She is a librarian and a PI, lethal combination. 

Thursday
Jun212012

ACFE Fraud Conference - Midweek Update II

As usual, I am totally impressed with the fantastic folks over at the ACFE. This year's conference was the perfect balance of informative, entertaining, and enjoyable.

Informative - the breakout sessions offered so many options, it was hard to choose. I settled on a mix of computer science and litigation courses. The highlight for me was Paraben Corporation's presentation on electronic evidence recovery. I'm saving up my dollars to buy their program for forensic analysis of cell phones and mobile devices. My other favorite class was a litigation preparation course. Great information and tips for expert witnesses. I tweeted a number of times during that class. From Daubert to fact summary witnesses, the course offered a number of great suggestions.

Of the keynote speakers, my absolute favorite was Diana Henriques, NYTimes reporter, obsessive researcher, and fantastic speaker. You must pick up her new book about Bernie Madoff, The Wizard of Lies.

I also really enjoyed the last keynote speaker, Mark Whitacre. I was completely sucked into his story (on which the movie The Informant is based). He's smart, engaging, and funny.

I'll put up a Midweek Update later today. Cynthia Hetherington is about to start her class.

Until then...

Wednesday
Jun202012

ACFE Fraud conference - Mid Week Update

I broke a promise. It was unintentional. You see, I'd vowed to blog every day at the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference. Unfortuately, I made my hotel reservations a little later than usual. The rooms at the convention site, Gaylord Palms, were sold out for the first four nights. I opted for the Caribe Royal, the alternate hotel suggested by the good folks at Gaylord.

Caribe Royal was disappointing. $10/day for internet access, shuttles that run every 15 minutes (except most hours), and a staff that has never even heard the name Dale Carnegie. Internet, after paying $70 for the week long package, never worked. One brief period on Monday morning the internet fired up, other than that...nada. Shuttle service did not run when advertised, resulting in $20 cap fares each way to Gaylord Palms, $40 each way to City Walk. I walked into the lobby to inquire about the internet outage (absence) and talked to the lady behind the counter. She said, "you'll have to call tech support" (which is outsourced to someplace where English is - maybe - a second language, at best). This was 6:00 am. As I turned to go back to my room and call India, the lady behind the counter said, "Next time, don't forget your shoes."

I won't.

Anyway, I have been effectively sans internet for the past four days. Thus, the excessive tweeting. I'll post about the conference tomorrow morning.

Until then